Howdy one and all; I’m The Rev, and I have been around the cannabis growing and smoking genre for just shy of a half century now—yikes—and so, I have seen and done a lot of things in those years. In my “Letters” to Rev series, I like to tackle some of the more interesting questions I get emailed and texted, and then answer them here. I have heard from many of you how much you dig on this series, thanks for sharing with me, my very green amigos 😊
When you think about it for a minute, it’s easy to realize just how unnatural it is for plants to grow in containers, under electric lighting, indoors. In today’s article we are going to explore a few questions that allow for me to show you the reasons behind some of my container growing methodology indoors. Also a bonus baybee… There’s a really cool crossword puzzle at the end of this article I made, so check it out if you dig that sort of thaang.
Q1: Lighting – Devil’s in the Details
FROM: Roger M., AZ, USA
“High Rev! Big fan here, and I am just at my wits end with trying to find lighting options. My plants do great under my T5s but about 3 weeks under my flowering lights and they start to look pretty unhappy. It’s pretty hot for most of the year around here so I have to use cooler lights like LED that I use now. Can you help me out here, what am I missing?”
High Roger. Let me start out by saying that your light intensity has a lot to do with things. Almost every indoor garden I visit has their lights too close to their plants for optimum results, come harvest. That being said, I would make sure my lights were around 2 feet or so above my plant tops. Lights that are too close triggers the plants’ metabolism to operate hyper fast, faster than the plants can supply themselves with water and nutrients. Introducing CO2 to an all-natural garden has the same damaging hyper-effect. CO2 and close up lighting are both best employed in hydroponics style growing.
Your light spectrum is uber important. You could use HID lighting, if you vented the lights directly, and had an A/C unit on standby. My favorite HID for full term growth, including flowering, is the Eye Blue, 400-watt metal halide (MH), full spectrum at 6,500 kelvins. These lights require old school magnetic MH ballasts. My second bulb choice would be Agrosun Gold 400-watt MH; also requires a magnetic ballast. Otherwise LED lights as you say. Just make sure they are full spectrum with UV present. Get them as close to the sun’s spectrum as possible, and a color temperature (kelvins) as close to 5,500k as possible—not below 4,000k. Never use 24 hours ON as a photoperiod; and, about 7-10 days before flowering, drop their photoperiod to 15/9 so they can properly “warm up” to flowering.
Q2: Microbial Life and Organic Liquid Nutrients
FROM: JC, OR, USA
“Help me wrap my head around this please? Rev, when I am introducing microbial life (Great White) can I also be using something like liquid fish emulsion/fertilizer (Alaska 5-1-1 NPK OMRI) at the same time? I grow in containers indoors only. If I use only water with doses of microlife what is the best water to use? How often can I use the fish emulsion? Thank you in advance, I’m trying to get this, and I’m really starting to, I can see it.”
Alright amigo, no, you wouldn’t want to use any fertilizer or tea when applying microbial life. If you run TLO style soil, then water around 45 – 70 PPM would work well, and using something like bagged soil I would go higher water PPM, like 70 – 95 PPM; ground/tap water, dechlorinated. “How often can I use any fertilizer”, is the wrong question to ask. First off, I would say use that fish fertilizer in uber small dosages, and work towards eliminating its use completely. Top dressing with alfalfa meal, or fish meal, works fine for giving your plants some fast food if they are in pots too small or something.
Think of your plants’ containers, full of living soil and roots, as little universes, every single one. Continuously adding microbial life from bottles is counterproductive to nature’s way of adaptation. The balance/equilibrium of each of your containers’ universes is the most important thing; if you want to see supernatural growth. At the beginning, as sprouts, you can give them Great White or products like it, but once they get into 5” pots and above, I only use pure mycorrhizal fungus (Myco Fungi) on them from that point on, and only once, after every transplant (soluble or granular endo Myco Fungi); with no added bacteria/fungi that would cause chaos in those universes.
Q3: Containers – Not All are Plant Friendly
FROM: Skip B., CA, USA
“Greetings Rev, what’s up with some containers that just seem to suck, do you think there’s like a coating on cheap ones? I have seen big differences with same clones, same lights, same room, different pots. Just recently, after reading one of your articles, I stopped using the “kegger cups” plastic drinking cups for small plant containers. You were right, it makes a huge difference, thank you.”
Wow Skip, the thought of toxic-ish coatings on cheap pots hadn’t occurred to me, but anything’s possible, for sure. Normally, it seems to me to have to do with the design of the containers, for the greater part. You want SEVERE aeration, as well as holes on the very bottom to “drink back up” water in the catch tray. I have two top-favorite pots at present: Plant Warrior, square, 4 gallons, with an aeration riser in the center of the containers’ floor. It’s my understanding they come out of Italy, and seem uber-bad-ass so far. The Self-Watering style containers—about 2.5 gallons—also serve me very well with living soil, and TLO.
Super pro tip here my man: figure out how much water any given container needs, per watering, so it can soak back up all the water in the catch-tray within an hour or so. You only need to calculate it once, then you know. It will vary as temperatures change big, or as plants get larger in smaller pots. As plants get truly rootbound, they normally get pretty “limey” looking with growth stunted somewhat, some chlorotic leaves are also common. Sometimes, you need a transplant, period. Transplant more often with smaller steps up. This will keep the root-mass uber dense—”good for flowering time down the road, grasshoppah.”
SOME POTS, LIKE BOTH TYPES I MENTION ABOVE, CAN HAVE STANDING WATER IN THEIR TRAYS FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME, DUE TO THEIR ADVANCED DESIGNS.
Afterword with Rev
Keep your target areas for improvements in your gardens, more fundamental in nature, my green artisan friends. Get your water right, and watering. Get your environment under control, make sure you experiment with the light distances as I said above. It’s a huge thing, you just need to remember anything you do to all naturally growing plants, won’t show results for at least a week, and often closer to two weeks. Plants are on a whole paradigm shift time dimension program—have patience druids.
Rev’s Canna Crossword Challenge
Here’s just a fun thing if you like a little crossword in your morning, or whenever, heh heh. It helps fire up my brain, and this one is medium hard I would say, but a little fast one. Have some fun and try it out. I’ll post up the answers to it in my article next week. The crossword is “mostly” purely cannabis related, but there are some older cultural sneak attack questions, here and there—yay you; good luck!
- REvski 😊