My detailed grow Journal. HELP! from all will be appreciated. I'm obviously doing something wrong.
My First Cannabis Plant Growth Journal
Following is a detailed description of all steps taken to grow my 1st Cannabis plant and my thoughts on those incremental steps.
My plan is to grow (1) Cannabis plant indoors inside an unused closet in a guest bedroom. Growth of 1-4 plants (for personal use ONLY) is legal/decriminalized in Virginia (USA) effective July 1st, 2021. Dispensaries and retail sale establishments are not expected to open until late 2023/early 2024. (My adventure is planned to begin in June 2021, so I’ll be “legal” by the time I have a seedling). You may ask why I’m only try to germinate  seed at a time? Well.…what if I try germinating [3 or more] and they all sprout? Then I plant them in my big pot and they all start to grow seedlings and, 3-4 weeks later, all turn out to be female and capable of flowering. I only have room set up to grow  plant, what do I do with the others? Condemn them to death outdoors in the Virginia summer sun/heat? (Seems rather cruel). So,  at a time it is, (in a closet) and then wait to see if male --> cuss, discard, and start all over again or female --> continue on (hopefully) to vegetation, flowering and a harvest! As a newbie, taking care of  plant at a time is fine with me. Who knew there was so much involved in growing a “weed”?
My Utilized Materials (+ Costs):
This is a hobby grow and not a business/professional undertaking. I’m only aiming for a one (at a time) plant grow. So I won’t be setting up a grow tent with input and exhaust fans, fancy automatic irrigation systems, titrated nutrient levels, electronic sensors/meters, and the like.
What I will have is the following:
16” plastic planter with 14” plastic saucer for drainage/runoff – DoItBest HW $22.00 (I have a 5 gal bucket I could have drilled holes into (for drainage) but I use it for my reef fish tank. Above cost would then have been eliminated (0.00) if I utilized it). 1 cu ft “Enriched Container Mix” (best N-P-K levels I could find) – Home & Garden 8.00 8 qt of dry Perlite (above HAS Perlite but wanted some extra drainage) – MGro 5.00 2 l (64oz) plastic bottle (Wegman’s Lemonade) for bottle drip irrigation 0.00 Holes in bottle and old piece of panty hose to prevent drip holes from clogging 0.00 3 seed starter pack (Blueberry Autoflower) – cost, shipping + assorted CC fees 36.00 I have a (144 bulb) LED grow light – full spectrum but mostly reds and blues, which originally cost me 30.00 I have a small electric fan for air circulation which originally cost me …………………. 15.00 I plan to hang a mesh bag of activated charcoal/filter carbon in the closet to help adsorb any growing odors (will it work ?????). I have with my fish tank supplies, so ………..…. 0.00 (I will be using an autoflower seed so a timer will not be needed (24/7 light use). If a regular seed is used then add cost of a cheap lamp timer at less than …………..……………… 5.00)
I will also need some hangers for drying (everyone has extra hangers -- cost $0.00) and to buy mason jars for curing but will wait to purchase these until I see if I get enough of a yield to worry about curing. (Think positive!) Amazon cost for 4-6 jars is $10 -$20 depending on amt.
So, this experiment will cost me about $125.00. (Note: my brother in Phila paid almost this much at a medical dispensary for a small cardboard box with only 4-5 small buds. (Yes, it does come with a full lab analysis of the buds and their geneology – something I won’t have). If I grow a single plant to even a small harvest, I’ll still be way ahead of my investment! TRUE, I may have to wait 4-5 months (growth & curing) before I can enjoy it. But, this is an adventure for me (not a business). (And, I’ll have it before VA got around to opening retail stores!).
