PTGC Toppers: Dessert Seeds - Trial Run
On to the 3rd challenge grow of 2021. Since I am new to growing auto flowers, I was anxious about topping and training on the first round. This PTGC grow seems like the perfect opportunity to accomplish several objectives, the first being my primary attempt at topping auto flowers. Additionally, I wanted to try out a new seed company, Dessert Seeds. I have not been able to find anything about them online other than they appeared in a few different markets around the same time at a real good price point. They are sold in local dispensaries. At a couple dollars each I don't mind experimenting. I will germinate as many as needed to run my diabolic experiments.
Initially I was going to try to mainline a couple White Widow photos. But, as luck would have it, I had a WPM outbreak in my tent. I was hoping that this crop would be done in time to start the mainlines but now I want to thoroughly clean the equipment before I populate it again. This led to the decision to run autos outside for one last late season crop. This will also allow me to take a little break before the next NYGC fandango. Maybe even get some vacation.
Anyway, I have dropped 4 strains but so far only one strain has popped. Gelato 'N Chill. Also running are Purps 'N Glue, SourHeads, and Lemonderz. They are started in rooting peat pots. Next, on to Solo cups, then 1 Gal and finally 5 gal fabric pots in HappyFrog/Ocean Forest soil and Fox Farms nutes.
Let the games begin!
POOF! Another lovely day in the garden. At least one important question has been answered pertaining to the Dessert Seeds. They ARE viable. Today, all of the remaining seeds have sprouted. 100% germination. Next I will have to nurture these through the seedling stage.
I did start another set of seeds that had a much lower rate of success. That resulted in the 2 Gelato 'N Chill in the picture. I think the 50 watt bulb I had on the prop dome was a bit much and dried the cubes severely even with repeated dowsing. This second attempt was a little unconventional but worked well in this circumstance and went as follows.
I prepped a solo cup as I would for transplant with Happy Frog. It is a bit more delicate on the seedlings than Ocean Forest which starts a bit hot. I sunk a rapid rooter to the top into the solo cup soil. I soaked the whole "pot" with distilled water. Then I placed the scuffed/soaked seeds in the rapid rooter and placed the pots outside. This soil insulator helped to keep everything moist and only required a daily spritz of distilled water. No more drying out. 1.5 - 2 days later, POOF (the sound a seed makes when it breaks ground. No! Really! POOF)
First set of true leaves across the board. The Gelato 'N Chill has a couple days head start but all the other strains are catching up. I am beginning to feel like the growth is pretty slow. If I only have a few weeks to get in a topping before they go to flower I might need a microscope. It's possible that the scale of the plants around the seedlings is giving me a false sense that they have slowed development. Then again, I shared a couple packs of these seeds with another grower and they mentioned the perceived slow growth as well. I think I'll start adding a splash of nutes to see if that wakes things up.
Shortly after placing the seeds in the solo cups I had a clumsy moment and fumbled one of the Purps 'N Glue. The contents spilled out onto the table. I sifted and searched to no avail. Giving up I just scooped the remaining soil back into the cup and went on with my day. Well, I found it! As you can see in the photo, the seed migrated to the very edge of the cup where it sprouted. I may have a difficult transplant coming up with that one.
Seedling pics are kinda boring but how do you spice up the journal until you get some plant matter to photograph. How about throw in a nature shot of the surroundings? These Grapefruit plants have been going since March. They are showing their sativa side with some big long stretchy colas. They should finish right around the same time as these autos. This is the second round of autos to run along side these Grapefruit.
This is what a trial run is all about right?. Since I have 2 of each strain (so far 😀 ) I decided to feed a basic seedling feed @ 700EC to half of the specimens. They seem very small so it will either kill them or kick start them. The others got plain H2O. I'll give it a couple days and feed as the situation dictates.
Some concern creeping in at this point. I had planned to top the plants at about 20 days. At this point I am not certain that these seedlings will be big enough to top in that short a time. I am going to need some significant growth this week. The two most mature seedlings are barely 3 in. tall. I'll be doing micro surgery. A late season outdoor start may not be the ideal conditions to pull this off. My first run of autos this season was started under T5 bulbs with a 24 hour light cycle. They were in these conditions through transplant and had very vigorous growth. These, however, were started outdoors and had several less than ideal sun days and some cold nights too. Topping autos may be an indoor game.
But, a lot can happen in a short time. The forecast is sunny so I am keeping my fingers crossed. With some hot days ahead I needed to arrange for a seedling sitter while I jump out of town a couple days. I hope they are vigilant.
