My last report on the garden was in late November. At the time, almost half of the plot had been harvested. Harvesting continued through the end of the month. There were several reasons for the sense of urgency in harvesting these plants. First, some of the buds were beginning to get overripe. Secondly, the weather, which had been amazingly sunny as a result of the drought in California, was about to turn. There were numerous rainstorms on the way.
Except for Thanksgiving, harvesting continued through the end of the month. The procedure was to cut the plants, place them in wagons and transport them to the processing center. The plants were dunked in hydrogen peroxide solution to wipe off dirt and kill spores and bacteria. Then they were hung to dry.
The drying frame was constructed out of steel beams with four levels of wire hung across the area. Wires were spaced three feet apart to promote air circulation. The space was heated and dried using a blower powered by its own generator, which filled the room with warm air with a relative humidity of less than 40 percent. The temperature was just under 80 degrees. The perimeter of the drying area was surrounded with powerful fans that circulated air between the rows.
By the time the frame was filled with plants and bud, the plants that were hung the earliest were dry and ready to be moved into the curing area. This consisted of a slightly cooler and more humid area. The plant branches were laid on craft paper only one cluster deep. Then another sheet of heavy craft paper was laid down and another layer of branches was placed on them. This was repeated five or six times.
Some plant tops were hung on wire along the walls increasing the capacity of the curing center.
After spending at least a week in the curing section, the branches were bucked. This was accomplished in one of several ways. Either the plants are stripped by hand [or stripped using a bucket]. Wearing heavy canvas gloves, the branches were pulled through a mostly closed hand, stripping the plant. A more efficient method uses a rim that fits over a five-gallon bucket. Branches are fitted through the slots in the bucket, and pulled through. The foliage is stripped off. The team is also experimenting with a de-budding machine. The stem is fed into a hole in the machine and it pulls through, automatically removing the bud and other foliage. This really speeds up the process.
The buds were then being stored in cans. Until the buds are mostly dry, they were kept uncapped. Only when they won’t sweat when enclosed, are the canisters capped.
1. The rafters are filled with drying plants and branches. The blower fills the drying area with warm dry air. The lift is used to place plants on the high levels.
2. Fans keep the air circulating between the rows.
3A. Plants in the curing section. The humidity is kept at about 50 percent using dehumidifiers. It consists of layers of branches separated by heavy craft paper.
3B. Some of the plants were hung.
4. Workers de-budding the stems and branches.
5. Finished buds will soon be destroyed.
6. The leaves and small buds will be used for concentrate.
7. NBF (New Best Friend) bud pile.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Are you planning to grow some big plants outside this year? January and February are the months to get seeds and clones started. Give them bright light and start training them to grow into the shape you prefer. By May or early June when you set them out, some varieties that are four or five feet tall have the potential to grow to 10- to 15-foot giants.