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Outdoor Balcony Grow, AMS White Widow Xtrm & Gorgonzola, Supersoil, Fluxing, 2019

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Hi West Hippie, One of my ingredients to my super soil mix was Neem meal granules. From what I read it seemed to help some pests stay away and provide good Nitrogen with a slight liming effect to the pH. I do feel that the plants both seemed to do very well with nothing obvious in the way of bugs until I got the caterpillars! Because I am growing on a first floor balcony I can't be sure whether the Neem helped or the first floor elevation provided the distance for my plants to stay clear of ground level bugs? The other thing I had considered but in the end didn't purchase was diatomaceous earth powder which hard shell pests like ants don't like.
Welcome Stunger , was checking your site and I know someone that needs some of your help getting rid of some bugs @Reave neem granules
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Looking great. Such nice organic plants.
Looking great. Such nice organic plants.
Thanks Reave, Regarding organic I have this nagging question on the differences of strains to the bud quality. Commonly we tend to regard strain X as having these certain great characteristics and strain Y as having other great characteristics. But I wonder on how much are these differences from the way the bud was grown. When I have had to settle for commercially produced bud I feel it often gives me a 'heavy head' feeling and I wonder if this is not so much from the strain but perhaps instead because of the nutes regime that commercially produced plant had. I have tried to use only organic soil and amendments to my plants. The super soil I initially mixed up 9 months ago in my compost tumbler still has earthworms in it from the worm castings I added back then, so without knowing what the pH is, I feel if worms are still living in it the plants should like it. So far the little popcorn buds that I have tried from the Gorgonzola, and bud from the White Widow cola that died off, when I vape these, the resulting effect is beautifully nice, as well as being delightful clear headed not the fuzzy heavy head feeling that I had got from commercially grown stuff (could that be hydro grown, I don't know). However, I am looking forward to harvest and curing and then doing some serious evaluation as these are 2 different strains, but I am curious as to whether I will detect a strain difference, or will it be simply more of a difference from the plants being organic naturally sunshine grown, rather than a strain difference, I wonder if anyone else feels this way.

p.s. I looked up treating thrips with diatomaceous earth and apparently it works very well, it kills them from the abrasive silica getting in their joints and it isn't a poison so wont effect your bud quality. I would imagine that it would be best to get the powder rather than the granules and that way it can be dusted on when a treatment is needed.
 

West Hippie

Well-Known Member
Thanks Reave, Regarding organic I have this nagging question on the differences of strains to the bud quality. Commonly we tend to regard strain X as having these certain great characteristics and strain Y as having other great characteristics. But I wonder on how much are these differences from the way the bud was grown. When I have had to settle for commercially produced bud I feel it often gives me a 'heavy head' feeling and I wonder if this is not so much from the strain but perhaps instead because of the nutes regime that commercially produced plant had. I have tried to use only organic soil and amendments to my plants. The super soil I initially mixed up 9 months ago in my compost tumbler still has earthworms in it from the worm castings I added back then, so without knowing what the pH is, I feel if worms are still living in it the plants should like it. So far the little popcorn buds that I have tried from the Gorgonzola, and bud from the White Widow cola that died off, when I vape these, the resulting effect is beautifully nice, as well as being delightful clear headed not the fuzzy heavy head feeling that I had got from commercially grown stuff (could that be hydro grown, I don't know). However, I am looking forward to harvest and curing and then doing some serious evaluation as these are 2 different strains, but I am curious as to whether I will detect a strain difference, or will it be simply more of a difference from the plants being organic naturally sunshine grown, rather than a strain difference, I wonder if anyone else feels this way.

p.s. I looked up treating thrips with diatomaceous earth and apparently it works very well, it kills them from the abrasive silica getting in their joints and it isn't a poison so wont effect your bud quality. I would imagine that it would be best to get the powder rather than the granules and that way it can be dusted on when a treatment is needed.
I know another thread I’m hanging around ! I’ll hang back here:hookah:
 

stoneotter

Member of the Month: July 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: November 2019
White Widow is again showing signs of a cola dying, from the top. Any ideas what could be causing that? Thankfully it is only one cola/branch and altho the trichome/pistils are not yet where I want them to be they are certainly close enough for the buds effected to be fully usable.

