Machinations of a Healthy, Guilt-Free High
The best piece of wisdom ever imparted on me, other than don't eat yellow snow, was from my trade school Horticultural Machinery teacher Mr. Humphreys. He showed me how to transform one solitary Cannabis plant into a sweet jungle of six. Man, I loved that guy.
In Australia, there is no overriding law regarding cannabis related offences; instead, each state and territory enacts its own legislation. In my home state, Victoria, there is a legal policy called the Cannabis Cautioning Scheme. This policy, while not quite being a hard and fast law, reflects Victoria's somewhat progressive leanings towards harm reduction where marijuana is concerned, rather than adopting a punitive law approach. Medical marijuana is now legal in that state, and possession of an unscripted fifty grams or under will yield nothing but a slap on the wrist for first time offenders. All good.
When it comes to homegrown cultivation, police discretion is often implemented. Anything deemed to be of commercial quantity will most likely be dealt with harshly, but the possession of a couple of plants for personal use usually only results in the confiscation of the plant itself, or its yielded harvest. Any more than two plants though, in the eyes of state law, you're a supplier. A tad over-zealous.
The law regarding buying weed on the street is much stricter. First time offenders will be arrested, detained, charged and given the option of challenging the charges in a court of law, or to have the charges dropped altogether in lieu of a one hour counselling session with a court appointed social worker. Such a hassle over a small amount of weed. Offend for a second or third time, and court, plus a hefty fine, beckons.
But why would anyone want to buy off the street anyway?
From the street, primarily, the gear is guaranteed to be light on for weight and the price is sure to be unreasonably high. Not to mention, contending with shifty dealers, dodgy neighbourhoods, and the risk of a police bust. Many years of personal experience has finally taught me to stay away from these scenes altogether. The final straw was when I ended up with fractured ribs and a cleaned out wallet at the hands of two dealers that I actually knew quite well. It's just not worth it. Grow your own!
Mr. Humphries approach to growing is brilliant in its understated intricacies. One plant becomes six healthy clones with a mother plant doing all the work. And that's not even the genius part. That comes when the police, itching to fill their quotas, come to bust you for having six plants, and you walk away scot-free because technically, it's still just the one plant. No criminal record for you.
Firstly, it's very important not to grow from seed. It's too unpredictable. The quality, yield and sex of the plant cannot be determined until it's too late. You don't want to end up with a plant that turns male and produces nothing but a stingy amount of low potency leaf. Instead, get your hands on a quality female clone that's preferably grown using the permaculture method. Essentially, permaculture is an organic method of growing that adopts the principle of constructing an agriculturally productive growing system, that will ultimately allow the plant to contain the diversity, stability and resilience of its natural ecosystem. In a nutshell, the plant will be a hardy, disease free, quality product.
Correct soil pH levels are absolutely vital when it comes to growing. For cannabis, the ideal pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5; meaning that the soil should be kept slightly acidic. This can be achieved by adding trace elements to your mix. A small bag of garden lime from your nearest garden centre should do the trick.
It is also crucial that the correct fertilisers are used at the appropriate growth phases. This is called the NPK method; N (Nitrogen) P (Phosphorus) K (Potassium).
Early on, in the plants latter juvenile stage, a nitrogen based fertiliser is required; nitrogen assists with photosynthesis and healthy leaf production. Remember not to place too much fertiliser in your mix while the plant is still in its juvenile stage. Doing so may result in the plant burning and possibly dying.
After approximately four weeks of solid leaf production that's been aided by a weekly boost of nitrogen based fertiliser, it will be time to add the phosphorus. Doing so will help to promote a healthier, stronger root system. Continue to add a mixture of phosphorus and nitrogen weekly for the months during the peak summer period.
At the same time as the nitrogen dosing schedule is instigated, the training of the plant with bonsai wire should also begin. Firstly, loosely stake up the plant with the wire, keeping a 10mm distance from the trunk. Be careful not to penetrate the tap root; otherwise game over. Bend the wire into an arch and carefully mould the plant to the wire's shape. Use plastic horticultural clips to keep the plant's shape to the wire if necessary. Make sure not to fix the plant too tightly as doing so will result in a premature scarring of the trunk and possible stunted growth.
In time, you will see that the plant is growing prostrate along the soil surface. As this occurs, mould another wire arch for it to continue growing. Eventually, when the plant reaches the peak of the second arch, a new branch will form. This will eventually act as the main trunk of plant number one. Stake the new trunk bolt upright (using a thin wooden stake) as soon as possible. Repeat this process five times, and after a while, you've got yourself six seperate plants feeding off the original. As the new clones grow, continue to pump in the hydration and fertiliser.
