Still Growing Part 3

By: Mel The Bumbling Gardener

If you missed last month’s issue, then you missed how my need to find healthy, root mature clones led me to a new level in the world of hydroponics. I decided to learn how to clone my own from what I have, just like the big guys.  With the help of my new friends at Pyraponic Industries and their Phototron growing chamber, I’m well on my way to controlling the last part of the puzzle.  As you remember, I’m using the Phototron 8 as a very stable place to grow my mother plants. When I left you last month, I told you, “See how easy this was”…but I think I spoke a bit too soon.

Everything started out great. After trimming the large fan leaves, just like the “Growing Plants Pyraponimetrically” handbook told me to do, I set the temp fans to 80°F and kept the lights on 24/7.  My three new mother plants started looking better every day with great leaf color and new growth on every branch. I was watering all three plants just like the handbook told me to do. It told me to have a puddle of water I could see 23 out of every 24 hours. Each morning, when I checked the plants, I looked for that puddle of water under each pot. If I found a dry pot, I added enough water to create that puddle the Phototron book said I should have. Like I said, this was just too easy.

A few days passed and something just didn’t look right. The leaves looked different; they were kind of curled at the ends. The beautiful green color was changing and the plants didn’t look as good as they did when I first put them into the chamber. WTF! I could tell that something was wrong. I thought it was just a bit of transplanting shock; after all, I changed the way these plants had been growing.  If you think about it, in one day, they went from growing all hydro with a flood and drain feeding system to potting soil in a pot with that 23 out of 24 hour puddle watering plan. The handbook had a lot to say about the way you should water the system. I did the best I could to keep that puddle, but things just seemed to go downhill fast. The handbook said, “Never make a false assumption.” Knowing I was in trouble, I gave Brian at Phototron a call to see if he had any answers as to what I was doing wrong. Well, after explaining where I was and the troubles I was having, he told me that it was a good thing I had called. He explained that he had been down this road of problems before and the cure was an easy fix.

Too much water was my problem. Brian explained that the puddle watering routine was only to be used when using the Phototron’s normal growing media and not when you’re growing your plants in a pot. As you know, I’m not an expert; I was guilty of overwatering. Brian told me that my new mother plants needed to kind of dry out between watering days. Armed with my new knowledge, I let my three ladies dry out a bit. I found out that by lifting the pots up in the air I could feel when it was ready to water again. Wow, what a difference a couple of days made. Just as fast as my plants went downhill, they came back better than ever with lush green color and new growth everywhere I looked. They made a complete turnaround in just a few days.

Pinching and pruning became a weekly event. I call it an event because of how many leaf cuts you end up pinching on all three plants. As the days passed, the plants completely changed the way they looked. As you remember, each plant started out with big leaves and quite a bit of spacing between budding sites. Today’s plants look different with smaller leaves much thicker and closer together than before.  As I look at the plants today, each and every branch is filled with close spaced budding sites. New growth is the rule, not the exception.  Phototron says, “Plant growth is a function of leaf removal.” If pinching and pruning instructions are followed accurately, one plant may produce over 1000 budding sites.

I’m not completely new to growing, but I have to admit that I’ve never seen mother plants that look like this. Most of the mother plants I’ve seen look a bit tired and overcut, and their clones look thin and weak with plenty of stem showing. They all look as if a bit more light would have been better. Since the Phototron has lights throughout its grow chamber, the plants get a very even amount of light from every angle, which helps keep the plant growth even and constant. Most of the clones I found have been two or three inches tall with about three or four sets of leaves. The distance between the leaves on the Phototron plants is almost nonexistent; you have to look for just the right place to take your clone.  I have been told that you should have three sets of leaves above ground and two sets below ground on new cuttings to be used as clones. I think by the time I take my first clones from the Phototron mothers, I will have cuttings that have six or seven budding sites above and three to four sites below that I’ll strip for rooting. My goal was to be able to take 4 cuttings from each of the three plants; giving me a total of 12 cuttings that will turn into 12 healthy, well rooted clones every five to six weeks.

I hope you will follow along in the next issue of NUG. We will figure out how to take from your mother in such a way that she will still love you; and root it up kids, your day has come.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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