As part of the Growing Together blog series we sat down with Sébastien Bouzats to learn about his cannabis journey and glean some top tips for the grow community. Sébastien is the creator and host of the CannaBistrot Tv YouTube channel – on which he shares a collection of tutorial videos on growing and processing cannabis for medical and/or recreational cannabis.
Why do you grow and how did you get into it?
I was introduced to this plant thanks to friends who smoke hash. I liked the smell and asked a lot of questions. One day a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to see his cannabis plants. I said yes and fell in love. I only started smoking a few years after planting my first seed.
I was born in France from Canadian parents and have been cultivating cannabis since 2006. I always had my eye on Canada (which is a very progressive country in terms of cannabis) and, in 2015, I decided to come to Canada to live and to hopefully cultivate legally.
I had the chance to work for a large Canadian cannabis company for a couple of years and now I dedicate my efforts to developing the YouTube channel and helping enthusiasts gain knowledge about this plant and the industry. My goal is to develop a cannabis production school here in Quebec and, if possible, in other French-speaking countries, in order to share my passion for this plant.
What is your favourite strain/s and why?
This is a very complicated question. I tend to prefer sativas for the creative stimulation they produce. I like the Tangie and Haze. However, I also like to smoke indicas such as OG Kush, Afghan Kush or Ketama in the evening, while watching TV.
What is your preferred method of germination (and why?)
In terms of germination, I use greenhouse propagators with coconut plugs, a bit of water at the bottom and a heating mat connected to a temperature / humidity control system, 25ªC and 65% humidity the first two weeks, with soft lighting (like horticultural neon lights or low intensity LEDs). This small method makes it easier to stabilize the humidity and temperature. But, since no method is perfect, it is necessary to monitor the parameters regularly.
What makes good soil?
A good soil would be a living soil with good drainage. Today many companies are specialised in the creation of soil for the cultivation of cannabis (with fertilisers or not) which gives us a wide choice. For my part, I prefer eco-responsible grows, and I try as much as possible to give my soil several lives: I feed it with organic and microbial material and re-use it completely or partially at least a few times.
What are the key considerations when setting up a grow space
For me the 3 keys are light, climate control and soil.
I advise you to spend your money on lighting systems suitable for horticulture. Buy a good climate control system (some good devices cost less than $ 50), and buy a good brand of compost. Sometimes you just have to be imaginative to create a nice grow space: an old piece of furniture can do the trick.
What are the most commonly encountered pests and how do you deal with them
Pests tend to be found outdoors. Unfortunately, when accidentally introduced indoors they can proliferate quickly. But there are solutions. I never use pesticides, whether chemical or biological on my plants. I rather introduce predatory insects which will fight, regulate and eliminate all pests from my growing spaces.
For indoor growing what’s your favourite lighting system and why?
A few years ago, I would have said MH / HPS lamps. But I had the chance to test a few LED lamps which ended up convincing me. LED lights make climate control so much easier and their light spectrum is very well suited to cannabis, making them ideal, especially in small spaces.
What are the main things to know about humidity and temperature control, and what is your preferred kit for this job?
Ambient humidity is one of the keys to success. It is essential to control the climate from start to finish, including when drying cannabis. The ambient humidity should be adapted gradually between each stage of cultivation. For instance, between growth phase and flowering phase, I maintain hygrometry at 70% and I decrease it day by day during the first two weeks of flowering until 50/55% so as not to stress the plants. The best kit would be a humidifier, dehumidifier, and humidity controller.
How do you decide when to harvest and do you stress the plants prior to harvest?
For the harvest, I use my senses (visual / smell / touch). I look at its general appearance, I check it has no defect like mould, for example. I look at the pistils and trichomes. I smell it because ripe cannabis has a very strong scent. I also check the density of the flowers.
How do you harvest, dry and cure your cannabis?
I use two methods to dry cannabis: either I hang the whole plant upside down and then manicure it once it is dry, or if I find a flower with mould, I cut each flower of the plant one by one to check them and isolate as much as possible the contaminated flowers.
Outdoor vs indoor? Which do you prefer and why?
I like both of them. But outdoor growing is a bigger challenge because the grower cannot control anything and unlike indoors, you only have 50 or 60 opportunities in your whole life to improve your growing method.
In your view is there a noticeable difference in effect (both recreational and therapeutic) between indoor and outdoor grown cannabis?
I do not have a clear opinion on that. From a therapeutic point of view, I think that indoor cultivation allows a better homogeneity of the harvest and therefore of the finished products.
But, from a recreational point of view, I like outdoor cultivation because it involves craftsmanship, horticultural know-how, what in France is called “TERROIR” and I really like local products.
Organic or not? What is the difference?
I try to be as organic as possible. But I sometimes have to use ultra-refined mineral fertilizers (very occasionally).
In my opinion, in life and in cannabis cultivation, it’s all about compromise. No solution is perfect but you have to know the consequences of the actions you take to identify the right solutions.
If growing outdoors, how do you plan for and protect against adverse weather conditions
For outdoor cultivation, as I live in Canada where the warm season is very short, I favour autoflowering strains which allow me to make one or two harvests each season and not to risk the early winter problems that sometimes happen in Quebec.
What has been the hardest thing you have encountered during your growing years and how did you handle it?
The most difficult thing was to leave my country, my family and my friends to make my dreams come true here in Canada. But, at the same time, it is the best thing that has happened to me after meeting my wife who has supported me in all my projects for more than ten years.
Knowing what you know now, what is the information you wish someone had given you when you had?
The advice I would give would be to be curious about all types of culture, whether ornamental, agricultural or medical. They are all interconnected and have something in common. Be critical of yourself, analyse the information, question the myths that can be found on forums, sites, etc., and, above all, observe your plants in order to understand them.
What are your top tips to someone starting out growing cannabis?
A small tip would be not to think too big and start slowly with a few plants. Another one would be to let nature do its thing in order to understand how cannabis lives, and only then start using techniques like topping, defoliation etc.
Other advice would be to buy literature dedicated to cannabis such as books by Jorge Cervantes, Gregory Irving and Éd Rosenthal to gain knowledge.
Thank you to Seedsman for this interview and to you for reading. I wish you success in your growing projects, whether personal or professional. See you soon.