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Grow Number 3

August 11 - November 16,
Strain: Blue Dream (80% Sativa 20% Indica)


Transplanted to 20 oz 7 Up bottles


9-13 6"
Flipped lights to 12/12
Added four 22" T5HO bulbs vertically

1st  flower





Started Foxfarm's Big Bloom©




Started observing trichomes


Last feeding 11-4


Harvested, hung dry 4 days,  trimmed

Cured in jars for 21 days vented 1 hr daily 

1st samples ready after 10 days


Happy 70th Birthday!

August 11th:  (cleanup)

After the buds were harvested the branches were trimmed back to the next available node and the lights were swapped out for 6500K daylight or vegetation bulbs. The plants will be repotted with fresh soil mixture. The photo period was reset to 24 hour continuous lighting.  This should trick the plant to stop flowering and reenter the vegetation stage. After they are 12" tall I will take clones from each. This is a form of topping and the plants will respond with a more lush growth.  Both the 'mother' plants and their clones will be grown for 30 days and then forced flowering will again be induced by cutting the lights back to 12/12.

August 13th:  (cleanup)

Both plants were repotted today and I was again surprised at the scanty root structure.  The Triple XXX did not appear to have grown very much since it was first transplanted and the Super Skunk was not that much larger. Neither one would have filled a number #1 nursery pot. Perhaps that is normal for indoor 'bonsai'd' plants with a short vegetative period. Outdoors the plants start the vegetative stage in late spring and grow until the declining light in September triggers the flowering mode. 50 - 70 days later they are ready to harvest.

The Triple XXX trained well and with the root ball set at the edge of the nursery pot it should easily reach the other side with some gentle pinning down.  It will continue to be trained on the horizontal. The Super Skunk retained strong vertical dominance possibly because the fimmed tip became so bushy it obscured the central stem (center right) and I restrained its associated side branch (center left) in error. Both should have been trained at the same level. But it gives me a chance to grow it vertically with multiple toppings. If successful it should resemble a lollipop.

This is the countertop seed germination and clone starting station.  Currently it has a tray with grow cubes waiting for the 5 seeds that I saved from a strain called The White which is supposedly available only in clones.  Hopefully these are female seeds - I won't be able to determine their sex until I flip the lights and they start showing pre flowers. The female plants develop seed pods with pistils whereas the males develop hanging 'bells'. The seeds are covered by a light film of warm water in the jar on the right. Underneath the jar and the tray is a warming mat ... with the hood down the enclosure maintains a constant 85F with 90-95% RH.  This is the second day for the seeds in the jar. They were small but well developed colored a dark olive.  None floated when immersed indicating they should be viable.

August 24th:  (vegetating)

Finally was able to locate a new source of clones and picked up 6 healthy Blue Dream cuts. The return trip was a harrowing 2.5 hour drive through stop and go L.A. traffic on a hot Friday afternoon. My vehicle doesn't have air conditioning so the plants were at the mercy of the elements and wilted accordingly. I stopped and watered them but it didn't look like they would survive.  I watered them again before setting them out under the lights overnight. By this morning they had revived and with a little trim of the heat damaged foliage they looked almost a good as new. After their root systems develop a bit more I will transplant them into the 20 oz soda bottles.  These plants, unlike the previous grows,  will not be trained horizontally but will be allowed to reach 16 - 20" in height instead. By being placed side by side in smaller containers the plants will be limited to single main cola (terminal bud)  and only a few side buds but the yield should increase substantially.  

In order to make room for the clones the previous grow's mother plants were transferred to the countertop shelf while waiting to see if they will revegetate.  Because of the height restriction in this location both plants will have to be trained horizontally. This shelf has approximately half of the light output in lumens (5000) as the main shelf but I've read of successful grows at this level especially since all buds will be equidistant from the lights. These units are 14W T5 24" fixtures which could be replaced with 28W fixtures if needed which would double the lumens but might also introduce some heat problems.  

The attempt to germinate seeds from strain The White was unsuccessful after 10 days so the attempt was abandoned.  Although well soaked the seeds hadn't cracked open at all. They were saved for another try later after scratching the seed coat to encourage splitting.

