2020 Isolation Grow: The Window Opens

May 22, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

Today, May 15, is the first day our second row of beds remain in sunlight after 5:00 pm. That means the sun is finally beginning to inch toward the north side of the tree line atop our southern hill. We’ve had enough sun to grow vegetables, but not quite for cannabis. I made a mental note that the day our window begins to open is also the day the sun sets at 8:15 pm here. Even with nominal tree growth expected yearly on the hill, that sunset time should remain an easy benchmark to remember. It’s both a date to remember, and a time.

Every day at 5:00 pm for the past week, I was in the beds, looking at the southwestern sky, to see when the sun’s path might remain over the top of the tallest redwood up our hill, as the rotation of the earth finally begins to open our cannabis growing window. 

Today is that day. Sustained sunlight jumped from a little over ten hours to eleven hours and thirty minutes. Even at 12 hours, the back corner bed was still lit. With each day, the remaining beds will move out of the shadow of the large redwood, until planting day, when the amount of light hitting the beds will be close to thirteen hours. Planting day is in twelve days. The amount of sun will increase in time each day, and make another leap once the sun completely clears the tree it is now cresting. That should be on or just before May 27, the first planting day.

There will be two planting days. Most will go in the beds on the 27th, but some feminized will remain inside for one more week. I’ll keep the feminized in the cottage a full four weeks before bringing them outside.

I can now clearly see the folly of planting cannabis in any of my beds prior to the last week in May. I’m amazed I didn’t notice this last year, but grateful to be seeing it clearly now. The calculations I made last year are looking good, and that makes for a great start.

One of our tomato plants, the Czech Stupice, is showing love from getting the first compost tea this morning. I watched the tops do a happy dance that I love watching in the cannabis. Leaves stretch and turn toward the sun.

The spice row, which borders the link fence, got all the leftover tea today, so we are expecting industrial size and strength calendula, borage, and even more chives soon.


May 16

The first four plants turned male this morning, 24 hours after the compost tea. I’ll be checking every hour I’m awake the next two days. All plants that turned had M on the side. Many more to follow. Staged a couple of photos by the green bin with a removed Shiatsu Kush male to use for the Turn Your Head & Cough blog. I was hoping for a close up of a striped pollen sack, but none of them have shown as of yet, though the situation is fluid out there. They got tea yesterday, and though I expect males tomorrow, I’m not surprised a few blew their cover today.

There are a couple (aren’t there always?), that I’m almost certain are male, but I want them to be female so much. The largest plant out there is a Ringo’s Gift. There are other RG out there that are like spindle sticks, with not much vegetation.  They are the swayers I’ve mentioned. But there is one monster growing. Fan leaves already the size of my hands, lush vegetation sprouting everywhere, several inches taller than the rest. I’m going over that plant with a mag lens several times a day. Gonna break my heart, I know it. Probably going to have another all male year with Ringo’s Gift. But that’s the beauty of not knowing. Because every so often, you get a grower that’s a female, like our Shiatsu Kush two years ago that doubled the yield over the other Shiatsu we grew that year. (Brenden trained the hell out of her) There is also a Sour Tsunami that is large, and I expect sacks to show at some point, because this cultivar produced a similar looking plant last year that turned male two days before planting. Finally, there is a Bubba God that has my complete attention. Actually, there are more than one, but one in particular. I got this cultivar in the bed late last year. I want to grow her the right way this time. Such a beauty and pretty knock out sleep medicine. This is what she looks like when she starts to flower:

Grower Tip: Something I keep forgetting whenever I write about compost teas: If you brew aerated compost tea like I do, you know about foam in your buckets. The teas get foamy. If you’d like to eliminate the foam, simply pour about ten drops of Neem oil into the tea. The bubbles will go away immediately, and that little bit of oil is excellent for your soil.

