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The Garden Love

The first sunflower of the season! Sunflowers are easy to grow in a sunny, warm location. The more room they have for their roots, the bigger they can grow!
Leave the seed heads on as they dry to feed the birds.
“Armenian Cucumber” – or “Yard Long Cucumber” – the first veggies of the season! In purchasing the start, it was labeled “Japanese Cucumber”…so often in the garden we get surprises! Turned out to have the most non-bitter, crisp, fresh flavor & the family loves them!

I almost talked myself out of this. I actually killed a whole day wondering in my head, “what in the actual F do you think YOU are doing gardener girl!!??” In truth, I have no actual idea at all what I am doing. I have no idea how this blog thing even works! I just have to dive in – or “DIG IN” in my case (hahaha) – and make it happen. So here it goes, raw, messy & misshapen, so perfectly imperfect. Please stick with me, ’cause I know me, I’ve got some wacky ideas & it’s going get really fun up in here.

My 6th season growing outdoor cannabis & it continues to feel so rewarding, helping others grow healthy, organic, natural medicine. Every year there is weather, unforeseen surprises, new concepts to be learned, systems to be tweaked & new experiments.

Before I just bust right in on how to easily grow the best tomatoes or my simple tips for re-blooming Orchids (yes, you can!) I’ll share a little about me & my why. Basically, I just HAVE to grow things. I can’t help it. I’ve never had something fill me with more joy than growing plants. And I figure, when you find something in life that you just HAVE to do, no matter what, no matter where you are, no matter how much money do or don’t have…you need to go ALL IN. I truly believe that enjoying what you do, every day, is the epitome of EVERYTHING because after all, your day-to-day is your whole dang life!! I know, deep already right?!

There are many reasons why I want to share The Garden Love with you. One, this is about WAY more than just gardening. It’s about connecting with the earth, it’s about really listening. Its about leaving this earth better than it was when you entered it. It’s about growing each day a better YOU. It’s about legacy, tradition, family & community. For me, I want most to help others grow & enjoy the gifts of growing for themselves. Whether it’s your first plant, your first vegetable garden, or your 60th year in farming… I love growing with you. The healing, peace & “oneness” that comes from this simple exchange of time between people & nature as it is meant to be…. just freaking rocks me.

Gardening always feels like a wide-open, glorious, never ending stretch of possibilities with so many benefits! There is nothing like nurturing a plant, watching it grow & come to fruit or flower. I love my plants like they are my children. (Sometimes more, plants don’t talk back. haha) If you have never grown a plant & swear you can’t, this is for you! Garden lovers, plant lovers, fans of being outdoors or bringing the outdoors in, this is for YOU! Do you prefer natural health & growing your own organic food, herbs & remedies! This is for you!! Cannabis growers in the hiiizzzouse!??!! Can I get hands in the air!?! My people! THIS IS DEFINITELY FOR YOU!

For the past 6 years I have really dug in deep. I have made mistakes & have learned many lessons the good old fashioned way, through trial & error. I’ve committed…. plant murder! Yes, I have loved plants to death. I have battled pests, fungus, disease & seeded hay. (haha, funny story) I’ve been a volunteer for my local county Master Gardener program & worked at a specialty hydroponic & garden supply store, absorbing every oz. of information & weed* I could. (*Just seeing if you were paying attention!) I have to say the wins have far outweighed the losses. I have grown fresh food for my family, neighbors & friends! This alone has been a magical feeling! I’ve grown herbs to cook & heal with! I have helped others grow their own medical remedies & I don’t think anything compares to that. I’ve visited & worked with others in gardens that just blow me away – the talent & passion for our earth just so undeniable, so fervent, I hope some rubs off on me just being in their presence. But what has truly been having me feeling ALL THE FEELS is helping others grow, in their very own space, whatever that may look like. I flip when people send me photos of their plants, excited & filled with pride on how far they have come. When they tell me they’ve eaten their first tomato – that they grew themselves! – & it was the best they had ever had. When they share they just harvested their first cannabis flower for their ailing mother & she finally has natural relief she can afford…. ALL THE FEELS right there.

