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Project 21 - Dream Grow - A Complete Guide To Hydroponic Growing

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Hello Everybody:

My name is Hyena Merica and I have recently completed a journal which I hope will change the lives of those who wish to learn everything they need to know to grow successfully. Please allow me to briefly introduce this effort.

I am a very experienced grower as well as a professional writer and photographer. I decided to chronicle every aspect of a high-tech hobby grow, from the science and tech to the philosophy and zen of it all, and it is presented as a 120-page novella including some 200 photographs. I tell a compelling story while showing the reader every step of constructing an indoor grow room and using it properly and productively. The story contains my personal observations interlaced with an amusing stream of consciousness, and enough bud porn to satisfy even the most jaded journal junkie.

I produce 1 full kilo of premium cannabis buds, using about 1,000 watts. I can teach anybody to do the same. My journal, "Project 21: Dream Grow" represents the fruition of a goal I have had for decades, to write a complete instructional manual for dynamite growing that everybody can understand and emulate. This is it, baby.

Now to publish it. Since this is a 120-page work I am delving into the mechanics of posting. Hopefully it will only be a short while until I get it up for everyone's enjoyment. I sincerely look forward to your feedback and I promise you will be entertained and more. Much more.

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Project 21 - Dream Grow - The Ultimate Journal - A Complete Guide To Growing PART 1


PROJECT 21: Dream Grow
By Hyena Merica


This is a complete grow journal presented as a story. (Presented in two parts due to post size restrictions) Rather than upload chapters as I went, I wanted to give readers something juicy to enjoy from start to finish like a novel. Novel idea, eh?

My motive is simple. I am an experienced and talented grower. The body of knowledge required to do what we do perfectly is usually the result of years of dedication and experience. I wrote this journal in a semi-instructional style that will allow the newer grower to learn literally everything he or she needs to be fantastically successful growing the most perfect marijuana…every time. I reveal and detail every secret, every technique, every nuance I know…while hopefully also providing enough entertainment, and enough bud porn, to thoroughly amuse even the most jaded journal junkie.

I invite you, dear reader, to come along for the ride as an average man takes hold of his fondest dream and with intense passion, unwavering dedication, and lots of really good pot...makes that dream come true. Light one up and enjoy!
-Hyena Merica

Chapter 1

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.†-Anonymous

My foot hurts. More specifically, my left ankle. Most days it ranges from tender to sore, up to I-can-hardly-walk sometimes, and I’m only middle aged. The result of many hard landings over the course of a thousand skydives in a long-past chapter of life, now aggravated by my admittedly too-aggressive golf swing. But it freaking hurts and some days I limp around like a cripple. Sucks.

Doctors have rendered their medical opinions over the decades and it always comes down to “There’s really no effective surgery for your foot issue, you’ll probably have to give up golf and strenuous walking and use medications to manage the pain.†Not happening. So I smoke marijuana, because it makes my foot, and my head, feel better.

“Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.†–Winston Churchill

There comes a time when a man’s just got to take control of a situation. Weed is expensive. Really good weed is super expensive. Plus I have never liked buying pot. Even with marijuana put into its rightful societal context which is right below light beer IMHO, it’s messed up that in a free society, founded upon individual liberty and built upon individual responsibility, we allow a hundred forms of alcohol which kills tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters every year while prosecuting, persecuting and even demonizing those who simply choose to use a calming, healing, consciousness-raising fragrant herb. That’s my rant.

So begins a personal journey.

Chapter 2

“Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.†–Pirate Saying

If my wife found out I was about to grow a large quantity of some of the world’s finest marijuana right over her head I would be one dead pirate. Considering the prospect of marital shipwreck I have waited years for the courage to take on this challenging project and finally decided the risk is justified if for no other reason than because like many other weed aficionados I secretly spend at least a couple grand a year on herb and my family would be much better off with that money. Plus I like excitement.

This is a grow journal but it’s also a story. A story of turning dreams into reality. My intention is to share all the actual details of how to do it as well as an amusing stream of consciousness. Believe me, this story is going to end in pounds of perfect bud, and if you want to see every single aspect of space-age hobby growing laid out in layman’s terms I hope you will enjoy the story and perhaps even benefit from my efforts and observations. I have had multiple successful grows in my time. However…my most recent grow was 20 years ago. A lot of time has passed. Is Grandpa too old to pull this off?

Fortunately you don’t ever forget how to do certain things no matter how much weed you smoke. I believe growing plants is as much a Zen thing as science. It requires at least a working knowledge of general botany and basic chemistry combined with dedicated care, systematic observation, some intuition and even a kind of motherly love.

Technically, things have really exploded since I was last in the game and while the evolution in lighting and equipment is fantastic, the most incredible advancements have taken place inside the genetic code of the tiny reefer seed itself. The diversity and quality of strains today is nothing short of astounding. I’ve spent years drooling and will not wait another day to bring a selection of today’s fabulous hybrids to life for myself.

“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.†–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Choosing which strains to grow is perhaps the hardest part of a project. It is certainly the most important IMHO. The days of investing time and money in growing plants with unknown genetics from bag seeds are long over. Sadly, no amount of growing expertise or fancy nutrients will increase the potency (THC level) of a pot plant even one bit…the quality of the ultimate harvest is predetermined and that is called genetics. So, it is imperative to select the best genes, not only for quality but also for particular physical characteristics such as height and flowering time, to ensure from the beginning that you will optimize the plants to their growing environment and vice versa. The flourishing of hundreds of new varieties over the past decade is nothing short of a feast…each one looks more nugilicious than the last. Who can choose?

My smoking tastes run through the full spectrum of flavors and highs. I appreciate the physical high of a fine Indica before a movie, a meal, or a cigar and a magazine. On the other hand, I enjoy a nice Sativa during a round of golf, a deep conversation about the universe, and of course sex. But my ultimate preference is a Sativa-Indica mix with about 70-80% Sativa dominance. Since the whole point of growing is to reward yourself with your dream buds I will spare no expense and begin with awesome beans.

After an eternity of reading about strains I was somehow able to choose four and placed my order. All my seeds were procured from one of the zillions of online seedbanks. Of course anyone who takes out an ad in a magazine is a “seedbank†and who really knows who’s honest until you send them a couple hundred bucks? Luckily I made a solid choice. I ordered and within a few weeks my little seeds arrived as good as gold in clever stealth packaging. You know the packing achieved its purpose when it takes you 15 minutes to even find the seeds!

As I said I will be growing four strains for my first project. Real winners. Our selections are:

-Blue Dream from Humboldt Seeds (Blueberry x Silver Haze, fabulous taste and buzz),

-Holy Grail 69 from Samsara Seeds (a cross between Chronic and Haze, supposed to be wicked),

-White Widow from White Label seedbank (WW…even the leaves are frosty)

-Amnesia Haze from Ripper Seeds (only tried what was stated to be it once, and it was among the stoniest pot I ever smoked…I briefly thought my brain broke)

If my girls look half as good as these photos I will be one bad ass grow monster. And they absolutely will.
There was even a couple bonus seeds thrown in there of White Widow mixed with something else from who knows who, plus a few seeds from a couple years ago that I have had laying around, a Barney’s Farm Haze called Liberty. We will try those as well. If this lineup was a baseball team I think we would be talking playoffs for sure, maybe World Series.

“Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world.†-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have decided to approach this not as a “grow†in the singular sense…my dream is to create controlled long-term steady production for personal use. In addition, wherever I do this has to be so well hidden that it can survive any random close encounter with my wife undetected. It is legal to grow where I live but I’m worried about staying married. So grow tents and such are out of the question. No, I have to literally wall off an area and build a botanical laboratory, a completely controlled environment which can sustain all operations involved in a grow from seeds to smoke.

There is only one place where I even have a chance to keep everything under control…the attic.

This won’t be easy. First, I have to invent a pretext for spending many hours in the attic. The single entrance to the large attic above our garage is only accessible by manually raising up a 16-foot ladder. Not exactly stealthy. My best idea is to completely insulate the attic, a big job which could reasonably take one person 4-6 weeks of spare time. This is the perfect cover in addition to the obvious benefits in energy savings. The amount of work involved will be enormous but in the end, a month of hard work should produce a beautifully organized and insulated storage area the size of a three car garage, which will also contain a completely hidden two-chamber botanical grow facility complete with its own electric, plumbing, and all equipment required to produce stash…literally for life.

Okay let’s do it.

Chapter 3
A full month has passed and the Project 21 lab is nearly finished. My obvious dedication to the immense task of putting insulation on every square foot of wall and ceiling in our vast attic has impressed my wife, it feels a little weird receiving this praise from her while having a dark, secret agenda. Here’s a before and after shot of the grow room corner:

My philosophy has always been, don’t do things you don’t want your wife to find out about and you’ll never have to worry about talking in your sleep. That’s worked out very well for me, so after 25 years of marriage to actually be hiding something from her is a bit of a burden. Nevertheless it is completely for her own good. She doesn’t smoke and only tolerates that I do. A damn fine woman. She absolutely could not live with the knowledge of me growing weed and I would be in shit so deep they would never find my body so I am determined to make sure that she will never, ever know. Guess I’m breaking bad. Wow. No turning back.

The main room will have two HID lights which you can just see, tied to effective ventilation. A 400 and a 600. 1000 watts of pure HID should be more than enough for my space though I may augment with a few 300w LED banks as needed since I have plenty of juice to work with. I ran a 20 amp dedicated circuit to the room, along with tying in to an existing 15 amp circuit for various small stuff like heaters, pumps and fans. The floor is set up to contain a spill. The chamber is completely insulated and close to hermetically sealed. The air intake vent is filtered to prevent even a mite from entry. I hope.

One of the biggest decisions has been what overall growing method to use. After a reasonable amount of experience (20+ years ago) growing in various soil setups, this time I know I have to take it to the next level: hydro. Yes, the forgiving nature of good soil cannot be argued. Your first ten grows should be dirt because even the world’s greatest acrobats learn with a net. However, soil grows aren’t reload-friendly without a lot of work. The hydro advantage comes down to easy re-use of most everything and total control of all variables…which is a big advantage if you get them all right. It’s also the only way to go if you can’t check on it every day. The inaccessibility of the attic means I can’t plan on just popping in the grow room anytime I feel like it. I have to automate everything with the goal of being able to manage the whole project in only one visit per week. That’s a high bar, but after nearly a year of studying the work of others I feel I am ready.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.†–Michael Jordan

Choosing a hydro method and constructing a functioning system is daunting because I’ve never done it. So many of the commercial systems I looked at have key parts that can fail putting the grow and/or security in big danger. I can see leak/overflow events potentially occurring with a number of them if just the wrong thing happens at the wrong time. That simply cannot happen and must be designed out since the entire operation will be blown if there is even the smallest water leak, the whole thing sits above a finished drywall ceiling. Water leak=possible divorce. Crikey.

“It’s got to be foolproof. Because I am a fool.†–H. Merica

So I’ve been dissecting every different form of hydro over about a month and every one of them has some piece or aspect I don’t like. I’m starting to worry this is beyond my ability to do safely. Finally, I stumble across the solution and I see the clouds part…Dutch buckets.

A Dutch bucket is a hydro pot that holds somewhere between 2 and 3 gallons, designed with a little siphon drain near the bottom that allows nutrient solution to drain out after it reaches a certain level. So, a design based on Dutch buckets can have a top-feed watering system and a closed drain line returning to the nutrient reservoir. Nothing can overflow or leak. The ultimate system…I can’t screw it up!

Dutch buckets are the perfect size for growing a root ball the size of a basketball in just inert grow media. My choice is Hydroton (expanded clay pellets) for the bottom 4 inches and 80% Perlite (I call it ‘rock popcorn’, it’s a lightweight grow medium made from volcanic glass of all things) plus a dash (20%) of vermiculite (expanded mica, holds moisture nicely). If you use those ingredients as directed you cannot fail. Plants can grow roots like there is no tomorrow in this stuff. The nutrient solution is pumped to the buckets (I do 3 times a day for 12 minutes each time), gently trickling down through the growing medium and bathing the roots with oxygenated water, then returning to the reservoir through the drain elbow on simple gravity. This system is impossible to overflow even if the pump would run continuously. Even better, in the event of total pump or timer failure, the plants would still be okay for several days because the Dutch bucket design leaves a continuous 2-3 inch reservoir of nutrient solution in the bottom of each bucket. It doesn’t get stale because it is freshened with newly oxygenated water each watering. Ingenious those Dutch.

Time to hit the plumbing aisle at Home Depot.

Chapter 4

The ship is finally built. She is a thing of beauty.

Even my fertile, reefer-fueled imagination couldn’t have pictured a finished lab as cool as this. Let me give you a tour…

You remember this is in an attic behind a false wall. The lab is neatly integrated into the available space between rafter joists with a floor area of 9x12 feet. The ceiling slopes from 7 feet up to 10 feet giving ample space for lights and eventual plant height. The space is divided into a main room, and a smaller but still quite adequate nursery chamber. Let’s start in there.

