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Hydroponics Growing Guide

Watering

If you live near a clear mountain stream, you can skip this bit on the quality of water. Most of us are supplied water by the city and some cities add more chemicals to the water than others. They all add chlorine, however, in varying quantities. Humans over the years have learned to either get rid of it somehow or to live with it, but your marijuana plants won't have time to acquire a taste for it so you had better see that they don't have to. Chlorine will evaporate if you let the water stand for 24 hours in an open container. Letting the water stand for a day or two will serve a dual purpose: The water will come to room temperature during that period of time and you can avoid the nasty shock your plants suffer when you drench them with cold water.

Always water with room temperature to lukewarm water. If your water has an excessive amount of chlorine in it, you may want to get some anti- chlorine drops at the local fish or pet store. The most important thing about watering is to do it thoroughly. You can water a plant in a three gallon container with as much as three quarts of water. The idea is to get the soil evenly moist all the way to the bottom of the pot. If you use a little water, even if you do it often, it seeps just a short way down into the soil and any roots below the moist soil will start to turn upwards toward the water. The second most important thing about watering is to see to it that the pot has good drainage. There should be some holes in the bottom so that any excess water will run out. If the pot won't drain, the excess water will accumulate in a pocket and rot the roots of the plant or simply make the soil sour or mildew. The soil, as we said earlier, must allow the water to drain evenly through it and must not become hard or packed. If you have made sure that the soil contains sand and pearlite, you shouldn't have drainage problems. To discover when to water, feel the soil with your finger. if you feel moisture in the soil, you can wait a day or two to water. The soil near the top of the pot is always drier than the soil further down. You can drown your plant just as easily as you can let it get too dry and it is more likely to survive a dry spell than it is to survive a torrential flood. Water the plants well when you water and don't water them at all when they don't need it.


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Bugs and Pests

If you can avoid getting bugs in the first place you will be much better off. Once your plants become infested you will probably be fighting bugs for the rest of your plants' lives. To avoid bugs be sure to use sterilized soil and containers and don't bring other plants from outside into your growing room. If you have bets, ensure that they stay out of your growing room, since they can bring in pests on their fur. Examine your plants regularly for signs of insects, spots, holes in the leaves, browning of the tips of the leaves, and droopy branches. If you find that somehow in spite of all your precautions you have a plant room full of bugs, you'll have to spray your plants with some kind of insecticide.

You'll want to use something that will kill the bugs and not you. Spider mites are probably the bug that will do the most damage to the marijuana plants. One of the reasons is that they are almost microscopic and very hard to spot. They are called spider mites because they leave a web-like substance clinging to the leaves. They also cause tiny little spots to appear on the leaves. Probably the first thing you'll notice, however, is that your plants look sick and depressed. The mites suck enzymes from the leaves and as a result the leaves lose some of their green color and glossiness. Sometimes the leaves look like they have some kid of fungus on them. The eggs are very tiny black dots. You might be wise to get a magnifying glass so that you can really scrutinize your plants closely. Be sure to examine the underside of the leaves too. The mites will often be found clinging to the underside as well as the top of the leaves. The sooner you start fighting the bugs, the easier it will be to get rid of them. For killing spider mites on marijuana, one of the best insecticides if "Fruit and Berry" spray made by Millers. Ortho also produces several insecticides that will kill mites. The ingredients to look for are Kelthane and Malathion [erowid note- Malathion may be very toxic to humans, should be handled very carefully, and is certainly not intended for indoor use.

It also seems highly preferable to avoid spraying pesticides or any chemicals on plants that will be smoked without being washed thoroughly first.] Both of these poisons are lethal to humans and pets as well as bugs, but they both detoxify in about ten days so you can safely smoke the grass ten days after spraying. Fruit and Berry will only kill the adult mite, however, and you'll have to spray every four days for about two weeks to be sure that you have killed all the adults before they have had a chance to lay eggs. Keep a close watch on your plants because it only takes one egg laying adult to re- infest your plants and chances are that one or two will escape your barrage of insecticides. If you see little bugs flying around your plants, they are probably white flies. The adults are immune to almost all the commercial insecticides except Fruit and Berry which will not kill the eggs or larva. It is the larval stage of this insect that does the most damage. They suck out enzymes too, and kill your plants if they go unchecked. You will have to get on a spraying program just as was explained in the spider mite section.

An organic method of bug control is using soap suds. Put Ivory flakes in some lukewarm water and work up the suds into a lather. Then put the suds over the plant. The obvious disadvantage is it you don't rinse the soap off the plant you'll taste the soap when you smoke the leaves.

Pruning

We have found that pruning is not always necessary. The reason one does it in the first place is to encourage secondary growth and to allow light to reach the immature leaves. Some strands of grass just naturally grow thick and bushy and if they are not clipped the sap moves in an uninterrupted flow right to the top of the plant where it produces flowers that are thick with resin. On the other hand, if your plants appear tall and spindly for their age at three weeks, they probably require a little trimming to ensure a nice full leafy plant. At three weeks of age your plant should have at least two sets of branches or four leaf clusters and a top. To prune the plant, simply slice the top off just about the place where two branches oppose each other. Use a razor blade in a straight cut. If you want to, you can root the top in some water and when the roots appear, plant the top in moist soil and it should grow into another plant. If you are going to root the top you should cut the end again, this time with a diagonal cut so as to expose more surface to the water or rooting solution. The advantage to taking cuttings from your plant is that it produces more tops. The tops have the resin, and that's the name of the game. Every time you cut off a top, the plant seeds out two more top branches at the base of the existing branches. Pruning also encourages the branches underneath to grow faster than they normally would without the top having been cut. Far more information here.

Harvesting and Curing

Well, now that you've grown your marijuana, you will want to cur it right so that it smokes clean and won't bite. You can avoid that "homegrown" taste of chlorophyll that sometimes makes one's fillings taste like they might be dissolving. We know of several methods of curing the marijuana so that it will have a mild flavor and a mellow rather than harsh smoke.

First, pull the plant up roots and all and hang it upside down for 24 hours. Then put each plant in a paper grocery bag with the top open for three or four days or until the leaves feel dry to the touch. Now strip the leaves off the stem and put them in a glass jar with a lid. Don't pack the leaves in tightly, you want air to reach all the leaves. The main danger in the curing process is mold. If the leaves are too damp when you put them into the jar, they will mold and since the mold will destroy the resins, mold will ruin your marijuana. you should check the jars every day by smelling them and if you smell an acrid aroma, take the weed out of the jar and spread it out on newspaper so that it can dry quickly. Another method is to uproot the plants and hang them upside down. You get some burlap bags damp and slip them up over the plants. Keep the bags damp and leave them in the sun for at least a week. Now put the plants in a paper bag for a few days until the weed is dry enough to smoke. More about Harvesting and Curing Marijuana.

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