The time is near: The feeding is almost done, the pinching of leaves, the constant vigilance against invaders of the insect and fungus varieties, the thinning out, the watering. All that remains for the little cannababies you put into soil this spring is a good pure water flush to remove any nutrient buildup from the season and then we turn our mind to trimming, drying, and curing. There are a million-and-one methods to take these last few steps in the process of preparing your plant for consumption; today I will present a straightforward tutorial that will have your grown and ready plant(s) in glass jars and ready to smoke about a week and a half after they are done growing.
First, the flush. This is a simple period of about two weeks near the end of the plant’s life cycle in which you will give your plants nothing but pure, clean water (spring water is best, but if you have only tap water available, fill the bottles that you will be using a couple days ahead of time and let them sit without their tops in order to allow the chlorine and some of the other chemicals to evaporate out). Pour the water into your soil until it reaches just past the point of full saturation. Repeat the process about 20 minutes later. Do this every couple of days during the last two weeks of the plant’s life and you will be rewarded with buds that are clean of any leftover nutrients, which could negatively affect the smoothness of their smoke.
As fan leaves begin to yellow, wither, and die during this period, feel free to cut them off. These seven-fingered photosynthesizers do not contain THC though they do have some uses, including topical rubs, dietary ingestion, and are excellent for compost. But they are the first thing that goes as you prepare for your ultimate cannabis goal – to roll, light, and smoke the lovely Colorado Green that you spent the entire spring and summer lovingly readying.
When your girls are officially ready to drop – use a jeweler’s glass or a magnifying lens to ascertain when the white hairs on the bud sites (known as pistils) have changed in color to an orangeish amber hue – you can immediately cut off all of the fan leaves. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT want to cut your plant completely down at this juncture. Instead, go through the entire standing plant and trim any additional smaller leaves that do not have heavy crystal production. These and the fan leaves are not very valuable for the butter/oil/tincture, etc. recipes that you can use in addition to drying and curing your nugs.
Everything you will do after removing these low-cannabanoid leaves will result in you getting nice and lifted, so this is where you will want to sharpen your focus. Place some sort of clean plastic material under the area where you will be trimming to catch the THC-laden sugar leaves that will fall to the floor as you reveal the essential material that you worked so diligently and patiently for. Cut off one branch (and one branch only) at a time. Try to leave a one inch V-shaped notch as you cut off the branch (or section, if that is more workable) to leave yourself an easy “hook” to hang it by to dry.
As you get into the finish work, make sure to use very sharp hairstyling-type scissors – nothing is more frustrating or painful to your fingers than dull, awkward scissors. Leaving the flowers attached to the stalk, take your time and go all the way around each bud until you have taken it down to the point where it looks like the pictures from the magazines.
Once you have achieved that level of grooming on the first nugget, continue down the branch until you have done so with each of them and then hang your perfectly coiffed branch full of goodness form a string line in a dark area with plenty of ventilation. You can use an oscillating fan to achieve air flow, but aim it below, not at, the level of your buds. Then, gather your trimmings from the plastic, bag them (as they should go in the freezer for future use) and move on to the next branch.
Next week, we will look at the rest of the process that will reward you with beautiful greenery later this fall. Be well til then, DGO.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected].