Subject: Hibernating Mites

From: Freedom Fighter

Hi! I have two questions. I suffered a spider mite infestation and had to shut down and clean out my growroom. New paint and flooring was in order anyway, so I bit the bullet and remodeled. I know these little monsters can be hard to get rid of. If I have no other plant life in the house, how long can they hold out before I can deem the house safe to try again? Also, is there any means of “sterilizing” your dirt to rid it of potential bug problems before planting? Thanks in advance, and hats off to the ladies and gents at your magazine for an excellent publication that I look forward to every month!

Dear FF,

Glad you enjoy the magazine! A spider mite’s lifespan is generally about 10 to 20 days or so. Hotter and drier conditions can increase their ability to reproduce and quicken their lifespan as well. Many generations can be produced even over the course of one grow cycle. The damn things are practically born pregnant!

Female mites hibernate outdoors during winter in plant debris, soil or other hiding places. If your room has been kept warm to hot (over 70°F) for more than two months and you’ve seen no sign of mites, the chances are good that no females or eggs are present. You should take every precaution, though, and thoroughly wash all floors, walls and ceiling surfaces with a diluted bleach solution. (A new mop works well for this technique.) Then carefully monitor your new plant growth in order to ensure that the mites haven’t returned.

It’s a good thing you don’t have any other houseplants in the area, as that would make a great place for them to rest and lay eggs in preparation for another fancy feast on your pot plants in the future. As for sterilizing your new soil, you can fill up turkey bags with soil mix and a little water and then bake it at 170°F for 30 minutes. Let it cool and it’s ready to use, free of both pathogens and insects.

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Subject: Slow Dry

From: The Green Flash

I live on the leeward (dry) coast of a small Hawaiian island. I grow outdoors, and my question is on drying. I cannot use air-conditioning where I live, and the drying always finishes in four to five days. This seems like too fast of a dry, and my buds don’t seem to sweat when they go into the jars to cure. Any suggestions on slowing down the dry without AC?

Dear TGF,

The best thing you could do is to get yourself an electric humidifier. This will slow down the drying process significantly and can be set to a specific humidity level if needed. If all appliances are out of the question, there are other ways to raise the humidity in your drying area, but most are more labor-intensive. Heating up a pot of water to simmering will help, but you need to replenish the water frequently if you have a large drying area. Another alternative is to keep a container filled with water and a fan blowing over it. These are short-term solutions, though, so the humidifier is your best bet. You can find them for under $50 at most hardware stores or home-supply warehouses.

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Subject: Dragon Claws?

From: LiGrim

The top leaves of my plant are turning into dragon claws. What am I doing wrong?

Dear LiGrim,

Taco-shaped or “dragon claw”–style leaves are a sure sign of overwatering. Let your growing medium dry out for several days and try not to water it if the medium is still wet or moist. Allow it to become dry (but not for a prolonged period) between waterings. Also, never let your pots sit in stagnant water for long periods. If you follow these tips, you should soon see signs of recovery in the new leaf growth.

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Subject: Vegetative to Flowering Switch

From: Leprechaun

I wanted to know how long to keep my plants under the light for start-up and vegetation and stretching. I have my plants on a timer that’s set for 18 hours of light. Do I need to do a 24-hour cycle for start-up and stretching my plants? I just bought an LED lamp, and I need to know the right cycle for my plants. I don’t want them to grow 4 or 5 inches and then want to flower, so the timing is real important to me right now. for any help, and aloha!

Dear Leprechaun,

For the vegetative stage, I recommend 18 to 20 hours of light per 24-hour period. I don’t recommend keeping the lights on for 24 hours straight during this time, because cannabis plants need a few hours of darkness to rest up and build plant tissues with the sugars stored during the bright period. Once you decide to induce flowering, you need to set your timer so that the lights are on for 12 hours and off for the other 12.

It’s important never to interrupt the dark cycle with any light at all, even briefly, in order to avoid light contamination or leaks that can lead to hermaphrodites or confused plants that revert back to their vegetative stage. It’s also vital to remember that your plants will continue to grow and stretch for at least a couple of weeks after flowering is induced. This means you should plan for enough vertical space between your lighting and plant tops to allow them to fill out.

Different strains stretch at different rates, so you’ll need to give sativas more room to grow out than indicas. Remember, indoor growers can control when their plants begin to flower, so take advantage of that and let them get nice and big before you induce the budding stage.

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Subject: Spraying Pot

From: Nancy L.G.

I have a question for you. Someone told me to take some pot—like about a quarter-ounce— and spray it with water in a jar, because then it would grow mold and increase the THC level. Can you verify this?

Dear Nancy,

That person is 100 percent wrong! Under no circumstances should you spray water on pot in a jar. It will cause the bud to mold, but that’s not a good thing at all. Mold will most certainly not increase the THC level, and as a matter of fact, it can cause serious health problems. All people— and particularly those with compromised immune systems—should never smoke or vaporize cannabis that has any signs of mold. This is a great reason not to believe everything you hear, and a lesson to those who spread mistruths as wisdom.

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Subject: Vertical or Horizontal Lighting?

From: Dillinger

I wanted to start by saying how much the magazine has meant and done for me over the years. Thanks so much for all the great tips, pics and info. I have actually dreamed of working for High Times since I was a kid. I was hurt at work back in January 2011, so I’m actually going to apply and try to live the dream like all of you do.

I have a question about lighting. I’ve been growing for 15 years using horizontal bulbs in air-cooled reflectors with great results, but more and more videos and articles I’ve seen show grows using vertically hanging bulbs. Have I missed the boat? Should I be running both vertical and horizontal lights? What about the new LED lamps? They are super-expensive, but are they worth it (no more fighting the heat and high AC bills)? If you had no limits on your income, would you run these expensive LEDs and just veg your cuttings under T5s? I know I’m asking a bunch of questions, but I want to keep up with the technology and grow the best product possible.

PS: If you’re near Cali, check out the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies from the Imedz collective in San Jose. They’re the best ever, and I’ve tried everything. The other great part is that they sell the cuttings from the exact pheno the meds come from.

Dear Dillinger,

Good luck with your application! We don’t hire often, and my best recommendation to you is to start off freelancing or writing “on spec.” Our submission guidelines are on our website, and we’re always looking for talented writers with useful information for our readers. Submitting good high-resolution photos is a plus as well.

As for lighting, the horizontal bulbs you’re using are perfectly fine for growing great cannabis. Vertical bulbs work great if you plan to grow huge plants and wish to supplement your garden with side lighting, but horizontal lights are still the setup of choice for large-scale pot growing. The big advantage, especially with the air-cooled reflectors you’re using, is being able to vent the heat produced directly from the bulb (and also being able to aim the light directly downward).

Vertical lighting works great in conjunction with horizontals, but it does create added heat that must be dealt with one way or another. Plants definitely benefit from the extra light, and you’re able to use all of the light produced by the bulb efficiently— but keep in mind that the plants must be massive for verticals to do their job.

LEDs are decent for supplemental lighting purposes, but I wouldn’t go replacing your high-intensity discharge (HID) lights just yet. As you mentioned, LEDs are still very pricey, and it will take some time before they can completely replace HIDs in performance. You are wise to keep your eye on emerging technologies, though, and we will always keep you posted on new developments here in HT.

Thanks for your tip on the Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. That’s a wonderful strain, and I included a version of it in my Top 10 Strains of 2012 (Dec. ’12, HT).