This article is part of series where the Budsman gives his (not so) expert opinion on how to grow your own dank nugs using a coco coir setup. The first, second and third parts of this series can be found here.

Getting to the Growing (Finally)

Seedling Stage

For the seedling stage, I use:

  • 0.5mL/L calimagic
  • 0.5mL/L canna coco A+B
  • 2mL/L rhizotonic (recommended but expensive)
  • 1mL/L aloevate (optional)
  • Great White microbes (optional) – dust the plants weekly and at transplant
    • 5-1EC

Reverse Osmosis filtered water can save a lot of troubles with leaving tap water to gas chlorine overnight and adjusting/waiting for pH to stabilise.

  • This is most important in seedling stage, as you’re using very weak A+B feeds in Coco Coir (which is where the feed’s pH buffer is primarily coming from)

Expect 1-3 days (or up to 7 days for older seeds) for a taproot to show. Higher temperatures and humidity are key, here. Taproots really like the darkness, so don’t use clear cups. They also love a pH of 6 in a hydroponic environment.

  • As I’ve stated before, coco is a mostly inert medium. It holds onto Ca and Mg in particular. It needs a bit less K than inert mediums. As a result, it needs light feed consistently from the start, and also consitent runoff at each feeding to stop the salts from building up and locking things out.
    • An EC pen and pH strips (or pen) are very helpful, but not as essential as for true hydroponic setups once you get things calibrated. I would still consider them essential for beginners. Try to check these levels daily.

A coco/perlite mix is considered semi-hydro. Even when saturated, it should hold enough oxygen to adequately provide for the roots of the plant. Watering the plant slowly and fluffing the coco up nicely with a suitable mix of perlite helps the soil to maximally suck in oxygen. It also maximises the amount of salts, building up the nutrients that are being used least after being flushed off with each feed.

Germinating

 

First, I soak the seed in RO water (can add 2-4mL/L rhizo) overnight. I then use that water to moisten a paper towel, and I germinate the seed in the folded over paper towel, between two plates. This creates a dark, humid environment to encourage the taproot to go searching.

Once a taproot has popped (check 1-2x per day, and remoisten your paper towel), the seed is ready to be planted. I use rockwell cubes, but peat pellets/planting into coco/etc all work fine, too. The key is soaking the pellet/cube or whatever in pH 6 water +/- adding some root microbe/rhizosphere product. This can protect the early plant from disease, and promote healthy root growth.

When roots hit the bottom/side of your seed starter thing, transfer to the first pot. I use a 4L plastic pot as my first, but a 1 gallon smart pot would be better. I just had a plastic pot lying around.

Most people should be able to do this bit fine, but even if you’re doing everything wrong at this stage, the plant usually takes a little while to show much other than just stunting. Understanding what you’re aiming for might help: pH 6, nice moist coco but not saturated, loosely packed and lightly watered, 20-30C, 50+ humidity (VPD/individuality is more important getting specific beyond that).

Really high humidity like you are replicating with the moistened towel folded between two plates is only necessary for rooting clones (hence ‘humidity dome’) and seeds that haven’t surfaced. Once your plants are alive, high humidity is not that vital overall. Overdoing it can promote mould formation.

Vegetative Stage

Early Vegetative

The bigger the pot you start the seed in, the longer it can visually seem to get going. This is fine, however, as the plant is just devoting more energy to searching out the pot with its roots. You don’t want to pot up too big though, as you need to feed more water to get optimal runoff with each feed.

In the first pot, you shouldn’t need to be watering more than once a day for a few weeks, unless it’s very hot/dry. I use a 1.5 L spray bottle from Bunnings to hand feed until the things in its final 5-7 gallon smart pot. It’s at that stage where I set up a programmable timer and a pump feeder to take care of it. You can work up to multiple daily feeds as the root system becomes established.

In a 4L pot my current girls are taking about 250mL of feed each, once daily, to get a nice runoff. At day 21, they receive:

  • 0.5mL/L calimagic
  • 0.5-1.5mL/L canna coco A+B
  • 1mL/L rhizotonic
  • 2mL/L aloevate.

They were recently topped from fifth node right back to the third in a full mainline fashion at day 20 (from seed). Once they recover in a few days, they will be getting transplanted in the 5 gallon smart pots, roughly around the beginning of the mid vegetative stage.

Mid Vegetative

 

Your plants don’t need much at this point. Focus on getting those roots going. Just make sure you’re getting the EC out of the plant lower than what is going in.

  • 0.5mL/L calimagic
  • 1-2.5mL/L A+B
  • 1mL/L rhizo
  • 2mL/L aloe

With Reverse Osmosis water, if your nutrient runoff is the same EC as the feed just given, or a bit lower, your pH is usually fine. If the EC is coming out higher, this is a sign of salt buildup and/or excess feeding. If you find this, you should test your pH and flush back to normal pH level, then lower EC before dropping the next feed back a bit. If EC is coming out much lower than normal, you can start gradually upping the A+B feeding from to 1.5-2.5mL/L based on the plant. There will come a time where the plant will really start growing day to day. This is when you will have reached the late vegetative stage.