Here is a view to the left and right looking through the “hatch†into the nursery. It’s a little hard to see through the opening. The nursery is where I will sprout seeds, root seedlings and eventually, rear the next crop. It will also serve as a “lung room†at times, which for those who haven’t heard the term means a separate but connected space that can be helpful in controlling the temp by circulating air through and back into the main room. It runs ten feet long by 3 feet (sloping up to 5 feet wide) with an adequate ceiling height. It is completely insulated and also light-tight so it doesn’t disturb flowering ladies in the main chamber. That is huge because absolute darkness during the “dark†period is essential for proper flowering to take place.

There is a hatching area. My method is to use a heat mat and rapid rooter plugs. And of course fresh, top-quality feminized seeds.

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.†–Gerard DeNerval

As previously mentioned, NOTHING a grower can do will ever increase the potency of a marijuana plant once it sprouts…if it isn’t in the seed’s genetic code it won’t be in the buds. Virtually every aspect of the plant’s growth and development is pre-ordained. The amazing pop that the best reefer seeds exhibit has always surprised me. Give a seed the optimum environment and nature makes truly wonderful things happen. They explode. I always think spring…I like a cooler environment during the initial several weeks of growth because keeping the air a little cooler seems to make the plants stouter. No science whatsoever behind that opinion…I still apply gentle heat to the root area, but the above-ground part of the plant seems perfectly happy in cooler air. Like spring.

The rooting device is a decent-size plastic tub with nine 4 inch net pot holes. I covered mine with black gorilla tape to minimize light penetration, a good idea across the board in hydro setups to minimize algae growth. You don’t have to worry too much about the water temperature within reason, again, think spring. Beneath all the flavors and colors of the floral end product, these are all essentially resilient weeds that have amazing powers of growth and recovery built into their sturdy little DNA strands. I read so often about people over-fucking with their plants. These little girls are neither delicate nor ladylike…just give them a basic supply of what they need and they will behave more like Ronda Rousey.

The minimum of nutrients is all that is needed…a good rule for me has always been to use half what is recommended, and almost nothing in early development. Naturally I defer to the knowledge base of more experienced people who demonstrate very sophisticated use of supplements, but when I see folks using 20 different nutes over the lifespan of one plant I almost wonder how little Mary Jane ever evolved with only dirt, wind, and rain. Not being deliberately naïve, I just prefer simplicity where possible because personal experience has taught me you are far more likely to hurt your plants by over-fertilizing. Less is more. Less to fuck up. That’s more pure opinion but I am certain my results will prove it out.

The nursery is equipped with two 300-watt Mars Hydro LED lights. These are the original ones which you can buy for 65 bucks apiece and they are every bit as good as the much fancier and a lot more expensive ones. Today’s compact, efficient LED lighting is sooo great because you get great spectrum but don’t have the heat issues. The main limitation of LED is a much shorter depth of the “prime†intensity zone which makes them somewhat less effective than HID per square meter in fully lighting long colas. But these lights are the best thing yet invented for hatching and establishing little plants.

I have enjoyed reading many grow journals over the past few years, and one thing I see in a lot of the early pictures is stretchy seedlings. I believe stretchy seedlings = stretchy plants. Indoor growing is a vertical game. Every inch your canopy grows higher than necessary reduces total yield. My experience has been you can slightly alter the structure of the plant during its first 2 weeks by giving the new seedlings ultra-intense light 24/7. This seems to make the seedling shorter and surprisingly stocky, resulting in thicker-than-normal-main stems with very closely spaced nodes. This “stretch-prevention†technique worked beautifully for me years ago (especially with Sativas) using 1000-watt MH lamps but the intense heat made it a very tricky game of death which killed many seedlings. Several cycles of this showed me two identical seeds can be encouraged to develop noticeably different node spacing during their first two weeks of life using this method. The small percentage that survived the treatment grew up lower, wider and with much stronger branching compared to more conventionally lit seedlings. But I had to start 100 to get 10.

The price of good seeds makes that approach out of the question today. My hunch is the 300 watt LEDs will be perfect for the technique. If we end up with seedlings that are a foot wide and only 6 inches tall with stems half an inch thick we’re there. That may be a slight exaggeration but you might be surprised. BTW, I also tried this shortening technique several times with clones but it didn’t work…clones already seem to have their node spacing dialed in, and it didn’t make their stems thicker, just burned up a lot of clones. We will try the 300s and see what happens.

Now let me describe the main grow room.

It contains a complete 9-container hydroponic system under 1000 total watts of HID lighting. The hydro system is expandable to 12 buckets in the future, and I may supplement this lighting with 300-600 additional watts of LED if the expected canopy expansion materializes. Always plan for success, baby.

Nearly every square inch is covered in reflective insulation for maximum light use. For optimum marijuana plant development nothing beats HID lighting. Still. I personally believe this and while my opinion is primarily derived from many hours of internet research, I concede the results of many well-constructed LED-only grows are fantastic also…I just believe the intensity of HID lights produces a more natural result. Some maintain one main advantage of an all-LED setup is broader dispersal of the light source, providing more even coverage and that’s true. However, if you just have a good-sized oscillating fan going and you get the speed right the plants will move continuously, just a bit but this will allow light to hit more branches.

Aggressive intermittent air movement also makes the plants doubly strong. Think Hawaii or Jamaica where outdoor plants are buffeted by strong winds day and night. It’s like lifting weights for plants, and it’s one of the very best things you can do that will make the girls stronger, healthier, and prepare them to support bigger buds. There are other benefits to great air movement in an indoor grow room but avoid a direct stream from one or several mounted fans…it doesn’t provide the same benefit at all, it actually just makes them lay over. The key seems to be intermittent bursts. An oscillating model with at least a 14†diameter set of blades is ideal.

As previously mentioned, I have two HID fixtures, one 400 and one 600-watt. Metal Halide bulbs for veg, High Pressure Sodium for flowering.

A nice-size carbon filter connected to the two sealed light fixtures (all 6-inch ducting) plus a variable-speed professional-grade inline fan allows ambient air to be drawn through the filter, cooling the lights then being vented up and out through a roof vent. No smell, no tell.

The hydro system uses nine Dutch buckets all permanently plumbed into a PVC return system, simply pump nutrients gently to each bucket three times a day and gravity returns the excess to the reservoir.

The buckets are lined with 5-gal paint strainers which will contain all the growing medium and keep it from washing out the drain pipe into the reservoir.

The buckets are top-fed using a 60 gph fountain pump and ½†blue tubing. Blue colored tubing keeps algae growth down inside the tubes. Nozzles are inserted into the tubes and can be positioned. Just avoid having water delivered directly against the main stem as it can cause problems for the main stem to be wet all the time.

A 20+ gallon reservoir is set up with two long air stones bubbling away to keep the nutes fresh and oxygenated, with the right pump matched to the system so that the solution is delivered at a flow rate that will deliver adequate pressure at the furthest drip nozzles but won’t create too much pressure and overwhelm the system. A digital timer with built-in battery backup (important feature) completes this reliable machine. No matter what happens this system will never flood the room, and will allow the plants a several-days-long grace period of nutrient availability.

An additional reservoir is next to the main reservoir. The only potential security vulnerability in my setup is there is no way to run a water line directly to the lab. So, for water I have to lower a hose from the attic opening and connect it into the adjacent laundry room. Should only have to do it every 10 days or so but during this operation I am as vulnerable as a giraffe getting a drink at a water hole full of crocodiles.

What the longest ten minutes in the world looks like.

I have to wait until the coast is clear to run the hose. So by having a second reservoir, I can fill it whenever that chance comes along and have the water already up there ready to go when it is time to change the nute solution. Tap water needs a day or two to sit and allow the chlorine to dissipate anyway. It can sit there for a week and be fine.

To dump the old solution, I routed a drain line out the corner of the attic into a rain gutter so draining water is just a matter of turning a valve and it’s completely stealth. Everything uses excellent quality pumps in mesh bags to minimize larger particulates getting into the pump. Water is the lifeblood of any grow and this system should take care of that.

About water quality…I have a household water softener system with no option to bypass it. My initial water analysis is a PH of about 8, with significantly reduced levels of calcium and magnesium, the result of the “softening†process. You may have heard that softened water, because it utilizes salt during the ion-exchange softening process, makes the sodium content of the water go way up but this is exaggerated, there is only a negligible amount of sodium added by a properly-functioning water softener and it doesn’t have much effect on nute uptake if you just add back some calcium and magnesium. I had several analyses done to confirm this.

About nutes: don’t reinvent the wheel. It’s too easy to destroy your plants early in their lives by trying to be Nutrient Einstein. Thousands of growers have produced zillions of tons of frosty bud goodness just keeping it simple and utilizing General Hydroponics’ Flora nutrient system. When someone has made a complex thing so totally simple why would anybody not just go with it? If you just use these nutes at 50% the recommended strength IMHO you CANNOT go wrong. Since probably half of fatal growing mistakes involve fertilizer (and I love to fiddle) I just feel like I should take that variable completely out of the equation.

Every grower needs to know the basic process of testing and adjusting the PH of the nute solution to between 5.5 and 6.5 PH. That range works best on a hydroponically grown marijuana plant in my opinion, allowing maximum uptake of the widest range of soluble nutrients. Of course weed will grow without water adjustments but it really does make a lot of difference if one is trying to achieve the maximum possible rate of natural growth. Perfectly tuned water (PH between 5.5 and 6.5) is very important.

There is a heater with a thermostat, multiple temperature and humidity monitors, plus air conditioning capability should Summer heat prove too much to control with just air movement and exhaust fans. You must be able to reasonably control and also actively monitor the temperature and humidity to keep both in a good range. 60 degrees Fahrenheit up to 90 degrees is great. Some would say that’s a very broad range but plants don’t need their environment to be perfectly controlled to flourish, it’s just fine for it to drop down near 60 at night and get up to 80-ish or even 90-ish during the day because extremes like those are what the ancestors of these plants were used to where they evolved.

From my experience lower than 60-ish for longer periods slows growth, and over 95 causes the plants to transpire water at a rate that is beyond any real benefit making the grow room more humid and burning through nute solution faster. Some say a longer-term heat problem which sustains accelerated transpiration can cause excess nutes to build up in the plant tissues and I have heard you can end up with funky-burning bud with a chemical aftertaste. They say even a one-week final flushing won’t totally remove that issue if your grow spent weeks burning through too much solution per plant per day because it was kept too hot. On the other hand, my previous experience has been grow room temperatures of 90+ sustained for months and I have no idea if it ever negatively affected the taste or yield because the taste and yield were always beyond my expectations. If it gets crazy I will use air conditioning but I bet I won’t have to.

The floor is padded underneath a double tarp set up to contain a reasonable overflow or spill. The entrance is completely camouflaged. I keep tabs on everything through a pair of baby monitor cameras, the bomb for checking up on the kids every day without having to go up there. Mine has a decent picture, plus it tells me the temperature so I can remotely monitor that too. I can switch between the two cams and see the whole room, and (VERY important!) the system uses the latest security technology with an encrypted signal to prevent some nefarious figure from intercepting it and having a nice little TV picture of my grow room.

The kids are alright.

“And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.â€― Meister Eckhart

When I had finally finished the whole attic I said a little prayer and had Wifey up to inspect my “insulation†job and to my relief she did not detect the grow room…man was I sweating that but it had to be done. I think after six weeks of me being up there almost every day she was starting to wonder if I was up to something more. Hopefully that final walk-through eliminated any suspicion. I would hate to have to kill her. :)

We are ready to launch. Bon Voyage!

Chapter 5

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.†–Lao Tzu

There is something so very special about certain moments in life. For me, one of those has always been the moment I take a small number of carefully selected seeds and drop them into a dixie cup of water. As the first tiny seed falls from my fingers and hits the water with an inaudible splash, I feel a sudden rush of emotion, a trembling anticipation so powerful I almost can’t describe the excitement of it. Here we go, I always think…liftoff. Houston, the clock has started.

I germinate seeds by letting them soak in regular water for 24 hours. With this treatment, if they are good, fresh viable seeds many will sprout a taproot within 48 hours. The seeds will probably sink to the bottom of the water after awhile but it won’t hurt them…that indicates a good fresh seed. I take them out of the water after 24 hours (whether I see an actual protruding root yet or not) because they just need to soak for a full day to partially dissolve the “glue†that binds the two halves of the seed casing together. I find inserting the seeds into a growing medium without any pre-soak is a little hit and miss, because if the seed casing doesn’t receive enough water contact directly on the seam it may take many days to pop and I want my seedlings all coming up at about the same time so we can keep all plants on the same operational schedule. If I have to wait several extra days for half of the seeds to appear, by that time some of the early ones have stretched too far and become unusable.

My little seeds were nearly all beginning to stir after 48 hours and I very, very carefully placed each one, point down, into the moistened rooter plug. I arranged all the little plugs into little rows in the germination tray (the kind you can buy at any store, they have a plastic cover that keeps the humidity in and they work great). Onto the heat mat, which doesn’t even feel warm to the touch but provides a nice, soft, gentle heat to the root zone which is one of the most helpful things you can do.

So, here I come back after only 24 hours in the rooter plugs and THIS is what I see! Holy shit Batman! Some of the seedlings have already stretched so much they are probably unusable! This shocked me, not just that I’d made a minor mistake already but the amazing speed at which seeds given perfect conditions can grow.

