dinsdag 11 november 2008

donderdag 3 juli 2008

donderdag 12 juni 2008

Growing inside, outside, hydroponically and in soil.

The advantages of growing in soil indoors

Cannabis, Hemp, Nature, Marijuana, Seeds,  growing, indoor, outdoorThe difference here is similar to the difference between indoor and outdoor cultivation. Soil growing requires less equipment, investment and, generally, less work to control the various factors influencing growth.

The only specialist equipment required for the simplest indoor soil set-up would be seeds, organic nutrients, a light and a timer. The remaining equipment - soil, pots, fans, reflective materials and such should be easily available in most countries.

As an organic compound, soil is less sensitive to changes and small variations than a synthetic medium like rockwool. It could be called a self-regulating environment. Thus, pH testing equipment is usually not required.

Similarly, organic nutrients are gentler to plants than the concentrated salts and minerals of hydroponic feed mixtures. Therefore, while it is still possible to over-fertilise an organic system, such a mistake is less likely to 'burn' or kill plants. An EC meter is not required for soil growing

In short, soil growing is easier and more forgiving of growers' mistakes. Therefore it is a highly advisable method for the first time indoor grower.

The advantages of growing hydroponically indoors

Indoor cultivation allows more control over a plant's life cycle than outdoor. In the same way, hydroponic cultivation allows the grower an even greater level of control.

Since plants in a hydroponic setup are growing in a synthetic, neutral medium the grower is able to dictate exactly which nutrients are given to a plant, and at what levels. Of course, this requires more care than organics and usually necessitates the use of a pH meter (to measure acidity in water) and an EC meter (to measure the level of nutrient in water by means of its Electrical Conductivity).

Hydroponic growing mediums are less bulky and heavy than soil, often easier to handle and possibly easier to dispose of. Pests and fungus are less likely to flourish in rockwool or similar mediums, and are almost never endemic to newly bought synthetic mediums.

Hydroponic nutrients, since they are highly concentrated, take up less space than organics, especially for large crops. They are usually pre-mixed and do not require the grower to supplement them or combine several different formulas. Also, they will often smell less than organic nutrients.

In short, the more in-depth control available with hydroponics, when managed effectively, allows for a bigger, more potent and sometimes even faster crop. While such systems are not recommended for first-time indoor growers, those who have experienced success with soil cultivation indoors may wish to try this as the next step in refining their technique.

The advantages of growing outdoors

Outdoor cultivation requires less equipment, expertise and labour.

For the first few weeks of life, outdoor plants need the same care and attention as indoor ones. However, once a few basics have been well established, outdoor plants may be left (in a good, sunny spot) to take care of themselves. They may need to be regularly watered and fed and, occasionally, pruned but most of their development will be accomplished simply by allowing them to grow over spring and summer.

This feature of outdoor cultivation is what makes 'guerilla growing' possible. Established plants may be placed outside in remote or wild areas and left to their own devices throughout the growing season. The guerilla grower need only visit them a few times in this period, or even just the once, at harvest time.

Outdoor plants will usually yield more than indoor ones. This is simply because they are able to grow larger. Few indoor setups are able accommodate plants larger than 180cm. Assuming that detection is not a problem, outdoor plants may comfortably grow to 2 or 3m in height. It is possible for a single plant of this size to produce 500g or more of dried bud.

Germinating seeds early in the growing season (March or April in the Northern hemisphere) will allow your plants a long vegetative period before flowering is triggered by the shorter days of late summer.

Some people prefer the taste and effect of organically grown cannabis. Many cannabis lovers insist they can easily differentiate between buds grown with soil and sun and those produced with hydroponics and grow-lights. This, however may simply be the result of their smoking over-fertilised indoor cannabis, or even the fact that indoor buds can taste very different, due to their containing an uncommonly high level of THC that is simply not attainable outdoors.

The difference between Indica and Sativa?

Scientifically (and legally), all cannabis is Cannabis Sativa L.. In practice, Indica and Sativa are the names used to distinguish each end of the cannabis 'spectrum'. There are a multitude of different growth-patterns, qualities and effects within this spectrum, most of which are a result of cannabis' remarkable ability to adapt to its environment. Genetically, and in terms of interbreeding, all cannabis is in the same family. The Sativa 'high' and the Indica 'stone' are difficult to compare in terms of power. The immediate hit and rich taste of an Indica may seem more powerful initially; a Sativa may have a subtler, yet far more profound effect.

INDICA:

Most Indica varieties come from southern Asia and the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tibet, Nepal, etc.).

Indicas are compact and stocky, with dense, heavy, fragrant buds. Indica buds tend to grow in clusters, with varying amounts of space (known as 'internode space') between each cluster.

