As part of the Growing Together blog series we sat down with @greenautoconsumo to learn about his cannabis journey and glean some top grow tips. Greenautoconsumo shares his grows on instagram with close to 40K followers. He also has a youtube channel on which he shares a collection of tutorial videos on growing and processing cannabis. When he is not tending his cannabis plants he works on farms planting fruit and olive trees.
Why do you grow cannabis and how did you get into it?
I started growing in 2012 when I got tired of spending so much money on the black market. I also wanted to smoke high quality flowers. I started my journey in the cannabis world through cannabis forums like cannabiscafé. But it wasn’t until two years ago that I decided to open an Instagram account and share my grows. I was growing in a somewhat dangerous place where thieves could easily get their hands on my buds. So, I did not want to tell anyone what I was doing, not even my closest friends. This is why I opened an account on Instagram, so I could share my grows without the danger of people knowing exactly where I had my plants.
I started to meet many people in the industry, and I ended up helping thousands of them. Every day I receive messages thanking me for my advice. I answer each and every one of them and people appreciate it a lot. I am so passionate about the world of cannabis and this has opened so many doors for me that I already consider it as a future full-time career that hopefully I can achieve. I would be very happy with that.
What is your favourite strain/s and why?
I do not have a favourite strain. There are many that I like, but I have not yet tried any that surpass all the others. Each one has its own unique flavours, its effects and its disadvantages. Personally, I like to have a large selection at my disposal so that when I want to smoke one or the other, I have access to it. Nevertheless, I have to admit that your Black Sugar is really good in terms of sweet taste and aroma. Congratulations for your work with the genetics for that strain.
What is your preferred method of germination and why?
In a plate with very wet napkins and in the dark. If it is cold, I put them on top of the brazier since the heat helps the development of the roots. I like this method because it works almost every time.
What makes good soil?
A good soil is composed of various types of substrates, at least in my opinion. Perlite, blond peat, black peat, worm humus. All of these help to get a good soil. But you do not want to use too much of them. A good soil has enough nutrients to feed the plants and good aeration and oxygenation for the roots.
What are the key considerations when setting up a grow space?
The most important thing is to know that plants need a certain amount of light and oxygenation. The space, lighting, ventilation and oxygenation are the most important things to keep in mind when setting a grow space.
What are the most commonly encountered pests and how do you deal with them?
The most common pests in my area are the green leaf-eating caterpillars, the whitefly and the red spider, which, by the way, I had in my previous grow. You can avoid them with insecticides or by playing with the growing environment. I personally lowered the temperature of the grow space and increased the ventilation, two are things that these pests hate. I also applied a specific insecticide for the spider. But, as my plants were in an advanced flowering state, I had to put on gloves which I soaked in insecticide in order to slowly apply the product on the leaves without touching the flowers. I also removed the most affected leaves. My plants already recovered. This plague infected my grow because I dried some flowers from outside in the same space where I have my grow tent. Since I had no other place, I had to dry them there. This is how it happened.
For indoor growing what’s your favourite lighting system and why?
The LED lighting system without any doubts, due to its low consumption and high performance. In addition, it enables the flowers to produce a tremendous amount of resin. Without a doubt the LEDs.
What are the main things to know about humidity and temperature control, and what is your preferred kit for this job?
Well, temperature and humidity are very important factors that can cause many problems if they are not well controlled. In the growing phase 60-70% humidity is ideal. To achieve this, you will need a humidifier. In the flowering phase, the ideal humidity is 40-50%, since having flowers makes it much easier for fungi to infect your plants. In terms of temperature, you will want 24-26ºC during the day and 16-18ºC at night, lowering this at the end of flowering to 12ºC, in order to increase the resin production and to allow the purple phenotypes to highlight their colours. To control these factors, the most important thing is the ventilation of the grow space. If you can get a good dehumidifier and a humidifier, your life will be much easier.
How do you decide when to harvest and do you stress the plants prior to harvest?
I decide to harvest when the plants have 30% amber trichomes and the other great majority is milky white. This is the best moment to have a strong and outstanding flavour. I usually use a magnifying glass of x60 magnification that is worth 2 euros if you look for it well on the internet, something simple and very effective.
How do you harvest, dry and cure your cannabis?
I trim them as I cut them if it is not too hot. Otherwise I keep the leaves, so they do not dry out too quickly. Once they are almost dry, they still retain a bit of moisture. At that time, I put them into a glass jar to conserve this moisture and gradually get rid of it. That is the method I have to dry and cure.
Outdoor vs indoor? Which do you prefer and why?
I used to think that outdoor weed was the best option because with a single harvest you can have enough to smoke all year long. But, after several indoor grows, I realised that I preferred it because you can control everything. I do not have much money but there are people who even have climate controllers. Nothing better than that to achieve great results.
In your view is there a noticeable difference in effect (both recreational and therapeutic) between indoor and outdoor grown cannabis?
Yes, in most cases indoor cannabis tends to be more powerful both in for therapeutic and recreational use. I think that this is due to what I said previously about the grow space control. Being able to give it everything its needs without external factors influencing the development of the plants allows them to reach their full potential. Also because of the constant lighting indoor plants receive.
Organic or not? What is the difference?
Years ago I did not value it but as time goes on, I am ever more in favour of organic growing because it is much healthier. Actually, I will soon get the organic line of Plagron fertilizers. You do not ingest as many products when smoking cannabis if you smoke something organic rather than mineral.
If growing outdoors, how do you plan for and protect against adverse weather conditions
Well, outdoors I opt for topping and when they grow and bad weather is approaching, I tie each and every one of the branches, especially the heaviest ones. I also have an awning that I use when it rains. I do not use much more protection than that. If the plant is small and I can move it, I put it inside the house when the weather is bad.
What has been the hardest thing you have encountered during your growing years and how did you handle it?
The most difficult thing has been to achieve large yields with very few hours of direct sunlight. I succeeded in this using topping many times – leaving many flowers on the top of the plants and removing the lower part where nice flowers did not develop. At some point I also had to deal with excess humidity, because even if the temperature and ventilation increased, the humidity remained high. But I ended up controlling it artificially with a dehumidifier. There might have been some other problems that I do not remember.
Knowing what you know now, what is the information you wish someone had given you when you had?
I would have liked to receive good information about the lighting, ventilation, substrate, and oxygenation. This must be repeatedly remembered because it is the most important thing: if you have all of this well sorted, the grow will be fine. As I always tell my followers: good soil, good weather, good care, good fertilisers well-applied and a lot of patience is the key to success.