I immediately moved the propagation tray under the LED light. Now we will get these babies growing. You can see they don’t look like much at first.

I keep the plugs moist but not soaked…some air at the roots is important. Some Vermiculite is sprinkled on top to keep evaporation to a minimum. FYI the photos under LED lights all have a strange color cast. If you have never seen LED lighting in person they have nice intensity and the diodes emit light only in the spectral ranges that stimulate plant growth so they look like this. I had my doubts about how good they would be at first but they are perfect for this application.

These plants are now in day 5 since being dropped into the water and out of 16 seeds, I have 12 healthy looking seedlings. Next step, I transplanted all viable seedlings to 4 inch net pots and put them on the bubbler. As previously mentioned I use a grow medium made of Hydroton pebbles in the bottom 1/3, then 80% perlite and 20% vermiculite (the vermiculite holds water so you only need a little mixed in there, the key to this is the medium must drain almost completely every time it is watered). Be very gentle when transplanting and never physically touch roots if you can help it. Under magnification, one can observe even tiny roots have thousands of micro-hairs, all of which will grow into major roots but their structure is quite fragile to the touch. So be very careful. If those two 300-watt light banks look too close, they are! This is the high-intensity saturation I described. The lumens are serious but the heat is reasonable. I want them to literally stop stretching upward and begin just growing outward immediately.

Now here they are on day 8. After only 3 days of super light saturation they have almost completely stopped growing up and now they are just chomping light like maniacs and growing outward. That is exactly what I want. Once we get them super stout we’ll encourage them to start stretching upward again but at that point they will be extra strong and the whole plant will be much better suited for wide, bushy growth.

Excellent root development after only 8 days of life. The bubbling reservoir stays perfectly oxygenated so these roots are just as happy as they can be soaking in it all day. We are encouraging the plants in just their infancy to develop an internal structure which will enable maximum liquid uptake and perfect metabolism. This will prepare them for sustainable aggressive growth once they go into their final pots in the main room.

At 10 days these babies are really starting to flex their muscles.

3 inches wide and only an inch-and-a-half tall at 12 days. It’s working!

Day 15…the girls are 2-3 times wider than they are tall. Now let me show you why they look so good…

THIS is the real key to successful plants…massive and efficient root structures developed as early as possible. Some of these roots already reach a staggering 2 feet in length which represents more than an inch per day of growth. The thing is, with roots like this we can transplant them into their final home and we will have no transplant shock whatsoever. Most plants after transplantation take around 5 days to regain fully vigorous growth but these will never even pause. Ah, science!

Now it’s day 16 and we call that “moving dayâ€. Time for the final transplant to the main grow room. Nerves? Yes, some. Here is the last real chance for me to fuck something up. As the long roots are carefully lowered into the new container, I gently guide them to a circular pattern before ever-so-carefully pouring handfuls of perlite/vermiculite mix around and over them. Gently. You must minimize movement of everything once you begin to cover and set the roots. Don’t rush. You have maybe 5 minutes before the light and air exposure will begin to have adverse effects so carefully build up the material until it supports the net pot which you are holding firmly at the correct height. More material is now added and GENTLY packed down just a little bit, just enough to make sure there are no big voids. Now carefully and thoroughly water in all the material. Since this setup drains right back to the main reservoir, no worries about using too much. The growing medium will perfectly set up around everything down there if you are just steady handed and patient.

In they go, one by one. You will have a sore back when you are done but this is the single most important operation of their lives. Do it right and they will never miss a beat. Damage them and you lose 7-10 days while they freak out, pout, and recover.

Leaving the nest.

One interesting note…in the last photo you can see one plant, in the foreground left, that is half the size and vigor of the other 11. One of the other plants still visible in this photo is the same kind but look how different they look. This is the mystery and genius of genetics and natural selection, that Rosetta Stone of theories which explains why life becomes so amazingly diverse over time. The two factors which comprise “natural selection†are (1) the steady production of slight variations, and (2) the environment acting upon all these slight differences and some ending up being more helpful to the organism than others, leading to the better-suited organisms reproducing more and passing that trait on where it may eventually help the species compete a little better, leading to more offspring. In this case, two identical seeds in identical environments but one plant is quite vigorous and the other sort of scrawny to this developmental point.

So we see how gradually, over tens of thousands of generations each producing similar but ever-so-slightly different organisms, the helpful variations which enable better survival lead to everybody incorporating that trait eventually because the ones without that advantage die off a wee bit sooner.


The real problem many people have with understanding this whole thing is we just can’t wrap our minds around the staggering amount of time required for evolutionary changes to occur. We live maybe 80 years and the Earth is 4.3 billion years old. None of us can really comprehend how long a million years is for example, but over such vast spans of time trillions of little lives play out, steadily acted upon by environmental forces, and eventually change and diversify to become the myriad of species we see today. Hard to believe 95% of all species that ever evolved are already extinct. And for all our observational ability, we estimate we have yet to even identify more than half of the species living today. It’s a big world.

Back to weed. With everybody in their new home I could take a few moments to just look at my babies. Now we will see how well the early saturation worked. You can’t really see it yet but these plants will grow very low and bushy now, ideal for scrogging. I lit a joint and just watched the smoke curl lazily upward into the carbon filter. The hardest part is done. If you get them to this point in this condition you have almost guaranteed success because from here on they just sit under the light 24/7 and drink nutes three times a day. Now the fun begins.

Chapter 6

“The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.†–Anonymous

It’s day 21 and it’s time to meet the ladies. The plants are all looking great, absolutely zero transplant shock as I predicted. Extra root volume=extra ability to absorb the move. So, the time has come…allow me introduce you to my beautiful girls.

In bucket number one is Blue Dream #1. She has two sisters in the project as well. Blue Dream as you may know is a cross between DJ Short’s Blueberry and a Silver Haze plant from Northern California. This variety has many of the good attributes of a fine Sativa with the wicked Haze buzz mixed in there. It’s supposed to be a high-yielding plant with a reasonably short flowering period of 55-60 days. I have seen Blue Dream buds that are long, furry, and frosty. I want dat.

In bucket #2 we have some White Widow and a Holy Grail 69. White Widow, (left), produces some of the frostiest nugs I have ever seen, for some reason the plant even develops trichomes all over the leaves. I wish they all did that! I am looking forward to having some WW, it seems like the coffee shops and dispensaries suck that variety completely up because I can never get any. Holy Grail 69 also gets very good reviews and seems pretty similar to the WW in structure.

Bucket #3 is another Blue Dream. Dreamy.

Bucket #4 contains some Haze by Ripper Seeds. I’m so excited about the Haze from all I have heard. Those are just water spots on the leaves.

In #5 we have a cross between White Widow and something unknown. A Scooby Doo mystery indeed. Also in there is another Holy Grail 69. I hope they will get along since they’re sharing a room.

In bucket #6 is White Widow (left) and Liberty Haze by Barney’s Farm. The Liberty is from a seed that was 2 years old at least. I started 3 and this is the only one that sprouted but she looks good. Smaller though. That’s why I paired them up, they were both a bit smaller and may work well together.

In bucket #7 is another beautiful Ripper Haze. Mmmmmm.

Bucket #8 has the third Blue Dream. Such a pretty girl! Maybe the best of all the plants even though this photo doesn’t really show it. Just impressive from the start.

Finally in bucket #9 we have little Cinderella, another Ripper Haze but inexplicably tiny and scrawny. She shows serious leaf discoloration despite receiving the exact same nutes and light as everybody else. She’s going to be my little special needs child. I will nurse her along. She’ll go to the ball someday.
One note: I am assuming these are all female! I will be keeping a vigilant eye out for any sign of a male. The seeds were sold as “feminized†and I really don’t know the incidence of males coming from feminized seeds but one should take nothing for granted in nature.

One of the amazing things about the always-interesting marijuana plant is it has a male plant and a female plant. At least 90% of all flowering plants have bisexual flowers containing male and female organs. Many of these species avoid inbreeding and incest by having their sex organs mature at different times. In many plants the female organ is receptive before the male is mature, or the male part is ready before the female is receptive. This clever strategy favors cross pollination between different plants. Some plants have only unisexual flowers and are dioecious with separate male and female plants --like date palms, edible figs, willows, cottonwoods, marijuana and, how cool, people.

So, that’s the family, three weeks old. So far so good.

Chapter 7

“Do you remember the time when we couldn’t wait to grow up? What the hell were we thinking?â€

Adolescence. A time to train youth, to encourage them to grow in the right direction, to help them become productive adults. Our girls are no different…they are ready to grow up. Weeks 4 and 5 are dedicated to aggressive growth. Now we find out whether the start we gave them is a good one. If everything is tidy they should begin to explode.

Here is a picture on day 28. Over the last 7 days they have more than doubled in size and girth. Absolutely no evidence of any problems. The hydro setup works flawlessly. I was a little apprehensive about the relatively large amount of standing water that sits in the bottom of each Dutch bucket (root rot would be disaster) but apparently the infusion of freshly oxygenated nute solution three times a day is enough to keep it okay. Everything up top looks peachy.

Getting great leaf and stem development. No evidence of major nute imbalances. I noticed a very slight pattern of discoloration beginning in a couple of them a week ago then looked at my notes and noticed I prepared the nute solution but missed one step-forgot to add the Cal/Mag. Second small mistake of the grow but no big deal. Remember my water is very Cal/Mag deficient because of the water softener. I added the missing supplement mid-week and within a few days that did the trick.

All leaves look vibrant and healthy and branching is underway.

The time has come to top my girls! Even touching them is something I do with reverence. Pulling off parts of their beautiful little bodies pains me even though I know it is completely beneficial and necessary. Fact is, only bad things can come from too much physical contact with your plants, even being in the grow room too often is a risk because if you’ve done your work right and your grow is properly sealed, the only way any monsters will ever get in is by hitching a ride on you. With diligence I might never introduce a spider mite into the grow room (pray) but I certainly can’t tell if a fungus or alien plant-chomping bacteria is on my hands just waiting for me to touch and infect my babies. Probably a bit of paranoia…I just hit some nice Sativa. Seriously though, avoid touching your plants any more than you have to because it is a good rule. Not doing something bad is doing something good, in a Karmic way.

A pinch to grow an inch

It turned out topping the plants was extremely fun. They have grown so fast most of them will be left with eight branches which is up from my goal of six. I want to scrog the plants no more than 1 foot above the level of the soil to keep the prime light intensity zone as low as possible. Here is where making them stocky in their early life pays off…if the plants were even a little bit more stretchy topping at the proper level would leave only 6 branches, maybe even four. That theoretically represents an additional 25%, even 50% in total yield in the end. It’s all about maximizing use of prime space.

You want to be mindful that the plants will stretch aggressively for another 2, even 3 weeks after turning the light schedule to flowering. That’s the beauty of scrogging…you can keep weaving these still-growing branches all through the net without worrying that they will get too tall. The goal is an absolute wall of buds and it can be done.

First harvest! LOL

One sign your plants are all they can be is aggressive early branching

Pulled just a few leaves where they were totally blocking out productive areas…hard to believe such pop after less than a month.

Here’s how we look at exactly one month old! Everybody is getting along. Even the little scrawny one in the lower left has recovered and is beginning to grow a little better.

Blue Dream is a hungry and very strong variety. All three exhibit perfect symmetry.

White Widow and Liberty Haze with their fat daddy leaves, they look very similar and they are both bustin’ loose.

Like many I suppose, I like to just stand there and stare at the beauty of nature. The marijuana plant is a truly beautiful life form. It is one of the most advanced and sophisticated of all plants, an amazing platform of genetics, fiber and water which evolved on our planet over millions of years for our grateful use. Now we live in full partnership, selectively improving the species and creating magnificent new diversity while benefiting from its increasing variety of specialized effects. Today there is pot for everything from pain suppression to stimulating new thoughts on particle physics.

â€Without continuous growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.†–Benjamin Franklin

Often I find myself just standing there, gazing, and of course smoking some really good ganj. Ironically people who don’t fully appreciate the wonders of marijuana wouldn’t understand. But we do, don’t we?

Chapter 8

“The road to success is always under construction.†–Lily Tomlin

It is Day 33. Time to scrog.

Screen of Green is nothing but a simple tool to arrange growing branches so they all get as much light as possible. It’s simply setting up a screen horizontally that keeps everything at one level, then weaving the branches all through the screen to spread everything out for maximum exposure. It takes a little technique but it’s a great way to double or triple your yield compared to allowing the plants to grow in their natural Christmas-tree shape.

The science is simple too…many plants like Marijuana “prioritize†growth, with the single central stem growing more vigorously because it is physically higher than the side branches. The “apex†shoot gets allotted more of the plant’s energy at the expense of the rest. Topping a plant after the fourth node removes the apex shoot but the eight remaining shoots all develop like apex shoots, as long as all the shoots can be kept at about the same height. So the screen sets a baseline and you just work all the branches in and out gently so they grow horizontally. Every branch then puts out 2 shoots at each node which will all start from the same height. The branches can be allowed to grow in veg a couple weeks longer as the whole screen is gradually filled out, until you have a complete hedge of 12â€-18†shoots which all flower like main colas. The end result is maximum production from a given space.