Indicas are the faster flowering varieties, usually with a flowering time of 6 to 9 weeks.

Indicas do not tend to gain height rapidly once flowering has begun. An Indica may be expected to gain between 50 and 100% of its vegetative height by the end of its flowering period.

The effect of Indica is generally classified as a 'stone', meaning that it is more centred on the body. It may enhance physical sensations such as taste, touch and sound. It has a relaxing effect - mentally and physically - and may be soporific in larger doses.

SATIVA:

Sativas generally originate in the equatorial regions - Thailand, Cambodia, Jamaica, Mexico, etc.

Given the same conditions, Sativas grow taller than Indicas. Sativa buds tend grow larger than Indica, as they run along the length of a branch instead of clustering around the internodes. However, they will usually weigh less than Indica when dry, due to their lower density. Sativa buds also tend to have a less striking odour, both when growing and when dry.

Sativas take longer to flower. They will usually need between 9 and 12 weeks to finish blooming. However, they need far less vegetative time BEFORE flowering than Indicas. So the overall time required for Sativas is about the same as for Indicas (and sometimes less in terms of 'light hours')

Sativas will usually continue to gain height while flowering, often gaining 200%, 300% or more of their vegetative height while flowering. This is because around the equator there is not so much difference in the number of daylight hours between winter and summer. Therefore, Sativas in their native environment will grow and flower at the same time. For this reason indoor growers should not allow a Sativa too much vegetative growth before inducing flowering. When growing from clones, many Sativa varieties may be flowered as soon as the clone has rooted.

Despite their lower weight and potentially longer flowering time, Sativas are valued by many growers for their 'high' effect. This high may be characterized as cerebral, energetic, creative, giggly or even psychedelic. It is less overpowering than the Indica 'stone', and less likely to send the user to sleep.

maandag 9 juni 2008

Protecting Children from Drugs

Cannabis, Marijuana, Hemp, Environment, SeedsThe sponsors of a medical cannabis initiative appearing on South Dakota’s ballot in November are suing the state Attorney General over his misleading summary of the initiative, apparently designed to encourage a negative reaction in voters. The AG must write a neutral summary of each state ballot initiative. In this case, his first act was to rename the measure.
"An act to provide safe access to medical marijuana for certain qualified persons," became "An Initiative to authorize marijuana use for adults and children with specified medical conditions."
August 2006 (source)

It’s curious that the greatest - or at least the loudest - love for children is proclaimed by those who display a general distrust of progress and freedom.
Groups seeking to control individual behaviour, undermine civil rights or impose a moral code on society will frequently broadcast their own sincere desire to protect young folk from real or imaginary threats, habitually invoking ‘the children’ to justify each new restriction.
If the safety of children is at stake, who could possibly object to laws that curtail privacy, individual choice and basic liberty?

The need to protect the young is biological, a basic principle of survival seen in most animals. In people, the instinct is more refined; it applies to our species in general and is not limited to our own children. Because it is a rational decision based on a powerful unconscious imperative, the protective urge can be irrational in its expression and has a long and unfortunate tradition of being used to manipulate people.

As cannabis becomes more tolerated, propaganda has shifted from its traditional attack on the plant to a coordinated attempt to defend prohibition. Naturally, ‘protecting the children’ is the central theme of efforts to justify the unjustifiable.

- Dope-smoking dads double risk of cot death
- Marijuana may cause pregnancies to fail
- Why teenagers should steer clear of cannabis
- Alarming rise in number of child cannabis victims

It’s tempting to see this as a tactic of last resort – a laughable ploy to demonise cannabis and “re-brand” it as specifically threatening to children. Perhaps the campaign to scare adults about their own use of cannabis has finally been abandoned, as it is clearly contradicted by reality?

Even so, the tactic of shifting the focus to ‘the children’ and playing on parents’ anxieties is abhorrent. It exploits children for propaganda and is effective in distracting attention from more significant threats to the health of young people.

One example is the disturbing push to control children’s mood and behaviour with powerful psychiatric drugs such as Prozac and other SSRIs, which are designed to alter levels of serotonin in the brain.
This trend endangers young people as much as it enriches drug manufacturers and its scope is unprecedented – the numbers of children being medicated, the absurdly young ages at which they’re diagnosed as depressed or mentally unbalanced and the potency of the psychotropic drugs they’re prescribed.

European doctors have received strong warnings against prescribing SSRIs to children, but the practice has not been banned. In the US, the country with most strident anti-cannabis propaganda and the loudest devotion to protecting ‘the children’, the practice of drugging the young in order to regulate their behaviour is both an industry and an epidemic.

