11
Feb
10

Keep it simple, stoner – cont.

Part two of the Green Grow-op, version 1.0:

A few of the comments on my previous post pointed out the obvious, that our first grow experiment had some flaws.  No kidding; really?  Like Wile E. Coyote, my partner made mistakes.  Many, many mistakes.  More than once, those nifty bendable arms on the lamps proved to be less than nifty.  Soon it became clear that they were decorative, not industrial, and thus were not meant to be adjusted and moved on a daily basis.  Several plant branches met their doom under collapsed lamp arms, and by the last days of flowering, all of the lamps were held together by varying degrees of wire, duct tape, and string.  Once, when one of the lamps collapsed, the bulb landed too close to the top of the L.A Confidential, causing a large section of the top of the plant to curl up and die from heat stress.  As Mr. Nice accurately points out, while CFL’s aren’t anywhere near as hot as traditional lighting options, they do produce enough heat to slowly fry a leaf, should they get too close.  Oh, Mr. Nice – where were you when I needed you?

L.A. Confidential - extra crispy

There were other mistakes.  My partner was unclear on how long the plants were supposed to veg, so that part of the process went on for much longer than necessary.  The White Widow did so well under these conditions that it outgrew the space, and had to be bent and twisted around its tomato cage so it wouldn’t crowd out the others.

White Widow - Tomato Cage Torture

Then there was the alchemy involved with watering, nutrients, and ph.  My partner was alternately over-feeding and under-feeding because she had no experience recognizing the symptoms displayed by the plants, and no idea how to correct when they showed distress.  It didn’t help that she was using ice cold water from the tap, and that she didn’t find out until weeks into the process that she needed to adjust the ph to compensate for our extremely-acidic water.

The plants were, nonetheless, growing under these budget conditions.  A modest investment in household lamps, lightbulbs, and fans (along with the low, low PG&E bill) were keeping these plants alive and happy.  In fact, if it weren’t for my partner’s tragically poor parenting skills, they would have done even better.  Not her fault, really.  Imagine trying to grow a tomato having only ever seen the tomato itself, and never the plant it was grown from.  And a dried tomato at that!  When the plants started to flower, she didn’t recognize what was going on because she’d never seen it.  Laugh if you want stoners, but not everyone gets to see what you take for granted up here.  For one or two weeks, she was convinced that her crazy lighting scheme had hermied every one of the clones, and that all of her efforts were a waste.  Worse, though, once she realized she had actual bud sites, she read everything she could find on bud development, and convinced herself that “lollipopping” the plants was the way to go for optimal yield.  Ever go to the barber and tell him to take off just a little, but walk out with a crew cut?  The chaos that resulted from her “trim job” was the plant version of that.  The final indignity came when the Blueberry and C-4 both got a touch of the dreaded powdery mildew a mere two weeks before harvest.  Just a touch.  But after two hours on the internet, my partner was convinced that if we didn’t address the mildew IMMEDIATELY, by the next morning all of her plants would be covered in a snowbank of mildew spores.  According to the internet (which never lies), since chemicals were a no-no at this stage, she thought the best option would be to spray the affected plants with high ph water.  May as well have been battery acid.  RIP, Blueberry and C-4.   We saved what could be saved, but it’s fair to say that the powdery mildew would have been jealous of our destruction.

Salvaged C-4. Blueberry too humiliating to show.

So to say this first experience was troubled would be an understatement.  Nonetheless, after being nicely dried and cured by my partner (we won’t go into the hatchet-job she did on the trimming – thanks again, YouTube), the L.A. Confidential yielded 1.5 ounces despite being burnt to a crisp and having branches amputated by lamp arms.

L.A. Confidential in "bud" vase

The White Widow yielded just under 2 ounces despite being twisted up like a pretzel and shorn like Sampson after a night with Delilah.

