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Malawi Gold - Chamba - Organic - Daylight Shifting - 2017


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After a 2 year absence I'm back to share this journal and hopefully learn from your experiences. Any and all suggestions, critiques, questions etc. are invited.

About 2 years ago I purchased a few cannabis varieties from a few suppliers and packed them away in the freezer.

On Oct 24, 2017 I removed the Malawi Gold seeds from the freezer and was pleasantly surprised to find 17 seeds instead of 10, which is what I had ordered. The seeds are regular; hopefully an equal number of male and female for my purpose of acquiring lots of seeds with as big a gene pool as possible.

I planted the 17 seeds in separate 2" pots with my composted soil. The pots were placed on a heating mat and placed in front of an east-facing window. The east-facing window wasn't a preference; it just happened to have the room for the plant tray.

Oct 27 - MG1 and MG2 germinated and had their first look around.
Oct 28 - I placed MG1 & 2 under 4' fluorescent lights (4 tubes). MG3-9 germinated.
Oct 29 - Placed MG3-9 under the fluorescents. MG10-16 germinated and were placed under the fluorescents about an hour before shut-off time.
Over the next 2 days MG6,13,2 &16 failed. Not sure why but I'm thinking they may have been weak or maybe the conditions were less than ideal. Temperature was about 17C at night and 19-20C during the day. A day temp of 25C would have been ideal according to my research. The soil wasn't too damp in my opinion but with this African sativa maybe it could have been dryer. The 17th seed did not germinate. In any case there are 12 sativas that appear strong and I'm looking forward to this grow. Yee ha !!

MY SOIL:I mix my own soil using a peat base. I use a peat based soil(no particular brand), compost from my basement garbage can(I have a plastic garbage can in the basement where I recycle my soil and houseplant debris), worm castings, seafood meal, blood meal, bone meal, bat guano, cow or sheep manure compost, wood ashes and lime. This soil supplies the plants with all the nutrients they need from start to finish without any need to fertilize. And the taste is so good. I don't like the taste of chemically grown bud.

LIGHTING:The seedlings are under 4-4' fluorescent tubes. 2 are T12's and 2 are T8's. Originally they were all T12's but as the ballast wear out I replace them with T8's. I am working on a dedicated grow room where the lighting will be either a 400W MH or a 430W HPS. I'll probably use the HPS because it is a horizontal bulb that gives more light than the vertical MH bulb. After this grow I plan to divide the room into a vegging room and a flowering room. I have my eye on a LED but I don't know if I'll purchase it for this grow.

DAYLIGHT SHIFTING:So, this will be new to me. I plan to alter the day length while the plants grow. My fluorescents were on a 12/12 timer from the very beginning. After 1 week I moved one of the pins of the timer to lengthen the day. I'm not sure how much actual time was added to the daylight but I'm guessing approx. 5 min. I'll take a closer look and try to figure that out. When I move the plants to the new grow room I'll be using a digital timer that will allow a more exact program. My plan is to try and duplicate the day length of Malawi. That means the days will get a little longer each week until Dec 22 at which time the day length will shorten a bit each week until June 22. I have a record of the sunrises, sunsets and day lengths for Nkohotakota, Malawi for a year. I plan to adjust the timer each Sunday to reflect the day length in Malawi.

MALAWI GOLD:I've done some research on this variety to try and understand its needs and wants so that this grow will be successful. My goal is to harvest seeds and bud; seeds being the priority with bud being a very close 2nd. So, here is what I've learnt online.
Temp - 25C day / 15C night
Humidity - high, sub tropical, high resistance to mold
Soil - fertile, organic
Water - long dry periods requiring watering
Height - very tall with many branches, Christmas tree shape
Flowering length - 14-16 weeks, even 18 wks
Harvested, dried in full sunshine and then packed in banana leaves (cobs)
Can adapt to almost any environment; very hardy and easily cultivated

To try and keep these sativas from growing too tall I will limit the size of the pots. If the plants are kept in small pots I hope the plants will be somewhat pot bound. This should limit the height as well as speed up the flowering. Time will tell.

