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Monster Training Guide : Maximizing outdoor photoperiod plants

ClockworkOrange

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The Monster Training Guide

This guide is meant to be a semi-advanced guide to growing and training gigantic photosensitive plants. I have tried to make it a simple guide to understand, but the guide also assumes you know how to grow healthy plants. If you're hazy on starting seedlings, or general growing do yourself a favour and buy a copy of the incredible online book "Growing Elite Marijuana". Though it is much more complicated than the guide I wrote, it is packed full of excellent information every grower should have access to!!

Here is a Dutch Passion Blueberry using all the techniques listed below(including accidental supercropping). She is around 4 weeks from harvest in this pic and she is 6 feet high on most branches and over 30feet around the perimeter. In the end, she weighed an astonishing 5lbs 10oz.
View attachment 736359


Forward:
I won't lie...I love canna. I have loved canna since high school, and canna has never hurt me or anyone around me, in fact it has kept me out of trouble more often than not in many varied situations. I have a unique situation which makes me have to try a variety of strains, not for enjoyment so much anymore, but in search of the ultimate pain reducing strain for chronic pain caused by a spinal chord injury. Due to my injury I can't grow guerilla style as its too physically demanding, so I have to be a backyard grower. Being a backyard grower is great, in many respects if you have the right spot. You get to keep a close eye on the girls and give them excess training care, which will make them grow stronger. I have 2 gardens one i will refer to as the Test Garden and the other I refer to as the Full Sun Garden or the Big Girl Garden. The full sun garden is where the monster girls will roam, and the test garden is used to test different qualities of the strains.(good and bad) One important thing to being a successful backyard grower is have good relationships with your neighbours. If your neighbour relationship isn't civil, then you are asking for problems right off the bat. Neither of my neighbours know I grow herb in my yard, and even if they did I highly, highly doubt they would set me up to be robbed or call the coppers. That's what a good neighbour relationship does, it puts you at ease because you know they respect you. Why? Because I have done nothing but be a great neighbour! I totally realize that I am fortunate to have such good neighbours, and many aren't so lucky.

The Testing Grounds:
The "Test Garden" is pretty small. I "could" pack as many as 8 smaller photos started on May 1st using 4footX4foot holes 2 feet deep, but i choose to usually only plant 4 plants in this garden, and a handful of autoflowering plants. Next year i will use more autos. Height is a major concern in the test garden, and I cannot have any plants over 4feet high or I lose stealth provided by cover plants. I use this garden for testing many qualities that are very important for my situation(Oct 1st is the end of the season usually most years. Some years i can go to Oct 15th but generally Oct 15 is either far too rainy/damp or frosts...sometimes even snow mid oct). Potency, taste, bud size and density are all factors for me as well as mold resistance, pest resistance and most importantly medical effect.

The setup is super simple in the test garden. PH is a nice 6.5, good enough for the girls I go out with, and drainage is excellent. In the early spring i work 4'X4' holes 2 feet deep. To work the soil simply dig it up and break it up with a shovel. I add a half cup of lime to the soil, 1/2 wheelbarrow of well rotted horse manure to the soil as well as a good amount of hardwood leaves(5 gallon pail) to the soil. I chop the leaves up with a shovel before/while working them into the soil. That will feed the plants through to pre-flower easily, which makes for a virtually work free summer with the exception of a little training and watering when needed. I also add a good amount of perlite(1 gallon for airation) into the mix, along with some vermiculite(1/2 gallon for water holding properties). I level the holes out as well as i can before i put the plants in to try to minimize runnoff when the time comes to fertilize. Then on june the 1st I put the 30 day old plants in their new homes. If the prepared ground is not level, water will run away from the plant wasting expensive nutrients if they go too far from the root base. So i will make 2 circular banks around the base of the plant. I will use the inner circle for early watering and then the outer circle for later watering until the plant gets to a size that I can just use the watering can and wet the whole 4X4 ground ensuring maximum nutrient absorbed though the feeder roots throughout the flowering period.

