GROW BAGS REVIEW CONCLUSION
After several months of testing, the verdict is in on “grow bags” and I can tell you that they work! Grow bags are said to promote “air root” pruning which occurs when the plant roots attempt to spread inside their growing container. In a regular hard shell plant pot the roots spread out to the limits of their space within the pot and when they hit the sides of their container they reach downward to end up in a bunched up mass of roots at the bottom of the plant pot. When this happens the plants become “root bound” and the roots fail to bring maximum amounts of nutrients to the plant. However when plant roots hit the side of a “grow bag” container they react to the porous material differently and stop growing the same way they would if exposed to air. When these roots make contact with air the main roots stop growing and smaller feeder roots are sent out toward the center of the grow bag. These feeder roots provide a lot more nutrition than the bunched up roots of a root bound plant and make for larger healthier plants. Or at least that is one of the advertising claims that came with the grow bags. I was pleasantly surprised to find those claims to be true. The grow bag type that I selected for my test was the Geo Pot brand that their grow bags come heavily stitched and offer two carry handles for easy mobility. I am impressed by the quality and thickness of the material in the Geo Pot bags and I expect them to last many years. The grow bags come in virtually all sizes from one gallon all the way up to ten gallon sizes and larger. They tend to be square in shape rather than round.
RESULTS – Plants in grow bags definitely grow larger and have less brown or dead leaves during growth than plants grown in hard shell containers. Even at the end of their life cycle there were few if any dead leaves on the full term flowering plants except at the very bottom of the plants in the dark areas surrounding the plant trunks. I found it necessary to go up one or two sizes in grow bag to accommodate plants that were already in hard shell containers. Starts went from one gallon to two gallon and after some experimentation to three gallon grow bags. Flowering plants went from five gallon plastic pots to seven gallon grow bags. The move to larger grow bags was needed to accommodate the larger root masses that soon followed the transplanting from plastic containers to grow bags. With larger plants come larger buds. From my experience the additional bud growth per plant should run about 30% to 50% increase in yield. This increase in production is mitigated by the fact that the transplanted plants must have additional room to grow to their increased size in order to realize the full potential of grow bags. If your plants are already taking up all the room that there is in your indoor garden then switching to grow bags which require more room that your existing hard shell containers might not give that much of an increase in bud yield as the increase in bud per plant is offset by fewer plants in the garden. (Grow bags have a square profile and take up more floor space than the equivalent size hard shell containers and plant pots that are round). If you are growing sea of green or growing smaller plants that do not already become root bound in their existing containers you might not see much increase in bud production. But if you are already experiencing root bound plants in hard shell containers and you have room for the extras growth then you will find that grow bags are definite advantages in growing bud.
NEGATIVES – Grow bags are difficult to clean in comparison to plastic grow pots because thousands of tiny roots become stuck in the material after transplanting. The best way to clean them is to hose off the dirt, then manually pull off the root hairs. (I am thinking of trying a hair trimmer to shave the plant hairs from each side of the grow bag). Once the dirt and root hairs are mostly removed the grow bags can be washed in a washing machine with a disinfecting bleach solution. Like I said it’s a lot more work than hosing down a plastic bucket. At about $5 per grow bag it is probably worth while to use them a few times without cleaning them in between grow cycles and then throw the bags away and buy new ones every year or two.
Stay tuned for further updates on grow bags.
ORIGINAL GROW BAG REVIEW
I have been researching the benefits of using grow bags instead of traditional clay or plastic plant containers for growing cannabis indoors. Grow bags come in various sizes and the best ones are made with strap handles for easy portability. Grow bags are made with a breathable material that allows the roots to grow like crazy and as I have said before, big roots mean big plants. The secret behind the grow bags is “air root pruning”. When the cannabis plant’s root tips reach the edge of the container in a plastic or clay pot the roots continue to grow down the side of the pot until they end up massing in a large knot of roots at the bottom of the growing container. When cannabis plants become root bound in this manner they slow in growth and begin to weaken in health. But when the cannabis plant’s root tips begin to grow through the grow bag they stop growing as they hit the air outside of the grow bag. This “air root pruning” process forces the mass of plant roots to branch out towards the center of the container creating more fibrous feeder roots which are very efficient in taking up water and nutrients resulting in vigorous growth and healthy plants. The grow bag’s porous fabric allows air to enter the plant’s root zone from all surfaces of the container. This aeration provides a healthy environment for the roots by bringing oxygen to the root zone which helps in supporting beneficial microorganisms and bacteria. The unique porous fabric of the grow bags drain better than hard shell pots allowing any excess water to drip from the container and keeping the grow bag’s moisture at an ideal level for superior plant growth. From what I have discovered so far, the claims made above are true and in the vegetative stages cannabis plants do grow bigger, healthier and faster in fabric grow bags than they do in rigid containers. The roots appear very white where they peek through the material but it remains to be seen if grow bags suffer any problems over the long term in the indoor growing environment. Internet reports claim that grow bags are not very suitable for growing plants outdoors in a soggy climate like the Caribbean or South America because they encourage too much moisture in the root zone. But as long as your indoor environment is reasonably dry and not too moist grow bags seem to compensate for some of the drawbacks of growing cannabis indoors. Stay tuned for further updates on the long term feasibility of growing cannabis indoors in grow bags. My next report on grow bags will probably be released in a couple of months.