With the awareness of natural medicine on the high rise & the promise of living one’s best life free from pain – without dangerous, addicting pharmaceuticals – I am proud to be a steward of Mother Nature & her gifts.

Recently, I hit a killer roadblock & enjoyed a big ole CTJ moment. (come to Jesus) I found myself trying to carve out more & more time each day to repeat answers to common questions that kept sliding into my email & DM’s. Being a Mom of two rowdy boys, working & managing my gardens, I was struggling to make the time to best help others & I was failing. I felt anxious, stuck & crummy, feeling like I was serving my fellow gardeners really half assed. And then, it happened. A beautiful, moment of utter selflessness I will NEVER forget.

MY HUSBAND FIRED ME.

Wait! What?? Whoa, we missed something… let’s back up. In the past 6 months I had been working for my husband, managing the office for his construction business. It was working out super & I have to admit, I am crazy good at office work except for one small problem… that I am not at all an office person. I hate it. How I put it is, “I’m like a plant. I need sun & air to grow. Sitting in a boring office…I wither & DIE.” I had done great for six months, but the pull to the garden was getting stronger & I was feeling so trapped. I suppose my anxious disconnect was showing as hard as I tried for it not to. I’m sure the constant nudging to my husband that it was time to train my replacement was a sign as well. Well, one morning, out of the blue, a simple work discussion turned into a big fight about nothing related to nothing, feelings escalated & in the heat of it – BOOM! I was FIRED! I felt bad…for a little while. I mean, you’re supposed to feel bad when you get fired right?? But I realized I only felt bad because I DIDN’T feel bad. Instead, I felt freaking GREAT!!! Like the pinhole of light at the end of my current, dark tunnel had just burst wide open & I could see gardens for miles!! He had set me FREE. It was the coolest thing he’s ever done for me at his own expense. He set me free to do ME & I love him ever more for that.

So, here I am, fired from my job (lol) & typing away with no idea how to post on this blog page, but I will get there. I am to the moon excited & I have so much to share with you!! Get your garden gloves on, it’s time to get down & dirty!

Welcome friends, to The Garden Love!

Please leave me a comment & tell me about your plants! Don’t have a plant yet?! Tell me what you’re dreaming of. We will find one perfectly suited, just for you. XO

5 Tips for a Successful Cannabis Flowering Season

Let’s Nip Harvest In the Bud!!

Part One

Given the time of year & the questions I’m getting….we’re going straight to cannabis!! Yay! Those of you who know me, know this is a favorite subject of mine, of all time, ever. For those of you just getting to know me, ta-da! If you are growing cannabis outdoors for the first time or the 60th… the outdoor grow train is picking up speed so hop on now!!!

I realized I had quite a bit to share, oh, 7 pages in. So, we’ll make this a two parter. This is juicy information yo! I have spent the past 6 years learning these lessons the hard way, by just doing it, by having issues, questions & researching…& researching…& researching. I even went & got a job at my favorite grow store & picked the minds of every grower within a 50 mile + radius while helping them find solutions for every issue known to man for two years, AND, I still do not feel to know “it all”. What I do know though, is what works best for me & what has granted me awesome results year after year, while growing with integrity for the plant & the earth, being easy & light on my bank account! Let’s get real here. Time & money are super important factors. When starting out, you just can’t know it all, so don’t worry! Everyone is a beginner in the beginning. *wink wink*  If this is your first season growing cannabis & you’ve made it this far, you’re halfway home my friend! I want to make sure you get there, with the healthiest, biggest, most beautiful cannabis flowers you can grow. 

Look at these lovely baby cannabis flowers! Now is the time to be extra vigilant, for the entire idea is keep these flowers as healthy & safe as possible through harvest.

As soon as the month flips from July to August, in my area in Northern California, the outdoor grown cannabis begins to bloom. Outdoor growing is MY JAM. I don’t think anything grows as perfect as it can in nature, where plants are intended to grow, naturally. And, the turning point to bloom is magical…the moment we have been working towards & nurturing our ladies for, right?! I see all of you & the photos of your “baby buds”!! It’s exciting!! We are proud parents yo! I so get it. I want these baby buds to make it to big, stanky danky buds within the next 8-12 weeks & to ensure so, we have work to do!

