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The Wonders Of Micro Growing – High Quality Cannabis In Tiny Spaces

You probably thought about growing your own weed sometimes, but concluded that it’s too much of a hassle? Look no further, micro growing has everything you’re looking for and more.

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As cannabis and its cultivation is more popular than ever and it seems that trend won’t stop soon, we see more and more people wanting to grow their own cannabis. Most beginners to growing don’t have the necessary experience or knowledge to start a full-blown indoor or outdoor growing operation, so they opt for a simpler option – a micro grow. Take a couple of seeds and plant them in a cupboard or a similarly small space, trying to get the best possible results of it – or in other words – micro growing. It is a natural way for beginner growers to get that needed experience and to experiment with no fear of ruining a big and expensive operation. This article will cover the basics of micro growing and the differences between it and a standard indoor grow, so let’s get started.

THE BASICS AND THE DIFFERENCES

Micro growing would best be described as a process of growing a small batch of cannabis in a limited space, trying to get the best possible results. That being said, micro growing is a type of indoor growing, just smaller in proportions. The main difference between a micro grow and a usual indoor grow is exactly that – the amount of space. Due to the lack of space, all the other basic aspects of cannabis growing – light, water and air supply, soil, the choice of strains – differ slightly from your regular indoor grow. Almost any space you imagine can be used for micro growing, from cupboards to computer cases. The main idea (and challenge) is to create the optimum conditions for your plants to thrive in that space.

CHOOSING A SUITABLE STRAIN

When it comes to micro growing, choosing the right strain is very important due to the limited space available. One of the things to watch out for is the height of your cannabis strain. Sativas grow higher and more slender than indicas, which tend to be short and bushy.

Furthermore, during the flowering phase sativas undergo a 200-300% increase in height, while Indicas increase only by 50-100%, which shows that indicas are more compatible with micro growing.

Another reasonable option would be autoflowering strains. No matter what the conditions, autoflowering strains stay small due to their genetics (a great many of them even smaller than indicas) and aren’t dependent on the light regime, which means they will have a shorter harvest time.

SOIL QUANTITY

Most plants you see occupy the same volume beneath the ground as above. The reason behind this is because the root system is vitally important to a plant, being the part of the plant where it takes up nutrients and water. The amount of space occupied by a plant’s root system has a great influence on the plant’s size. We can use this correlation to our advantage as micro growing is concerned. The volume of the pot you use to grow your plant in is directly related to how large the plant will grow. To give you an impression:

  • Around 12 liters and more: average plant height
  • Around 5 liters: height of plant up to 60cm
  • Around 2-3 liters: height up to 24cm
  • Around ½ liter: height up to 13cm

A thing to note is that due to the small quantity of soil your plants will need more fertilizer and water than regular plants.

LIGHTING

You can’t grow cannabis at all without light and you can’t grow good quality cannabis without proper lighting. Choosing the optimal lighting for your micro grow is an important decision and you have a variety of lamps to choose from – fluorescent tubes, CFL (energy-saving lamps), HPS, HPI and LED bulbs. When choosing a lighting you got to keep an eye out for the wattage and the heat the lighting produces. When it comes to wattage, an average of 400W is required for a square meter.

HPS and HPI lamps are the go-to lightings of indoor growers because of their high light output and 400W is lightweight for this kind of lamps. But, the problem with this kind of lighting is that it produces excess heat, which especially won’t help with your micro grow. Due to the lack of space things get very hot very quickly and your plants will be in danger of drying out.

But, fear not, this is one of the reasons we have fluorescent tubes and CFLs. They are very similar and both have a great light output, don’t dissipate much heat and are available in different light colours. You can help your cannabis plant with different light colours – a plant in the vegetative state needs more blue light, while a flowering plant requires more red light.

And at last, LED lamps. A good choice for micro growing, because they have a wide light spectrum and virtually don’t heat at all, but they come with a hefty price and may not be suitable if you’re planning a certain budget.

AIR AND WATER SUPPLY

As with light, your plants can’t live and grow without water and air. Having a good and clean ventilation and water supply system is a necessity for any grow, including micro grows.

The movement of air is necessary to a grow, because CO2-rich air is quickly depleted and that is a requirement for your plant’s photosynthetic process, which causes new plant cells to grow. The heated air due to the lighting needs to get out of the grow too, as it dries out the plants. Usually, table fans are used in indoor grows, combined with ventilation systems, but that is probably not practical for your micro grow. A neat solution is a computer fan. You put one at a low point that will act as your intake fan and put another one in a higher position to act as an exhaust fan. This way, as heat rises, the hot air will come out first, replacing it with cooler and fresher air. Don’t forget to use some kind of filters on the fans which will help you battle unwanted pests and odors.

Watering your micro grow becomes tricky after a while, as the plants become bushier and expand in width. You will need to use a small water system or make the grow accessible from the side to water your plants from the bottom. Don’t forget that plants in micro grow need more water than plants in regular grows, as they have less root space.