Direct sun is limited in the test garden to 7-8 hours a day and it gets almost no direct sun until 11:30 am. Plants for the test garden are started a month later(may 1st start) than the girls for the big garden.(april 1st start) I use foxfarm nutrients in the test garden for flowering but this will be the last year i have foxfarm due to availability. I feed the plants twice a week starting at the first sign of preflower. I use 3ml per liter(not the foxfarm heavy feed schedule which is 4ml per liter). The first week I use 2ml per liter and recommended open sesame quantities. Second week I follow the regular feeding schedule through to the end. Depending on the size of plant will determine how much i give each plant, usually 1 gallon every 3 days until beastie bloom starts, then I up the quantity to 2 gallons until the end of the cycle. 7 day fresh water leech at the end of the cycle, giving them 30 gallons every 3 days. Since foxfarm is no longer available here, i have since switched and tried a few different nutrients and had solid success with all of them(Advanced NUtrients, Green Planet)

I test for the following in the Test Garden:

1 Finish dates - This is of the utmost importance. A plant that's listed as an Oct 1st finish should be very close to an Oct1st finish...if it doesn't finish in the test garden its not a huge deal, but if I have one that doesn't finish in the Big Girl Garden I am pretty screwed, like I was with BCBD's Jack Herer listed as an Oct 15 finish and Sept 20th I cut her down with no preflower. Too much variance in a given strain and I won't grow that breeders seed in the big girl garden as they are unreliable. I need breeders to be honest and accurate about outdoor finish times

2 Test for mold...no sun until noon tells all in my conditions. Living in a valley, most of the summer every morning the ground is coated with a thick dew. I get to see these girls anytime I want, so I get to keep a very close eye on them. I can usually stop the mold using a dew shield(vapour barrier suspended in a tent shape over the plant), especially on smaller plants. I also have limited wind in the test garden, so I know if a strain shows minimal mold in the test garden it will do great in the big girl garden, since it gets early morning sun, and more consistent stronger wind. Usually with much internet research information on various strains mold resistance can be found. I also use UK growers and sites as a great source of outdoor information on mold resistance.

3 Test for insect resistance - slugs, leaf hoppers(3 types), whiteflies and spit bugs inhabit this area. This way I get to know what plants don't taste good to the bugs(the fruity chronic juice is loved by leafhoppers, with a name like that how could they resist...lol) The big girl garden has leafhoppers, but not nearly as many as the test garden thanks to fairy strong all the time wind.. If plants are healthy insect damage usually doesn't matter that much.(or at least moderate leafhoppers and slugs don't)

4 Yield - I know the test garden very well and know she puts out 1/4lb on pretty much any finished plant. If more than 8oz comes out then i know its top. If I get less depending on quality and medical effect decisions are made to regrow, grow in the big garden ect. I don't mind lower yielding varieties, as long as they produce the medical effect i need. Also many of today's varieties are so potent, that you don't need to smoke a whole joint to get strong effect, so that is taken into consideration with lower yielding varieties.

5 Taste Potency + med effect test - no need to explain here really. Medical effect is extremely important and varied in my case. I need varieties to sooth heavy chronic pain and insomnia, and also up high varieties to battle depression caused from living in constant chronic pain. To me taste is quite important, I have a keen interest in fruity varieties and unique flavours. Again countless hours of internet research helps with my initial choices of varieties to try.

6 Branching structure, bud formation ect - I train plants the same way as I do in the Big Girl garden, which results in smaller versions due to much less direct sun and a later starting date, but knowing their branching structure usually gives me a fairly accurate idea of what they will be in the big garden. I also get a good feeling for bud density in the test garden. I much prefer to trim dense varieties, and plants that have dense bud in the test garden will certainly be dense in the full sun garden.

Of course many of the characteristics above will have variance amongst the strains. We all know that seeded strains aren't clones and there will always be some differences plant to plant. If I had the facility to keep mother plants and clone, I would certainly do it, but I do not have the place for indoor grows such as that. So when i buy seed i look for breeders well known for consistent genetics. Breeders that take the time to stabilize the genes, make it much easier to guage the traits in the test garden than those breeders that have Xmas morning genes.(suprise you never know what you are going to get!!) Having only 4 real plants for my meds, I cannot afford to get no or little buds off a misrepresented plant.

The Full Sun Garden - Where the monsters roam. This is a great place for big girls to grow. Excellent light soil, turned over in the fall after harvest once the ground has been limed. Each plant gets a nice 10'X10' area to expand their roots and due to the horizontal training they use up every inch of the 10X10 area above ground as well as under it.

