Here in New England, we all know how unpredictable the weather can be. If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change. Or, you can go inside where you control the environment to make it more comfortable. The same way you endure these environments, so do your plants. They endure the different conditions that come with being rooted outdoors or in a greenhouse, including pests, mold, and viruses. If you’re a gardener, you know exactly what I am talking about -especially those who grow cannabis.
Pests can be the real enemy for both indoor and outdoor growers alike. Pests are defined as destructive insects or other animals that attack crops, livestock, food, etc. Bugs, mold, bacteria, etc., can impact cannabis crops severely. With some of these pests, you can’t even tell the crop has been devastated until it’s too late. Growing cannabis takes a whole lot of work, heart, sweat and tears. You spend weeks tending, pruning, defanning, feeding, and monitoring and then you see signs of insects, mold, and or bacteria. Is it too late to save your plant babies? Or is there something you can do to stop these pests in their tracks?
The Indoor Grow:
The best prevention method is creating a clean environment for your plants from the beginning to end of their life cycle. As a microbiologist, a clean room means gowning up, with booties and a hair net, and walking through an air shower before entering the work area.
However, that is not cost effective for our purposes. To get close to this level of cleanliness, you want to start with making sure yourself or any other persons interacting with your grow wear appropriate clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent microbes, viruses, and other pests from contacting plants or other surfaces in your operation. Cleaning all surfaces with environmentally friendly disinfectants such as 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) or hydrogen peroxide helps too, as they kill most bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s important for employees or home growers alike to remember to start working with clean work surfaces and end with clean work surfaces. This includes any tools used such as shears, tweezers, or pruners.
You should also quarantine clones before bringing them into your facility or home. They can be contaminated from their mother plant upon arrival and create more problems for your grow. During the quarantine, be sure to inspect for pests and disease, and treat them if found before transitioning. Keeping plants at different stages in the life cycle can help to mitigate large crop loss if plants are found to be infected or contaminated. This way you don’t need to remediate your entire operation,only a portion. Still hurts the soul, but not as big of a blow as losing it all.
The Outdoor Grow:
Growing outside can create its own set of problems. Of course, while doing as much of the previously mentioned topics as you can will still help in the outdoor grow, some may be harder to do than others, like maintaining a certain temperature. It’s harder to protect from the elements, pests, air conditions, and soil elements, especially if you are not growing in a greenhouse. Still, there are a few methods you can use to prevent these issues.
Companion planting is a great way to ward off pests naturally by placing other plants, such as basil or mint, near your cannabis plants. Plus it can make for a more diverse garden. However, if you are to plant mint or garlic chives, make sure you have them in pots or soil separate from your cannabis as they are known for growing out of control and suffocating other plants. It’s also important to ensure proper nutrients and pH levels, as an imbalance can lead to perfect conditions for microbes. Bacteria can be helpful to your plants, but can also completely ruin them if mismanaged.
Checking your water supply can also be a great way to maintain a clean environment for your plants. Heavy metals, microbiologicals, and pesticides are just some of the contaminants you can find in your water. Of course having minerals and such can help your soil and therefore your plant, but again, if mismanaged they can cause a disaster. levels of minerals, pesticides, etc., can also vary depending upon your water source. Unfortunately for the outdoor uncovered grower,you can’t test the rain water, but you can make your plants movable to bring inside when it rains. Buckets and other coverings work just as well too.This not only helps with overwatering, but also ensures no unknown contaminants make their way into your soil and therefore, your plants.
Just as the environment you live in affects you, it also affects your plants. A happy plant will produce a happy high. Working on your plants and the environment around it is a great hobby and a great way to ensure a good product. Testing your flower can help you understand where you went right or wrong in the process. Whether you are growing indoors or outdoors, we can grow happy plants together!