Currently, 2% of US children aged 6-16 are taking SSRIs and up to 10% are on stimulants such as Ritalin. Despite the FDA ordering "black boxes " for SSRI packaging - the most severe class of safety warnings - around 9 million prescriptions were written for US children in 2005, with under-fives the fastest-growing segment of children using antidepressants.
An estimated 17 million children worldwide are prescribed some form of behaviour-modifying drug. Worldwide sales of antidepressants to all age-groups reached more than $19.5 billion in 2002.

For one example of media misdirection regarding children, drugs and mental health, consider the following facts:

1. Cannabis is a powerful, effective, low-risk medicine that provides relief for an enormous range of conditions and improves quality of life for millions of people. It has an unparalleled safety record, having been used safely for thousands of years. Cannabis is effective in its natural form and can grow virtually anywhere with minimal effort, making it potentially free for anyone.

2. Conversely, the trend of medicating the young with powerful psychiatric drugs is highly profitable and unique in history. The idea of moderating children’s mood or behaviour with pharmaceuticals would have been unthinkable a generation ago, yet today it is presented as a normal solution by large sections of the media.
Rather than a hypothetical and unproven risk of altering brain chemistry in sensitive individuals, as is said of cannabis, SSRIs are specifically designed to change brain chemistry in order to modify mood and behaviour.

3. The sudden increase in prohibitionist propaganda associating cannabis with danger to children amounts to a co-ordinated media campaign. The obvious intention is to heighten fears that cannabis may cause schizophrenia, depression, suicidal thoughts or general unspecified mental illness in children, despite the usual lack of evidence. The fragile, developing chemical structure of young brains is frequently mentioned, as are false claims about massive increases in cannabis potency.
‘Adolescents are at highest risk for marijuana addiction … marijuana use has been linked with depression and suicidal thoughts, in addition to schizophrenia…marijuana use among teens doubles the risk of developing depression and triples the incidence of suicidal thoughts’
- DEA Website -


4. SSRIs have repeatedly been found to pose significant risks to the mental and physical health of children.

• 2005 – The European Medicines Agency concluded SSRIs should not be used in children and adolescents … suicide-related behaviour (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (aggression and anger) were more frequently observed in children and adolescents treated with SSRIs.

• The FDA has admitted that children who use SSRIs are 180 percent more likely to have suicidal tendencies.

• British Journal of Psychiatry reports that Prozac creates "the highest risk of deliberate self-harm."

A century of attempting to prove the dangers of cannabis has yielded no results but vague hypotheses with no relation to the real world. Whatever alarming conclusions are suggested, cannabis is very widely used in most countries and causes few discernable health problems. Within a few years of their introduction, SSRIs have raised serious concerns all over the world.
Yet cannabis is relentlessly presented as a major threat to the mental health of children, while psychoactive drugs designed to change brain function are promoted as a solution.

Any sane person will agree that children should not take drugs, whether legal or illegal, but, in the mainstream media, the principle does not seem to apply to drugs made by certain powerful interests.

It is not surprising that prohibitionists exploit the need to protect children. What is unbelievable is that dire warnings about the effect of ‘drugs’ on developing brains can coexist in the media with the promotion of mind-altering pharmaceuticals for those same sacred children. This demonstrates either an enormous logical disconnect or an effective and coordinated campaign of diversion and misinformation.

vrijdag 6 juni 2008

Good cop - Bad cop

Cannabis, Marijuana, Hemp, Environment, photos, seedsAnyone who enjoys even a casual relationship with our favourite plant must be aware of the vast gulf between the official portrayal of cannabis and their own real-world understanding of it.

With only a little personal experience of the recreational uses of cannabis or a brief outline of its medicinal and industrial applications, the average person can see that the images of cannabis given by the mass media display a stark and worrying divergence from reality.

It doesn’t require extensive knowledge of the long history and numerous applications of cannabis to realise that the official portrayal of this plant as a force for evil (a story that’s varied only slightly since the beginning of the 20th Century) is not only incorrect, but is the polar opposite of the simple, observable facts.
Cannabis is an immensely valuable resource with countless positive benefits - a truth that remains unchanged since the dawn of civilisation.

Many of us who are dedicated to spreading that truth have been forced to accept another, less palatable reality: that the main forces behind cannabis prohibition are politics and economics. Thus, the combined weight of science, medicine, evidence and logic may still be trumped by the ‘invisible hand’ of market forces.

As activists, we may have to accept that making changes on the macro-level will take time, plus that most important of political tools - economic muscle.

Even at the individual level, as we continue to spread knowledge and inform our fellow citizens, there are barriers to communication and subtle, powerful influences working against us.

