The key to an amazing harvest is optimizing a cycle that begins with the seed or clone. That seed/clone progresses throughout it’s vegetation phase, it’s transplanting and bloom phases, and finally completing with the drying and curing process, like this:
2. Root building
This first installment is going to deal with phases 1-4 above. Please stay tuned for more information on steps 5 and 6.
When germinating seeds it is very important to not stress the young seedling. The main sources of stress are handling the delicate emerging tap root, exposing the delicate tap root to light, germinating in such a way that gravitropism does not come into play (paper towell method) and germinating in a harsh environment.
An important point to remember is that a harsh environment for a seed is somewhere too wet and too humid, which ironically happens to be the ideal environment for rooting clones. So, do not germinate seeds under a humidity dome and do not try to clone in a dry environment. It is a common mistake to do both under the humidity dome. Don't do it!
We recommend germinating in moist, High Brix soil. At the very least, if you insist on germinating seeds in a peat plug, plant the peat plug into High Brix soil so the roots will be colonized right from the start. Make sure the seed is pushed into the peat plug to where it's dark at all times.
Always germinate seeds with temps in the high 70's, humidity 50-60% and with a bright light on the emerging cotyledon.
Cloning, on the other hand needs much less light, much higher humidity and pretty much the same temps.
We highly recommend not germinating on paper towells and then planting when the seeds "crack." Sure, you can be successful doing this, but it is far from optimal and the secret to getting the best is to relentlessly optimize each phase. With that in mind, we typically recommend germinating directly in soil, or in a plug planted in the soil.
For Cloning, we recommend peat plugs over aero-cloners, because the roots are different and we're going to be in soil. Water roots from an aero-cloner take time to adapt to soil, which does not optimize this phase.
A very important tip on cloning is to only choose branches from the lower part of the plants, with woody-not-soft stems and 5 or more blades per leaf. 3-bladed leaves or even-numbered blades are signs of stress, and we need to pass up these shoots until they have odd-numbered 5 or more blades on their leaves.
Once the seedling or clone is established, phase 2 is to maximize root formation.
We do this with wet/dry watering cycles, which are described elsewhere on this website. It amounts to soaking the container by submerging it and saturating every inch of it, and letting it go completely dry almost to the point where the plant wilts a bit (you can let it wilt ONCE, not repeatedly) and then saturating and beginning the cycle again.
This will create massive amounts of roots, fat, strong stems, short internodes and higher calyx to leaf ratio....which is exactly what we want to achieve.
The other thing we are concerned about in the vegetative phase is foliage. While it's true that leaves aren't nearly as important as roots, it's also true that healthy roots create healthy leaves, but not quite as many of them as would be if we skipped the wet/dry cycles.
When Pruning (Phase 3) the main thing we're trying to accomplish—whether topping, training, or letting it grow natural—is trimming off branches in such a way that we can look down from the top and see the dirt. This is very important, because we want to make sure that light can penetrate every inch of the plant and that no leaves are in the dark.
Phototropism---the ability of plants to move their leaves and branches and optimally orient themselves to the light will insure that all bud sites are getting the proper amount of light. If the upper canopy is too thick, the lower leaves will be shaded and we won't be optimizing this phase.
Phase 4 is also very, very important. After we've been careful to germinate under optimal conditions, developed strong roots, thick stems and made it so that all leaves can get light, we now need to transplant into the final "bloom" containers.
The single biggest mistake you can make at this phase is to transplant too soon. It is recommended that the plant be quite root bound, to the point of needed water every day before transplanting. Why? Because we want massive amounts of roots and a minimal amount of leaves going into the bloom phase.
A thick, sturdy rootball is difficult to damage by transplanting, whereas a new, barely formed rootball is easily damaged. It's much better to wait too long to transplant than to rush it and do it too soon.
Remember to vertically score the roots in 4 places, 90 degrees apart, and quickly plant into soil. The less time the roots are exposed to light and air, the better. A few seconds is all it takes.
We recommend starting in 1 gallon containers and transplanting into containers 7 gallons or larger. A second transplant, either from a tiny pot to a one gallon, or from a one gallon to 4 gallons, etc. is possible, but not recommended.
Transplanting is stressful to the plant—whether you see signs of Transplant Shock, or not. Minimize this stress by only transplanting once.
Seeds in soil germinate under bright light, with 50-60 rH.
Clones need very little light and much more humidity....90% is great.
Wet/Dry watering cycles
Pruning to see dirt from above
Wait till you have a massive root ball before transplanting.
Following these simple steps will help maximize the bloom phase, which we'll discuss in the near future.
Happy High Brix Gardening!
DocBud's High Brix Blend