So, you’re going to grow some cannabis this year? Good for you! Maybe you’re a little worried about whether you will be able to make it happen; well, you can put that worry to rest – they call it “weed” for a reason. If you are willing to look at your crop once a day and to commit approximately 10 minutes a day to keeping your girls happy (because unless something else is going on, the plants you grow will be females), you will be smiling highly this fall.
Growing marijuana is one of the most fulfilling things that I have done in my lifetime. What started as, if I am being honest, one of the crappiest little operations imaginable – 12 plants next to the furnace with a bunch of shop lights from Home Depot – blossomed into a tropical jungle which overtook about 4/5 of our basement and blessed me with a getaway from the rest of this crazy world and a steady supply of primo smoke. A whole slew of strains passed through my subterranean garden, but there were three standbys that were true joys to grow and I would recommend them to anyone looking for unfickle cultivars that deliver a lovely product at the season’s end: Blue Cheese, Northern Lights, and Cinderella 99.
Barney’s Farm Blue Cheese: The smelliest strain I have ever encountered and the reason I started growing cannabis. The first time I smoked it, I was sold. This 80/20 indica (which is not my typical favored breakdown, as I am generally a sativa guy) bred from UK Cheese, with background genetics from Skunk #1. It’s a cross of Afghani, Alcapulco Gold and Colombian Gold, crossed with Blueberry (DJ Short’s Afghani/Thai/Purple Thai masterpiece) to create a strain that carried me to galaxies beyond galaxies in my mind. Blue Cheese was one of the two strains I grew during the time period when I had no idea how to grow, and, in spite of my sins, which included underwatering, a terrible, dirty environment, and embarrassingly weak lighting, “The Cheese,” as me and my partner Chocolate Duck referred to it, continued to produce bud that blew my crown chakra straight into outer space. I even dropped a few tiny seedlings into some hollows in the forest one summer and came back in October to some of the most resinous little beauties I have ever seen. The only “problem,” to nitpick, is the stench The Cheese produced. I would smell it from three houses away as I drove down the street. This was resolved, eventually, with the addition of a couple charcoal HEPA filters in the basement, an addition I would recommend to anyone with the wherewithal to purchase them, as they condition the air to create a very grow-friendly environment.
The second strain, one that never left the rotation once we acquired a mother plant, is Northern Lights. NL is a world renown classic for good reason. Its mellow high delivers an unmatched sense of contentment and it is quite possibly the easiest plant I ever worked with. This crossbreeding of Afghani and Thai landraces is an absolute beast – thickly covered with leaves and possessed of the consistently biggest colas in the game. She responds amazingly to pruning of low and interior vegetation and “lollipopping,” denuding the stems from the bottom up to create big, juicy top buds.
The third strain I recommend is one we came across after we had been at it for a while and had our method fairly well dialed in. Cinderella 99 rewarded our learning curve and delivered a couple unexpected surprises. Cindy has an interesting biography, as the strain is said to have been developed from a bagseed by the Brothers Grimm and includes genetics from NL, Jack Herer. Skunk, Haze, and what is described on one website as a “Mystery Male.” However she came to be, she is a beauty. High in THC, low in stature, and quick to develop, Cindy passed through our room in about 40 days, faster than any other strain we worked with. There was also a bonus at the end of her cycle: If we harvested early, when the trichromes were mostly milky white, the final product would lean toward her sativa background, and if we waited about four additional days, the indica side would kick in to create gorgeous amber trichromes which delivered a much more sedative effect.
Next week, we will walk through some of the basics of getting started and how to nurse your babies through their vegetative phase. Consider selecting one of these strains that served me so well.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.