I have the benefit of a few truss pieces going diagonally through the space, so I can build a frame for the screen.

Put small nails all along the top every 4 inches

Nice. Now for the string. You can use anything from chicken wire to fishing net but I like a 4-inch square fairly tight net made of good cotton string which hurts plants the least. Thread the string on, making it as tight as possible. Don’t hurt anybody!

Perfect! Reusable too, in the end just cut the strings and easily remove. Re-string again next time.

Now exactly 5 weeks old. For the next 2 weeks they will grow, grow, grow and I will weave, weave, weave. Every 3 days we bend and tuck everything so all branches are under the net. They will keep immediately turning up toward the light and growing back up through the screen. That’s what we want. As they grow, we keep tucking them back under and allowing them to grow horizontally. At each growth node there will appear two branches. These will grow straight up and become colas, not quite as big as the original main stem but good. We might end up with a hundred decent-size colas from just 12 plants, instead of the 12 main (and a bunch of smaller ones) we would been limited to without this technique.

The plants will continue to grow so fast we will only have a window of a couple weeks to develop our SCROG horizontally. Every three days the entire garden will have to be addressed and all branches bent/woven/adjusted to keep everything as low and level as possible. I like to take my time doing it.

Two weeks to showtime.

Chapter 9

“No road is long, when dreams are big, and the sky is the limit.†–Rishika Jain

Four days have passed since the SCROG installation and they need to be “tuckedâ€. God it’s so fun when you have an actual excuse to touch (okay, fondle) your babies. That motherly thing I guess. I truly enjoy winding the stems all through the net, it’s actually serious business with a lot on the line because the care taken directly affects final yield and final yield is everything in growing. There is a “box†defined by the frame, containing 30 square feet of prime, perfectly illuminated space. The goal is to make these 12 plants grow to fill every possible inch of the space, horizontally, before the canopy begins to stretch vertically. It’s kind of an art form.

If you’re reasonably gentle, you learn to bend the stems without breaking and keep them under the screen. That’s stage 1 of SCROGing. You are trying to avoid any abrasion or damage to any branches, just keep them under the screen for a ways. You can probably veg for months if you want to let the branches continue to grow and grow, though my space is limited so my goal is just to evenly fill it.

Next step along the way as branches get too tall, will be Supercropping. That’s where you actually do break the inside, rigid part of the branch, but without completely snapping it off or creating a horizontal break in the vascular tissue or “bark†on the branch. Like bone and skin. The plant lays over at more than 90 degrees and he first time you do it you really wonder if you killed your plant. No worries though. The elbow joint just grows more tissue over the next week until it has a swollen “knot†appearance. It carries even more weight now, it’s actually beneficial. Some swear it also increases potency to stress the plant like this and I’m not sure of the science there but hey, cool.

SCROGed the left side, didn’t do the right side yet, see the difference in height. The plants are already growing almost an inch every day. Many people grow marijuana and think their plants are great and I have seen some of those grows and thought, nice, but if the setup was able to deliver everything these plants could possibly use they might be twice as big. PERFECT plant growth is really just the result of keeping all essential factors inside a reasonable range. There is a range of nutrient density, a range of PH, temperature, heat…it seems complex but staying within all those ranges is like staying between the lines on the highway, not too difficult. There’s plenty of margin. You just have to know where the lines are. My hydro setup, maintenance, and the nutrient choices I have made have all combined like a symphony orchestra to produce beautiful biological music. These plants are basically growing at the genetic speed of light. Things will get real crowded very soon.

Nute note: Many growers fall in love with nutrients, especially with adding them. With respect to the few growers who are true nute geniuses, you don’t really have to be. One thing to keep in mind is go very easy on the nutes when you top off the reservoir, it’s a place you can easily make a big mistake! Because water both evaporates and is transpired by the plants, the nutrients in the reservoir become more and more concentrated. Therefore it isn’t necessary to use the same concentration in the replenishment water, in fact it’s dangerous. The nutes you added previously are almost all still there, the plants only absorb a tiny fraction of the ambient chemicals. Cut the dose at least in half compared to fresh water.

Back in the day, many lectured me on the value of all the little boutique nutrients they like to add and exactly when to add them but I never personally noticed a difference between my yields and theirs. Plus it’s more to flush at the end and un-flushed weed can have a chemical taste. But the real risk of over-messing with plants is you can “burn†them and that can cause a lag in growth while the plant tries to recover its equilibrium. The lesson of a bad nutrient burn is not forgotten quickly, especially since blowing a grow which is already way past the hard part would be especially painful. I’m not in this to lay in bed for months thinking about what might have been. The plants are drinking over a half-inch of nutrient solution (roughly 2+ gallons) per day already so I top off the solution every 4-5 days, and change it completely every other week.

The goal is to gradually fill in all open areas.

See how the branches grow under and along the SCROG net, while each node produces two branches growing straight up to heaven. Ideally, I want to have at least one branch growing up through every square.

Day 42 and it’s quite apparent how the plants are spreading out and responding to the even lighting and increased penetration, rapidly producing new branches at the nodes. Here’s where my choice of cotton twine has value, it’s the easiest to work the branches through and the least destructive to the “skin†on the branches. I will let them veg until they are maybe two feet tall as measured from soil level then we’re gonna turn the lights back. Can’t wait.

“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.†–Abdul Kalam

Now I find myself sitting in the grow room, enjoying the delicious fragrance of some witchy Lemon Haze and dreaming big dreams. As it perfumes the air, I’m thinking about all the fabulous bud I’m going to have. All the delicious flavors. All proceeding perfectly. One more week and we start to bud.

Chapter 10

“There are powers inside of you which, if you could discover and use, would make of you everything you ever dreamed or imagined you could become.†–Orisen Swett Marsden

We are beginning the countdown to the Big Flip. I want to truly maximize this grow so I’m really being patient. If I err, it will be on the side of vegging too long which only means a whole lot of branches everywhere and it’s a great problem to have though the other side of that is the canopy can rise artificially high, putting the best zone into hotter air and in the extreme hurting production. We’ll see.

Only 3 days have passed. Such recovery and aggressive growth! The SCROG is becoming a Sea of Green!

A nice view of the horizontal branching process. As I mentioned I want one or two branches coming up through every square if possible. It’s fun to choose each branch’s direction without regard whatsoever to which plant is which. I have already lost track of a whole bunch of them, they’re like vines all growing wildly.

I have altered the nutrient mix to favor aggressive growth but still careful to underdo it. Not so much as a single discolored tip on even one leaf anywhere. I feel like Mother Nature. I knew I was once pretty good at this but honestly these results are blowing my best expectations away. I knock on wood after writing that and take a deep hit of some Dynamite…ahhhhh.

Day 47 and this garden is EXPLODING! Now we see why it is crucial to SCROG aggressively and especially early…virtually all the branches are already too big to easily tuck under the SCROG anymore. Further influence will be more and more about supercropping. Note it’s nicely filling in, and the remaining open spaces will be filled by smaller adjacent branches as they lengthen and are guided through the openings.

Spreading out

Day 49, exactly 7 weeks from wetting the seeds. Now we’re getting somewhere! Despite the ever-more-apparent difference in verticality between the varieties corresponding to the differences in sativa-indica ratio, the whole garden is looking fluffy.

Weed is a very over-bred organism and that plus the steady production in nature of all kinds of variations sometimes results in interesting anomalies like this four-leaved node.

White Widow and Liberty Haze looking like the ultimate mind salad.

Now Day 53. I’m being attacked by plants. I feel like if I turn my back they’ll eat me! Almost time to flip, definitely time for uber-aggressive Supercropping. Again, you can’t be shy when you do this, and you may lose a branch or two (it’s more than 90% successful with any touch at all) but the benefit is huge. These are stretching an inch a day but there won’t be room for long at that rate. I will top most of the central branches to slow their vertical growth and encourage lots of branching in the middle since there’s nowhere to go. Then, Supercrop most everything in an outward direction, basically creating a canopy that is wide and curved.

Day 56 or exactly 8 weeks from seed was my prediction to turn them to flowering cycle. Looks like we can do it a few days early. They have never known anything but 24/7 light at every stage of their lives. For all the back-and-forth about plants needing/not needing a “rest†period for redevelopment of certain proteins or hormones or whatever, my suspicion has always been that we are perhaps personifying the needs of pot plants rather than objectively analyzing the relative merit of a short dark photo period during vegetative growth. From my results I say maybe they do not need it. They couldn’t have completed the first half of their wonderful lives any better.

“Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.†–Hal Elrod

I stood in the grow room and lit up a fatty, some Lemon Haze. Such a smell, mmmmmmm…and what a sense of satisfaction to have reached this point so perfectly. Blowing the final hit up toward the carbon filter, I turn the timer on, and click…darkness falls on my babies for the very first time. I hope the little darlings aren’t scared. Time to flower. Sleep well.

Chapter 11

“If your dreams don’t scare you a little, your dreams aren’t big enough.†–Anonymous

For the next two weeks the plants will grow and grow. They are growing so fast I think I can hear the cells dividing but since I’m really stoned I’m not completely certain of that.

Day 55 and in the first few days of flowering. The change in hue is from the substitution of High Pressure Sodium for the Metal Halide bulbs. The intense red spectrum emitted by HPS encourages flowering and produces better bud density than MH.

Of course, it will be a couple weeks before flowering takes place, until then they are keeping a killer pace. Note the aggressive branching. Love it.

Now Day 60 and they have stretched eight inches in many places just over the past 5 days. I’m Supercropping lots of branches, just cracking them over (carefully) to keep lowering and thickening the hedge.

Blue Dream stretching to Heaven

Topping off the nutrient reservoir…the plants drink an inch or more from the reservoir every day now so more than once a week it needs to be refilled and re-balanced. First adjust PH, then nutes (always adding one at a time), then PH once more. If you mix nutrients before adding them to water, you risk potentially combining substances which could result in “lockup†which can prevent optimum absorption. I use a small pump to move water from place to place.

Under the tanning bed lights. Now the temperature of the lights will begin to be an issue. I will raise them another foot which should be exactly perfect when they stop stretching and begin to fill out with all those delicious, fragrant, amazing flowers. It’s sooo hard not to be impatient knowing that I could have piles and piles of fat buds in only a couple more months. I believe flowering may take longer than the typical 7-8 weeks because the Sativa influence is strong in these varieties. Hydro, I read, also seems to extend the flowering period by a week or two compared to soil. There seems to be a consensus about that, but I wonder if longer flowering results in more effective bud development and even greater canopy density. Greater density=more buds. I want dat.

Now back under wraps they go, to be alone for another few days of muscular growth. I will be very anxious to check them next time, and hope to see those first beautiful little flowers.

“You get what you work for, not what you wish for.†–Anonymous

Now day 65 and the forest is getting thick. A beautiful thing…

These babies are about to start showing.

The canopy has developed nicely, I have worked he foliage all through the space, carefully, spreading it out to obtain the even, thick coverage you see. Just setting the stage for the final phase…real success will only be measured by the ultimate yield and that is why it’s so important to have every ray of light falling on something green. Still no major heat issues, since it is early Spring outside. Still not a single leaf looking anything but healthy and strong. It’s so fun to see plants being all they can be. The stem thickness in places is amazing, these branches will be capable of supporting the great weight of all the buds that will soon cover every inch of their length.

I get a touch nervous to have them flowering for well over a week and still not be seeing any flowers but I remember feeling the same way at this point in previous grows. It seems like it isn’t ever going to happen because you’re counting the seconds but then one night it just goes pop. I know it’s imminent. I must be vigilant because we still don’t know for certain if all the girls are really girls of if we have a transvestite in our midst. This is a potentially crucial issue so let me address a couple possibilities.

The use of regular seeds brings a lot of excitement into your grow, most of it unneeded. First let’s discuss the worst possible scenario. Hear me: if even one male plant is allowed to flower the entire energy of your plants will be devoted to growing big fat seeds instead of big fat buds and you will have achieved a shitty grow. Regular seeds (male and female) make the whole thing way too much of a crapshoot. That’s the reason to invest in feminized seeds. Feminized seeds will all be female, case closed. You simply have to use feminized seeds today. Nothing would be worse than raising ten or more plants more than half their lives and finding out most of them have to be killed.

Now let’s talk about the very, very best case scenario, though it is also very unlikely. That would be where there are no males in the garden, but somehow a very small number of male flowers, ideally only one, appears on a female plant. Why is this so great if it happens? Because the pollen from these rogue male preflowers would contain only female DNA, so every seed produced by any accidental fertilization would be a feminized seed! That would be wonderful because it would mean I had produced my very own hybrid and I would have seeds for growing it. Even better, if I could identify one male preflower and it fertilized all the varieties, I would have up to four new hybrids. Considering these would be ass-kicking crosses, and if there was only a scattered incidence of seed production but not a ton, I could end up with years and years worth of seeds for fresh, home-grown hybrids like White Widow x Holy Grail 69, Blue Dream x Ripper Haze, who knows?

One of my very advanced goals is to one day induce such preflowers through careful light exposure of only one part of one branch during the flowering dark period which I understand can trigger one or more hermaphroditic flowers to appear. Talk about tricky to execute, I could easily ruin the grow by messing around with something so delicate and if I throw the flowering cycle off it will extend the grow by many weeks while they recover and also probably diminish the quality of everything. I will save all such stuff for future grows. For now I just want to avoid that worst case scenario I mentioned.

Therefore, any male preflower must be spotted and removed immediately or the entire grow could be ruined by just one premature ejaculation, so to speak. The excitement is delirious, the tension is high…it’s making my head spin, or maybe it’s just that bowl of Skunk I just burned…

Day 67 and here come the flowers! I’m so excited and frankly a little relieved. I checked every plant…all showing, all female! Yes!! Even when you buy seeds from a reputable seed bank, there is always a little doubt as to what you really got until this day. A lot of work, time, and patience finally resulting in the certain knowledge that you have not wasted your time and the bountiful harvest of your dreams is at least on the horizon. Now the most wonderful weeks of the grow begin.

There is nothing on Earth as fragrant and intoxicating as the delicious aroma of budding marijuana plants! I love that smell so much I could marry it but that doesn’t mean I can start camping out in the grow room. As a rule I minimize the time I physically spend in the chamber, knowing full well less contact means less risk of introducing anything into the grow room that could hurt the plants and that care has always paid off handsomely as I have never had a buggy- or moldy disaster. These babies have developed into strong, healthy adults and every one has come through the stretch and the changeover with flying colors. I must maintain my level of personal discipline and not start going in there more than needed even though I want to just totally immerse myself in the impossibly delicious though still-delicate scent of musky skunky wonderfulness.

The next day I added three additional supplemental lights, 300 watt Mars Hydros, just to give a little boost to the front corners. Could probably add ten more but no need. I’m totally confident 1,000 watts of HPS are more than enough to supply this grow. It’s just you always want more, you know? Plus they add a neat hue in this picture as they illuminate the fan leaves.

I blow a huge hit up toward the exhaust port and survey my handiwork. Two days short of ten weeks since those tiny little seeds first touched water. It truly exceeds even my best expectations and that’s a rare place to be in life. A mighty fine quilt we’re knitting, that’s for sure. Mighty fine.


Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Re: Project 21 - Dream Grow - The Ultimate Journal - A Complete Guide To Growing


Chapter 12

“Slow but steady wins the race.” –Welsh Proverb

Here we are on Day 73…a feast of teen beauty!

The flowering is developing marvelously…every node on every plant is starting to pop with beautiful little floral clusters. The sweet scent of weedbud now hits me square in the nose every time I enter the chamber. God I love it.

I can tell by the early structure of the bud clusters we are going to have dense, chunky nugs.

The wonders of multiplication…love when all those little flower puffs appear!

Here is where the techniques of early shortening, then topping, then SCROGing, then aggressive supercropping, combined with effective pre-planning and served on a bed of overall understanding of the marijuana plant all come together in a horticultural feast. My 30 square feet of available growing space is completely chock full of branches. Literally every last ray of light is being used by something green. The even, perfectly spaced hedge is just finishing the stretch, exactly where I wanted it to finish, with lots of verticality but nothing getting above the illumination horizon. Perfectly positioned to swell with ounces and ounces of buds. The lesson? This is not rocket surgery. It just requires knowing what your plants need and having everything right for the plants when they need it. Timing. It is indeed everything if you want to grow world-class weed.

My little farm is humming. It is warming outside now, it is April and the protection against insects thus far afforded by the very cold Winter weather is waning. Starting now I have to be ultra-ultra-vigilant against invaders. Until now the plants could be easily treated for a variety of insect issues should they have appeared, but once you start flowering it gets tricky. Anything you put on your buds you will end up inhaling. Don’t rely on “flushing” for externally-applied anything…it won’t come off. I hear about people “washing” their plants while in budding mode…okay, anything might be true but this isn’t time to get creative. The best way to control insects is to NEVER get them. My habit of having a pair of shoes specifically for going in the grow room which never touch the lawn, etc., seems to be paying off. I am also very careful to wear fresh clothing when I go in. Such care which almost borders on paranoia will serve you well believe me. Plants that are healthy and uncontaminated can use 100% of their energy for bud production.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” –Robert Collier

Day 78…things are busting out all over! The first wave of flowering is in and there are so many hundreds of little flower puffs I can’t believe my eyes. I can’t even reach the back plants now to break them over because the hedge is so thick. Here’s where the stretch has ended…I feel honestly that I probably should have flipped a week earlier but almost-perfect timing is still awfully good, and as I mentioned some weeks ago too many branches getting a little too tall is a great problem to have. I just break them over with abandon…they’ll be fine. Plus, because there are 2 fourteen-inch oscillating fans blowing continuously from both ends I can let my ladies get surprisingly close to the big lights without heat damage. The way to test it is simply put your hand at the same distance. If after a minute it gets too hot for your hand it’s too hot for the girls. Having enough air circulation simply allows for closer proximity.

Beauty stretches towards the heavenly and hypnotic light…swell your intoxicating blossoms my darlings.

White Widow starting to get frosty…Ripper Haze beginning to amaze…

Blue Dream…I just know it will soon make all my stoner dreams come true.

By “first wave” I meant that the marijuana plant will build its ultimate floral structure through successive waves of bud development with a period of swelling in between each wave. Usually there are about three meaningful waves, each cycle taking about 10-12 days. At this point the first wave has completed and the plants will establish these blossom clusters for 3-4 days then start the second flourish of fuzziness.

I reluctantly leave the chamber though I want to sleep in there. This is the really, really fun part where Christmas is only about 5-6 weeks away. I fall asleep with dreams of sugarnugs dancing in my sedated head.

Now day 84 and there’s so much more! The ladies are starting to drip with frosty deliciousness. The second flowering wave has come in and the buds are growing, growing. White hair everywhere. Each variety is now developing its own personality, so to speak. The mostly-Sativa varieties are taller, as expected, and the more Indica-influenced plants are getting fatter by the hour.

The lollipops are getting sweeter.

Robust interior development taking place.

It’s a smorgasbord of smoke. I’m going to go crazy trying to wait another month but believe it or not the damn things will more than double in weight in that next (final) 4 weeks.

At this stage of flowering the buds look really big but they are as much puffy hair as actual flower mass. If they were to be harvested and dried right now the quality and yield would be decent but nothing like it should be in one more month. I will begin examining trichomes soon, using a 10x magnifying loupe like a jeweler would use. Trichomes are the reason we are here my friends. Those little balls of resin on tiny stalks. That frosty frost that coats everything eventually. The home of THC. They need to be checked regularly because they are the key to reading the ripeness of the buds. When they begin to turn cloudy they are getting close…when they begin to turn darker it’s time to chop. As the buds continue to mature the level of CBD increases…if that gets too high your buds will turn from cocaine to valium and just put you to sleep. Since I like a more cerebral, active high I will be careful to not let them go too long.

The plants are about 4 feet tall now from the surface of the growing medium to the tops. The canopy has turned out about as good as it could I suppose. The available light is being fully utilized. I could add more lights on all sides but there is a balance between what is worth adding and what would amount to just feel-good messing…this is about getting a nice yield but not about trying to be a professional grower. Let me tell you what I mean by that…

There are some super-advanced techniques, some of which I have alluded to previously that I choose not to employ. For example, I do not use CO2 in my grow room. Many go to great length and expense to augment with CO2 during flowering. Here’s why I do not. CO2 will only benefit the plant if it is receiving more light intensity than it can absorb naturally. And believe me, the pot plant can absorb a lot of light. However, there’s a point you can reach with extremely strong illumination where the plant is receiving many more lumens than it can use and that is when CO2 becomes beneficial. There is no argument that this augmentation will increase the ability of the plant to put on bud weight by another 10-15% past natural maximum levels. But again, unless the plants are receiving so much light they can’t use it all this somewhat complex and even risky technique will not provide a return. A number of growers have absentmindedly entered their grow room full of CO2 and suddenly found themselves unable to breathe and in serious danger of suffocation should they remain. I did it only once and it’s very frightening to take in air that doesn’t give you any oxygen. You can pass out quickly and even die.

Okay it’s possible I have emphasized the risk a little strongly but I am smoking some great Sativa right now…suffice to say the CO2 thing, like using 20 different nutes, is mostly for the pros. I am an amateur grower so my goals should be realistically in line with who I am. My goal is not to maximize the weight for the purpose of selling the weed. My goal is to produce buds so fat, sticky, and stony I will never even care if they could have been bigger!

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo DaVinci

I look at growing marijuana as an equation of sorts…and humbly call it the Hyena Principle:
Finished weight = Solid technique x Available space - Hassle.

What does this mean class? Simple! You will get decent yields with good effort and good knowledge but adding complexity isn’t worth it past a certain point. With an augmented 1000-watt setup I can hopefully expect to produce as much as 2 pounds (VERY best case) if I do everything right. To me it’s not worth screwing with a CO2 setup or adding tricky late-stage nutes for another ten percent. This isn’t a job. It’s a hobby and it should be fun and easy.

But how much final yield should you expect, really? It’s an important question with several possible answers. Every seed manufacturer touts a projected yield of so many grams per square meter but I believe most of these reflect the upper limit of possibility in a pro environment…people who are decent home growers will get 75-80% of the advertised weight (which is still plenty). My point is unless you have 10,000 watts and a ten-foot ceiling don’t set your heart on an unrealistic amount of bud…which you will be doing if you expect to reach the seedbanks stated yield. Judge any grow by final weight only and you will never be happy. Concentrate on achieving killer quality and you will be happy every time. It’s not supposed to be rocket science anyway. We’re stoners for God’s sake!

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complex simple, awesomely simple…that’s creativity!” -Charles Mingus

We are now halfway through the flowering phase. One month or so to go. As beautiful as they look right now it blows my mind to imagine how fat and drippy they will be in another four weeks. I sit in the attic outside the now-sleeping grow room and puff on a fatty. Big fat sticky nugs. Piles and piles of nugs. It’s so close I can taste it.

Chapter 13

“The end is glorious if we only persevere.” –Shoghi Effendi

Glorious indeed is the garden on 4/20! Now Day 90. It’s just getting unbelievable! The amazing rate of development is almost scary. Buds everywhere. The second flowering wave now firmly in place and swelling, with resinous fuzz all over. It’s that awesome time where if you even brush lightly against a branch you smell like funky bud for an hour. God why doesn’t someone make a cologne out of that wonderful aroma and call it “Bud” or something? It would also make traffic stops more interesting so maybe that’s a bad idea…

Let’s take a look at what the final phase of bud development looks like:

The internodal space is disappearing as the bud structures elongate. Vertical growth has completely stabilized and water uptake/transpiration has reached maximum. 12 plants are now collectively using up nearly 3 gallons of nutrient solution every 24 hours…and this rate is quite normal. The grow room stays at reasonable temperatures, spiking into the upper 80’s only occasionally at peak of day (but averaging the high 70’s) plus the heat factor is partially mitigated by very good air circulation. The point is completely healthy plants can operate very efficiently in an optimal environment. There are still no pests or pathogens of any kind that I can detect. Perfect leaf tips indicate perfect nutrition. The leaf tips don’t lie, people. You get all the factors right and this stuff happens right before your eyes, like freaking magic. I am always absolutely amazed at the glory of nature’s most perfect flower as it finally bursts into its ultimate form.

White Widow really beginning to dress for the dance. This variety has a particularly abundant frostiness on the “sugar leaves” which intersperse the buds. Hard to believe this isn’t even close to finished yet and will still get bigger. And frostier…

Blue Dream popping fresh! At this time we begin to observe the first color change in some of the “hairs”. The first wave of flowers has matured and the hairs turn color. It is not only beautiful to see, it means everything is proceeding according to plan. God’s and ours.

The second flowering wave is where the production area in the middle of the branches begins to fill in. An amazing vigor is displayed once floral development reaches maximum, rivaling even the frenetic pace we saw during the peak of vegetative growth. It’s actually the same rate technically, but now the growth is observed at every node instead of just the apex shoots. Varietal differences now become more apparent. The more Indica-dominant the fatter. The more Sativa in the mix, the longer the branches. To my delight the buds seem to almost double in thickness and frostiness every few days. I am drooling on my keyboard…it’s ridiculous!

The middle area where the light from the 600- and 400-watt HPS lamps intersect is home to the densest colas without any doubt. For the entire flowering period I have observed a direct relationship between the variations in total lumen saturation and variations in canopy density, both in terms of individual cola size and number of prime colas per plant/branch. This tells me the only place where the plants may be getting truly everything they can use is in the middle and that’s not news. From the beginning I have been realistic about the size and production potential of my grow room. With only 1,000 watts of HID lighting, supplemented on the edge by 3 “300 watt” LED lights which just help add a little density to the outer buds, I don’t expect to get five pounds. My goal is to use knowledge and dedication, plus a little skill, to get everything I can out of the space and if I know in the end that I achieved that I will be totally happy with whatever amount that is. Some people believe the final weight defines their success. We call them dealers. I am a grower. I just want the very best weed ever grown for my own personal enjoyment (and to share with those I love).