Hi Stunger, great grow and journal you're making. A question from a few posts ago about yellowing leaves. Leaves will get yellow towards the end of flower, some more than others so I don't see a problem there.
The top colas might have a problem. Keep an eye on them where the dying leaf goes in the cola. There maybe some rot starting there on the nug growing from the leaf area. If a nug goes gray or brown snip it out quick and if you're early enough you can save the cola. I've read moths lay eggs in there and they rot at that point, I've had it in my garden.
Nice choice to use the BT to kill the larva. Good growing.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Yes I am getting that earth stuff. I tried to get it local but could not find. Will order today off the zon. I saw people say to put a layer on top of the soil but you had read of people dusting the plants as well?
I don't have direct experience using it. I am not sure of dusting it directly on the plants, just saying. When I looked for it last year I only found granules being sold, but since then I have seen it sold as a powder. These things you probably have to play by ear, if the infestation is really bad then even to dust in on the stems might be helpful as presumably the little buggers have to do a bit of stem walking in their attack of your plant.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Hi Stunger, great grow and journal you're making. A question from a few posts ago about yellowing leaves. Leaves will get yellow towards the end of flower, some more than others so I don't see a problem there.
The top colas might have a problem. Keep an eye on them where the dying leaf goes in the cola. There maybe some rot starting there on the nug growing from the leaf area. If a nug goes gray or brown snip it out quick and if you're early enough you can save the cola. I've read moths lay eggs in there and they rot at that point, I've had it in my garden.
Nice choice to use the BT to kill the larva. Good growing.
Thanks Stoneotter, the yellowing off has only happened in the second half of flowering, up until then it was looking pretty good I thought, it's developing bud sites appeared very promising for nice long well developed colas. The plant had a lushness to it. But in the second half of flowering it's budding seemed slower to develop than it's sister, the Gorgonzola, almost like the buds are growing barely more than a survival mode pace. It may just be the strain/phenotypes of that particular seed, but I am just guessing here. It looks to be dying with no sign of rotting, but I will check again more closely today and as you say snip it off and let the remainder of the cola carry on if it appears fine.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
After reading Stoneotter's comment that there could be some rot starting on the top buds of the cola head that appeared to be dying, I took a closer look. The cola tops of the White Widow are rather uncomfortably high and close to the sight line of neighbors, so I have been reluctant to show myself peering too closely to the top of the Widow. But on looking closer, Stoneotter was right, there was some rot damage to a couple of the top buds of that cola, presumably caused by caterpillar damage. I quickly snipped it off and will let it dry and then salvage some of the trichome laden parts for a pre-harvest evaluation! Thanks for prompting me to double check Stoneotter! Pics below, and also a trichome closeup which is still mostly clear/cloudy, and a closeup on the knuckle where I topped to Widow for her flux training.





 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Some pics of the Gorgonzola towards the end of her 11th flowering week and closeups on her trichomes to check how they are coming along, still some ways to go, as I want to get closer towards 30% amber.

By the way, I have chosen the first week of flowering to be the week I spotted the first pistil, I'm not sure if that is the normal convention for outdoor grows?




 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Today while taking in the view of the girls in the sun and enjoying the developing aroma of the buds, I noticed a dead sugar leaf and on plucking it out with the tweezers discovered I'd also plucked a mid sized caterpillar out with it. Damn it. I thought I was over them, one either escaped the spraying 10 days ago or a late egg hatched but if that happened surely a bunch of them would have also hatched. I had a good look and couldn't see any others or any other areas of damage, but I will keep a careful eye out, especially for any area that is developing 'browning', as it could well be the sign of some unwelcome pest that is chewing into the bud and causing it to die off.
Today when checking the trichomes, they were still mostly cloudy, with some clear and a little faint amber, surely they will be ready soon as the Autumn cooling weather kicks in.
 

West Hippie

Well-Known Member
Today while taking in the view of the girls in the sun and enjoying the developing aroma of the buds, I noticed a dead sugar leaf and on plucking it out with the tweezers discovered I'd also plucked a mid sized caterpillar out with it. Damn it. I thought I was over them, one either escaped the spraying 10 days ago or a late egg hatched but if that happened surely a bunch of them would have also hatched. I had a good look and couldn't see any others or any other areas of damage, but I will keep a careful eye out, especially for any area that is developing 'browning', as it could well be the sign of some unwelcome pest that is chewing into the bud and causing it to die off.
Today when checking the trichomes, they were still mostly cloudy, with some clear and a little faint amber, surely they will be ready soon as the Autumn cooling weather kicks in.
Get those bugs out of there , don’t need to hurt the great looking grow ! Dawn dishwashing detergent keeps them away , but it won’t kill them !
 

stoneotter

Member of the Month: July 2019 - Grow Journal of the Month: November 2019
Today while taking in the view of the girls in the sun and enjoying the developing aroma of the buds, I noticed a dead sugar leaf and on plucking it out with the tweezers discovered I'd also plucked a mid sized caterpillar out with it. Damn it. I thought I was over them, one either escaped the spraying 10 days ago or a late egg hatched but if that happened surely a bunch of them would have also hatched. I had a good look and couldn't see any others or any other areas of damage, but I will keep a careful eye out, especially for any area that is developing 'browning', as it could well be the sign of some unwelcome pest that is chewing into the bud and causing it to die off.
Today when checking the trichomes, they were still mostly cloudy, with some clear and a little faint amber, surely they will be ready soon as the Autumn cooling weather kicks in.
Good eye!
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Wet rainy day today. The trichomes of the Gorgonzola are getting closer, not the best of pics but a light amber on some, maybe just a few more days. I opened the balcony door to bring both plants further under the overhang of the roof above. After closing the door and a little while later I noticed the lovely fresh scent of the developing buds had filled indoors which was rather nice as the rain came down outside.