August 31st:  (vegetating)

The clones were transplanted into the 20 oz bottles midweek and were subjected to a total immersion cold watering forgetting that the web site I follow  recommended that new clones be gently hand watered with only a quarter to a half cup as needed. The next day all 6 were in transplant shock with half of their remaining foliage turned yellow and withered. Three had to be discarded and it was touch and go with the remaining three for several days. Now they have each put on a new set of leaves and, hopefully, will continue to recover. The three 20 oz bottles were put inside a number 2 nursery pot for stability and portability.

The two mother plants are beginning to show signs of revegetating with the branch axils on the Super Skunk turning bright green and swollen (right) and what appears to be the beginning of the transitional leaf on the Triple X described as twisted and gnarly precursors to true leaves.. The Super Skunk was transferred back to the primary shelf since it will be grown vertically and the few remaining buds were removed on the theory that they might be somehow hindering the plant's return to a vegetative state. That's why roses and other flowers are deadheaded. The new clones will need another month of vegetation before the lights are flipped. If the mother plants haven't revegetated by then they will be discarded.

September 7th:  (vegetating)

These plants evidently have very good genetics ... notice all the growth above last week's damaged leaves. The intervals between the branches (internodes) are still narrow at only about 1/4" each which is pretty good for a plant that is 80% sativa which tends to grow tall and willow-like versus indica's short and squat stature. Still keeping the plants 6 inches or more from the lights but monitoring them for excessive stretching as seen at the internodes.

The Triple X has another one of the twisted pre-leaves and so it was moved up to the primary shelf for the stronger light. The Super Skunk, still green and swollen but with no further grow, was put back down on the counter.

September 14th: Week 1 (flowering/transition)

Lots of growth this last week - plants now 6 inches tall. Internodes now at 1 inch intervals. The plant at the rear had to be topped as it was outstripping the others.  Decided to flip the lights last night before they got much taller as they will  double or triple in size during the flowering cycle.

Another reason for flipping the lights was the appearance of these white pistils at the leaf axils
which is called preflowering and indicate the plant is ready to leave the vegetative cycle and begin flowering.  For some reason these have appeared in the last three grows within a couple of weeks of bringing the clones home. I'm wondering if the vegetative grow lights that I use are missing something from the daylight spectrum even though they are 6500K ... need to investigate 'full-spectrum' bulbs.

I am really pleased with their vigor (notice the extensive root system) at this stage and look forward to a prolific grow. Went from 1/2 cup water every two days to 1 cup every three days - which may be a bit much too soon. I suspect it was over watering and not letting the containers fully dry out between waterings that stunted the previous grows. Not only are these smaller containers easier to handle you can also see the condition of the root system.  

The Super Skunk mother plant was repotted into a smaller container. The Triple X lost both of the precursor buds and seemed to have slowed down so it was placed outside.  No sign of emergent buds on the Super Skunk yet.

September 21st: Week 2  (flowering/transition)

Began feeding with Foxfarm's Tiger Bloom© at half strength.
The label says it is: "... an ultra potent, fast acting, high phosphorous fertilizer that also contains a good supply of nitrogen for growth and vigor. It is formulated with a low pH to maintain stability in storage and keep micro nutrients available. When used as directed Tiger Bloom© encourages abundant  fruit, flower, and multiple bud development. Great for Tomatoes!"

I love that last line which I guess is a leftover from the days of  pre-legalization when such colorfully labeled products were only to be used on 'legal' crops - wink/wink.  One of the agricultural supply houses I use still has a sign on the counter that says if you mention the "M" word you will be denied service and asked to leave ... they won't even spell it out.

Due to over watering in the last two grows the roots weren't able to properly ultilize the nutrients.  Hopefully that will no longer be a problem. Any residual effect of the use of non-organic fertilizers is mitigated by fully flushing the root zone prior to harvest.

Here are the current pictures.  I will begin indicating the weeks to harvest from the day the lights were flipped which is usually a two week difference. These plants were flipped 9/13.  The one on the right had been topped two weeks ago in order to slow its growth  to keep pace with the others.

September 22nd: (flowering/transition)

Just when you think you have everything under control something happens to shake your complacency and offer you an opportunity to enlarge your experience.  Like when I forget how crowded things are in my combo bathroom/grow room and I move too fast upsetting things.