Now that we are at the 13-week mark, the time has come to drop the beans and begin the next generation. As I stated previously, I want a steady supply of high-quality bud that I can control and so when I harvest this crop I want to have the next plants soon ready to move in. It takes about 4-5 weeks to get plants up and running and into aggressive veg. I could have started them a couple weeks ago but I always want to allow for unforeseen reasons (this is mainly Sativa) I may need to bud a little longer so I waited. Another advantage of being a personal use grower…it doesn’t have to be about maximum production. I always want to err on the side of no pressure to chop early. So now it’s time to start those plants in the nursery chamber.

As amazing as my current selections are turning out, this is a hobby so I have decided to grow five entirely different strains. If there is anything I can improve the second time around I think it might be selecting varieties which more closely match each others overall growth rate and finished size. My preference for Sativa-dominance will be set aside to try a more Indica-centric, medical grade pain-medication type marijuana.

Here is a breakdown of the next generation:

The main strain will be Bubble Gum from 00 Seeds. I absolutely love the description and my friends that have tried it swear it’s awesome. It’s an Indica-dominant plant of medium height with very high yield and around 20% THC if properly grown. We will start 7 seeds.

Chocolate Kush by 00 Seeds is our second variety. A cross between Mazar and Indica. Intense aroma, exotic flavor. High THC, low-to-no CBD and medium height with a very high yield. 2 seeds.

Chocolate Skunk is our next girl. She is the child of Mazar and Skunk. Another medium height, high yielding, high THC/low CBD variety. Mmmmm she’s pretty…2 seeds.

Pure Kush from 00 Seeds is another great pick…a Northern Cali beauty, Indica dominance at its finest. THC 20%+. Medium height, highest yield. I’m a little scared of this bud since it seems to get people incredibly stoned a lot faster than they expected…that was my experience too and I had to have some. I’m an up-buzz guy but for my foot pain this baby will be the bomb. I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up…2 seeds.

Finally, we go back to a classic…Northern Lights. Who among us hasn’t savored the aroma and taste of this staple of the pot community? It’s basically the perfect pot…tight, crispy nugs that take you there right now and keep you there all day. I never buy it because people want so much for it but it’s among the most coveted bud around. The stats on NL are steep…pure Indica with wicked high THC and almost no CBD. High yield and medium height, easy to grow. I can’t wait to taste it. 2 seeds.

Dropped the seeds in water overnight, after 24 hours more than half already showing a little taproot tip peeking out. Wow! I can highly recommend 00 Seeds. Prepared the starter plugs in their little tray and carefully inserted the 15 tiny beans pointy end down which required careful coaxing and manipulation with the tip of a toothpick. Handling seeds with exposed taproots is so dangerous it’s crazy. The slightest pressure on the two still-connected halves of the seed casing can pinch the little root tip right off and you don’t even realize you just killed your seed before it was even planted. I NEVER touch a sprouted seed! I use a wet paper towel rolled up, to dab the tiny seed and it gently sticks to the paper towel long enough to transfer it, with no pressure or damage. I roll it into the hole on the starter plug then very carefully position it with the toothpick until it is point-down, or at least not point-up. Point-up seeds may still come up but they take longer to re-orient before emergence and meanwhile the others get too far ahead. It’s best to have your seedlings as close in growth as possible to avoid the earliest and most-vigorous stretching too far to be usable while the others lag behind. A judgement call, I usually can get 80% of the group out of infancy reasonably together.

Back to bud porn for a minute…filling out slowly but steadily. Ripper Haze on the left and Blue Dream on the right.

Teenage White Widow centerfold…yeahhhhhh.

Okay, back to the next gen.

We have 14 out of 15 beans showing life, though one of those has a defect…it popped above the surface but has no cotyledon so it doesn’t look viable. 9 is all we need but 12 or more would be nice.

We are getting the new, improved bubblers ready, I added another and made them both larger. The water has had a few days to de-chlorinate and now we begin a few days of oxygenation. I also added two more Mars Hydro 300 LEDs which makes four in there.

Now it’s Day 98…the 14-week mark. It’s a jungle in here! The sheer density of the canopy makes it impossible to reach or really even view all the nuggy wonders that exist from the middle section back to the wall. I literally can’t see it. If it’s half as dense and delicious as the lollipop farm on this side we will be very happy indeed. What I can see in the middle when I stand on a chair is a dense patch of truly chunky colas. But how to tell how good they are? My only way to judge density is to carefully grab a stem and by wiggling it feel the weight resistance.

These are very dense and heavy. So heavy, in fact, that upon entering the chamber I was greeted with what looked like a disaster! One entire section of my crop had literally fallen down, the weighty colas overcoming even the helping support of the scrog net and a few strings I had already tied. The 4-5 big branches lay at a 90-degree angle to the grow. I resisted screaming and quickly examined the stems…none broken, just bent. I carefully began to straighten them back up.

When this happens, which it will if you’re doing everything right, don’t panic…remember the incredible resiliency of this plant. If no branches have physically snapped you are fine. Just be extra careful and patient working them back into verticality. I have broken more branches in a bad way trying to straighten them than were harmed by falling. I tied heavy cotton twine across the crossbeams and arranged the now-more-tightly-bunched bouquet for even light exposure, the twine holding everything up without putting too much direct stress on any one branch. A close call but not unexpected and I chided myself a little for not doing this sooner but I always err on the side of letting things be as spaced out as possible especially during late flowering and that leaves me vulnerable to this surprise.

Things are getting chunky, yet no real turning of the hairs and no amber turn whatsoever in the trichomes. Hard to believe there could be two more weeks or more of effective growth. It’s so easy to forget (which I do every time) that the last 2-3 weeks is a period of amazing development and damn near half your final weight. The worst mistake you can make is pulling them down a couple weeks too early, though it’s getting so tempting I should remove all sharp objects from the room.

How about some nug love…



Here is where the Sativa-laden Blue Dream on the 400-watt side has reached a point where it has dramatically different flowering and a much more airy, stretchy structure than its sisters a few feet away. Most interestingly, it has a lot of single-bladed leaves higher up on the cola than I am used to observing…I’m not really sure why it happens but I like it. Imagine adding that characteristic to marijuana and making it more difficult to visually identify the plant as such. Something to think about. Figure it out, science! The nugs are twice as tight on the other Blue Dream towards the middle and the plant is slightly shorter. The only real difference in what they have received is overall light intensity. It doesn’t take a genius to discern this fact but 600 watts beats 400 watts, and the area where they overlap is the very best of all. Light intensity = Nugs. More L.I. = More N. It also proves my guess that overall, my plants are not receiving more total light than they can effectively use which means if I was using CO2 I would be doing it for no reason. Not everything you read about is necessary for you specifically. Strive for balance between what is needed and too much, in gardening and in life.

Now I assume I will end up doing a multi-stage chop, 3 or 4 sessions probably. It’s always a lot more work than you think plus you are always super-high when you do it so it takes forever. Which is fine. I feel 80% of the crop is on a good pace but this corner with the taller Sativas might need an additional bit of time to give it a chance to fill out. Often it’s just that simple…the natural variation in plants, even from the same mother, plus the difference in light intensity makes some take longer. Since I have deliberately not rushed the next generation I have plenty of leeway to extend flowering on all or part of this crop.

Don’t know why I did that. :)

Meanwhile, in the nursery…

I’m pretty happy with my germination results: 13 out of 15 beautiful babies, and everybody at the same stage with no stretchers. Doing the light super-saturation again so they will grow wide. They have now rooted sufficiently that, like the baby sea turtle, we will make that dash for the ocean and hope for the best by transplanting the plugs into 4-inch net pots and moving everybody into the new deluxe baby bubblers.

One issue you can run into at this point is sideways growth of the young seedling’s first roots, and I ran into it. I always use a bumper of seed sprouting plugs on each end just to keep a little more moisture available but in this case the lower-right seedling has already grown significant roots into the adjacent empty plug, and when I tried to separate them I had no choice but to substantially tear the roots. Whether there will be any noticeable shock compared to all the others which came out clean and tidy will be interesting to observe. I will bet there will be no difference even though I probably ripped off 50% of the root structure of this seedling. Cannabis is tough.

Everybody was transplanted smoothly with the one potential exception mentioned. Because I had 13 successful seedlings I had to double up one net pot.

Now they go under 24/7 LED light. Let’s see how fast their little taproots can stretch down and enter the bubbling nutrient solution so they can begin to grow and grow. I have to leave for a trip the following day so I have some worry about the chance that they might need top-watering for a couple days to avoid drying out. I don’t know that they do or don’t, but with four 300-watt Mars Hydros in there the heat is noticeable and pushing 90+, and I don’t know if turning the exhaust fan up all the way is enough to mitigate that so here is the first gamble of the next generation. If they dry out they are dead. When I return in 3 days I will know their fate.

It is also time to sample a bud. I clipped a nice Blue Dream bud and hung it with minimal trimming. Should take 5-6 days to be smokeable. Sure feels sticky. Can’t wait to try it.

Two more weeks max should do it for most of the crop. The heavy branches bob in the breeze and I seal up the room to return in 3 days. The main grow looks wonderful but hopefully everything will be fine with the seedlings. You just hate to leave kids alone when they are so young, you know?

When I returned from the trip I couldn’t go check on the plants immediately but I checked the baby monitor…yikes! Over 100 degrees in there! It had been warm for 4 days so I knew they had been at that temperature for the better part of every day. I know all the books say that’s fatal but cannabis is amazing. It was another 10 hours before I could finally enter the nursery and open the hatch. Everybody was just fine! Relief. Even though I originally had confidence they would be okay I realized I had badly underestimated the heat the two additional lights would produce in the tiny space. I did not expect to hit such temperatures and once again the hardy little reefer plant shows why it does well in tropical climes.

The new girls show fat Indica leaves. We will get them up and strong in no time. A check of the roots is quite satisfying, excellent development stretching well into the water below from every plant. They will now simply bubble away until I have hacked the first crop, and then be transplanted into the reloaded main grow room.

A lot of the branches are becoming very heavy. Even with the strings added recently it seems like they might burst right out again. I seriously wonder how much more they can hold but it’s still Day 102 which is a couple days short of 7 weeks of flowering and according to science these things should get even bigger. I am begging them to go crazy the next 10 days. I can hardly believe the sheer volume of the biomass and the fragrance is incredible, if I chopped right now I know I would be happy…another ten days? Holy crap!


You’re drooling

It is sooooo going on in here! I need to determine exactly how ready these buds really are. So, a close look at buds using a new tool, a 16x tiny mini microscope. Great trichome development everywhere, getting frostier and frostier. Only minimal discoloration, most are still clear which tells me there is still time to go. Also only a few hairs have turned reddish, 95% of everything is still white. You can get greedy and let your buds reach a too-ripe condition which basically ruins the quality. I’m very concerned that I do not do that. That is weighed against the desire to squeeze every last day of growth and extra-nugginess out of the grow so it’s going to be day-to-day soon.

Meanwhile it’s time to change from a nutrient solution to plain water and flush for the remainder of their lives. Again, this supposedly reduces any chemical taste imparted by nutrients and provides other benefits. I am not sold on the absolute need to flush because I feel many over-fertilize and that creates the chem flavor. I do just the opposite so I have never noticed that taste in my buds. However, I always flush anyway. I keep just a touch of nutes in there to hedge my bet.

I pumped out the existing solution and replaced it with fresh clean water that had been de-chlorinated for a couple days and supplemented it with a little Cal-Mag, which I’m not entirely sure was necessary but since I know the basic water is deficient in those I added it plus just a few drops of nutes. Then I adjusted the PH, also not certain of the absolute need to do so if there aren’t many nutrients to uptake from the solution but I did it. I have considered adding one or more of the bud-finishing-and-sweetening products but for this first grow I think I will leave the flavor of the buds as God made them and see how I like it. I am intrigued by those products but honestly don’t know their true value so there will be other grows to try that stuff. One drawback of my system (probably the only one) is I can’t try it with just a couple plants because they all share the same water supply.

So, here’s that first bud I snipped a week ago and even though it wasn’t tightly trimmed and it just air dried in the grow room it was time to smoke something. I pinched off a small bowl and lit it up. The taste was what I expected, decent, slightly immature with a hint of greenness, not a finished flavor like it will have when totally ripened and cured but still pretty tasty. Ten minutes later I was totally buzzed! For a first taste it is mighty fine smoke and while I am not surprised, I am a tiny bit relieved. I don’t know whether I really expected it wouldn’t be great weed, that maybe somehow Mother Nature wouldn’t come through but you know how mild paranoia creeps into a stoner’s mind sometimes. I do spend a lot of time laughing at myself.

Then, into my stony reverie bursts an unexpected and paradigm-changing event…in the center of my little bud I see…a seed! Holy shit! Okay, calm down, I’m thinking, mellow out and let’s decide what exactly has happened here before we panic. I examined the entire bud and yes, there were exactly two seeds. Both looked viable. Which simply means there is a hermaphroditic male preflower somewhere hidden deep in the middle of this tangled mass of delightfully-chunky branches and that sucker went pop.

