A Challenging Grow - Newbie Growing With LEDs

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Hey!

This is my attempt on a journal documenting this incredible learning experience. I did not start this journal back when we ("we" is me and my wife) planted the seeds so I have to back-date most events in this journal.

I named this journal "A Challenging Grow" since this is exactly what it was (and still is), with an number of really tough challenges we needed to overcome, this including our newbie-ness when it comes to growing but also things like the *extreme* heat here in Spain.

Some Information about Our Grow

We started growing a variety of Autos such as Royal Critical, Royal Kush Auto, Royal Cheese Auto, Northern Lights, AK, Dance World. In the meantime we now have switched to Feminized seeds only and had to ditch the Autos - WHY I will explain shortly. Currently we have feminized Fruit Spirit, AK, Caramel, Dance World growing.

They are vegging right now.

We are growing in a greenhouse on the balcony in very hot Spain. The greenhouse does only get a little direct sunlight in the morning but is otherwise in the shade the entire day. For lights we are using two MarsHydro 300W (60x5W) lights in addition to the natural sunlight the plants are getting. Light schedule 18/6.

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The area we use for growing is approx. 1m2 ie. 10.5 sqft (1.20m x 0.85cm) which is roughly half of the greenhouse. The above is a somewhat older picture which should give you a rough idea about the setup.

Soil. We started with universal soil (changed the brand two times) and have now switched to Canna Terra Pro.

We're using standard, "no-thrills" 7L flower pots where I poked holes at the bottom. Together with the MJ we're also growing chillies and other stuff in there. The MJ is in the larger pots.
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
The Challenges

Luck had it that we as newbies immediately faced a ton of challenges. Let me describe those a little together with some little background story how we actually got started growing.

It was about three months back when a neighbor of us gave us the greenhouse. The neighbor tried to grow something on the Sunroof (which we have also), but nothing grew so he didn't need the greenhouse any longer and gave it to us.

As for the Sunroof, let me tell you that we TRIED before we purchased the LEDs. In July I measured 48C 119F (!!) in the few hours we had the greenhouse on the roof. SUN AND HEAT HERE IS BRUTAL. There is no way that anything would grow under those conditions so we immediately ditched the idea of growing upstairs, put the greenhouse on the balcony and got the LED lights.

Even with the shade on the balcony, this was and still is a brutal summer with temps peaking at 40C, 104C.

It was a VERY unfortunate time to get started with growing simply due to the immense heat. The many large openings I cut into the greenhouse and the fan don't really help a lot either.

What happened you can imagine:

We had several Autos planted and the heat was certainly ONE reason that their growth pretty much halted. Not only that, most of the seedlings we had turned an awful yellow, in fact they turned white. Here is a typical example of what happened.

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This awful thing was in there for several weeks, at the point of this photo I think it was already 5 weeks (!!) old. The picture actually make it look healthier than it actually was. This and some other seedlings were basically turning white!

Horrible bleaching and stunted growth

I started to look into everything to find out how to save my seedlings. I learned about LED bleaching and as a result I experimented with various distances of the LEDs to the plants. I never had them real close, at max. maybe 18" but at times even so far away as 33". The bleaching didn't stop no matter what we tried at first.

Tiny, 1" inch Autos started to flower 4 or 5 weeks into their pity growth

Since we used Autos you can imagine what happened! After 5 weeks, they all started to flower, barely one 1" "big". Hilarious, sort-of...

Check this out:

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Needless to say that all the Autos we planted ended up like this... they actually smelled very nice and intensive but that was about it... :)
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
A Sad Greenhouse

Not only all the Autos we planted were dying or flowered already, my Chillies and Cilantro didn't look better. ALL the plants were yellow and we knew something was seriously wrong.

Ok, we couldn't change a lot about the heat but I tried what I could to save the plants.

Something had to be done, and quick!

Cal Mag, Better Soil, Perlite and No Autos!!

Reading about LED bleaching I came across people mentioning CalMag a lot. With my next order of seeds, this time NO Autos but feminized only I also got CalMag and "Terra Canna Pro" soil, along with some bags of Perlite. I used the Perlite to mix with our existing soil for Chillies but for the MJ we're now using Terra Canna Pro only. (Except for germination where I now use a mix of universal soil and 20% Perlite). In my opinion, everything above 20% Perlite really makes the soil too "fluffy", 20% is good.

Repotting

While I was horrified at the thought of repotting those weak, yellow/white dyinf seedlings into Canna Terra, we did it anyway.

So after an hour or so all the remaining seedlings had been repotted and we started to use CalMag.