I’ve noticed a pattern strike newer growers every season that makes me sad. Not planning properly for flowering & harvest, & losing so much of one’s hard work at the end is just a huge, sad, bummer. I don’t want to see this happen to you, so we’re going to nip this in the bud right meow (lol!)! My biggest nugget of advice for this moment? Make sure you are planning & preparing for how you will finish off the season with success NOW. Not having a plan is the worst plan of all. It’s time to be proactive vs. reactive.

Here are the 5 BIG things I am doing & planning for in my garden RIGHT NOW, that will ensure harvest success:

  • Support – No Broken Branches!
  • Nutrients – Bloom Targeted Plant Food
  • IPM – Prohibit Pests, Disease & Fungus Until Harvest
  • Drying Space – Safely & Slowly Dry Harvested Flowers
  • Storage & Curing – Storing & Aging Your Buds for Optimal Results – Like Fine Wine Yo!

Support Your Girls

At this time your plants may have gotten pretty dang big. Maybe waaay larger than you thought they would. (I know, feel the pride, you deserve it, they are HUUUGE, pat yourself on the back!) For those of you who started seeds in February or earlier, I hope you have an orchard ladder! Because I’m a petite gal & grow in semi-urban/rural environments, I need to not only keep my plants at a respectful height, but be able to see all over each plant without killing myself on a wobbly ladder. I need to be able to make necessary health checks, keep an eye out for pests & watch those flowers closely to omit any caterpillars or bud rot. (My lovely husband fell off a small ladder while helping me trellis overly tall girls a couple years ago & broke his arm, it happens!) Toward the end of every season we will have a storm, with wind &/or rain & I don’t want to lose a bud laden branch or an entire plant to the weather. Getting that far in the season & finding sticky, broken branches caked with the mud they fell into really makes me want to cry. So, I save my ladies by making sure they are supported.

6″ square trellis netting is my absolute favorite! Notice the individual branches lovingly cradled within each square of mesh. They aren’t going ANYWHERE & that is what I want.

Adding support to your plants & their branches can be done in different ways. Back in the day, we caged them with bamboo tied with green tape, some support structures on large gals getting pretty labor intense. I think bamboo is a great option, for staking up smaller, independent plants, independent branches or plants in containers.

This grow used individual bamboo stakes to support each plant within their pots. For smaller plants, especially in an enclosed environment such as this without worry of rain or wind, this simple method can work great.

I’ve seen cattle fencing wrapped around each plant, & although a great, super sturdy option, it was way too heavy & too pricey for me. I also had nowhere to store it all for the next year. It was just TOO MUCH. My favorite option so far has been to use trellis netting. I find it clean, simple, inexpensive & easy to use! Other reasons I love it: 

  • Supports branches laden with buds from breaking with weight
  • Can support entire plants during high winds or rainy weather
  • Can help train tall plant limbs below fence lines
  • Help keep plants more manageable to care for at your height
  • Can adjust the spacing of the limbs within the netting, opening up the canopy for more sunlight & air flow
  • No mold or mildew issues
  • Recyclable at the end of season
Check out all these happy “Pennywise” buds poking from their trellis! I prefer a sturdy & snug trellis, anchored by poles mounted close the the plant.

I prefer the 6” square netting in lightweight, plastic mesh. It comes in a variety of sizes & I can cut it to fit my needs. I hit up the GrowBiz for mine, (because they are the best hydro/garden supply store EVER!) but you can easily find it at your local garden center or online by different manufacturers. Often, we need to get inventive for our situation. I have never seen an outdoor grow, no matter if one plant or 50, that ever had the same situation as another. Not everyone works in rows or with raised beds…we work with the space we are granted & make it work for us. You could be growing in a sunlit corner on a back deck or in pots on your patio. You could have a plant or three tucked into different corners of your yard. The best support for your girls may take some imagination & maybe a combination of options, but should definitely be a top priority.

My two favorite ways to use trellis center around initial plant placement. I like to grow in raised beds or with the plants in pots over open ground in short, easy to manage rows.

