2020 Isolation Grow: Work Until the Siren Blows

Aug 25, 20202020 Isolation Grow Blog

Today, we work in the garden. While we work, we watch the wind. While we watch, we listen for the phone, or the Hi/Low siren that will tell us it’s time to leave. I don’t think we’ll have to leave, but that’s no more than a guess based on the weather I expect over the next 100 hours. We are ready. We can leave within five minutes of the siren.

Our sweet child, Bee, got tested along with their partner, Azure, the other day for Covid. They were both negative, and they came immediately to our house to stay awhile and be quarantined with us. This means we don’t have to wear masks around them, and we can work in close proximity for the first time all summer. I’ve missed being physically close with our children, so today feels real good.

There is work that needs doing in the beds. The recent storm and extremes in weather call for a deep plant inspection; especially since all the plants are now flowering. In particular, we’ve got some inner pruning to do on Shiatsu Kush. It’s time to rid some of the lower growth, the shaded growth, the flowers that will never be as strong as the tops in more sun. So we remove those flowers and turn the trimmed flowers into smoothies. One must be careful in mixing the smoothie, to not let it get too hot when it’s blending. If it gets too hot, the flowers will decarboxylate, and the smoothie will bake you about 90 minutes after consumption. It has happened to us before. But most importantly, Bee and Azure cleaned some young Shiatsu flowers and our basil for an ultimate pesto. It was great on our homegrown spaghetti squash.

It’s time to give Shiatsu Kush air and space for her flowers to move into the final three weeks of growth. They are going to start getting thick now. We also needed to look deep inside for any undetected mold issues. It was a good thing Bee looked low and deep. The recent rain and strange spikes in humidity are potentially hazardous, and especially for flowering plants. Case in point, Shiatsu Kush:

This was deep inside the plant. There’s evidence of a dead worm (the small black scat), and also a bite into the stem enough to get the decay started. The visible scat on the surface is not the problem. It’s the scat that gets inside a stem. If this mold had gone undetected, the developing flower to which it was attached would have been lost. It could have spread into other flowers that would have caused either partial, or total extraction of those flowers from the plant. Mold is not subtle and does not stay in one place. It gets greedy. This is a perfect example of what I meant when I wrote that flowering plants must be mindfully and carefully inspected every day through harvest. As each of our newly flowering plants develop, our inspections will take greater time. It is during flowering when growers make their bones. 

RK 18 is covered with ladybugs. There are no aphids for them to eat, but they love hanging out.

Part three of the tomato cage has been added to RK 18. First time we’ve put the third part on a plant not yet flowering. And we were immediately able to separate her tops to create a bit more air at the top. This is important, since spraying that high is problematic and often not as effective. You have to spray a lot up there to make certain the top of each leaf is covered.

This is CBD God, day 6. 

As a brief aside, I’d just like to say thank you to the first responders out here. I’ve never loved the sound of airplanes so much in my life as I’m loving them today. It sounds like they are giving the fire some hell. Please don’t stop.

August 22

Smoke is everywhere today. Impossible to tell whether it’s from our local fire, or the two monsters south of us, blowing in this direction. But it does not allow for a day of work outside. Grateful I got up early to water and pour compost tea.

The fire is only 5% contained this morning. It is spreading slowly, moving north by northeast at the moment. There is a shift in the wind expected over the weekend, pointing more directly toward us. Though, the winds are supposed to remain light, which could be what saves us. 

However, another 48 hours of potential dry lightning storms are supposed to hit between Sunday and Tuesday. So our future here, both immediate, and long term, is up in the air at the moment.

Our cars are mostly packed. Still a few more things to pack today. We packed the ETO-Pro, our cannabis processing machine, into its box and then into my car. 

I was fortunate to spend as many hours outside yesterday as I did, and extra fortunate to have gotten as much work in before it got too smoky. I did two full crop foliar sprays yesterday. There were a few more leaves with powdery mildew than we like to see, and the plants are getting so large, it takes more than one spray to be certain we covered everything.

Typical of this stage of the grow, the greatest amount of powdery mildew was on the tallest tops, places more difficult to effectively soak than lower growth. Hence, the morning spray, followed by the evening spray. I will not allow pathogens the chance to spread. I will probably spray again after the fog rolls in this evening. Conditions are prime for pathogens, and I also don’t know how much longer I’ll be here to tend them. As long as I’m still here, I’ll proactively treat my plants. If I have to leave for a few days, I want them as protected as possible while I’m gone.

Sour Tsunami probably got her last water this morning. If the conditions remain strange out here for the next week, I might water them all again next weekend, but that would definitely be the final water for ST. 

I wish I could attach a scratch and sniff to this blog for how the garden is starting to smell. It’s flower time, and you know it just walking up our driveway, or stepping outside the house. Once you enter the beds, the odor is everywhere. If we bruise a flowering plant at all, you can almost see the wiggly odor lines rising up to meet our noses. It’s nowhere near as pungent as it’s going to get, but it’s moving swiftly in that direction.

And speaking of flowering, both RG 11 and RK 18 are now flowering. We’ve got a full house of flowering plants. Here we go.

Just finished listening to a Zoom session updating our fire, and then I went out and did a full Regalia spray. If we have to leave for a few days, I’ll rest easier knowing I’ve sprayed the hell out of the plants.

From 5:00 am tomorrow to 5:00 pm Monday evening, we’ll be in another RED FLAG FIRE WARNING. More lightning is potentially on the way. This is more action than I wanted for this blog. It’s supposed to be about growing, not surviving. Lol.

August 23

Won’t lie. It’s hard to sleep. When my home is threatened, it’s counterintuitive to close my eyes. But I need rest, so I’ll just lay down and at the very least, keep my eyes closed.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

About 45 minutes. I’ll nap when I can today. We’re about eight miles from the fire. That may seem far, but in a wildfire, it’s not. If the winds were stronger, we’d have been evacuated by now. They are not expected to become stronger, unless the potential thunderstorms generate wind. We saw that happen a few days ago. It does not last long, but it gusts. We don’t want gusts right now. We also don’t want another 36 hours of electrical storms. If my writing sounds like I’m pacing, I am.

Ok, the latest is that tonight and tomorrow morning will be the period of greatest electrical storm possibility. More lightning obviously means more fires. More fires mean resources are moved, and people power is stretched even thinner. Resources from the fire in our area could get moved to another hotspot. I cannot imagine the difficulties firefighters are facing at this time in our state. We are so grateful for their help. We are also grateful for the generous amount of time we’ve had to get ready to leave. Bottom line on today is this:  When we go to bed tonight, if the sirens sound, we’ll be ready to simply roll out of bed, dress and go. 

Once we go through our checklist of readiness for leaving, I plan on filling a number of containers and buckets outside with water. The reason? There is a fire and animals are getting displaced from their homes. Whether we’re here or not, we can expect more animals to show up here, or pass through here in the coming days. The least we can do is put out some water for them while they also attempt to survive this fire.

Something new we’ll be washing off the plants during harvest: Ash. Lots of ash glued to leaves.

Here’s a view from the beds this morning as the sun passes through the smoke filled sky:

Folks, I’m going to try and continue this blog for as long as I can. If we evacuate, obviously, I’ll be away from the plants. But I’m going to begin writing about the process of making medicine out of our plants. That should keep me occupied until we can get home.

Think good thoughts. Never expected to be frightened while writing this blog, but that’s where we are on this Dante-esque day. Approximately three weeks from today, we harvest our first plant of the season. Right now, that day seems very far off.

Survive and vote. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

73℉  22.77℃  69% 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.