Amazing article. Thanks for sharing man!!25 Years Growing Indoors by DJ Short
Tales from a Breeder of Fine Cannabis
In the '70's, connoisseur-quality marijuana was being imported from all corners of the world, but one grower decided to sprout some of those seeds in the privacy of his own house. Working with original genetics, pioneer indoor grower DJ Short has since produced some of the finest herb which has never seen the light of day
Its our time. Time to sprout and plant. Time to water and feed. Time to grow and mature. And finally, time to cut, cure and - my favorite - time to consume the fruits of the labor. There was once a time, not too ancient, when it was all done in the great outdoors, under the full, open sky. But as fate would have it, some creatures have chosen to appoint themselves as predators. They have chosen to prey upon the good folk who produce and use the blissful fruit of cannabis.
Some of the more sadistic control freaks of the world have taken it upon themselves to fabricate rules and laws that demonize and criminalize the production, transport, sale, possession and/or use of this amazingly benign and benevolent substance we know as cannabis. These latter day witch hunters like to believe that they are succeeding. But we know better, only now things have to be done behind closed doors.
I am slowly trying to accept the fact that I have been a closet horticulturalist for 25 years now. Let me tell you, I have the hairs to prove it!
In the early 1970's we did not know much at all about growing good herb. We knew we had grand quantities of seed from the commercial Mexican and Columbian herb that we were consuming. And we knew that the plants grew from seeds. But we couldnt get the damn things to sprout, no matter how hard we tried. Years later we found out that the seeds in those huge, multi-ton commercial shipments were sterilized - some by pressure, others by heat (steam), and (rumor has it) some by irradiation.
Two phenomena sparked what would become my lifelong ambition. The first came in 1973, when I received a little "seed sprouting chamber". A two inch round clear plastic bubble that came as a prize in a box of breakfast cereal. It had one flat side that opened with a little sponge that sat in the bottom.
It just so happened that I had acquired a decent quantity of good, semi-commercial, seeded Hawaiian. I put a whole finger-tipped sized seeded bud into the moistened chamber. A few days later the seeds sprouted and roots shot through the buds - and away we go! These early plants sat under a 12-inch fluorescent desk lamp and grew to be one to two feet tall. This was the humble beginning of my indoor marijuana cultivation experience.
In 1974 another important event occurred - the founding of High Times magazine. Tome Forcase's vision accurately pegged and era and served a movement. I bought my first copy, the second issue, shortly after coming of age. The first issue had already sold out by the time I discovered it. High Times lent a great amount of credibility to what many of us knew to be true: that certain personal freedoms and liberties are natural rights, yearning to be exercised and expressed. Also in the mid '70's, Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal finally taught us how to "grow the good buds" through their timely how-to grow books.
It was after this that another interesting progression was able to occur. Certain American growers became proficient at growing and understanding the finer qualities of the herb. Some of them moved to regions of the world famed for their high quality cannabis. I like to refer to these specific regions as "sweet spots". Many teamed up with the locals, while others designed their own production schemes. But their goals were the same; to help fund and produce high-quality, semi-commercial quantities of indigenous and designer cannabis. Many of these entrepreneurs were very successful in their quests, both in terms of quantity and quality.
From the mid '70's to the early '80's, some of the finest herb of all time was produced and distributed. These "sweet spot" areas included many parts of the highland Oaxaca and southern Mexico, Columbia, Thailand, Africa, Hawaii, Jamaica and the Northern California/Southern Oregon coastal mountain regions, to name a few. The famous hashish-producing areas of the Arab world and Asia - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco and Nepal - were also very active. These areas originated the acclimated land race varieties that were the P1 generations of much of the seed strains available today.
It is important to realize what it is that made each of these varieties of herb so distinctive and desirable. Back then the main terms used to describe fine herb referred to its "head". What kind of "head" or head space, or mind, or feeling, or whatever it is one uses to refer to the stone, does the bud give? A question often asked concerning the quality of the experience of good herb might be: "Does it have a good head?" (Or a happy, goofy, stony, sleepy, paranoid or nervous head?) The ganja varieties of this era and these regions each offered their own unique heads, which were not yet availible from the limited environments of our indoor grown worlds. But we were getting closer.
A good head high is not entirely dependent upon set and setting. Up until the late 1970's my setting was Detroit. And there were few setting more depressingly awful then Detroit in the winter. Yet my buds and I were able to get incredibly high, high enough for us to rise above the depression of the urban blight around us, and to see beyond. I attribute much of our anti-depression (and "intact" survival for that matter) to the high quality, "good head" herb that was available to us then. Good head herb has the tendency to expand the consciousness of those who use it. We were learning and growing, and my expanding consciousness began to learn of an OZ-like land to the west.
Oregon - the promised land, during that period anyhow. Governor Tom McCall was the first major politician to survive the "third rail issue" and mandate cannabis decriminalization. He was also very green in his efforts to restore and protect the natural environment. And rumor was beginning to spill about another very green bounty of the region: West Coast sensimillia, the seedless buds. Hippy-magnet vortices developed all up and down the Pacific Northwest coast. In and around Humboldt, the Oxbow, the Applegate, Ashland, Eugene, Portland, Olympia, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C. (to name but a few) cannabis communities sprouted and thrived.
