The method of putting clones in to flower with no vegging time keeps plants relatively short, to about 33-36" (~1 metre), which better suits the foliar penetration depth of indoor artificial lighting.
When I first started growing, I loaded all 4 of my flood trays with cuttings on the same day. This meant all the plants were ready to harvest at the same time, too. Harvesting/manicuring is a time consuming, tedious task- and plants which are ready to harvest have the shelf-life of lettuce, it seems.
I decided to break up the job to 1/4 the capacity of the flowering area but harvest every 2 weeks instead of every 8. Saves me from being permanently cross-eyed from marathon manicuring. I can usually harvest one tray in about 3-4 days of solid, nose-down manicuring.
This diagram shows the flow of plants through the op:
You can build this op in any scale you like, from a single mother and just one plant put in to the flowering area every two weeks up to as big as your needs require.
The idea is to grow only the top cola of a naturally growing plant with none of the lower branches and the small buds those branches produce. All branching, pretty much everything on the lower 1/3 of the plant, is snipped off in about wk 2 & 3. I don't like stuffing around manicuring little popcorn buds, so I just don't grow the lower branches.
Plant at 6 wks flowering, note lower branching is removed
Even powerful HPS lighting can only penetrate foliage so deeply, so a metre tall is just about perfect. I find that big lights give better bud density, so I use two 1000W HPS, one over each pair of 820mm^2 (~2.7 feet^2) flood trays.
The mums are maintained under 24 hour 400W MH>HPS conversion tube. Used a 400 HPS with good results for a number of years; the MH retrofit is a recent addition. The clonebox has 6x 18W fluoro tubes (24"), usually on 24/7 but shut off for the first 6-8 hours after doing a new batch of cuttings.
Clones go straight from the clonebox into the flowering area- no vegging required. They grow a little bit vegetatively for the first 3-4 weeks but then stop getting taller in wk4 and start making bud weight.
I keep about 6-10 mothers and do about 30 cuttings every 2 weeks from them. I choose the best 20-23 clones to be put in the 4-tray flowering area.
Leftover clones become replacement mothers or are discarded. Mothers are replaced one by one, about every 4-8 weeks as needed.
As each batch of clones goes in to tray #1, a batch comes out of tray #4 to be harvested, every 2 weeks.
Tray #1, wk0-2
(plants pictured are at 2 weeks flowering)
Tray #2, wk2-4
(plants pictured are at 4 weeks flowering)
Tray #3, wk4-6
(plants pictured are at 6 weeks flowering)
Tray #4, wk6-8
(plants pictured are at 8 weeks flowering)
The mother vegging area is in the same room with the flowering plants, but has a lightproof curtain (just a double layer of panda film, looped over a 2x4 screwed to the ceiling, white sides toward plants) to prevent interrupting the flowering plants' lightcycle and has its own ventilation system as well.
Each tray in both the veg & flower areas has its own pump, reservoir tank and timer, allowing the watering rate and nute mix to be tailored to the plant for vegging as well as for each 2 week phase of flowering. Nutes are Canna Vega or Flores "Substra" with H2O2, 50% grade applied at 1ml/litre every 3-4 days as an antimicrobial. Canna 'PK-13-14' P & K supplement added in week 3 only per instructions. pH runs 5.3-5.8, usually around 1400-1500ppm in all tanks. Flowering tanks are 125L, mother veg tank is 50L. Tanks are dumped and cleaned every 15 days.
Mucho yet silent airflow by way of a Spectrum Hygrow C250L 250mm centrifugal exhaust blower and a pair of axial intake blowers means the op runs consistently at 24-25C @ 30-50% RH. Have been running UV ioniser in the flowering area air for scent and powdery mildew reduction but have recently noticed ozone spotting, probably due to fewer exhaust cycles during cool months. Have put the ioniser on a timer, 15on/15off to try to sort that out.
Clones are tailored to this style of op. Please see cloning detail here.
The op has been yielding 13-16oz per 23 plant tray, every 2 weeks. Can do better; I've recently rebuilt the thing in a new location and am still tweaking the op to cope with the new conditions. It's done 1oz per plant in the past. Would like to know what I got so right...
Having a problem recently with leaf chlorosis in late flower. They go bright yellow and brittle after wk 6 or so. Plants are not gaining height and leaves are smaller than usual. Bud weight's down, too. Looks kinda like a Mg or Ca deficiency, but might have been due to a dodgy pH meter which may have caused me to run pH too low by about .5 or so for a few weeks. Replaced the pH meter, now looking for improvements in later batches. Verified temps and RH are in the usual range. Just replaced the 1000HPS tubes as they were getting old anyway. All suggestions for troubleshooting this one are most welcome.
Edited by Al B. Fuct, 29 June 2007 - 01:00 PM.