The relentless marketing campaign aimed at demonising cannabis has been in effect for almost a century. Its effectiveness has ebbed and flowed over the years but it has succeeded in one important aspect. In every country, generation after generation of people have been fed variations on the same emotive lies about cannabis – dangers to sanity, harm to children, damage to the very fabric of society. With such diligent repetition, even the most ludicrous claims can gain the status of dogma.

It’s absurd that an artificial sense of morality has been attached to a plant (of all things!). When a plant can be irrationally, yet effectively labelled as a sin, popular images of cannabis begin to resemble articles of faith – sustained by unquestioning acceptance, not by reasoned argument.

To use marketing jargon (forgive me) the ‘brand positioning’ of cannabis has been effectively shifted to the sinister side of the collective consciousness.

One unfortunate result of this positioning is the pervasive and destructive stereotype of the ‘stupid stoner’.

When group stereotypes are reinforced by the mass media – whether the stereotypes are of racial, religious, political or social groups – the purpose is never the advancement of understanding. Stereotypes are, at best, an easy joke. At their worst, they are perpetuated in order to misinform the majority and to marginalise, even de-humanise the minority that is being caricatured.

Cannabis is portrayed by the mass media as a drug that numbs, stupefies and impairs judgement (rather like alcohol, when you think about it…). Unsurprisingly, it follows that people who enjoy cannabis may be labelled as numb, stupid or impaired.
Considered neutrally, the stereotype of the idiot stoner seems more likely to be a product of media indoctrination than a result of sudden exposure to powerful, soporific or ‘stoney’ commercial plants.

A good example of this is that genuine, living examples of the stoner stereotype are much more common among smokers from the USA.

It is hard to believe that this is because they all smoke especially incapacitating cannabis, and it seems unfair to assert that American smokers are somehow less intelligent than those from other countries.

However, it is not unreasonable to argue that they have been carefully and deliberately miseducated about the properties of cannabis. In this way, even ganja enthusiasts can be conditioned to expect certain effects from cannabis, which then makes them more likely to experience and to act out those effects.

It’s no secret that the USA is positioned at Ground Zero of the media explosion that started in the 20th Century. The recent political history of the US clearly demonstrates that the citizens of that country are especially vulnerable to manipulation by an unscrupulous mass media that seamlessly blends and promotes government and corporate interests.

For generations, the central thesis of official US propaganda has been the claim that cannabis damages the brain. While the story of how such damage might manifest itself has varied over the years, it has retained its overall theme. At different times cannabis has been said to induce violent madness, or jazz-loving madness, or pacifist madness or anti-capitalist madness. It has been variously claimed to cause brain damage, or ‘anti-motivational syndrome’, or impaired learning and cognition, or depression, depending upon the intended audience.

Right now, we can observe the re-launch of 1930s-style ‘Reefer Madness’ propaganda – the tired claim that cannabis can actually cause schizophrenia or any number of other mental illnesses. The lie has been cosmetically enhanced for the 21st Century, with questionable new ‘evidence’ in the form of massaged statistics and projections of genetic predisposition.
The falsehood is as blatant as in the original film melodrama, but it has been given a compelling pseudo-scientific disguise in order to be sold to a modern public. After all, we are supposed to live in rational times…

On the subject of films, entertainment media is equally effective in sculpting public assumptions as news media, maybe more so.

At first glance, images of cannabis smokers in films and television seem more reasonable than in the news, less irrational and puritanical in their outlook.
However, in combination with the Official Story – if we see both portrayals as sides of the same coin – the overall effect is insidious. Considered together, the two approaches seem like a good-cop/bad-cop ruse.

The government and news-media grind out obvious propaganda that an average person possessed of a healthy degree of skepticism should be able to see through.

At the same time, mainstream entertainment media allows a very limited version of truth to be mixed in with the regular falsehoods. Films and TV may allow an image of cannabis that’s closer to our real-life experience – an enjoyable experience, a welcome inspiration, a powerful medicine – but underlying these limited concessions is the same basic message given by the government. We could call the movie version ‘propaganda-lite’.

In entertainment media, smokers are overwhelmingly depicted as losers – slow, stupid, semi-comatose, lazy and (you guessed it) slightly crazy. They may be lovable and may be the central characters of a film, but their use of cannabis is nearly always portrayed as a vice.

By the end of most movies, they have the choice of giving up weed - so as to ‘grow up’ and join the productive world - or remaining useless (but loveable!) stoners.

The third option is not given, though it’s the one practised by most adults: to consume cannabis and have a normal, productive life.

