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On the Deck V

 By
this point, the plants have switched from vegetative growth to flowering. At
about the same time I stripped all of the lower leaves and branches, known as the
underbrush, because they were

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By
this point, the plants have switched from vegetative growth to flowering. At
about the same time I stripped all of the lower leaves and branches, known as the
underbrush, because they were in shade all or most of the time. The lower buds,
if left to grow, would be small and would never amount to much. Since these
leaves weren’t getting much light, they weren’t producing much sugar and were
in fact costing the plant nutrients and sugars for maintenance.

A
few days later I removed the small upper buds that were hidden from light by
the larger buds but were taking up room and energy. As soon as they were
dispatched the remaining buds grew into the space and increased their
diameters.

The
nutrient mix was changed, from one high in nitrogen (N), low in phosphorous (P)
and moderate in potassium (K) to one with very little N, moderate in P and high
in K, which promotes flowering.

The
reservoir is refilled about twice a week. During the three- or four-day period,
the plants use between about six and 10 gallons of water, about one-fourth to one-third
of capacity, depending on sunniness and temperature. The new water is adjusted
to bring the PPM to about 700 and the pH to about 6. In addition to using the
water for photosynthesis or transpiration, the plants use it to suck up additional
nutrients. Usually the nutrient level sank dramatically during the period to 350–400
ppm and the pH also sank to about 5.

 

Water
is added with enough nutrients to replenish the supply that has been lost and
to adjust the pH. No water is drained from the reservoir; water is only added
to it.

The
flowers are developing nicely—so far there has been no sign of mold of any
kind, there has been no insect predation noticed, and the plants look vital and
healthy. The buds are developing on the colas and filling in so that the first
foot the stem is invisible because of its flower covering.

The
sun is still shining directly on the deck for seven to eight hours a day and
then there is bright reflected light from a northern wall.

The
wick system is working great. It consists of a reservoir with 3/8? braided
nylon rope hanging down to the reservoir after running between holes drilled in
the bottom of the tray. I add water to the reservoir and the wicks draw it up as
needed by capillary action. I can feel the roots near the top of the soil and
throughout when I dig my finger in. The soil is covered with white/black
polyethylene, white on top. It reflects light back to the plants, keeps the
soil from getting hot and prevents evaporation. The soil stays moist and cool—a
perfect root environment—and part of the plants’ happy environment.

 

TIP
OF THE MONTH FROM ASK ED®

If
the buds are nearly ripe but are threatened by bad weather such as rain,
moisture or high humidity with the temperature ranging from 50°F to
70°F for several days, it is prudent to cut the plants early rather than risk
bud rot (Botrytis cinerea) or powdery mildew.

 

Just
covering the plants with a tarp won’t help because it doesn’t affect the high
humidity, which promotes mold spore germination. Cutting slightly immature buds
is better than harvesting moldy buds.

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