2020 Isolation Grow: Twist

Oct 7, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

October 3

This older four point buck watched me go from the house to the beds, inspect every plant, followed my every step, all the way back into the house to grab Karen to come take the photograph. He stared at us the entire time. We got the shots and got outta there. The males have been rutting at night.

Resumed Regalia this morning. Crystal clear and chilly, today will be a day of developing color in the beds. I’m prepping the plants for the humidity spike that is coming. Rain is in the forecast, with all that implies. By next Friday, we’ll be ready to jump into action, if necessary, to protect our plants.

But more immediately, today is day 56 for ACDC 22. She has reached eight weeks. Sometime between today and next weekend, this plant will come down. As previously documented, this is a plant we have nursed along to harvest. We were prepared to take her down early, in order to preserve the medicine. Looks like we’ll bring her in on schedule and find out if all our efforts paid off.

While trimming Sour Tsunami, we noticed that she probably needed one more day of drying to be perfect. So, we finished the trim and then took all the jars out to the drying cottage. When I checked on them the next day, I realized they needed to be dumped into our flat trays for one more day of direct drying. Which I did, and this morning, I put everything back into jars (wearing gloves, of course), and Sour Tsunami is back inside the house.

The drying rack is great for giving buds and popcorn that little extra drying to turn them perfect. Having flowers on their sides at this stage of dryness does not impact their shape.

With overnight temps dropping, Bubba God is turning purple fast.

I will admit to a harvest itch, which is dangerous. I don’t want to harvest our ACDC too early, and with each plant, harvesting cleanly will be the highest priority. This is precious medicine. I want this medicine, in whatever form, to be useful, and not something we shove in a garbage bag and deliver to the green bin. The mag lens is at the ready. In less than an hour, as soon as the sun shines on that plant, I’ll be out there, ready to get started. 

HARVEST ALERT

ACDC 22 is ready for harvest. It’s day 56 and there are enough amber trichomes to justify taking her down.  

I’m waiting to find out if Bee can join me today or tomorrow. Either day will work. I want Bee here to help take down this plant. Once we’ve determined the plant is healthy enough for harvest, the mold inspection is liable to take some time before we bring them inside for the first trim and wash. It is always wise to utilize the bright sun when inspecting each flower. If we can catch any potential problems while we’re still outside, we can make the rest of the process much smoother, more relaxing and enjoyable. Plucking out mold while trimming is not fun, and rather discouraging.

We’ll bring 22 down tomorrow, bright and early.

HARVEST TWIST

ACDC 7, ready to harvest.

I walked to the garden with the mag lens and checked flower progress on the other plants. I was gobsmacked to find ACDC 7 ready for harvest right now. This can happen, of course. Finding a plant ready to harvest days before you anticipate is entirely possible. This plant tried to flower early, so knowing exactly when she started to flower again was obviously a failure, and can be a challenge. That is why I check every plant for relative readiness every day, once they are within two weeks of my expected harvest date. Over the years, at least half a dozen have shown to be ready as much as ten days earlier than expected. Finding that first flower is a matter of timing and luck. That first flower, when I declare a plant flowering, obviously began and evaded detection on this plant for almost ten days.  

ACDC 7 while harvesting. The purple and green combination is alluring.

October 4

Another harvest day dawns clear and chilly. Because we are facing a humidity spike, I spray Regalia again this morning, excluding ACDC 22, which is about to come down. Through harvest, experience has taught me that early morning is when I have time to do proactive work on the plants. At the very least, when inspections become more scarce, it is critical to maintain plant protection through foliar sprays at dawn. 

Spray complete. We are now down to a full 4 ½ gallon spray sufficing for the remaining plants. It had gotten up to eight gallons for a few weeks, but now that we’ve harvested three plants and are about to harvest a fourth, the amount needed to spray is less.

The long home stretch of this grow has begun. Chilly morning temperatures have arrived and will continue. You can feel the shift outside. Rain is not far off. This morning was the first morning I had to wear a sweatshirt on top of my overalls to do the spray. It is autumn. Having that sweatshirt on is not a bad idea when spraying anyway. It prevents flowers from catching on any overall buttons. That has happened and a flower has been damaged. It’s a challenge not to damage flowers out there now, because they are growing all over the aisles. Our way in and out of the beds is now a circuitous path.

