2020 Isolation Grow: The Final Trains

Sep 29, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

First light hits the tops of RK 18 at 8:14 a.m.

September 26

This weekend, while we wait for Sour Tsunami to finish drying for trimming, we will begin providing support for flowers growing too large for the stalks they occupy. First case in point:


Her flowers have grown thick and long on each stalk. Remember, this plant tried hard to flower early. She was stripped and had to find a new way to grow. Through careful training, she has filled out beautifully, and she has accomplished this with a gaping hole at the base of her stalk, a virtual open door for pests and pathogens. That she’s still standing is a miracle to Bee and me. If she survives, she is living proof that rubbing alcohol and organic honey are effective at treating cannabis wounds. That she might produce great medicine is a potential monster bonus. So when I found some of her branches bending nearly parallel to the ground, it was time to break out the plant tape and get to work on rearranging this fighting plant for her harvest in two weeks. Three slender stalks with fat flowers have been attached to the cage in locations where there is no interaction with any other flower. The beauty of the plant tape is the ability to vary the length and pull to fit a spot where each flower is better secured, but still within the overall design of this train. We can’t wait to bring her down and see if we actually pulled a rabbit from our hat. We will not hesitate to bring her down early, if necessary, to save her medicine. But there is not much longer to wait before she hits eight weeks and begins entering her harvest window. We are excited and apprehensive about this plant.

Among the many joyful aspects of harvest, one of my favorites is the opportunity it presents for the still flowering plants. As you’ve seen, if we don’t leave a space between cannabis plants, they can become crowded with the plant next door. Once a neighbor gets harvested, that empty bed and cage become a potential training ground for late developing flowers. Our feeling is that even late training increases yields over no training. If a plant can have several weeks with a train, even during flowering, it will increase your yield. For example, by extending RK 18 into the empty SK bed, the lower, inner flowers of each stalk are getting sun. Each of those smaller flowers is developing secondary flowers below by extending their necks toward the sun. If this same process happens all over the plant, the yield can dramatically increase. In our experience, with proper training, a plant with a two pound harvest potential might reach closer to three pounds.

But RK 18 is not our only Rainbow Kush. We also have one in bed 16, and with the removal of Sour Tsunami, we are taking advantage of the opportunity to stretch some the branches that have been pinned against growth from the neighboring plant. While this plant only has a little over three weeks to harvest, those three weeks will afford these branches full afternoon sun exposure. All flowers on the west side of the plant will benefit from the air and space provided by this train.

On the other side of where Sour Tsunami stood is Bubba God, a dense, crowded plant with lots of smaller flowers developing. This is how the flowers on this cultivar develop, compact and thick. She is a prime candidate for pathogens and mold within such tight quarters. So a bit of her has also been spread apart and opened up to the sun. This train could only happen after Sour Tsunami was harvested. Even if only for three weeks prior to harvest, the extra direct sunlight will make a difference for what remains.

Bubba God extended toward where Sour Tsunami used to be.

Check out this train that allowed a lower bough on Bubba God to extend away from the main plant, and then up towards the sun.

September 27

As a grower, you have days like this. Today was a day I did everything I could for my plants, and there were still several small instances of mold. Just a few, but enough to demonstrate the battle is ongoing. We just finished a period of almost ten days with humidity remaining above 75% all day, then spiking higher overnight. No matter how much I spray, or how little I water, there is no way to prevent all the mold or mildew in a late season cannabis garden. To the naked eye, our plants are about as pristine as a garden can be at this time of year. But deep inside the plant, on those branches that have pressed a little too close together to prevent proper air circulation, it only takes something this small to begin an outbreak.

We cannot see the cause of this mold. There’s no evidence of a torn leaf, a bad cut, an insect bite, anything at all that is recognizable. This was probably plant debris that got wet and never completely dried. But walking by, the brown caught Bee’s eye and it was mold. This is why inspections are every day, with no days off.

All but two plants got their last tea and water this morning. RK 18 and RG 11 will get one more week of tea, but no more water, 28 days from their potential harvest dates. It will be interesting to watch these two giants turn inward to finish their flowering process. Right now, from a distance, these two giants are still the deepest shade of green of all our plants. The number of yellow leaves in the deep interior can be counted on one hand for each plant. While all the other plants in the beds are showing signs of their age, and lack of water, these two giants would probably still be growing, were they still receiving over twelve hours of light per day. 

Exciting news on the Sour Tsunami front. She is almost dry, but a small flower picked from her a week ago (the one bough that was ready) was consumed by Bee last night and they are certain this is a CBD plant. Very little THC in her, but a lot of CBD. Anxious for testing, but this probably means that ST15-2020 will end up being a high functioning CBD plant, something that can be taken during the day without feeling stoned. I am always thrilled to add another high functioning plant to our medical cabinet. Karen and I both prefer to not bake during the workday, unless by choice. We both prefer saving a higher dose of THC for the evening when we are relaxing.

The other reason this is such good news is we’re not going to yield the amount of ACDC that I anticipated at the start of the season. We’ll get a good amount of that cultivar, but I think we’re going to end up with more Ringo’s Gift. Getting the extra high CBD/low THC plant is a bonus. Last year’s Sour Tsunami ended up being approximately 2 ½: 1 ratio of CBD to THC. We don’t have the test scores yet for this plant, but she feels like something that could be closer to 4:1 ratio or higher.

Two skipper butterflies, about to be waved away by the camera person. 

Autumn is a desperate time in the beds. Moths are increasing their egg laying. Flowers attract pests, and spiders wait to eat those pests. There are more spiders in the beds right now than at any time during the grow. I will spare you the image of the monstrous orb spider eating the honey bee. I see a lot of grizzly stuff, but even I had to turn away from that sight. Everything understands that harvest is the peak. Right after harvest is winter, when pests disappear. 

Cannabis flowers are proceeding towards harvest without pause. Flowers are fattening, trichomes are building, and in the case of a couple of plants, beginning to fill with fluid. Leaves are yellowing now on a daily basis. Whatever we cut off today will be replaced tomorrow. Insects are everywhere. Earlier, Bee found this Fungus-eating Lady Beetle (Psyllobora vigintimaculata). This very small ladybug type will actually eat the powdery mildew off your plant. I’ll take several hundred of these, please.

And now, to conclude this blog, let’s spend a few moments with the bees. While there is no pollen for bees to scoop, as flowers develop, they have become increasingly curious. The various bees in this video were all hanging around Ringo’s Gift in bed 11.


By the next blog on Friday, Sour Tsunami will be trimmed and in jars. Two weeks to crunch time.

Survive and vote.

79℉  26.11℃  61% 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.