Speaking of Neem, I will do my first foliar spray this evening, as soon as the sun disappears. Noticed some aphids on our broccoli leaves and that will not do. Time to break out the battery powered sprayer, which has been charged and ready to go since I started seeds. Also of note–not a huge slug death count via beer. I cannot account for the lack of slugs, though perhaps some of them migrated here via straw in the past, and not this year.


May 17

Half an inch of rain fell overnight, with another quarter inch of rain (at least) to fall tonight. Vegetables love this long drink of pH neutral water. If I didn’t still have 32 3-gallon pots, I would carry the cannabis outside for a drink. But I will be focused on sexing today. It’s Sunday, two days post tea, and I’m expecting a parade.

I’m sure you have noticed that we are transitioning from general blogging about topics to specific blogging about this year’s grow. There will be less posts, because some days, I’ll be working all day. Once all the plants are outside, I’ll see how much time I have for writing. We’ll figure it out. But this format, of documenting events under datelines, will continue. Just not sure if we’ll post once a week or more.

Another male this morning, a Harle-Tsu. I’m grateful the pace of sexing is not as frantic as last year. I was starting new seeds over a month after the first batch last year. No matter what happens, I’m not starting more seeds this year. I will grow as many plants as are ready when I need them to be ready. No more late plants this year.


At the 12:00 check, no males, but a new sprout has emerged. Pretty sure she’s an AC/DC. One of those feminized seeds hadn’t sprouted, so I put another feminized seed in the 3-gallon bucket, and she’s growing fine. Today, a new sprout emerged on the side, where dirt had been moved before another seed was placed in the soil. So, I transplanted the new sprout to a 3-gallon bucket, where she will either end up in our beds, or be given away to a lucky person in need. We’re back to 33 plants in the cottage, and I’m making a note to myself to not give up too soon, in the future, on a feminized seed that doesn’t open immediately. 

Interesting how every year is different. Last year on this day, I’d already taken a dozen plants to the recycling bin, with so many more to come that one day. There are clearly more males in the cottage, so I’ll be patient. Ten days to planting. I think compost tea does goose some of the plants into showing, but clearly not all. Males will eventually show with or without compost tea.

With each day now, the angle of the sun becomes more favorable. Every day, based only on what I’ve done previous years, and seeing how much light we’re now getting, I want to put plants in the beds. It’s still too soon, but only by a few minutes. That will be different in ten days.

It will be cloudy this evening. More rain is expected by 7:00. I am already in mid-season weather mode. I moved one sensor by the beds, so that I can know the temperature and humidity where the plants are growing while I’m out there, and while I’m in here blogging. Once all plants are in the ground, and the routine of growing begins, I’m certain this laptop will accompany me to the beds. When something of interest happens this summer, be it baby quail, or baby skunks, or really baby anything. It will be fun to capture it, via writing or video, in real time.


May 22 

We’re down to 18 plants in the cottage. This year has been a gradual male display, but they are showing up. Every predicted male plant has turned; except for three Ringo’s Gift plants. They still look like males to me, but I have not grown this cultivar from seed before, so I’m not certain how females look at this stage. I had one giant Ringo’s Gift that turned male yesterday. He was the largest plant in the cottage, and not as spindly looking as the remaining three. So, are these females? Or weaker males still waiting to show? I want one of these very much. The tall, spindly nature of each of them would ordinarily foretell the gender, but I have not grown ruderalis from seed before, so I cannot be certain of what is growing. If these last three turn male, that will mean I’ve had 17 male Ringo’s Gift plants in the last two years. I will be discussing this with the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective at some point. It’s not their fault, but it also certainly is not mine. 

Still looking very good out there. I like what remains. I feel relatively confident, in addition to my six or seven feminized plants that are taking off, I’ve got one or two Sour Tsunami, one Harle-Tsu, one or two CBD God, one Shiatsu Kush, one or two Bubba God. My toes are wiggling. It’s a nervous time. I plant in five days.

There’s work to do. I’ll be back with you as soon as I can. Stay safe folks. Long grow ahead.

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.