Cultivation

The beginnings of cultivation

Before you can begin to cultivate your plants you have to think carefully about what you want and what is possible. When doing this you have to consider how much can be invested in plant material and cultivation equipment such as feeding, lamps or ventilation. Are you going to cultivate indoors or outdoors? Which variety are you going to use and what sort of harvest are you thinking about? What starting material are you going to use? How large is the area available for cultivation? How many plants per square metre? Which growing medium are you going to use?

By D. Kroeze, CANNA Research

There are a lot of points that have to be taken into account and they all relate to each other. By thinking about these things in advance your choice will become more realistic and you can hopefully prevent unpleasant surprises.

Seeds

You generally buy seeds in order to select a mother plant for making your own clones. It is important that the seeds you choose should be healthy. Healthy seeds are hard and smooth while sterile or unripe seeds are pale and mat.

The seeds that you can buy in the Netherlands are what are known as hybrid seeds. Hybrids are crosses of different types of a plant sort. If these hybrids are then crossed with each other again you will often have plants that are unsuitable for cultivation.

Take into consideration that half of your seeds will develop into male plants. Males do not produce fruits and will also fertilise the female flowers which will seriously diminish the quality of their fruits.

There are different ways to germinate seeds but it preferable if this is done indoors since the environment is more protected. Before a seed can germinate it has to absorb water. Once this has occurred the biological processes inside the seed start to get going, your seed comes to life as it were. One way of doing this is to place your seed in a glass containing mineral water. When the end of the root appears, lay the seed on damp kitchen paper. How long it takes for the root to appear varies greatly depending on the variety and the age of the seed. Always ensure that the seeds have enough space for ventilation. This will prevent mould from forming.

After a day the seeds will be ready to be placed into their growing medium and they should be put 5mm below the surface. Ensure that it is humid enough, but at the same time the area around the seeds should not be too damp. It is for this reason that you should not give too much water.

Fertiliser

Once the first real leaves have appeared on the plants you can give the first fertiliser. The concentration of the fertiliser should not be too high: a maximum EC of 1.2 is advised depending on the water’s EC. Keep the temperature between 20 and 25 °C. 60-70% humidity is ideal during this period.

In addition to the fertiliser, the spectrum of the growing lights also has a lot of influence on the development of your plants. So it is the blue part of the spectrum that ensures that the young plants grow more in width and not so much in height. In this way you can start flowering with sturdy plants. Starting growing in a different room before they are finally placed in the growing room is called pre-growing. Doing this gives you sturdier plants that will take faster and can be put into flower immediately.

Other advantages are that there will be fewer casualties and that you will be able to harvest more often. Fluorescent lights are generally used for pre-growing since this light is easy and cheap. An additional advantage is that the lights can be placed close to the plants which means that less room is required and that expensive equipment such as extraction ventilators is unnecessary.

Tip!

Your lights’ reflectors become dirty over the course of time so clean them regularly. Research has shown that light output quickly drops by 20%.

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