My first fear is that this has totally polluted my grow and there’s going to be a billion seeds and not as much smoke. Because I am not going to start squeezing all my colas and destroying them to find out, that knowledge will not be available for some time. But as I thought about it, the possibility that this might be the best thing ever crept in. Since this has really happened and yet I can’t find a single male flower no matter how hard I look, the very real possibility exists that there may only be one “male” preflower and if I can identify the plant it came from I will definitively know the precise genetics, and may even have achieved up to four genetic crosses in my own laboratory…I might have even come up with a strain never before seen on Earth! The value of such a bonanza is hard to monetize but since I am paying an average of $10-15 bucks per seed, having a nice stash of seeds for multiple awesome hybrids into the future would be the achievement of a dream, years before I even imagined it could happen. Nature. Wow. Cool. Thank you!

Day 106 and all branches are starting to strain to hold the weight of the swelling colas. Most of the biggies are huge and when I shake them they feel like lead weights on the end of a stick they’re so heavy and fat. The aroma in the grow chamber is impossibly delicious. I have never smelled anything as wonderful and I just stand in there drinking in the rich, musky scent…heavenly.

Some of the taller mostly-Sativas are filling in, those buds are airy and the fur is long but they are getting thicker every day. The Ripper Haze looks good enough to freaking eat. Trichome development is rampant everywhere but there is still not discernible turning from clear to cloudy anywhere so we will continue, apparently, to bud. It absolutely has to be the final week for most of the heavy interior stuff. Once I begin the harvest, I might chop and trim from the center outward just to give a few extra days to the perimeter plants.

“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” –St. Francis of Assisi

Meanwhile, the next generation…it is now only 18 days since the tiny seeds hit water and they are looking very strong. That magical light over-saturation is doing its thing nicely. Thick stems, very stout shape with wide leaves already spreading out instead of up. There is a certain amount of heat that comes with intense light, and some leaves show some upward curl from heat stress but it shouldn’t kill them. Soon enough they will be out in the main room.

Roots are the key…only 18 days. Amazing they grow so fast.

Solid little girls. I added the first nutes a few days ago so they are on full nutrition now and the leaf tips look great. The tips will tell.

Hard to see it but we are already getting multiple branching and these plants are all under three inches tall.

PH pen for scale. Yes it’s that big.

Back to buds. The Holy Grail 69 is frosting like a cake. Some of these branches look like furry animals.

Some of the buds I micro-topped (left) look like they are fattening up. Fat beautiful nug (right) getting lots of nice color.

The grow has been on essentially plain water for almost a week. I can see the beginning of leaf tip discoloration, indicating the lack of nutrients is being felt. God it hurts to know I am deliberately starving my babies! All for their own good though, the taste will be pure and clean when we chop it all down later this week. I figure no more than 7-10 more days, I can’t imagine they won’t be showing amber trichomes by then.
As I close the chamber I feel a tinge of sadness that this will all be over soon, despite the longing I have had for years to make the glorious moment happen. It’s true what they say, that the journey is the greatest part, not the destination. But in this case the destination will be very, very nice too.

Chapter 14
This Is It

It is now Day 111 and it’s getting chunky. The four varieties I am growing all have a 9-10 week flowering period and we are a couple days away from completing week 9. So we are under a week away from chop-chop if we want that special (and somewhat rare) bud that gets you high as hell but also makes you want to do stuff instead of just relaxing. If we let it go much past that it will begin to change into a higher-CBD state which equals couchlock even though the buds would be one week bigger.

No science here, but IMHO about 95% of bud you buy is Indica-heavy couchlock weed. I don’t buy dispensary bud much, since I don’t like the fact that you are giving the government a bunch of tax money for doing nothing but allowing you to be free plus it’s basically twice as expensive. So I rarely have my pick of flavors but when I do I love the mainly-Sativa stuff. It takes longer to flower Sativa strains so it makes sense that most commercial bud would be faster-flowering (and on average higher-producing) Indica.

My four strains are mainly Sativa. And that is why I am getting a mighty itchy trigger finger…I want those magic up-high stony buds! So even though a lot of the perimeter stuff still looks airy to me compared to the much-more-dense, almost solid colas in the middle of the forest, even these long, bud-covered branches feel pretty heavy so I am certain I will be content with the final size of my haul even if it could get a little bigger...having the ultimate quality has always been my goal. It’s so very close.

There are dozens of huge colas now. Branches everywhere strain under the weight. My group of nearly two-foot-long colas in front are falling onto each other for support and I can’t really tie them much more. It has reached that wonderful point where even the best-developed stems can barely stand the strain without snapping. That is the wonder of hydroponics compared to soil. I could have produced the same results with 10-gallon soil pots, but this was done using Dutch buckets which are less than 3 gallons each! When the plants are chopped the root ball will be a solid mass the shape of the entire container, no wasted space. It’s working well and I’m pleased.

Here is the little mini-microscope which costs about 6 bucks that I use to examine the condition of the trichomes. Has a little light and everything and gives you a perfect look at those little globules of joy. Still nearly all clear on all varieties though the first clouding is occurring in just a few places.

Budz budz everywhere.

On some varieties the hairs on the colas are turning orange and have done so more than 50% so that’s one sign. On other more airy plants the hairs are long and furry but still 100% white as snow. I think maybe they won’t be around long enough to turn as I have decided to take everything down within a period of a few days. This grow isn’t about fiddling and trying to squeeze that extra week or even two out of some plants, it might ruin others. I don’t want to be drying one bunch and curing another if I can do the whole crop together. Plus, I need to get the next girls out of the kiddie closet as they are getting huge faster than even I expected.
I selected my varieties for this first grow based on having varieties I really wanted, without regard for the length of the flowering time. Once I have my dream stash in hand the next crop will go into flower earlier and will also average two weeks shorter flowering period so the entire cycle will be achieved in about 14 weeks, one full month less. Then we will judge which is better.

I changed the water one final time, only PH’d it and added some Cal Mag. I tuck my beautiful girls in with a kiss. If only they knew the murderous intent deep within my heart, and how very soon they are to meet their fate. (Demonic laughter). Sorry…I’m so high right now…

“The strongest factor for success is…believing you can do it, believing you deserve it, believing you will get it.” -Unknown

The morning of Day 115 and the moment I opened my eyes I knew today was the day. It was an eternity waiting until afternoon for my chance to sneak up to the secret chamber and stand before my girls with a pair of sharp scissors in my hand. Finally. As I looked over them I couldn’t believe the wondrous, fragrant beauty of nature’s work. Fat, throbbing cola after cola, so heavy the stalks bent every which way, trembling under the load. The thick aroma of perfectly ripe cannabis blossoms was heady and intoxicating. I will always remember that moment when a year of study and planning, hundreds of hours of secret, sweaty toil, and finally four months of tender and exacting care came together to reward me with what you see above. The Garden of Eden. Paradise.

Examination with the microscope revealed my hunch was right on. In only three days about 50% of the trichomes had turned cloudy and this batch of Sativa-dominant herb was officially ready. A mother always knows.

Ready to make the first incision, Doctor…oh God this is so exciting.

I began to cut. My harvesting method is to work slowly and carefully, cutting a branch, trimming it reasonably well, then hanging upside-down in an area specifically constructed for drying. I cut branches into sections between 18-24 inches long as much as possible, also cutting bunched branches apart so I end up with a lot of similar-size pieces which will all dry at about the same rate. I am very careful to touch buds as little as possible, handling the branch segments by the bare stem as I methodically manicure. It is slow and time-consuming to do this right but the buds must dry in a controlled manner and to achieve that you remove the fan leaves then trim the tips of most of the smaller leaves nearly flush with the buds. Leaving all the leaves on during the first drying phase IMHO imparts a flavor which hints of chlorophyll. There is a healthy debate as to whether or not that is true but the other reason is it is simply too hard to trim leaves off dried buds without damaging the buds themselves and cutting off this leaf matter first opens up many more places for moisture to exit the plant. Just trim first.

Trim until it looks like this. The close part of the bud leaves are coated with trichomes so just trim the bud leaves most of the way down. You can pinch the major fan leaves off easily.

I work with a tub where fan leaves and smaller trim containing all the little popcorn buds are separated. There isn’t much use for the big fan leaf material but the other trim makes great hash. I don’t make that myself but I know a guy.

Three hours of intense work got me through only the first three plants, and not even completely. The dense hedge of frosty nugs had become so tangled it was sometimes hard to figure out which was coming from which variety. There is a difference in the appearance of the buds between strains but honestly a lot of it looks alike and it would be harder to sort out later so I have a tub for each strain and I sort them painstakingly. In the end I want to know exactly how much bud each plant has given.

I designed a drying area into my grow room. Properly drying the bounty is probably as important as how you grow it. You can greatly diminish the quality of your hard-won harvest with poor drying and curing. Even ruin it. We have worked way too hard to do that so a specific area needs to be established for drying where you can control to a reasonable extent things like light, humidity, and temperature. Light, they say, degrades THC. That makes no sense to me since these buds have just spent 4 months under a thousand watts only two feet away, but the wizards all say it hurts during drying so we have a curtain to keep it dark. The humidity needs to stay under 50% which we accomplish with good grow room ventilation so that’s good. The temperature isn’t as important if the humidity can be kept in check, since the biggest risk is drying too slowly and in higher humidity getting mold within the buds. In that worst-case scenario your shit is ruined and can’t even be smoked. Suicide if that happened so we do this by the book. A small fan very gently circulates air through the drying forest.

The rules are pretty simple. The manicured branch sections must hang, upside-down preferably, while they dry to exterior crispiness, for lack of a more scientific term. It should take 4 to 6 days and the buds should feel like they will crumble to the touch when you barely squeeze one. They truly seem overdried but there is still plenty of internal moisture. Step two is to let that hidden moisture emerge and re-hydrate the exterior of the buds to some extent, which you accomplish by trimming the buds from the branches and placing them into glass jars with true sealed lids. Half-gallon canning jars are ideal. Be careful if you go bigger, as greater mass than 70-80 grams of still-curing buds in any one container is a mold risk.

That begins the curing phase, and it will take another 2-4 weeks of periodic opening and brief airing of the jars, for a couple minutes every other day, to finish the process. A little is all you need, just frequently enough to keep mold from developing but without totally crisping the bud. There’s a little bit of an art to it but the attentive gardener will know when everything is just right. Waiting for the perfect stabilization before packaging the buds for longer-term storage is very important and the rule of thumb is the buds are always a little moister than they feel so don’t rush it. IMHO weed cured perfectly and especially patiently is the finest tasting of all.

As I harvest one cola-laden branch after another I am absolutely amazed by the weight and density of many of the colas. I know it’s a cliché but dozens of them would make a gorgeous High Times centerfold. Even with multiple successful grows all those years ago, I never imagined I would make buds like these. The Ripper Haze is so chunky you could knock someone out with a cola. White Widow is so impossibly frosty, a snowman would be jealous. Especially impressive is the Widow mix, a plant I didn’t have the greatest expectations for initially but that little thing ended up producing some branches that are absolutely ferocious, almost too heavy to be handled. When you have healthy branches literally breaking from the weight of their own buds you have nailed it baby.

“If you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don’t you will find an excuse.” -Jim Rohn

I had to cut the project down over a three day stretch. Because of the need for stealth, I had to wait until nobody was home and as luck would have it I had almost no clear opportunity to work on it. I didn’t mind half the plants getting another few days to get even juicier but it’s important to dry everything at the same rate if possible. There turned out to be so much I honestly wasn’t quite prepared for the demands of the final harvest. Each time I got a little time I made another dent in it. My shoulder hurt from holding up branch after heavy branch.

There were complications, such as breaking one pair of scissors trying to cut a main stem…the plants developed branches of steel. My hands became resin-encrusted even though I was only touching stems, to the point where I experienced several fingers sticking together so hard I was unable to unstick them without using my other hand. I never dreamed that was possible but all the stories I had read of the harvesting of fields of ganja in faraway lands became real, and it was heady and intensely enjoyable. I sat for hour after wondrous hour ripping, clipping and snipping until the four large tubs I had allocated for the harvest were all nearly filled.
Three days of sweaty, tender toil. Finally it was done. When everything was cut, manicured and hung the entire drying space was filled. Packed. There was so much I was in awe. My one regret is that I didn’t take more pictures but since I use my smart phone and my hands were so resin-encrusted, I couldn’t touch the thing. If I had the luxury of more time I would have done some truly amazing bud shots but I had to work like a maniac the whole time I was up there.

The grow area looked so empty when all was finished. So much care and love and now a barren wasteland. Now my exhaustion from harvesting would reach a new level because I had to completely recondition and reload the grow area and plant the new girls who were now 2 feet tall and pounding on the door of their nursery. This turned out to be a ton of work in its own right.