Preperation of the Full Sun Garden
Having nice light well worked soil in the fall and spring ensures excellent root penetration to get massive feeder roots, which will lead to massive nutrient uptake. So in the spring the soil is worked well after adding 2 wheelbarrows of well rotted horse manure per plant. After spreading out the manure but before turning it under the soil, I'll plan where my plants will go. Knowing branching structure and size helps determine placement in the garden, as well as the plant's projected finish date. Once I know exactly where I want the plant, I will grab 4 empty 5 gallon pails and center them upside down over the 4 holes where the plant will eventually go and press to leave a circle in the manure. Then I clear off as much manure as I can until I get to last years dirt(removing usually around 4-5" of manure) This buffer zone will ensure that the plants have an easy transition when initially put in the ground because of the intense nutrients provided by the excessive amounts of horse manure. Most of the manure is turned under the soil, which will increase moisture retention. Some of the horse manure is not fully rotted(on purpose) and those pieces once turned under will retain air and keep the soil fluffy until it breaks down. Once the whole garden is turned over(leave the pails over the buffer zone) there's no more work to do until the plants are ready to go in the ground(June 1st, usually the spring garden prep is done may 10th-15th).

Starting the Plants
Speaking of which, the plants! I used to start all of my plants on April 1st using four T5 4' Florescent Lights for seedling stage and into veg, and they have served me well for many years. If you are a grower on a major budget T5's are the light of choice. 4 single 4foot lights will cost less than $100, and you will get 4-5 years of 2 month veg time before you need bulb replacements. I use single lights as they are more flexible to vertically move up and down to maximize the very shallow useful lights the flouro's emit. I try to keep the lights (via wires hooked to the ceiling of the cabinet I veg plants I) 1" from the tops of the plants. Since then I have grabbed three cheap 300 w LED's, and they are doing an excellent job. I sprout my seed in a ziploc bag, kept at an 80 degree temperature with the seeds inside a bedding made with a few sheets of damp(damp not wet!) paper towel. I have extremely good germination rates(95%) and very fast(12-24 hours with fresh seed). I try to time it to plant a seed once the tap root is 1/8" long which takes usually 12-18hours from the time it hits the paper towel. I make a mix of top soil(I use any bought fine black earth suitable for indoor) and perlite and vermiculite to a 6:2:1 ratio. Really it doesn't have to be at all exact, just have more perlite than vermiculite as aeration is more important than water retention to young plants. Recently i have switched to Promix HP and its superior to potting soil. This guide isn't really a beginners guide, so I won't delve too deep into starting seedlings.

As soon as the plants get to 4 true nodes (cutting off the bottom branches that come out of the single bladed leaf set as soon as they appear) I will top the plant giving me 8 main branches. Then I tie the plants main stalk over 90 degrees. Depending on main trunk thickness and rigidity, I might tie a bit and tie again the next day depending on trunk thickness, but usually I do it in one shot. Right at the base of the plant i will attach an anchor wire and further up the plant to tie it to 90 degrees(or close) As the 8 main branches get 4-5" long I begin training them on a horizontal direction using wires connected to the outside of the pot using plastic coated garden wire(fairly stiff so you can manipulate the branches direction). I try to train them out in a splayed pattern in an octagonal direction so each branch will get great light once they are 7-8 feet long.
View attachment 736362

I just keep tying branches down as they get big enough, while wrangling down the main branches under lights until mid may when the weather warms enough fairly consistently. I start by putting them in direct sun on a warm sunny day. Then I sit with them(or do something else) watching them every 20 minutes until i see the leaves start to droop(this usually never happens within 2 hours). Then I move all 4 plants to shade for an hour(until the droop perks up). I keep a mental note of which plants leaves drooped first. Then I repeat, keeping a close eye on them for the first couple of days, especially the first day...within a few days(week max) they are tough and ready to party in the sun. If it gets cool, a few under 14 degrees celcius days will just toughen them up for the sometimes harsh cannadian early summer and fall. I still put them under lights at night during this transitional period(aka Grow my Green Children Grow!!). Once the are ready for full sun(2nd-3rdweek of May), that's exactly what they get. Full sun and they go in an unheated outbuilding at night regardless of temp.(often hitting 5degrees celcius for a few hours late at night)

Okay on June the 1st they go in the ground centering them in the buffer zone of the prepared ground. The ground surrounding the root base will likely be depleted of nutrients so for 2 weeks I'll continue using fertilizer to keep feeding the plants until they work their own way into the intense nutrients of the surrounding soil. Then I am done for summer!! YAY! I do some light training from now until july, but nothing too intensive unless they grow over the fence. I try to keep the walking on the beds to a minimum so I don't compact the soil.

I water when i transplant, but after that i rarely water. Usually all summer we get a good rain once every 5 days to 7 days. If I have to water, I'll do so every 5-7 days. When I have to hand water, I try to water away from the plant to increase moisture seeking roots to become more expansive in search of water. Usually i'll water 3-4 feet around the main trunk, once the plants have some size. This year I did not hand water any plants at all. I swear every time I went to grab the hose we would get an inch or two of rain. Perfect year!! Our well water is awesome....no idea of mineral content or ph, but it must be in the right range for it grows great plants!