These super lanky “Gelato” ladies really benefited from the support. This specific plant has already lost a few lower branches due to lack of initial, internal support. I generally like to start with tomato cages to anchor the weight where the branches extend from the plant, adding strength at the base of each branch as it grows.
We lost a few here, but no more!
By wrapping the trellis around the poles we create a light, flexible “cage”. The entire plant is supported & I can still squeeze my arms inside & get inside up under the canopy.

When growing in raised beds, I insert 4 super tall posts attached to steel stakes into the ground around the plant in a square, the poles as close to touching the plant as possible. Using a staple gun or zip ties & the help of my husband, we wrap the trellis snugly around the poles, around the plant, creating a “cage”. This allows me to get my trellis super close to the plant & gently pull the branches through the squares at the sides, giving them individual support & a place to rest. I attach the trellis high enough on the posts that I can still easily climb up under it & reach the base of my plant. High enough on the posts that it reaches close to the top of the plant. I also like to attach a piece of netting at the top, coming down in a snug square over each corner post, to secure the top & center branches.

A row of “Key Lime Pie” in the back & one of my all time favorite strains, “Gamechanger” in the front. Man, that Gamechanger was an early harvest beast!! Without support the heavy branches would surely have snapped. I started with trellis early enough to layer it horizontally as the plants grew. I could adjust the branch spacing to allow for air flow & extra sunlight through the canopy. I loved just sitting underneath in the cool green.
“Gelato” branches gently pulled through the trellis squares to rest. When the top branches get too tall, I can actually, very gingerly, bend them over and tuck them under the netting. They bend through & continue to twist & grow upwards toward the sun while allowing more sunlight into the top of the canopy & maintaining a manageable height.

My second favorite method is planting in rows. In regard to trellising, it makes the application super easy. Using the same tall poles attached to steel stakes, we pound them into the ground intermittently down the row, as close to the plants as possible & evenly spaced, with two poles at each end. We can then attach the trellis at one end, unraveling & wrapping the trellis down one side of the row, around the poles at the end, all the way down the other side until closing the loop at the end we started on. One, long “cage”. If you really plan ahead, starting when they are still babies, you can attach the netting in a horizontal layer, allowing the plant to grow up through it, cradling the branches with each individual layer added throughout growth.

A friend’s well done greenhouse grow will multiple, horizontal layers of trellis in place as the plants grow up through it.

If you do not have posts & steel stakes or the ground to set them, you can simply – very gingerly – drape a net over the top of your plant, over each top branch, allowing it to hang down the sides. You can then weave the side branches up into the squares, the plant inadvertently helping support itself. To give it a bit of extra strength, if you can, create a bamboo “tee-pee” inside the plant, anchoring the stalk with three bamboo stakes tied with green tape. Voila! Regardless of how it looks or how it goes together, having some support, in any way, is better than having none!

Any support is better than no support! Without a pole & stake to anchor the sides, we draped the trellis loosely, right over the plant, allowing some of the branches to self-support. My Type-A goes cray cray over this, for I like snug, even squares! But, I know it’s not about looks, it’s ALL about function & saving those branches!.
I love this photo, for the operators at this grow just did EVERYTHING. They really weren’t taking any chances! There are bamboo stakes on every branch, wire cage surrounding each plant AND trellis netting across the greenhouse.

