< INTRO >
The South African climate is slowly changing with regards to it's attitude towards Cannabis. South Africans are now legally allowed to grow weed, for their own private use, in the safety of their own homes.
While at this point the law still stands to be rather vague as to what quantity exactly qualifies as 'personal use' and that coupled with the paradox that purchasing marijuana seeds remains illegal, making things a tad confusing, the shift in perspective is still tangible as popular nursery branches begin to market 'weed growing kits' and many begin to wonder if this means they may have been too hard on the subject.
As more and more South Africans begin utilizing cannabidiol oil as a healthier/more natural alternative to treat a range of anxiety, cognition and movement disorders others are finding THC oil is having positive effects on autistic children. Heck the pet store down the road now sells THC oil (from presumably under the counter) and I just so happened to have seen first hand a dog with such bad anxiety that it was nerve-wracking just to be in the room with her, get a brand new lease on life because of it.
While the applications seem endless many are just excited by the mere fact that they CAN grow. So, with the power of vermiculture (worm farming) on our side, we thought weed give it a bash.
< Seeds >
To start, let's be clear, we don't really know what we are doing and therefore did nothing special and this is actually the point!
The GroPro is a no fuss, very effective tool to grow a range of things and the point here is to show that cannabis can be one of them without trying too hard. ( - and let's be honest, of all the crops we could choose to make this point with, cannabis is a good one as it's colloquially called 'weed' for a reason.) Serious growers should go forth and adjust the growing medium, add any extra nutrients they might like and incorporate any tricks of the trade which take their fancy.
We obtained 30 seeds from what we are told was 'a big bag of badly grown weed.' So these seeds were not feminized (cannabis, rather like avocado plants/trees, for example, have a male and a female sex. The female cannabis plant develops buds charged with THC which is what most growers are after) which meant a mix of male and female plants. The seeds were not of a particular strain and basically were nothing special at all.
The cannabis seeds stayed true to their 'weed' connotations and EVERY SINGLE ONE germinated. Basically unheard of for most flora.
At this early stage of the game in any #GroPro planting, whether from seed or seedling, it is all about caring for your young plants through the establishment phase. Both cannabis and the #GroPro are extremely water efficient but for now make sure they don't go thirsty - we give a full watering of 5L (this includes the water which has been recycled and collected in the basin below) and give the pockets a spray in the morning and evenings.
We did this for 2 weeks and as you can see above is the result. Right, now is where it starts to get fun.
< Sex >
Don't get too excited.
Our plants began to show sex after a few weeks - this period will differ from strain to strain, your particular micro-climate and it's lighting conditions and the particular point in the season when planted. As seems to be the way, across a broad spectrum of life, the females matured first.
The indicator for a female cannabis plant is white pistols or hairs which emerge initially from a point where the female flower will eventually develop, the white pistol protruding from the tip of the flower once it does so.
Soon the boys did indeed follow suit even if a bit late to the party. The male indicator is a bit more what you'd expect - tiny plant testicles. Basically. Sort of. Well pretty much. These are little pollen sacs which develop in the same location as the female's pistols - where the leaf stem emerges from the actual stem. These pollen sacs would open up and the pollen would be released. If the pollen came into contact with a female's white pistol, she would be fertilized.
< Fertilization >
Now the thing which anyone who has ever grown these plants before knows and which we had to discover, was that fertilization is the last thing you want to occur. The theory is as follows: If the female cannabis plant is fertilized by male pollen, she will begin to develop seeds within her bud once at a certain level of maturity. The problem with this is that she will split her energy reserves between creating the bud and it's THC content (as aforementioned this is what most growers are after, in as larger volume as possible) and the seeds themselves.
So what's to be done? Simple, we have to take out the males. Sorry gents.
At this point, this would have been the benefit of having purchased feminized seeds. We could've skipped this step and ended up with a #GroPro full of females - although truth be told, with regards the law, you may find yourself with more bud than you may like (various people scoffing at this sentence). So be cautious.
< Our Ratio >
11 out of 30 plants turned out to be male. So not a bad outcome ultimately as it could've been exactly 50/50 or there could have been more males than females - never a good time. So the lads, they had to go and below is the result.
< Companion Planting >
Companion planting is a great way to achieve a variety of goals from: preventing pests from attacking crops through the use of decoy plants which they hit first; by using companion crops which attract predators to clean up the pests in question; altering the taste of another crop via companion plants; and aiding in growth.
So we had a decision to make as to what we would plant alongside our cannabis. Now there are a good few options available from basil and chamomile through to chrysanthemums - you can find these and a few more options with a quick google search.
In this case we really made our decision based on just 2 requirements. Firstly we were looking for something which would balance out the height of the cannabis and therefore the #GroPro composition (aesthetics, aesthetics, aesthetics) and secondly a crop option which would allow us to sleep soundly knowing there would be no dramatic clash which might result in a drama and bring us to tears.
The answer we arrived at, was lavender.
While lavender fulfills our height requirements the flowers will also add a nice touch of colour to the #GroPro. They will also attract nectar feeding insects which also feed on larvae - which will aid in pest control. For general knowledge purposes lavender also drives off ticks, fleas and mice although none of these are of major concern here.
Lastly the smell. Can you imagine the scent of fruity cannabis intermingling with the glorious perfume of natural lavender? A feast for the senses.
< Budding Growth >
So what are the buds starting to look like at this point?
The Pistols are really starting to come through on some of the plants, forming large mops of of the alien tendrils. Some plants are displaying more than others and their individual characters are starting to become evident. This is as much to do with placement on the GroPro and the light the plant is receiving because of it's location as well as inherent genetic differences. Nature vs Nurture.