Since moving west I have really come to respect outdoor growers and I am amazed by the amount of work it takes to pull off a successful harvest. Growing indoors is certainly not for the lazy but those that grow under the sun are truly farmers in every since of the word.
Getting up before sunrise and working late into the evening is a daily routine here and everyone does their fair share. This garden provides yearly meds for 16 people so there is a lot riding on their efforts and they take it very seriously.
Dioxide a TGA crew member introduced me to Pat last year and I was impressed immediately by his knowledge and attitude about growing. At the time he was working for Advanced Nutrients and listening to him give advice I could tell he was very passionate about Cannabis. As I got to know him better I started to think of him as the Bill Nye of grow rooms and nutrients seemed he had a detailed answer for any question asked of him.
As he got to know me better and study TGA his curiosity about Super Soil grew and this year he decided to use it in his outdoor medical grow. Drew a friend of Pat’s who is also a Photographer, was nice enough to document the progress in the garden before I arrived and the first part of this story will feature his photographs. I am very impressed with this young mans skill with the camera and hope you enjoy his work as much as I do. Long before I even knew of this gardens existence and crew of dedicated care givers did the hard work of prepping the holes.
Two pallets of soil, a ton of worm castings and boxes and boxes of dry amendments were mixed together to create the mother load of all Super Soil batches. Heavy machinery like a hole boring rig and a back hoe were used to help dig the holes and so much work and care was put into each area that would hold a plant. Once all that work was completed it was time to transplant the clones that had been growing indoors under artificial lights. Pat seems to be a master at soil biology and his soil web created by the mycrohase was amazing, in Drew’s pictures you can see the amazing root growth as the plants were removed from their containers and placed into the ground. Like you guys I am lucky that before I got involved such good documentation was done so we can all see the evolution of this medical garden from the start. I will always be amazed at how fast cannabis grows outdoors under good conditions. From my experience with the Garden of Weeden I had seen the phenomenal growth that can occur when cannabis is planted directly into the ground.
I was even more excited to see how the garden would perform using my soil recipe and asked Dioxide to ask Pat if I could visit and take some pictures to document everything and do a story on it once the harvest was successfully completed and Pat happily agreed.
Dioxide picked me up early one morning and we made a drive up into the hills of Oregon. It was a foggy morning and it got worse as we drove up. My first look at the property was shrouded in a dense fog I called Mist and this became the un-official nick name, The Mist.
The Mist is a long narrow property that slants uphill and the garden is located on the back of the lot nestled up against some trees. From a distance the green house looks like any of the hundred you see driving through Oregon but once inside that all changes. Planted directly into the ground are ten plants, one TGA Bloodwreck, one Jack Herer, two Snocaps, two Orange Velvet, three Hawaiian Hindu Kush X Heavy Duty Fruity and one Sage X Afghani. Situated in between are rows of Jack Herer planted into smart pots, these will be moved into a second tent as the main plants get bigger and take up the full greenhouse. It was August 10th the first time I saw the plants and already they were taller than me. Just like with Weeden seeing plants so large made me feel very small. The beauty of this magnificent species in its natural setting is truly awe inspiring. When cannabis plants are grown to this size and in groups like this they seem to create their own climate. In between the rows the temps can be as much as 15 degrees cooler than on the sunshine side. One thing that stands out fast as you walk through this garden is how neat and tidy everything is kept. Drew not only took the amazing shots featured in this story but did a good share of the work as well. The first day I visited there was work going on everywhere and they only took a break so I could shoot video. The plants were trimmed and trained properly and discussions were taking place on the best way to support the side branches once the bud weight started piling up. Pat was actually meeting that day with a building inspector to have an electrical upgrade installed to provide power to the commercial de-humidifiers he had ordered. It was still kind of weird when a county worker came out to inspect while we were filming 10 foot reefer plants but that’s Oregon for you.
So there you have it the first look at the start of an amazing season and some of the behind the scenes work that goes into a medical garden. Early mornings and late nights sounds like any other farming to me and you will see more hard work and dedication in part 2 of this story of the Garden in the Mist.
I am driven up to the location early in the morning and arrive to see the land clouded in a dense “Mist” that seems to almost hide the property. I drive up a gravel road through a security gate that has been left open just for our entry. A nice home sits on the front of the property well kept and the lot rises upward to the rear of the land where nestled in the trees is a long Tube style green house open ( for now) on each end. Shrouded in the heavy mist the whole seen is very surreal and I am almost giddy with excitement at what I am about to see.
As Part two of our story unfolds, the plants have been in the flowering phase since about August 20th. This is when the old timers in the area have taught me the days are short enough for just about any strain to start budding. I learned at the Garden of Weeden that the Kush plants tend to start sooner and finish a bit faster. In this garden in appears the Jack Herer may be quickest out of the gate in that aspect and even on my first visit I can see the first start of buds setting in. The larger plants already tower over my six foot frame and the weight of the limbs had started to drag the plants down. Pat and his care takers are discussing the best way to support these already massive plants. While they talk I walk through this amazing garden where the plants have already started to create shaded areas to hide from the suns glare. It’s hot in the green house and I work up a sweat as I go from plant to plant snapping pictures and then setting up a few ladders to shoot some video.
The main difference I can see at first glance is how neat and organized the garden is. The plants are laid out in a grid pattern and it looks almost symmetrical through my lens even though there are multiple strains in the garden. There is a 4 man crew tending this garden all day every day and as always I am amazed by the amount of work these growers have put in. Outcast by society do these appear to be lazy people with no work ethic? I think not!
