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  1. This is the 12th article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for home-breeding. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: Blending - the fine art of creating a flavor. Cannabis is one of the most varied and complex plants on earth, with thousands of different landraces and crosses. Over the centuries the amazing diversification occurring in nature has been exponentially boosted by human intervention through breeding and propagation. Because of this phenomenon, there is a constant evolution in the spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes combinations. Many experienced cannabis users recognize this diversity as one of the key-factors in their ability to enjoy flavor and effect of cannabis smoke over long periods of time with minimum tolerance. In fact, according to most regular smokers, using a single strain of cannabis for longer than 2 weeks lowers the pleasure and requires higher doses to achieve the desired effect; on the contrary, when there is a regular change in the strains used there is no need to increase doses to obtain desired effects, and the whole flavor experience steps up to a different level. Even if this amazing diversity presents smokers with an almost endless range of tastes and effects, it is very rare for people to have access to more than 2 or 3 strains at the same time, due to the logistics involved and the illegality of the product itself. Nevertheless, the fine art of mixing and blending can help achieve a higher efficiency and efficacy of use. There are two fields where blending can increase pleasure and satisfaction: flavor and effect. When we analyze the ways of blending to improve flavor it must be noted that every cannabis strain can be categorized into one of the four basic tastes we perceive: sweet, bitter, sour, spicy. From this point on, it is a very personal work of mapping the palate to identify the dominant flavors of a strain. Once that’s done, it becomes a fine art to be able to combine two flavors that can improve or complement each other. We are now leaving the realm of common smokers and entering the exclusive lounge of the sophisticated smokers with a chef’s soul and a sommelier’s heart. My personal favorite blends include: 1. Hawaiian Snow and Arjan’s Haze 2: this is an all-sativa blend, where the sweet roasted onion flavor of the Hawaiian Snow is fully supported and complemented by the pungent spicy of incense from the Arjan’s Haze #2. 2. White Rhino and Bubba Kush: I call this the fruity-mix, because both strains have a really fruity and sweet bouquet, while their background flavors are very different yet complementary. 3. Strawberry Haze and Lemon Skunk: here we go with a truly fruity experience, the dominant lemon side perfectly softened by the strawberry haze smoothness. It is one of my favorites in the morning, when taste buds on the palate are at their sensorial peak. The other side of blending addresses the more complex issue of creating desired effects combining different cannabinoid profiles. It is a very subtle and very personal experience, and medicinal users know all about it. The medicinal properties of cannabis are definitely strain-related, and combining different strains can amplify the range of beneficial effects thanks to the synergy between cannabinoids, and also thanks to the ability of cannabis receptors in the brain to benefit from this synergy by producing faster and better responses. It is difficult to advise in this sense, but my personal experience with hyperactivity and lack of sleep led me to experiment with a few successful blends: 1. The narcotic blend: White Rhino and Super Silver Haze. These two strains combined have the ability of putting me to sleep very fast when I am too stressed to fall asleep, and I am not the only one… 2. The “going out to party” blend: Super Lemon Haze and Alaskan Ice. This mix energizes every cell in my brain, with amazing giggly sessions. It’s a rush of cannabis energy, and it’s really good for appetite stimulation. 3. The “get high but stay productive” blend: Arjan’s Haze #1 and AMS. This blend is smooth yet very high, with a great long-lasting effect that keeps me going for hours. It’s being high but being productive at the same time. The best way to find the right blends for your taste or for your medical needs is trial-and-error, because the matter is too subjective to make generalizations. If you find a special blend that works well for you, let me know about it by filling in the contact form on www.greenhouseseeds.nl. The information will be used to compile a database of personal experiences. Whatever information medicinal science does not tell us about cannabis ewe have to discover ourselves. It is our right to use a plant, and it is our pleasure and our need to use it wisely. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  2. This is the eleventh article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for home-breeding. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: drying and curing your crop. The harvest is the culminating moment of all the efforts made during months of cultivation. Once the harvest is done, it is time to dry and cure the buds for maximum flavor and potency. The drying and curing is a very delicate balance of factors, which must be monitored at all times to ensure success. Drying is the easiest part, while curing requires some experience and some very controlled conditions. There are two basic ways to dry: manicured and non-manicured. And there are two basic ways of curing: airtight curing and non-airtight curing. Which systems are adopted depend mostly on the purpose of the crop: commercial growers usually manicure the buds wet, and then they dry for a short time, in order to minimize risk and increase productivity by shortening the total crop time. On the other hand, people that grow for personal use will try to maximise quality and will dry and cure the buds until maximum flavor and effect are reached. Let’s now examine each option in detail: Wet manicuring - this technique has many advantages: it is easier and faster to manicure buds while they are still wet, because the leaves are not hanging and the resin is stickier and does not drop. Moreover this technique allows faster drying because plant juices are exposes by broken leaves; however the chlorophyll does not entirely break down with this method, and the final product can be a little bitter. Wet manicuring can be done manually (with the fingers, or using scissors) or by machine. Nowadays there are several options to manicure with machine, each of them perfect for a different setup. Large operations will require large rotatory blade systems that can handle quantity, while small operations can do well with small trimming machines that process branch by branch. When manicuring wet, make sure that the tools stay clean by applying a small quantity of oil or food-grade grease to the blades and to all metal parts that come in contact with the resin. Wet manicuring favors potency over flavor. Dry manicuring - this technique is preferred by some growers because the drying process is slower and smoother, allowing more chlorophyll to break down and evaporate with the water. However there is one disadvantage with dry-manicuring: the resin tends to drop from the buds as the dry leaves are crushed and removed. Dry manicuring prioritize flavor over potency. Whatever method is used, the purpose of drying is to get buds to a water content of 12-15% as slowly as possible. If water content gets below 12% buds will be too dry and will burn too fast, resulting in harsh smoke. If too much water is left inside buds will burn poorly, and taste green and bitter. Also the cosmetic-factor is affected by water content: the perfect buds are crispy, and break easily but do not pulverize. Once the buds are almost dry, it is time for connoisseurs to go to the next step: curing. Curing can be done in a variety of ways, but they all follow two basic principles: airtight or not airtight. Curing means allowing the last part of the drying to happen really slowly. Basically it involves a slow fermentation process, with some oxidation. THC will degrade into other cannabinoids, allowing for a deeper, longer-lasting, more physical effect. Terpenoids will blend and boost flavor and smell. Let’s now examine each curing option in detail: Airtight curing - Buds that are cured in airtight environment should be fairly dry to start with (around 12-15% to begin with) and will be placed directly in a glass jar. allow the jar to be full, but do not press buds too much, just slightly. Close the jar, and rest it in a dark place, at constant temperature around 16-18 degrees and low relative humidity (between 40 and 55%). Every week or so open the jar and let it breath for 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat for several weeks, until the product is cured. Try cured buds at several stages to see what you like the most, this really is a matter of personal taste. The more you cure the more potent and strong-flavor it will be, with a maximum curing time of 6-8 months. Non-airtight curing - This is a better way to cure large crops. It involves placing the buds in cardboard boxes, with few air-holes pierced through the sides. Buds can be slightly pressed, so the resin breaks a little. Place the boxes in a climate-controlled environment (temp around 16 degrees, relative humidity around 45-50%) and monitor every week. The curing with this system is faster and produces more oxidation, so it is advisable to cure for 2-4 months. Other alternative ways of curing are in cupboards, or in cedar-wood boxes, or in cigar humidors. Some African tribes, in Malawi and Zambia, even cure buds underground. This can be attempted but is very tricky. The soil must be very dry, and the bud must be placed in a thin leather bag, or in the dried interiors of a large animal. Curing bud is the key to a unique connoisseur flavor and effect, and should never be underestimated. The best bud can become average if dried too fast, while the most average bud can become a delicacy if properly cured. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  3. This is the tenth article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for hunting landraces. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: breeding your own genetics A long time ago I started smoking cannabis, then soon after I started growing it. And that's when I realised, like many do at that stage, the simple truth that breeding is to growing what driving is to walking. Ever since I started growing cannabis back in 1989 i begun dreaming of breeding my own strains, of creating my own crossings. And thanks to Arjan and my work at Green House Seed Company, one day that dream become a reality. Now I want to share a few secrets about this magical art, a science that goes beyond measurable data and into the realm of feelings, perception and sixth sense. Breeding is the process of creating and stabilizing new strains, and it all starts from sourcing good genetics to start with. There are many ways of breeding, from simple selection of traits all the way up to cannabinoid, terpens and DNA profiling. But the basic principles are the same. For the home-breeder, the point is to find great starting genetics, cross them, and then to select until the desired traits are found. After this, the more tricky step is a matter of reproducing the selected individuals, by making a stable strain out of them. The starting material for breeding should be anything with great qualities that are easily identifiable. If possible, it is best to use regular seeds for home-breeding, but it is also possible to do it with feminized, although it requires more selection. Breeding should be targeting a single main train, or a selected number of traits. The larger the number, the higher the risk of overlooking something in the process. The rule of thumb is: keep it as simple as possible. There are many ways of home-breding: some do it for resin, others for flavor, others for production. Some for more than one trait, in which case it is best to do it by selecting and breeding for a single trait at the time. For example, if I would wanna take Super Lemon Haze seeds and cross them with a heavy-producing indica to increase yield without losing the typical lemon flavor, the best way would be to first cross the two, then select individuals for production, stabilize that trait, and then search for the specific flavor. Stabilizing can be done with back-crossing technique, where selected individuals carrying desired traits are crossed back with the original parent carrying the same similar traits. For example, if a Super Lemon Haze is crossed with a White Rhino for increasing production while keeping the lemon scent, the selected off-springs that are most producing will be back-crossed to the original Super Lemon Haze plant for boosting lemon flavor. The stabilization process of a selected crossing is a more complicated process, requiring large spaces to be able to check large number of individuals, and this is the reason why few seed companies actually stabilize their strains. Planting a crop of F1 hybrid seeds to select individuals carrying desired traits is one thing. Backing up several selected individuals to stabilize the lines is another. It requires space, to be able to verify the entire gamma of genetic combinations of the population (in cannabis this means planting over 10000 units of F1 to find the few individuals that carry desired expression of traits, then use them for the back-crossing to original parents). Depending on the strain and the cross, it is usually necessary to back-cross or inbreed 3 to 6 generations before true uniformity is reached. In the case of extreme sativas, for example, it is necessary to go down several generations before any uniformity is achieved, while with indica strains the task is a little easier. What makes the difference is also the desired level of uniformity: especially for sativas, it is usually very much handy to allow phenotypes to manifest themselves, so growers can select the ones that a best for them and their needs. With more commercial strains, it is usually more appreciated when plats are very uniform, to guarantee an uniform product. The point of home breeding is that it is rarely possible to plant as many off-springs to actually represent the population. Because of these reduced number of plants in use, finding exceptional individuals becomes also a matter of luck and, in part, “green finger”, or sixth sense. Let’s not forget that many champion strains were born simply as anomalies in a vast selection of individuals. This is exactly what happened with the Cheese in the UK. No matter how small the home-breeding operation, in my opinion it is always the most interesting, fun and rewarding way to grow cannabis. Making new flavors and new types of plants keeps mixing the gene-pool, keeps creating diversity, and most of all keeps increasing the number of seeds that go around between smokers and growers. In a few words: it is the best way to keep fighting for the cannabis cause. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  4. This is the nineth article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flowering indoors. This month, I give you... Franco's tricks on: strain hunting for landraces Strain hunters are people that cannot stop searching for the best cannabis, everywhe they go. After having spent several years traveling with this exact intention, I think it's time to reveal a few secrets and a few tricks that can make a difference between succeeding and failing. I started strain hunting as a hobby, without even realizing it, when I started traveling on my own, at the age of 17. Back then I was just a tourist looking for good bud, like many others. But I realise now that my interest for the social, religious, recreational and biological aspects relating to cannabis in different settings was a clear sign of my passion for strain hunting. I started collecting seeds from my travels, and my curiosity kept growing. Then I begun working with Arjan, and he was already busy strain hunting for a long time. His collection of landrace genetics was most impressive, and since that moment our common passion led to many travels, and much strain hunting. Now strain hunting is a worldwide phenomena, thanks to the internet and to tv. When arriving in a country with the intention of discovering cannabis strains and landraces, it is always a good idea to have good local contacts in the scene. This is not always possible, of course, but the more preparation is dedicated to creating links, the higher the chances of getting on the right path straight away. It is mportant to read local news, to understand the level of prosecution that law enforcement is applying in the area, being able to target the right areas and to avoid unpleasant surprises. Once the contact with local farmers is made, it is best to go to their fields with trusted and well rewarded local guides. It is always interesting to speak to farmers from different areas, to understand the way they work and why. Ideally, it is best to plan 2 trips to the same country, the first one during the planting season to make good links and the second one just before harvesting begins, to be able to collect seeds and make great pics and footage. Usually strain hunters look for original landraces of cannabis, those varieties that have been inbreeding in the same location for a long time with little outside intervention. Most of the times these types of plantation are located in the most rural and less tourist areas of third world countries, and it takes a good dose of energy and will to reach them. But the real landraces are becoming increasingly rare, because travelers often exchange cannabis genetics, and local growers try to acquire high-grade famous strains that make them more money on the black market. So even in countries that have been landrace-based for centuries now are starting to produce small-scale high-grade European or American popular strains. In South Africa, Jamaica, Mexico and Thailand local growers are trying to get their hands on cannabis-cup awarded strains, whose names are cited by tourists coming from the four corners of the globe. In order to identify the history of cannabis in a certain area, it is always best to ask to elderly people, as usually they have more information and more experience. Young growers tend to be more prone to cross their crops or to be growing imported genetics. Old school growers also tend to implement old school agricultural techniques, and they tend to keep old seeds as backup. Depending on the level of illegality, corruption and prosecution of each individual country it is advisable to keep some cash at hand at all times, and to know the numbers of local embassies and consulates. It can come handy at the least expected moment. Strain hunting is fun, and it does a lot for the cannabis cause. The more people go strain hunting, the higher is the chance that original landraces are preserved for future generations. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  5. This is the eight article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flowering indoors. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on pest & disease control indoors The single most likely cause of crop failure, in any indoor grow operation, from large to small, are pests. Working in a clean indoor environment and applying logical, strict rules are the only ways to prevent pests and diseases from harming your crop. But sometimes even with many precautions it gets necessary to fight the problem. Prevention and cure are the two expressions of the same philosophy: monitor your crop carefully in order to prevent problems, or to cope with existing ones quickly and effectively enough. Prevention begins by sterilizing the growroom before putting any plant inside. The best way to sterilize a growroom is to use water peroxide (H2O2-35%) diluted 1/10 in water. With this mix it is possible to spray the entire room, at lamps off, including the entire equipment inside (pots, tables, buckets, tanks, lamps, controllers, fans, hangers, nets, bamboo sticks...). When spraying, apply the necessary protection (mask, goggles, coat with head protection) and after spraying wait until the room is perfectly dry before switching on any electrical appliance. Lights and ventilation should then run for 12 hours before putting plants inside). The sterilized room is only a good start. After that comes a proper prevention plan. Try to use sterilized mediums (or pasteurized ones) as purely organic compost can contain lots of bugs, and is most indicated for outdoor grow but a real nightmare to work with indoors. The ventilation should intake air from a filtered pipe (most of the mites and other bugs enter growrooms from the outside, through ventilation intake). When bringing plants in, the best is to make sure that the plants that are introduced to the room do not carry diseases already (if starting from cuttings) or that the seedlings are pathogen-free. Unfortunately this is rarely possible, as often the source of the plants or seeds is not offering any certification. So it is often the case that the plants themselves carry some sort of problem already. As a preventive step, all young plants in the room should be treated with 3 sessions of Vertimec (or equivalent) spray (available from Bayer or Syngenta in Europe), at half the normal dosage (1 ml per each 5 liters of water). Vertimec can be sprayed every five days, so in 10 days time it is possible to treat the plants 3 times and to make sure that any spider-mite egg or