Things I Learned the First Week of Growing Legal Marijuana in Michigan

As soon as recreational marijuana was legal in Michigan I had the good fortune to be gifted 12 marijuana seedlings.

I had my grow tent set up and ready to go. When the day came, I was ready to grow some righteous buds.

Or so I thought.

I felt confident I had the right equipment, enough general gardening experience, the seedlings were healthy and I had been reading and gaining growing knowledge online for weeks.

I was so excited to get the seedlings planted.

What could go wrong?

I was prepared.

Or so I thought

Let me share with you the mistakes I made and things I learned as a new grower during the first week of legal marijuana in Michigan.

Here is my day by day account of the events of the first week of growing marijuana indoors in Michigan and what I have learned.

Maybe other new growers can avoid some of the mistakes I made.

First a little bit of information

The seedlings I was gifted are “Wonder Woman” clones. Grown hydroponically under CFL lights. About 6 inches tall, with what I considered to be a strong root system. Healthy looking plants.

I would have preferred to start with seed, but I didn’t plan far enough ahead to order seeds and have them delivered by December 6th, 2018.  Also, I wanted to start growing as soon as it was legal. The clones were available, so went that route.

I planned on growing in coco coir soilless growing medium and was concerned about the clones going from hydro to coco coir. Additionally, I have never grown anything in coco coir.

In retrospect this is where my errors started, but not where they finished.

My Marijuana Growing Equipment

Now that you have the pertinent info, I will recount the comedy of errors that made up my first week of growing marijuana in Michigan.

Day 1 – Thursday December 6th 2018

In preparation of receiving 12 Wonder Woman clones, I hydrated a brick of coco coir and mixed in what I thought at the time was a good amount of perlite. The coco coir/perlite mix was moist but not wet. I thought I was good here.

Looking back, I was not nearly as generous as I should have been with the perlite. Also, I should have moistened the coco coir mix with nutrient water to get some initial nutrients in there. I probably should have done this a day earlier to let it all settle. First lesson learned.

Finished final preparations getting the last odds and ends together to be 100% ready for the planting as soon as I got the clones. The time arrived for me to get the plants and I felt confident I was ready!

From pickup to planting was about 45 minutes. I planted each clone with love and care. Watered generously. My thinking in the moment being the plants are used to water. I wanted to minimize the the transition from hydroponics to coco coir. Lets water liberally!

Yes, I was this excited!

Finished getting the plants in. Adjusted fan placement, set the light about 24 inches above the plants running 24 hours and finished up.

Feeling confident that I had a good environment for happy plants. Super excited to be growing legal marijuana in Michigan!

Day 2 – Friday December 7th 2018

I could have used Liz Lemon’s Wisdom

Plants were looking pretty good.

One plant was looking particularly green.

Some plants were starting to show the first signs of light burn, but at the time I didn’t realize that. 

The plants still appeared healthy and any hints to problems I was seeing, I attributed to transplant shock.

Im not exaggerating much. I was generous with the water.

Watered again liberally. Still with the thought of minimizing any shock from transitioning from hydro to coco coir.

Thinking back I probably had too much water from the first day and I compounded my problem by watering again. I was aware of over watering, but felt like newly transplanted clones should have plenty of water to get started. I was wrong.

Day 3 – Saturday December 8th 2018

Plants were starting to look stressed but I still think it is shock from being planted in coco coir.

Humidity had been low since I started and reading up on it saw that adding a humidifier to the grow tent was a good solution. I had a humidifier, so I installed it. I figured lets try to get a perfect grow environment going!

WRONG!

Running the humidifier for a few hours raised the ambient temperature by 13° F. From 83° F to 96° F.

I checked back after a few hours and noticed the high temp.  To my knowledge, a few hours at that temp normally isn’t going to hurt plants that much.

In my case though, with the plants already stressed, a few hours of high temperatures definitely did not help.

This is the moment where the plants were visibly stressed across the board, clearly showing they were not doing well. In the moment, I thought it was the high heat, so I shut off the humidifier thinking I wont try that again.

I thought to my self, OK the plants are not looking great but with the humidifier off, they will recover.

Thinking back, the humidifier raising the temperature too high just exasperated a variety of underlying problems.

I left the plants alone the rest of the day hoping they would show some signs of recover or at least not get any worse.

Day 4 – Sunday December 9th 2018

No luck today. Leaf discoloration is definitely getting worse. More pronounced. 

It’s time to start being proactive in finding a solution to this. Researching online almost provided too much information. The folly of the novice marijuana grower is that there is plenty of information available, but there is no experience to apply the right information in the correct way.

After much effort in trying to determine what is going on with these plants, I came to probably the most helpful site I have found so far. Grow Weed Easy and their Diagnose a Sick Plant page. Super helpful!

