2020 Isolation Grow: Harvest Begins

Sep 18, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

This crab spider (on ACDC 7) appears thrilled to be here for our first Harvest Day of 2020!

September 13

I won’t lie. This morning feels a bit like a holiday or birthday morning. I’ve been up since 5:30, already showered and into the overalls. My toes are wiggly.

Given how challenging this year has been, to wake up in a state of joyful anticipation is in itself, a gift. I am reminded to cherish the days and moments that get me excited. They often don’t last as long as I’d like. I will never again take this feeling of joy for granted.


As an aside, I should mention that we have not seen the kits during the day for a couple of weeks now. So it appears they have adjusted to their nocturnal lifestyle. However, they constantly leave us clear evidence that they are still here. Specifically, Karen has some muck boots she wears in the garden and she keeps them outside our dining room door. It is obvious these boots are a source of play for the kits as we find the muck boots moved, or knocked over, often right next to scat. No scat in a boot yet. Mischievous kits!

Tea and water were poured soon after dawn. I’ll inspect them for powdery mildew this evening after harvest is complete and the plant is hanging.

After a wonderful breakfast of homemade grain free waffles (Karen’s flour blend is awesome) covered in fresh mango and syrup, it’s time to take down our first plant.

It was chilly to start, frost on the breath. Fall. Used to be football weather. 

I’m primarily looking for mold, but I also remove pm leaves and easy to reach dead bugs. I try to hold the stem, or cup my hand softly around the flower, never pressing with either palm or fingers. Bringing her down slowly, and checking her carefully usually takes about an hour for a plant this size. A larger plant can take a couple of hours or more.

When bringing down a plant, I also make sure I cut each branch with an “elbow” attached to the stalk, for easy hanging on either the tomato cage for carrying, or in the drying room.

As I begin this process, we are in a steep humidity hike, not surprising for this time of year. It means the humidity will not drop below 75% for about the next week. This probably means daily Regalia sprays through next Friday, at least. Seeing this in the forecast helps me visualize the next several work days.

I carried three full tomato cages and part of a fourth into our living room for the basic trim. This is a simple trim, almost exclusively fan leaf removal. This is another opportunity to view each flower from every turned perspective, and under lamp light, if need be. There are dead bits, pieces of plant from cuts that are dying. Those will come off in the wash. I don’t concern myself with them during this trim.

Here you can see the three full cages and the final with only a few flowers. This work is not difficult, but it is time consuming. The white bin at my feet is for all the discarded fan leaves.


This is the moment where I let loose a mighty sigh . . . for despite all of the joy I carried into this day, life had other plans for my harvest day. The way life does, you know?

As I walked in with the last tomato cage, Karen held the phone toward me and said someone needed to speak with me.

It was an old friend, someone I’ve known since we were in 4th grade. There was something on his mind that he needed to tell me.

And that’s how I found out that my friend was calling with news about a cancer that has returned in his body. Without getting too specific, it’s the same kind of cancer that took out my brother, Patrick, three years ago. I had to tell my friend what happened to my brother. My friend (I’ll call him Mr. G) hadn’t even met with his new oncologist yet. So it became my duty to tell my friend about what might be awaiting him in his suddenly very uncertain future. I’m not a doctor, but I can relate the facts of what happened to my brother, because the cancer is the same.

It was a heavy conversation for both of us. For me, it was a hard duty, but one that a real friend must do. For him, it was an abrupt reshuffling of his priorities. He’s in for a fight. In fact, the best case scenario is that he’s in for one hell of a fight. We don’t want it to be like it was for my brother, where the outcome was no longer in doubt by the time the diagnosis was given.

This is not the kind of conversation anyone wants to suddenly have.

But life is like that. In fact, life is eerily capable of almost repeating itself. It was four years ago, exactly two days after I finished my first harvest, that I received another, almost identical phone call. I was walking around with a non-stop smile on my face at the time.  

I’D DONE IT. I’D GROWN A FULL CROP! That first year, I grew entirely by myself.

Since Karen became ill, and our worlds basically collapsed, this was literally the first time I’d felt any sort of ego fulfillment since she got sick. Honestly, I was sauntering around the house, acting cocky. I was irritatingly chipper. It was a delicious feeling, but one fraught with peril. When the phone rang that day, I felt a shudder of caution. Then I picked up the phone and heard the exact same words from my brother that I heard from Mr. G: “I need to tell you something.”

I understand the inevitable, humbling nature of life. If you’ve lived very long at all, it has happened to you. That in my moment of joy and bliss, in the yin and yang, another person is having a moment as awful as mine is lovely. Who has the right of way in that situation? Of course, the answer is obvious. My joy was all about my ego, which quite suddenly had no place in the moment.

Ego is a slippery slope. We need enough of it to go about our days productively, but too much and you turn into someone who thinks they know it all. I don’t, but I do know what happened to my brother, and Mr. G needed to hear it. He wanted to hear it.

The conversation I had with Mr. G was a serious mood changer, and the consequences could not be avoided. I love this man. We go back.

I hung up the phone, put my head in my hands and wept. I eventually stood and wept while walking around the living room in small circles. I wept for my friend, once again for my brother, and since we’re doing this, why not throw in Karen getting sick just for old time sake? It sorta tore a bunch of scabs from their moorings. I’m grateful to have easy access to my tears. They help.

Karen came in and without knowing exactly what was causing my pain, she knew something in the call had gone wrong. She held me and allowed me to shake and sputter.

I dried my face, and finally sat down, picked up my scissor and got to work on the trim, while Karen grabbed the camera, snapped the above photo, and then made ready the wash. Life does go on, you know.