other bugs are killed on the spot. It is effective against most bugs, and it attacks the eggs as well. The active components inside the Vertimec brake down with exposure to light and air, and disappear completely after 15-20 days of the last treatment. For this reason, Vertimec should only be used on plants that are in the vegetative growth stage, and avoided on plants that are flowering, especially after the buds form resin. The most common threats to crops are bugs and fungi. Once the plants finish growing and turn to flowering, they become more attractive to bugs. Furthermore, the medium is getting older, and less air gets to the root system. At this stage monitoring the plants frequently is the only way to prevent problems. Experienced growers rotate the plants inside their growroom periodically, so to have the chance to check each plant individually and to avoid plants being left abandoned unchecked in a corner. If plants grow on fixed systems (slabs, rockwool blocks, acquafarms or similar) they are impossible to move but this should not be an excuse not to check regularly. When checking for trouble, it is best to start from the medium and the root system. The roots must be white and hairy, if they turn yellow and brownish they are likely rotting or they have some fungus infection. This is most likely due to excessive watering, or lack of air to the root system. The medium should never smell rotten (unless special organic feedings are applied) and should be free from bugs. Fruit-flies on the surface of the medium are common even in healthy environments, but if they are present in large numbers it can be that the surface of the medium is forming a crust (it should be avoided, otherwise transpiration is majorly affected). After checking the root system it is good to have a look at the lower part of the stem, making sure that it is free from small branches and leaves touching the medium. When this happens the leaf material tends to break and rotten, creating a way in to fungi and diseases. When checking for the presence of bugs and pests, it is good to look under the oldest leaves of the plant, and on the stems. Look for the most common bugs: ants, white fly, aphids, scale, mites. And for the most common diseases: algae, powdery mildew, botrytis, leaf spot. For the algae, the best is to deprive them of light (cover the medium surface), while powdery mildew can be treated organically using vinegar, or cinnamon oil. For botrytis it is necessary to apply a fungicide, or a specific product, but once botrytis appears it is almost impossible to get rid of it, so it is really a matter of prevention (controlling the humidity of the room and the watering is the first step). Each of these diseases or pests has a proper way of being targeted, but the most important factor is to spot the problem on time, take immediate action, monitor the success of the process, and evaluate the consequences so not to have any bad surprise. All over the Internet nowadays it is possible to find accurate information on pests and diseases, so it is really only a matter of applying common sense and be vigilant. And these principles go well with any aspect of growing pot. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  6. This is the seventh article in a series where I present selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for growing large outdoor plants. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on flowering indoors The flowering is one of the most rewarding phases of any crop, because the progress towards the harvest can be looked, touched, smelled. Plants are now developing flower clusters, and there are several factors that can guarantee success in quality and quantity. Indoors and outdoors, the goal is for plants to feel good about the conditions, the environment, and the grower. When working indoors it is important to notice that every single factor depends from the grower, there should be nothing left to chance. The ideal climate conditions for flowering at lamps on are at temperature between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius, and a relative humidity between 40% and 55%. When the lamps turn off it is normal that the temperature lowers to 20-22 degrees, while the relative humidity climbs to around 60%. If the temperature gap between day and night is larger than 8-10 degrees Celsius there is a risk of slowing down the metabolic of the crop. The relative humidity must stay under 70% to avoid mold and fungi in the crop. A good way to cope with high daytime temperature is to run the lamps opposite to daylight. This way the maximum temperature in the growroom will stay lower, but the disadvantage of this system is that the gap between day and night temperature will be reduced to a minimum, and sometimes this can create problems because plants actually benefit from a 8 to 10 degrees gap between the day temperature and the night one. Nevertheless, it is better to sacrifice the day-night gap, than to end up with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius in the growroom during daytime. Air conditioning is a very expensive and environmentally unfriendly option, but sometimes it’s the only one for indoor growers in warm countries. The benefits are cool air and a drying effect as well, ideal during flowering. It is worth noticing that plants do not like air conditioning directly blowing towards them, it is much better to direct the flow of air towards the ceiling, where it will precipitate allowing warmer air to climb. This way the diffusion of cooled, dry air is uniform in the room and not direct on the plants. Once the climate is perfectly under control, it is worth dedicating some energy to optimize feeding intake. During flowering the plants use mostly P, K and Micros to produce buds and resin. The N intake is still important during the first few weeks of flowering, but later on it must decrease, or the buds will get leafy and the calyx-to-leaf ratio will decrease dramatically, creating issues for manicuring as well. Only with extremely long-flowering sativas, the N intake can be kept a little longer, to avoid premature yellowing of the leaves. To allow plants to slowly intake less N and more P-K-Micros, the pH of the feeding solution should stay above 6.0 after the beginning of the flowering, ideally slowly climbing between 6.2 and 6.6 in soil, and slowly climbing between 5.9 and 6.3 in hydroponics, depending on the strain and the stage of flowering. The rule of thumb here is that the more a strain is long-flowering, the higher the pH should be at the end of the flowering process; with 12-weeker sativas pH usually climbs to 6.9 or 7.0 at the end of flowering. The most important of Micro-elements (Mg, Ca, Zn, Fe) are also assimilated at best if the pH is above 6.0 and these are very important in the formation of terpenes, cannabinoids and resin. The best way to make sure the plants intake the available minerals is to ensure that they are hungry and thirsty. The best is to create a cycle of dry-wet medium, where the dry spells allow plenty of oxygen to the root sytem and the wet spells allow enough watering solution to be absorbed. The one thing that flowering cannabis plants do not like, is a constantly wet medium. Besides the normal watering cycle, it is also important to regularly flush the medium to get rid of salts. This can be done with a mild solution at pH 5.5 and EC 1.0, so that the salt crystals can bind to the low-mineral-content in the solution and dissolve. Flushing should be integrated in the regular watering cycle, and after flushing the medium should be allowed to dry properly before feeding again. Once the feeding is optimized, it is good to take care of the other factors affecting a successful crop. Between them, supporting the flowers, and optimizing the pre-harvest and the harvest. After 4 weeks of flowering the plants have usually developed enough bud to start getting heavy, so it is advisable to support the branches with some system (bamboos, elastic bands, nets, yoyos or any system that prevents branches from collapsing under the weight of the flower clusters). Depending on the strain, support can be an important or a marginal issue. Large sativas usually need the most support. Pre-harvesting means removing most of the large fan-leaves from the plants during the last days of the flowering cycle, before cutting them down for manicuring and drying. Pre-harvesting helps reducing the total amount of green material (water and chlorophyll) in the crop. Once the big fan-leaves (the ones that have no resin on) have been removed, the plants reduce the amount of photosynthesis, and produce less starches. This allows for sweeter and better-burning weed, and makes the whole harvesting process much easier and faster. In conclusion, it is up to the grower to identify the weakest points of the grow, and improve from there. Curiosity and will to improve are the key factors to a green thumb. During flowering, a lot can be done to ensure a great crop; and it’s all worth it. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  7. This is the sixth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for controlling and optimizing the medium pH. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on growing large outdoor plants In this time of the year most outdoor growers already planted their seeds or cuttings, and the plants are already boosting in full vegetative growth. More and more growers these days have the possibility of growing large outdoor plants in containers or in open soil. As a passionate outdoor grower, I always enjoyed growing large plants because it is one of the most challenging and most rewarding ways of making cannabis. Growing large plants requires a good preparation, careful choice of the location, and a keen eye to prevent problems rather than fix them after they happened. To begin, it is always good to start plants in small containers, and re-pot them as they grow bigger. Starting the seedlings, or cuttings, in 3-5 liters containers, one can re-pot them to 20 liter containers when they have formed a beginning of root-ball, and then again into very large containers, or in open soil. This process of allowing the root-ball to begin to form and then re-pot allows the root system to grow to its full potential very rapidly. The root system boosts after having formed a semi root ball and more lateral root-shots are formed. The depth of the final large container of choice will influence the shape of the plant as well: large, short containers will produce shorter, bushier plants, as the tap-root cannot extend and forms root-ball. On the contrary, if the container is tall the plants will grow taller, as the main tap root goes down deeper. When the plants are 50-60 cm tall it is time to clear the bottom branches close to the soil, and allow 20-30 cm of clean stem from the level of the earth, to