2020 Isolation Grow: Planting Day

Jun 1, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

Told you I was looking forward to my first sunrise for this blog, and here we go. Btw, planting day also marks my full time return to proper farming attire: Overalls. It’s time to work.

Five years ago, I was looking for hope. I was online all the time, reading articles, looking for more information. I was searching for something to help Karen, and I was also trying to find my own way to assist in her healing process. 

As I breathe in this breaking dawn, on what will be a warm and beautiful day, I know there are people waking up right now, while Covid-19 is also going on, to their own unique nightmares of pain and vulnerability. I know there are husbands and wives who care for loved ones that are ill. There is a relentlessness to the process, a feeling there is no way out. Under the weight of this level of pain and confusion, it is easy to become desperate, and take whatever is being offered to stop the pain.

When Oaksterdam asked me to do this blog, I realized I was being given an opportunity to create a document that I wish had been available when Karen became ill. My goal is for people to find some hope, some advice, and perhaps, a way forward out of the horrid, confused, repetitious nightmare of the first year plus of chronic pain. You are not alone. This strange and relentless illness that destroys lives and hope does not have to be faced without support. Something true I have discovered: Friends come and go, but the fraternity of pain remains. Our best friends now are in varying degrees of similar straits.

So today, I begin the real work of growing outdoors. The process of transplanting is relatively simple. I will dig holes in each growing medium, and carefully place each plant into their designated bed. 

Not unlike transplanting in the cottage, this process is somewhat fraught with potential damage for your plant. If they are sufficiently moist, but not too wet, the dirt should adhere to the roots enough for a painless transfer. Try to make certain the plant is placed level in the bed. It is fairly easy to lose track of this in the rush to turn over the three gallon pot, and then turn the plant back over to be in the correct position for placement. These two turns can shake loose a lot of adhered soil, and the roots can easily become exposed. Place the plant carefully, keeping her upright and level, then fill the dirt around her, gently watering, and then, allow your plant to settle in her final home.

One thing I neglected to mention when I discussed the first growing of Blacklight, was that I placed the plant into the bed at an angle. She never grew straight up and spread out. She grew at an angle away from the bed. It was an odd way for a plant to grow, but in retrospect, it might have made some of our extensive pruning easier to accomplish. However, I do not recommend putting any cannabis plant into a bed at an angle. If it looks like your plant is leaning right after the transplant, fix it immediately. You won’t be able to later.

I won’t pour compost tea on the bed plants until Saturday. I want them to have a few days to settle and connect with the sun. But that next tea is their first large drink of microbiology and complex sugars, along with liquid kelp based fertilizer. The green bag will be stuffed with sprouting kiwi, a small young buckeye sucker, and horsetail, along with the first dose of aromatics. Lavender is coming into full bloom, lemon verbena is sprouting, and baby mint hovers just above the soil. That first tea will get mint and lemon verbena, because both plants are in veg growth mode, and not flowering. I’ll save the lavender for when plants begin to flower.

Another bonus so far this year has been the explosion of wild chamomile in the aviary. It has simply taken over the ground where we’ve had two smaller pools for the ducks. In my heart, I know this explosion of flowers is nature’s way of saying goodbye to our beloved duck, Loopy, who passed away soon after harvest last year. It has grown everywhere she liked to rest her bones. Right now, it is pure veg growth, but soon, it will be a ton of chamomile flowers, which will also be perfect for teas when the plants are closer to harvest. 

There are a lot of other flowers blooming around the property. Recently, Brenden recognized an old adversary inside a bearded iris, a western cucumber beetle, enjoying the moment, to be sure, but also waiting for young cannabis plants to occupy the beds.

This is clear proof aromatics do not work on the western cucumber beetle, because the bearded iris is pungent. 

Eight plants are in beds. The largest Ringo’s Gift will be planted tomorrow, unless pollen sacks sprout overnight. Four more go in next week. Not much to see just yet. That will change soon. 

The biggest surprise, by far, is planting a Ringo’s Gift. I’ve been writing about this cultivar, and openly lusting to have one this year, and I might have two. For the last six weeks, I was convinced I had my second straight all male year. The two that remain look like they should show their pollen sacks right now. For the rest of this week, I will be studying this plant in the bed, along with the remaining giant in the cottage. Between the two, I planted the one I think is most likely female. They are both tall, but the one in the cottage is a few inches above the one I planted. It has never fully straightened up in the pot, while the one I put in a bed stabilized about a week ago. I would be remiss if I did not mention that hairs are beginning to sprout, so I ought to relax. It looks like I got two female Ringo’s Gift. Such a surprise. Because I know when both of these plants sprouted (the second and third days, respectively), I can be certain of their sex by the upcoming weekend. If both are female, I’m inclined to put the ridiculously tall plant in a bed and let her grow however she wants. That would mean 13 plants, but I cannot in good faith throw away a female, and honestly, I don’t feel right about giving this plant to someone who does not understand how to grow ruderalis. Not without teaching them first. I must take advantage of our very great fortune with this cultivar, this year. The other surprise, though not without precedent, was losing a Harle-Tsu two days before planting. Having the Ringo’s Gift makes up for it, but it is always a shock to lose a plant mere hours prior to planting. I had a bed picked out for her and everything. Ringo’s Gift development has also thrown the bed selection process into a bit of confusion. Having one of that cultivar changes everything for the grow. I will give this cultivar a prime growing bed, with high training potential. I’ve waited three years to grow Ringo’s Gift again, so after all the males, I want to take the fullest advantage for yield.

Since I’m only growing one White Widow this year, I’m giving her a bed where she can be trained over a bed to her west. Like last year, we’ll have her stretching toward the setting sun. There will only be root vegetables in that bed, so she’ll have a lot of room to grow. Plus, as she grows, the root vegetables will be requiring less overhead light to finish. Documenting that through photography and video will hopefully benefit those who have not trained in this method.

Karen sent me a link I must share here. It is entirely preliminary information, and needs so much more research, but reading the following sharpened my focus on what I’m growing. I must emphasize, the news in that link has not been peer reviewed. That Covid-19 could perhaps be blocked by cannabinoids is the most exciting potential  news I’ve read since the virus began.

So there they are, the first eight of thirteen are in the beds. Another Ringo’s Gift in question will be planted tomorrow, providing it doesn’t turn male in the meantime. Four more need one more week in the cottage, and then we’ll have a full house. Thirteen plants this year. The next blog drops next Tuesday. Stay safe everyone. The 2020 Isolation Grow is on.

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.