Using Good Bugs to Protect Your Medical Hydroponics Marijuana Plants
Posted by Steve Davis | February 20 2012 | 8023 views | Comments ↓
So cute, and so fun to use as a guardian for your medical marijuana plants.
(Click to enlarge)
GrowDaddy has been growing fine medical marijuana since 1966, so it’s no surprise he’s old school in many ways. For example, he uses supersoil, and tries to get by with mostly “organic” nutrients.
I love his Kush 47 buds and his other mind-blowing marijuana strains. I admire his cultivation wisdom, expertise and practices. But I have repeatedly warned him that his reliance on supersoil and organics costs him in yield, growth rate and vector control, because using supersoil and organics often means importing pests and diseases into your grow op.
Vector control includes using only sterile materials (such as rockwool and synthetic nutrients) so there’s no chance of importing harmful pests and pathogens. Vector control also means armoring your hydroponics grow room like a fortress so not even the tiniest bad microbes can get in.
I wasn’t surprised to visit GrowDaddy and hear him complaining about aphids and spider mites. Some medical marijuana growers resort to Malathion, sulfur burners, AVID or other noxious materials when their plants are under threat from these little beasties.
GrowDaddy refuses to go that route; he knows that stuff poisons marijuana crops, or at the very least makes them taste and smell bad so they're no fun to smoke.
Instead, GrowDaddy uses natural pest control methods including “beneficial insects” that are predators against the most common marijuana pests.
In grow phase, he uses foliar sprays consisting of insecticidal soaps and natural herb extracts such as Neem. Or he uses diatomaceous earth (a powder that cuts pests to pieces). For fungus gnats, he uses Spinosad. For mites, he uses Azamax. He says those remedies work well sometimes- but not all the time.
He tried using the “seal up your grow room and run 10,000 ppm C02 levels for four or more hours” technique. The C02-kill method has been widely touted. Unfortunately, he found that even after using that method (which hurt his plants), some mites and aphids survived, especially root aphids. Apparently the bugs have evolved to handle high levels of C02.
Please Don't Put Poisons or Sulfur on Your Medical Marijuana Buds!
After two weeks into bloom phase, GrowDaddy refuses to spray anything on his buds. "What’s sprayed on your buds, stays on your buds," he says. And because he doesn't use sterile root zone media like rockwool along with a feed program consisting only of hydroponics nutrients, his crops sometimes get chomped by bad bugs.
He rationalizes the bugs and crop losses by telling himself that the pests don’t completely destroy his crops, that he still has many bloom cycles with no pests at all, and he can use beneficial insects to control pests so he only loses 10-30% of yield from a pest-plagued bloom cycle.
I’ve gone in his room to see his flowering marijuana plants decorated with hungry ladybugs. They eat mites and aphids. He also uses the Minute Pirate Bug (scientific name: Orius insidiosus). Pirate bugs eat caterpillars, aphids, thrips, and mites.
What happens to these helpful insects when bloom phase is done or when the bad bugs are all eaten? Some of them starve to death, GrowDaddy says. At harvest time, he shakes and hand-inspects his plants to remove beneficials and release them into the great outdoors.
It takes a little open-mindedness to get used to the idea of using beneficial insects. Start by taking a look at this visually attractive and information-rich listing of beneficial insects for your garden. And check out “Good Bugs, Bad Bugs,” a fun and very practical guide to beneficial and harmful insects.
Not only will you be intrigued by the possibilities of using non-toxic methods to fight bad insects, you’ll also get turned on to the idea that beneficial insects add a new layer of fun and ecology to your gardening. It’s like having an aquarium, except instead of fish in water it’s all these colorful insects helping you protect your buds!
When you're ready to order, look for online beneficial insect companies that have a solid reputation and have been in the business a while. Then contact at least one of these beneficial insect companies (anonymously, of course) and ask them any questions you have about the benefits and application of beneficial insects to help you protect your plants.
Along with armoring your medical hydroponics marijuana plants using potassium silicate and implementing the strictest possible vector controls, consider whether it's right for you to use beneficial insects as a safe and relatively effective way of battling the most common bad insects that harm medical marijuana crops. Anything is better than using poisons!
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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Article by Steve Davis, on Feb. 20th 2012