Obi's Northern Light Autoflower - Indoor T5 - Soilless Mix - 2014

Obi Wan

Well-Known Member
Come one, come all, to a beautiful show! It's gonna be awesome and... some other stuff. Duh dee dee dee doo dee dee dee doo dee dee doo dee. Heh heh. Some other musical stuff! -Charlie Kelly

Alright pistils and stamens, here we go. Join me on my very first botanical adventure. A wondrous journey fraught with trial and error, failures and achievements, as well as personal enlightenment and [hopefully] a bountiful harvest.

Before we go further I would like to give a shout out and a warm thank you to all of the people who have so graciously shared their journals, knowledge and experiences with the community. Whether your results were huge successes, massive failures or something in-between you lay the foundation from which we all learn and move forward. Thank you!

This will be a grow strictly for personal use. My hopes are to harvest enough to get me through until the next harvest. We shall see. Realistically, if I can get 1 or 2 plants to survive my learning curve I will consider this grow a success.

Now, without further ado, let's get this thing started.
What strain is it?
Nirvana's Northern Light Feminized Autoflower
Is it Indica, Sativa or Hybrid?
Hybrid (Indica dominant)
Is it in Veg or Flower stage?
If in Veg... For how long?@ 20 days
Indoor or outdoor?Indoor
Soil or Hydro?Soiless Mix
If soil... what is in your mix?@ 80% Pro-Mix All Purpose Growing Mix (not HP or BX) and 20% additional Schultz Perlite
If soil... What size pot?3Gal/11L
Size of light?4ft 8-bulb T5HO with 6500K bulbs to start
Is it aircooled?Simple circulating fan pointing up at the light
Size of room/Cab5ft wide x 3ft deep x 6ft tall or 1.5m x 1m x 1.8m
Temp of Room/cab?78F/25C floor and ceiling and 83F/28C at the canopy
RH of Room/cab?33% to 35%
PH of media or res?Started @ 6.5
Any Pests?None
How often are you watering?Seldom. As needed.
Type and strength of ferts used?General Hydroponics Flora Series Trio
I acquired 10 seeds about a year ago. Maybe a little less than that. They were stored in their original sealed plastic breeder packs inside an envelope in the back of a dark dresser drawer.
To germinate the seeds I placed them in a cup of distilled water and kept them at a room temperature of 67F/19C.

In the mean time, while waiting for the seeds to germinate, I started work on getting the grow box ready. A double door wood box measuring about 5ft wide x 3ft deep x 6ft tall or 1.5m x 1m x 1.8m. I installed the T5 light on a rope and pulley system, ran duct work for two passive 4in/10cm air intakes and one 4in/10cm exhaust. The exhaust is attached to a 190CFM inline fan plugged into a Variac for speed control. I set a carbon filter aside for later when it will be needed.

I filled eight 3Gal/11L standard cheap-o nursery pots with a soilless mix of 80% Pro-Mix and 20% additional Perlite (rough guess) and pre-watered one pot with 1Gal/3.75L of ph 6.5 water. Runoff measured a ph of about the same 6.5. The remaining seven pots were moistened with 0.5Gal/2L of the same ph 6.5 water. These pots had no runoff. For the remaining two seeds I simply set up a couple party cups with the same mix. With everything pre-setup inside the grow box I turned on the lights, set the fan to 50%, closed the doors and waited to see where the temps and humidity leveled off. After 24 hours I checked my min/max directly under the lights at canopy level. 65F/18C and 83F/28C with a RH of 33% to 35%. The initial room temps seemed to be within limits. The humidity, while on the low side, would suffice for the moment and I deemed the grow box good to go. Good to grow? Anyway...

Back to the seed germination. After 12 hours a few seeds had sunk to the bottom of the cup of distilled water. I gave the rest a little nudge to coax them to the bottom as well and returned the cup back to the dark room.
24 hours later 9 of 10 seeds had cracked and a 1mm root could be seen. Next, on a ceramic plate I placed all 10 seeds into a paper towel sandwich moistened with the distilled water from the cup. This was then covered with plastic wrap and another inverted plate and taped up to keep light out. This flying saucer looking incubator was placed on the top shelf of my makeshift grow box at a room temp of about 75F/24C.