This morning it was the primary shelf that came down taking all three plants with it. Two survived intact with a just a little loss of soil. The third had a branch torn off and the main stem was broken, but not severed, in two places. I've been told that cannabis is a hearty plant and can bounce back even stronger from such trauma so I spliced and braced everything back together. There is a multi budded branch just below the break so at least that much of the plant should survive. The rest has a case of the severe droops. The shelf has been secured to prevent such mishaps in the future.

Later:  The damage was too extensive for it to bounce back ... it remained in shock.  Since there are only two plants left I've decided to use the extra shelf area to move them further apart for maximum access to the available light.

This extra room allows me to do a bit of training in order to encourage the plant to grow in an open shape rather than as a vertical Christmas tree.

The soft metal 'stakes' are used in hanging  chain link fencing. Here they are used  to weight down the side branches so that they grow away from the main stem.

Some of the lower branches are being trained to encircle the container as well.

September 25th:  (flowering/transition)

Both plants are over twelve inches tall now and closing in on the lights so the shelf was lowered to accommodate an eventual height of twenty inches. At the same time I took the opportunity to strip all the reflective mylar from the walls. Mylar can reflect the light unevenly causing hot spots which bleach and burn the leaves. In a large room this isn't a problem but in small spaces like mine the plants are too close to the mylar. The flat white walls are almost as reflective and a lot more even (doesn't show well in this  image).

I also closed down the second shelf and used the T5 tube lights on the back wall of the primary shelf mounted vertically to supplement the overhead lights. This will  allow for more even coverage for the taller plants so that the lower buds ripen at the same time as those closer to the overhead lights.
These four 22 inch 14 watt T5 tubes output a combined 5400 lumens in the daylight (6500K) or vegetative spectrum as I want the plants to grow some more.  After they have filled out I will switch to soft white (3000K) tubes to assist in budding. These are in addition to the 4 overhead lights which are 42 watt CFL twists outputting 11,200 lumens in the warm white spectrum (2700K).  The total available light in the grow room is 16,600 lumens using only a total of 224 actual watts - the equivalent of a little over two 100 watt incandescent bulbs with about the same amount of heat. My monthly electric bill increased between $10.00 - $15.00 running both sets of lights and the three fans.

September 28th:
Week 3 (flowering/ first flower)
Both plants are beginning to show an increase in pistils and single leaves at the bud sites which indicates the calyx is now developing and signals the first week of flowering.

Anticipating a heavy yield - already each plant has over 20 bud sites - I staked the plants using thin bamboo canes.  These canes will confine and shape growth much like the screens used in the previous grows.

Foxfarm recommends full strength nutrients mix alternate waterings but I am trying to feed more evenly using 1- 2 cups of 1/2 strength every watering.

Here is their formal portrait at the beginning of their first week of flowering:

Now that they are flowering I swapped out the daylight spectrum T5's for the warmer soft white bulbs.  The total lumens remains the same and seems to be sufficient. If need be I could replace the fixtures with 56 watt units but that means more heat problems and might not be worth the gain in output. Something I will keep an eye on.

Later the mid-day temps in the grow room went over 95F and the RH dropped to 20%  so I added a 4th fan and temporarily turned off the supplemental T5 lighting which brought the temps back down to an acceptable 85 degrees.

There is plenty of circulation now with the 14" 950 cfm overhead exhaust fan,  the 10" oscillating tower mounted across from the shelf and the two 6" fans - one aimed horizontally between the overhead lights and the plants and the other centered underneath the wire shelf pointing upwards.

In addition there are two filtered air intake vents at floor level with one drawing fresh outside air and the other warmer inside air. I removed the humidifier because it rarely gets below the ideal 45-55% range and then only for a couple of hours in the early afternoons. As long as the plants have adequate water they can withstand temporary low humidity and higher temperatures.  

Recently I started weighing the plants after they have been watered. Today they weighed  570 and  590 grams respectively.  I will weigh them again in 2 days to note the difference which is equal to the amount of water they used. They will need frequent watering and keeping track of their respective weights will keep me from over or under watering them.

October 5th: Week 4 (flowering/bud growth)

The plants have slowed their vertical growth putting on only one inch in the past week - now they are 15" each.

