So many moons ago I introduced a tiered method in growing cannabis. This is something that I want to revisit, and explain a little more in depth about why I did it.

In my early days of growing autos I wanted some of the most organic soil I could produce to grow my buds. This mainly came from my experience of growing photo period plants. The thing that was different was the sensitivity of the auto vs the photo. Most photos that I was growing were clones off a mom. They were going to be female and as long as they rooted they were not temperamental. Your soil could be a little “hot” and the clones would do just fine in this as long as they had roots. Ideally all was well in the land of the ganja. The girls would grow, flower and repeat. The thing that I didn’t realize at the time was my soil would be too hot for autos. Not because it would burn them up, but because I started noticing a higher ratio of males with my auto plants. At first I thought that it may just be bad luck and there were a few times that I would start a whole new batch and see the same results. It wasn’t until I grew a few out in seedling starter mixed that I started to isolate the issue. It seemed that when I would start my plants in seed starter and then once sexed transplant over into my custom soil I would see a better ratio of female plants.

That right there is what got me thinking. I needed a way to introduce my plants to the soil AFTER the plant showed sex to reduce the number of males that I was seeing in my grows. This was all fine and dandy until I started running into another issue. Once I corrected the male ratio I was seeing stunting as a result of the transplant. Something to keep in mind here. Autos in their infancy were seriously aggravated if the root system was disturbed during transplant. What would happen was the plant would continue to grow but they would not reach full potential. So I solved one problem and ran right into another that was, in my opinion, worse than having a bunch of males. I would get a decent plant but they were rather small.

So now I am faced with looking for a transplant method that was light on the root ball and would allow me to still use the super soil I was making and not get a whole bunch of male plants. Enter the tier, I began looking at what I was doing to get where I wanted to go. I wanted to be able to transplant my plant after it sexed and still grow a well yielding plant. This is how that method became a reality. I always started in solo cups, or at least at that time I did, and they have a nice drop to them in depth and would allow a healthy seedling to form, sex, and then be able to transplant. So what I would do is take 2 cups and cut the bottom out of one and then leave the other intact. Place the cut bottom cup in the one with the bottom, then when it was time to transplant, all I needed to do was remove the outer cup. Set the bottomless cup in my soil, and then proceed as normal. I eliminated 2 issues here. One, the male ratio was dropping as the plants were allowed to sex in soil that had zero ferts and I was no longer disturbing the root ball causing a stunted plant when removing the cup as stated above.

Fast forward to current day. So the whole reason that the method of tiering your plants is here was to allow the best organic experience and eliminate the stress to the plant that causes more males than none. So what I am saying is that the tier had no added benefit other than allowing organic growers to use their own living soil to produce stellar plants and reduce male plant numbers. I used to think that this method did something more but after all my testing and the years that have passed I see clearly what was going on in this situation. It allowed you to use a strong organic soil rather than have to feed them throughout the life cycle. So the practice of this should be used to promote the use of organics. If you are going to feed plants through their life cycle and you are a fert person, I’d say stick to the age old methods of direct to soil and then give them what they need as they grow. If you are an organics person and you run reg seeds the tier is really good at eliminating the higher ratio of males, and allow a proper transplant to the destination pot without trashing the root ball.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Funny how I ended up doing something very similar for totally different reasons. I was at a point where I had no space for plants in the 5 gal. Fabric pots that I use and they ladies needed to be transplanted. I have observed that any root crowding results in smaller plants especially in the small starter pots. So I transplanted into 1 gal. Fabric pots. When I had room I merely used a box cutter to remove the bottom of the fabric pot and set it in a five gal. pot a few inches below the soil level. At the time of transplanting I put bamboo stakes in next to the small pot and tie them securely. When using four stakes it totally stabilizes the transplant and you rarely need to tie any branches formsupport. Wish I could post a photo or two here. Trimming an auto OG Kush today Jan. 1, planted 10/15 that is 6′ tall.

  2. I like the idea of a gentle start. When I seed directly to pots in the greenhouse germ and survival rate proportional to soil temp. Too warm and soil organisms consume the seeds, too cold same thing, just different organisms. I’ll try a modified version. Slits down the sides of the inner cup so I can plant all the way in, prevent drying. The grows i’ve seen using your technique look real good, like you said…..going for potential….thanks

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