Would it save my plants?
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Another Newbie Mistake Discovered: Wrong Watering

In addition to the above changes with the new soil, CalMag and adding a small fan to the greenhouse we also made a mistake with watering. All the fear about over-watering made us over-cautious so we used a sprayer to "carefully" water the plants.

We found out that the sprayer simply doesn't water enough. Even with the soil watered 1" down and everything "looking" fine it meant the rest of the pot being dry! BIG MISTAKE.

It dawned on us we need to water differently:

When the pot is dry, like an inch or so when you stick your finger in and you water, you need to "really water" your pot, DRENCH and SOAK the pot and if you can so that runoff water comes out the holes. In other words: A LOT more water and not just with the sprayer. The water has to reach the roots, obviously...

This was likely also one major change that contributed to what we see now!
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Plants getting better, MUCH better

It didn't take two days after the above changes that our plants literally exploded.

While the seedlings kept the yellow leaves they quickly grew more, lush green ones on top of that. My Chillies exploded too.
For seasoned growers that might not look like much and you might laugh, but for us this was big!

Imagine that we had some of plants in there for 5 or 6 weeks already - and NOW they finally started to grow! Not yellow, not white, they grew! What exactly the deciding thing was, I don't know. I think it was the CalMag rather than the different soil. Simply because my Chillies also started to grow like crazy and I had kept them in the old soil, did not repot them.

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Even the new seeds we got with the latest delivery germinated and grew like crazy. One of them a Fruit Spirit Feminized which basically grew 1" over night after germination. It grew so fast I immediately put it closer to the LED (which are now at 24" or so) to have it stop stretching. I also had to fix those on a stick because they shot up so quick.

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flexy123

Well-Known Member
I know that those pics are less than "impressive" and we'll likely have ways to go still with our grow. But seeing that we had such problems in the beginning, for us this is huge! We can now check on the plants in the morning and we see progress.

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The above and this picture is from today.

What we learned so far is that planting and starting from seed in Summer in Spain outside is a really, really bad idea!

Let's see how those will turn out but for the next batch I am planning to plant in Fall and Spring where temps are reasonable.

We really made so many newbie mistakes, from planting at the wrong time, mistakes with watering etc. so this is a great learning experience:

* Water RIGHT
* Use CalMag when you use LEDs (I think it's the Iron making all the difference!)
* Don't use Autos when there are problems inhibiting growth, because Autos WILL flower whether you want it or not. We learned the lesson. Basically all remaining which are now growing are NON Autos. Duh :)

For now, the plan is to let them veg in the greenhouse and put them on the roof IN FALL for flowering. Unless I come up with something to have them flower in the greenhouse. (Might be challenging because I need to make the greenhouse light-proof, and of course the 12/12 period for flowering cannot affect the other plants in the greenhouse negatively. We'll see.)
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
It is well possible that the above plants, even tho they're growing now are still "lost" or at best might turn out hemmies or with crappy yields or whatever. Simply because they went through that much stress so I wouldn't be surprised.

It's just a few days ago I started the two new ones (on the sticks) Fruit Spirit Feminized and another is a AK but the AK doesn't want to sprout! (We tried the usual wet towel method for three days and it just showed a tiny thingy...I got tired of it and just put it in soil now, waiting whether it will sprout or not).

I am planning to get more seeds to do more "proper" grows from the beginning and not w/ all the mistakes we made but I am still waiting for it to get a little cooler, this week still had been VERY hot so I want to give it some more weeks with getting new seeds. (The fact that the store I ordered ten new seeds from is on vacation right now actually helps :) Hopefully the biggest heat wave(s) should be over now.

Another plan is to try an outdoor-only grow on the Sunroof, in February or March. I know that many grow outdoors here so I wouldn't know why this shouldn't work as long as we avoid the Summer heat/sun.
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Some Info in Between: Growing and Smoking in Spain

There is a saying that Spain has become the new Netherlands when it comes to MJ culture and I don't doubt this. There are grow shops in even the tiniest town and even more online grow stores where you can buy seeds and everything to grow. Folks smoke-up here all-the time, when there is a party in our apt complex or elsewhere you can smell the Ganja from far away :)

So the general notion is that MJ is legal here and this includes growing, as long as this is done for personal use and not in public. Smoking and growing at home etc. is all said to be legal.

But the reality is that it's quite difficult to find actual facts about the law here - a lot what I read is more like myths or urban legends without anything to back it up.