I inspected the seeds and found the 9 of 10 had a grown a substantial fuzzy little root about 0.75in/19mm in length. Yikes! The last seed had finally cracked but no root yet. Eight of the best looking seeds were immediately placed into their final pots, root down and about 3mm under the top layer of soil. The last two went into the party cups. I switched on the lights and fan and just let them do their thing. I don't have a timer yet so the lights are running 24/0.

Day 1
After 3 days in their pots I opened the doors and was greeted by a wonderful view. Seedlings! It was love at first sight. Everything looked great. Even the late to crack seed had sprouted! I was 10 of 10. Woot! I did notice one sprout had a bad case of helmet head. As much as I knew I should, I just couldn't leave it alone. I ever-so-gently worked on coaxing the seed shell off the sprout and POP! Off went it's head :( I was left with a nice little stem in the dirt and a helmet wearing Cotyledon in my hand. Bah... And then there were 9.

Ok. It was disappointing that I destroyed one of my seedlings but lesson learned. I should have just let it be for another day or two. It probably would have worked itself out on it's own. I fully anticipate to lose plants to my ignorance and fumbling hands. That's the reason I planted so many in a such a small space under a T5 light. I kinda figured by the end of the grow I'd have just a few good surviving plants that would fit comfortably in there.

Looking ahead, I'll transplant the best of the two plants in solo cups into the empty pot left by the decapitated helmet head. For now, I will let them mature just a bit longer right where they are.

Day 2
Waiting and watching. Monitoring temps. Pots are still heavy with moisture. Ordered a heavy duty timer for the lights.

After uploading, I'm not exactly sure which pics belong to which day. I think I'm close though. Perhaps +/- 1.

Day 3
Waiting and watching. Reading forums and watching videos. Trying to decide if I should start a grow journal online.

Day 4
Waiting and watching. Holding back all urges to fuss with things. Practicing patience. Looking through others journals hoping to find a start date close to mine. Maybe find a grow buddy to compare notes and learn with.

Needing something to do I decided to name all the plants so I can distinguish them in photos. Also, I decided to transplant the best one of two from the solo cups. I predict it will stunt its growth but I just want to get it over with sooner rather than later.

Day 6
Waiting and watching. Timer installed. Starting 18/6 light/dark at midnight. Lowering lights from 17in/43cm to 12in/30cm from tops.
Day 7
Waiting and watching. Pots still feel weighted with moisture. Finger in the topsoil test feels moist. I'm starting to get concerned that the soil may not be drying out quickly enough. Plant leaves look a bit stressed. Possible heat stress from the lights? Moved the lights back up to 17in/43cm and at a slight angle to lessen the degree of trapped heat under the light. Temp min/max is 65F/18C to 83F/23C and RH 32% to 35%. Noting that the low RH may also be a cause for the stressed appearance. The leaves seem a little pale and the edges are contorting slightly. No significant change in Gladis' growth. I'm pretty sure she is done. Now I just want to see how long she will stay green.
Day 10
Waiting and watching. Pots feel lighter. I think I will be able to water in a day or so. Steady growth for most plants. Leaves are still a bit pale green. They have been a bit pale since sprouting. I am wondering if it is their characteristic and is normal or if it is caused by the heat and low humidity. Color is pretty uniform still. It doesn’t appear to be a deficiency from what I can tell.
Day 11
Pots feel light. Finger in the topsoil test feels dry. Most plants have steady growth. Added a 2nd circulating fan. First watering in 12+ days with 1/5th strength nutes. 5gal/19L water + 1ml grow + 2ml micro + 1ml bloom. Solution ph 6.0. Each plant received about 1Qt/1L. All had slight runoff. Runoff ph measured the same or just slightly higher than 6.0. Ordered a digital ph meter for more accurate measurements.

Day 13
Pots feel like they may be getting lighter more quickly now which is a relief. I was/am worried about root suffocation, disease and rot from staying too wet for too long. Note to add more perlite to the mix next time. Maybe as much as 50/50.

Plants have steady growth. No nute burn and still a bit on the pale side of green. I can start to smell them. They have a low spice note to them. Kind of an earthy, vegetative spice scent. Barely detectable outside the grow box. With the doors open it's clear where the smell originates.