Nearly all cannabis-lovers hold their own experience-based views, and have a healthy resistance to the daily doses of propaganda. But it’s worth noticing how indoctrination can slip in under the radar.

maandag 2 juni 2008

Evolution and Intelligent Design

Cannabis, Marijuana, Hasj, HashApologies if the title of this piece is an obscure reference. It is taken from the recent debate in the US, about whether the science classes of public schools should teach ‘Intelligent Design’ as an alternative theory to evolution.

In that debate, the terms ‘evolution’ and ‘intelligent design’ were used to describe opposing viewpoints. However, both terms fit very well when considering our favourite plant and its history from ancient times to the present day.

The way that cannabis and those who choose to grow it have adapted to the environment of prohibition in just the last few decades is a wonderful example of both evolution and intelligent design.

In essence, the harsh legal restrictions on this plant and increased attempts to eradicate it have been a huge influence on the breeding and development of heavier, faster, more potent varieties. In the same way, the war on weed has spurred growers to develop smaller, more efficient systems and highly effective methods for for growing indoors.

In response to the use of new technology to detect indoor cannabis, growers have taken dozens of new developments in other fields and adapted them to clandestine indoor cultivation.

There are direct improvements like cooled lights, quieter fans and advanced odour-control, as well as indirect improvements, such the use of the internet as a means of spreading information to the widest possible audience and computer applications that allow a grow-room to be monitored and adjusted from a distance.

Depending on your point of view and sense of optimism, we may currently be experiencing a cannabis Renaissance – with knowledge and freedom on the rise – or we may be on the verge of yet another backlash against cannabis – with misinformation and persecution increasing.

It probably won’t be clear whether the situation here in the early 21st Century is getting better or worse until we can look back at this time from the vantage point of the future.

If we look back over the 20th Century, we can see the ebb and flow of cannabis prohibition in the West.The USA gives us an interesting summary of the fluid attitude towards cannabis.

At the turn of the last century, popular interest in cannabis was increasing in Europe and North America – along with interest in many other now-acceptable topics that were then considered weird or subversive, such as jazz, vegetarianism and Naturism.

Anti-cannabis forces began to gain national and global strength in the 1930s. Not coincidentally, this was the period when nationalist and fascist movements were reaching their peak, and hostility to decadent or ‘foreign’ influence was widespread.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that acceptance and appreciation of cannabis reached ‘pop culture’ status. Many years of propaganda were undone when a generation of people were able to try cannabis and contrast their positive experience with the misinformation offered by official sources. The future seemed bright. Under Jimmy Carter, even the USA, home of Prohibition, decriminalised cannabis possession.

Hopes for real change were swept away in the 1980s, with the declaration of the War on Drugs, This war soon spread world-wide and was to be fought mostly against civilians – people whose views, experiences or use of certain substances contradicted the official line.

The War on Drugs has had many tragic casualties, but cannabis itself has not been one of them. The attack on the plant and its growers at the beginning of the ‘80s motivated an explosion in breeding and technology that continues to this day.
An unjust War gave rise to a popular resistance movement - breeders determined to protect the precious strains they had been collecting and refining during the brief ‘ceasefire’ of the ‘70s.

Evolution is a very fitting way to describe the events that followed – evolution, enhanced by intelligent design.

We can see this process at work in predators and prey all over the animal kingdom. The hunted adapt to better evade the hunters. The predators adapt to better catch the prey. For millions of years this process has produced new species, more specifically adapted to their circumstances.

In less than thirty years, the same relationship between growers of cannabis and enforcers of the laws that prohibit it has resulted in huge variations and improvements of both the plant and the way it is produced.

I don’t want to portray cannabis growers and breeders as timid, submissive herbivores, but we are the peaceful plant-lovers in this relationship, while the other side seems to have the monopoly on violence and the means to inflict it.

When penalties for growing cannabis became much more severe, many casual garden-growers were discouraged. Increased efforts to eradicate large-scale outdoor crops led to helicopter surveillance, infra-red detection and paramilitary police units dedicated to destroying crops.

Cannabis cultivation began to move inside as growers sought to protect themselves. At the same time, improvements in growing and feeding techniques plus new developments in lighting helped make this possible.

One problem was that indoor plants had to be smaller and faster, so the tropical Sativas that had been widely grown were limited in their potential.
In response, pioneering breeders began to work with strains from India, Afghanistan and Pakistan that were almost unknown in the West – the rich and resinous Indicas. These fast, short, heavy plants would solve the problems of indoor growing.

Classic strains such as Northern Lights, Hindu Kush, Afghani #1 and Big Bud were grown for their pure Indica qualities. These Indicas and others were combined with Sativas to make some of the wonderful early hybrids we still appreciate today – Skunk #1, Silver Pearl, Silver Haze, Northern Lights #5 x Haze.

