420 Magazine Background

LALALand's 1st Grow - CFLs & AutoPots In My Closet

Thread starter #1
Hey all,

As a longtime user of cannabis (recreationally back in the day; now medically for my chronic pain) I am a strong believer in this plant's magical effects—as well as its magically high price-tag—so I am quite stoked to be growing my own at last!
:circle-of-love:

Starting with 2 plants in my closet, just to see if I've got a knack for this. Hope so... I did plenty of research on this forum as well as others, benefiting from the documented trials and triumphs of those before me (we truly are blessed to stand on the shoulders of giants in these forums) and I have much to learn still. But anyway, that's why I'm here.
Any advice & criticism is greatly appreciated, y'all!!!

OK, so—right now, we're 2 weeks into the grow, starting from when I picked up the clones...
Despite a rather shaky start (overwatering and with too low a nutrient concentration, I think), things are looking good at this point with pretty new green leaves every day, and a noticeably funky smell already emitting in veg...
:thumb:

Here's my full setup:

STRAIN:
Animal Cookies, starting with 2 clones
(Fire OG x GSC, 60/40 indica-dom hybrid... perfect for my needs)

POTTING MEDIUM:
Coco Coir / Perlite (50/50 mix, Black Label brand)
in Autopots (1.93gal)
-Custom feeding reservoir built from food-grade Sterilite, with a brass ¼” hose adapter punched through for the spout. Made watertight by flame-heating hose adapter before inserting into drilled hole (thus slightly melting the tub's plastic around it) and wrapped some Stretch-Seal around the outside for good measure. Not a drop leaks out! Also, because the Autopot factory filter (some sort of plasticky mesh) didn't fit into my reservoir, I just cut up the mesh part and shoved it into my custom adapter.

NUTRIENTS:
Canna-Coco A+B, Cal-Mag, PK 14/15
Reverse Osmosis H2O (with just a dash of filtered tap water mixed in)
-Using General Hydroponics pH Adjust kit (pH Up & Down w/ liquid test kit), I adjust pH after letting mixed nute solution sit overnight... because the pH plummets down past 5.0 during this time. Eek!!!
A bit of pH Up (about 20 drops per gallon) seems to bring it into the optimal Golden (~6.0) range—the plants dig it, so at this point I'm not gonna fix what ain't broke by spending more cash on fancy BlueLab water-testing meters.

-For the first week, I hand-watered the plants DTW style... to allow for root development, as Autopot company suggests. Now, they are on 100% auto-feed—and thriving!!!

LIGHTS:
CFL (40w)
Six bulbs of each:
6500k for veg (18/6 cycle), 2700k for flowering (12/12 cycle)
-Four bulbs hang down from metal clamp-style reflectors; the other two are in desk lamps, aimed at the plants from the sides.

Hang your lights however you can, with whatever you've got. That's what my mother always told me.

VENTILATION / SEAL:
Carbon filter (Can-lite 4”x15)
+ Inline centrifugal fan (4”)
Set filter&fan up vertically on the floor—no other place to put 'em.
Using a small oscillating fan on opposite side of the grow closet to ensure proper circulation...
Panda Film alllll over the walls to make closet hi-reflective and virtually airtight (at least enough to create negative pressure with fan running). Duct tape seal around 80%, with Velcro in one corner for the entrance),

cut a hole and attached ventilation duct output.

DUCT TAPE SEALS IT ALL!!!

-Both fans are linked to the lights' timer.

Sorry for sideways pics... too late to edit now.

TRAINING METHODS:
LST + ScrOG
I started LST (with pipecleaners!) early to encourage a bushy explosion of leaf nodes (success!). Going to keep training horizontally for another week or so, letting stems thicken up, then I'll let the girls start filling some vertical space.
Not sure exactly when I want to induce flowering (any suggestions? I've got about 4 feet of height to work with) but I know that I'll want to ScrOG it up when that time comes. Got an old metal grating from a freestanding closet that I'm pretty sure will work perfectly, once I figure out a way to set it up in this darn closet.

HUMIDITY/TEMP CONTROL:
None specifically... but the fans do a tremendous job of keeping the temps down, as I learned when I tried turning them off for a few minutes and sticking my head in. The grow room gets hot FAST without moving air, whooo!!

Anyway...
Day-by-day journaling (with more pics) to follow.
 
Thread starter #3
re: LALALand's 1st Grow - CFLs & Autopots In My Closet

Thanks, Jimmy6000!! Glad to have you aboard...