avoid contact between leaves and the soil. This prevents animals from crawling onto the plants, especially leaf-eaters, and avoids rotten leaf-material at the bottom of the plants. In some cases it is also good to remove some leaf material (especially with extra-dense indica genetics). When the plants have to grow very large, it is essential to boost feeding intake from an early stage, and to allow enough N to be absorbed. For this purpose mineral feedings work best, but also organic compost can perform miracles when properly prepared. The pH of the watering solution should be kept at optimal levels for growth in soil (5.7-6.0) until needed, and P, Mg and Ca intake should be boosted to form strong stems to support the large flower clusters. The structure of the plants depends on the genetics and the container, but in order to grow very large plants that can support the flowers it is almost always necessary to prune and to give some form of support to the branches. The plants are ready to be pruned at an early age, as long as they have 3-4 internodes, but in order to grow large plants it is best to wait and top them at 6 or more internodes. Topping the main growth will produce lateral development and make the whole plant structure sturdier. The same can be done to each branch if it tends to grow too long and become to weak to support the flowers. Any pruning can be done until the metabolism is still in vegetative growth starts changing into flowering mode. The plants should not be pruned after the flowering has started because this would reduce the number of flower clusters and reduce the total production. Furthermore, pruning plants already in flowering can shock them and produce hermaphroditic traits. The drainage of the container is essential to guarantee good flushing of the salts that will eventually buildup in case of mineral feeding. Drainage allows also a good flow of air to the root system, promoting a healthy growth. If the plants go in open soil, it is very important to dig a deep hole (over 1 meter) and deposit some drainage-material at the bottom. When plants grow very large, it is sometimes useful to cage them in a net-cage, to create a sort of external frame where the branches lean on. Other effective ways to support plants are bamboo sticks, or ropes. Whatever the system, the purpose is to support the branches and, at the same time, to allow access to the plant for feeding and pest control. Working with large plants can produce monster-size harvests (up to several kg per plant) so it is always good to plan the logistics of the harvest well in advance (cutting, transport, drying space, manicuring crew). The most important thing to remember is that quality should never be spoiled by quantity. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  8. This is the fifth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and I work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for flushing the plant's medium. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on pH There are many ways to grow good cannabis; the path each grower takes depends on knowledge, background, and philosophy. Those who dare to adventure off the beaten path, and keep curious about new possibilities, usually end up becoming really good growers. By trying new systems, new mediums, new feedings and new genetics growers can improve the quality and quantity of their output. Due to the illegal status of the plant, there has been relatively little scientific research on how to grow cannabis. On the other hand, there has been abundance of practical experience, as cannabis is one of the most cultivated plants on earth. Trial and error has been the traditional way of learning for the large majority of growers, and only in recent years, thanks to Internet and to cheap air-travel, the cannabis community has been able to link and to exchange information, data and genetics at an unprecedented pace. This has resulted in an explosion of the cannabis industry in general. Soil, hydroponics, coco fiber, aeroponics, organic feedings, synthetic feedings; each system has its positive and negative sides, and each can deliver great cannabis, if done properly. Of all factors that determine a successful crop the most important are: air, light and feeding. And for feeding intake, pH levels are crucial for optimum results. A small minority of growers has completely organic operations (meaning they use soil collected from forests, use predators to fight pests, and make their own compost exclusively from organically produced food) where controlling the pH of the watering solution should be done exclusively using lemon juice (to lower the pH) or limestone (to higher the pH). But most growers use some form of synthetic feeding, so they don't mind using nitric acid or phosphoric acid to lower the pH of the feeding solution, and calcium carbonate to increase it. Most growers need to lower the pH of their feeding solution; it is actually rare to have to increase it. The difference is in the stage of development of the crop. During vegetative growth, nitric acid works best, while during the flowering period phosphoric acid is the most indicated. This is because of the binding that happens with Nitrogen or with Phosphorus already present in the feeding. But the question always coming back is: what's the right pH? The answer is easy, jet complicated. The easy part is: safe levels are anywhere in between 5.5 and 7.0. Cannabis can successfully assimilate most of the nutrients needed when the pH is in between these levels, especially if all other important factors (air, light, watering frequency) are at 100%. Of course, to optimize quality and quantity it is best that all nutrients are assimilated at the optimum moment. Therefore it is advisable to keep pH around 5.5-6.0 during vegetative growth, and to increase to 6.1-6.5 during flowering. This way the Nitrogen is best absorbed during vegetative growth, and Phosphorus, Potassium and microelements are best absorbed during flowering. Because of the different conditions and optimal levels, it is worth examining a few typical situations. In case of outdoor guerrilla growing, it is difficult to control the pH of the earth. The best is to make sure the soil does not contain too much clay. For the rest, the only control is trying to balance well the feeding solution. Best in these conditions is to start at 5.5 pH then move on to 6.5 during flowering, and up to 7.0 during the end of the crop. A high pH at the end will reduce the chance of bud-rot or fungus development. Indoors, it really depends on the medium and the strains. In soil, with most indica strains, it is best to start at 5.8 during vegetative growth, move to 6.2 during flowering, and end at 6.4 at harvest. With more sativa varieties it is advisable to start at 5.8 and then smoothly go up to 6.8 at the end of the flowering. In hydroponics, the trick is to remember that the pH of the medium tends to jump very high very fast. Therefore, it is best to stabilize the pH of the medium at 5.5 before starting the grow cycle, and keep it slightly lower than one would do in soil. Flowering can be done at 5.8-6.0, and the end of the flowering should be done at 6.2-6.3 for indicas, and 6.4-6.5 for sativas. In coco fiber the game is similar to hydroponics, while in aeroponics the pH should be stabilized between 5.5 (grow) and 6.5 (flowering) for perfect intake. Adjusting the pH at the right levels will ensure that even the microelements are absorbed properly, which will boost resin production. And will also ensure that the plants stay green well into the flowering, guaranteeing maximum surface available for photosynthesis when the buds are building up. During my career as grower, breeder and seed maker I met several growers that were able to produce the finest product without controlling the pH of their nutrient solution. But it was cases of serious natural-born green finger. The large majority of growers benefits from controlling the pH and applying the theory to the practice, while remembering that it is always useful to experiment and fine-tune the values to tailor the genetics and the unique environment. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  9. This is the fourth article in a series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks for vegetative growth. This month, I give you... FRANCO'S TRICKS ON: FLUSHING THE MEDIUM Most growers use synthetic feeding to grow cannabis. This is mostly because synthetic feedings are ready-to-absorb, work fast, and are easy-to-dose. Nevertheless, compared to organics, there is one single main disadvantage: salt buildup in the medium. As a consequence, flushing the medium where cannabis grows should be seen as a natural, logical, unavoidable step to maintain a healthy, productive crop. A clean growroom, and clean tools, are just the beginning. It is also important to keep clean the environment where the roots grow, the medium. Roots develop in a dark, wet environment and are prone to absorb fertilizer if certain conditions are met. It does not matter what kind of medium is in use, synthetic fertilizer will cause salts buildup and intoxication of the plants, if proper flushing is not applied. During the crop, fertilizer gets absorbed by the plants in different quantities and concentrations, depending on many factors (temperature, pH, metabolism, mineral composition of the fertilizer). The plants intake feedings, and the leftovers sit in the medium and crystallize into small rocks of salts. This causes an increase of the medium pH and EC, and intoxication of the plants. Flushing the medium is a tailored procedure, one that varies according to the type of medium. In earth, salts build up at a slower pace than in hydroponics, but it is also more difficult to wash them away. Once the fertilization program is under way, it will take 3 to 4 weeks for salts to start building up, and another week before it can do any harm to the plants. Therefore, it is advisable to start flushing plants that are growing in earth around week 5-6 of the cycle. When flushing, it is important to avoid over-watering; this means that the flushing should be integrated in the watering cycles. Before the flush the medium should be fairly dry, and after flushing it is very important to let the medium become dry and light before feeding or watering. The dry-wet-dry-wet cycle in the earth (sponge-effect) is what maintain the plant metabolism at optimal levels. For plants growing in soil, the flush is very important at the end of the crop, during the last 2 weeks before harvest. If properly flushed, plants will produce tastier buds, and the combustion factor of the dried material will improve. If plants are not flushed properly, combustion is slower and the flavor poor, and artificial. When flushing the medium, it is very important to be organized to avoid water spills in