For example, one of the often-heard myths is that it's legal if you have up to three personal plants growing in your home but everything more than three plants is not. Except that this is only a myth and there is nothing officially written anywhere about a certain number of plants which is supposedly legal or illegal. Even the existing law (that from what I know had been modified back in July) is rather vague and can be interpreted in different ways. It's still in a gray zone.

For the time being one can assume that it's "legal" as long as smoking and growing happens at home. This is only my personal interpretation, but even in the eventuality where cops would come to your home (because someone complained or something) and let's say they find you growing some plants, I *think* that you won't have a problem when it's obvious that you do it for your personal use and not commercially. (Here one might speculate it might also depend on your particular cop's niceness and whether you can convince them that, say, your ten pots are really just for you and you don't plan to sell weed).

When it comes to MJ, Spain has other problems than someone growing a few plants in their home. It is VERY common here that commercial growers grow MJ in giant, football-sized greenhouses, somewhere out "in the pampa" or between greenhouses where they otherwise grow Oranges or whatever. Those giant operations where someone grows 1000s of plants are (of course?) illegal since it's obvious they do this commercially.

The other "problem" is actually Spain's vicinity to Marocco where a lot of drug smuggling happens into Spain and Europe, Hash etc. mostly comes from there. So I think this is where the Spanish "authorities" focus is because we're dealing with real volume and not some stoners who grow a couple of plants for themselves :)
 

MagicJim

Creme de la Creme Photos: Sept 2016
:popcorn:
Some Info in Between: Growing and Smoking in Spain

There is a saying that Spain has become the new Netherlands when it comes to MJ culture and I don't doubt this. There are grow shops in even the tiniest town and even more online grow stores where you can buy seeds and everything to grow. Folks smoke-up here all-the time, when there is a party in our apt complex or elsewhere you can smell the Ganja from far away :))

Interesting. Sorry about the problems with the autos.:popcorn: Jim
 

Asiana

New Member
Greetings flexy123!)
We had extremely hot summer in France too. And I have another story with my balcony plant. I had planted a bagseed (I guess its white widow because its what they usually have here) :p . First i didnt want to grow it big so i did some lst and fimming from the beginning and put it in small pot to reduce growing. It was in april. The weather was just fine and the plant was growing healthy and nicely just like I wanted. But after we got temperature raised! Some days it was 38°C in a shade. Plant already started to throw pistils. Also with this hot and dry weather I had spider mites attack. It was literally everywhere! Not just on my balcony, but on almost every plant and tree outdoor! Agrhhh! And it loved my girl those mites!
During this hot i had to leave to Normandy for 5 days and i had nobody to water my plants.. I made simple watering system but I guess it last only couple days. When we came back Ive found my plant almost dead, full of spider mites and yellow dried leaves. I was so much upset.. After watering it got little better so I was taking care of it, though it was looking like a waste of time.. I had another spider mites treat to all my balcony plants, This time it worked, but i had to increase dosage. I defoliated all bad leaves - it was more than 70% of all the green. I had nothing to loose..After a week my girl had new green leaves so it turn to reveg and stopped throwing pistils. Now I replanted to bigger pot and it looks pretty healty, but it didnt flower yet. I saw it started showing pistils again but still it looks like preflower. So i have no idea if it will have time to finish before it will be cold and rain here.. But still Im happy i cound save the plant. With all that stress its a miracle!
I ordered tent and light from mars hydro so I am about to start my first personal indoor grow. Hope it will turn better for me)
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Yeah I was thinking about possibly growing indoors in a tent too, but then we only have A/C in two rooms and the spare room where we could put a tent is also rather hot in summer. Besides, growing indoors would then also require stuff like a circulation system etc...so there is always something :)

As for now, stuff seems to be growing and we see fast growth almost every new day. Let me just take a few new pictures.

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(Fruit Spirit)
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Apeshot made a very interesting comment over in the MarsHydro thread.

He mentioned how Canna Terra Pro soil, while being a very good soil otherwise doesn't really drain fast and he recommends adding more Perlite to avoid overwatering and nuteburn issues. This makes a lot of sense to me! (My own guess is that CTP maybe only has 10% or so Perlite in it)

I can tell from comparing the Canna Terra Pro to the other soils we used, the CTP is really like a sponge and it holds water a lot longer so I can see what he's saying. This is why I just mixed some more CTP we had left with 25% Perlite (3 part CTP and 1 part Perlite) which I will use for the next batches to see how this will work.