How to grow bigger buds . . .The secret to growing bigger marijuana buds is all about timing. Bigger buds begin with bigger starts. The timing of switching your plants from the vegetative cycle to the flowering cycle is critical to growing bigger buds. If the starts that you place in the budding room are too immature their roots will not be fully developed. If the roots are not fully developed the flowering plant will grow up to be stunted and the buds on that plant will be stunted. No amount of fertilizing can overcome this setback. Only time will cure the problem of immature starts. And that means time under the the vegetative cycle lights not the bloom cycle lights. Once your plants are in bloom they show a brief growth spurt and then slow their growing in terms of height and thickness while they begin producing buds. The buds grow in proportion with the plants. Little plants mean little buds. Larger plants produce larger buds. This is true regardless of the genetics of the plants. Placing starts in the bud room too young produces small plants and small buds but placing your starts in the bud room too late can also cause problems. If your cannabis starts are kept in the vegetative room too long they will become root bound in their smaller pots. That means that the roots will become mangled and matted together which will prevent them from spreading when they are placed in the larger pots of the budding room. if the roots can not spread the plant can not grow to its full potential and will produce smaller buds than optimum. Another problem with placing starts in the bud room too late is the plants may become too large for the budding room as they growth spurt themselves right up to the ceiling. This can result in a situation where the plants actually grow past the lights. With the top part of the plant in relative darkness bud development will slow unless the plant is bent lower to fit beneath the lights. (Never prune a plant in bud as it retards development of the buds). Bending the plants will help to mitigate the damage caused by over reaching plants but best results come from perfectly sized plants that fit under the grow lights without the need for bending the tops. A perfectly developed grow room plant will complete its cycle at exactly the right height for the lamps. So you see timing is everything when it comes to producing large buds.
Cooking with cannabis – How to Make Canna Butter
Cooking with cannabis is just like cooking with everyday food stuffs only instead of regular butter, pot cooking recipes call for Canna-butter. Canna butter is simply regular butter infused with cannabis resin. The Canna-butter is used in the same amounts that regular butter is called for in any recipe. To make Canna-butter you must first cut some tops from a cannabis/marijuana plant. Note that I said tops not shake. If you want to use purchased marijuana you can but once again use buds not shake. Break the buds into small pieces and drop them into a frying pan that is melting some warm butter. Note that I said warm butter not hot butter. The frying pan should be warm enough to melt the butter but not quite so hot as to boil the butter. Keep the butter just under the boiling point moving the frying pan from the hot burner from time to time in order to prevent the butter from burning. To bake a marijuana laced cake or brownies you would use about a gram of bud per tablespoon of butter. Stir the bud bits around in the melted butter for about ten to fifteen minutes. You will notice the butter begin to turn amber as it soaks up the cannabis resin. You will also notice a scum or brown coating floating on top of the amber liquid. That scum must be removed by skimming it off with a spoon. The brown scum or coating is impurities in the Canna-butter that will detract from the flavour of the Canna-butter. Once the brown scum is removed pour the remaining amber liquid from the frying pan into a container for some kind for storage or mix it directly into the food you are cooking or preparing. Remove and dispose of the remaining cannabis vegetable material in the frying pan. To store Canna-butter keep it in the freezer in an air tight container. Canna-butter can be used as a dressing on salads or it can also be mixed into drinks and shakes (when warm) as well as baked, fried or broiled with meats and vegetables. The main taste difference in a brownie cooked with regular butter and a brownie cooked in Canna-butter is in the caramel-butterscotch flavour that is added to the pot brownie by the Canna-butter. In fact I much prefer the pot brownie flavour over the regular brownie flavour and my only caution is to store the pot brownies safely away from children and non pot users. Using Canna-butter in recipes adds new meaning to the old expression “Eat drink and be merry”.
INDOOR HARVESTING TECHNIQUES
| There are two basic ways to harvest indoor marijuana crops. You can either harvest them all at once when they come due or you can choose to harvest your plants on a rotating basis- for example cutting only two plants from your garden per week. Growing is somewhat simpler when harvesting your garden all at once. With an all in one harvest he mature flowering plants are moved out of the budding room all together and the next crop of vegetated plants moves into the budding room all together. When harvesting on a rotating basis two flowering plants per week are moved out of the “bloom room” to be dried for a few days and then smoked while two vegetated plants move from the clone room into the bloom room to keep the garden rotating. There are benefits from both harvesting methods. Harvesting your garden all at once requires a certain amount of discipline since it will be at least two months before the next crop is ready for harvest. That means you must carefully ration your harvest over the next two months when it is easy to forget and smoke your fool head off for the first month and then run out of weed before the next crop is ready for harvest. This can mean disaster if you start cutting the next batch down early in order to keep on smoking. On the other hand harvesting all of your plants together means that at least some of the weed will have time to properly dry and cure over a period of weeks unlike rotating harvests that are always only a few days away from being smoked with no time allowed for curing the weed. Since I like the flavour of fresh weed and occasionally display a lack of self control I prefer to harvest only what I need for a week or so and rotate my harvests that way. There is a greater requirement for attention to individual plants when rotating harvests because each plant needs its own special feeding formula based on its stage of growth. In a garden that is harvested all at once all of the plants can be fed the same formula allowing for hydroponics feeding.