The big change is their concentration on bud growth.  This is the terminal bud on plant #2. It is already swollen with 1/2" long yellow white pistils ... each one connected to a calyx which is one of the multiple female ovaries.

The buds grow vertically up the stem in clumps of calyx (pl) and each clump is separated by a ring of small, single leaves so the enlarging bud appears to be layered.

The pistils are sticky in order to capture pollen to grow next year's seeds. In this case though there is no male pollen available (hopefully) and so the bud will continue to add calyx (pl) without 'going to seed' and will grow larger.

Here they are at the beginning of their fourth week of flowering. Looking closely you can see at the center of every leaf cluster the yellow white of the developing calyx.

Today the inside temps went over 95F and the RH dropped to 16%.  Weighed the plants mid afternoon and #1 had lost 8.5 oz since yesterday morning's watering and #2 had lost 7.5. Each had lost exactly 37% of its previous weight. Added 2 cups plain water each and brought the weights back to yesterday's levels (667 grams and 588 grams). Normally they only need to be watered every other day at this stage. Also I turned off the overhead lights and boosted all fans to maximum output which managed to hold temps to the high 80's. I also moved the plants to the front of the shelf which exposes them to a greater volume of circulated air.

October 12th: Week 5  (flowering/bud growth)

Both plants have put on another inch in growth and are now 16" tall. This is the terminal bud on plant #2.  Compared to last week it is a bit fuller and  a 1/2" taller.

The really impressive bud growth comes in the last 4 weeks especially the last two. At Week 6 I will start supplementing the nutrients with a bud booster to enhance growth.

I'm glad that I started weighing the plants before and after watering ... I should have instituted this elementary feedback control earlier and I might not have lost so many due to under or over watering.

There seems to be two separate areas of growth on each plant ... the upper part has the buds growing close to the stem whereas on the lower six inches the lateral branches elongate and each branch has many little buds.

These lower branches are actually the oldest and thus the farthest from the light. With the addition of the vertical back lights they've finally had a chance to stretch. I believe the little buds are called 'popcorn buds' which don't get as large as the end or terminal buds.

I was just reviewing the number of days flowering for this strain. It is  58 - 68 days with an average time to harvest of 63, Since I calculated the initial week of flowering starting September 28 the harvest will be between November 24th and December 4th. So basically between Thanksgiving and my birthday.

I plan to harvest the main colas on the top half of each plant first and then move the shortened and more bushy bottoms closer to the overhead lights for the final  2 weeks. These lower branches have been trained horizontally away from the center so they will present a rather even height canopy similar to previous grows.

And it all should be cured in time for Christmas.

October 19th: Week 6  (flowering/bud growth)

Interesting development that I am still researching:  about 10-20% of the pistils on both plants are turning brown and shriveling up. This happened on the the previous grow as well right around the 4th week (those were  indica dominant strains which have a two weeks shorter flowering cycle than the sativas).  It's not localized to any particular part of the plant occurring on new buds as well as the older lower buds. So far I've learned that it can result from: 1. Pollination.  2. Hermaphrodization (plant adding male sex organs and self pollinating) caused by stress  3. Fertilizer burn   4. Plants nearing harvest (possibly as they are 3 weeks from harvest).

Previous grows produced no seed so I'm ruling out pollination and there are no signs of the plants changing sex. I've been careful on the fertilizers but there was a tiny bit of leaf burn last week. I flushed the plants with plain water for 2 cycles and them resumed the alternate nutrient feeding.

This week I added Foxfarm's Big Bloom© to the mix and the first feeding was yesterday. Because this increases the nutrient load the first few feedings will be at half strength while I check to see how well it is tolerated.

There are two more possibilities:  

1. The pistils, which are very tender,  were damaged during the past week's extremely low relative humidities ... there were several days where the RH dropped below 20%. In order to protect against future drops I reinstalled the humidifier and set the humidistat (digital controller) to 45%. I also attached the below shelf fan to the humidistat. When the humidifier on the floor is activated the fan will help draw the humid mist up off the floor and into the plants above.

2. I've just read that over handling and squeezing of the buds when checking growth can injure the pistils causing them to prematurely die. That would explain why only the larger outside buds are damaged. I am seeing some new growth on those buds so hopefully maybe all is not lost at this point.

I've also noticed that when the lower fan was on full time, without the extra moisture provided by the humidifier, the lower leaves would dry out and then tear from being tossed in the breeze from the fan. We'll see if this is an improvement. The oscillating tower was dropped down to its lowest setting as well  ... the objective here is to circulate the air in the grow room and gently ruffle the leaves and stems which promotes stronger stem growth. I think at the higher level it was contributing to the desiccation and leaf tearing. The 6" fan placed between the lights and the plants was also on full time and so it was plugged into the timer and now will only turn on when the lights are on.  Now all the fans in the grow room are controlled either by temperature (directly or indirectly) or relative humidity.

October 26th: Week 7 (flowering/bud growth)

As you can see from the table at the top we are now at Week #7 or Day 43 of the blooming cycle. Notice how the plants almost tripled in size during the 'stretch' or the first 30 days following the flip to a 12/12 light cycle.

The flowering period for Blue Dream is between 58-68 days with an average of  63 days to harvest.

There are two ways to count: either from the day the lights are flipped or from the day the plants show first flowers.

 I am using both styles in this table. The final determination as to when to harvest is made based on a study of the trichomes (resin glands) under magnification starting around the 6th week.

Click here to see an example from a previous grow.

Here are some more interesting facts: Since October 1st container #1 has gained 4.5 ounces and now weighs 680 grams wet while #2 picked up 3.21 ounces and weighs 595 grams wet. Currently both plants take 2 cups of liquid at each feeding. The containers originally weighed 350 grams wet before the plants were added and I've been wondering why container #1 is so much heavier than #2. So I used a probe to determine the moisture content and discovered that the last 2" of #1 are saturated at 100% indicating poor drainage. I used a hanger to open up the holes in the bottom and will let it dry down to roughly equal to #2 which was was not saturated at the bottom. That might explain why #1 was growing slower.

The top colas now are each 6" tall and consist of 6 different bud sites growing together one above the other. Here is a picture of plant #2's cola filling in.

  Click image to enlarge

October 30: I let the plants dry an extra day before watering. Plant #1 - 450 gr. dry; 7 oz H2O (22 gr. p/oz) = 605 gr., no runoff. Plant # 2: 360 gr. dry; 10 oz H2O = 584 gr.

November 2nd: Week 8  (flowering/bud growth)

As promised, here are the first images of the developing trichomes.  Currently mostly immature trichomes missing the fully developed glandular bulb at the tip of the stalk and those that have it are still clear not yet having turned cloudy with resin. Still no noticeable odor nor stickiness unless the buds are brushed against.

The plants are normally flushed of the remaining fertilizer in order to improve the taste and fragrance before they are harvested.  During this 7-14 day period they receive H2O only. They will receive a full feeding today and possibly one again next Saturday. By then it should be clearer as to the actual dates of harvest. After the first harvest the remaining lower buds will be given their final supplemental feeding and moved closer to the overhead lights where they will continue to enlarge for up to two more weeks.

November 9th: Week 9  (flowering/bud growth)

Here we are at Week 9 or day #57 ... according to the chart this is the beginning of the first possible week of harvest. In the last week the plants seemed to be having a renewed growth spurt with the buds filling out nicely with lots of new white pistils.

Looking at the trichomes you can see that many more have developed the globular head which is a sign of their maturing but they are not quite ready yet as they are still clear and have not started turning cloudy.

Because of their immaturity they were  given a final light feeding of 2 cups water with 1 tablespoon of Big Bloom each.  I removed one of the smaller buds and sectioned it in half to obtain this cross section. I noticed that it was just beginning to become sticky and had a obvious cannabis smell and taste.

Both plants retained the same amount of feeding this morning - 162 grams so both are respiring at the same rate even though container #1 is 100 grams larger. Most of the fan leaf has yellowed and dropped off which is another sign of approaching maturity.  This time I just left them on the plant to contribute whatever energy they were capable of - previously I removed them around the fourth week on the mistaken belief that they diverted energy once budding was well underway. Further research disabused me of that notion.

11-12:  Checked the trichomes again today and most were fully developed and cloudy with some even turning amber. I contacted the grower of my clones and was told definitely the flowering cycle for this strain is 8-9 weeks (56-63 days) from the day the lights are flipped. That information along with the trichome observation points to this Saturday as harvest day.  I was going to do a split harvest but the lower buds seem ready as well.