Photos to follow



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These are my Malawi Gold seedlings on Day 5-6 after germination. The plant markers were rearranged after this picture to eliminate the gaps due to the 4 failures. They now go from MG1 - MG12. MG1 was the first to germinate and MG12 was the last to germinate.

A close-up of MG1. A little surprised at the width of these leaves. They don't look all that different than Afghani that I'm used to growing. I was expecting thin long sativa leaves. Apparently, [I](after a little research)[/I]the first leaves are broad followed by the long, thin sativa leaves.
Close-up of MG5. This seedling was later renamed MG4 after rearranging due to MG2's failure.
Here is a pic of the watering can I use for these little seedlings. It has an adapter at the tip that allows a very accurate placement of the water. Being cautious not to over-water and not wanting to cause damping off I pour a small bead of water around the edge of the pot. The middle where the stem is stays dry until it absorbs water from the edges. Before watering I always pick up the pot to feel the weight. It may look dry because the surface of the soil is obviously dry but sometimes the weight tells me not to water yet.


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Where did you come up with the daylight shift. Never heard of it but it sounds like a cool experiment. I prefer indicas myself but I threw a couple if maui wowie sativas in the mix for the wife. Although I think I got ripped off from the seed bank because from the way they are growing they don't show sativa characteristics.


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Where did you come up with the daylight shift. Never heard of it but it sounds like a cool experiment. I prefer indicas myself but I threw a couple if maui wowie sativas in the mix for the wife. Although I think I got ripped off from the seed bank because from the way they are growing they don't show sativa characteristics.

Yea, daylight shift is what happens naturally with the tilted earth orbiting around the sun. Days are longer in the summer and noticeably shorter in the winter; at least in the higher latitudes where indicas grow. So I veg indicas at 16/8 and flower at 12/12. That has worked well for me and most other growers. One could gradually increase and decrease but I don't know if the added work would be of any benefit.

Sativas are different because they are native to tropical regions where the day length difference between summer and winter isn't that pronounced. For example in Malawi the longest day light hours are around 13 hrs on Dec 21 and the shortest is around 11 hrs on June 21. That's only a 2 hr difference. So it just makes sense to me to try and duplicate the native conditions of the plant. After all, they developed over many, many years and mutated to take advantage of their local conditions. Take it out of that environment and grow it in a totally different environment and I think much is lost. It can't reach its full potential in my opinion. But that's just my opinion. I would like to know what conditions my seeds were grown and how far removed they are from Malawi. Are they 50 generations grown in a 16/8 and 12/12 grow room or only a couple of generations away from Malawi?

When the first true leaves emerged from my MGs I was surprised to see leaves that looked just like the afghanis that I've grown. I too wondered if they are really MG. But now I'm seeing them stretch a bit with the next leaves growing and they are taking on that sativa look. I'll be posting some pics today or tomorrow.


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Day 20 (from when seeds were sown) Update
A group pic from above. They look like clones except for MG10 top right corner with thinner more sativa-like leaves. A bit of variance but almost identical. Reminds me of those 'Spot the difference' pictures.

A side shot showing the nodes starting to separate.

MG3 showing the first sign of branching.

A close-up of MG3 beginning to branch already.

When I first put the seedlings under the fluorescent lights - Oct 28 - the timer was set for 11 hrs 45 mins.

1 week later I moved a pin on the timer 1 slot to lengthen the day. There are 4 slots to each hour so the result was 15 mins more light for a total daylight length of 12 hrs. The time was added at the end of the day.

Saturday night I replaced the manual timer with a digital one and added 20 mins at the start of the day. The light comes on 20 mins earlier. So daylight is 12 hrs 20 mins.

Going forward I will reset the timer each Sunday to lengthen the day by either adding time at the start or the end of day or both. The time added will be much less than what I've added up to this point. I'll have to check my schedule but I think it will be around 5 mins a week.

