2020 Isolation Grow: A Home Dispensary

Apr 30, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

The accompanying photo was taken last fall, when we finally were able to fit all 17.1 pounds into half gallon jars, and then into a cool, dry, closet for storage. Each jar is identified by a two digit designation for the cultivar, the bed number and the year. Further, once we have test results, we post those on the outside as well, so when one of us is looking for something specific, we can find it. We also indicate whether the jar contains “A” trim, popcorn or shake. We always try to trim at least two jars of “A” trim for our friends and guests who prefer smoke, or fresh buds to vape, over edibles. There are some jars remaining from previous years on the very bottom, still clearly identified. At this point, anything left from a previous year is “A” trim, something special we keep aside for friends using the bong.

The remaining product from previous years has either been consumed, or now resides in tincture or pill form. One of Karen’s jobs while I grow is to process the plant material from the previous year into ingestible forms. While we both enjoy a good bong rip from time to time, we currently are not smoking at all. 

Across from that closet is a mini refrigerator, and that is where we store all our tinctures, pills, concentrates, and the seed library. I have purchased some seeds, I have produced seeds, and I have been given seeds. One of my favorite things about growing from seed is getting to try cultivars from local growers that will never make it to any dispensary other than ours. Something important I advise anyone starting to grow, is to develop relationships with other growers. If you can lend a grower a hand, and learn in the process, you should. My son, Brenden, will one day be able to run his own grow from start to finish, based on the years he has spent with me. An apprenticeship in this field is gold for a young grower. You might also be the grateful beneficiary of the grower’s generosity in sharing seeds to help you get started.

When I began, I explained our situation to a couple of local growers I’d known personally over the years, but never through their work. They knew I was trying to help Karen. They aided me with a bunch of seeds from cultivars they’d developed. Some of these have evolved into favorites of ours. I’ll probably be growing one or two of them this summer. A winter project for growers is to take a cultivar and grow only for seed development. You start a bunch of seeds, find your best male and female and pollinate for seeds. Do this once with a cultivar, and you’ll probably never need to make those seeds again. However, it should be noted that most seeds will not germinate as often after five years of storage, no matter how well preserved.

I still purchase certain seeds where a specific cultivar has something I’m looking for, and I will utilize feminized seeds. Everyone has their favorites, the plants they grow pretty much every year. I know growers who only grow two or three cultivars, because those are what they grow well. There are some who only grow one. After four years of growing, I’m only beginning to learn the cultivars that grow well in my beds. But when you know you’ll need to harvest a lot of something specific, feminized seeds are great for time management and bulking your supply. More on that once I’ve got starters in the cottage. 

Producing your own seed library is a process I do over the winter, as that is the only time open in the cottage. This is where having separate units for growing and drying would be an advantage. But I’ve only got one cottage, so winter is when I make seeds. It’s a time consuming process, but to do so ensures you have seeds from the cultivars you cherish. You cannot produce seeds from feminized seeds. I am still a novice in this practice and happily defer to others for guidance on the vital process of making your own seeds.

So how do we turn 17 pounds of plant into medicine?

Initially, it was a labored and exceedingly slow task. We used the Magical Butter machine, and it worked fine, if you don’t mind too much extra fine plant matter that must be strained, along with the added chlorophyll. This process was too labor intensive for Karen’s arthritic wrists. The next device was the Source Turbo, made by Extract Craft, which taught Karen how to do ethanol extraction for concentrates. The switch to alcohol was made because infused oil (or butter) required much more storage capacity than concentrates. The only problem with the Source Turbo was the volume it can process at one time is only approximately 350 milliliters. We quickly realized to process all that I grew was a daunting and time consuming chore. At this limited volume, the work was taking up most of Karen’s days. We want to emphasize, if you are growing smaller amounts, the Source Turbo works very well, and reclaims alcohol.

Some months later, Extract Craft invented the EtoH Pro, which can process up to a gallon of ethanol at one time. The volume processed by this device has cut Karen’s work load by more than 50%. Because she is reclaiming the ethanol and using it again, the lack of having to purchase alcohol for processing has essentially paid for the machine. 

The world of ethanol extraction is a rapidly evolving field. The EtoH Pro has completely changed Karen’s ability to process the amount I grow. Simply put, this machine makes the home dispensary feasible. We have pills and tinctures of various strengths. Just as finding the cultivars you grow best is important, there is a lot of trial and error in learning how to dose. Karen makes batches of pills on an as needed basis, from concentrates.

Important tip: As anyone who has ever ingested this plant knows, edibles, pills and tinctures are tricky. Too many of us have ingested something, only to feel like it wasn’t strong enough, so we take more, and then BOOM, we overdose. 

If you overdose, ingest a high CBD cultivar immediately, in any form. The higher the CBD to THC ratio, the better. CBD will knock down the overdose high in about 15-30 minutes. You’ll still be very high, but not the horrid feeling of taking too much. HOWEVER, in our hands on experience, this trick works best with 15%-20% CBD to 1% THC. It does not work as well with CBD cultivars that have a decent amount of THC, like Cannatonic, or Harlequin, for example. But if you go with an AC/DC type plant, with very little THC, it will take your overdose down to a reasonable roar that you can eventually sleep off. This is our personal experience.

Over the years, Karen and I have honed our own doses, and have found the cultivars that work better than others for our individual needs. That’s a credit to the versatility of the plant. We seldom smoke. Pills and tinctures are a far more comprehensive way to experience cannabis. It goes in deeper and lasts longer. Also, in these times of Covid-19, which is a respiratory illness, it makes no sense to destroy our first line of defense, the mucus membranes, by putting fire in our throats.

Making our own tinctures also allows us to make unique blends, our own cultivar cocktails, if you will.

Fun facts:  Karen gets some relief from high CBD cultivars. Mostly, however, her cannabis intake focuses on sleep. And when she reaches for something to really cut down on the pain, she will more often than not reach for the White Widow. More on that when I blog about cultivars and terpenes.

We were given a large silver platter for our wedding almost 38 years ago. It was only brought out for holidays and special occasions. Now, it sits on our dining room table, filled with cultivar samples for family, friends and guests. Yes, we have a veritable poo-poo platter of cultivar and kief delicacies to sample, just waiting for the return of company, because that’s how we roll at the Hickey/Kiser dispensary during Covid-19.

Five years into this new life, we are thrilled to be working with, and the beneficiaries of, such a wondrous plant. Having our own home dispensary, with a closet full of bud, and a refrigerator full of varietal treats, entirely from what we grew, is about as good as it gets. We are never out of our medicine.


Jeffery Hickey
Oaksterdam Alumni

Jeffrey Hickey is a 2014 IPPY award winning novelist, performing in over 900 Reader’s Theater shows that featured his authorship of adult novels, and books for children. His accomplishments include a program of self-empowerment and effective oral communication, “Find Your Voice,” that he taught in public and private schools throughout Northern California. Jeffrey is the father of twin sons, and is arguably the happiest married man on the planet.