Late Vegetative

 

  • 0.5-1mL/L calimagic
  • 1.5-2.5mL/L A+B
  • 1mL/L rhizo
  • 2mL/L aloe
  • Aim for ~ 0.8 to 1.6EC, based on water hardness and plant needs

Some plants will preflower at this stage, but some won’t until you flip them (from seed, especially). A clone acts as old the plant it was cloned from as soon as it roots (ergo, if your mother plant was 100 days old, your clone will genetically start life thinking it’s 100 days old already… which carries some potential benefits), growing roughly the same way. Overall, this means cloning ‘done right’ has many advantages. It also outweighs any positives of auto-flowers (fact, not opinion, or you’d see different in the states).

At this point, the stem should be bulking up, with nodes really starting to push out from all branches. You’re in the flowering stage.

Flowering Stage

The Stretch Goes for 1-4 weeks post light flip to 12/12. Plants can vary anywhere from double their initial size, to 5x their size. I grow Indica dominant plants, mostly. It’s easy to underestimate just how much they grow in this time vertically.

I go overboard with nutrients at this time. Calimagic, A+B, biodiesel, aloevate then mammoth P. Cannaboost is super expensive… and I’ve seen very little difference with it so far.

  • 0.25mL/L armour SI (mild dose silica salt)
  • 0.5-1mL/L calimagic
  • 2-3mL A+B
  • 1mL/L rhizo
  • 2mL/L aloe
  • 2mL/L cannazym (optional)
  • 1mL/L biodiesel (optional but recommended)
  • 2mL/L cannaboost (optional)
  • 0.16mL/L mammoth P (optional but recommended)
  • Aim for ~ 1 to 2EC, based on water hardness and plant needs
    • EC out should never be higher, or you need to flush down and start next feed lower strength… or with the correct additives
  • pH in and out should always be roughly 6
    • pH strips cost nothing and are quick and easy to use, if you’re not colour blind

Early Flowering

The plant is still growing vertically at this stage, but it slows down significantly and starts shooting pistols instead of new nodes at the tops. You want to start hitting it heavily with biodiesel. l use a tiny bit of terpinator as well for K and terpene increase. Who knows if it does anything…

Early flower goes for 2-3 weeks, usually. You’ll still be chewing through plenty of Na and Ca to form new sugar leaf growth.

  • 0.5mL/L calimagic
  • 2-3mL A+B
  • 0.25mL rhizo
  • 2mL/L aloe
  • 2mL/L cannazym
  • 0.25mL/L koolbloom
  • 2mL/L biodiesel
  • 2mL/L cannaboost
  • 2mL/L terpinator
  • 0.16mL/L mammoth P
  • 5 – 2.2 EC in/out

Mid Flowering

This is where everyone gets excited! Your plant will suddenly fill right out over a week or so, but you’ve still still got 4 weeks to go. This is when you want to really PK spike the plant.

  • 0.5/L calimagic
  • 2-3mL/L A+B
  • 2mL/L aloe
  • 2mL/L cannazym
  • 1mL/L koolbloom
  • 5mL/L biodiesel
  • 2mL/L cannaboost
  • 3-4mL/L terpinator
  • 0.16mL/L mammoth P
  • 5 – 2.5 EC in/out (peak)

Late Flowering

This is where things slow right down again, particularly with N and Ca needs. The plants bulk up a bit at this final stage, which lasts 2-3 weeks. They don’t need a whole lot in this time.

  • 0-0.25mL/L calimagic
  • 0.5-1.5mL/L A+B
  • 2mL/L aloe
  • 2mL/L cannazym
  • 0.25mL/L koolbloom
  • 3mL/L biodiesel (stop atleast 2 weeks before chop to flush out)
  • 2mL/L cannaboost
  • 4mL/L terpinator
  • 0.16mL/L mammoth P
  • 1 – 1.6 EC in/out

Ripening/Flushing

You usually get a fairly good idea of when it’s time to start flushing, because the plant will be taking similar nutrients to when it was a baby. It will sit at around 0.4 – 1EC ish, and any new growth will pretty much cease. The plant will start swelling for 1-2 weeks prior.

It’s a good idea at this stage to check trichomes on a couple of spots every few days. Cloudy, bulbous stalk heads contain maximal THC, while ambered heads contain CBN from the degradation of THC. Chopping based on trich %s is personal, and strain related. Some will amber at different rates.

