The absolutely amazing old school marijuana grower we call GrowDaddy has been growing fine marijuana since 1966.
I love his Kush 47 buds and his other mind-blowing marijuana strains. I admire his cultivation wisdom, expertise and practices.
But he doesn’t totally understands hydroponics marijuana growing, and admits that his reliance on supersoil and organics costs him in yield, growth rate and vector control.
One thing he’s very concerned about is that using supersoil often means he’s importing pests and diseases into his marijuana 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 that can hurt your hydroponics marijuana plants.
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 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 poisons are bad for marijuana plants and people.
Instead, GrowDaddy sometimes uses natural pest control methods including “beneficial insects” that are predators against the most common marijuana pests.
Beneficial insects aren’t his first line of defense though.
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 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 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 for your hydroponics marijuana plants.
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 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!