Let's get to the good stuff, shall we? This journal was written day-by-day but I am editing as I post, hence the weird past and present tense appearing simultaneously. I'm sure we can manage to get through it nonetheless...


***

DAY 1
Brought the clones home safely in their little plastic tray, then set them up in my closet with just two of the 40w CFLs aimed down at them, about 4" away. No watering today because the seller told me she'd watered them a few hours prior... here they are:


DAY 2

-Repotted clones, connected all 6 lamps (4 hanging, 2 floor)
each bulb ~4” from plant leaves, aimed directly.

Upon further inspection, I can see that new leaves are sprouting. IT'S NOT DEAD!!! My grow is going better than I could have already hoped.



-Watering by hand daily for one week, per Autopot instructions… let the plants make themselves at home before drenching constantly.

-pH tested Kroger drinking water: Golden yellow – low 6 / high 5.
• ¼ strength nutes + CalMag to start... gave ½ gallon total… first ¼ gallon was plain water though.

DAY 3

-Two waterings today: 1pm (jar, quick n’ uneven) and 6pm (full spray bottle, evenly soaked soil), approx. ½ gal. used total.
Still using 25% nute/calmag solution—Upping to 50% tomorrow because the plants are looking a bit droopy and deficient despite their growth (purple stems seem to be an indicator of certain deficiencies, according to many sources).


DAY 4


Leaf tips turning brown, general color is very dark green, leaves drooping heavily, not looking good. I see possible evidence of the infamous N-claw, and weird twisting of new leaves... some crispiness, too... what do I do? Hmm...

For a few days I struggled with this issue, tearing my hair out over my plant's poor health, but I ultimately learned some important things:
-Mix CalMag first, then Canna AB. I also spoke with multiple hydro pros who told me that full strength is the way to go on these products.
-pH adjust very slowly and carefully. And the less buffer you need to use to get the desired pH, the better.
-40W CFLs are hot enough to cause heat stress on plants. Back those bulbs up and turn up the fans.
-Be PATIENT. The plant will not respond instantly, and old ailments don't visually heal... you have to look at the new growth...

I decided to go ahead and set up the Autopots, hoping to give the plants what they need with that...
 
Last edited:
Thread starter #4
re: LALALand's 1st Grow - CFLs & Autopots In My Closet

DAY 6

Upping the plant's nutrients was just the ticket. They are looking much better now, sooo... LST TIME!!!
• 90 degree bend across pot, 1-2” from soil. held with pipe cleaners. And a monkey.
 
Thread starter #5
re: LALALand's 1st Grow - CFLs & Autopots In My Closet

DAY 7

The girls like being bent over and tied up, apparently ;) They're responding vigorously already, just the next day!


Proof of their growth is in the waterline:


And they just keep goin, and goin, and goin...
 
Thread starter #6
re: LALALand's 1st Grow - CFLs & Autopots In My Closet

DAYS 8-12

F___in' duct tape. Doesn't the name imply that it was designed for DUCTS?
So why has my duct detached itself from my inline fan twice in the past week? Probably my own incompetence regarding the initial installation, that's why. It was time to upgrade the duct tape situation today:


In other news, the girls are doing quite well—as I suggested in the OP, I'm training them to basically fill maximum bushy horizontal real estate before allowing vertical veg.

Still not sure when to kick 'em into flower...
 
Thread starter #8
We're on DAY 18 and the ScrOG has been set up.



One plant isn't quite at screen height, but with the amount of light in there I know she'll catch up soon enough.


Beautiful new leaves every day!


Going to tie the girls down repeatedly until the screens are all full, however long that takes... then enter flowering mode!
Decided to keep these screens pretty low, just to give myself plenty of room–no idea how tall this strain will be in the end.
 
Really nice. I like seeing new styles and things in peopleš grows, and the use of a monkey is a first for me.

I also like to see a book promoting ''healthy aging'' holding up a sweet little MJ clone - that is what I call ''healthy aging!'' :D

Best of luck, I like your plant torture too.

xx
 
Thread starter #10
Thanks, Cerdito... I was sort of afraid I'd hurt them at first,but it's encouraging to see how these plants can thrive with extreme training.

***

We're on Week 3 now!!
Day 22 to be precise...

-The screen is filling up as planned. Gently training plants across it, keeping canopy low (1-2” above screen max)

-Raised lights a couple inches to accommodate the full bushiness that is to come...