Nutrition – Feeding for Bloom

Flower is underway & the clock is ticking! Calendaring the start date of flower for each strain you are growing is very important. This allows you to prepare for the potential harvest date, giving you 8-12 weeks until flower maturity. Within this next 8-12 weeks we want to make sure our plants have the nutrients they need to stay as healthy & resilient as possible, producing the best versions of the flower they are genetically geared to produce! Now, I organically amend my soil on a regular basis throughout the season & know it contains plenty of nutrients. I could just use water & roll with it, but I want to ensure I’m giving my girls the opportunity to be the absolute best they can be. It makes ME feel good! I also know that large cannabis plants get hungry, especially in pots, & lacking magnesium in bloom is common so I want to set my ladies up for success. Knowing this, I top dress at the start of flower with a natural, organic, dry fertilizer with a lower Nitrogen count & mix in some langbeinite, a “naturally mined crystalline mineral providing the water-soluble sulfate form of potassium, magnesium and sulfurs.” I love Vermicrop Organics “VermiBloom” 3-10-5 Fruit & Flower alongside Down to Earth’s water soluble langbeinite. I then add a nice 1” layer of quality compost. Compost helps naturally balance the soil PH, helps retain water & adds nutrients as it breaks down. Lastly, I sprinkle a generous amount of 100% Insect Frass (poop) 2-2-2 that helps keep pests at bay. The word on the pest street is, they really don’t like it. I add this around the base of my plants as a natural insect deterrent that also adds nutrients.I LOVE a multitasker!! When using dry nutrients such as these, applied in this fashion, they need to be added with enough time in advance of when you want your plants to receive the nutrients. Dry amendments take time to break down & become available to the plant. I’ve noticed it can take about two weeks (longer for others depending on the ingredients in the blend & brand!), because I can generally see the rush of health in the plant when it kicks in. So wild! Given the wait time after application, planning WHEN you add nutrients in this manner is very important for maximum benefit. If I am flowering an 8 week strain, I anticipate my girls will be getting the good stuff by week 2, right when they really need it, through the end of flower. In addition to these nutrients, I water with a liquid compost tea every two weeks. The compost tea adds a small amount of nutrients easily absorbed by the plant immediately, while helping break down the organic matter & fertilizer in the soil, making it available to the plants. I love organic amendments for I prefer to feed my soil & use it again & again. My soil really seems to get even better year after year! Another super cool reason to roll organic!? NO NEED TO FLUSH! When using synthetic nutrients, one must flush – feed ONLY with water – for the last couple weeks. I can honestly tell when synthetic nutes are used & not adequately flushed (even then I feel I can still tell). The flavor & aroma are altered, showing what I call the mouth puckering “hairspray effect”. The soil doesn’t love it either, as synthetics can leave salt residues in the soil that can burn your plants. Chemicals, just yuck.

IPM – Integrated Pest Management

Wait, what?!?

“IPM is a process to solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people & the environment…an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, & use of resistant (plant) varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, & treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and nontarget organisms, and the environment.”

– UC California Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Basically, IPM is using natural prevention & environmental methods safe for the humans, pets & wildlife within the habitat, prior to jumping in bed with environmentally damaging pesticides. Even when using a pesticide is the last resort, it should be chosen with utmost care, all things considered.

See the little, white “balloons” floating off the leaf surface?! These are Green Lacewing eggs! Lacewings are beneficial insects that eat the ‘bad guys”. Be sure to learn the beneficials in addition to learning about your common pests. Support the beneficials to maintain a natural balance in the ecosystem without pesticides.

I have been growing in my specific environments for years & I have learned the hard way which pests & disease are problematic to me & why. A “pest” can take many forms depending on where you are located… from deer & voles to aphids or the dreaded russet mite. (Just writing it makes my skin crawl!) There are many factors that affect what you may be up against – your weather (temperature, humidity), the surrounding vegetation, air flow & overall health of the plant play key roles. Learning your environment & microclimates can take some time, close attention & research to see the patterns. Planning for pest & disease control is key when looking to harvest a healthy crop & – I’ll say it again – we need to be proactive instead of reactive. When faced with what may feel like an infestation, & we all as gardeners have been there, resist the urge to react with drastic sprays & instead take a deep breath. There are other options worth trying first & our goal is to grow healthful medicine. As we head into flower, the fact that we are “in flower” presents it own limitations when dealing with pests. Spraying the buds? That can get real dicey & I look to avoid it, with one exception I’ll share in a minute.

Keep the bugs off the nugs! My suggestions for preventive & proactive IPM:

  • Get a jewelers loupe. If you don’t yet have one, get one now, it will be your best friend. A tiny, inexpensive magnifying glass. I get mine at Growbiz, it even has a tiny light. I keep mine on a lanyard & it goes into the gardens with me at all times. I have to wear reader glasses (that’s like double magnification lol!)  so I put them on & look through my loupe, in the sun, for my best visibility. If I find a leaf with damage, I’ll usually pluck it from the plant to best observe it. If just checking the plant randomly, the loupe allows me to view undersides of leaves without removing them, although I may really have to crawl around. 
I usually buy a few of these at the start of every season. They are cheap & mandatory for me. You can see the resin on the loupe from where my fingers touch it, it is used so often when hands on in the garden.
  • Pay close, close attention EVERY DAY. It’s one of the reasons I still love hand watering even with drip lines installed… I get to spend the one on one time looking closely through my plants! By looking closely, I mean get up in that big mama!! Look under the leaves, crawl on the ground underneath if you have to! If you see tiny yellow spotting on your leaves, something is eating it. Most bothersome insect pests (to cannabis) thrive on the undersides of leaves & suck the life juices from the leaf leaving a “stippling”, a yellow, spotted appearance. Mites, thrips & whiteflies cause this type of damage. If you see this, pull out your loupe, check the undersides of the leaf & try to find the culprit. Other signs are tiny black dots near the damage – insect poop! (Yes, they poop where they eat, yo.) If you notice a shiny, snail like slime called “honeydew”, aphids are notorious for excreting this & it will cause black mold to form on leaves or groups of ants to hoard it. If you see a team of ants heading somewhere on your plant, follow them! They will likely lead you to something. Another pain in the butt for me during flower is caterpillars. Oh, they get me in my area! When in the midst of flowering, moths like to lay their eggs on the sweet tips of the flowers, which equals caterpillars eating your buds & causing rotten spots!! (I always imagine them really stoned & looking like the Alice in Wonderland version lol!) Ah, I joke, but there is nothing more horrible than admiring a huge, stunning cola for weeks only to one day see a big, brown, gooey rotten spot where the caterpillar has eaten out the inside, creating a nasty little rotten poop cave & ruining the entire cola. Booo all over that!! Pay close attention, all over, all the time!
Stippling damage on cannabis leaves. This is a tell tale sign of thrips, sucking the juices from your leaves. Investigate carefully & get to know your enemy!
This photo has a few things happening all at once! We have adult aphids on the left. The tiny, oval, glossy black eggs? Aphid eggs. And right there in the center, suspended in the air on a tiny thread, a little, white Green Lacewing egg. Green Lacewings are beneficial & seeing these eggs is a GOOD SIGN.
  • Know your enemy! It can be tough to determine exactly what you are looking at when finding a culprit under your loupe glass. This is where the research comes in. Yep, you are also a freaking scientist! For common pests of cannabis check out www.growweedeasy.com. I have loved this site’s straightforward & easy to understand information for years. For more scientific information about the pests themselves, their life cycles & environmental controls, check out http://ipm.ucanr.edu/index.html. If anything, Google “common cannabis pests” & get a good idea of who they are & what they look like. Knowing exactly what you are up against will help you determine what natural measures are necessary to manage the specific pest. Knowing your enemy will help you adjust the environment accordingly & in preparation. For example, a few years ago I found a few spider mites on a plant at the end of a row. I felt like it was a zombie infestation & could barely even sleep, wanting nothing but to blast them all to hell…but I maintained control! I researched spider mites & learned that they love hot, dusty, dry conditions, so I adjusted the environment to make it more uncomfortable for them. I’d mist under the plant & up under the lower leaves EVERY morning, sometimes again later in the day, to rinse the undersides of the leaves & keep the humidity up. That really stalled them out. I also purchased some beneficial mites, specifically those that thrive in my hot weather conditions & love eating spider mites. Within a week I was in the clear. It was so cool & I didn’t have to kill off every living organism in sight to make it happen. Whew! Needless to say, I now mist up under my plants almost everyday when it is dry, hot & dusty & it keeps the little zombies at bay all season.
  • Stock up on BT! Caterpillars – my one exception to spraying in flower explained. 

First off, what is BT? BT, or bacillus thuringiensis, is a naturally occurring toxin used as an organic pesticide that ONLY affects caterpillars. It’s an organic spray with a quick break down period. 

