Be the pest
Ed Rosenthal’s “Marijuana: Pest & Disease Control” (Quick Trading Company)
Photos and Story By Sharon Letts
â€œGanja Guruâ€ Ed Rosenthal has been growing and advocating for the legalization of cannabis for more than 40 years. Under his Quick Trading Company shingle (www.quicktrading.com), he publishes cannabis and hemp books written by himself and others, spreading the good word on good medicine and excellent bud to the masses.
His understanding of the herb and all that implies, politically and sociologically, has had many turning an ear in his direction for years, penning the column â€œAsk Edâ€ for more than three decades. Originally running more than 20 years in High Times Magazine, the zine he co-founded, today his column can be found on numerous websites, including his own, and published monthly in Cannabis Culture Magazine.
Rosenthal also has his own line of natural oil-based and biodegradable pest products under his Z-Tolerance line (www.z-tolerance.com), helping gardeners with common pest problems “Just Say No to Bugs” with zero tolerance.
His new effort, â€œMarijuana: Pest & Disease Controlâ€, is a large edition, glossy, attractive reference book loaded with beautiful color photos â€“ well, as beautiful as aphids, rats, and fungi can be.
Ed believes in working with nature, not against it, stating, “All creatures alive today, including the pests in this book, are survivors, no different than us, struggling to thrive.â€
Understanding your pests is key, and Rosenthal explains the life cycle, eating habits, and even the sex life of garden pests, helping the average gardener get an edge on keeping them at bay.
The book can be put to use right away by traditional gardeners as well as those growing cannabis, for the bugs are the same in any garden, and whether you are growing roses or the best bud around, aphids, powdery mildew, and whiteflies are an issue.
Biological is the buzzword of the day in the grow world. And though the practice of using nature in its own game is not a new one, it has been sidetracked for more than a few decades, muddled with promises of instant garden gratificationâ€¦at the expense of tainted soil, water and toxic ingestion by humans.
Thankfully, Ed shares, â€Gone are the days of synthetic or chemical warfare on garden pests and disease. Whether you are growing prize-winning tomatoes or the best bud around, it’s going into someone’s body, and wellness is the ultimate goal.â€
The Beneficial Living Center is Humboldt County’s one-stop biological hydro shop. Founder Luke Besmer understands the natural approach to gardening, indoor and out, and has brought together many entities under one roof for a common goal â€“ providing nutrients created from natural material, such as sea kelp, and offering it up in bulk in reusable containers.
“The unnatural regimen some gardeners use is counterproductive to growing a truly healthy plant that expresses its phenotypic potential in full and total glory,” Besmer explains. “For example, with the product ‘Sea Green’,Â its microbes have been cultured in such a way that promotes proliferation of salt-eating bacteria. By using these bacteria, which were made entirely by mamma nature, nutrient uptake is mitigated in a way that is both natural and extremely efficient.”
Rosenthal explains how garden pests and critters are ever evolving and able to adapt to our constant stream of garden warfare much better than we are protecting ourselves from our own toxic creations.
“Using natural plant chemistry and other natural means to eliminate problems is tried and true,” he explains.Â â€œ…natural pesticide chemistry has been used by plants with no help from humankind for millions of years.”
Arthropods, or the soft-bodied insects â€“ like the aphids and mites that can plague an indoor garden, are especially resilient survivors, and Ed reminds us we are no better than they are, having come to this very place together over time.
Kevin Jodrey is in charge of the grow rooms at the Humboldt Patient Resource Center (HPRC) in Arcata, Humboldt’s oldest dispensary. Also an outdoor gardener, Jodrey has been dealing with garden pests, critters, and disease longer than heâ€™s able to admit.
â€œEd did a great job with this book!â€ Jodrey said, after having the reference book on hand for several weeks. â€œIt is easy to read, easy to use, and covers most areas a gardener needs to be aware of concerning pests and disease.â€
Physicality is a top concern for any grower, not only for the safety of the grow, but in maintaining excellent conditions for excellent bud. As Ed puts it, the key words echo any realtorâ€™s mantra, “Location, location, location.”
Outdoor gardens have a full ecosystem and a world of pests to deal with. Most growers who plan on that full-sun-spot might not realize deer and other critters look for the same kind of habitat.
Indoor gardening is necessary for many growers for many reasons, but putting a greenhouse in a house made for people is a challenge like no other. Aside from using up to 60% more energy than the average U.S. household, where pests and disease are concerned, itâ€™s the perfect melding pot for raising healthy pests and nurturing disease.
Keeping everything clean, Ed said, is the starting point. Washing pots and trays is a given, but Ed goes the extra mile advising, â€œWash down greenhouse benches and side walls after productionâ€¦ â€œ
With more states opting for medical cannabis, more people will grow, indoor and out â€“ that’s a given.Â With the locavore movement spreading across the country, more people will be growing their own food. How the gardening gets done along with the quality of food and medicine produced will become key in keeping up with the fluctuating market, keeping good medicine and good food safe.
For decades, information like this was passed down from gardener to gardener like so much folklore. How-to books like Ed’s take the guesswork out of healthy gardening, but, more importantly, they normalize the entire conversation with intelligence and respect for nature.