Summer time flies and before i know it the plants are over the fence(6')!! Usually this happens by mid July. Time to get to work training...love it. The best thing to ever happen was getting ripped off...lol...crazy but true. Instead of being able to naturally grow these 12'+ monsters with canopies that could shade the sun at high noon in Egypt, but yet would only yield a pound and a half on higher yielding strains(was only running horse manure and lime at that point), getting ripped made me completely retool my strategy, and i realized that I had to keep the tops as much below the fence as i could. A benefit of the heavy training was the canopy was greatly reduced allowing sunlight to penetrate in much further and thus creating many more effective budding sites.

Opening the canopy by training branches to grow almost horizontally along the ground forces out secondary branching heavily, and in the end the secondary branches are the tallest usually 5-7'(tallest vertically, but the main branches will be the longest). The main branches due to the strain of being tied down end up being very thick and nodes are stocked closely, which result in very nice bud structure since they are on the outside of the plant and exposed to very good sun. Depending on structure(mostly height) i will tie these down as much as i can below the fence. Some branches in the full sun garden get so thick that continually pulling down on them causes them to break off the main stem(Check out Training maintenance below). I use 4 foot bamboo stakes and hardwood stakes to support heavy thick main branches. I start supporting branches in early to mid July, and usually have 2-3 stakes per main branch, and sometimes as many as 7-8 depending on branch structure and thickness.

Not all plants respond super well to heavy lst training. Some develop too many branches and the development is thousands of smaller branches, resulting in thousands of smaller buds. But even though they are smaller, the mass amount of tops yields pretty big generally. And the percentage of plants that seem to do this is fairly small.

Topping - I do very little topping. Doesn't matter what the strain is(great starting point) I top the plant at 4 true nodes(cutting the fakeout bottom branch nodes when they appear). I go for 8 main branches. Once topped after a few days i train the main trunk over 90 degrees. Once branches are long enough to train i start holding them down to grow horizontally along the ground, forcing secondary branches to compete with the main tips. If secondary branches grow like crazy, i will tie them down early in growth as well.

Monster Maintenance - Growing monsters that are lst trained require maintenance, especially keeping a close eye out for branches breaking at the trunk. Tremendous amounts of force are applied to trunk joints after the branches get too thick with the down pressure applied, and some strains can be prone to breaking off(dp blueberry is a prime example) I don't even fret when they break anymore. Fixed with some electrical tape and plastic tape tie, branches once fixed will be much stronger than before(pics later this season) I've had branches 90% broken off that developed into nice strong knots with just some plastic tie holding it together while it heals over a couple of weeks. The most important thing is you fix it asap. If you wait too long it will have trouble healing back together.(in that case scrape the dried out section with an xacto knife) Have a second person if possible to help hold the branch while wrapping tape tight. Make sure you remember to take the tape/plastic tie off in 2 weeks. If you wait too long the branch will start to grow around it and can restrict nutrient flow.

This pic shows the trunk of a monster DP Blueberry from this years crop. Her main stem was split on the 2 branches on the left. The round knuckled branch on the right(biggest branch of the lot!) was broken 80% off the trunk around 7 weeks before this pic and was healed by using tape and winding really tight for a couple of weeks. Having a helper to hold the branch steady while I tape is immensely helpful!
View attachment 736363

Supercropping
I've been playing with supercropping for a couple of years now, and the results i am seeing in the test garden are very positive. I have done limited supercropping(accidental) a bunch of times in the big girl garden and also had positive results. Next year i have decided i am going to supercrop them heavy in the full sun garden. More to be added on supercopping including pics of 3 different varieties from this years test garden.(BC Bud Depot God Bud, Delicous Seeds Fruity Chronic Juice, and PeakSeedsBC Texada Skunk) I have supercropped every main branch at least 5 different times and at least a few times on all secondary shoots right up until early preflower. All 3 are in middle of flower and filling out nicely. The fruity chronic juice is extremely crystal covered for the stage of flower.(not surprising as its white widow X chronic) Weight will be a bit exaggerated on the god bud and the chronic juice as they were started on April 1st, instead of the standard test garden start time of may the 1st, so they had a extra 30 days of veg.