Hoping to move the plants into their new digs this week. :cheer:



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What will the lights out time be during flowering. It would have been nice to run some of the plants on an 18/6 and 12/12 schedule for comparison. Looking forward to your grow. Its the first time I've seen anyone try this. My plants started on week 3 of flowering today. I decided not to do a journal this grow but I'll show you a picture of them in the tent.


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Healthy looking plants Killian. I can't distinguish which ones are Maui Wowie.

I'm not sure when flowering will begin or what the daylight times will be. I intend to add about 5 mins a week until I reach 12 hrs 51 mins. That will take about 6 weeks and occur right around Xmas. Then I will start shortening the daylight by the same 5 mins a week until harvest time. I'm guessing and hoping that harvest will happen by April. If it does then the total grow time will have been 6 months. According to my research flowering times are reputed to take around 4 months so if everything goes according to plan this grow may end up having a 2 month veg period and a 4 month flowering period. This seems about right when I compare my outside vegetable garden where it starts April/May grows 2 months to the longest day in June and then is harvested 3-4 months later in Sept/Oct.

My guess is when the daylight starts to decrease the plants, if mature enough, will begin to put into motion the process of flowering.

A comparison grow of 18/6 and 12/12 to this present grow would be of interest to me as well. But because of the long flowering period and the height they reach the recommendation by people who have grown Malawi Gold is to go immediately to 12/12. Otherwise, the plants quickly outgrow their space.

I'll post a copy of my schedule in my next post.



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Day 25 Update

The plants are doing fine under the fluorescents but I'd like to move them to their new digs; unfortunately it's not ready yet. Shouldn't be long though.

They've reached a height of 4" and are starting to branch out more than I expected. I've been checking the bottom of the pots looking for any roots and only see one root so far. I water them sparsely waiting until the soil is fairly dry and then only giving them a sip by pouring a small bead of water around the perimeter of the pot. Water does not pour out the bottom and the soil at the bottom is only slightly damp. The roots may very well be staying near the surface and not inclined to venture down. I'll know once I repot and have a good look at the roots.

This is MG4. There are 3 more plants that look like this. I'm not sure if this is the start of their flowering period. The other 8 are putting out new leaves normally. I can't help but think their long flowering period has begun. I've never seen anything like this with indicas; especially this early. Very interesting.

Here is my record of sunrise, sunset and daylight times in Nkohotakota, Malawi. This Malawi region reputedly has the best Malawi Gold.

These are my records of the time shifts so far. I plan to follow this schedule from this point forward and not skip as I have done.

I'm noticing a bit of a skunky smell and I've played a little traditional Malawi music just to set the mood. I'm enjoying this grow more than usual because I don't know what to expect.



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Day 26 - What a difference a day makes !!

Yesterday, I was wondering if the plants had entered the flowering stage. Today, I can say they have absolutely begun to flower. I am amazed at how early; 26 days from when the seeds were sown. I'm blown away. They are starting to stretch; about .5" since yesterday. The stems have been thickening noticeably over the last few days and I figured this indicated they would be making some height gains. The smell is increasing and I find it to be pleasant and somewhat complex. I have a terrible nose for discerning smells so I doubt I could give a true account of just what smells are present. I would describe it as skunky but more complex. Pineapple perhaps along with some other subtle aromas. I'll have to check back with some of my research to see if what is described by others rings true for this grow. Like I've said before, I'm really enjoying this grow.

So here are the first male flowers I've noticed.

And here are the first female flowers I've noticed.

It appears to me that there are 4 males and possibly 8 females. That's a pretty good ratio IMO. Should make for good genetics and a ton of seeds. Today I gave the plants a fairly good watering; not to the point of water coming out of the drainage holes but a total saturation of the soil. So now my expectation that this grow would last 6 months has to be revised. It looks like maybe 5 months total and maybe even 4 months. With this in mind I may very well take some clones of the females after they reach 1-2 feet tall and grow them without any male influence. I hadn't considered clones because of the long grow period but now that may be possible.

Last night I set the timer to start 5 mins earlier this morning. I'm going to give some consideration to that schedule. Should I stay at the 5 min increase a week to 12 hrs 51 mins or should I speed that up with perhaps a 10 min increase ? Decisions, decisions.