Sunny days and cool nights. With a rise in temperature and some clear days ( California fires filling the skies with smoke) we have seen a bit of a growth spurt. There are almost 3 full sets of leaves on each. I have one that is pretty stunted so I will leave that one alone. The question now is do I transplant first and then top or vise versa? Is it time for another experiment? Transplant half of them and top all of them in another week. And then transplant the other half a few days later? I can ruminate on the plan for a day or two before I have to make a decision.
The chicken or the egg? Which came first? Can the same be said for aphids? One of the first plants to sprout was a Gelato 'n Chill that, despite it's early vigor, has since been a bit sickly looking next to the others. Upon inspection this morning I noticed several aphids on the tiny little stem of this dwarfed little plant. They stood out glaringly and did not require close inspection to detect. So far no evidence of aphids on any others. It begs the question again. Does a sick plant attract pests or are the pests the reason for the stunted growth in the first place?
At any rate, it became apparent that it is time to begin IPM in earnest. I sprayed all the seedlings with Lost Coast Plant Therapy. It is an organic solution made up of a combination several different oils that thwart many pests and molds common on cannabis. They will receive a twice weekly dowsing from now on. I also noticed some roots starting to peek out of the solo cup bottoms. Right on schedule for transplant. I need to see how they recover from the IPM treatment because they looked burdened after the spraying. Another couple days and I'll try to complete the top/transplant experiment.
Step 1 of operation transplant complete. Half of the plants have been up-potted to 1L pots. The remaining plants will be topped before transplant. After a couple days to recover from any transplant shock the 1L specimens will then be topped provided they have begun vigorous growth again. Well, at least with as much "vigor" as they have shown so far.
The comparatively slow growth of this run, compared to the last, has me thinking. Without the long days to fuel growth will the entire cycle be slowed? With that in mind I am wondering if I don't have quite a bit more time to top and train. I reviewed the packages and noticed another little caveat that I missed the first time around. The last day to sow these seeds is September 1st. But, it also says that the total run time in the winter is 120 days. In summer it is the fast 70 days I would expect from an auto. I think I can breath easier about this and should focus on how to keep these outside when the weather turns. Hoop house? Picnic table and umbrella? Move back and forth as weather dictates? I suppose I could get a couple on this table if they don't get too tall.
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Gowwwllllllyyy! Thems was fast to flower. I was counting true leaves. Watching close. I thought I could top at the 3rd node early since they are autos. Not wait for 6 and take a chance roots were established at 4 sets of leaves. Well, too late. I think I just became a Bender by default.
Other realizations about the weather. CrackBabies mentioned shelter and cold and I instantly went, in my mind, to shelter from rain and skipped over cold. Although I have spent a fair number of Christmas mornings outside in shorts and a t-shirt I'm not sure tropical plants are going to like it. A quick check of the WunderGround and I see there will likely be temps that will test even the hardiest ruderalis. Easy never seems to come easy. Quick became long and hands off just got a lot handier.
Go! Go! Go! Nothing to do but Grow Grow Grow! With head hung low and shame in my downcast eyes, I have completed the transplanting without topping. I have been served up another lesson but I think I have come out with a better understanding of what I need to do if I want to top autos. Looking at how puny these are and to have them flower so dutifully at 4 weeks you have to be spot on with everything. I have not really moved away from seedling strength nutes. With photos I can wait several weeks before I even need to start feeding because the soil starts out strong. I only started feeding because I thought I needed to get things in gear. But the growth rate did not change much. Transplanting into mykos enriched soil has not spurred any great growth yet either. And already I need to transition and start bloom nutes? All I can do is let it grow.
In a couple days I can start tweaking on the stems and get a feel for how I might train these with some LST. How can I stunt thee? Let me count the ways. I'm still having a blast!
I took a few days to go camping and let the girls grow. Upon my return I up-potted to the final #5 pots. The one Gelato 'n Chill runt will have to struggle along in a slightly smaller pot because I ran out of #5's. New real estate for everybody. Sprinkled some Mycos in the hole and let 'em fly. Not the smoothest transplant session but I think everything will make it.
Tenacious! I'll give them that much. Huge temp swings in the last 2 weeks have done little to nothing to promote growth. The beginning of the month saw 100 degree daytime temps. Now they are enduring near freezing night time temps and some strong winds to boot. Time to go mobile perhaps. With a month and a half to go it'll be interesting to see what the "pigmy squad" will produce. Even some baby buds are starting to purp.