Over the past week I have removed a number of smaller buds on the lower half of each plant leaving just one or two larger ones at the end of each branch. In addition I managed to accidentally sever two of the larger buds while trimming around them. Altogether this early harvest weighed 12 grams wet and has been placed on a screen in the clothes closet. The rest of the plants will be harvested and hung from the clothes rack in the same closet. Both drying and curing  are processes to concentrate the plants' psychoactive properties, flavinoids and terpines by reducing chlorophyll and moisture in order to enhance taste and potency. The overall shrinkage is in the range of 65-75% of the weight at harvest.

Blue Dream after 62 days of flowering

Here are the two plants minus all of the fan leaves (any branch bearing a multi lobe leaf) and the smaller side buds ... essentially they are ready for harvest. It is difficult to guess quantity at this point although it would appear it will be close to 3/4 ounce dry.  This is in keeping with what a previous grower indicated: 7-15 grams dry per plant when grown indoors under fluorescent lights and kept under 20 inches in height. The State medical marijuana laws allow for six mature plants which is my ultimate target - they will produce 2-3 ounces dry every 90 days which coincidentally is the interval between harvests. This is more than sufficient for my medical needs and will save me $200 a month over dispensary costs.

November 16th: Week 10 (Harvest)

With two snips of the Fiskars shears this growing cycle is complete and hanging in the closet to dry. It always seems a bit anticlimactic and even more so this grow since the final trimming of the buds won't be until after they are dried 10 days from now so there is nothing more to do but wait.  

I weighed the containers before and after to determine the net weight of each plant:  #1 weighs 31 grams and #2 is 38 for a total of 69 grams or 2.45 ounces wet. A portion of that consists of the stem and branches so it is not possible to accurately estimate the amount of bud but if the woody parts equal .45 ounce, which seems reasonable, then the remaining 56 grams will finish at around 35% of that amount or 21 grams (3/4 ounce).  So I consider the past year's efforts to have been successful and I am looking forward to the next grow.

But first the present grow room must be completely sterilized with bleach to insure against mold and fungus.

Then, since I am adding two more vertical T5 fixtures I will mount all four of them 6" above the shelf which will put their light energy even with the top of the containers.

This will be a U shaped configuration with two fixtures mounted vertically on the back wall above the shelf and one on each side. Leaving one side open is necessary for air circulation which helps dissipate the heat.

For the time being I will leave the four 42 watt overhead lights in place but will monitor how the 6 new clones do without them and their added heat. This past grow the lower branches were more than 12 inches from the overhead lights but the side lighting was sufficient to develop the lower buds adequately.


November 19th:

After hanging for three days the buds were given their final trimming and shaping and then put back in the closet for another 24 hours. This morning they were clipped, weighed and put into a Mason jar where they will be cured over the next couple of weeks. The weight was 21 grams plus another 5 grams of shake (trimmed leaf) which will be sifted for kief.

November 29th:

After 14 days drying and curing in glass jars the buds have lost another 5 grams of moisture and now weigh a total of 16 grams or a little over a half ounce. They have tightened up and have lost the chlorophyl smell. Though they haven't yet developed their final flavor and smoothness they are ready for a rough test of their potential strength or potency.

One of the common ways to prepare a bud for a test is to grind it and screen out the non psychoactive vegetative material using a kief box.

Most boxes have a 100 mesh screen which is the minimum necessary to leave only the trichomes or resin laden glands thus concentrating the active ingredients similar to the way the alcohol in grapes is concentrated in  wine making. Both processes remove excess plant material from the final product.

I add a couple of coins to the upper chamber above the screen to quicken the screening which is done by shaking the box vigorously for 60 seconds or more.

The kief falls through the screen onto the darkened mirror surface of the lower chamber. The yellowish green powder is then scraped into a small container and sealed.

When kief is further compressed under mechanical pressure the resin glands rupture and bind together in a resinous clump known as hashish. Making hashish requires a considerable amount of kief which is not the typical quantity produced in small legal medical marijuana grows ... for example the 5 grams of shake mentioned above produced less than a 1/2 gram of kief. Generally only commercial grows have large amounts of leftover leaf.

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