4.6.4 Dave Golds MEGAPLANT Challenge

Sure is getting exciting. Dave's THE 6 x 100 MEGAPLANT CHALLENGE California law now permits any adult to grow six plants, and, regardless of other state limits on possession amounts, keep all of the cannabis they legally grow.

There is no regulation that I know of that prevents the grower from starting six new plants as soon as the current plants are harvested, even if he or she hasn’t smoked up the entire previous crop. (Or given it all away, in the one ounce increments permitted by law.).

So ... who can grow 100 lbs of fine bud from six plants. Let’s call it the 6 x 100 MEGAPLANT CHALLENGE.

Here’s an idea I have thinking about since about 1985 and it might have a pretty cool application in a quest for the most gargantuan plants possible. (Anyone remember a late 60s, early 70s era comic book “Dr. Atomic and the Giant Grass of Bangagong Valley”? Had a great line that I will paraphrase: “Lookit that! Naked heathen savages acting just like modern American hippies!”.)

Long ago, maybe about 1981 or 1983 or so, the guy that turned me onto indoor growing under HID lights did an experiment that was pretty darn enlightening. He had been growing for about 3 years in a 4 light, 10 x 10 room. He used a good soil mix in 5 gallon pots, had a great strain, CO2, and had truly perfected his technique. I don’t remember exactly what his yield was, but he had repeated it crop after crop after crop with remarkably consistent results.

This was in the earliest years of indoor growing under proper lighting. So damn ancient that there were only two grow stores in all of metropolitan Los Angeles at the time, one in Torrance, and one in Pasadena. And one up in Berkeley. And another one in San Rafael, but that may have come along a bit later. All the grow lights were open reflectors; nobody had figured out enclosed hoods and cooling yet, resulting in some horrendous power bills for all the air conditioning necessary, Rockwool hydro cubes + slabs were the hottest new cutting edge technology.

And a small magazine called Sinsemillia Tips was the main source for discussions on the newly-emerging technology. My friend replaced his dirt with 3” x 12” x 36” rockwool slabs, started his cuttings in tiny Rockwool cubes, and employed a simple drip irrigation system using GH 3 part, (if I remember right). No other changes whatsoever. Same number of plants. Same grow cycle. A rather well-controlled experiment.

First harvest yielded about one and a half times what he was used to getting with soil, and soon approached double the harvest as he fine tuned the hydroponics over the next several crops. Interestingly, the high was the same, but the buds didn’t taste as good as with dirt. The “organicness” was substantially diminished.

His amount of growing medium was a mere fraction of what he had used with dirt in pots, yet the plants were twice as big, with damn near twice the yield. The obvious axiom learned was: “hydro can out do soil substantially with a fraction of the growing medium” ... or, it takes a whole lotta dirt to equal a small amount of hydro medium.

I have seen relatively huge indoor plants whose entire root system was in and around a single 4 inch Rockwool cube, watered six times daily. (My friend used new dirt each time and dumped the used soil in his backyard garden, where he did something called French bio-dynamic square foot gardening. His backyard was separated from his neighbors by a wood fence. After a few years of constant growing, all the dirt made his backyard quite a few inches higher than his neighbors. It would probably be well over the top of the fence by now had he not switched to hydro.)

Last year I met a guy from Humboldt getting darn near the same yield as my friends’ hydro, growing indoors in dirt. He was using 25 gallon mesh pots in a 4 light room, growing short, stocky, Indica and had gradually worked his way up from 5 gallon pots.

Each increase in pot size yielded a noticeable increase in yield. (Interesting guy. Named after Jimi Hendrix. Middle name was Jimi’s second album). So a lot of evidence leads to the conclusion (I think) the more dirt, the better the yield ... but well-managed hydroponics seems to allow one to grow giant plants in a tiny amount of hydroponic medium.

I wonder why this is. I know from growing in smaller pots that the tap root that the plant sends down initially probably has something to do with limiting the plants size in dirt. If it hits the bottom of a pot, the plant’s size is slowed considerably when compared to a plant that can send its tap root straight down without any obstacles. (Which sure As hell doesn’t explain why a 4 inch Rockwool cube can equal a 5 gallon pot of soil?!)

I see two basic set ups currently in use for large plants in soil (love that Google Earth ...) One is the round, flat, mesh pots holding up to 400 gallons. The other is large, square pots made from 2 x 12 lumber, about 3 feet square and 4 feet high. It seems that these higher, taller, containers would give the tap root more room to stretch out. Anyone aware of a side by side comparison testing the large flat mesh pots with the taller wooden pots, or have any ideas on which is best?

As outdoor growing has developed over the last few decades, one simple formula has emerged for growing large, full-season plants outdoors: the bigger the container ... the greater the amount of soil used ... the bigger the yield. Fabric mesh grow pots that hold 400 gallons of soil are now available... and popular.

I even saw a dirt company selling 400 gallon pre-filled.  Many outdoor growers make huge, sturdy grow containers out of 2 x 12 lumber that measure 3 x 3 x 4 feet tall. It appears that the average size of growing containers has gotten bigger and bigger as growers realized that another six or eight bags of soil mix just might yield another pound of bud.

I’ve thought for quite a while that one could grow huge outdoor plants in a 25 gallon (or bigger) container that was filled with a mixture of different size and consistency rockwool cubes, fed with an aggressive hydroponic mixture with all the goodies, and grew plants that were started indoors under artificial light in the very early spring (or even last year’s winter) so they have an incredibly long growing season before the days shorten up and induce flowering.

Such a rig could also be made with aeroponics or other forms of hydro, pretty much along the same lines. For rockwool or coco fiber, a simple solar rig could be put together that had a 25 gallon pot, a reservoir of at maybe 50 to 100 gallons, and a solar panel / car battery, timer, pump system that washed the medium thru three times a day with the hydro solution. A rig such as this can be put together very inexpensively. 3 x 3 foot solar panels will keep the battery charged very well, and a discount tool and equipment store will sell a 12 volt pump, as used in recreational vehicle plumbing, for under fifty bucks.

The float valve can be a simple on/off unit from a horse trough. Good hydroponic hygiene is required, as in organic mycostop and frequent flushing to eliminate any salt build up.

One can get fancy by augmenting natural light during the veg stage with metal halide light and give the plant continuous and intense 24 hour light during the veg stage, which can result in very rapid growth.

HID lights could even be set up outside to give the plant 24 hour light during the veg season. And, of course, choosing the right strain is important. Strains that yield the most as full-season outdoor plants are the best candidates.

Any suggestions as to the best candidates available these days for growing the Godzilla of Greenness? So how about some feedback, suggestions and ideas?

Some pix of monsters you grew in the past? Maybe an example of a standardized log book that those wishing to participate in the 6 x 100 CHALLENGE could use to keep things uniform and provide the data necessary to make this a scientific endeavor?

Maybe a prize for the grower who grows the most humongous plants?

Who knows. Seems like this could grow into a pretty fun book ... with lots of pix ... and a few different authors. All ideas and suggestions appreciated.

Thanks, everybody. Dave


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