 

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Caterpillar infestation I put aside some pics to post and forgot to do so. A bit of a shocker occurred, I spotted a small caterpillar a week ago and didn't really think anything of it except to wonder how it got so high up the cola. I picked it off and squashed it. Then the following days I spotted more, some quite plump. I ascertained them to be white butterfly caterpillars and realized a butterfly had obviously laid eggs. At first I thought they were only on the Widow, but then the next day spotted them also on the Gorgonzola. After urgently checking online, I decided some bacteria treatment that stops the caterpillar eating without having any effect on the bud was the treatment I went for. I used about a third of a sachet mixed in water into a 1.5 liter sprayer and sprayed both plants with a bit over a liter of the mixture, everything was pretty sodden after that but it dried fairly quickly in the sun and breeze.

Reading on other people's experiences it seems prudent when doing outdoor grows where there is a likelyhood of butterflies being about, to spray at the beginning of the flowering period (and if this treatment is appropriate) to repeat every 7 - 10 days. It has been about a week since I did the treatment and for the last few days I have not spotted any further caterpillars, so fingers crossed, I hope that is the end of them. I probably wont re apply the spray as it is getting cooler now (April) and it seems the butterflies aren't around like in the warmer months, and I imagine that I will be all done in the next couple of weeks based on the look of the pistils and trichomes.

In total I probably found and squashed about 30 caterpillars! I realize now that I had been lucky on my previous 2 outdoor balcony grows not to encounter this before. One reason for that may be that the plants are situated on the balcony that is higher that the ground level plants and presumably less pests about. However this year I added some herb planters to the balcony rail to further obscure any views the neighbors may have of my plants. Possibly the addition of the herb planters attracted the butterflies to fly up and visit my plants!

On my next outdoor grow I will spray at the beginning of flowering as a pre-emptive strike against any possible caterpillar infestation. I would keep it up for as long as butterflies are about. You don't think it applies to you until it hits your plant/s. So the advice of those who have suffered caterpillars on their outdoor grows to spray in advance of any possible infestations is very good advice I feel.

I think overall the damage is quite small. There are a few brown bud/sugar leaf patches that I have carefully pulled out with some tweezers. I noticed just how laden with trichomes the brown parts were and couldn't help vaping it, which proved to give a very good effect. I am not noticing any creeping bud rot or the like, I assume these small patches of dead brown bud/sugar leaf are from where the caterpillars have eaten in the bud and resulted in it dying, not from a fungal rot. However, if they were left there then it could extend into something worse.

In the first pic a caterpillar can be seen under a sugar leaf. The second and third pics are the front and back of the caterpillar treatment packet that I used.



I have had white butterfly caterpillars on several balcony grows, so I would put in my $0.02 here. In my experience, the butterfly goes for the top cola on a tall plant, leaving lower colas and other plants free of the eggs, at least if you catch them early enough. They seem to be attracted to bud that is pretty far into flower. They eat the bud stems between the bud and the main stem so that individual flowers dry out and turn brown and harden a bit, turning crispy and unappetizing. That bud is pretty useless after that happens. The rest of the bud is good, unharmed. There is probably some caterpillar waste material (read: poop) in the affected buds. So I threw out the top cola from my tallest plant!

In manicuring that plant prior to drying, I found some live caterpillars moving to other areas of the plant. After hanging the harvest up to dry, the critters decide the stems are getting too dry for their taste and they start to exit: literally "dropping out" down a cocoon fiber trying to make it to the ground. I caught some in mid-air, others crawling on the floor. I might have found 20 caterpillars total, all of them on one plant and confined to the upper colas. The specific plants were the big HSO Sour Diesel in my 2018 grow and the Dinafem OGKush in 2017.

This year I was reading about companion plants and saw that marigolds can keep the butterfly away. So I am going to try the African Marigold, which gets taller than the French. Will post more on that later.

Was wondering which node you topped at. You said you normally grew out to 6 nodes and then topped at the 3rd. There is a reason for doing it that way, because the plant with 6 nodes is healthy and growing vigorously. Too young and it could take much longer to get back into veg growth, I figured. Never had any issue with topping too soon?
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
Hi Emeraldo, Thanks for your input.

re caterpillars I think what you have said is both very accurate and timely. My experience also suggests that the butterflies have laid eggs at the top of the cola branches as that is where I found most of the caterpillars, even on some of the tops of the much lower colas. Obviously they can be eating away undetected and outwardly the bud appears fine but the caterpillar has already chomped thru close to where the bud meets the main stem and thereby it potentially takes some days before it dies off to give away the sign that all is not well, that and any tell tale signs of caterpillar poo.