One by one I unloaded each bucket and separated the re-usable hydroton pebbles in the bottom from the rest which was basically a 10-pound root ball. This was messy work that further trashed my up-until-last-week pristine grow room environment. When you harvest you just wreck the place, there’s no avoiding it. The immediate necessity of transplanting the next generation made it impossible to avoid. As each bucket was reloaded with a fresh paint strainer, medium, then a new plant, the second grow gradually took shape and the area returned to recognizable form. It was very difficult to untangle the more-than-2-foot-long roots on each plant which had all co-mingled from top to bottom in the bubbling nute solution. Imagine cooking a pot of spaghetti then trying to sort it out. I groped gently through the tangled masses and got things as good as possible then cut the rest apart. One would think that would hurt the plants but remember how tough they are. When a month-old plant has almost three feet of healthy roots it can spare 6 inches with no problem. Everybody was put into their new home, the medium was watered in and the system was rinsed out and refilled. Then, finally, the entire room had to be cleaned, another 2 hours of mind-numbing slavery. The entire session took 8 hours.

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” -Donald Kendall

I was shaking with exhaustion at 3:30 a.m. when I finally left the grow room, lights reset to 24/7. Now four days since the first cut was made. Time to rest and recover while the new girls get used to their digs and the crop slowly dries. Even with the lateness of the hour I lit a tiny glistening nug of Widow. Three hits and I was toasted like a bagel.

I stuck my head back inside for one more deep breath of the harvest air. Already the room had lost its magic and reverted to vegetative ambience, no pungent scent, no towering stand of buds, just nine new girls and a clean floor. I felt that sobering realization that the thing I loved was gone. Even knowing I achieved my goal and now have all that frosty bud I couldn’t avoid a tiny moment of sadness. As I descended the ladder I knew Project 21 at last was over.

Six days later, I felt the harvest had reached the right state of dryness. When the buds feel crispy on the outside they are ready to be trimmed from the stems. Just resting in their plastic tubs with the lids closed for 24 hours re-hydrated the plant matter to some degree. They were almost perfect when I trimmed everything up, a job which took about four hours. I used half-gallon Ball jars for nearly all of it, carefully weighing and semi-loosely packing the buds into the containers. A jar of that size will hold roughly 70 grams of quality bud. Everything was at an optimal firmness and should cure beautifully over the next several weeks.

As I filled jar after jar I couldn’t believe how much there was. From the start I felt I had the ability to achieve a reasonable harvest but now the realization that my best expectations for both quality and quantity might be reached was incredible. Every bud was so sticky and resin-laden. So many were just huge…bigger than anything I had ever seen in person and as colossal as the buds you see in magazines from grow rooms the size of my house. I laughed as I picked up ten-gram buds just by touching them with another ten-gram bud. My hunch was reinforced that these buds are the ones that never show up in dispensaries but remain the personal stash of the master growers. I have bought and smoked cannabis for over 40 years and I have never laid my hands on more impressive stuff and that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there, I just have never had it. It’s awesome to finally have so much.

A couple prize-winners out of many dozens.

Piles and piles of smiles.

Everything was finally weighed and jarred. Incredibly, I had filled up sixteen half-gallon jars plus another container that is probably well over a gallon. I’ll have to burp and churn that one a lot to cure it but I never dreamed I wouldn’t have enough jar space with what I bought. Jackpot! Plus there was another 6 ounces of popcorn buds and sugar trimmings which I put into plastic and gave to a friend, ostensibly from another friend. That will be made into a nice little stash of hash for those special occasions when even frosty nugs aren’t enough.

And the final number is: 34 ounces of prime bud, dried and curing. Two pounds two ounces. One kilo using 1,000 watts. Plus another stash for hash. When I took this picture I could hardly press the button I was so happy. Probably enough smoke to last me 2 years if I smoke continuously only taking breaks to sleep. It is a feeling of primal satisfaction, so very much work and time in the end being so richly rewarded. I also have a feeling I will probably have to learn some self-control without the ever-present limitation of the size of your stash. Stash is a word that no longer has meaning. There will be another 2 pounds in two months. I have gone from lowly scarecrow to being the Wizard of Oz. Pay no attention to the very stoned man behind the curtain.

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” -George Addair

Quality Report: By this time I have sampled the entire crop thoroughly. Sit down.

Overall, this harvest of Sativa-dominant cannabis is excellent. The quality and potency of all 5 varieties is top notch. The taste is generally delicious, smoother than most pot one can buy and every rich, creamy puff yields its own special notes of spicy succulence. It’s hard to believe all of it will get even smoother in a few weeks and months. Like the finest tobacco or the finest wine careful aging makes the best even better.

The White Widow yielded nicely and the variety lived up to the hype. It has very tight buds up to 2 inches wide and it filled all internodal space so the colas are quite heavy. One branch I weighed had 4 colas totaling 44 grams. The high is amazing. It is 100 percent head stone with zero body. I could juggle on this stuff and it would be like the Matrix. It comes on so fast you remember you are smoking and pick up the pipe and you realize you only did 2 hits. Ten minutes ago. The idea of having half a pound of this shit seems suicidal.

The Widow mix plant was especially chunky and I will always wonder who the daddy is but since just a few seeds were produced, maybe someday we will know. Daughter of Widow…? Same taste and high except a little fruity essence so maybe Dad was a berry. No matter, the shit blows my head clean off then two hours later it’s like I never smoked. I am going to love this summer. And not remember it.

Holy Grail 69 is another surprising winner. I didn’t prioritize the plant in the overall scheme so it wasn’t as heavy but what a buzz. Really rippy up-high with no crash or hunger. This stuff is so far from typical marijuana it almost isn’t the same thing. I played a round of golf on it and broke par. I’m pretty good but not that good and especially not when stoned so there’s your evidence. Almost could see the putts going in before I hit them. Also almost drove the cart off a ledge. Use with care.

Ripper Haze is a variety that really impressed. The two plants had one of the prime spots so the density and ultra-frostation is par excellence. Definitely strongly Hazey flavor with notes of fruit and berries, delicious to the taste and a hammering stone. This one will put you back on the couch eventually or point you toward a restaurant but you need that kind of weed sometimes too. It does a very serious job on your head and body and you know you are as high as Ben Franklin’s kite.

The Liberty Haze plant from the seed that was more than two years old also produced similarly delicious fruit. Proves an old seed can still be a good seed. The buds are tight and cheesy. The high is just whack. A decent yield for one smaller plant, maybe two ounces. This will be special-occasion pot.

Finally, Blue Dream, my prime pony. She ran so well. The three Blue Dream plants themselves yielded close to a pound of finished bud. Sativa on parade, long furry colas with deep red hairs. Once finished, a supurb bewitching muskiness without being skunky. Like the other strains, it came out so sticky you can’t roll it manually. Even a grinder only shreds it, then the shredded bits all clump. But I managed to construct a joint and I got totally blasted three different times over two days and there was still half left. Whoa. You will probably see me on an episode of Intervention someday. I have almost a pound of this.

With regard to seeds, I was never able to identify a male flower or any pollen, even when harvesting and carefully inspecting everything. Nature’s secret rules are hard to completely understand. Often just one or two hermie flowers will happen in the midst of a dense grow for no detectible reason and that is what must have occurred here. Therefore, a number of plants have produced seeds but no plants have more than a few. So, now I have multiple potential future generations in hand, about a hundred seeds total, representing some unknown but heavy duty hybrids. The future will be interesting.

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The total weight of Project 21, combined with the incredible quality, represented undeniable success. A job well done. A happy ending. A perfect ten. The end.


My final thoughts and reflections are as follows. We live in an age of strange contradictions. We know cannabis is a wonderful plant with a panoply of benefits for human beings, yet even in a “free” country it is still widely prohibited. The unfairness of a government allowing citizens to possess and use cannabis in some states but not others is hardly different from the immoral and indefensible laws that once permitted slavery. Regardless of the legal climate of the day, in this life it is ultimately up to each man to take control of his own destiny and determine his own freedom. It takes a certain courage to do it. But you can do it.

Project 21 is in the books and it was one of the most satisfying efforts of my life. Now it is my heartfelt hope that it will live on by inspiring others…maybe you. There are many Project 21s to be created and much cannabis love to be shared. If you are an aficionado of the magic herb and have enjoyed my story I thank you for your kind indulgence. If you are a free-thinking patriot and my story has touched something inside you follow my humble example and seek your own dream. Do it, my friend. You can do it.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Buddha

Though we may never meet, we are fellow travelers on this one amazing journey called life. It has been my privilege to walk with you for a while and share a few bowls and a story. From my heart I wish you well, and bid you a pleasant adieu. Peace.

-Hyena Merica

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Very cool story/journal. I read through it all, what a setup! I grow small batch (2 plants, autos, at a time) for personal use. My wife *would* flip, though, if I was churning out 2lbs every 2 months. Are you able to consume 1lb every month?
Well, weed always finds a way to smoke itself. Not quite that much production cause I do 3 crops a year, the height of summer heat is a little time off. Can't really say what I consume but it's just nice to always have some handy...glad you liked the story brother. Peace. Hyena


Well-Known Member
Well, weed always finds a way to smoke itself. Not quite that much production cause I do 3 crops a year, the height of summer heat is a little time off. Can't really say what I consume but it's just nice to always have some handy...glad you liked the story brother. Peace. Hyena
Very true! Either way, props on a very slick setup and what appears to be a quality harvest. Cheers!

Groovy Bud

New Member
Great f... JOB!

I love your hardware and set-up, that must have been tough! Kudos for your hard work.
I'll be taking some ideas of yours for when I upgrade my system, maybe when legalization hits Europe.

Other than that I found out myself that GHE products can easily be replaced for a cheaper and "cleaner" brand like Canna. GHE also has some misfits with other brand's products, as I have learned it the hard way (Rhizotonic and GHE 3 part creates slime, not rot, but it blocks roots absorption in the roots.

I recommend you trying Super Lemon Haze or Super Silver Haze for yields and head energetic highs.

I'll have a even more detailed read of it all again soon.



New Member
Other than that I found out myself that GHE products can easily be replaced for a cheaper and "cleaner" brand like Canna. GHE also has some misfits with other brand's products, as I have learned it the hard way (Rhizotonic and GHE 3 part creates slime, not rot, but it blocks roots absorption in the roots.
Erm...I'm admittedly new to this, but I've been researching stuff like crazy preparing for my hydro setup, and while Canna stuff *may* be "cleaner", it certainly isn't cheaper, not here in Canada anyway. It ends up costing about 3 times as much as the GH stuff for a comparable amount being used. Not to sound cheap, but considering the fact that you're flushing the reservoir every 7-10 days, you're literally pouring money down the drain if the plants don't absorb everything. It's all about cost / benefit imo.

Question for Hyena Merica (aka Stealth Growing God) : Are the black racks you've got your pots sitting on made out of molded plastic or metal? They look kind of like the shelving units they have at my local Costco (plastic but quite strong) and I was considering using them in my setup. Any thoughts?

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Question for Hyena Merica (aka Stealth Growing God) : Are the black racks you've got your pots sitting on made out of molded plastic or metal? They look kind of like the shelving units they have at my local Costco (plastic but quite strong) and I was considering using them in my setup. Any thoughts?
Sorry for the delay answering bro, I have a new journal I'm doing and I don't check in with this one very often but thank you for the compliment. I don't get many comments, thought I would have more friends by now but I appreciate everyone who reads my work.

The shelving units you asked about are just heavy-duty plastic shelves, get them at Costco. I have them on a very slight tilt so the pipes which drain my Dutch buckets flow smoothly back to the reservoir.

Feel free to ask me anything you like, I am happy to help anyone to achieve what I have been fortunate enough to learn to do. Happy growing and if you sub my other grow journal (Project 23- link below) you will see how 2 pounds can be achieved with 1000 watts. Just put my gals into 12/12 ten days ago and they already popping like crazy. Best regards!

Peace, Hyena

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Excellent! That's mighty fine reading. Your making me really wanna grow some photos now!
Life is short, and buying weed is expensive.

Go for it!

Peace, Hyena

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
My favorite thread on the forums! Keep up the amazing work Sir!
Thank you so very much!

This one was basically a tutorial in story form. Seems like it has helped a lot of folks and for that I am grateful.

For my current grow check out the link below, Hyena's Never-Ending Adventures...

Enjoy and stay high!

Peace, Hyena

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Absolutely an amazing read. I was afraid your wife would figure something out during the harvest time. How did you explain being in the attic for 8 hours? You even managed to have time right when they were at peak ripeness.
My wife isn't any different from most people...they only see what they are looking for. :13:

It was a great (re-)learning experience...thank you very much. :)

Peace, Hyena


New Member
Excellent journal!

I'd very much recommend this to any new grower who has done some research and would like to see how it all goes together. Beyond that, it's a great and fun read for anyone.

Hyena Merica

Creme de la Creme Photos: Nov 2016, Jan, April & July 2017 - Grow Journal of the Month: May 2018
Excellent journal!

I'd very much recommend this to any new grower who has done some research and would like to see how it all goes together. Beyond that, it's a great and fun read for anyone.
Thank you very much!

You'll like my current journal (link below) if you are still into the story line of a mad scientist in a secret grow lab. I am currently trying to introduce a line of seeds and doing the initial seed grow now. Cool shit.

Keep in touch!

Peace, Hyena


New Member
Already subbed and reading through :)
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