White Widow bouquet

The smoke?  Well, it was shared by many experienced stoners, and all agreed that it was above-average.  It wasn’t all top-shelf pharmacy grade, but no ditchweed here – the partner’s final product was sparkly, sticky, smelly, and tasty.   In fact, the White Widow was as good as anything I’ve paid for. The yield numbers were modest, it’s true, but I can’t help but wonder how my partner might have done if she were a little more knowledgeable.  And I can’t fault her lighting system.  She managed to get those plants through vegging and flowering with lightbulbs, desk lamps, and clip-on fans – almost everything we used could be purchased at your local box store.  Gunslinger in training, indeed.  And did I mention that through the entire cycle, our PG&E bill was never more than $100/month for the whole house?  A hundred bucks!

We’ve been in the Emerald Triangle long enough to know that these yields wouldn’t impress any of the gunslingers down at the hydro store.  Still, my partner is convinced that there is a market out there for this kind of setup.  Maybe for apartment dwellers who want to grow small amounts for personal use, or mad scientist gunslingers who want to experiment with strains without much of a financial downside if their efforts go belly-up…  What mid-sized grow op wouldn’t appreciate a significant reduction in electrical costs?  Professional growers might suffer a small loss in yeild, but they would be doing a hell of a favor to the environment if they could turn over just a fraction of their operation to a method that offers a smaller carbon footprint.  And am I mistaken in thinking that Californians will pay a little more for good indoor weed that’s not only organic, but also grown in an environmentally friendly manner?

Well, as the saying goes, smoking weed isn’t addictive, but growing it is.  With environmental benefits boosting her confidence, my partner decides to continue refining the experiment.

Coming soon:  Green Grow-op 2.0.  My partner makes modest upgrades to her system with duct tape, extension cords, disassembled lamps, flat white paint, cardboard, string, and a couple more fans.  She also learns from past mistakes.  Will her results be any better?  Hope still springs eternal for the gunslinger in training.

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9 Responses to “Keep it simple, stoner – cont.”


  1. 1 Kym
    February 10, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    You had me reading on the edge of my seat and rooting for you. As I read, I hooted and so did my partner. The Samson haircut image was delightful. Thank you for the fun read!

  2. 2 Mr. Nice
    February 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Disclaimer: this is not advice, do not try this at home. I am just ranting here.

    You might want to look at the fluos at the hydro store again or go to a different hydro store. Some do sell twisty CFLs. The difference being they sell 95, 105, 125, 150, and 200 watt bulbs… not 10 watters. Twenty $1, 10 watt, crap bulbs are not equal to one $80, 200 watt, quality bulb. They also do not plug in to the household edison sockets.

    I did not mean the old school straight tubes in my previous post. I was talking strictly about dinky household twisty-tube “daylight” CFLs that you can buy at Costco. Although daylight household CFLs “work,” they are highly inefficient for supporting plant growth. You are not saving a dime on electricity by using these as they burn off more watts for PAR than any comparable horticultural lamp except for incandescent or mercury vapor.

    I will try to be more precise. Specifically, the brands of choice for CFL in this application are Envirolite bulbs and P.L. reflectors. Don’t be alarmed by the thousand-dollar electric bills in the newspaper, those people are running ten and twenty banger ops and PG&E starts bending folks over after they cross a certain wattage threshhold. I believe 2000kwhr.

    No offense, but from these pics I would call your setup a “grow house,” however small the likelihood of anything going wrong. Besides using fluos, it has all the markings of a ghetto grow. For one, it does not look as if you are lining the walls with pond liner or containing the atmosphere in a sealed room-inside-room setup, therefore exposing the floor and the base of the walls to damaging levels of moisture due to leaf transpiration… essentially turning the bottom few inches of the room into a hot house even with a dehumidifier going (try putting a hygrometer on the floor). Secondly, as you experienced leaf curl from lamp heat, this grow is a fire hazard. Also depicted is what appears to be a non-GFCI socket for the lamps (… correct me if I’m wrong) which is a fire hazard. The fact that you do not have an earthquake-safe frame built to hold the lamps up: fire hazard.

    I appreciate the details as few are willing to discuss this, but I wouldn’t call this green, safe, or efficient. This is one thing that gets me about this all being illegal, one can’t find a consultant to come over and show you what’s up. I have hired consultants, but they don’t exactly advertise themselves as grow house consultants.

