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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Top / Trim A Marijuana Plant To Keep It “Short”
Looking for the terminal bud on a sativa-dominant marijuana plant.
One of the problems faced by home growers is the daunting prognostication of the height your plants may reach! If you have chosen a Sativa strain (or even a sativa mix), you may be looking at the potential for the plant to reach 6 to 8 feet in height (growing conditions permitting) by the end of your grow. Yipes! That’s just a teeny bit bigger than my grow cabinet…
Autoflowering strain growers take note: Don’t top/trim your plants – they won’t like it, and don’t need it. They’re on a tight growth schedule, and most varieties won’t reach more than 3-4 feet tall.
The particularly tricky part is that the plants will often let you believe that they’ll stay nice and manageable in height. Even by the 4th week of vegetative growth, they may remain squat and bushy, reaching only a foot-and-a-half in height (taller is possible under higher wattage lamps). Then, when flowering begins, they start reaching for the sky – they’ll surge up a couple of inches overnight, and continue stretching as they flower and buds form. By that point, it’s too late to trim without seriously sacrificing harvest yield.
They key is to plan ahead. Top your plants (again, only the non-autoflowering varieties!) while they still have 1-2 weeks to grow in the vegetative phase. This will give the plants time to recover from the minor trauma of “topping” and extend axillary buds from lower nodes of the plant up towards the light. During flowering, these new “stems” will both (the plant will usually respond to topping by extending two lower buds) become flower-, and later, calyx-coated masterpieces of marijuana growing glory.
So here’s what you need to do – it’s rather simple:
First, look for the terminal bud of the plant. Please don’t confuse the term “bud”, which in plant anatomy refers to a an actively leaf-growing appendage of the plant with the slang term “bud” for the mature flower pods (calyxes) of the marijuana plant.
You need to carefully trim only this terminal bud – don’t damage lower leaves or the stem. The idea is to “re-route” the plants energies into growing two lower buds upwards and outwards, therefore maintaing the bulk of the plant, but controlling it’s height:
Looking for the terminal bud (aka “shoot tip” or “apical bud”).
Don’t be afraid to gently pull downward on the leaves at the top of the plant – they will not break too easily. When you have found the terminal bud, you should trim it cleanly using a small set of shears (I prefer nail scissors for smaller plants, such as those in this 100 Watt grow). Better to trim twice than trim too much and cut into the stem – so have a close look and be cautious.
Trimming the top of the terminal bud without cutting into the stem below.
To alleviate your fears, I should note that even if you were to lop off the top of your plant with garden shears, it will more than likely make a full recovery – cannabis plants are famously resilient. I’ve revived the stump of a failed grafting experiment to full growth and harvested several ounces of perfect buds from the final plant. The only thing you will lose is time – a harder pruning means that the plant will first need to gather resources and produce more of those all-important light-gathering vegetative leaves at the top of the plant.
A note about topping plants, and what you can expect: The most wily of sativa plants may indeed require a second top trim to keep them withing vertical confines of a small grow room. Some growers refer to continued topping during vegetative growth as a “screen of green” (discussed in our ebook), where you additionally support the many vertical stems with a metal screen or series of wires. You can trim and continue to vegetate your plants to your heart’s content – they won’t flower until you switch the light schedule (again, autoflowering varieties excluded). You can also expect to harvest more great-looking “colas” (Spanish for “tails”) of finished marijuana flower buds from topped plants. You may even increase your final yield this way – light exposure tends to be more even this way when using overhead lights.
The devil is in the details when it comes to successfully growing your own marijuana. Avoid pests, heat- and nutrient-burn, overwatering, root problems, and all the strength-sapping problems that can occur along the way, and you’ll have your own top-shelf medical marijuana growing in the privacy of your home. Grow organic quality, with fine aromas, and the assurance that you had a hand in production from start to finish – check out the links below for our ebook “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana”.
[Author and Medical Marijuana Grower Glenn Panik’s “How To Grow Cannabis At Home: A Guide To Indoor Medical Marijuana Growing”, is available on iTunes (iBooks) here on the Amazon Kindle, and also available as a ‘stealth title’ for the Kindle here. Protect your privacy!One of the problems faced by home growers is the daunting prognostication of the height your plants may reach! If you have chosen a Sativa strain (or even a sativa mix), you may be looking at the potential for the plant to reach 6 to 8 feet in height (growing conditions permitting) by the end… ]]>