And, as we know, individuals and companies dedicated to breeding and supplying distinct varieties of cannabis seed emerged, enabling any grower to produce something special.

Before professional seed breeders began their work, top-quality genetics were hard to obtain. The only options open to most people were contact with an experienced grower, a trip to a distant land, or good luck in growing seeds obtained from commercial cannabis.

Communication and contact between growers – and all other people who refuse to accept the injustice and illogic of cannabis prohibition – is one of the strongest assets we have in continuing our fight to end the war declared upon us. While personal security is of the highest importance for growers, it is also important not to allow the forces opposed to cannabis make us feel isolated or powerless.

Contact and support within the cannabis community strengthens and encourages us. Communication has has led to the world-wide dissemination of cannabis information and genetics. There have vast improvements in growing techniques, as countless inspired minds ponder the same issues and devise different solutions.

Most importantly, we are working to remind the world that cannabis (when free of legal harassment) is a normal, joyful and intelligent experience.

Making Cannabis Clones

Cannabis, Clones, Marijuana, SeedsThe art of cloning plants could be the most useful of all ‘indoor’ techniques. Cloning allows growers to make the most of every female plant and it’s a skill that anyone can master with a little practice.

Outdoor growers who clone their plants are able to identify gender early in the season and multiply their female plants during the long vegetation period. With low-powered artificial lighting, a promising female can even be preserved for next year’s outdoor crop.

Due to its common association with indoor growing and hydroponics, cloning might appear to be a complex process. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Just as cannabis seedlings will take advantage of the smallest chance to grow, cuttings will quickly make roots and become healthy small plants if a few conditions are met.

Good cuttings are made from strong, green stalks, preferably the growing shoots of the stem and branches.

If possible, cuttings should be 10-20cm long and a few millimetres thick. Avoid stems that are turning woody or hollow, as these are less likely to root. If the aim is to produce a few strong cuttings from each plant, growers should select 12cm sections of the healthiest top shoots. Larger cuttings have more energy and have a better chance of surviving.

If the aim is to make as many clones as possible, any 5-10cm piece of green stem with a growing shoot and a leaf or two can be used. A 30cm branch can be cut at each internode, making 3-6 clones. Tiny cuttings can also turn into clones, though they may take too long to grow to a decent size after rooting. Nevertheless, pieces of stem 3cm long and 1mm thick can root with vigour in bright, humid conditions.

Before planting, treat cuttings with rooting hormone in powder or gel form.

While a good soak in rooting solution is enough to get many clones started, a final treatment with a rooting aid that clings to their stems will increase success rates.

With a razor blade, make a diagonal cut to remove the last millimetres of stem, then dip the cutting in hormone powder/gel. To encourage rooting, many growers gently scrape the lower stems before dipping. A disposable safety razor is a good way to remove a couple of ultra-thin slices from the stalk.

Place treated cuttings in a moist, airy medium that holds them firmly – expanding peat tablets, a 50/50 mix of soil and perlite, cocoa-fibre or rockwool, if available. Clones have no problem rooting in a small rockwool block, then being transferred to soil.

After planting, outdoor clones are given the natural light cycle. Some growers shade rooting clones during the hottest part of the day, while others adopt a ‘survival of the fittest’ attitude. Viable clones will appreciate direct sunlight, and should root quickly.

In hot, dry climates, rooting clones may require a transparent covering to retain humidity. Keep the clones’ medium moist, but not saturated. In good conditions, clones should root in 10-20 days.

Cloning for Sex

The first clone taken from a plant can reveal the parent’s gender with 100% accuracy. It’s easy to reduce the light cycle of cuttings – allow them 12 hours of daylight, then cover them or move them to a dark area. This is much simpler than covering a single branch of a large plant to reveal gender.

When seed-plants reach 30cm, they can yield a cutting or two, which can be given a 12/12 light cycle immediately upon being planted. They will show their gender in 10-14 days, and in many cases they’ll root as well.

It’s fine if these first clones don’t become healthy small plants. Their purpose is to reveal the gender of the parent early in the season, allowing males to be eliminated and all subsequent cuttings to be taken from female plants.

As an added bonus, cloning for sex causes seed-plants to be ‘topped’ early in the season, leaving plenty of time to regenerate a strong double-stem.

Cloning to Multiply

Outdoor growers with plenty of space may clip plants to train them into huge bushes, while balcony growers often cut plants solely to restrict their size.

In both situations, cloning allows extra plants to be made from foliage that is normally discarded.

To keep a balcony plant around 1m by the end of flowering might require quite a lot of pruning. Instead of throwing away over 50% of a female plant during the growing phase, the removed foliage can be made into dozens of copies that plant, all of which will finish under the required height.