The process of washing flowers varies wildly. You can find explanations and rationales all over the internet and the process is evolving. For the purposes of this blog, we use the method that involves water, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and baking soda. We use the additional hydrogen peroxide bucket, because we want to be certain we get any residual or hidden powdery mildew. If you don’t have pm as an issue, you don’t need the peroxide.

I balked at this method at first, because it defies conventional wisdom. It was difficult for me to grasp that washing the buds does not damage them at all, but it’s true. What it will do is turn your long growing flowers very clean. It’s shocking the first time you see cleaned buds and they are so shiny green, almost like that first vegetative growth.

Here is the recipe we use:

4 buckets total. (Recipe is for 5 gallon buckets but we use 20 gallon buckets for large stems)

Bucket 1: Filtered lukewarm water with 32 to 64 oz 3% peroxide.

Bucket 2: Filtered lukewarm water with 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup lemon juice

Bucket 3: Hot filtered water only. (Tap hot – not boiling) 

Bucket 4: Cold (not icy) filtered water only.

Fully submerge in bucket 1 with the peroxide for 30 seconds. Submerge for a full minute if you had powdery mildew or bud rot at any time during the grow. Let water drip from buds, and then:

Fully submerge in buckets 2 through 4 for 30 seconds each . . . lightly stirring.

After hanging them on the tomato cages again, we just let them drip on the deck until we take them to the cottage for the full drying process.

It’s alarming at first when you see the color of the water after the rinse. It’s brown, and the reason for this is the months of Regalia foliar sprays. It’s nothing more than that, and it’s not harmful to the plant, the trichomes, or the eventual flavor. If there was any powdery mildew on the plant, it would show up as oil on the surface in the bucket with peroxide. There is almost always some oil in that bucket. Even if pm is not visible, if it’s in your area, it’s probably somewhere on your plants. If you or your loved one have health issues, you do not want to ingest powdery mildew into your body. In addition to all my efforts, this final wash is critical for producing clean, medical grade cannabis. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this wash for producing safe, clean medicine.

I must also point out that the source for this absolutely essential wash is Doc Bud. Thanks, Doc.

We usually let them drip from the cages for about 30 minutes in the sun prior to taking them to the cottage.

This was a clean trim. No more mold found. But in the future, if you see any buds hanging in my drying room with plant tape still attached to the top, that is likely a flower that had mold removed, and requires special handling and inspection. In the case of the plant tape in this photo, it was simply not cut off by me prior to hanging. Like I said, the first plant is for removing our rust with the process. Green tape should be removed during the trim.

With only one plant coming down, we can afford to be generous in our spacing. When it gets more crowded, the buds will be pressed a little closer.

September 14

The distinct scent of Shiatsu Kush is being blown out the vents of the cottage and is slowly filtering and informing the air around our property. It does not suck.

Saw the kit in the driveway when I was heading toward the beds at 6:35, in dim morning light. Karen wonders how many poops on our woodshed roof are kit poops, and not racoon. Interestingly, since the fox presence on our property, we’re not seeing raccoons. I know foxes can eat young raccoons, and that fox urine is a raccoon deterrent. Hey, whatever works. I don’t miss the growling raccoons.

Sour Tsunami  day 53

Sour Tsunami will probably be a multiple day harvest, as one branch started flowering about a week before the rest of the plant. Mag lenses will guide us as to her readiness or not.

Today, Bee comes to help me inspect, prune and train. Sour Tsunami is the next plant to harvest, so we need to do a bit of pruning to prepare the way for the strongest flowers, and to limit the potential pathogen issues during the next week. If we get this cultivar through the week, she’ll be ready to begin harvest toward the end of next week. She has some beautiful buds on top, so we want to fight for those flowers. This is the week they are the most vulnerable.

Ladybug larvae continue to flourish all over Rainbow Kush 18.

In the aftermath of the harvest, RK 18 has been extended into bed 19. We have never grown a plant with this circumference. As the majority of sun hits the eastern side of the plant now, this will mean a maximizing of yield for all of that opened up inner growth. Many of these flowers would ordinarily have been underdeveloped. This will give them six full weeks with hopefully many sunny days, and much more light, even on foggy days. It’s a pity RK 18 did not have this bed with nothing growing on either side. For that matter, it’s also a pity this particular seed didn’t grow in native soil in the ground and not in a raised bed. Without any spacial restrictions, this plant had a beanstalk quality. I must also add that it’s a real pity for ACDC 17 to not be allowed to grow where she pleases, because it was necessary for RK 18 to take over part of her bed. All that said, we’re very happy to know our raised beds are now capable of producing a plant this size. The kush just wants to grow. She’s still growing.

That’s something I’d like to mentally emulate. Keep growing. Never stop growing. Keep learning new things, trying new methods. 

That’s why the process of growing, the day by day, minute by minute minutia, is where the secret joy lives. It’s all part of the long game in life that I blogged about months ago. Getting outside and making things grow, is an excellent antidote for many things ailing our world. As we older humans inevitably falter, people like you will rise to take our place and carry the torch of cannabis self sufficiency forward. And that is one of the secret purposes of this blog. It’s also why I want to teach again. Before I check out of here, I want to share everything I can with those who want to learn.

So, our 2020 harvest has begun with beautiful flowers, and a healthy slice of real life. We run the gamut of emotions, as we should, and we are completely engaged. Harvest is full of life, but with our looming bounty comes a humbling reminder that winter comes next. I choose to face whatever comes, armed with all the hope and joy of harvest in my heart. Sour Tsunami comes down next week.

Survive and vote. Harvest is on.

For RDG.

69℉  20.55℃  82% humidity




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.