Brought to you by Smokey Okies Cannabis
By Travis Smith
Welcome back to the Cultivation Corner, where we discuss all things related to growing good ganja! Last time, we discussed the two different growing phases of cannabis (the Vegetative and Flowering stages) and how to mimic those phases indoors by switching your light cycles.
In this month’s column, I am going to discuss the first of the two stages, the Vegetative Stage. I will cover how to get started, what to do once you’re deep into veggin, and when to make the switch to flower.
Starting your vegetative cycle: Should you use seeds or clones?
When you decide to start growing weed, you will need to either plant seeds or plant a clone. But which is the better option? You may have guessed the answer: “it depends.”
The advantages and disadvantages of Seeds
Let’s start with seeds. One benefit of starting with seeds is the availability of so many good options through online seed banks. If you go this route, I recommend using a reputable seed bank that is endorsed by the breeder of the strain you want. Your seeds should come in packaging that came from the breeder and have a seal or other insignia verifying authenticity. You want to make sure that these seeds are what they purport to be, and actually came from the breeder, and are not just seeds put into random packaging by a middleman seed bank.
Now, here is the downside: unless you purchased an older strain that has been stabilized for many, many years, there is going to be a lot of variation in characteristics for each seedling that ends up sprouting. Why? Think of it this way: if your mom and dad kept having kids, each kid would share some family traits, while also being a bit different and unique. So if you plant 10 seeds, expect 10 different versions of that strain. (The way around this is to continue in-breeding, stabilizing the genetic, so that each additional “brother and sister” is more and more alike; this is a deeper topic for a future article). Conclusion: Seeds are great, but be prepared for a lot of different mixed results.
Pro tip: Plant many seeds of the same strain, knowing that only a few are going to be worth keeping. Save the best one, and start cloning it.
The Pros and Cons of Buying Clones
So if you don’t want to “pheno hunt” a bunch of seeds, you can instead buy clones.
The advantage of buying a clone is that the clone has already been hunted and selected. However, this advantage is premised on the assumption that the person selling the clone has already hunted a bunch of variations of this strain, and has selected the ideal version and is now selling it. Here, the operative term is “assumption.” When you buy a clone, you are assuming it is a good pheno. Therefore, you are relying on the credibility of the seller. As you are now starting to see, sourcing genetics is all about the credibility of the source, whether a seed bank or a clone seller. Buying clones is great as long as you know that the grower selling the clones is reputable.
Another advantage of starting with a clone is that you start 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule than if you had to wait on the seed to sprout and grow to a similar size.
Conclusion: Buy clones if you trust the seller, and the clone is free of pests.
Pro tip: ask the seller to explain how she sourced the genetics
Vegging your seedlings and Clones
Now that you have selected your genetics, let’s get them growing! As we discussed in last issue, you will want to use a light schedule of 18 hours on, six hours off for this initial stage of growth.
The choice of medium is up to you. You can grow in soil, rockwool cubes, or our preferred medium: coco coir. Whichever route you choose to go, you will adopt a cultivation style that suits your choice.
It All Starts in Veg
The Veg stage is where you conceive of your end result and then take action with weekly tasks that get you closer to that end result.
First, start with a vision. Do you want a large plant? A multi-topped bush? A tall and skinny plant? Do you want to harvest frequently, and therefore want as many runs in a year as possible? Or are you fine with less frequent harvests, you want more yield each time? Figure out what you want. It’s okay for your goals to change over time. But once you can conceive of the end result, you can put a plan into place. It all starts in veg. Veg is where you train your plant to become the end result you have in your mind. You can start topping early, or you can wait to top until it has been in veg for 3 or 4 weeks. You can use low stress training or high stress training. If you are brand new to cultivation, and you don’t know you want, that is okay too. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
• When you switch to the 12/12 light cycle to begin the flowering phase, your plant will double or triple in height and size;
• Keep this in mind when vegging your plant(s)
• Veg is when you can bend branches and train a plant; you lose this ability as you get into flower, when the branches firm up and lose their elasticity
• Use the vegetative phase to shape your plant. It will be on steroids during flower, so get it under control now.
That should get you started for now. If you don’t know what any of these terms mean, check out our blog at Smokey-Okies.com and use the search bar to search any of these terms. Next month, we will continue this journey of growing your own weed!