Gibson’s buds, on the other hand, display all the qualities of a superior product: their look and feel, the fullness of the flowers, and their smell and taste. “Taking his indoor experience to the outside has made Mike an elite all-around cannabis grower,” Filomena says.
STEP BY STEP
Gibson’s approach to light-dep greenhouse growing is meticulous. First, he creates a custom mix for his medium, which includes 20 yards of composted dairy manure, 20 yards of coco, 10 yards of pumice, 200 pounds of crab, fish and seaweed meal, and 80 pounds of bokashi compost. Then he powders the plants’ roots with a soluble mycorrhizal formula containing multiple types of beneficial bacteria, yucca, humic acid and kelp during transplanting.
Next, he creates a raised garden bed measuring 45 feet long, with an inner trough 7 feet wide, using 70-pound straw bales, and fills it with his custom soil blend. He also installs a drip-emitter-style irrigation system.
By June 1, he’s ready to move his strains into the greenhouse, where he uses the 6-by-45-foot netting to support every “chunky beast” with ease. Then, on June 26, he forces his vigorous crop into flower.
At 7 p.m. each day, the greenhouse automatically deploys its cover to block out the sun, creating a completely dark environment. “If you do it manually, try to be exactly on time,” Gibson advises. “This way, your plants will never get confused.”
Once it’s dark out, though, he retracts the cover. “Most growers think you have to subject the plants to a full 12 hours of darkness to force them to flower,” Gibson explains. “Not true—by removing the cover immediately after the darkness sets in, you allow your plants to flourish in the lovely summer nights. Let them experience a natural moonrise and sunrise. The daylight at this point is already getting shorter every day. The plants will begin to flower instantly. It feels magical—‘presto change-o’ into flower,” he adds with a laugh.
A high amount of heat and moisture will build up in the greenhouse once it’s completely covered. “It can be very alarming, but my plants weren’t upset at all,” Gibson says. However, “if you were to leave the cover on for 12 hours, your plants will most likely mold.”
On August 29, Gibson’s plants are ready to harvest. “I simply squeeze my buds to check the firmness,” he says. He finishes them off with a gentle trim and an expert cure. The final result: super-chunky, dense and heavy flowers—10 out of 10 on the quality scale. In fact, the quality was identical to his indoor harvests, Gibson says, but the bud size was considerably larger: 24 plants that produced 83 pounds of tightly trimmed colas.
Genetic Advice for Light-Dep Growing
Don’t just throw any strain into a light-deprivation run and expect it to produce premium quality, Mike Gibson says. “Different genetics will respond better than others. This will be your biggest variable.”
From Gibson’s experience with light-dep, he’s found that some plants tend to have mold issues, while others have more trouble expanding in colder temps. “If you want to have A-grade product, your genetics are extremely crucial.”
Thanks to his adroit networking skills and his persistent efforts to obtain new genetics, Gibson’s strains have become top picks at local dispensaries. “Have a keen eye, but more importantly a keen nose,” he advises. Currently, his genetic arsenal boasts over 25 strains and hundreds of different phenotypes. And he’s always buying new seeds as well as obtaining prize-winning clones from fellow growers. “There is never a time when I’m not preparing for the next run,” Gibson states.
In order to keep all of his genetics alive, he uses a very detailed and laborious yet undeniably effective labeling system, from recloning to testing plants in indoor as well as outdoor runs. Along the way, he’s had to make heartbreaking decisions regarding which plants to keep and which to discard.
“After being in this industry so long, I still feel the most exciting part is popping the next seed open,” Gibson concludes. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can be the best cannabis grower in the world, but your genetics are the key.”
Deweloped by Gibson
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