I have enough testing with the defoliating this year.(hoping to beat my record of a 36" solid cola) After much research defoliating is happening on my end. Result are great so far(you would never know from yesterdays pics that the frisian dew was defoliated almost completely only 2 weeks ago!)
View attachment 736366

Here is another pic of the same plant another 2 weeks later. One week after the pic was taken the Advance nutrients fertilizer Overdrive was used for a week(2 different applications of 3 gallons every 3 days) then flushed with lots of fresh well water.(60 liters for the initial and 60 litres 3 days after the initial flush)
View attachment 736372

The end of the year weigh in will truely tell how effective it is, but it is definitely improving density on lower buds. As time goes by, watching the result of defoliation I have decided that I will be using this technique from now on with all plants in both the test and big girl gardens. I'm certain defoliation is increasing bud density and depth. One trick I found already this year with defoliation is make sure you remove the leaf stalks. If left to wither, it "can" lead to potential mold. I find using my dominant hand to grasp the leaf stalk and move my forefinger along the leaf stalk close to the main stalk and then use my thumb forcing down pressure to snap the leaf right off at the branch eliminates any left over leaf stalks, and reduces the chance of mold caused by dead tissue from the dying leaf stalk.

Thinning
Another thing i do to keep yields up, is thin out shaded underformed branches and yellowing fans in the veg state, just before preflower. This will allow all energy to be put into productive bud sites instead of wasting energy on underformed bud. Usually i cut all of the underformed secondary branches on the lowest quarter(to 1/3rd depending on structure) of the main branches, unless the branch has established some size and is not shaded out. This is a tremendous undertaking, which for one with a spinal chord injury is torture, as the only effective way to do it is lay on your back under the giant plants and start cutting out the underformed branches. Worth the hours of effort in the end. This will help in circulation under the main branches of the plant resulting in excellent bud production and a built in mold protection.

3 feet of cleared branches under a DP blueberry. Even in the pic I see some other under formed branches that should have been cut(lower left quadrant) Take note of the early lst training, and the angle the branches come out at.
View attachment 736364


Please note that in order to use many of the techniques listed you should have healthy growing plants. Doing techniques like defoliation is a bad idea on plants with nutrient deficiencies or dealing with other high stress.

I truly hope this guide help everyone to grow bigger and better plants. For not a weed free nation or continent, but to a weed free world, Unite and Grow for a better kinder planet.

Here is a few plants grown using these techniques
View attachment 736373

Think Fast
View attachment 736375

Hollands Hope
View attachment 736377

DP Blueberry
View attachment 736379

DP Frisian Duckstrain
View attachment 736380
You mentioned your season ends in beginnig oct. with sometimes snow already and that you look for pain relief. There is a strain called Mazar-I-Sharif after its origin and it is fitting your needs almost perfect (almost because they are regulars and you have to select in your grow style and they can become huge). The link is to seedsman where the seeds are currently unavailable but you will most likely get the from another source instead. Check them out!

Here is the description https://www.seedsman.com/en/mazar-i-sharif-seeds
 

MaxPowerGrows

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@912GreenSkell ....just being curious, do you grow in the states? if so, which part? north east, northwest,southeast,southwest? or are u one of the lucky ones in spain?
 

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@912GreenSkell I'm looking to get a photo grow started now before summer is in full swing. Traditionally, my region has long, dry, hot summer, with temps in the high 30s to low 40s for the majority of December & January, with February still hot and dry, but we get some pretty massive tropical storms. Off the top of your head do you have any varieties to recommend at all mate?
Cheers bloke!
 

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@912GreenSkell I'm looking to get a photo grow started now before summer is in full swing. Traditionally, my region has long, dry, hot summer, with temps in the high 30s to low 40s for the majority of December & January, with February still hot and dry, but we get some pretty massive tropical storms. Off the top of your head do you have any varieties to recommend at all mate?
Cheers bloke!
For sure....i would take a look at Delicious Fruity Chronic Juice, as well as DP think fast and durban poison.
 

hecno

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@Adamskill I gather you are south of me , I would recommend Golden Tiger from www.aceseeds.org it would be worth ago down your way , 11 to 14 week flowering time , As long as you keep the roots cool [ mulch ] it should handle the heat . The plant in the photo had 41 c yesterday and many days of 35 c plus . It is a unknown strain form Southern India . It is mainly a test plant . :thumbsup:
DSC_0013.JPG
 

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@Adamskill I gather you are south of me , I would recommend Golden Tiger from www.aceseeds.org it would be worth ago down your way , 11 to 14 week flowering time , As long as you keep the roots cool [ mulch ] it should handle the heat . The plant in the photo had 41 c yesterday and many days of 35 c plus . It is a unknown strain form Southern India . It is mainly a test plant . :thumbsup:View attachment 832844
What about something like Desfran the Destroyer from dutch Passion? I would think it would do okay with the longer flower cycle and the south american lineage?
 
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