I wasn’t able to return to the mist for almost 3 weeks and man what a difference that time made. To start with the workers had come up with a brilliant way to support the plants. Using large bamboo poles and 15×15 Canopy nets they formed large net boxes to support the side buds and a series or plant yoyo’s to support the upper colas. From the looks of the garden it looks like they had been at this project the entire time I was absent. Literally thousands of bud sites had been trussed or netted up to form these massive “Box Plants” you see in the pictures. As I walked into the massive shaded area under the canopy I was delighted to feel the temperature drop as I walked into the rich oxygen enriched air. Large cannabis gardens like this always amaze me and almost make me feel giddy with excitement. The smells of all the strains combined to create one amazing smell and the one word that screams into my brain is “Dank”.Third Visit
The sun came up above the trees my 10 am and I was able to get some really nice shots using the sun and the blue sky as a back drop. At first these plants were being watered each day but it was recommended by Dioxide to actually not water the plants so the root systems would go in search of water forming a much larger root system. I saw no negative effect when the watering schedule was reduced to allow the roots to expand. You can see how full and lush the canopy is in these over head shots of the garden.
I tried to be consistent in my timing of every two weeks, and I made my third trip up to The Mist in mid September. The temperatures in the area had finally started dropping in the evenings and the plants were all starting to form bud set. The Jack Herer that I mentioned as being a faster budding strain was well into budding and even small cola formations were visible. The smell coming from the buds was a lemon mint smell that reminded me of a natural toothpaste and it was quite intoxicating. I took the time to document the growth that had taken place over the two weeks but I was more excited for more return trips when I knew things would really start to happen in a big way.
This is also a time of great stress for the care takers in this garden and the crew moved a small camper up right next to the garden. Each night a different worker would camp out next to the garden just to make sure nothing went missing. This garden is very secure but and hidden but it never hurts to play it safe.
I would like to thank everyone for following along with the story so far and also thank the great design team here at Weed World. As an artist layout is very important and I can’t wait for each issue to see what magic these talented people have performed on my content.
As the final chapter unfolds the weather is pretty bad with early rains, warm days and cool nights and the boys are working overtime to prevent mold and mildew.
The cooler night time temps that came early in October created a need for heat so a huge 300,000 BTU space heater has been installed to try and both warm and dry the garden out.
The plants some over 12 feet tall tower over my head and I have to use a step ladder to get any of the upper buds into frame. I have been documenting growing for a long time and I never stop being excited about giant plants like these. Before I took a single picture I walked through the garden for like 1/2 hour just blown away at what I was seeing. The smell was over powering and heavenly to me as the heavy citrus smell of the Jack Herer combined with all the other fragrances of Cannabis to create one hell of a Dank bouquet. After snapping a few shots of the ginormous plants I got down to business and set up my camera on a tripod with my Sigma 105 Macro lens and ring flash. Shooting anywhere outdoors is challenging because of air movement. The best super macro is done when the subject is perfectly still but I did my best to get you guys some nice close ups to drool over.
The Blood Wreck cutting is named for her dark pigmenting trait and her buds were already changing color. The Jack Herer plants looked close to harvest already and my arms were covered in sticky lemony resin from brushing against the plants. The Heavy Duty Fruity were not nearly as far along but her buds were just plump and big as a mans fist. The Orange Velvet plants were tallest in the garden with top cola’s towering above 12 feet and almost touching the top of the greenhouse.
In my final visit harvest of some of the more mature plants had started pretty much on a branch by branch basis. The room created allowed me to get a few full plant shots just before they were harvested. Some wider than a passenger van I used a 10 foot ladder to get above the canopy to shoot video and I still had to use an extended monopod to get a decent angle. Imagine trying to get a shot of an oak tree inside a tent.
There was some loss due to mildew and mold but as soon as any sign appeared it was quickly chopped out and removed. This is one down side to growing in the mist especially in really poor weather years like this one. Some of the biggest cola’s in the garden had to be tossed out when they got to close to the ceiling of the greenhouse where condensation formed at times. This time of year temperatures can vary outside as much as 40 degrees. The rise in temps cause moisture to condensate on everything and as the sun comes out and the temperatures rise the warm moist conditions are really conducive to mold and mildew. The good news as that it was only about 20% of the total crop and many beautiful flowers were untouched.
The crew was using a commercial trimmer at first but on inspection it was obvious that the hash trim was being destroyed by the machine. As the leaf is chopped off by the blades and vacuumed into a bag it came out looking more like mulch than hash making trim. While it did speed things up the time savings was not worth the loss of quality bubble hash.
Day by day the garden was taken down and as the dried flowers became ready each patient came and took away their legal state limit. There are limits to the amount of dried medicine based on weight a grower can possess, so to stay within guide lines the whole process actually takes longer. The plants slow to mature where left until the end of October when the sun went away for good and temps plummeted and then ready or not everything came down. I asked Pat if he planned to give the location another go the following year and I was surprised when he said no. He explained that even with all of his efforts and investing a great deal in technology he felt the weather was too big of a factor in the area. He did not like harvesting early due to bad weather. Not every location will work and the only way to find out and it wasn’t a great growing season for anyone that year.
I few weeks later I was able to sample some of Jack Herer in flower form and some bubble hash that was made from the trim. The bud was so good I was inspired to include Jack Herer in my book Dank 2.0.
I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping me tell this story, from Dirt Diggler to the growers that helped him. Thanks to Weed World and it’s readers.