Preparation for planting:
The closet temperature is approximately 75 F (23 C) with the LED grow light running 24/7. Soil bag does not give its pH – just states “pH balanced with dolomite”. I will be utilizing a large plastic planter with a bottle drip irrigator for watering and a large plastic saucer to catch runoff. The bottle drip irrigator was prepared by removing the label from the plastic container and thoroughly rinsing it out. Using a cordless drill and a 1/16” drill bit (smallest I had), I made numerous holes in the cap and across the surface of the plastic bottle. It was filled/tested with water to reveal water was pretty rapidly flowing out from the holes. Applying a panthose cover greatly slowed the flow and will help prevent the holes from getting clogged by soil over time. (The theory is that the water coming out of the many holes over the entire length of the plastic bottle, along with the soil wicking action from the pantyhose, will seep into the soil and then by capillary action spread though out the planter giving the roots and all levels in the planter a good supply of moisture). (Will it work in real life? I’ll find out). The bags of soil and Perlite were then mixed and put into the planter holding the plastic bottle in place out toward the planter’s edge so the center of the planter would be free for my seed and hopefully, later, my growing plant. The soil mix is moist from the bag but I plan to moisten it prior to inserting a germinated seed. (I added some water to pot and DID get easy drainage/runoff out of bottom into the catch saucer - so system seems to be draining OK). Moistened soil temperature is approximately 76 F (24 C) with the LED grow light on 24/7. I will start my grow light about 12” over the planter, hanging it from the steel closet shelf rack with its metal hanging chain. (I have read blogs that state initially the light should be just a few inches over top of new seedling, but with an approx 1x1 ft sized LED grow light I do not see how a seedling could get the full benefit of all the different colored 144 LEDs being that close). I will turn it on, along with my air circulating fan (on low), after germinated seed is planted (1/2” below surface). I think my planning is now completed and I’m ready to start a grow!
I had pics here but they didn't copy over
Drainage Bottle w Holes Bottle Covered w Pantyhose Pot ready for Planting
A bit about the seed:
The “Blueberry Autoflowering” strain is usually a mix of 70% Indica, 20% Sativa, and 10% Ruderalis (or some % hybrid of the I/S or I/S/R strains). My seed farm supplier did not specify the seed’s geneology for the ones I purchased, and (curiously) was one of the few (possibly only) seeds/plants he did not provide a descriptive write-up on. (He did state that this seed batch was harvested on 4/4/21, so freshness should not be a problem). I picked this Indica strain as it (historically) has a moderately high THC content (around 15% – 18%) and also because it can produce a moderate level (3% or more) of CBD canabidiols. I was looking for an autoflowering seed/plant which would provide a bit of a “head” but also a “calming restfulness” and, if I’m lucky, help with sleep (insomnia). If it produces some CBD, I’ll also receive the benefits of their documented anti-inflammation properties (some help for my arthritis). The (historically) stated sweet/fruity aroma would also be a plus. (Everyone likes pot that smells good!).
Lastly, I want to give credit and thanks to seed bank owner “Jerry” at “JustCannabisSeeds.com” for quickly getting me the seed stock to start my adventure. I had ordered and paid for only  Blueberry Autoflowering (regular) seeds (foolishly thinking that every seed will produce a plant/harvest) but was sent a total of 8, not only that but he also sent me a small packet of Afghani Autoflowering (regular) seeds (5 seeds) also at no cost, AND sent me my ordered “freebee” package of 9 unknown regular seeds for only cost of shipping. I got all that for < $38.00 including all costs and CC fees! I’ll have a nice supply of assorted seeds to practice best germination and indoor growing techniques. (Although, I really really really want to be able to try out the BlueBerry Autos – I hope I grow at least  healthy productive female plant all the way to harvest, curing and pipe).
Attempt #1 at germirnation of  of my autoflowering seeds:
I used a small plastic cup with 2” of distilled water in it and inserted my seed. (I picked the largest seed of the batch). The seed did not sink to the bottom of the cup – it floated. Theoretically, (numerous blogs state) this is a good sign for viability. After an overnight soak, it did sink to the bottom. This would indicate that it absorbed enough water to become heavy enough to sink and should germinate shortly thereafter. After soaking the seed for about 24 hours, I noticed that the shell had not cracked open nor was a small tap root emerging. Blogs were divided on whether a seed should be removed after 24 hours or left to continue soaking for up to 72 hours. So, I decided to see if it would more efficiently germinate in the soil of its final “home”. I made a ½” hole in the soil, centrally located in my planter, gently inserted the seed, and covered it loosely with soil. I lightly watered the area around my planted seed, turned on the grow light and fan, and closed the door to the closet. I should know if I have a “dud” or not in 2 – 10 days. (Grow little plant grow!)
