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Monday, March 30, 2015

Pheno Selection - Starting New Genetics - by Drew Dorr

There are a few things that are truly crucial in the first few weeks of life for a new plant. Seeds and clones both require consistent temperatures and closely regulated environments to grow well. The better life a plant has the first few weeks when it is really establishing itself as a plant, the better the outcome will be in the end.

      One thing many people do not realize is that until a seed or clone has feeder roots, it cannot absorb nutrients. I always start my plants off in a Ph neutral medium that has no nutrients. There are many different products out that provide a healthy medium. Coco fiber is one of these products. Made entirely of coconut shells, it provides a porous medium that will hold water and provide for a sturdy plant. I have also noticed that starting plants in coco fiber is also a great way to start hydro. Primarily in ebb and flow type systems, the risk of your hydro plants drying up is always a worry, but by using coco fiber you can be assured that the plant has enough water for a few hours in case of power outage or pump failure.

      Once a plant has feeder roots you can start pumping her full of nutrients! Just be careful not to over-do it. A lot of plants will burn very easily from nutrients in the first few weeks of life. I typically use a high nitrogen nutrient as a nice base. I try to give my plant just enough to survive for the first few weeks. This allows the plant to start telling you what it wants. For example if you start a plant off on a full nutrient regiment you might actually be over feeding the plant because it can only use so much nutrients. When a plan starts yellowing you know it is time to add more nitrogen. If you are already over feeding the plant it will never start yellowing and you will never know it needs Nitrogen.

     Sanitation is also key, and it is imperative that you provide 100% sterility in your growing medium. H2O2 can be an effective tool to kill bacteria in certain cases. Another step I use is to make sure I keep it nice and warm, around 80-degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. This is a good soil temp for first day, and I usually keep the room temperature at around 70-75-degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, huge temperature-variations can stunt a plant’s growth!

     Different strains/plants need different nutrients and consistencies. It is always a good idea to test the waters of a plant. What this means is try over feeding the plant, maybe try under feeding a second clone of the same strain to see how it compares. Maybe try just water on a third or a different medium on the fourth. You would be surprised at the difference in outcome you will notice just by changing one little step along the way.

     One thing to keep in mind in the early stages of a plants life is abnormalities. Sometimes a plant will just grow weird or in certain environments it will grow different. These can be good indicators that something is about to go wrong in the plant’s world. Noticing a strange shaped leaf or an asymmetrical error on the plants growth pattern can indicate any number of deficiencies.

     Remember, plants are like people! Just because you like carrots does not mean I do! Something that you are used to doing to every plant might be a death sentence to that new strain you want to try out. Experimenting with each strain until you find what works best is always a smart idea. I generally grow a test plant with just H20 so I can see how the plant does with nothing.  This provides you with a nice control for future tests. Make sure to keep track of changes you make to feeding charts and things like that.

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