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Emeraldo's 2020 West-Facing Balcony Grow

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Hey growers, it's February and warm outside so I am tempted to get started with a new grow. Not yet sure about strains, but will probably try Sensi's Michka and Jack Flash (both regular), GHS' Super Lemon Haze, Female Seeds' Dream Berry, and Barney's Farm's Acapulco Gold. All sativa strains (except Jack Flash which is 55% indica) that I have not grown before. I could harvest in late October or early November.

Before I start germinating, have been amending the now 3-year old soil and building a new setup on the balcony. I decided not to run the water off the house plumbing this year after I had water damage in the house last year. Instead, am tapping into the garden's irrigation system, piping water up to the balcony via 1/2" rainbird-style pipe, all sealed up with sealant and Flexseal. For anyone who is interested, here is how I've set it up.

Materials:
pieces of 4x4 lumber
3' x 5' AC condenser pan
horsefence
1/2" drip irrigation system









I'll post more photos later as the grow gets going. Cheers and good growing to all. Emeraldo
 
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Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Welcome to my grow, Tezb7! Look forward to any comments you might have.

I used to call this my "semi-guerilla" grow because I am absent for long stretches of time and only return to take care of the plants a couple of times during the summer. Hence the automatic irrigation setup. I thought this type of grow would be limited to feminized strains only, since I didn't want to risk pollination by regular males. But since I've known for years now exactly what date flowering starts, on August 5 or thereabouts, this year I'm going to try something new.

I'd like to grow Jack Flash regular and select the indica phenos, which are said to be stellar. To do that, I need to germinate a few regular Jack Flash seeds and then, just before flowering starts, select the female indica phenos during the first week of August. I'd like to grow 5 or 6 seedlings in smaller pots for the selection, then move them into the larger pots for flowering. So I'm going to have a "pheno grow" for six regular Jack Flash seedlings on the side, in small 1 gallon pots at first, then setting them into 5 gallon fabric pots in early August after their sex is determined. The other feminized strains I will set into the larger pots in May like I did last year.

I'll post some more photos soon, I just need to get the pheno table set up.
 
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Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Since I posted the first batch of photos I amended the soil for four 15-gal pots, and also set up my idea for a "pheno table." I've sealed all joints with Flex-Seal and installed drippers in the lines. The big 15-gal fabric pots each have 3 drippers that each put out 2 gallons per hour, so a 20-minute run will give 2 gallons to each of the large pots.

The hard part was setting up the pheno table with the 6 smaller pots. As I mentioned, I will germinate a number of Jack Flash regular seeds. This is 38 L in California and probably a very good climate for Jack Flash. I want to select for the female indica phenos when they show sex and pheno. Only a smaller pot is needed from mid-May to late July, when I will select the plants. At that point they will be close to 3 feet tall, I reckon, reaching up to about the level of the raingutter. In July I will re-pot them into 5-gallon fabric pots and remove the table so these plants will, from July until harvest, sit on the screen at the same level as the 15-gal pots.

There were some problems to solve here. Main problem is the smaller pots will dry out much faster than the larger 15-gal pots, but they will all be on the same watering schedule. The challenge is making sure the soil in the pheno table pots stays moist enough between twice weekly waterings. The temperatures here in July can exceed 100 F / 38 C.

The problem isn't getting the water to the pheno table pots. The problem was to find a way to moisten all soil in each pot before it drains out. I am using pre-punched dripper line, each hole giving 0.8 gal/hour, again with three drippers per pot I give 0.8 gallons in a 20-minute watering. That is enough water. But with this kind of dripper in a pot this size, the water doesn't moisten the whole pot. It doesn't fill it. Water sneaks down the inside pot wall and runs straight out the hole in the bottom. Most of the soil stays dry, so these drippers by themselves are not ideal. They might work, or not. It could be I might return in July and find the regulars just dried up and died.

My idea is to let the water to fill up each pheno table pot, wetting all soil in each pot, and then to let it drain. By controlling the drainage out, by restricting the outflow so that water flows in faster from the drippers than it can flow out at the bottom, the water will collect at the bottom and back up in the pot, filling it up. The key to this technique is a drainage tube I've attached to the hole in the bottom of each pot and sealed to prevent leakage from the pot's drainage hole. The water will stay in the pot unless it can go out through the drainage tube. There is a plastic valve at the bottom of each drainage tube that can be closed completely or opened to any degree I want, and so by opening it just a crack the water first fills the pot up and then flows out through the nearly closed off drainage tube very slowly. That's the idea, anyway.

This is still in the testing phase, but so far it looks like it will work. Here some photos taken today:





 
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Stunger

Well-Known Member
Before I start germinating, have been amending the now 3-year old soil and building a new setup on the balcony.
Hi Emeraldo, That is a pretty comprehensive start with your irrigation setup for this forthcoming grow.

Re the 3 year old soil; Are you going back to re-amending your previous super soil or is it the wood chip/forest floor soil that you used for last season's Arjan's Haze #1, ASH and JH?
The problem isn't getting the water to the pheno table pots. The problem was to find a way to moisten all soil in each pot before it drains out. I am using pre-punched dripper line, each hole giving 0.8 gal/hour, again with three drippers per pot I give 0.8 gallons in a 20-minute watering. That is enough water. But with this kind of dripper in a pot this size, the water doesn't moisten the whole pot. It doesn't fill it. Water sneaks down the inside pot wall and runs straight out the hole in the bottom. Most of the soil stays dry, so these drippers by themselves are not ideal. They might work, or not. It could be I might return in July and find the regulars just dried up and died.
I can see why you'd be concerned about the drip watering potentially sending the water straight down and running out the bottom without necessarily getting water to the whole soil mass. My containers are pretty fast drying, being so drilled out, with the soil held in by a thin breathable fabric layer. Each morning when I water, I have to do so slowly and just a little at first as the water bubbles as it pools on the surface and it initially takes a little time to sink in before I can add more when it starts to soak in more quickly. I can only think that to perhaps water less amount but more frequently to keep the soil constantly moist might work. I would imagine the fabric pot would then still dry out quickly near fabric perimeter and being fabric would presumably allow the roots easy access to oxygen regardless if watered more than once a day, I don't think a solid plastic container would not allow that same breathability in those circumstances.
 
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Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Hi Emeraldo, That is a pretty comprehensive start with your irrigation setup for this forthcoming grow.

Re the 3 year old soil; Are you going back to re-amending your previous super soil or is it the wood chip/forest floor soil that you used for last season's Arjan's Haze #1, ASH and JH?

Hey Stunger! Welcome to my next grow, which has yet to be kicked off, but all the prep for the irrigation system and soil mixing is done. The grow you refer to with the forest-floor wood chip soil -- that grow was in another location, a stealth grow not in California.

For this new "semi-guerilla" grow, I re-amended the now 3-year old soil I first mixed in 2017 and every year since. This will be the fourth year I've amended and re-used it, it was based on Fox Farm Ocean Forest with some ProMix peat and organic NPK + micronutrient sources. One thing I added more this year was calcium (oyster shell and crab shell), as well as half of last year's amounts of N (blood, bat, cottsonseed, alfalfa meals and crab shell), P (bone, fish meal) and K (kelp meal) + micorrhizae, volcanic rock dust, plus some fresh peat, worm castings. Then two weeks ago I watered the filled pots down with some molasses in the first gallon to kick them off. Am going to start germinating in about a week, Spring has arrived early! Yee haw!
:yahoo:
I can see why you'd be concerned about the drip watering potentially sending the water straight down and running out the bottom without necessarily getting water to the whole soil mass. My containers are pretty fast drying, being so drilled out, with the soil held in by a thin breathable fabric layer. Each morning when I water, I have to do so slowly and just a little at first as the water bubbles as it pools on the surface and it initially takes a little time to sink in before I can add more when it starts to soak in more quickly. I can only think that to perhaps water less amount but more frequently to keep the soil constantly moist might work. I would imagine the fabric pot would then still dry out quickly near fabric perimeter and being fabric would presumably allow the roots easy access to oxygen regardless if watered more than once a day, I don't think a solid plastic container would not allow that same breathability in those circumstances.

Yes, this was the "problem" I ran into in setting this up. And I think I hit on a workable solution. It's a balancing act.