I had pics here but they didn't copy over
Floating The Seed (Hopefully) Ready To Grow
Attempt #1 Ends in FAILURE!
After 4 ½ days, and no sprout noted, my curiosity got the better of me and I very easily found the seed in the soil slightly below the surface level. Soil it was in was mildly moist to touch but not really “wet”. (So I don’t think I drowned it or packed it in too tightly). The seed looked no different – was still a light tan color with some dots and was fully intact (ie: no shell crack or germination noted). With a single edge razor I cut it open longitudinally (very easily) to see if I saw an embryo inside - which simply didn’t develop. Instead, it revealed mushy dark brown goop – consistency of wet winter leaves. Either I did something VERY wrong (I have no idea what – help me out here, please) or seed was a dud from the onset and never had a chance at germination. A blog I read stated to check seeds before attempting germination by rubbing them between thumb and forefinger. I was anxious to get started and did not do this. Good seeds will feel firm, bad seeds will break or crumble. I had ordered  of the Blueberry Autoflower seeds but luckily my (really nice guy) seed supplier (Jerry) sent me a total of  –  more at no additional cost! I’m glad he did so because  of the remaining seeds crumbled apart during finger test even though they looked OK and (according to supplier) were just under 2 months old! This will leave me with  seeds to try and get a single growing female plant. ( bad and  status TBD). (I Hope they are not all males just lounging around waiting to be born).
Attempt #2 at germination of  of my autoflowering seeds:
This time I decided to try the paper towel/cotton pad method. I used the same cut down plastic cocktail cup as I used during my “soak” attempt. We have fluffy paper towels in kitchen (blogs state not to use this type), so I will utilize the round cotton pads that my daughters used to take makeup off with. I put a pad in cup and added a tiny amount of tepid tap water. To make sure it was not too wet, I tilted cup until no water dripped out or off of the pad. Pad was moist but not heavily wet. I inserted seed in center and covered with another moistened pad. I covered the cup loosely with a small piece of cardboard, and put it in my darkened closet. I will check it in 24 hours and about every 8-12 hrs after that – I will moisten as needed if cotton is getting dry. Blogs state germination should occur in 1 day bare minimum to 7 days maximum if this method is going to succeed. Germination between 7 – 10 days is possible but rare. (May the force be with me!)………….. After 24 hours no change noted yet, cotton still plenty moist……….After about 32 hours I checked, and a small 1/8” tap root WAS observed! YAY!!!!!
We Have Ignition!: The seed DID germinate and a small tap root/radicle IS noted! As I said, it was approx 1/8” white taproot sticking out from bottom of cracked open shell. I made a ¼” - ½” hole (big enough for seed and root) in the soil, centrally located in my planter, gently inserted the seed, with the root facing down, and covered it loosely with soil. [Try # 2]. Since I’m a worrier, I am concerned that I may have planted the seed while the taproot had just emerged and was so small. Was it too small or just big enough? I was too excited, after my 1st failure, so I didn’t even consider giving the seed another night to develop. Too late now – we’ll wait and see. The grow light and fan are now running. (Grow little plant grow! And PLEASE be a female!) [I was also so excited I forgot to get a picture of seed with its small radicle before planting]. A few blogs recommended putting a layer of plastic wrap over planter to retain heat and moisture until seedling breaks through the soil – so I did so. Anything to try and be safe at this point, I’ll consider. I will open plastic wrap daily for air exchange, and check closet and soil temperature and soil moisture daily. Now I wait.
I had pics here which didn't copy over
Seed on moistened pad Pad/Seed covered w pad Rooted Seed Planted and covered
Growing the Seedling:
Luck appears to have been somewhat with me as I noted a seedling broke through the soil and showed itself after 3 days. (A REALLY LONG 3 days!). However, it is VERY tiny and not at all the healthiest looking plant. I would have missed it if I wasn’t checking the insertion/planting area daily. I totally removed the plastic wrap so the little plant could get direct lighting and hopefully will perk up. I hope it survives. (Otherwise, I will have to start all over again and I’m almost out of the Blueberry seeds!) Here’s a pic of the little one – its so small it almost looks like just another piece of perlite.