My first bag of sensimillia came from a reputable dealer in Eugene in 1978 I have been blessed with the knack of making good connections. I believe it has to do with a certain respect of etiquette - the ability to conduct ones self in a professional manner and the ability to recognize the same respect and professionalism (or lack thereof) in others. This dealer had good Columbian for $55 and ounce. I was used to paying $40-$45 an ounce for good "Lum" , our slang for Columbian back in Detroit, and the "sticker shock" took some getting used to. He mentioned having something called "Oregon sensi". He called it "Butler Green" and it was going for $70 and ounce.
"Ouch! $70 an o-z, Man thats steep!" I thought. But the little bright-green bud the dealer gave me to check out had me very curious. It was so different compared to the herb I was used to. It was so fresh and green and sweet! "Will ya do a half for $35?" I asked. "Sure" The dealer was flexible and I had cash, so I ordered a half of the Lum and a half of the Green. He went to another room to weigh up the bags while I waited. When he returned he handed me the two-finger half of seed-weighty Lum in the traditional sandwich baggie, and a fat ziplock sack of green sensi buds.
"Oh, hey man, I only wanted a half of the green" I stated. The dealer, only slightly annoyed with my naivete said, "That is a half". Holy Moly! I was sold.
By 1979, many people along the West Coast were growing relatively openly in their backyards and other areas. Certain years yielded tremendous results. Many growers experienced unexpected bumper windfall harvests in '79 and '80. Well cared for plants grew into at least four to five foot bushes which could easily yield over a pound of high quality bud. It was fun having shelves stocked full of giant glass jars filled with perfectly matured, manicured and cured buds.
The indoor grow scene progressed considerably during this period. Mel and Ed did their first "Indoor Under Lights" grow books. Early on it was all fluorescents, Vita-Lites and Grow-Lux Bulbs, high output and very high output systems, and the equipment soon developed. Some outdoor growers used indoor methods during the off-season (winter) to develop and produce the next years stock. The first Halides appeared in late 1978, and the high pressure sodiums systems soon followed.
The late '70's, up to and including 1980, was truly an era for the expansion of cannabis consciousness. So many things were going so well, and there were so many things happening. I'm not sure if it was "us" behaving so boldly back then who spooked the status quo into electing Ronald Reagan president, or what. It was probably destined to happen regardless. But the '80's soon became the evil twin of the '60's. The foolish flames of the War on Drugs were fanned back into existence, to the delight of many a greedhead. Paramilitary raids on outdoor grows intensified limiting supplies. As supplies dropped, prices rose. More and more outdoor producers moved indoors, some on a commercial level. For many it became a time to hide. For some it was a time to run.
And the indoor grow industry breathed a life of its own. Advances in equipment technology were regular and swift, and the industry blossomed.
My forte was the breeding of fine herb. My primary goal was always to satisfy my own head. The primary aspect I attribute my breeding successes to is a very sensitive, discerning and educated palate. I was one of the lucky few who had access to many different strains. Id been collecting and saving imported seeds since 1975, which was the basis of my early breed stock. These imports however, were all Sativas.
The first indica buds entered the market in 1979. They all came from one source in Northern California who had imported the seed directly from Afghanistan. Short, stout, dark, compact and skunky, these plants were totally different from what the industry had been accustomed to. The most desirable features of the pure indica varieties were their compact productivity and short growing season. Indica plants produced large, dense potent buds very quickly. They soon became the variety of choice for growers, especially those on the indoor scene. The pure Indica head was generally much more of a narcotic and sleepy/dreamy body high, as opposed to the soaring cerebral buzzes of the sativas.
I was not at all pleased with the pure indica head. It lacked much of the good head quality I had grown fond of. It had its place, but for me, its place was rather limited. I did however, enjoy the plants good growing qualities along with its potency so I began "working" with it in 1979. Incidentally, the imported strains that I had been working with were Golden and Chocolate Thai (some loose and some from stick). The Golden Thai became known as "Juicy Fruit Thai" and the Chocolate Thai became known as Purple Thai. Both were sweet and fruity. Others included Purple/Gold Highland Oaxacan, Lowland Columbian Red, High Coastal Columbian Gold, a nice Guerreroan Green Spike, various Hawaiian and Jamaican, a ":woody" Mexican Flowertop and a Piney/Citral from India that I called "Gin Blossom". I had also been working with a few of the more special local treats (from the prized new renegade seeds that I found).
After a couple years of working the breeder's magic and performing the necessary crosses, the Sweet Kush Indicas arrived in 1981. These ranged in luscious flavors from honey to various fruits and berries. "Blueberry Kush" became the herb of choice for many growers and smokers from then on. I spent several more years of research and development before finally yielding the floral and blossom flavors of "Flo", "Blue Velvet" and other strains that I had bred.
The late '80s and early '90s were some of the hardest years on us growers. The Campaign Against Marijuana Planting escalated to a frenzy, and Operation Green Merchant went after the indoor farmers and equipment suppliers. Mandatory minimum sentences and unjust forfeiture laws proved to be a greater burden on the community. We were forced further underground - deeper and smaller. It was a very rough go for awhile there. We were scraping the bottom during those lean years.
I learned early on that the best camouflage in regard to greedheads was under a veil of poverty. That is where I tenaciously waited for the sun to shine again. And that is where I protected and continued my humble but precious stash.
And now, going into '99 the sun seems to be beginning to shine a little more lately. The clouds are slowly parting in many parts of the world. In parts of Canada, Europe, the South Pacific and even some places in the States, many people are beginning to lighten up their attitudes and open their minds towards cannabis. I do hope that the trend continues and our cannabis consciousness has a chance to expand and grow a little further. As for the long run, I know a few things for certain; We will survive, and the sun will shine again. After all its merely a matter of time.