The grow continues! and we are still at 14 hours of daylight and the internet tells me we won't be down to 13.5hrs until the end of the month but I am damn we ready to convince the plants to start flowering. Nighttime temps are currently around 13C at the moment and by the time we get into September they'll be around 10C. Not sure how cool Cannabis can deal with for nighttime but I imagine 10C is probably pretty close to the lowest. So on wards with the flowering nutrients!
I am giving this as liquid feed to the roots, once a week as per the bottles dilution instructions:
Plus once a week a kelp fertilizer also to the roots.
I went by the cities only hydroponics store the other day to see what they had. I was hoping they might have the fox farms open sesame that Bottlebomber suggested to me but alas they did not. Instead I got a variety of things (some of which I am a little skeptical of).
To help out with flowering I got some of this for top dressing:
Nothing magical here, just scattering a handful on top of the tops weekly.
They fellow (who didn't seem as knowledgeable as I was hoping for but on the other hand didn't pretend to know more than he did. Always nice to hear a sales person admit that they don't really know for sure how a product works) at the hydroponics shop recommended this:
This stuff is interesting. While rootzone microbes are definitely a major and important thing in ecology I do wonder how effective applying a root drench of them in artifical circumstances would be. This definitely warrants some further research (I may even try growing out some of the bacteria in culture assuming they're relatively safe to do so at home). So I purchased this more as a curiosity than out of any sort of conviction that it will help (which isn't to say that it won't. Just that "microbiome" has been hijacked by sales hype like crazy in the last few years. Totally legit area of Science but very complicated to study and all results should be treated with some caution).
I also got some of this:
(apologies for the fuzziness of the last photo)
The sales guy claims its a crustacean meal tea which can be used to kill soft bodied instects. However if you look at the label there's nothing on there that says that. Now I have heard of using silica/silicon (both not either and they probably act differently) as a spray for pest management however exactly what its doing is a bit fuzzy. I've heard that silica acts as a dessicant (dries insects out) and to some degree might cause mechanical damage to the insect. This is why diatomaceous earth works as a contact insecticide. This is also why its NOT SAFE for you to breath. It is not. Full stop. Don't listen to those damn hippies that will tell you its safe because its natural. For the love of God/Gods/Nature/Whatever wear a respirator and eye protection. Yes its not a chemical insecticide but it will do some serious business to your lungs and mucous membranes. Also don't scatter it around your house to deal with infestations its a hazard to pests and you since its just loose waiting for you to disturb it.
I've also heard that silicon (different chemical) sprays gets absorbed by the plant to help with generating defensive compounds. I dunno how well developed the Science is on that. I am not a botanist by any stretch of the imagination.
ANYWAY back to this Jake's stuff. There's nothing to suggest that there is ground up crustaceans in it anyway. It just seems to be a foliar spray with an array of things in it.
Got some kelp in it,
Vegetable protein hydrosolate, now this one is interesting. All those fancy words more or less just mean they took a bunch of plant proteins and broke them down into smaller bits. Some google reveals that this as a spray or root soak can actually act as a biostimulant but why exactly isn't clear. Once again there is speculation that it might be microbiome related. Maybe you're feeding the critters that live on/in/association with your plants.
A variety of mineral salts that are good for plants (potassium sulfate, magnesium oxide, etc),
Some ethanol (that will kill soft bodied insects),
Humic acids (good for plants),
Sulphur dioxide (can inhibit fungal spore germination),
Some soapy business (the various fats) as a surfactant (helps everything stick to the leaves).
So aside from the alcohol (which might actually be acting as a solvent for one of the components) and the sulfur compounds in this stuff I can't see what would be acting as an insecticide in it. To be fair the bottle doesn't advertise itself as one it was the hydroponics guy that suggested that it would act as one. The bottle does claim that it "Builds plants immune system to naturally defend itself against airbourne spores and other insects & pests" which miiiight be true. However plants immune systems are not directly analogous to human immune systems (which whole other aside, all this shit that supposedly "boosts your immune system" is probably also a bunch of snake oil or at the very least is commuting the sin of an incredibly reductive metaphor. An over active immune system is just as bad as an under active one) so I'm not sure how accurate that claim is (again not a botanist; I'd love for someone who is to weigh in. I know we've got some smart folks on here).
Moving along, my war against the spider mites continues! I bought more standard insecticidal soap. Oddly the 'ponics store only carried the stuff with pyrethrins which no doubt work and have a short half life but I'd just rather not fuck with them. Its enough of a task to keep the regular soap out of my eyes and lungs (nontoxic but still not great for your eyes/lungs) nevermind having to fucking glove and coat up to apply actual pesticides. I already spooked my landlord by wandering around with a face shield, respirator, and sprayer (over kill but I have the PPE for power tool purposes already). Plus spider mites are goddamn fantastic at evolving resistance to things.
Despite my efforts folliage damage from the mites is occurring
Some leaf spotting, crispy tips, and chlorosis where the mites have been feeding. Its not the end of the world just not very pretty to look at. I seem to be keeping the mite numbers low enough to prevent any substantial damage. Some good detailed info on two spot spider mite can be found here. Wikipedia also have this dope ass photo of a colony all congregating in one spot. In situations like this where there are massive amounts of them they will congregate like that in order to balloon (more or less what it soundslike. Small "balloon" of silk & mites gets picked up by the wind and blown away) away from the over crowded area to new plants. I've been trying to figure out at what temperature they'll be less of an issue. Once it gets cool enough they'll slow way down and go into diapause. That's right! The bastards can over winter! Potentially surviving down to -15 to -20C. However my patience is running low regarding tracking down sources (most of the stuff coming up is looking at temperature effects on predators of spider mites) and this post has ended up being way longer than I thought it would be.
In closing, check out my sole and tiny watermelon (they too have been getting hammered by the mites):