The Tiny Seedling (mid pic) -- pic didn't copy over. Would have shown this pitiful excuse of a try to grow a seedling.
OK forum.......... What am I doing wrong? Everyone else claims almost 100% germination. and then post pics of these great growing plants. You see what I tried and what I'm using, Obviously, I'm screwing up somewhere. (As the Beatles would say.......Won't you PLEASE PLEASE help me?)
I await your comments and suggestions.
OK, I'm giving up for now on previous sprouts. (4 attempts so far). If my newly planted newly sprouted seed does not break through soil in a few more days (attempt #5), I'm dumping out the planter, scrubbing it down, and will start over with my own soil mixture of compost, humus, topsoil and perlite. No more of this expensive pre-bagged stuff. I have  of the Blueberry Auto seeds left, when those are gone, I'll try the Afghani Auto seeds . If I use those up, I'm giving up for this growing season. I have no idea how everyone else has such great stated success!?!
I like to sprout seeds by just planting them about 1/4 inch deep in a fine seed sprouting soil. This type of soil is fine and assures good contact with the seed. I plant them in the soil and lightly wet them about every day with a spray bottle. I generally use distilled water I buy for that purpose. Keep the temp about 75-80 degrees. Practice on your free seeds till you are getting seedlings. As they say if first you don't succeed try and try again.
1. My last Blueberry auto seed sprouted about a week ago. Grew to about 1/2"x1/4" and has done nothing since. Today I replanted it in a solo cup, with new soil (mixed potting, humus, and perlite) thinking the pot may have been too big for the tiny plant. The root was approx 1" long and tan....not the thick white I see in most posted pics. (Bad sign??) If it perks up or changes at all for the positive by weeks end.... great, if not I'll try my luck with the Afghani auto seeds.
2. It occurred to me, after I dumped out my 18" planter's worth of soil, that I might as well give an outside grow a shot with the freebees I had ordered. I'll start 3 of them (slightly different colorations) inside via cotton method, and plant the 3 of them outside in the soil pile (assuming they all germinate). Maybe I'll have better luck with the outside grow (although its pretty hot).
3. If 1+2 above don't work, as I said, I'll give it one more go using my Afghani auto seeds for an inside grow. I'm also going to be a lot stingier with my watering.
Sopunds good Marc. Seedlings can be pretty delicate till they get some size to them. Good luck!
@aj999 have tried a couple different ways this last month, practicing on the free seeds, I have germinated many in the cup of water in a dark closet, and all those died from over watering. So I tried again with the straight to soil and pray method, worked way better, in a cup of water my germination rate of the free seeds was 90%+ but going straight to soil it was 97%. I have had excellent luck with all my seeds sprouting except 3 or 4 now. I can't remember exactly which it is. So take that info as you will. Hope it helps! Good luck
@codi-zufelt That is a good germination rate Codi. You are almost bound to get a few duds.
reply to @codi-zufelt
So as for my VERY limited experience, I would rate cotton make up pads in plastic cup as #1; planting direct in soil #2, and soaking in cup a distant last place.
I have seen approx 60% germ rate with #1 and #2, I had 0% germ rate with soaking in cup of H2O.
My problem now is getting the sprouts past sprout and 1st step seedling stage -- the early seedlings had a 50% early on death rate. The others are progressing so slowly, it is killing part of the fun of growing.
1. Blueberry autoflower -- (3rd seed try) germinated, sprouted, has not grown in over 1 month. Not dead but not acting alive either.
2. Blueberry autoflower -- (my last seed)... germinated, sprouted, small seedling only trace growth of 2nd set of true leaves, almost 3 weeks since sprouting.
3. Of my unknown freebees, first 4 were duds but #5 has just sprouted today. I'll see what type of growth I get with "this" strain.
@marc-pinsky Try feeding them some ferts mixed in their water, and realize at that time in their lives they need very little water, and good drainage. I tend to deed them as soon as they have sprouted and are actively growing.