First Grow: A combination of 2 hobbies and a lot of learning

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Hi everyone,

I've been meaning to do this post for a while, now that I've got my first grow under my belt. There was A LOT of things I learned here, so for any first-time growers, there might be a couple slip-ups that I've done here that may help you.

I've both worked in and have had horticulture in my life for 20 years now. I've always wanted to get the opportunity to try my hand at growing Cannabis, so now with it being legalized in Canada, I took the opportunity. I have also always been drawn to Cannabis photography, and as a hobbyist photographer, I figured I can scratch that itch as well. Like anything I endeavor upon, I started out like most; buying books, watching videos, reading forums, etc. I spent a solid 3 months researching how to grow. One of the biggest things that I got in trouble with is that I was used to classic horticulture practices (soil medium, slow release salt fertilizer, low wattage cfl, etc). I took a little bit of that with me into my grow, which ended up hurting me.

The day came for me to order my supplies, and this is what I landed on:

2'x5'x5' Vivosun Grow Tent
Likesuns "1000w" Blurple LED
18w t-5 seedling light
seedling heat mat
Inline Exhaust Fan
USB desk fan
2 pint dehumidifer
Humidifier (already owned)
5 gal fabric pots
CO2 bag

Medium and Nutes:
Miracle Grow Slow Release (more to come on this)
General Hydroponics Trio

5x Bubba Kush Fem

All other assorted things were also purchased (ph meter, trimmer, scrog net, pot dishes, etc)

Week 1-2: Germ & Seedling
The day came, and I dropped my 3 Bubba Kush seeds into distilled water for exactly 16 hours. After that, I dropped them into a wet paper towel and after about 2 days, all 3 had cracked and had a 1/2" tap root showing. I dropped them into dixie cups filled with MG soil. I remembered reading that seedlings don't need nutes. I checked the numbers on the MG bag; something like 0.12-0.18-0.12. Gosh that's nothing! The numbers on the bottle are like 20 times that. No problem then...

Grow 1

The first two weeks went well, actually. I had the 3 seedlings under the t5 and on the heat mat, and they seemed to be loving it. They got good growth, and well were happy any healthy. I ended up switching to the blurple LED's by about the end of week 2, turning them on the "veg" setting.

Week 3 - 4: Shit Happens
Things started to get a little interesting now, and problems began to appear. Of course on my first grow, I was eager to compare my progress to others. As I search threads for "17 day progress", and "21 day progress", I realize that my grow is going a little slower than others. I'm only showing 3 nodes. What's worse is that every time I water the plants, they wilt for hours afterwards. I also had some odd plant shape forming. My 2nd and 3rd set of true leaves were HUGE, though I wasn't getting much growth from the top. I let this go on for a while, but eventually, the plant was telling me that something was wrong. The leaves turned dark green, curled, and started burning. I was barely using any nutes though, so I couldn't figure it out at first. What I found out was that the low nutrient MG soil was actually super hot with slow-release Nitrogen, and that the numbers were a percentage of media weight. Every time I would water, it would release a bunch more Nitrogen into plants that didn't need it. Further, my "1000w" HID LED replacement light, was only putting out 60 watts onto the plants, as confirmed with a watt meter. Low light, and high Nitrogen was a bad mix.


Weeks 5 - 9: Back on Track
I had to do an emergency transplant into organic soil in order to save the plants. By that point, they were burnt, drooping, and deformed. You can see a photo of what the best one looked like right before I transplanted. With how hot the soil was, I didn't even add additional nutrients to the plant, other than worm castings, for the next 3 weeks. It was able to live off the small amount of soil attached to the overly small root ball from when I transplanted. I also flipped the veg switch on my light, to bring my draw to a "blistering" 120w. The plants seemed to like this, and they responded by putting on a lot of clean, good looking growth. This time was fairly non-eventful, and I only added ph'd water every 3 days, with a ph level between 6.3 and 6.8... or so I thought.