Well, I better get to work on my grow room.



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Day 33 Update

The ladies and gents have all shown that they're ready to partake in pollination. MG10 finally grew some stigmata to show she really is a female. She was the last one of the 8 females to do so. So pollen is starting to spread through the air. The 4 males displayed their prowess first before the females and are all taller than their female friends. MG4M is the tallest at 13". He was about 5" tall a week ago. MG1M & MG11M are both 11" tall and MG7M is 9" tall. If I was to pick one male it would be the tallest MG4M. He's outgrowing the others so that his pollen will spread the farthest; a good trait IMO. Wanting as big a gene pool as possible I will give them all equal opportunities. I'm thinking I'll remove the males after 12 plants become too much to handle as far as space is concerned. By that time there should be lots of seeds ripening. And maybe unpollinated female flowers will finish off this grow.

Today I moved the plants from the fluorescent lights to the HPS in a temporary grow room. Since the males started stretching the females have gotten less light due to the fluorescent's lack of penetration as I've had to raise the fixture. The HPS will be welcomed by all I think. One problem this creates for me is their watering. They are still in the 2" pots and I've had to water them twice a day. Now with the HPS and their continued growth I expect 3 or more waterings a day. If these were indicas I would have transplanted them to larger pots a couple of weeks ago. But trying to limit their height I will try to keep them in as small a pot as possible. So far so good. The leaves have never shown signs of being in need of water (drooping) so I don't think they've been stressed. And I'm not seeing roots through the drainage holes of the pots; only one root. This past week I gave them all a little fertilizer feed. I normally don't need to supplement the soil but with this grow I decided to. Initially, when I sowed the seeds the soil I used was from my compost garbage can. This soil would normally have been added to as I described in Post#1. This time the soil was left unaltered and because the plants won't be transplanted for an extended period of time I felt I should add some fertilizer. I added a blend of 3 different organic fertilizers hoping to supply the essentials. I'll probably apply another feeding in a couple of weeks at which time I'll supply a picture of the said fertilizers.

This morning the lights came on 5 mins earlier so total daylight hrs are 12 hrs and 30 mins. The smell is really nice and fairly strong; definitely fruity and sweet. I often sit next to them after the lights go off and have a beer and play some African/Malawi traditional music. The aromas after the lights go off seem to increase. Compared to indicas I've grown I find these aromas much more complex.

I apologize for the quality of these photos due to HPS lighting and being in a temporary grow room. Once I move them to the permanent space I'll have the means for better pictures. This first pic shows the heights. In the background is a hot pepper plant and to the side is a dragon fruit plant.

This shows the order of the plants from MG1M bottom left to MG12F top right.

MG10F has the most sativa-like leaves. From what I've read Malawi Gold leaves are broader than most sativas.

At this point MG6F has the nicest/fullest flowers IMO

MG4M with flowers open and pollen being spread around.



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Day 36

Today I noticed this.

MG7M is now MG7MF. He's not happy enough pollinating others; he wants to pollinate himself. I swear I didn't tell him to go and f*** himself. LOL. Maybe he telepathically picked up my thoughts about removing the males after space becomes a concern. He just may have saved himself. Now I wonder if the other guys are going to follow his lead. I've had females with bananas but this is the first time I've had a male that produced female flowers. The other 3 males are staying male and I don't see any females changing over so I'm not sure why MG7MF has switched. Could be the stress of being confined in a small pot and/or a genetic trait. Watering and lighting shouldn't be the cause. Daylight shifting shouldn't be the cause because that is quite natural in the outdoor world.

This is MG10F. She has the most sativa-like leaves (narrow) and is the only plant to have the tips turning down (claw). Because the soil, watering and other conditions are identical to all the plants I can only conclude her genetics are slightly different from the others that predisposes her to this clawing. She has had this condition from the beginning but it seems to be more pronounced as she ages.

Under the HPS I'm watering more frequently and I'm starting to think I'll have to repot before too long. Each day I'm giving the males a shake to spread their pollen and watching the female flowers grow larger.

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