Using smaller, 1-gallon ceramic pots for the veg phase of growing 6 regulars for pheno selection will mean more water will be retained than would be the case with fabric pots or other more poreous material. Actually, I chose the ceramic for that reason: smaller pots dry out sooner, so some retention is needed. Also, the opening of the drainage tube attached to the hole in each pot allows for about 1/2 inch of water to sit in the bottom of and not drain out. That's not a problem if I don't water too much. What "too much" is, is what I need to figure out now.

The heat here during June & July can be pretty scorching, up to 40 C, so I expect the pots will dry out soon enough. Nonetheless I will need to monitor the amount of water needed carefully and set it fairly low, running it twice a week only, Sun and Wed/Thu, until late July. Need to find that "sweet spot" for the smaller ceramic pot phase where just enough water goes in, the same amount which can also mostly evaporate in 4 days of say 30 - 40 C heat.

From the three times I've run the irrigation for the 6 smaller pots so far, all the soil in the pot is fully moistened; the water doesn't just disappear out the bottom. So I am optimistic it will work well enough. So I'll keep you posted as I get some seedlings going for the big 15-gallon pots.

My selections for the four plants in the 15-gallon pots are Nirvana's Black Berry, Female Seeds' Dream Berry, GHS Super Lemon Haze, and Barney's Farms Acapulco Gold. These four are in addition to the Jack Flash regulars in the pheno selection project. But all the strains I'd like to try and grow here are late-ripening, say end of October or early November. No freezing temps to deal with, lol. These are all sativas except for the Jack Flash, which is 55% indica. Also, I can grow stinky cheese here and no one will even notice, so stealth is not such an issue. (I hope our friends in NZ will also enjoy the benefits of a legalized recreational pot market soon!)

Speaking of stinky cheese, I grew Female Seeds Blueberry Cheesecake here two years ago and wanted to try something like that again. Dream Berry is Blueberry back-crossed with Haze, then crossed with Neville's Haze and Blueberry Cheesecake, supposed to get quite aromatic. I've wanted to grow that one for years. More later...

Around August 1, when the sex is apparent, I'll move the female Jack Flash (hopefully indica phenos also present) into 5 gallon fabric pots and put them on generous watering.
 
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Stunger

Well-Known Member
For this new "semi-guerilla" grow, I re-amended the now 3-year old soil I first mixed in 2017 and every year since. This will be the fourth year I've amended and re-used it, it was based on Fox Farm Ocean Forest with some ProMix peat and organic NPK + micronutrient sources. One thing I added more this year was calcium (oyster shell and crab shell), as well as half of last year's amounts of N (blood, bat, cottsonseed, alfalfa meals and crab shell), P (bone, fish meal) and K (kelp meal) + micorrhizae, volcanic rock dust, plus some fresh peat, worm castings. Then two weeks ago I watered the filled pots down with some molasses in the first gallon to kick them off. Am going to start germinating in about a week, Spring has arrived early! Yee haw!
:yahoo:
Some great amendments there. I am pleased with the Oyster shell flour in mine. Altho I would like to find some crab shell flour too. Altho as I have mentioned previously, next time failing that I will seek out some dried prawns/shrimp to amend into the soil for a few months before use.

Need to find that "sweet spot" for the smaller ceramic pot phase where just enough water goes in, the same amount which can also mostly evaporate in 4 days of say 30 - 40 C heat.
That is the tricky part of it, establishing a working minimum so regardless of your absence the plants get sufficient to live and grow until your return.

One thing I have noticed when irrigating the garden from a hose that was loose coiled on the ground, is that in the peak of the Summer heat when the timer switches on, the initial release of water can be surprisingly hot, especially if the hose is dark colored, because of the water that remained in the hose from the last time has now been heated up from the sun's baking heat. I imagine ordinarily that if the water was being directed thru a sprinkler to 'rain shower' veges it is probably not an issue, but if directed straight to the potted soil on hot days maybe there would be a certain amount of heat going straight to delicate roots - just a thought.

