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This method was mentioned briefly in Volume 3 #4 and discussed more in detail in Volume 4 #4 . I am very enthusiastic about this method and would like to elaborate more on it.
One of its big advantages is reducing the electric bill. The mother plant room should be at 16 hours daily, and the bud room can be kept at 12 hours daily. The cuttings can be rooted in the mother plant room; if it is below 16 hours you will probably have trouble rooting the cuttings.
The cuttings could be rooted in yet another room, but this would involve three rooms total. Using the simultaneous harvest method, the cuttings could be rooted in the mother plant room, and placed in an empty bud room as a group. This would allow you to reduce the light cycle gradually, from 16 to 12 hours in daily half-hour increments. By reducing the light cycle gradually, yield can be increased.
If individual plant size is increased too much however, economic advantages of the mother plant method are diminished. It would be a mistake to increase the light cycle of the cuttings, or to maintain them too long on 16 hours; for if this is done, you will not be able to have as many plants or as great a lighting intensity.
To gain the advantages of greater lighting intensity, some people will prune the apical (top) portion of the main stem. This reduces plant height by encouraging lateral (side) branching. I do not recommend this approach, as it decreases the number of plants possible in a given area and increases the time necessary for budding hormone accumulation.
You will recall that I recommended pruning the side branches. The leaves attached to the main stem should not be pruned, as they are necessary for good bud development. However, the side branches should be pruned one time only, for the secondary branch development will be smaller and will increase bud yield without significantly increasing branch and stem weight.
Probably the best light to use for budding (and growing) is the new Ultra High Pressure Sodium (UHPS). This light has enough blue to prevent excessive stem elongation, and more in the beneficial orange/red spectrum. Contrary to popular belief, the regular HPS is primarily yellow/orange, not red. The Low Pressure Sodium is even worse, it is monochromatic yellow. The plant sensitivity curve has a peak in the red at 675 nanometers.
Red light is preferable at all stages, and a small amount of blue is necessary only to prevent excessive stem elongation. For about 85% of plant varieties, it would be a mistake to use HPS light by itself. The small amount of blue required could be supplied by natural sunlight, by fluorescents simulating the blue sky, or by halides and HPS in a checkerboard pattern.
Ultraviolet-B can be supplied as supplemental lighting the last 2-3 weeks of budding. I recommend the new UV-B six foot fluorescent, about one tube per 1000 watts of plant light. This will simulate the conditions at high elevations which increase flavonoid production. The use of UV safety goggles is recommended. The UV light should only be used 2.4 hours a day in the middle of the light-on cycle. The basic principles of UV supplementation were covered in Volume 4 #4. There is much evidence to suggest a causal relationship between high UV levels found at higher altitudes and high THC content in the pot grown there.
Organic hydroponics was discussed in Volume 4 #3. Using an air pump with large air stones in the storage tank will oxygenate the water, which allows you to raise more fish in your storage tank and more plants in your grow tanks. For good root support I like to use crushed rock or light porous volcanic pumice; for good drainage I recommend average sizes of 5/8“ or 3/4”, respectively. Use a 1/2“ mesh screen and rinse with water before placing in grow tanks. It is more difficult to remove old roots from crushed rock or pumice than smooth gravel, so why not let earthworms do it for you? Earthworms can be cultivated in the grow tanks, they will eat decaying roots. Chemical NPK fertilizers will probably kill the earthworms.
An interesting paper entitled ”C02 Dependence of Net Photosynthetic Rate” has recently come to my attention. It is written by scientists at the Institute of Experimental Botany, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, and published in PHOTOSYNTHETICA 14 (4): 489-496, 1980. To quote:
’’Under atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, photosynthesis is mostly not saturated with C02, which is therefore an important limitation to plant photosynthetic production. “
They state that the dependence of net photosynthetic rate on C02 concentration was linear up until approximately twice atmospheric concentration, with photosynthesis increasing at a lesser rate after that. In this experiment, the optimum level was not reached; the saturation level would be determined by many factors such as plant species, environmental conditions, etc. The chart below shows near linearity of this relationship.
The chart below shows four different C02 levels plotted against the time from sowing.