-Did some minor plant surgery, removing the original clone leaves (2-3 per plant) because they were all down below the canopy and looked deformed/blotchy. The plants look mighty healthy otherwise!

-Best part… thanks to my big reservoir full o’ nutes, I haven’t even had to think about watering/feeding for the past week—the girls basically take care of themselves at this point. Love the Autopots.

MORE PHOTOS COMING SOON!! :)
 
Thread starter #11
DAY 23
-Lots of new growth!!
Time for some SHOW N' TELL..

again, sorry for the oddly rotated pictures. The uploader likes to flip 'em sometimes apparently.
Anyway, you'll get the idea:



I raised the lights another inch, and trained both plants some more.

-I have seen a few tiny dark-colored gnats/flies crawling & flying around,
but the plants are flourishing so I’m not going to worry…

-Screens look about half full right now... But I want max yield, so…
• Going to start flowering in about 5 days (4 weeks of veg total).
 
Thread starter #12
DAY 28
Day 1 of FLOWERING! :cheer:

This strain (Animal Cookies) has a 9-10 week flowering period; I want heavy indica effects, so 10 weeks it shall be.
Here we go!!!
Switched to 2700k bulbs last night after turning off at the usual time, starting 12/12 cycle with darkness.
I had a problem with one of the new 40w bulbs, so I replaced it with two 23w bulbs. Now 7 lights total!!! Some reflectors removed too, due to fit problems. Makin' due with what I got... anyway...

Earlier today, after lights had been on for 5+ hours:


And then 6 hours later, freshly LST'd:


Things are getting crowded up in these screenz, especially over in Plant 2's territory. That being said, it's not out of control yet—and I'm pleased to see Plant 1 finally catching up in terms of main stem size & overall vigor. Roots were probably taking longer to reach the water down below, that's all...

I'll continue training the plants daily until buds start to form... constantly tucking/tying down anything above 2-3". More updates to come.

And again I'm new at this, so any advice is appreciated!! :)
One thing I'm wondering about is... how much pruning is recommended at this stage? Not sure how bushy to let the under-canopy area get.
 
Thread starter #13
2013.1.12
DAY 32
Flowering DAY 5 of WEEK 1

Growth is increasing exponentially… waterline is down more than a centimeter in 24 hours. Crikey!!!
I'm still LST-ing like a maniac, as it's becoming clear that I'll have a full-blown forest on my hands by the time buds start to appear:


This one shoot is just growing out ridiculously thick and juicy:


Also, the smell outside of my grow closet is mild-to-none, but when I stick my head inside I get a face full o’ funk.
• Proof that my carbon filter system really works. Score!

One training-related issue that I'm glad I corrected now, rather than even further down the road:
I noticed that Plant 1’s main stem twist-tie (at the initial bend) was digging in pretty deep. Removed it, and sure enough… there is a shallow groove where the wire was. Ouch!! Sorry, girl.
But I'm not worried... despite her injury, this plant’s branches are thicker and faster-growing than her neighbor’s anyway. Here's the damage:


And finally, as I mentioned pruning earlier... I decided the ladies were getting too bushy down below. So behold, the results of trimming:


I'm so happy with the progress of this grow so far!! It has already been a valuable learning experience, and I am feeling optimistic about yield with the way things are looking right now.
 

Doozy

New Member
Fantastic, this is almost the exact way i plan on growing my first plants!!

Can i just ask why you decided to customise the Autopot reservoir? I'm looking at a 4 pot Autopot XL (5 gallon pots) setup.

Also, did you look at the Airdomes for the bottom of the pots? I am thinking of putting a 6" circular airstone in the bottom of mine instead of the Airdomes as it's cheaper. I was going to also put a few inches of just clay pebbles in the bottom to allow the air to rise before filling the rest of the pots with coco/perlite.

Anyway, really looking forward to updates, thanks for your journal, it's super helpful for us noobs!

Great job so far. :)

P.s you might find some of Winstun's journals helpful over on THC talk, (one is called 'The Widow Diaries') he uses Autopots and has had some great success!

Cheers
 
Thread starter #15
Fantastic, this is almost the exact way i plan on growing my first plants!!