Grow 18
Grow 19
Grow 20

Weeks 10 - 14: The Flip and Flower
As I headed into flower, the plants were looking good. I started feeding them 1/3 of a dose of what was recommended on the bottle, assuming that the remaining nutrients from the MG had been used up. After about 1 week from flipping to 12-12, I saw the pre-flower stretch begin, and the next 2 weeks were spent watching the stems elongate, preparing for bud formation. Everything was looking good at this point. Exiting week 3, the first signs of flowers were forming on the stems. The stretch also wasn't too much, only adding about 50% to the height, though that seemed to be in line with BK varietals. I had also worried about 120w of light for 3 plants in flower. I opted to double up on the lights and purchase a second Likesuns blurple. 240w on 3 plants in total now.

Grow 22
Grow 23
Grow 24

Grow 50

Week 15: More Issues
I started noticing little brown spots appearing on my leaves. They started on the fan leaves, mid way up. I didn't pay too much attention to it, as it was only a few leaves. I soon found that these spots were making their way to the sugar leaves. I was feeding a full spectrum of nutes, and I had no reason to think it was deficient. I was also PH'ing my water. After days of scouring the internet, I decided to take a ph reading of my tap water. It was reading 7.8, which was higher than when I tested it initially I thought. I took out my calibration powder, and was shocked to find out that I was reading 0.6 higher than reality. I was PH'ing my soil grow to 5.6. I figured I caused a Cal-Ph lockout, and that's why I was seeing the effects. I quickly diluted the median with ph balanced water hoping to solve the issues. However, the damage was done, and the evidence was there on the leaves, reminding me of my screw up every time I watered the plants

Week 16 - Week 20: Home Stretch:
After my incident with the PH meter, I actually didn't have too many more problems. The buds were putting on some weight, and the smell was really coming through of heavy lemon. The breeder called for a 8-9 week flowering time. I had planned to take them down around Week 17, which was 8 weeks after putting them into flower. I took out my microscope, and all the trichomes were crystal clear. Week 18, same thing. Week 19, a little cloudy, but still a lot of clear. Week 20, I finally decided they were ready to come down. Most of the pistil hairs had turned, and the trichs were cloudy with a few spots of amber.

Grow 26
Grow 31
Grow 33
Grow 36

Week 21-22: Drying
I cut the plants down at the stem, and took all the large fan leaves off. The primary colas were quite thick, so I wanted to keep a nice slow drying time. I hung them to dry at 52% RH, and 22 degrees Celsius. It took 10 days for the plants to get to the point where they needed to be trimmed. After a fairly quick trim job, I weighed up the count. 104g without trim. Veg and 4 weeks of flower were under 120w, so I was fairly satisfied for a first grow. After manicure, here is what they look like

Grow 39
Grow 40

What I learned
I've already begun my next grow; 4 Strawberry Cough Fem Photos. This first grow with salt-based ionic nutrients sent me down a path of organic gardening, and I have now opted to use organic methods, and have already seen good results. Only natural organic amendments go into the soil. I add .5 ml of ph down to my water to give my plants a helping hand, though don't check it with a pen. I let my plants adjust their ph within their rhizosphere (yes they can do that). I also employ compost teas, and try to foster good microbial life in the medium to break down all those natural amendments. I've already employed A LOT of things I learned from this first run, and for those that want to embark on their first journey, here is some input from one newbie to another:

- Pay attention and observe
- Veg is the most important time in the plant growing cycle, and your time to be most creative
- Don't use miracle grow. Even if your Veg is fine, the slow release nitrogen may make your buds airy
- Calibrate your PH pen if adjusting your ph
- I would go for a 12 day dry next time
- Check the wattage draw on your light; just because it says 1000w hid substitute, doesn't make it true
- When using General Hydroponics Trio, the recommended dosage on the bottle is not intended for Cannabis; halve it
- Breeder flower time is just a guideline; they finish when they decide to finish
- Plants will only grow as fast as their most limiting factor; in my case, light
- Patience is a virtue

Hope you enjoyed!

Grow 4
Grow 7
Grow 11
Grow 21


Nice write up, thanks for taking the time and sharing it 😀
I'm a new grower myself, I'm doing my first grow in coco/Perlite using Canna nutrients so quite different from yours but it's good fun, no major problems so far.


I’m preparing for my first grow to start in November 2021. Your summary is good stuff, thanks for putting it down for the rest of us. I liked your truism about the plant growing only as fast as it’s most limiting factor. 👍

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