Day 14
Practicing patience. I love looking in on the progress each night. I’m enjoying the smell that greets me when I open the doors. Pots feel a bit on the dry side. Leaves are slightly pale and perhaps a bit dry feeling? I will water in a day or so. I performed a little grow room cleaning and maintenance. Organized wires, vacuumed the floor, general tidy tasks. I predict it won’t be long before I will be installing the carbon filter.
Day 15
A family member commented that they could detect a smell at the top of the stairs to the basement. Installed the carbon filter. No more smell outside the grow room. I am slightly tempted to hang a pillow cover in there for a day to gather some scent. Then I can have a NL scented pillow cover :) My digital Ph meter and a TDS meter have arrived.

Day 16
It’s about 1 hour before lights out. Leaves look a little droopy and feel a little dry like paper. Possible sign of stress from a combination of under watering, high side of heat range and low RH. Temps are still consistently 65F/18C to 83F/23C and RH 32% to 35%. The droop may also be a sign of them getting ready to sleep. Watered the plants before bed. Plain water with a ph of 5.0. Plants received about 1Qt/1L or so each. Next watering will be with a stronger nute solution. Gladis is fading out.

I should also note that I’m using city water. I store the water in 5Gal buckets for a day or two, mix in nutes when needed and test Ph before watering.

Day 17
Time for a quick peek and smell. Mmmmm. That same low spice note. It's slight but it's there. Most plants have steady growth. A couple plants are a node behind. The stragglers are showing signs of small amounts of growth bursts. In the back of my mind I'm starting to get concerned about future space issues. I wasn't anticipating so many seedlings doing so well. I was counting on at least a couple of seeds not germinating, a couple more burning up on entry and losing a few more to mistakes as I go.

Day 18
Time for another evening peek. I can immediately see a couple of plants are stretching. Jane really made a reach for the lights last night. Surprisingly, so did Page how has been a little behind the rest. Pots still feel slightly weighted with water. I'm guessing two to three days for next watering/feeding.

I'm still trying to settle on how much nutes to add next. I'm going back and forth between ¼ and ⅓ strength. Then there is this little whisper in the background saying go up to ½, they can handle it! I'm nail biting over the pale green color of the leaves. My gut is telling me they should be a darker green. This sole imperfection(?) is leading me to justify a decision to go heavier than I should on the Nitrogen.

They are growing, though. At a pretty steady rate, too. Heh, if I photoshop the hues a little richer they'd look perfect. Leafs are an even green from stem to tip even if slightly pale. On the other hand the containers are taking longer than I'd like to dry out. If I over-do it on the nutes I may have to flush them which would leave them soggy for days and days. Alright, ⅓ strength it is.

With that settled, thank you very much, I need to choose a Ph level for the feeding. I dropped the Ph last watering (plain tap water) down to, wait, 5.0? Really? Was that a type-o? Was it really 6.0? 5 sounds awful low. I recall trying to prevent a Nitrogen deficiency and lowering the Ph to see if the green would maybe darken just a bit. No luck there, obviously, but Ph 5.0? Hmmm. Looking at the troubleshooting charts they could also be a bit light on Magnesium perhaps. I think I will feed them at Ph 5.8 unless something changes drastically between now and then. Would the low Ph account for the droopy leaf tips?

Alright. Enough OCD. Sorry about that. Patience, patience. On a different note the plants smell a little different today. The spice scent has diminished a bit and a new, more green smell has combined with it. If you really rub a couple of nice green pieces of grass (from your lawn) into a wet mess and get that fresh green smell... I can detect a little of that. It's pleasant.

I think Marge, the plant that was transplanted from the solo cup, is struggling again. She definitely has the start of a deficiency in her lower (first true set) of leaf tips. Looks like a lack of N. She may become a test plant. If another plant shows signs of photo-light deficiency down the road she will be pulled out. She's much farther behind the rest of the group. Sorry sweetie.

This whole process... I'm getting hooked. Hard. I've only just begun and I already have an even deeper appreciation for the expert growers, the journeymen/women trying new things and novices too.

One last note. I started some gentle leaf tucking tonight. If a side branch grew up enough to lightly touch a fan leaf above it I gently moved it's leaves above the fan leaf. There wasn't much to do but I figured I'd do the couple that I could right now to encourage the training (for me and the plants).
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