Growers who prune plants to make them large and bushy can produce huge numbers of clones. Branches are clipped at regular intervals throughout the vegetative phase to encourage them to split and grow in two directions. As plants increase their size and number of branches, each pruning will yield more cuttings than the last. While this might eventually produce more cuttings than most growers could use, remember that a rooted female clone makes a lovely gift.

Late Cloning

Indoors, cuttings are almost always taken while plants are in the growing stage, as the aim is to preserve a plant in its vegetative state. Outdoors, it is even possible to take clones during the initial weeks of flowering, when the first single flowers begin to show. Cuttings from plants that have begun to flower will often root more quickly than normal clones and should continue blooming at the same rate as the parents.

This means that even in the final, pre-flower trimming (where lower and inner branches with little budding potential are clipped), outdoor growers can clone any viable pieces of stem that are removed from plants.

Every green section of stem with a healthy internode can become a small plant when treated with kindness. Six branches cut from a medium-sized plant in July or August could be turned into 10, 20 or 30 cuttings. Even with a low survival rate of 20%, the result can be a few bonsai flowering plants.

If you’re growing outdoor plants this year and you’ve never made clones, you could try the following experiment just to see how easy it is to produce them, even if you have no particular need to multiply your harvest.

  • Fill a few small pots with moist, airy soil.
  • With sharp scissors, cut a few growing shoots or minor branches from your plants – nothing that you or the plant will miss – just enough to make ten or twelve cuttings of 5-10cm.
  • Give the stems of the cuttings a gentle scrape with the scissors, or your fingernail (some growers use their teeth), and plant a few cuttings firmly in each pot.
  • Leave the pots in the sun and make sure they don’t dry out.
  • In two or three weeks, you should have a few rooted clones as a result of 20 minutes’ work.
  • Any extra care and attention given to future cuttings will greatly improve their survival rate.

maandag 19 mei 2008

Holland’s Hemp History

Cannabis, Hemp, History, Holland, Marijuana, NetherlandsHemp is one of the oldest crops domesticated by man. The history of hemp in Holland also goes back for thousands of years. The stalk of the hemp-plant produces one of the strongest natural fibres that were used to make things like rope, textile and paper. Also the seed of the hemp-plant contains high-grade food oil that was also used for lamp oil, the production of paint and (green!) soap.

The Dutch Golden Age was also the golden age of Dutch hemp in Holland. Without hemp there would not have been too much golden age in the first place. A seafaring nation with ships going around the globe is a nice thing to be; however, to be able to build such ships, many tons of hemp was needed. Next to wood, hemp was the main component used to build a ship in those times. The replica of the famous 17th century Dutch ship ‘Batavia’ contains about 21 kilometres of rope. The sails are made of hemp and hemp-fibres were also used as part of a caulking that made the hull watertight.

Only after Czar Peter the Great learned about shipbuilding in the Dutch ‘zaanstreek’ (an area in the north of Amsterdam where a lot of ships used were build) -- and as it seems also about hemp production -- did Russian hemp start to compete with the Dutch. This was the beginning of a slow decline for hemp, a decline that continued into the 20th century when modern machines and artificial fibres finally conquered the market. The farmers, especially in the middle of Holland and along the big rivers, lost their winter-time work (peeling the fibres from the stalks) and started to make their own cheese. The hemp-market in places like Gouda became a cheese-market and Holland became a cheese-country.

The most towns and villages used to have their own ropewalks for the production of hemp-rope. These long lanes (now often a shopping street in the middle of town) were right along the city wall or just outside of it. Some places specialized in the production of hemp-rope, for example the city of Oudewater (near Gouda) was a real rope makers’ town. The famous Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter worked as a young boy turning the wheel of the ropewalk.

Generally it is thought that linen is only produced from the flax plant but in the past and way into the 20th century, linen was also produced from hemp. The male plants were used for making linen and sails because the fibers are finer then those of the female plant. Or the coarser fibers of the female were used for making more heavy canvas (from “cannabis”) and rope.

The hemp was grown on small artificial islands right next or close to the farm. The water level could be regulated with little dams, and to protect the plants against strong winds a line of pruned willow trees was grown around the outer edge of the plot. These characteristic small islands can still be recognized in the countryside today in the middle of Holland and along the big rivers.

Hemp-stalks are harvested and then put for a while in water to start a rotting process, called ‘retting’. Bacteria start to break down the connections between the bark fibers so they come loose from each other. This also happens when the stalks are left on the field for a while and rain or dew regularly wets them. After this, the stalks are dried and the fibres are peeled off the stalks. They can also be broken in a special device called the ‘breaker’ so the bark fibre comes lose from the inner wood core. Windmills were sometimes used for this process.