Can i just ask why you decided to customise the Autopot reservoir?
...
Also, did you look at the Airdomes for the bottom of the pots? I am thinking of putting a 6" circular airstone in the bottom of mine instead of the Airdomes as it's cheaper. I was going to also put a few inches of just clay pebbles in the bottom to allow the air to rise before filling the rest of the pots with coco/perlite.
Hey Doozy, thanks for your input :) I made my own reservoir because I was already buying the pots a la carte, then the gentleman at my local store informed me that it would be cheaper to make my own than buy the branded version. He was right... it was cheap... but also kind of a pain to setup, and as you can see it looks gangsta. I'd just buy the Autopot res if I were you, unless you're a stingy McGyver with time to spare.
Of course, I do like having a transparent res (most sides still shielded from light... fungus control) as it lets me check the waterline.

Regarding the airdomes & clay pebbles... I wondered about the same thing. After talking to several experienced growers and a helpful Autopot phone rep, my understanding now is:
A coco/perlite mix—which drains well on its own—makes all that other stuff rather unnecessary. Clay pebbles in particular are probably not ideal for Autopots, since you need the medium touching the water to be somewhat absorbent—otherwise how's your H2O gonna get up to the roots? Makes sense to me.

Some people said the Airdomes are great for boosting plant health/vigor, others said they're a waste of $$$. Naturally, I took the simple, low-cost route and I'm doing fine so far... but I am only a first timer and I don't know what this strain might look like in the hands of an experienced gardener.

Either way, we'll have a clearer answer come harvest time.

And I'll def check out Winstun's journals. Thanks. The more info the better.
 
Thread starter #16
WEEK 2 of Flowering has begun, and the plants seem to know what's up.
Today is a special day.

Not only are the girls looking super perky...


But something has visibly changed:

Do you see it?

...How about now?


To the cannabis deities I say... :thanks:

So stoked on this situation. LET'S DO THIS!!!

The only nagging worry at this point is the sediment at the bottom of my reservoir... WTF is this stuff? I'm hoping it's just the "insoluble compounds" that can supposedly form if Cal-Mag is added *after* mixing Canna A&B—something I did for the first week or so, before I knew it was supposed to be the other way around. Really not looking to start a war on fungus/algae. Anybody have any idea what I might be lookin' at here?

Either way, as a precaution I'll be washing down this tank once it's empty in a few days.

More photos to come as additional budsites emerge!!!
 

Doozy

New Member
Hey Doozy, thanks for your input :) I made my own reservoir because I was already buying the pots a la carte, then the gentleman at my local store informed me that it would be cheaper to make my own than buy the branded version. He was right... it was cheap... but also kind of a pain to setup, and as you can see it looks gangsta. I'd just buy the Autopot res if I were you, unless you're a stingy McGyver with time to spare.
Of course, I do like having a transparent res (most sides still shielded from light... fungus control) as it lets me check the waterline.

Regarding the airdomes & clay pebbles... I wondered about the same thing. After talking to several experienced growers and a helpful Autopot phone rep, my understanding now is:
A coco/perlite mix—which drains well on its own—makes all that other stuff rather unnecessary. Clay pebbles in particular are probably not ideal for Autopots, since you need the medium touching the water to be somewhat absorbent—otherwise how's your H2O gonna get up to the roots? Makes sense to me.

Some people said the Airdomes are great for boosting plant health/vigor, others said they're a waste of $$$. Naturally, I took the simple, low-cost route and I'm doing fine so far... but I am only a first timer and I don't know what this strain might look like in the hands of an experienced gardener.

Either way, we'll have a clearer answer come harvest time.

And I'll def check out Winstun's journals. Thanks. The more info the better.
Thanks for the reply, what you said makes total sense, i'm going to keep my eye on this grow for all the info i can get. Massive thanks in advance!

Could you perhaps give a breakdown of your nutes per gallon at each rez refil if that's ok? It would really help as it's one area i'm totally confused about :p

Thanks again LALA. :)
 
Thread starter #19
Could you perhaps give a breakdown of your nutes per gallon at each rez refil if that's ok? It would really help as it's one area i'm totally confused about :p

Thanks again LALA. :)
No problem amigo. I'm just going by the instructions on the bottles, on the high end of the concentration range.
My recipe with 1gal RO water:
Add 5ml (1tsp) CalMag Plus. Shake for 30 seconds or so.
Add 15ml Canna A, shake. Then 15ml Canna B, shake.
Let sit overnight.
Adjust pH, then add to res immediately.

This formula's worked so far... haven't been keeping track precisely, but I'm sure the plants have happily consumed at least 10-20 gallons of this mix with no apparent problems.