the growroom. The purpose of flushing is to wash the medium, and as a consequence a lot of water flows through the containers down to the ground, and it is very important to drain away excess water from the growroom, so the climate stays good (too much water in the room will cause air humidity to climb fast, creating all sorts of issues). The easiest way of flushing is when working with elevated tables, and proper drainage pipes. Another way of effectively control flushing In hydroponic mediums (from rock-wool to pebbles to coco fiber) the flushing process is easier to implement, because there is a higher degree of drainage. The texture of hydroponic medium favors flushing, and it is also more necessary than in earth. When flushing hydroponic medium, it is very important to be exact with the values of the flushing solution. EC, temperature and quantity are very important factors. The EC of the flushing solution must be high enough for the salts to bind with the solution, but not as high as to form more salts. The ideal values are between 0.9 and 1.1. The temperature must be in the 20-24 degrees Celsius range, to allow salt crystals to dissolve and unbind from the medium. If the temperature of the flushing solution is lower than 20 degrees the salt crystals will not dissolve, and if it is higher than 24 degrees the tiny root-hairs will be damaged. And finally, the quantity of solution going through the medium should be at least double in volume (for example: 40 liters of flushing solution for a 20 liters container). In my personal experience, flushing with up to 3 times the volume is even more effective, as long as the drainage is quick. Flushing is best done at the beginning of the light-cycle, so to favor evaporation of excess water and to let the medium begin the drying process faster after flushing. Once plants are flushed, they tend to get lazy, and slow down growth for a day or two, but this is all part of the game. As soon as the medium dries again, the growth (or ripening) resumes fast, and even increases. To double check the effectiveness of flushing, it is easy to measure the values inside the medium before and after flushing. First, pour some flushing solution through the medium. Measure the values inside the first liquid draining from the bottom, then apply the complete volume of flushing solution. At the end of drainage, measure again. At this point, the pH and EC readings of the flushing solution should be similar to what is draining out of the container. In conclusion, flushing should be part of any synthetic feeding schedule, well integrated in the process. Water tanks capacity, and drainage, should be priority considerations when designing or building a good growroom. It can only improve the results of the grow operation. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  10. This is the third article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks to maintain a clean, efficient and productive mother room. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on vegetative growth Vegetative growth, also called “veg” or “veg-time”, is the time between sprouting (seeds) or rooting (cuttings) and the beginning of the flowering period. It is a transitional phase, and most growers tend to overlook the importance of this time of the crop. Several tasks that are vital to achieve a high-volume and high-quality harvest are performed by the plants during vegetative growth: formation of a strong root system; growth of branches and support structure for flowers to come; and formation of leaves for photosynthesis, to name a few. Vegetative growth can be as fast as a few days, or as long as a few months. Indoors, vegetative growth is usually kept short to a minimum, for 2 reasons: growers want to shorten the total crop-time, and they want to keep plants short because of room-height concerns. Nevertheless, veg-time is the moment when the plants boost the most, when they create new cells at a staggering speed. Cannabis is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, with average growth that can reach over 2 centimeters per day at peak. During veg-time there are a few very important tricks that can improve the performance of plants. The most important one is surely to allow enough oxygen to the root system, by allowing the medium to dry properly between feeding cycle. Watering cycles should be far apart enough, and the medium should have very good drainage properties. A plant that grows with a constantly wet medium will slow down its metabolism and get lazy. On the contrary, when the root system is exposed to cycles of feeding alternated to dry ones, and the other factors (air, light) are at 100%, growth will explode. The EC for vegetative growth should be kept between 1.3 and 1.6, depending on the strain and the medium used. In very particular situations (fast-responding genetics, hydro-setup, experienced grower), it is possible to push the EC at higher levels to increase growth-speed, but this requires a very good control on the grow, and a lot of experience. pH should be kept around, or below, 6. This will allow a faster intake of Nitrogen, the most important nutrient during the growth phase. During vegetative growth it is also time to give the plants clear “instructions” on how to develop, based on the needs of each particular growroom. Most indoor growers like to “pinch” the tip of the growing plants, so to split growth into 2 branches. This can be repeated several times, to obtain very bushy plants with massive lateral development and a contained height. By splitting the growth of the main cola (a technique known as super-cropping) and the lateral branches, it is possible to increase the total production of a plant, keeping the height under control at the same time. The best moment to pinch plants is after they have developed 2 or 3 internodes. An alternative to super-cropping is to apply a net over the plants (SCRoG system) and to form a flat canopy at a desired distance from the lamps. This can be particularly effective with long-internode genetics, or very stretchy ones. Very important is to always clean the bottom of the plants, trimming away low branches that are touching the ground or the medium. Outdoors it is very difficult to control the growth of plants, because control over many factors (like temperature or light-exposure) is limited or nonexistent. But there are also factors that can be influenced positively, like controlling the development and the shape of the plants by pruning them, and supporting branches if necessary, keeping in mind the heavy loads of flower that they will have to support and the local conditions that can create issues (like wind or storms). Fertilizing outdoor plants during veg-time is important because it is the time when the plants build their immune system. The best solution to fertilize outdoor plants during veg-time in guerrilla-grow situations is to use slow-release fertilizer, thus reducing the number of necessary visits to the location. Leaf-feeding (spraying a light nutritive solution on the leaves for absorption) can help outdoor plants if they can’t get enough feeding from the earth. Outdoor plants tend to become very large, so it is sometimes convenient to bend them down and tie them to the ground (a technique known as LST). The best time to do this is just before the beginning of the flowering, when the stems are still very flexible and the plants have already developed the structure necessary to support the buds. You can use sticks and ropes to support long branches, and to point them to grow towards the desired direction. Some growers like to bend down long branches all the way to the ground, and put a stone on the branch to keep it down; it is an extreme but very effective way of LST. After bending the long lower branches all the way down to the ground, they make a few cuts and incisions in the plant tissue, right in the spot where the branch touches the ground. Finally, they apply some rooting hormone. The branches will shoot out strong roots, and become physical extensions of the plant. This trick can reduce vertical development considerably, and is great for camouflage and to increase the output of the crop. If plants grow too bushy or too dense it is a good practice to “make some room”, by trimming few branches and leaves, allowing light and air to penetrate the plants. This will prevent the dying of the lower part of the plants and will increase production. And last but not least, pest control; another key factor in any successful crop, pest control starts (and should end) during veg-time. Good growers know how to prevent problems, by applying pest-control as a preventive element during veg-time, instead of fighting bugs during flowering. Using a wide-spectrum synthetic pest-control agent during vegetative growth will not leave any traces in the finished product, as long as the treatment is done early enough in the cycle. With most agents, the important is to allow light exposure to break down the chemicals, and allow enough time for the plant to brake down the traces left inside. The vegetative growth is a phase of the life of the plants when few, precise actions can make a lot of difference in the final outcome. It is worth keeping it short, but also as effective as possible. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  11. This is the second article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. Last month I explained some of the best tricks to take strong, healthy cuttings, and to speed up the rooting process. This month, I give you... Franco’s tricks on mother plants Maintenance of a healthy, productive mother room is the basis for a high-output cannabis farm. Mother plants require good care if they have to keep producing cuttings for a long time, and there are a number of tricks, besides normal maintenance operations, that can help insure a smooth flow of production. Mother rooms are often kept at an 18-hrs light cycle, sometimes at a longer one, to promote vegetative growth. Depending on the strain(s) present in the room, light cycle can be adjusted to prevent flowering. Some strains, when kept on vegetative growth for longer than 2 or 3 months tend to start flowering, or to show pre-flowers and to slow down their vegetative growth. A good way to prevent this from happening is to increase the photoperiod from 18 to 20 hours per day. An uninterrupted light cycle of 24 hours per day should only be used to revert to vegetative growth plants that have started flowering already, and must be brought back for sake of conservation. If applied healthy plants in vegetative growth, a non-stop light cycle will produce stress and eventually be harmful to plants and cuttings. The medium in which mother plants grow is a key factor in determining the length of the plant’s life. Soil, coco fibre, clay pebbles, and rock-wool are the easiest mediums to keep mother plants. In soil the micro-life and enzymes will die after a period of 2-3 months, so it is advisable to freshen-up the medium periodically by chopping the outside of the root-ball and re-planting using some fresh soil. Using this technique it is possible to keep mother plants in soil for longer than a year. Coco-fibre, clay and rock-wool are easier to keep clean by implementing regular flushing. The trick when flushing is to apply at least 2 times the volume of the container in litres, and slowly pour the flushing solution avoiding that it runs off on the sides of the medium, making sure that it passes through. The temperature should be around the 20-25 degrees Celsius, to increase salts solubility. After flushing the medium, it is vital to let it rest until it becomes light and full of air, creating a sponge-like effect that brings oxygen to the root system. Then feeding can resume, with the addition of some extra enzymes, or bacterial micro-life. A good way to feed plants if the medium is still too heavy with water is to apply foliar feeding (specific products can be used for this purpose, although a mildly-diluted synthetic feeding solution with an EC inferior to 1.4 will do the trick just as well). The logistics of each mother room are different, but in most cases it is a good rule-of-thumb to divide the grow-space into a “boost” area and a “parking” area. The plants that have to be used to take cuttings in the following weeks can be put in “boost”, while the ones waiting to be used in the future can grow at a slower pace in the “parking” area. This system comes particularly useful in rooms with a large number of genetics, where a rotation in production is part of the logistics. I like to use different lights in a mother room, because this helps creating a “boost and parking” setup. For example, in a mother room of 2 square meters it is advisable to use 1 metal halide lamp for a boost area, and some fluorescent lights for the parking area (the output of fluorescent tubes has more than doubled over the last few years, and there are excellent products on the market that use very little electricity). Plants can then follow a rotation pattern, to optimize growth, avoid stress, and produce many healthy cuttings. Ideally each mother plant should have a period of frequent cuts (every 2-3 weeks for a few months) and then a rest-period of a few months, with less frequent cuts. Temperature in a mother room is very important to ensure smooth conditions for growth. Compared to a flowering room, a mother room should be few degrees cooler (23-26 degrees Celsius). This prevents micro-life in the soil from perishing, as well as lowering the chance of fungi and bacterial infections. The metabolism of growing plants is optimal around 25 degrees during vegetative growth, allowing for a higher clone-to-plant ratio. Feeding mother plants is a relatively boring routine: the trick is to keep the plants in “parking” at a low-feeding regime (I normally feed every 2 or 3 watering sessions), then increase N intake during the boost phase, and stop feeding about one week before taking cuttings. Moreover it is very important that the plants are well watered when cuttings are taken. These simple tricks can considerably reduce rooting time and increase root strength in young cuttings. The feeding needs of mother plants include a monthly dose of enzymes (make sure the bottle is fairly new and the shelf-life was monitored, or the enzymes will be dead before you open the bottle. Never keep an open bottle of enzymes longer then a month, and make sure it is stored in a dark, cool place); and some extra micro-nutrients (especially Mg, Ca, Zn) every 2-3 weeks. Trimming plants is another major routine task in a mother room. Plants should be trimmed according to the needs, trying to split branches as much as possible and to keep the plants low by boosting low branching. A properly trimmed mother plant, at 6-7 months of age, should produce at least 50-60 cuttings per session. Finally, a mother room must be clean, neat and well organized. Always remove trash from the room, and disinfect tools with a water peroxide solution (90% water and 10% H2O2-35%). The room itself should be emptied and sprayed with the water and H2O2-35% solution once a year. The solution can be sprayed all over the room, including lamps, ventilation equipment and grow-tables. After the treatment ventilate until the room is dry, then turn on the lights for 6-8 hours to clear every residue of H2O2. Then plants can go back, in a very clean environment. Mother plants are the key to a productive cannabis farm, and they need to live longer than any other cannabis plant. They demand, and deserve, the most care. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  12. This is the first article in a new series where I present some selected tricks and advanced growing techniques. My name is Franco, and i work at Green House Seed Company, in Amsterdam, since the year 2000. Over the last 10 years I have learned from Arjan countless tricks and advanced techniques, and I developed a few of my own as well. And now it’s time to share some of this knowledge with growers worldwide. If we share the knowledge, everybody wins. This month I explain some of the best tricks to take strong, healthy cuttings, and to speed up the rooting process. These are... Franco's tricks on cuttings The most important single factor determining the success in producing healthy cuttings is hygiene. A clean growroom and clean tools are essential to success. In my experience, the best way to keep a mother-room clean is to periodically empty it (take plants out, turn off all equipment) and then spray it with a solution of water peroxide (H2O2 35%) diluted in tap water 1 to 10; this solution can be sprayed over walls, equipment, lamps, pretty much the entire room. After a few hours of ventilation, the lights can be turned on again and the plants put back into place. It is a simple way to kill germs, bacterias, fungi, spores, and any parasites or pests (including their eggs). This treatment should be done every 4-6 months, depending on the situation. In mother rooms where cuttings are taken regularly, the treatment should be repeated more frequently. Mother plants have to be in very good shape to guarantee good cuttings. The best mothers are 1 to 6 months old, and in full vigor, under 18 or more hours of light per day. It’s important to let the mother plants rest between cutting sessions at least 2-3 weeks, to avoid stressing them. Feeding should be applied regularly, but not in the 3-4 days before taking cuttings; the day before taking cuttings, I like to water the mother plants with pH-balanced water (5.5-6.0) containing no feedings, and I make sure the circulation fans are positioned so that the branches keep a slight movement in the breeze, so to keep the cells that form the branches in an agitated and flexible condition; this will help the conversion into root-cells once the cuttings have been taken and rooting hormone applied. The best time to take cuttings is after a few hours of light exposure, when the bio-processes of the plant are fully active. Air circulation should be reduced to a minimum when taking cuttings, as the dehydration factor is an issue. I like to use rock-wool as a medium to root cuttings because of the rooting speed and ease to control and flush. 24 hours before starting my cut-session, I like to soak the rock-wool in a solution of water at 24 degrees, with a little Previcur in it (2 to 2.5 ml per liter), a very effective general-purpose fungicide used mostly in the potato-farming industry. This prevents fungi from altering or slowing down the rooting process of cuttings. When taking cuttings, I try to reduce the time elapsing between the moment the blade cuts and the moment the tissues come in contact with rooting hormone (gel or powder). By keeping this “air-time” the shortest possible, chances of damping-off (death of cuttings by Pythium fungus infection) are reduced to a minimum. To achieve a good rhythm I like to position the mother plant at a good height, so I am able to work fast, taking each cutting, cleaning it from the leaves in excess, then dipping it in the rooting hormone, and directly into the rooting medium. It becomes a very steady and fast motion, and on a good day I can cut up to 210 clones per hour (3 trays of 72 clones). My favorite tool for taking cuttings is the old-school double-sided razor blade. It is extremely sharp, sterile, and very handy. But it is dangerous, and over the years I have seen several very nasty cuts that needed some stitches to be fixed, so I always advise to have some practice sessions wearing protective gloves before going at it bare-hands (much faster, of course). After taking the cuttings and labeling them, I place them in a incubator-box, under fluorescent lights. Humidity inside the dome is around 85% for the first 3-4 days, then slowly lowers to 75%, then to 65% for real hardening. I like to harden my cuttings while they are still rooting, because this way the whole process is faster. I believe from experience that cuttings rooted all the way at high humidity are weaker and slower than cuttings rooted and hardened at the same time. Normally I use Clonex gel as rooting hormone because working with gel is faster, cleaner and less dangerous for the health than working with powder-products (the powders are very fine and highly volatile, and if inhaled are toxic for humans. So, if you use powder-form rooting hormone, wear a mask while working). My personal record at rooting cuttings is 6 days, but normally the rooting time is between 9 and 14 days, depending on the strain. In order to increase the rooting speed, there are a few tricks that can be implemented. Between them, the most effective are flushing after 3 days with a mild nutrient solution, and using reversed-osmosis purified water to mist cuttings periodically during the first 3 days of the rooting process. By misting the cuttings with purified water at regular intervals during the first 2-3 days of their rooting process, their vigor is diverted mostly to the production of root-cells. In my experience it is best to avoid feeding the cuttings through the leaves, because this slows root production; if the cuttings get fed through the leaves, there is less need to develop roots to absorb feedings. And by waiting 3 days before flushing the medium with a calibrated solution (5.5 pH and 1.0 EC made with synthetic minerals, ready for intake) the roots will be just shooting out from the cutting when they receive the first stimulus to intake nutrients. Once the cuttings have roots, I like to plant them in the selected growth medium within 2-3 days; this way the root vigor keeps going, as the roots translate from the rooting medium to the growth medium without stopping against a non-penetrable surface (as it happens when they sit in the tray, already rooted, for days). Cuttings are the starting point of most crops, and they should be produced aiming at maximum speed and maximum vigor. Timing the cutting session and preparing the logistics for rapid transplanting are the secrets to a fast, healthy production cycle. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  13. Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance on the planet; a recreational herb and a powerful medicine, it is used on all continents and by almost all cultures, ethnic groups and societies around the globe. According to UN data, cannabis use transcends religion, race, age groups, social extraction and even economic status. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the shanti-towns of Johannesburg to the wealthy suburbs of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, cannabis is consumed everyday by totally diverse groups of people for a very diverse range of purposes, and in many different ways. The most common way to use cannabis is through combustion, by smoking it, but cannabis can also be vaporized, or ingested, or even applied through the skin. In the last two articles I analyzed the ways in which cannabis is consumed without combustion and the different ways to smoke pure cannabis, a practice diffused mostly in North America and Australia. In this last article I explore the ways cannabis is smoked mixed with tobacco. History of cannabis smoking mixed with tobacco Tobacco arrived in Europe in the 1500s from the Americas, and in a matter of 200 years its use had spread to practically any civilization on earth. It is one of the first cases of true globalization of a product. Interesting enough, in almost every culture where tobacco use was introduced, cannabis was already being used, either consumed in extracts or smoked. It was only a natural process for tobacco and cannabis to integrate in the social use. In Europe in particular, cannabis was already been used medicinally when tobacco was introduced. Perhaps it was the introduction of tobacco-smoking that shifted cannabis use from potions, extracts and infuses to combustion. The costume begun in the harbor cities of the Mediterranean, where sailors smoked in the taverns and bars, and from there it spread pretty much everywhere, in a relatively short time. In the Middle East, around 1600, tobacco came as barter for spices and precious goods coming from Asia on the Silk Road. Tobacco started being smoked in hookahs mixed with hashish; and in India it started being burned in the chillum, to allow better combustion of hashish. It became a religious ritual and a social one, with powerful influences on the well being of a large part of the population. In the 1700s and 1800s tobacco use became very common, and cigarettes started to be widespread in the mid 1850s. During the Crimean War (1853-1856) cannabis-tobacco mixed cigarettes were rolled by soldiers on the Crimea front, and today, 155 years later, it’s still the most common way to smoke cannabis in Europe and North Africa. Pipe Any pipe that is designed for tobacco-smoking can be used to smoke tobacco and cannabis (hashish or weed) mixed. It is worth noting that hashish burns at hotter temperatures than tobacco; so thin-wood pipes should not be used to smoke hashish, because they burn through. The best pipes are the ones that are non-porous and easy to wash, because cannabis oil residues accumulate fast and must be removed for a pleasant smoking experience. Glass and metal are the best materials for cannabis-tobacco pipe making, because they can be cleaned with alcohol or oils. In Africa there is the largest variety of pipes, with the most different shapes and designs: from the thin and long Kifi-pipe used in Morocco to the large types made in Equatorial parts of the continent. Chillum The chillum has become one of the most diffused ways to smoke Asian hashish (charras or cream) mixed with tobacco. From India, its use has spread to Israel and Italy in the 1960s, and from there to most of Mediterranean Europe and Africa. The chillum is ideal to smoke hashish because temperatures in the burn-chamber reach higher levels than with any other pipe (due to the shape and crafting), making it very good to smoke oily kinds of hashish, like the ones coming from Asia, and also isolator and butane-based or methane-based cannabis extractions. Usually the tobacco is “toasted” with a lighter before being mixed with the hashish and smoked in the chillum, because this process releases harmful chemicals added by industrial tobacco-manufacturers and allows better and smoother combustion at high temperature. Spliff If a joint is a pure-weed cigarette, a spliff is by definition a weed-tobacco mixed cigarette. The terms can vary from country to country, but it is the most common way of smoking cannabis in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and millions get rolled and burned every day. There are countless ways of rolling spliffs, with countless shapes and types of filter-tips. In Europe people use to roll a small piece of thin cardboard as terminal mouthpiece for the spliff, while in Morocco it is common to snap off the extremity of a cigarette and use it for the same purpose. At most cannabis events, like the High Times Cannabis Cup, there are joint-rolling contexts that are sometimes won by spliffs, and libraries in Europe sell more than one manual on the different shapes and techniques to roll spliffs. Most people realize that smoking paper is very bad, both for the flavor and for their health, so they try to use the less possible amount of paper when rolling a spliff, by rolling it “inside-out”. Few conscious smokers even know how to roll a spliff without using the glue (that is the part that releases the most contaminants when burned). Blunt A blunt is a pure-weed cigarette, rolled using a tobacco leaf, or the outer-leaf of an emptied cigar. Blunts became very popular in North America after being advertised by rap and hip-hop artists in their songs, video-clips and movies, and now it is common for most American cannabis smokers to roll blunts. In places where good weed is scarce, aromatic blunts are popular: they come in all flavors, from banana to strawberry to cognac; but usually smokers only use them to cover bad flavor from poor quality weed. Blunts burn slow, and usually last much longer than joints, making them suitable for social occasions. Also interesting to note is the fact that most people that smoke pure-weed only, and don’t smoke cigarettes, usually don’t like to puff from a spliff; but they don’t mind a puff from a blunt from time to time. In the future, it is hard to predict which of all the delivery-methods I analyzed in this, and in the past two articles of this series, will become the most used and which will disappear. Logic would suggest that the healthiest methods (vaporizing, eating) will be preferred over the more dangerous ones (combustion), but it’s hard to say. Humans have proved throughout history that logic is not always a good predictor. Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  14. Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance on the planet; a recreational herb and a powerful medicine, it is used on all continents and by almost all cultures, ethnic groups and societies around the globe. According to UN data, cannabis use transcends religion, race, age groups, social extraction and even economic status. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the shanti-towns of Johannesburg to the wealthy suburbs of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, cannabis is consumed everyday by totally diverse groups of people for a very diverse range of purposes, and in many different ways. The most common way to use cannabis is through combustion, by smoking it, but cannabis can also be vaporized, or ingested, or even applied through the skin. Last month I analyzed the ways in which cannabis is consumed without combustion, and how these ways relate to different areas of the planet. But most of the cannabis consumed is actually burned, so this month I move on to the different ways to smoke pure cannabis, a practice diffused mostly in North America and Australia. In the next months I will cover smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco, a more Euro-Asian-African-South American practice. History of pure cannabis smoking The first documented smoking of pure cannabis happened in Asia, in the period between 6000 and 4000 ago. Different civilizations left traces of cannabis use in their tombs and artifacts, but the first historically documented cannabis smoking in Asia was done by the Scythians. They used to burn cannabis on a fire while standing around in a circle to inhale the smoke. In India, around 2000 BC, the dried flowers of the cannabis plant were crushed and burned on coals (fumigation) or smoked pure in straight pipes called “chillum”, which are still very popular today to smoke hashish mixed with tobacco. Back then, the chillum was used to smoke pure herb, or hashish mixed with herb. In the Andes of South America local tribes were smoking several mind-altering herbs as early as 5000 BC in their shamanic rituals; they were using rudimentary pipes, but it is not sure exactly when they started smoking cannabis. In the Middle East, before the introduction of tobacco around the year 1500, marijuana and hashish were smoked in a waterpipe called “hookah” and they had a very important social role. Hookahs had several pipes stemming from a central chamber. With these devices many people could smoke together while socializing and relaxing. The Arabs also introduced cannabis smoking into Africa starting in the 11th century, and by the 13th century it was a consolidated tradition; soon the Ethiopians started spreading the use of a different type of pipe, the “calabash”, a terracotta smoking bowl. In the rest of Africa most pipes were carved in wood or stone. In North America smoking pure cannabis is a tradition inherited from the native tribes, who did appreciate the properties of the cannabis plant long before colonization begun. Cannabis smokers in North America always wanted to keep the herb separate from the tobacco, seen as one of the commercial reasons for cannabis prohibition. To this day most cannabis smokers in North America smoke their cannabis pure. In Australia this is also the case. Pipe Pipes for smoking pure cannabis are usually made of glass, but many other materials have been used including bones, stone, marble, metal and wood. They can be used to smoke pure weed or pure hashish. The problem with smoking cannabis in a pipe is the relatively high temperature of the smoke entering the lungs, so the best pipes are those that allow the smoke to cool off a bit during its travel from the combustion chamber to the mouth, creating a smoother hit. Hot smoke can be very