ANSWERS AND PHOTOS BY JORGE CERVANTES

Medicine for pH Drift
I’m epileptic, manic-depressive, and have paranoia problems. After I found that marijuana helps me, I quit taking prescriptions and now suffer no side effects. This amazing plant was put on earth to heal all people, and it has helped me. In an effort to improve on the black-market pot I used to buy, I started growing my own organic plants. I was growing in soil with Age Old Organics and Thrive Alive, but the fungus gnats and spider mites were getting to my plants. I changed to an ebb-and-flow system and use hydroculture clay balls in 6-inch pots. I keep the pH at 5.8. My problem is that the pH jumps to 7.5 after two days and to 8.7 after four days. What’s going on?
-- Medical Marijuana Bandit
Richmond, Virginia

Dear Bandit,

Age Old Organics is full of bacteria, either aerobic or anaerobic. Aerobic bacteria need the oxygen in air to live, while anaerobic bacteria thrive in the absence of oxygen. When the nutrient is diluted into water, bacteria multiply and need oxygen to survive and flourish. It sounds like your plants don’t get enough oxygen, so you’ll have to add it to the nutrient reservoir mix. Use an air stone or two attached to an exterior pump that takes in air and disperses it into the nutrient solution. You might want to try a new organic fertilizer, Formula X (available at gtghydroponics.com). It’ll help you with these problems.-JC

Peak Harvest
I’ve been flowering a feminized White Widow from seed for six weeks. It’s supposed to be ready in eight weeks. How can I shorten this time? The pistils are turning brown, but the trichomes are young. I’ve harvested strains when the pistils turn brown. I plan to harvest one plant at six weeks and one at seven weeks. Do I have to wait for eight weeks?
-- Gigi
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Gigi,

Growers often get excited and harvest their crops too early. If the seed company says that this variety takes 56 days, you’re best to leave it for at least 50 to 55 days before trying to harvest a small amount to test. Harvesting too early will result in lower overall weight and less resin. However, I did visit a commercial grower in Vancouver, B.C., who harvested his Big Bud every six weeks (42 days). Instead of growing six crops a year, he was able to squeeze in eight. He grew more weight and did not care about the potency.

Depending upon your taste, peak harvest is reached when about half of the trichomes start to degrade by changing from translucent to an amber color. You’ll need a 10–30x magnifying glass to discern the minuscule trichomes. You’ll also note that the round bulb on top of the stalk begins to deform as maturation progresses. Some growers like to harvest before this point and others after. To be able to discern this fine distinction, I suggest you harvest a small bud and microwave it on a low setting until it’s dry enough to smoke. (Drying in a microwave will make the smoke burn hot and taste rough.) Smoke it when you’re not high. Do this several times over a period of days until you’re happy with the results. Ultimately, you should dry the bud slowly so it smokes smooth.

To get a little more from each plant, harvest the top parts that get the most light first. Move the lamp down so lower buds get more light, and harvest them a few days later. They’ll continue to mature and produce a little more resin.-JC

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