Plenty of pictures and details to help me determine what is going on with my plants. Unfortunately, the symptoms I was seeing could cover a variety of issues.

It could be root issues, pH imbalance, light burn, over watering and/or nitrogen burn. 

Light burn is no joke

I determined that the easiest thing to correct right now was the height of the light above the plants.

I raised the light from 24 inches to 30 inches and added a timer to run the light only 20 hours a day.

With 4 hours of darkness I figured the plants would have a little bit of time to recover.

At 30 inches, the light was still too close.

I also checked moisture in the pots ( old school finger in the planting mix and feeling the weight methods ) and found that the coco coir was quite wet still. I was concerned about this, but decided to let it go a couple more days to see if the medium was drying out at all.

 Day 5 – Monday December 10th 2018

Plants are continuing to look worse. Still thinking the main problem was the light, I raised the light to 36 inches above the plants .

Pots are still wet, so definitely a drainage problem. Additionally, the plants are not really drinking. 

At the time I didn’t realize the severity of this yet.

Left the plants alone with just a change in the light distance.

 Day 6 – Tuesday December 11th 2018

Mr. T knows the pain 

Plants are still getting worse. Pretty much at red alert level at this point. Something more than changing the the light height needs to be done. I was fearing the roots were water logged so I decided to replant in a a coco coir / perlite mix that had much more perlite than in the original mix.

I also decided to test the pH of my water/nutrient mix.

Testing a batch of nutrients with General Hydroponics pH Control Kit, I found that the pH  of my solution was way too basic. pH in coco coir is ideal in the 5.5 – 6.5 range and I was at 9.0. 

I adjusted and tested the nutrient solution until I got a result in the 6.0 range. Much better than it was.

Now the the water pH was better it was time for the moment of truth to replant in a potting mix with better drainage.

I took the worst looking plant and removed the bottom tray of the pot. There was a good amount of water. With a new pot ready to go, I removed the plant from the original pot and checked the roots.

To my surprise, the roots seemed fairly strong. That was a relief. This also  helped me to narrow down the problem.

Squeezing some of the original coco coir mix in my hand water dripped out. Definitely too wet for not being watered for 3 days. 

I ended up replanting 8 clones and left 4 clones in the original coco coir mix. Of the 8 plants I repotted, they all seemed to have fairly strong and healthy roots. Because of this, I left 4 plants as they were. Additionally, I didn’t want to take the chance of losing all the plants if the repotting was not successful.

I watered all of the plants lightly. Literally just a sprinkle of water/nutrient solution.

Finally for today, I raised the light again to ~40 inches above the plants. 

 Day 7 – Wednesday December 12th 2018

Repotted plants seem to be hanging in there.

Coco coir is mildy damp. No water today.

Raised the light again to 48 inches above the plants. Pretty much as high as I can get it in my grow tent.

 Day 8 – Thursday December 13th 2018

I hope so!

Already damaged leaves are getting worse. Overall though, plants seem to be stabilizing.

The growing medium and pot weight seems like a little bit of water is in order. Watered very lightly, just a sprinkle.

An interesting note. The 4 plants in the original mix are still retaining water much more than the plants in the new mix. The old mix is probably not terrible, but the new mix is better.

 Day 9 – Friday December 14th 2018

Plants are not looking any better, but they appear to be stable.

Newly repotted plants look OK. As if the repotting is taking. 

Most of the pots are on the dry side, so lightly watered.

Michigan Marijuana Growing Day 7
Now, only time will tell if my plants will survive.

It is a matter of patience to see if these plants can recover.

Already damaged leaves are not going to get any better. A few plants are showing slight growth. The plants seem to be hanging in there.

Keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully I am on the right path now.

What Ive Learned About Growing Marijuana So Far

  • Book learning is no substitute for experience. Planning is good, education is good, but it is all guesses, assumptions and general knowledge until the plants are in.  You have to get to know your grow equipment and environment. The only way to gain experience is to actually grow marijuana!
  • It’s stressful! Especially if things are going wrong. Its like having 12 new born babies at once and they each need your constant thoughts, love and attention. You want your plants to be happy and healthy and if they are not, it weighs heavily.
  • Too much light. Yes, it is possible to have too much light! Especially with LED lights. It didn’t take long for my plants to start burning.
  • Check pH. With the first watering I did not check the pH. I was excited the plants were in and just didn’t think to check the pH. 
  • Drainage is important. I would prefer to have too much drainage (which has its own problems) rather than not enough.
  • Use a growing medium you know. I have always grown in soil. Standard gardening and indoor plant experience. I should have started with soil rather than coco coir.

The ultimate take away at this is that growing marijuana for the first time is not as easy as I thought it would be. Definitely takes patience, attention, love and a desire to succeed. Just like anything worth doing.

I hope that by sharing my experience and errors, you can avoid the mistakes I made. 

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