Contributed by Matthew Coffman, activist, Marine Veteran, writer, and owner of GrayCells Media
I had the great fortune of becoming a grower’s apprentice long before I ever tried to flower a plant on my own. I was hired onto a collective to grow their social media presence. From there I moved to the counter, and from there to the garden. We ran a 3-cycle, perpetual system organically grown in coco. Sometime after cropping out for about the 25th time, I bought my first fan, filter and cool tube. Since then, well let’s just say my garden has grown. Do I grow great weed consistently? I think so, and I know others would agree. Does this mean I’m great at growing weed? It absolutely does not.
When the collective closed, I was lucky enough to have inherited some strains with extremely strong genetics. We all know how important that is. But genetics aren’t the only thing I carried over from the old shop garden. It’s the mindset that the quality of your weed is a direct reflection of the cleanliness of your garden.
See, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out deficiencies but I don’t have a lot of experience dealing with pests and diseases. I’ll tell you why.
I keep my growing area clean, including wiping everything down with isopropyl in between crops. Tents, fans, lights, ducting, everything. Obviously, I don’t soak the equipment, but everything gets a reasonably thorough wipe down. This includes giving your pruning shears a quick wipe in between plants. When plants are transferred, old pots and saucers are washed out with warm water and dawn soap, then allowed to dry thoroughly.
I keep the area around my growing area clean. I maintain a small perpetual system throughout multiple tents. The room the tents are in is kept spotless. Bags of medium, the shopvac, dirty (and clean) buckets, extra grow gear; anything that is not essential to the quality of life of the plants is kept in an entirely separate room. I feel like it should go without saying but obviously you NEVER want to leave dead plant matter anywhere near your garden.
Most importantly, I have sets of clothes that are specifically for gardening and are NEVER worn outdoors. Microscopic critters will latch onto you pretty quickly, especially depending on the season. I don’t have a washer and dryer so I wash my clothes at a laundromat. As soon as my garden clothes come out of the dryer, they go straight into a clean and dry grocery bag and then they are stored by themselves in a clean place until needed.
Finally, I scope my plants twice a week. It’s not hard. A jeweler’s loupe is 5 bucks on the internet. Pick a couple of leaves at the bottom and a couple of leaves at the top and check both sides. Make sure you don’t see anything that resembles moving trichromes. You may have to stare at it for a little bit, but not long.
So, essentially, I don’t have a lot of experience with pests and diseases because I take some simple preventive measure to avoid them. Sometimes these things can be kind of a pain in the ass, particularly the “gardening clothes”. But in dozens and dozens of cycles, my biggest pest battles have been with the occasional fungus gnat. Growing weed is not easy. But once you learn the basics, growing good weed at home doesn’t have to be hard.