Once again I find myself answering a slew of questions that readers are asking Potent staff about all things cannabis. I am always fascinated by the questions. With all the possible answers one can look up online, I think people are more interested in having a person they can relate to like me, who has actually had to figure all this stuff out. Today's questions come from all over the country, and focus on the topic of growing marijuana.
The Indoor Scene
Q: When is the best time to start and the best sprouting method to use?
A: Those of us in the temperate zone are limited to one crop per growing season. For this reason, you should sprout your seeds indoors and get a head start on the outdoor planting season. Starting your seeds inside gives you complete control over the planting environment, eliminating the hassles you would encounter from inconsistent weather and harsher conditions when seeding directly outside.
An excellent time to start your seeds is late February or early March. Plants sprouted indoors make their best growth in the first three to four months, when given between 13 to 18 hours of light a day, depending on the cannabis strain. If you have the space, you can even start successive germination cycles right on through to June.
One method of sprouting your seeds is to place them between several damp paper towels. Put the moist bundle in a plastic bag, close with a clasp and keep in a warm, dark spot until germination. Don't allow the paper towels to dry out, but make sure they are not soaking wet. Keep an eye on your seeds. When the seedlings sprout a root, shoot out two yellow primary leaves or cotyledons and reach a length of 1/2 to 1", they are ready to plant.
Alternatives to Paper Towels
I've heard it's better to use BR-8 over paper towels, is this true?
Another cheap and easy method is to use the BR-8. The BR-8 is a biodegradable fibrous paper cube.
Moisten the cube, place a seed in the hole on top, and do not disturb the sprout thereafter. As soon as the roots appear, it's time to plant your seedlings, BR-8 and all.
Some growers use pressed-peat containers such as Jiffy 7 and BioGrow pellets. When dry they look like Oreo cookies. Just soak them until they swell up and plant one seed each in the top. These containers often present problems, however, because they dry out quickly. When this happens, the peat shrinks, crushing the tender roots.
Of course, if you don't have the time or space to sprout the plants indoors, you can wait until the weather allows you to plant outside directly. However, you won't get as many seeds to sprout, and your plants may not grow as fast as the earlier-sprouted seedlings.
The First Transplant
After seven days most of my seeds have sprouted. What should I do with them?
Choose your healthiest sprouts, the 1/2 to 1", with good root development and strong stems. You can transplant your freshly germinated seedlings directly into one large container for a grow-in-one step procedure.
Another technique is to arrange each seedling in a 4" plastic pot to be transplanted again when the plants are a few inches high or have outgrown these pots. If you are growing your crop indoors and you have the time, it is best to increase the size of the pots gradually, about an inch each time you transplant. This practice promotes optimum above-ground growth
Take a pencil or popsicle stick and make a 1/8" hole in moistened soil. Carefully place the seedling with the root down in the soil and the cotyledons up in the hole and gently mound the soil completely around the base of the stem to secure the root. Don't pull of the seed shell if it hasn't fallen off. For the first couple of weeks mist each plant with water so it soaks thoroughly into the soil. Don't let the soil get waterlogged, but don't let it dry out completely.
Colchicine: Mean Gene Machine
Last year I boosted the growth of my crop by spraying it with Green Gourmet aerosol. Now I hear the colchicine in that product is being investigated by the feds. Is my smoke safe or is the scare for real?
You'd be smart not to smoke your own till next year. Colchicine is an alkaloid extracted from the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale). In nurseries it is often sprayed or brushed on the growing tips to speed the growth of non ingestible plants. Because of its unpredictable genetic effects, it has also long been used by breeders to treat experimental seeds. It often induces polyploidy, a doubling, tripling, or quadrupling of the normal chromosome number due to interference with meiosis in the germ cells. The result can be giant or dwarf plants, malformations of various kinds, sterility or, paradoxically, renewed fertility in sterile strains.
Medically, colchicine is used for gout—carefully. If the dose exceeds the patient's ability to detoxify it, intestinal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can result. Long-term exposure also carries the risk of lowering the bone marrow's ability to produce red and white blood corpuscles and platelets, a side effect that has occasionally been fatal. Consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency has banned the sale of the sprays.
Pot grown from colchicine-treated seeds is probably safe to smoke, because any residues in the mature plant would be infinitesimal. Certainly second generation plants are safe. But the chemical should not be used on anything one intends to consume.