I am also aware that the pots we use are probably not optimal although I made the 4 holes for each as large as I could. I wished we had gotten the common square pots, they also have very large drainage openings which I like.
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Greetings flexy123!)
Also with this hot and dry weather I had spider mites attack. It was literally everywhere! Not just on my balcony, but on almost every plant and tree outdoor! Agrhhh! And it loved my girl those mites!
During this hot i had to leave to Normandy for 5 days and i had nobody to water my plants.. I made simple watering system but I guess it last only couple days. When we came back Ive found my plant almost dead, full of spider mites and yellow dried leaves.

All the way at the beginning when we started we used the most horrible universal soil from the Chinese dollar store.

It didn't take long and all my plants were infested with fungus gnats and other bugs. We dumped all the soil and replaced it with another, better brand. And now of course the CTP for the MJ.

As for now I didn't have any problems with bugs as we did before, thank god.

I was also thinking about various water systems, sprayers, drip irrigation etc. and I have to say the Blumat Drip/Tropf system looks interesting to me. (We cannot connect to the hose since the hose is upstairs on the sunroof. I COULD put a long hose down from the roof to the balcony, the problem however is that the water would get *boiling* hot since Sun would heat it up the water in the hose on the roof.)

So...a system with a reservoir or a pump maybe would be great and then connect some Blumats and drippers to it, but as of now I didn't bother with it since we don't have that many plants besides we like watering and if it would be all automatic it would be boring :)
 

Asiana

New Member
All the way at the beginning when we started we used the most horrible universal soil from the Chinese dollar store.

It didn't take long and all my plants were infested with fungus gnats and other bugs. We dumped all the soil and replaced it with another, better brand.

Its not only the brand of soil that matter, but also conditions how that soil was stored. If you have any doubts about that, then there is a method to kill all possible bugs and their eggs which can be in the soil - you just heat the soil in microwave or in the oven before using it. Though better not to buy cheap soil at all as there will never be good quality. For garden plants it might be ok, but for any plants in the pots it never works well.. imho plain coco with some fertilisers works better than cheapest soil.
 

Asiana

New Member
By the way, do you know some good grow shop to buy stuff from? I need fan, extractor, fertilisers and some other things to start, and it looks like all the shops located in Spain.. :icon_cool Yet i couldnt find any french shop where i could get all in the same place. Spain has everything! But the delivery is little pricey... So im trying to find a shop with the cheapest delivery to France. For now Im comparing servovendi with lamota. I wanted to go with lamota but its 30% delivery! what a rip off!
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
Looks good! Hope those will grow better than first! Much much better!
:adore:

Hey! It's still the SAME plant which didn't grow for so long. The new ones are on the stick. Basically they started growing once I repotted them in Canna Terra and gave them CalMag. And now they're growing like crazy!

Another (possible) reason that they started growing, it is not THAT extremely hot anymore like back in July. I mean it's still hot, but not that hot. (When it's 32C right now I am actually thinking it's "cool", seeing like how it was constantly near 40C a while back...)
 

flexy123

Well-Known Member
By the way, do you know some good grow shop to buy stuff from? I need fan, extractor, fertilisers and some other things to start, and it looks like all the shops located in Spain.. :icon_cool Yet i couldnt find any french shop where i could get all in the same place. Spain has everything! But the delivery is little pricey... So im trying to find a shop with the cheapest delivery to France. For now Im comparing servovendi with lamota. I wanted to go with lamota but its 30% delivery! what a rip off!

Hm, I have no idea about grow shops in France! But seeing that Spain is not far, maybe some of the Spanish stores offer cheaper international shipping?

Servovendi I know, it comes up ALL THE TIME when I look for specific things, but for simple things like seeds and soil I am using local grow stores which have a website. (One guy actually delivers to us in his car, the shop is like 5km from here :)

As for international orders from Spain, Spanish mail is HIDEOUSLY expensive. Sorry I can't help you with grow stores in France, I would just do some googling or ebay, I usually check ebay.es, ebay.co.uk etc. and then see which ones ship to France reasonably? It's true that you can get everything for growing here in Spain, it's crazy, but then you can not get other simple things and I am often buying stuff from the UK or Germany, like batteries or whatever...
 

Asiana

New Member
I was asking about spanish stores, not french as almost all offer delivery in europe. :slide: but finally I think ill go with lamota, as I already bought from them :laugh2: actually I bought some seeds from dinafem, but its operated by lamota. So they have almost everything I will need and they give free seeds too :cheer: the only thing i should do is remove soil from order and delivery price magically decreased to normal! well soil is heavy.. i couldnt find good soil in local stores so now its only Amazon left for me..
I recieved my mars hydro reflector light and tent today so cant wait to start grow! need to buy fast the rest of things! :yummy:
My outdoor girl feeling well too!! its no more hot here.
 
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