Well now, it is Sunday afternoon, and there are two plants drying in the cottage. ACDC 7 from yesterday, and ACDC 22 from this morning. I am overwhelmingly happy to announce there is no mold, no problems whatsoever on the many large flowers of 22. These two are distinct phenotypes, and both of them are luscious looking. Both of these plants were missed opportunities from a grower’s perspective. If these two had grown without trying to flower early, they would have been monsters. But at this point, I am grateful to have them both hanging in the drying room, no mold on either one, the medicine on both of them among the fruitiest smelling plants we’ve ever grown. There was barely any oil in the wash for either of them. They were healthy, clean plants.

That’s ACDC 7 on the left and ACDC 22 on the right.

ACDC 22 is a proud, though unlikely achievement. The damage at her base, documented previously, created an opening for all manner of insect and fungus. All we ever did for treatment was rubbing alcohol to kill bacteria, followed by honey, to seal the plant as best we could from any surviving or developing bacteria getting inside flower stems. Honestly, this is what I expected, because we’d seen this before. As previously written, if it were not for this blog, this plant would have been pulled after the split in her base, and the smell that soon emerged from the wound. There was rot. But rubbing alcohol apparently defeated enough of the rot, and the honey sealed whatever bacteria that remained from advancing into any portion of the many long, thick, flowers. As Bee said in the cottage while we hung them, “These are almost entirely “A” trim flowers.”

But in that hole now, is a smorgasbord of bacteria, old and new, a full breakout of soil and spider mites, worms, and sow bugs. The bed is infested. It seems almost like a conference room at the base of the plant. Creatures come and go constantly. It’s soft in there. Wood is split in several places. The entire base could be pulled apart. It’s almost falling apart on its own. And yet it somehow allowed those large flowers to grow and flourish.

The base of the plant was pulling apart with our fingers only.

After viewing the insides, we made an executive decision. Instead of digging anything out, we decided to leave the stalk in the ground for now, and solarize the bed immediately, during this relative warm spell we’re having. The heat will kill off any bacteria, mites, or anything else choosing to remain in the intense 4-6 inches of heat zone under the clear tarp. Wisely, the worms will retreat into the cooler soil until solarization is complete. It will also allow the base of this plant to be somewhat preserved. We plan to inspect it thoroughly once everything inside has been heat treated. We will not solarize the other beds until we’re finished with harvest. We prefer laying out long sheets of tarp over the beds, rather than cutting pieces to fit each bed. We cut a piece for this bed because the insect infestation at the base of ACDC 22 could not be ignored. We want to clean up that bed now. 

We believe that the process of getting ready for next season’s grow begins as soon as we finish harvest. Also, by doing this as soon as they are ready, in October, we’ll take advantage of our typical October heat for effective solarization, in plenty of time to start both fava beans for nitrogen restoration, and a winter crop of greens.

Personally, I can’t truly relax and enjoy my harvest until all the clean up and prep work is complete. Once they are all solarizing, I can walk away from the beds for a couple of months and let them do their thing. 

 

Bed 22 is being solarized. The plastic is stapled to the wood. This kind of plastic allows for enough light to get through to keep beneficial micronutrients alive and happy through the solarizing process. A black tarp would harm or kill those micronutrients. Regardless, after I take off the tarps, I make a basic compost tea to replenish anything that might have been lost.

Now we come to the real reason I called this blog Twist. It was a surprise to harvest ACDC 7 when we did, but that was nothing compared to this.

In about 7-10 days, we’ll harvest CBD God from bed 20. That will mean there is no more cannabis on either side of our Czechoslovakian Stupice tomato plant. All season long, I wrote that I was going to pull this plant as soon as she got anywhere near the neighborhood of mold. I was going to pull her so the plants on either side of her could be trained into her bed.

This tomato plant would have none of that. She was planted over a month before the cannabis joined her in the beds. To date, this one plant has produced approximately 200 pieces of fruit. I fully expected to pull her weeks ago. But she’s still producing wonderful edible fruit. In fact, she is producing a smaller, though still substantial, second crop. She’s still got new growth, she’s flowering, and she hasn’t been watered or fertilized in over two months. This one plant is serving as a model for how I’m going to grow both tomatoes and in certain respects, cannabis in the future. The twist in all this, is that this experimental tomato plant, which has produced some of the finest fruit we’ve ever grown, will probably still be standing when the last cannabis plant is taken down. She won’t come down until frost takes her out, closer to the end of November.

Survive and vote everyone. Next blog, we get ready for possible rain, with many plants close.

63℉  17.22℃  82% humidity  Four down, nine to go. 

 

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.