After breaking, the bundles of bark fibre are cleaned further by first hitting them with a flat piece of wood to clean off the last pieces of remaining wood core. Then the fibers are combed on various sizes of ‘hackles’

The clean bundles of fibres are spun to fine yarn to be woven into textiles by the weavers. The production of hemp-linen and heavy canvas is very labour intensive, to make 1 meter of cloth takes at least 25 hours of work. A long time ago, canvas and linen were not cheap products. This was the reason why many painters could not afford the canvas for their paintings. A good way to deal with this is by making a painting of the weaver and his family, on an available wooden panel. These paintings were then traded for canvas. This is the reason why there are many paintings of weavers.

In the past, the hemp plant was important for its fibre and its seed but it was available on the shelf of the drugstore as a medicine. The psychoactive effects of hemp certainly didn’t stay unnoticed. On top of that was that the price of tobacco in the 16th and 17th century was very high and farmers and poor people could not afford pure tobacco. This was the reason that in these times many tobacco mixtures were sold to make the tobacco affordable (and tasty!). Already people were puffing away in this time, including certain painters.

Numerous painters preserved smoking scenes of the 17th century where they are clearly under the influence. Take a look at various representations of smokers by painters like Adriaan Brouwer, David Teniers (de Jonge) and Paul van Ostade and others. Many times you can see hemp seeds in the ashtray and the old matches were also hemp-branches, so everything points in the direction of a lot of hemp smoke.

There are examples of smoking tobacco-hemp mixtures in Germany and Switzerland also. Recently a new discovery was made in England near the house of William Shakespeare. Pipes that were excavated were found to contain traces of various substances including hemp-marihuana. Was the genius of Shakespeare drug influenced?

donderdag 15 mei 2008

Dutch Cannabis Pioneers

Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana, seedsDuring the sixties in Holland, most of the cannabis consumed was low grade South East Asian grass and Hashish. During the early to mid seventies, a small number of enthusiasts grew out many of the seeds they had collected throughout the years, plus the already long established Purple and Green Lemon types (these were used as tobacco substitutes during the second world war.)

Right about that time, a number of Afghani seeds also made it to
Holland. The Dutch met with limited success breeding with these varieties, however, the consumers were not interested in this ‘Nederwiet’, still preferring their imported Hashish.

In the States where the smoking of Marijuana was already well established, enthusiasts were also breeding cannabis with seeds from around the world. Predominantly pure Sativa types were preferred due to the type of high that they gave, but these pure Sativa types were not indigenous to the States and rarely matured in time. Many hybrids were created from pure Sativa’s, mostly from Thai, Columbian, Mexican and South Indian landrace plants. During the mid to late seventies Cannabis Indica seeds were introduced into the States, including Afghan #1, Mazar-I-Sharif, Chitral and Hindu Kush.

Breeders crossed these early maturing Indica varieties with the sweeter but late maturing Sativa’s. Some of the earliest Sativa/Indica strains were bred by Sacred Seeds including Skunk#1 ((Columbian x Afghan#1) X Acapulco Gold), Original Haze, Hindu Kush and Afghan#1.

In the early eighties, these strains and many others such as; Early California, Thai, Columbian, South Indian, Early Girl, Hawaiian Indica, Californian Orange and South African landrace genetics, were brought to Holland by Sam the Skunkman, one of the founders of Sacred Seeds.

Three major players of that time, with an interest in finding superior plants, started to grow out the Skunkman’s seeds: Ben Dronkers of Sensi Seeds and Eddie, who founded the Flying Dutchmen Seed Company and the Cannabis College, worked together with the Skunkman for many years, setting up a successful seed wholesale business in the early eighties. The third pioneer is the infamous Neville, the previous owner of the Cannabis Castle, who was also experimenting with his own genetics at the time.

The base genetics for almost all of the strains that are found in Holland today, originated from the Skunkman’s introductions and the subsequent breeding work achieved by these pioneers.

The key to breeding superior seed stock is the selection process. Eddie, Ben and Neville grew out tens of thousands of each strain to isolate those exceptional plants. Greenhouses of up to 20,000 square meters were used with darkening systems to manipulate the natural photoperiod, with this method, two crops a year could be harvested. At first, the rejuvenation of fully flowered, selected mothers and fathers was a hit and miss task.

The Americans were successfully taking cuttings from cannabis still in its vegetative stage, this technique revolutionized the Dutch growing scene. Cuttings could be taken from all the plants during the vegetative period and maintained until the plants were mature and the selection process was carried out. These selected plants have been faithfully maintained ever since by Sensi Seeds and The Flying Dutchmen. Today, research and development still form a large part of their work.