My selections for the four plants in the 15-gallon pots are Nirvana's Black Berry, Female Seeds' Dream Berry, GHS Super Lemon Haze, and Barney's Farms Acapulco Gold. These four are in addition to the Jack Flash regulars in the pheno selection project. But all the strains I'd like to try and grow here are late-ripening, say end of October or early November. No freezing temps to deal with, lol. These are all sativas except for the Jack Flash, which is 55% indica. Also, I can grow stinky cheese here and no one will even notice, so stealth is not such an issue. (I hope our friends in NZ will also enjoy the benefits of a legalized recreational pot market soon!)
They sound great. You do have a liking for the Sativas and Haze. I have experienced excellent grown buds in Thailand and Nepal in the 1980's, I presume it would have been Sativa, but back then I didn't know of the difference and while it was superb I couldn't compare after all this time. I had read that Neville's Haze was held in high regard by some, interesting how the Dream Berry has genetics from that. Ideally, it would be great to have a variety of cured bud to choose for the occasion and compare the effects instead of trying to do so decades apart!
 
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Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Some great amendments there. I am pleased with the Oyster shell flour in mine. Altho I would like to find some crab shell flour too. Altho as I have mentioned previously, next time failing that I will seek out some dried prawns/shrimp to amend into the soil for a few months before use.

Oyster shell flour is apparently different from crab shell. Apart from calcium and improved soil structure, as far as I could tell oyster shell does not add any NPK. The Crab shell flour by GS Plant that I bought on amazon claims NPK 3-3-0, which is a nice dose of N and P. So am using both of those, hopefully avoiding future calcium deficiencies!

That is the tricky part of it, establishing a working minimum so regardless of your absence the plants get sufficient to live and grow until your return.

Yes, but it is a moving target, as well. Up to June 1, a minimum of water will do just fine. By mid-July, however, that amount is insufficient and needs to be about quadrupled by end of July. That was my experience in 2019. Compared to prior years 2017 and 2018, when the weekly water amount was not increased over the summer, the plants in 2019 were much bigger, healthier and more productive. No drought effect for me, I don't want to risk it.

One thing I have noticed when irrigating the garden from a hose that was loose coiled on the ground, is that in the peak of the Summer heat when the timer switches on, the initial release of water can be surprisingly hot, especially if the hose is dark colored, because of the water that remained in the hose from the last time has now been heated up from the sun's baking heat. I imagine ordinarily that if the water was being directed thru a sprinkler to 'rain shower' veges it is probably not an issue, but if directed straight to the potted soil on hot days maybe there would be a certain amount of heat going straight to delicate roots - just a thought.

Yes. When running off a garden hose that lies curled up in the sun in the afternoon, that water will be hot. Fortunately for this setup, the water is cold out of the underground irrigation system. Water remaining in the drip lines after a morning watering will heat up in the afternoon sun, which is another reason why a late afternoon irrigation would not be a good idea here. Mornings only, the water being at its coolest.

They sound great. You do have a liking for the Sativas and Haze. I have experienced excellent grown buds in Thailand and Nepal in the 1980's, I presume it would have been Sativa, but back then I didn't know of the difference and while it was superb I couldn't compare after all this time. I had read that Neville's Haze was held in high regard by some, interesting how the Dream Berry has genetics from that. Ideally, it would be great to have a variety of cured bud to choose for the occasion and compare the effects instead of trying to do so decades apart!

Yes I do. And yes, it is nice to have a variety to fit your mood. Flavors, if you will. I like an uplifting sativa edible during the day, and my wife and I smoke an indica cigar in the evening.
:Rasta:

Indicas are ready to harvest here by the end of September, and last year I grew 3 indica strains an harvested them around October 10 last year. I let the 3 sativa plants ripen until around October 20, which was a bit early for them given the climate here. You know, no freezing temperatures to panic about! Lol.

This absentee grower thing -- it isn't an ideal setup for me to grow both kinds. So this year I will try a different approach: skipping indicas, and growing late-ripening sativas and haze plants that I can let go into early November. The one exception is of course the Jack Flash, which might be a tad earlier than the others.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Oyster shell flour is apparently different from crab shell. Apart from calcium and improved soil structure, as far as I could tell oyster shell does not add any NPK. The Crab shell flour by GS Plant that I bought on amazon claims NPK 3-3-0, which is a nice dose of N and P. So am using both of those, hopefully avoiding future calcium deficiencies!
For crab shell flour and crustacea meal, it is the Chitin content that I understand is one of the main benefits, and that's key reason why I would like to amend my soil with it. Oyster and Mussel shell that I have used this grow does not have the Chitin component in it.

