Sea of green cannabis gardens are like clone forests. Have you ever hiked in a monoculture tree forest filled with thin lodgepole pines in uniform rows so dense you can barely walk between the trees — and it’s dark at the base of the trunks because little sunlight penetrates? That’s like a tree version of sea of green cannabis growing.
In a properly arranged SOG garden, there’s only a few inches of open space between each clone. The grower trims errant branching so growth is mostly vertical, and to keep the clones from touching each other.
Know this, though: Trimming is kept to a minimum, because too much of it can slow growth and maturation, and because clones might use the trim points as an opportunity to send out a double-branching replacement, which defeats the purpose of trimming to create space.
To help you achieve sea of green cannabis success, here are the most important things to consider if you want to do your grow op right.
Acing Sea Of Green Aeration
High-density SOG growing requires high-energy air movement. When air stagnates in a SOG forest, the clones aren’t able to transpire easily. They can become starved of carbon dioxide, which slows down photosynthesis. Moisture builds up where dense leaves or fat buds are clumped together. Mold and fungi spores settle in and take over. That’s why powerful aeration fans operating at the clones’ height are necessary in SOG gardens.
Problem is, most aeration fans are tall and round or tall and vertical, whereas your sea of green cannabis is short and horizontal. Most hydroponics grow-room oscillating fans are more than two feet tall, even at their lowest adjustable height. Creative growers use column fans elevated on household items, like bricks or crates. They turn the fans on their sides to operate them horizontally, sending powerful sluices of air directly into the SOG plantation.
This particular life hack is targeted for SOG gardens growing at floor level. However, many growers elevate their SOG gardens using hydroponics ebb and flow tables or grow tables filled with soil, coco coir or soilless mix. This elevates the plants’ root zone at least a couple of feet or more off the floor, making it much easier to tend to the plants and use round oscillating fans.
Growers who want to successfully grow with the SOG method use aeroponics, ebb and flow systems, and grow tables instead of putting plants in individual pots or deep water culture systems. Pots require too much spacing because of their bulkiness, while the connective tubing takes up so much space that high-density gardening is impossible. The same goes for growing each plant in its own individual pot filled with coco coir, soilless mix or soil.
Some aeroponics systems offer perfect spacing for SOG gardens, with plants 2–6 inches from each other in orderly rows in an organized grid created by the aeroponics tubes and plant collars.
Hydroponics marijuana growing systems provide the most efficient and direct delivery of oxygen, nutrients and water into your roots and up through your plants, compared to growing marijuana in soil. The two most successful hydroponics SOG setups I’ve seen were a 15-tube aeroponics grid, and an ebb and flow drip irrigation system in which rockwool cubes were growing in drain trays. Of the two, the ebb and flow is by far the easiest to run.
However, remember this about aeroponics: It’s super-efficient at delivering nutrients, moisture and oxygen to roots, but requires precise nutrients calibration, hydroponics gardening mastery, and a constant electricity supply. There’s no root-zone media in aeroponics (i.e., the roots hang in open air). And if you lose your electricity supply, you lose your aeroponics pump. When your pump stops working, you lose the spraying of aerated, nutrient-rich water onto your roots. And within a couple of hours without the water/nutrients mixture sprayed on their roots, your plants will die.
In other words, if you run aeroponics or deep water culture, you must have a generator that can immediately take over to supply electricity if the grid fails.
In an ebb and flow hydroponics table with drip irrigation where Grodan rockwool cubes or slabs are used, plant spacing is ideal, and so too is root-zone delivery of oxygen, water and nutrients. If the pump fails due to electrical outages or mechanical malfunction, the plants survive for many hours, because their roots are in solid, moist, nutrient-rich media, and because you can easily hand-water.
Check out the below YouTube video from Player Grows about their six-strain SOG grow:
Score Big With Sea Of Green Plant Spacing
Some SOG growers believe that cramming their plants in so closely that the leaves are touching is an acceptable way to maximize the number of plants per square feet.
But anytime you have leaves and floral clusters from one plant touching those of another (and especially in SOG, where plants are surrounded on all sides), this is a recipe for disaster.
When plants are in close quarters, moisture will pool where leaf and floral surfaces butt up against each other — perfect for gray mold and diseases to flourish.
Not only that, but pests like spider mites, aphids and thrips don’t have to leap a gap to get from plant to plant, since the plants are already touching.
There are also logistical reasons to allow adequate space. If you’re hand-watering rather than using aeroponics, ebb and flow, fill and drain, or drip irrigation, you have to be able to get your watering spout to the root zone of each plant. If the plants are too close together, good luck doing that.
Again, I emphasize the joys of using aeroponics or rockwool cubes for your SOG. For example, when you root your clones into Grodan Hugo 6 inch x 6 inch rockwool cubes, you automatically get adequate spacing around your plants because the cubes are so big.
Leave empty space around each SOG plant — that’s all there is to it.
Check out the below YouTube video from School of Hard Nugs about how to install a drip system in your grow room:
Successful Sea Of Green Clones
While I recommend SOG gardens that use clones (some growers prefer using autoflowering or feminized photoperiod plants grown from seeds), you do have to be adept not only at cloning (or buying clones) but at creating and maintaining mother plants.
Your ideal SOG clone stock consists of well-rooted clones of the same height, taken from the same mother plant or the same mother plant strain at the same time.
Most mother plants can’t give you more than 2–3-dozen healthy cuttings at a time, so you need two or more healthy mother plants of the same age and strain.
Be a perfectionist when it comes to clone quality. If you want 50 clones in your SOG grow op, take 60 or more cuttings, because some will inevitably fail.
Inspect every clone before you place it in its final SOG destination. If it isn’t showing robust leaves, a strong main stalk, and fantastic root development, get rid of it.
If you buy clones, you’re placing blind faith in the honesty and skills of the clone seller. In most cases, especially if you’re buying commercial clones at a dispensary or recreational marijuana outlet, you can never know for sure the condition or genetics of the mother plants the clones were taken from.
Clones can vector pests and diseases into your grow room. Examine each clone before you buy it, looking closely from top to bottom and both sides of every leaf to make sure there aren’t any thrips, spider mites, broad mites, aphids, mealybugs or powdery mildew. Problem is, diseases such as tobacco mosaic virus and powdery mildew can hide inside clones, undetectable by visual exam.
Commercial clones are sometimes taken from exhausted, poorly maintained or compromised mother plants. Garbage in, garbage out. Clones are the exact tissue of the mother plants, so if the mother plants are weak, suffering from genetic drift, too old or inferior, that will all show up in your clones as they grow.
It’s always best to create and maintain your own mother plants and take great cuttings from them. Start by reading our article on the best strains for SOG grow ops. This is the only way to know for sure the genetics, health and vitality of your sea of green plants.
Click on these links for detailed articles about how to care for your marijuana mother plants and our how-to on cloning.
Two more quick, important factoids before we end this installment of our sea of green series:
- Marijuana legalization in some states includes limits on the number of plants you can grow. If you’re worried about being legal compliant, and you’re in a state that permits you to grow a dozen or fewer cannabis plants, perhaps SOG isn’t a useful gardening method for you. Instead, go with full-size plants.
- While we do speak more on best strains for sea of green in a previous article, the ideal strains for this method are indica, Afghanica and kush dominant, rather than pure sativa or sativa dominant.
In our next article, we’ll talk about hydroponics nutrients, fertilizer issues, and grow lights for SOG grow ops.
Be sure to look at the videos embedded in this article, because they show you sea of green gardens in real time. And until we meet again, may your swimming be always pleasurable in the sea of green.