    • February 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

      I agree wholeheartedly with the downsides to prohibition – legalization might not put an end to dangerous setups, but it would surely allow those who wanted to operate safely a simpler path. I agree, also, that the normal Costco-version of incandescent cfl’s aren’t up to the job. The ones shown in the photos were delivered through a series of tubes (or so I’ve heard) from the internet, 30 and 40 watts, in 2700k and 6400k. Not terribly expensive, either – I think between $3-7/bulb; they’re small enough to operate from normal light sockets, and, even with all the mistakes noted in my post, the end results were better than I had expected.

      That setup was imperfect, certainly, but I don’t think it was much of a fire hazard, or at least, not as much of a fire hazard as the human part of the house. Those bulbs get warm, but I can hold the hottest part in my hand for long periods of time. I just read a post on another blog from someone with a digital temp gun, and he claims they get up to 198.5 degrees (F) – that’s hot enough to curl a leaf, but not much more.

      One final point – four plants. Availability aside, I just don’t think we’re at the consultant phase yet. Grow house, fire hazard, earthquake unsafe? Maybe, but again, you should see the part of the house where the humans live – we have way more plants, bulbs, and unsecured light-fixtures in our own habitat than in the one pictured here. And the whole point of our little experiment was to see if we could ignore the advice of trained professionals trying to sell us ridiculous (and ridiculously expensive) amounts of specialized equipment to grow a plant that will do okay on its own in the dirt. My partner may have insufficiently McGyvered the room on her first try, but she’s making progress.

      • 4 Mr. Nice
        February 17, 2010 at 8:59 pm

        I talked to a friend of a friend of a friend about this.

        I now understand that in the last five years, cfls are manufactured with a built-in heat cut-off. This reduces the fire risk. I haven’t been around enough modern cfl equipment to know that. This fact opens up the reckless possibilities of hanging these lights directly between plants without tripping. Like those cheap straight socket-and-cord hookups.

        Still, the room is going to get fucked up if you just grow big hot house plants in there. I’ve seen too many buckled floors and moldy walls to contend that it’s all good, it’s just like having some big houseplants. If the plants will suck down a couple gallons of water with no problem, they should be in plant environment and not in a household environment.

        Just saying, McGyver that shit some more.

  3. July 12, 2010 at 12:53 am

    I love how you kept the buds in vases like that. very decorative. http://stonerdiary.wordpress.com

  4. July 13, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Haha, I know what you mean. Don’t you wish all flowers had the same effect? http://stonerdiary.wordpress.com. Hey, I was looking through your blog and really liked it, so I put a link to it on my links page. Any chance I could get you to link back? Thanks.

    • July 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      Sure thing. Thanks for the compliment. And it’s very clever of you to lead with the letter “A,” by the way – you’re at the top of my list.

      I’m sorry to have to add this, but the teacher in me can’t resist: “Young Lady! Put down that bong and do your homework!” Whew, that felt good. Seriously, though, I hope you’re too poor, too motivated or too smart for more than occasional mental recreation while you’re taking classes or in class. One of my saddest memories from teaching was of this really nice student who would show up to my 8am class (!) baked out of his mind. Every class, too. Nice guy, but just filling empty space with more empty space. I used to see him stumbling around campus from time to time, so he didn’t drop out after my class, but I can’t imagine he was getting any more out of his other classes in that state. I’m not saying there’s not a place for chemical experimentation in college, but at the extreme end, the one thing overwhelms the other, and that’s a sad waste of a truly unique opportunity. Fun is fun, but you have to earn it, right? And just because most of the “just say no” arguments are super dumb doesn’t mean that there isn’t a rational argument to be made for keeping things in moderation. Just saying.

      • July 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

        Thanks so much! Haha, I never thought about it like that, but now that I do, you’re right, I’m brilliant! Haha, I must confess that I do show up to some classes high, but never “baked out my mind!” As someone who smokes a lot of weed, I have a certain tolerance to it, so that if I only smoke a certain amount, I can function at near normal levels. And my brain is doing a-ok too. I maintain a 3.5 average while taking 24 units (16 units is full-time). I actually took a really interesting drugs and alcohol class last semester, so I’m quite aware of drugs’ role on college campuses. =)


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