  • 5mL/L cannazym
  • 2mL/L terpinator (optional)
  • 1mL/L cannaboost (optional)
  • 0.16mL/L mammoth P
  • 0 – 0.5 EC out

Cannabinoid Synthesis/Pathways

It was only relatively recently that we discovered all the goodies (terps and cannabinoids) are synthesised in the trichomes and dumped in the head of the oily trichome when the plant is ready. Concentrates are basically just extracted trichome heads. The relative proportions of major and minor cannabinoids + terpenes produced by each plant is mostly genetically determined (with some grower skill thrown in too).

We are still in the process of isolating minor cannabinoids, like THCV (which is showing promise for insulin treatments for diabetics and appetite control). People around the world are also looking at combination “broad spectrum therapies”, exploring the ways in which terpenes interact. I feel we are a long way away from moving beyond the ‘hippy science’ of it all. Like, if it smells like this it’ll put you to sleep; or if it has this terpene, it’ll do this to your immune system… yada yada.

Common Ways to ‘Herm’

It doesn’t really matter what happens in vegetative stage… so long as you have a healthy root mass flipping into flower, you’ll be fine. In flower, it’s a different story. The bitches can just herm despite your best efforts, which is why you want to eliminate the causes.

  • Light leaks at night in flower
    • Photoperiods are particularly sensitive to this one, although they can handle tiny bits of light just fine.
  • Cover up any LEDs in the tent not specifically designed to be used around sleeping plants with layers of tape. A tiny one near a power button is all that’s need.
  • Shitty tents also leak more light around the zips and stuff, but nothing a sheet from the op shop cant fix
  • Highly fluctuating environmental conditions/root stress/plant stress (hardy outdoor genetics can really help here)
  • Growing bagseed.
    • It’s either going to be a hermie female seed due to self-pollination of a hermie plant… or, its gonna be some random 50:50 male:female seed if a male managed to blow a load near the ladies.
  • Timer fail: check ’em often.
    • Also: don’t get the cheapest ones ever, because when they fuck up, they can fuck your whole flower run up – especially if you don’t catch it immediately.
  • Too much light/nutrients/water/love.
    • Can be a big one for some to get your head around. Just give them what they need and let genetics and nature do the rest. The leaves are doing their best to tell you how they’re feeling and what they need. Daily EC/pH checks and a little problem solving will pick things up earlier and make it easier to get back on track.

Chop Day

Apparently, just before lights on is the best time to chop – because the plant stores more shit in the roots overnight. This is what I’ve read, but I don’t think it matters much.

Drying

Chop them into nicely hangable long branches. They’re going to be hang drying for 7-14 days, depending on temperature and humidity. You’ll want to keep the temperature between 20-22C, with humidity at 50-60% for a nice slow dry. The slower the dry, the more chlorophyll and other nasties are gassed off. You want airflow through the room, but not directly over the plants this time. Ideally, a dehumidifier/heater/AC is needed in the room, unless your environment is perfect.

When the small to medium stems start snapping (instead of buckling and bending), it’s ready to trim and start curing.

The Cure

Once the buds feel nice and dry and snappy, trim them all up and jar them up. I have two jars with humidity sensor lids. The idea is to wait till inner humidity builds up to 60% and then air them out for 2 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how fast it’s jumping up.

Keep doing that until it starts stabilising to around 55-60%. Generally, that’s 1-2x daily for a few minutes, for 1-2 weeks, then a few minutes every 1-2 weeks for the next few months.

After I’ve stopped burping daily, I put 68g Boveda packs in the jars not being immediately smoked, as an extra buffer against mould. It loves 65% + humidity, with cold, dark conditions. I keep my personal stuff in my humidity sensor jar without the packs and they tend to stabilise at 50-55%. Otherwise, I keep the Boveda packs in jars for long cure/storage.

THC slowly degrades into CBN, even at room temperatures over time. Light, oxygen, high temperature and jumping humidity speeds degradation. Generally, after 2-6 weeks, the weed is cured perfect for me. After 6 months, even with good airtight dark storage, you start getting significant degradation of THC into CBN.

Thanks for reading the Budsman’s guide on Growing in Coco Coir and Perlite!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sources Cited

http://www.canna.com.au/pests-diseases-guide

https://www.growweedeasy.com/bugs-pests-symptoms-marijuana-grow

https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-vpd-how-can-vapour-pressure-deficit-boost-cannabis-yields-n893

https://www.reddit.com/r/microgrowery/comments/5cnje1/vpd_chart_optimal_temphumidity/

https://oceania.gyo.green/cannabis-seedbanks/holy-smoke-cannabis-seeds

https://en.seedfinder.eu/strain-info/Guide_Dawg/Holy_Smoke_Seeds/

About the author

Mitch

Mitch Keys is a young writer from Brisbane, Australia unfolding in a dynamic process of becoming (like everyone else, so don’t go thinking he’s special or anything). He likes being alive.

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