Nick Clifton special for the Roanoke Times
We have come to the least pleasant part of the outdoor cannabis growing season, as far as I am concerned.
I like to hold a seedling’s hand a bit and help it grow into a beautiful, healthy plant. I also like to watch the buds form and harvest them. But it’s time after hard work – now it’s about waiting. At least now you can eat your tomatoes, peppers and squash. Unfortunately, you still have at least three months before you can taste the cannabis you’re growing on your patio (unless you’re growing autoflowers).
This is a good time of the season to give your plants a good health check before flowering begins. It’s also a good time to learn about the signs of some common shortcomings you might encounter along the way, and what to do to correct or avoid them. I’m excited to talk about soil, fertilizer, and plant nutrition, but I’m admittedly a plant nerd. In the space allotted to me for this column, it’s hard to tell a new grower everything they need to know about deficiencies, so here’s my advice on the basics.
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A healthy plant has beautiful green leaves from top to bottom and grows well. If you have anything less than that, jump to your phone or computer and search for “cannabis deficiency chart”. You will see graphs that show what healthy and less healthy leaves look like and what element is likely associated with the problem. At first glance, the graph is the same for each element. But on closer inspection, you’ll notice that there are subtle differences in each image, and the chart is generally divided into ‘mobile nutrients’ and ‘immobile nutrients’.
This means that mobile nutrients such as nitrogen or calcium can be borrowed from within the plant, creating two of the most common deficiencies. Typically, deficiencies of nitrogen or other mobile nutrients first appear on the lower leaves and progress up the plant. Immobile nutrient deficiencies will show up on new growth at the top of the plant. If there is a deficiency in the soil, the plant cannot borrow it from itself.
There are many reasons why your plant could have a deficiency. Sometimes your media is actually missing the element your plant tells you it needs. Sometimes the pH of your soil or water is too high or too low, and the plant is simply not able to absorb the nutrient, even if it is present. (I would have been a much better chemistry student if my high school teacher could have incorporated weed cultivation into class time!) Sometimes you may have under or over watered the plant, which can also have side effects. harmful.
Maybe it’s just trial and error that you have to go through as a grower to learn and improve. Do not be discouraged; keep detailed notes to remember what you did well and to learn from your mistakes.
If you’re using a reputable container mix intended for growing cannabis, your soil shouldn’t be the problem. Visit one of our local grow supply stores to purchase some if you haven’t already. I had luck with Fox Farms Ocean Forest and Coast of Maine Stonington Blend.
I’m sure there are other great products out there, but these are the ones I know of.
Chances are that if you have any deficiencies, “repotting” or jumping into a bigger pot will help. If you are in a smaller pot like a 2-5 gallon pot and your plant is a good size, loosen your pot a bit and pull the plant out to inspect the roots. If you notice that the bottom of your pot has roots wrapping around the root ball multiple times, your plant is probably “root bound” and needs more room to grow. Spend the extra money on the bigger pot and extra media – I suggest at least 10 or 15 gallons, because bigger is better in this case – to make your life easier. Your soil will dry out more slowly, and the fresh new soil will likely fill in any common gaps.
After transplanting, apply the recommended dose of fertilizer to the top of the soil and work it in a little with your fingertips, then water. I use Dr. Earth’s Homegrown for vegetative growth and Flower Girl for flowering. This should be available to the plant soon and will prepare your plant for the transition to flowering, which will be here soon!
If you have any shortcomings that appear, they will not be corrected immediately. It will take a few days or weeks of proper care before you notice them going away. This is especially true with organics, which is my choice for growing my weed. You can use synthetics and get faster results, but that’s your choice. My research has led me to the conclusion that organic methods grow the best buds, but I know there is a lot of debate in the cannabis world on this topic.
Chances are you’ve done very well if you’re growing cannabis for the first time this year. It is a weed, after all. Cannabis is forgiving in the vegetative stage, but you really want to be on top of feeding and watering in the flowering stage to get the best results. I hope you take some useful tips from this column and apply them to your garden.
My desire to learn more about cannabis led me to this information, but as I’ve mentioned in other columns, I quickly realized that all of this applies to other plants in my garden as well. Learn how to keep your cannabis plants healthy and you’ll probably know how to keep all your garden plants healthy. So go grow some cannabis and food while you’re at it. See you next month for the start of flowering… I can’t wait!