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Growing Culture

ON THE DECK II: GROWTH AND SUPERCROPPING

The three
plants are thriving in the wick system and they are growing phenomenally. Over
the last month they have filled in the canopy and have grown two feet taller.
The plants are all healthy and

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The three
plants are thriving in the wick system and they are growing phenomenally. Over
the last month they have filled in the canopy and have grown two feet taller.
The plants are all healthy and the leaves have good color, a bright green,
which indicates that they have enough nutrients but are not over-fertilized.

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The planting
mix is moist all the way to the top of the container. The 3/8
? nylon wicks draw up water as needed to
maintain moist but not wet conditions, so the roots have plenty of water and
nutrients, and also plenty of air spaces to provide needed oxygen.

In order for
the plant to produce more bud sites I manipulated the branches so they would
stretch out horizontally into a wider canopy using several techniques.

First, I
removed the top growth tip from the main stem. This tip produces auxin, a plant
chemical that inhibits growth of the lower branches so that the plant develops
its characteristic shape. Without the tip producing auxin, the lower branches
surrounding the growth tip are not constrained and they quickly grow,
surrounding the main stem.

The second
technique I used was to widen the canopy by pulling some of the branches down,
opening the inside of the plant to light. I used monkey ties, little devices
made to hold branches in place. Usually gardeners use them to help support
branches from falling. However, I placed the little plastic hook around the
stem. The hook is attached to a length-adjustable nylon filament and unwinds
from a center post. When the filament reaches the right length a button holds
it in place. Then the center post is attached to a support. I used the devices
to stretch the branches out from the center and to draw them down. The monkey
tie reels are held on the deck floor using logs and rocks.

The third
method that I used for increasing canopy width is super-cropping. This is a
technique in which the stem tissue is crushed a bit to make it easy to bend. If
the tissue was not wounded first by rolling it forcefully between thumb and
forefinger until it weakens, the branch would snap. With the crushed tissue the
stem bends easily into the desired position. Then it needs to be supported so
it doesn’t just droop. Within a couple of days the plant repairs the wound by
growing new tissue.

 

TIP OF THE
MONTH FROM ASK ED®

It’s not too
late to plant outdoors. You can move your indoor plants outdoors now and they
will start to flower almost immediately. Because the plants are not used to the
suns intense rays and ultraviolet light (suntan–sunburn spectrum), place them
in the shade for a week. If it is also hot use an anti-transpirant spray,
available at local nurseries. Gradually adjust the plants to the sun by giving
them a little more direct light each day. Most varieties will continue to grow
a bit as they flower.

 

1.) One
month after being placed in the garden, the plants are filling out and have
grown about two feet. This photo was taken before the plants were supercropped.

 

2.) Side
branches are growing around the clipped center tip. The leaves grew single
fingered in response to early flowering from long nights, even after they
returned to vegetative growth.

 

3.) Supercropping
is a technique for manipulating branches. Here the stem is being rolled back
and forth to weaken it so it bends easily.

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4.) This supercropped branch was initially supported. Now it sits horizontally
without support, increasing the area of the canopy. Notice the new growth
growing vertically from the branch.

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