GROWING TECHNIQUES

It was mentioned before, that space is the main difference between micro growing and a regular indoor grow. This lack of space usually calls for shorter and bushier plants, which is shown in the choosing of the right strain. There are other ways to influence a plants growth, such as various growing techniques: topping, super cropping,screen of green (ScrOG) and low stress training (LST).

Topping is the process of cutting off the very top of the plant, which stimulates the plant to grow new secondary branches. This way, the plant grows in width and not height, growing in a bush-like shape and creating more buds. Super cropping (or HST – high stress training) on the other hand, requires you to break the stem of the main branch. This technique needs to be done carefully. You need to break the stem in such a way, that the plant thinks it is gone for good and starts growing side branches, but not completely, so that the main branch can recover and grow to a smaller height.

The ScrOG technique requires you to put a mesh wire screen between the soil and the light source. Once the branches grow through the screen, you can tie them to the screen to force them to grow horizontally, hence the name. With ScrOG you manage the height of the plant and all the tops get the same light. LST is a somewhat similar technique, where you tie your plants higher branches to the soil, forcing the plant to grow side branches and more colas, with the end result being a higher yield in a smaller space, perfect for micro growing.

Beginner growers need to know that a micro grow isn’t a worthy substitute for a real indoor or outdoor grow. But, it is perfect as a starting point to develop that green thumb and to learn about the important things you need for a good cannabis grow. Feel free to try out and experiment with new strains, techniques and instruments, as long as you treat your plants with care. The whole process of growing a plant is a reward in itself, not to mention the harvest, so what are you waiting for?

3 GREAT STRAINS FOR MICRO GROWING

1. ROYAL DWARF

Royal Dwarf truly is a miniature cannabis specimen that can remain at tiny sizes of 40cm tall when trained in the ways mentioned above. This plant was bred for one reason and one reason only: stealth. Growers can easily cultivate multiple Royal Dwarf plants in their home without a single suspicion being raised. She can easily be grown within modified kitchen cupboards, wardrobes, boxes, and computer towers. Small LED lights can also be used within these tiny spaces to avoid giving off too much heat. Royal Dwarf is essentially the autoflowering version of the legendary Skunk, and was made using a Skunk strain along with a specific ruderalis cultivar. She offers stimulating but subtle sativa highs fuelled by THC quantities of 13%. She can therefore be smoked all day long whilst allowing the user to stay on top of their game and not get too high. Her small yet compact flowers offer sweet and citrus tastes.

Royal Dwarf will be ready to harvest a mere 8–9 weeks after seeds have been germinated. Plants grown indoors will provide yields of up to 200g/m² and won’t exceed 70cm in height. Plants grown outdoors within garden beds or guerrilla grow spots will produce harvests of 30–80g/plant and reach heights of between 50–90cm.

You want to start your own cannabis grow? Micro growing is a perfect way to start learning about growing cannabis and experimenting on your own terms.

How To Prevent Popcorn Buds From Forming On Your Cannabis Plants

Harvesting popcorn buds can be a little bit demotivating. Luckily, there are many ways to ensure your next harvest is packed with big, dense buds. Read our article for a comprehensive guide on popcorn buds, including reasons for their development, how to process and use them, and our top tips on avoiding these flower formations in your harvest.

Popcorn buds are the concern of every grower—keep reading for a detailed guide on these flower formations, and on how to keep them from bringing your harvest down.

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What Are Popcorn Buds?

Popcorn buds are underdeveloped, airy buds about the size of, you guessed it, popped corn. You’ll generally find these buds towards the bottom of your plants, underneath the main canopy. There are a few main causes of popcorn buds, and they can weigh down the harvest of even really experienced growers.

What Causes Popcorn Buds?

Stress is the number one cause of popcorn buds. Any kind of stress, be it from poor watering, a lack or excess of nutrients, the environment, pests, plagues, or improper care, can affect a plant’s ability to grow big, dense flowers. Some of the most common stressors causing popcorn buds include:

Overcrowding or Overshading

An overcrowded grow room, poor spacing between plants, or bushy vegetative growth—due to the lack of pruning or training—can reduce the amount of light that a plant’s bud sites get, affecting bud growth and size.

High Heat and/or Humidity

Heat and humidity can encourage plants to develop airy, wispy buds in an effort to fend off mould and other pathogens/pests.

Poor Watering/Feeding

Cannabis plants need water and nutrients to grow and develop big, healthy flowers. Drought, overwatering, and over/underfeeding can all affect your plant’s ability to develop big, dense, and heavy flowers.

Pests and Plagues

Pests and plagues can wreak havoc on a plant’s ability to grow. Any pest/plague problem you run into during the late vegetative and flowering phases can drastically impact the size and weight of the buds you’ll harvest.

Improper Training

LST and HST techniques can massively improve the harvest potential of some plants. However, time your training poorly and you can drastically stunt your plant’s growth and its ability to develop big, fully-formed flowers.

Will Popcorn Buds Get You High?

While they might not look like much, popcorn buds can do a perfect job of getting you high. Just keep in mind that you’ll need more popcorn buds to fill a joint or bowl, simply because they are smaller and airier.