Yes, but it is a moving target, as well. Up to June 1, a minimum of water will do just fine. By mid-July, however, that amount is insufficient and needs to be about quadrupled by end of July. That was my experience in 2019. Compared to prior years 2017 and 2018, when the weekly water amount was not increased over the summer, the plants in 2019 were much bigger, healthier and more productive. No drought effect for me, I don't want to risk it.
That's why in my thoughts around having a go at subjecting my plants to 'drought stress' in an attempt to bump up the THCa levels I only want to do so after the buds have thickened up to their potential, and not too early where the resulting yield is affected. It'd be different if I had a whole paddock that I could plant and experiment with.

Yes, but it is a moving target, as well. Up to June 1, a minimum of water will do just fine. By mid-July, however, that amount is insufficient and needs to be about quadrupled by end of July. That was my experience in 2019. Compared to prior years 2017 and 2018, when the weekly water amount was not increased over the summer, the plants in 2019 were much bigger, healthier and more productive. No drought effect for me, I don't want to risk it.
I am not up on the technology but it seems like there are a lot of apps that can be used to 'look' at your grow online remotely using a cheap camera, and I imagine possible to control irrigation online in a similar fashion. Altho all that is down to the cost benefit of the setup.
 
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Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Here we go. My selection. It is what it is... and isn't what it isn't. But this is gonna be fun. Comparing the various takes on haze and skunk, the holy grail of the mystical balance between sativa's cerebral high and indica's body buzz. If you look into the genealogies, it's always those Jack Herer or Neville's Haze genetics they're building on.

Grew Jack Herer last year, this year will give Jack Flash another try. I see Jack Flash as a sort of "improved Jack Herer", better body buzz. Dream Berry is supposed to be an indica-leaning cross of haze and blueberry, back-crossed with FS Blueberry Cheesecake, which I grew 2 years ago and liked very much. Very stinky. Nirvana's Black Berry is a [raspberry cough x haze] x black domina, which is a totally different take on haze, also said to be quite aromatic. Acapulco Gold by Barney's Farm? It fits my harvest window of late October into November, and it's a mexican sativa. I'm always soft on mexican sativas...
 
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Stunger

Well-Known Member
Here we go. My selection. It is what it is... and isn't what it isn't. But this is gonna be fun. Comparing the various takes on haze and skunk, the holy grail of the mystical balance between sativa's cerebral high and indica's body buzz. If you look into the genealogies, it's always those Jack Herer or Neville's Haze genetics they're building on.

Grew Jack Herer last year, this year will give Jack Flash another try. I see Jack Flash as a sort of "improved Jack Herer", better body buzz. Dream Berry is supposed to be an indica-leaning cross of haze and blueberry, back-crossed with FS Blueberry Cheesecake, which I grew 2 years ago and liked very much. Very stinky. Nirvana's Black Berry is a [raspberry cough x haze] x black domina, which is a totally different take on haze, also said to be quite aromatic. Acapulco Gold by Barney's Farm? It fits my harvest window of late October into November, and it's a mexican sativa. I'm always soft on mexican sativas...
Coming from NZ where you have to whistle dixie 15 times just to have a slim hope of getting your seed order thru Customs, it cracks me up seeing a multitude of breeder packs casually laid out like playboy magazines before a blind man.
I have heard so much about Jack Herer so the Jack Flash is really interesting. And you have sung praises to the Mexican Sativa you grew so it'll be interesting how you'll compare that to the Acapulco Gold. Dream Berry too, as that has Neville's Haze in it which sounds like an amazing strain, so all interesting, I can't wait to see how they go and what the results are!
 

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Brazen and insensitive of me to flaunt the goods, I see, my friend. Think of it as a glimpse of the good times that are coming to NZ, hopefully sooner than later, when you'll be free-er (humming "The Battle Hymn of the Republic")

To me it is always a joy to get out those packs of seeds, so full of promise, and ruminate about the coming grow. My head usually stoned from last year's bud and filled with plans, the stuff of dreams, of the grow about to start. I love starting a new grow! So much fun.