Bt is a microbe naturally found in soil. It makes proteins that are toxic to immature insects (larvae). Bt makes toxins that target insect larvae when eaten. In the caterpillar’s gut, the toxins are activated. The activated toxin breaks down their gut, and the insects die of infection and starvation. Death can occur within a few hours or weeks.The different types of Bt create toxins that can only be activated by the target insect…”

– National Pesticide Information Center

Covering your plants with insect netting is an option to keep the moths from laying eggs on your flowers, but it doesn’t work well for me. You can spend hours each morning & evening picking them off – which I do, but sometimes I miss seeing the camouflaged little stinks. BT is inexpensive, super effective & has a quick break down period of a week or less. It can be sprayed often with no ill effects on the environment or the buds when sprayed at the right time of day, when they can easily dry out, at the right time in the flowering period. I find that spraying every two weeks is sufficient for me (3 times in the season) & I hold off on using anything at all during the last few weeks, going back to the pick off method to avoid overly wetting really dense buds, especially if the weather has become cool & moist. I do throw out a few flowers each year from caterpillar damage, but the loss is so minimal when prepared.

  • Get to know your weather patterns during this phase of the season. If you have lived in the area you are growing in for many years, you likely have a good idea what changes occur within August to the end of October. Really think about it – When does it get cooler? When does it get rainy, or does it get really humid? Do areas of your garden lose sunshine with the transition of the season, leaving an area now cast longer in shade? If you are new to gardening your area, your specific climate & microclimates may pose some surprising challenges if you don’t plan ahead. Do some research to see what is typical weather for you during the weeks of flower. Depending on the strains you are growing, some may be harvested earlier while others will need to wait, making those late plants more susceptible to fall weather induced problems. One thing I do every year is keep a log. A journal, a calendar, whatever works best for you. I tend to do both. On my calendar I note when flowering begins & the anticipated harvest dates for each strain. These dates are not finite, especially given the lack of some information out there & obscure strains, but they give me an idea of what to prepare for. (Yep, you are also a meteorolgist!) I log the weather patterns from previous years & what I noticed, such as; When was it over 100 degrees? What insects were present during the season? Was there anything specific that posed an issue & why? How can it be avoided next year? Through my research, I can step ahead of disease, fungus or specific pests the weather caters to.
I make notes in my calendar at the beginning of every year, transferring what I have learned from the previous years. I am an old school pencil & paper girl, but your phone notes, your computer, a journal… every type of documentation works & you’ll be so glad you did it.

What I know from taking notes:

  • I know that in August the days begin to get shorter. Slowly we will ease into September, with earlier dusk & nightfall which delays moisture evaporation in areas that would otherwise dry out quickly.
  • I know that it tends to stay warm well through October, but more humid at times.
  • I know that the caterpillars become an issue every single year when flowering begins, causing rotten “poop caves” in the buds, ugh! lol. You still paying attention!?
  • I know that we always have a storm. We have days when temperatures drop significantly. I have multiple years noted with rain & high winds within the first week or two in October! Better have support!
  • I know that aphids tend to pop up in September & October. Some really like cooler temperatures & higher humidity. Be diligent in checking under leaves & up inside the canopy of each plant.
  • I know that earlier sunsets cause some plants to be cast in more shade later in the day than usual. This, in addition to cooler temperatures, moisture in the air & terrible air circulation can cause powdery mildew to blossom. Time to trim up & clean out the inner/ lower canopy of each plant & add an outdoor fan in the area that needs better circulation. (I use an old, rotating stand fan with an extension cord, yes outside, no joke.)
  • I know that any plant infected with botrytis (bud rot) will begin to show with added moisture in the environment.

To be continued….

Part 2 coming up next!

I know you are on the edge of your seat!!! In the short meantime, make sure your girls are supported, you have a nutrient plan in place (if needed) & your IPM awareness is ON! And, if you have any questions thus far or helpful hints to share, please hit me up at jennybee698@icloud.com or drop a comment here. Comments, feedback & topic suggestions are SOOO appreciated! Thank you for your support of The Garden Love!! 💚

*If you find that adjusting cultural controls & trying natural methods are just not getting the job done, you’ve tried everything to no avail & you’re ready for a heavy hitter lest you lose your entire crop, check the California Department of Agriculture for what is OK & what is NOT OK to use on cannabis. https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/cannabis/questions.htm Confirm the exact pest you are treating for & be aware that some pesticides, while eradicating one pest, can alter your environment allowing another to thrive creating another problem! 

Roadie says, “HIGH!”