annoying because it makes people cough, and it is bad because it damages the lungs and the throat very rapidly. The main advantage of smoking from pipes is that there is no paper combustion, only smoke from cannabis is inhaled and nothing else. Pipes for cannabis smoking must be easy to clean because resin oils and residues can make the taste awful. In Asia, Africa the Caribbean and Latin America the use of traditional pipes is still very common. Water pipe The pipe has evolved into the waterpipe, or bong, because smokers like to cool down the smoke as much as possible, allowing larger hits and increasing their intake possibilities. In a waterpipe the smoke travels from the combustion chamber through water then through a tube, and cools down considerably. But at the same time smoke becomes humid while traveling through water, something that can have a negative effect on the lungs in the long term. Bongs have been very popular in North America and Australia since the 1960s, and in the 1990s their popularity grew to worldwide scale. Joint The word joint normally refers to a pure marijuana cigarette, the most common way to smoke in North America and Australia (while the word spliff indicates a mixed tobacco-marijuana cigarette, more common elsewhere). There are hundreds of different ways to roll a joint, according to one’s personal taste and background. Until the 1990s there were only three types of paper to roll joints: hemp paper and rice paper. Nowadays there are many flavored alternatives (grape, banana, strawberry, melon, chocolate, cognac, and many more), but they are not popular because they alter the taste of the cannabis too much. Some smokers like to roll joints using a filter or a carton-tip, but most of the times the paper is just rolled with cannabis inside and closed tighter and smaller at the mouth side, and wider at the end to be lit. During cannabis-based events joint-rolling contests are very popular, and there are many books available on how to roll joints in different exotic shapes. Very large joints are usually rolled and shared at large pro-legalization gatherings around the globe. Hashish Most of the hashish consumed worldwide is miked with tobacco in cigarettes or pipes. But in north America and Australia people that smoke hashish, usually do not like to smoke tobacco. In a cannabis-smoking culture that does not want to mix cannabis with tobacco, smoking hashish is tricky, because of its form. The most practical way to smoke hashish is then in a small glass pipe. But since the 1990s more and more smokers prefer to roll their hashish in a small ball or stick and burn it the same way incense burns; as the flame extinguish, the smoke is available to inhale directly. This technique is popular in India, and it is easier to perform using oily hashish types (Indian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Afghan). to be continued... Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
  15. Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance on the planet; a recreational herb and a powerful medicine, it is used on all continents and by almost all cultures, ethnic groups and societies around the globe. According to UN data, cannabis use transcends religion, race, age groups, social extraction and even economic status. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the shanti-towns of Johannesburg to the wealthy suburbs of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, cannabis is consumed everyday by totally diverse groups of people for a very diverse range of purposes, and in many different ways. The most common way to use cannabis is through combustion, by smoking it, but cannabis can also be vaporized, or ingested, or even applied through the skin. In this short series of three articles I analyze the ways in which cannabis is consumed, and how these ways relate to different areas of the planet. We start this month with skin applications, food, drinks and vaporization. In the next months I will cover smoking. Skin application Application of cannabis through the skin is a very old technique, developed over four thousands years ago in China and the Far East, and then adopted by virtually all civilizations. Cannabis was made into a tincture with the use of natural oils, then applied through the skin as anti-inflammatory for a wide range of conditions. Cannabis tinctures and oils were very popular until recently, when the medical community developed a more precise way of dosing and and delivering the desired cannabinoids in the desired proportion. It is called patch-delivery, and it is the latest and most advanced way to deliver cannabinoids to patients without the side effects of smoking. The technique is being pioneered by Patch-tech, an American company that patented the first cannabis-patch that can be applied to the skin, and slowly delivers cannabinoids thanks to a oil-based solution that penetrates trough the skin and into the blood stream. It is still being developed, but I believe this technology will soon be adopted by most medical institutions working with cannabinoids as the standard method of delivery. It is safe, easy to control and effective, although still quite expensive to manufacture. But the costs will drop as the use increase. Ingestion through food Cannabis is an aromatic plant, and its aroma has inspired people to cook with it since the very beginning of its use. The first evidence of cooking with cannabis comes once again from China, where the Yang-Shao ethnic group used to harvest cannabis seeds to make a sort of porridge, to be roasted over the fire. Seeds were considered so important that they were even inserted into the tombs of the rich and powerful, to be used in the afterlife. Later in time the Chinese learned to mill the seeds for oil production, a technique still in use to this day. People have been making oil and cooking with cannabis seeds ever since, because seeds are very nutritional and the highest known source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and a significant source of vitamin B and E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium and proteins. Cannabis seed oil is effective to treat skin conditions, arthritis, and to lower cholesterol. Seeds are versatile, can be grinded into a flour used to make bread or to enrich foods. But the seeds do not contain cannabinoids, needed for medicinal and recreational use. The resin of the cannabis plant dissolves in any animal-fat or plant-fat, but not in water. So it was in India, around three thousands years ago, that the technique to dissolve cannabinoids in fat was discovered and developed. Dried cannabis flowers are crushed and slowly simmered in butter or oil over a slow fire, until the resin has melted into the fat. The secret is to keep the temperature under 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) to avoid THC breaking down. After filtering the plant material that is left, the butter or oil can be used to bake or cook almost any food, and it can even be used raw. Starting in the 1960s the hippie movement brought a true revival of cooking with cannabis to the western world, still visible today across Europe and America. “Space cake”, as cannabis cookies are called in Dutch coffeeshops, is a typical cannabis specialty enjoyed by thousands and thousands of tourists on any given day. And cannabis edibles are sold legally by authorized medicinal dispensaries across 14 States in USA. Ingestion through drinks The first drink containing cannabis and cannabinoids was made in India around three thousands years ago, and it was called “bhang”. To this day, it is a very popular recreational and medicinal drink used all over the country and even beyond its borders. Bhang is a milky drink containing many spices and herbs including cannabis, poppy seeds, pepper, ginger, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was used also for religious rituals, to inspire worshippers into prayer. More modern cannabis drinks include teas and milk-shakes, popular all over the world, for as long as some milk or fat is present, cannabinoids dissolve in any drink. Nowadays another form of cannabis-based drinks are very popular worldwide: the legal ones. From soft drinks to beer, wines and liquors, cannabis is present as a flavor, but without cannabinoids. These drinks are popular between cannabis consumer for their taste and the image they represent, even if the desired effect is not there. Vaporization A vaporizer is a gadget that heats up dried herbs to a temperature at which the aromas and active components are released into the air without any combustion. During the process no smoke is produced. The vapor looks like thin smoke, but it does not contain any of the dangerous particles derived from combustion (tar and gasses). It only contains the etheric oils and terpenoids released by the herbs. A cannabis vaporizer basically directs a flow of hot air through the dried plant material to be either directly inhaled, or stored in a container or balloon. The process is known as convection. Vaporizing medicinal plants is a very old way of delivering medicine to the body. The first attempt to vaporize the resin from cannabis was conducted in 1993 by a Cherokee medicine-man, Eagle Bill. He started vaporizing the resin using a heat-gun for paint-removal and a large glass bowl. The system quickly evolved into a glass pipe called the “Shake & Vape” by Bill himself. In 1994 the first electric vaporizer was produced in Canada, and in 1995 the “Verdamper”, a cross between a vaporizer and a water-pipe was produced in Holland by Dutch cannabis enthusiast Evert. And in 1996, in Germany, Markus Storz invented the Volcano, the most successful and diffused vaporizer worldwide. The Volcano has been used by several medical institutions to deliver medicinal cannabis to patients, and its medical functionality was tested and approved by Leiden University researchers in 2006. to be continued.... Franco – Green House Seed Co. This content is copyright of Green House Seed Co. © Green House Seed Co. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.

About us

Strain Hunters is a series of documentaries aimed at informing the general public about the quest for the preservation of the cannabis plant in the form of particularly vulnerable landraces originating in the poorest areas of the planet.

Cannabis, one of the most ancient plants known to man, used in every civilisation all over the world for medicinal and recreational purposes, is facing a very real threat of extinction. One day these plants could be helpful in developing better medications for the sick and the suffering. We feel it is our duty to preserve as many cannabis landraces in our genetic database, and by breeding them into other well-studied medicinal strains for the sole purpose of scientific research.

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