But it's like eating your favorite meal in front of someone who is starving. Well, not quite, in fact far from it. Your harvest this year is in an amazing shape, the exact shape of your zone of stealth. It wasn't easy to prune and supercrop those plants into the space provided, but you did an amazing job and still are.

Anyway. The photo. Thought it would make a suitable photo to start off my new grow. Here are the seeds. Am just warming up the pantry with an incandescent 60W old fashioned bulb to about 78 F to start the seeds germinating! Was thinking of starting them off day after tomorrow, which is Friday, March 13th. What phase is the moon in? Oops, a black cat -- Quick, throw a pinch of mycorrhizae across your shoulder!

:)
 
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Stunger

Well-Known Member
Brazen and insensitive of me to flaunt the goods, I see, my friend. Think of it as a glimpse of the good times that are coming to NZ, hopefully sooner than later, when you'll be free-er (humming "The Battle Hymn of the Republic")
I am hopeful there is change coming but I don't know. I would hope even if the referendum fails that perhaps the Govt will cut some slack to the nonetheless sizable proportion of the NZ's population who recreationally or medically prefer discreet use of cannabis.

Your harvest this year is in an amazing shape, the exact shape of your zone of stealth. It wasn't easy to prune and supercrop those plants into the space provided, but you did an amazing job and still are.
It is kind of you to say so, but in all honesty I simply made the 90 degree 'supercrop bends' to the required stealth level and afterwards tied down branches that were reluctant to conform. To encourage anyone reading, it really was that simple. Many of the bends were made over 18 inches from the tips. Using hindsight, next time I would supercrop a little earlier to perhaps train them to an even lower level. But as you say, they still fit well into desired stealth zone.
 

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
So... to continue the unfolding story.

Soaked 4 seeds on March 13. On the top shelf in the 15 sqf pantry, I germinated in a moist paper towel between two plates warmed to 77 F under a 60W candescent bulb. When the 60W bulb went out, I could not buy a replacement anywhere, Home Depot or Lowes. Something about the State of California.

But you can still get 40W, so I settled on two 40W bulbs, and together they warm the top shelf area to 79F. Which is even better. According to Jorge Cervantez, the absolute best germination temperature is 78F. The seeds respond.

All four seeds split and pushed out a taproot within 3 days and were transferred to rooters. After a week, 3 of the 4, all but the Dream Berry, had popped their shells off and were growing, pushing up out of the rooter, growing their first set of serrated singe leaves.

However, after that first week there had been little sign of growth from the Dream Berry. I mean, she had a taproot about 3/4 inch but was not pushing up like the others did. So I, thinking the first seed was bad, started a new, second Dream Berry. Then, predictably, a few days later the first Dream Berry seedling pushed up from within the rooter with the seed shell stuck on her tip. And the shell is still today, on day 17, stuck on her tip. The second Dream Berry (in the foreground below) was much easier, she pushed up out of the rooter after about one week, was much quicker, her shell fell off easily, washed off with a squirt of water. The shell is off to the side.

So, after 17 days, the three seedlings starting veg are about 3 inches tall and are working on their second set of serrated leaves, the first set of triplet leaves. Dream Berry deserves its reputation for being a slow starter (I read somewhere while researching these strains that she doesn't get going right away). The main problem has been the hardness of the seed shell.

Covid-19 threw a huge monkey wrench in my plans. Shelter in place. But it's totally ok. Instead of being away, and leaving the plants on automatic irrigation, I am now planning on being here until traveling is possible. That will be probably about the beginning of flowering, if not later. If I can live that long, I can live with the wait.

Growing keeps me busy, makes me happy, even in containment!

Cheers, and stay healthy

Emeraldo


 
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Bensonowen

New Member
Your drip irrigation system can't control the flow of water. It's hard to control the water pressure. You need to spend more time to improve it. Of course, it depends on whether it is necessary.
 

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Your drip irrigation system can't control the flow of water. It's hard to control the water pressure. You need to spend more time to improve it. Of course, it depends on whether it is necessary.

Welcome, Bensonowen, to my grow. You're right, the drip lines do not control the outflow of water. I wanted to slow down the outflow so that it will moisten all soil in the pots. I think I solved the problem by restricting the outflow with a valve. Then again, as you say, it may not be necessary at all now that I will be sheltering in place.
 
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