Many people believe that C02 is beneficial only at the bud stage. This chart shows that C02 is important at all stages, particularly at the time of fastest growth which is prior to the bud but after the seedling stage. This experiment used the French bean, which has a shorter life cycle than many other plant species.
A warm indoor growing environment seems to provide ideal conditions for that common pest, the spider mite. They are about the size of a grain of salt. Their feeding creates spots on the leaves. When an area becomes overpopulated with the pests, they will spin webs from which they catch a breeze transporting them to adjacent plants.
Chemicals are often used to control these critters. However, the chemicals do not affect the eggs. It is hard to eliminate all of the spider mites, and if this is not done you will wind up breeding a pesticide resistant strain. But even if all are eliminated, reinfestation is always possible. There are also environmental problems when enough chemicals are used to do the job. These are some of the reasons many consider predatory mites to be more economical, despite the higher initial cost.
Spider mite predators should be tapped out of their vial onto the most heavily infested areas—the webs. There will be a few remaining in the vial, so place it over a webbed bud. In the case of heavy infestations, care should be taken not to spread the predators too thinly — there should be at least 1 predator for every 20 pest mites. Once the predators have conquered the areas where they have been placed, you can help them move from plant to plant by turning on oscillating fans. You should start to see results in about two weeks. Predators will attack the eggs first, then the adult pest mites, and then they will cannibalize each other.
Before they run out of food, you should reinfest with pest mites. This can be done by maintaining a colony which can consist of a few African Violet plants, infested with some pest mites, in the window sill of a separate room. When the houseplants in this colony are about to die, add some new plants to the group. If the infestation is in the bud room and it is time to harvest, the predatory mites can be saved from extinction by strategically placing in the bud room some of the host plants from the pest mite colony. The predators will climb unto the host plants in search of the plentiful food there. After the bud harvest, the predators can be maintained on these host plants. Again, when they are about to exhaust their food source, reinfest from your pest mite colony.
An underground self-contained eco-system may be necessary to survive a biological/chemical/nuclear war. Such a shelter would also be a secure growroom. When digging beneath the basement in urban areas, it is important to know not only the water table, but also the location of natural gas pipelines.
Under a newly passed 'Washington state law, it is now illegal to dig a hole deeper than 12 inches without first obtaining a permit from the gas authorities. The procedure is that the underground locating service will come out to your property and draw lines representing the locations of the gas pipes. You then apply for a permit for the swimming pool, compost pit, or whatever you are supposedly going to construct. Unless you see the underground map yourself, you are placing your safety in the hands of bureaucrats. A more secure alternative method would be to use a metal detector while digging; this would detect phone and electrical lines as well.
Electrical generators are a must for the serious grower/survivalist. An alcohol fueled motor for your generator has several advantages over gas or diesel. The fuel can be stored much longer and safer. The by-products of alcohol combustion are carbon dioxide and water, with no poisonous carbon monoxide. The plants will convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen so you can breath and the alcohol can burn. The water also will prove very useful. I would not recommend the use of outside air: in the event of biological or gas warfare, no filtration system can remove all microscopic particles. Also, air coming in would necessitate an air outlet. This means that the odors and heat of a grow room could be sensed by strangers outside.
Ten feet or so underground, the temperature stays at 55 degrees (except in areas of geothermal activity or above the Arctic circle). The heat of the grow lights and generator will raise the temperature in your shelter; a thousand watt halide bulb produces 1000 BTUs, the ballast about a tenth of that amount. If the air temperature goes above 90 degrees, air conditioners can be used; simply remote the condenser and hot coil of a dehumidifier to a hot room.
Sometimes underground caverns are formed naturally; moving water can erode soft rock such as limestone and solidified lava. Such caverns can be used, but they must be made structurally sound and waterproof. The soft rock should be structurally reinforced with concrete, and made waterproof by fiberglass. Sand could be used as a packing material between the concrete and fiberglass, to reduce the damaging effects of earthquakes. Such an installation could be designed to provide insulation against electromagnetic pulses from nuclear explosions. A good reference for such projects is HANDBOOK OF MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS FOR BUILDINGS, edited by H.E. Bovay (McGraw-Hill, 1981).