Processing Popcorn Buds at Harvest

If you’ve found yourself with a considerable amount of popcorn buds at harvest time, fear not! Here are a few tips that will help you trim and dry popcorn buds.

How to Trim Popcorn Buds

Trim popcorn buds like you would any regular bud. If you’re lucky enough to have had a large harvest and a lot of trimming to get through, you can opt to be less “detailed” when trimming your popcorn buds, especially if you’re planning on using them in edibles or concentrates. If you plan on smoking/vaping your popcorn buds, remember that a good trim will help ensure a better smoke because it removes excess foliage.

How to Dry Popcorn Buds

After trimming, you’ll want to dry your popcorn buds until their branches bend and snap easily. After that, you can throw them in curing jars. Again, if you’ve been blessed with a big harvest and can’t wait to taste the fruits of your labour, you can opt to start smoking/vaping your buds early, while the rest of your harvest cures.

How to Quick-Dry a Popcorn Bud

If you’ve accidentally broken a small bud off one of your plants or are short on weed and want a quick smoke, you can try quick-drying a popcorn bud in an oven, grill, or even a fry pan on low heat. Make sure you monitor and flip the bud regularly to ensure it dries somewhat evenly. Also, don’t expect anything of a smoking experience; quick-drying cannabis this way ruins a lot of its flavour and makes for a harsh smoke. But hey, it’ll get you high if that’s all your after.

What to Do with Popcorn Buds?

Now that your popcorn buds are processed, you may be wondering what you can use them for. Below are our favourite ways to enjoy these flowers.

Smoke Them

While they might not look like much, popcorn buds can make a perfectly acceptable smoke, especially if you dry and cure them properly.

Make Edibles

If you prefer only smoking the crème de la crème of your last harvest, you can use popcorn buds in your edibles. They’ll provide all the kick you’re looking for and you won’t notice any of the flavour imperfections that you might experience when smoking/vaping. Remember that you might need more popcorn buds than normal flowers to get the same strength you’re used to.

Try Making Your Own Concentrates

Concentrates and dabs offer completely unique ways to enjoy the flavour and effects of cannabis. Popcorn buds are great for using with solvent-based or solventless extraction techniques to make bubble hash, regular hash, or even alcohol-based tinctures. Again, just keep in mind that you might need more popcorn buds to get the kind of potency you’d expect from a concentrate made with top-shelf bud.

How to Avoid Popcorn Buds

While they still make an acceptable smoke and have a ton of uses, harvesting ounces of small, airy popcorn buds is far from a dream for any grower. Here are a few techniques to help you reduce the number of popcorn buds in your next harvest:

Lollipopping

Lollipopping is a great way to prevent popcorn buds from weighing down your harvest. This technique involves pruning the bottom of your plants and removing all of the foliage and bud sites from the bottom of your plants during the late vegetative/very early flowering stages. Over time, you’ll be left with plants that, you guessed it, look like lollipops, with clean stems down low and big, bushy colas up top. For the best results, we recommend combining lollipopping with mainlining (more info below).

Click here for an in-depth look at lollipopping and how it can up your yields.

Mainlining

Mainlining is a cannabis training technique that uses manifolding to split a plant’s main stem into a Y-shape. Every time you manifold a plant, its main stem divides into 2, giving you 2 new main colas. You can repeat this process as many times as you like and use LST to train each new stem to grow exactly how you want it to.

Combine mainlining with lollipopping and you’ll end up with plants that have big, bushy colas and trimmed bottoms. Using these techniques together is, in our eyes, the best way to prevent popcorn buds. Click here for an in-depth look at mainlining.

ScrOG

Screen of Green is an advanced growing technique that involves pruning, defoliation, LST, and mainlining (optional) to teach plants to grow through a screen, creating an even canopy across your entire grow space. Any vegetation growing underneath the screen should be pruned, helping your plants direct their energy to the bud sites above the screen. Many growers love ScrOG, because it makes maximum use of the light in the grow room, prevents overshadowing, and guarantees a harvest free of popcorn buds.

Check out this article for a detailed look at ScrOG and how it works.

Preventing Popcorn Buds Outdoors

Outdoor growers should use a combination of mainlining, lollipopping, pruning, and defoliation to ensure all parts of their plants get enough sunlight to develop big buds. Alternatively, some adventurous growers might be tempted to use a ScrOG setup outside to further maximize the quality of their harvest.

When growing outdoors, you have the added advantage of the best source of light on the planet—the sun. Remember, though, that excessive heat can cause stress that may lead to your plants developing popcorn buds. Consider providing a shaded area for your plants; a simple shading screen can work wonders and ensure they don’t suffer during the hottest months.

Are Popcorn Buds Bad?

Popcorn buds might not be the ideal payoff for all the hard work you’ve put into growing your plants, but they’re still a long way from disasters like pest infestations or mould. Using the techniques listed in this article, however, you should be able to produce a harvest of top-shelf bud. If you still see some popcorn buds in your harvest, make use of them by smoking them while the rest of your weed cures or throw them into your edibles and/or concentrates.

Worried about popcorn buds? Here's an in-depth look at them—learn what they are, how to avoid them, and how to grow big, dense, heavy buds instead.