I will carefully look when I harvest and hang the buds up for any 'abseiling' caterpillars. As it would be useful to know the magnitude of the infestation. As, I did one application of the BT spray about a week and half ago and while that seemed to cause all visible signs of live caterpillars to cease (altho as an exception I did find a lone one a few days ago). If on hanging up the buds to dry, I see more caterpillars come out of the then that will inform me next time of the potential danger on such a pest getting away from me. If no caterpillars are seen 'jumping ship' then I'll gain some confidence in the success of applying the BT spray.

I have read similar re companion plants and marigolds, it is something to consider for the future. I read a very interesting thread by andIhalped on Why I never spray for pests but in my case I don't have a whole garden of plants to get by on the ones that survive a caterpillar onslaught, and my feeling is because the caterpillars hide inside the buds that they could potentially very quickly wreck havoc on the whole crop before any predators arrive in numbers to stop. I'd happily trial this out if I could grow enough to have a backup stockpile in such an experiment does turn to disaster.

Re what node to top at I previous had waited on the plant to get to 5 or 6 nodes before topping to the 3rd node. This year I was inspired by Light Addict's fluxing method and tried to copy his approach of once the third node had been reach then 'micro topping' once the growing shoot is 20-30mm long (about an inch). I didn't notice in doing that this time that the growth was impeded by this earlier topping compared to last year's later topping.

I have more to say on the above caterpillar issue as relating to today's inspection of the plants, and will write further later.
 

Stunger

Well-Known Member
As well as being constrained with a limited outdoor grow space (a balcony), at times when family are about I am also restricted in opportunities to discretely attend to the plants. Today, as family were about, I again had limited access time but in a free moment I took a few photos to blow up on the computer to check the trichomes, on doing so I spotted the signs of part of a bud dying off from a caterpillar attack. As Stoneotter and Emeraldo have pointed out, you cannot afford to let such damaging pests get away from you. When another free moment presented itself I dashed back out to check on the damaged bud I'd seen in the blown up photo and spotted a further couple of damage spots, each at first only showing a dead sugar leaf but on 'opening up' the buds I could clearly see that further hidden damage had been done. As I didn't have my trimming clippers with me and very limited time, I crudely plucked off several damaged buds by hand, they were sticky and got squashed somewhat in my rush and their reluctance to come away from the stem. The inadvertent manhandling and squashing caused a very pungent aroma release that followed me back into the house and seemed to saturate the air indoors for a period of time, probably helped by tackiness coating my fingers. I didn't realize how much so until a bit later when my wife came in from checking on the washing that was drying outdoors and she commented on how strong the smell was from outside, which was a little worrying when you want discretion to go hand in hand with a guerrilla grow. The squashing of the buds had turned the air into a pungent 'scratch n sniff bloom'. I made the note to next time take the clippers with me so I could quickly do a nice surgical removal any damage without triggering a big aroma bloom.

There will possibly be other damage which I wont get to check until when I have greater time tomorrow. I will post a few pics now, the first showing the 2 plants, second pic of a bud showing the small outward sign of caterpillar damage (a yellowing fan leaf and a dead sugar leaf) but as said above when the bud was opened up to inspect it more closely it was clear that underneath the dead sugar leaf the whole bud had died off. Overall most of the plant is good and damage is fairly limited but could have been much worse if it'd gone unnoticed for longer or it the infestation had started earlier. Anyway, I am documenting this to highlight it's appearance if it can help anyone else, as forewarned is forearmed.

There are a couple of trichome closeups too, they are showing some tiny signs of amber but may need until next weekend for them to get to where I want them. I will have to consider whether I will just monitor the situation until I give them the chop, or as Emeraldo suggested maybe snip off the top buds from the colas and letting the rest of the plant continue for a little longer before giving it the chop.

Growing cannabis is definitely not something to be casual about, nor is counting your yield before the fat lady sings!




 

Emeraldo

Well-Known Member
Those are nice trichomes, Stunger! Great job on the manifolding or whatever you did. Gorgonzola looks like a good producer, at least to guage from the trichomes. Will you let them go until all cloudy & amber? Do you think the pruning has directed the plants to noticeably put more energy into bud development?

As for the stealth grow strategy, sounds like Gorgonzola could give off great gusts of "gorgonzola" smell that the next up or next down balcony dweller would get a whiff of? I had that happen once with neighbors, and ever since then I pick strains that don't have a pungeant smell, but even those strains put out a strong aroma at the very end of flowering. At least, my thinking is, "fruitier" strains that smell like mango, pineapple, strawberry, won't attract much attention... I hope.
 
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