The ideal time for growing cannabis outdoors, is from the Spring equinox until the Autumn equinox. As the daylight hours reduce after the Summer solstice, it's time to start adding potassium. Less daylight hours means less photosynthesis which in turn means a reduced leaf production. As long as the plant isn't too dry, hold back slightly on the watering at this time. Coupled with the diminishing daylight hours, less water will put the plant under stress. This is what you want. A small amount of added stress to most plants at this time of the year will allow them to produce an abundance of extra budding flowers as compensation for the lack of leaf growth and hydration. In the case of cannabis, this means a marked amount of extra bud. Your garden will smell amazing too. Sweet, happy times.
The following tips will ensure your plant's reign as Supreme Plant:
*Make sure your plant is in a well-drained soil. Over the first months leading up to the Summer solstice, watering is crucial. Keep a balance; don't let the soil get too dry, and on the same token, don't let it get to saturation point.
*During leaf production, be vigilant with removing any yellowing leaves; they are pointless and reduce the nitrogen effect, thus hampering the plants growth.
*To prevent disease, simply make sure that the soil in the container is clear of defoliated leaves and isn't drenched. Not tending to these potential problems may see mold and bacteria borne disease start to form, as well as an unwanted attraction of undesirable, leaf-eating bugs.
*Do not use a chemical based bug spray such as Pyrethrum as your main weapon for insect prevention. Natural is always better; for you, for the environment and for your smoke. My grandmother has a fantastic natural recipe for keeping bugs off her prize winning tomatoes: Mix thoroughly, the juice of one lemon, six cloves of finely chopped garlic, a teaspoon of chilli powder and a dash of olive oil. Once mixed through, add to a spray bottle and top up with water until full. Shake, point and spray. Never fails.
*Companion planting is also extremely beneficial when it comes to keeping bugs away from your plant. If you can, plant a circle (or semi-circle) of Basil around the plant at a distance of 400mm. The insects will be more attracted to the basil and can chomp away to their hearts content.
*Make sure to tip prune any new growth at least once a week. This will promote more growth and will result in a much thicker and denser shrub. More leaves equals more bud which of course equals more sweetness in your life.
*Finally, don't forget to wear disposable gloves when harvesting. Just look at what happens if you don't.
Now that you've harvested, let's have a smoke.
An easy rule to follow when smoking weed is not to add tobacco. It's quite a common practice to add tobacco to the bowl as it can aid the burning process. This is not at all necessary. Be patient, and let your bud dry in a cool, dark space. Doing so will not be detrimental to the quality of your smoke and will render your experience a much smoother and healthier one. Cheaper too. The tariffs on tobacco products are already beyond comprehension, so why give the government any more money than you already do?
Smoking through a bong (water pipe) is the most efficient way to smoke, and yields the greatest rush. But it can also be quite detrimental to one's health. Prolonged bong use can result in moisture developing on the lungs; something that is often referred to as Bongitis. My doctor taught me that one.
When smoking a joint, be choosy as to what type of papers are used. Mass produced papers can contain carcinogenic adhesives which have been proven to be cancer causing. Although it's a little more expensive, naturally made papers such as hemp paper are a much healthier option as well as being a slower, less wasteful burn.
Whilst joint smoking is convenient and highly portable, the process is wasteful. For the duration of the joint, excess smoke escapes into the ether and results in at least a 25% waste of product. That's why bongs are so good; but it can be a damn lose lose. tupid Bongitis.
Only slightly more efficient is a Hookah pipe or even a Grandpa pipe. But for me, the best and most product efficient alternative to bong smoking is the wonderful Kiwi tradition called Spotting. Doing spots can be tricky and will require your utmost concentration and manual dexterity when first starting out. Firstly, cut the base off a plastic bottle with a hot knife; this will ensure a smooth edge which you will need. Next, heat up two butter knives over a stove element until they are glowing red hot. Place one knife on a wooden chopping board and carefully place your bud on the knife. With one hand, get your water bottle ready, and with your other hand, place the remaining hot knife onto the bud as if it's in a knife sandwich. Smoke will then happen. Finally, place the large, open end of the water bottle over the smouldering bud, forming a tight seal around the smoke. With your mouth placed over the spout of the bottle, inhale nice and deep. Voila. No smoke wasted, a sense of coordinated self worth will develop, and you'll get a neat little rush to boot. Dope smokers under pressure make the best engineers, bar none.
Like with everything though, there is a downside to doing spots. The potential trace of metallic elements from the hot knives shooting into your lungs is an all too real issue. I find that the best thing to do when smoking is to alternate methods every so often in order to minimise specific health risks.
The purest of the pure smoking products is hash oil, however, unless you know how to extract it yourself, it can be quite difficult to obtain in certain countries. Again, many people add a couple of drops of oil to their tobacco. Why?! Just add it to your joint for an even stonier smoke.
Cigarettes, alcohol and prescription pills, while legal, are much more harmful to one's health than a naturally grown, properly smoked cannabis product. Remember the golden rule, a little TLC, equals a lot of THC.
Tell me again, why was it that cannabis was illegal in the first place?