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How I Became An All-Organic Marijuana Grower

May 5, 2014 by: Jessica Catalano

My experience growing marijuana was minimal at best when I lived on the East and West coast. I would help people water, trim and babysit, but I never had the chance to utilize those skills to branch out on my own.

When I first started growing in Colorado, it didn’t cost me more than $200 to get started and I had a closet, not a grow room. I was gifted the plant G-13, which was an exceptional plant to acquire at the time. Little did I know, I would find that between passion and a green thumb, I was delving into something I would become fanatic over, just like my cooking.

A walk-in closet, oscillating fan, tinfoil, and HPS light were all I had to work with my first grow. Both my father and late grandfather possess(ed) impressive green thumbs, enough to rival many professional landscapers. With this in mind, I remember telling myself, “If these plants do well, then I can start getting serious with this, but if these plants do badly then I will find a talented person to grow it for me.”

So I began my journey. Sure, I didn’t have the optimal growing conditions at the time, but I made it work beautifully for the most shanty of setups. I used Happy Frog soil that I mixed with earth worm castings, bat guano, and a little bit of extra perlite to ensure aeration.

I would then use an organic tea once a week to fertilize the plants while they were in the vegetative state and then switch to another tea during flowering. The water the plants received was not pH’d down with chemicals but rather left in open jugs that pH’d naturally by the air in a 24-48 hour period.

With the guidance of friends, fellow growers and books, I was able to successfully have an impressive first harvest. Friends, fellow growers, and even myself, couldn’t believe the quality of my medicine as a first-time grower. This new found confidence led to me to push myself as a new grower and absorb everything I could learn like a sponge.

I have always been a minimalist at heart, but when it came to gardening, I wanted to apply the same concept. Organic, minimal and natural as possible. I never liked over complicated or chemical concoctions that promised to produce the highest yields and the fattest buds and found that buds grown with heavy chemicals never compared to organically grown medicine. I could taste, smell and feel the difference.

As a new grower, I wanted to strive for organic ingredients derived from the earth that would create incredible organic medicine, even if that meant an average or below average yield. So, I continued on my journey sticking my nose in books, magazines and online grow videos. I would also pick friends’ and growers’ brains to learn as much as I could.

I understood the information they were sharing with me was sacred in a way, as they did not have to take the time to teach me. I absorbed everything and took each style of growing to heart. Some grow methods I didn’t agree with, but I was open to learning while trying to figure out organic alternatives with the person I was speaking with. Learning from passionate medical growers is something I will never forget, as this knowledge is a gift that must be passed down to others.

Grow after grow, I pushed myself and employed tactics I learned from people I was comfortable with.

Each grow became progressively better, until I hit my first wall. I bought two beautiful Lamb’s Bread clones, which were the true Jamaican Landrace strain. This sativa-dominant strain oozes a beautiful cheese, yeast, earth, spice and slightly sweet aroma. The medicinal effects of this strain are superb and strong on the body. I loved this strain because it was perfect for writing, work out recovery, inflammation, running, muscle pain, snowboarding, processing your internal dialog, and producing a huge platform for bountiful creativity.

These two clones were the last line of this strain from the dispensary I bought them at and I understood that if anything happened to them, I was shit out of luck. I, along with my now fiancée, adopted a puppy who broke into the grow room when we were at work.

I came home to rockwool, dirt and fan leaves strewn all over the floor. Little Miss Jenny had eaten both of the Lamb’s Bread plants and a Maui Waui plant. We were devastated, but also highly concerned for Little Miss Jenny as she had also eaten rockwool in addition to the plants. She survived with no ill after effects but we were both distraught beyond belief over our loss. When growing, learning to cut your losses and learn from your mistakes is crucial.

I continued grow after grow, trying different methods and dialing in my own style. Growers and friends would tease me and told me I needed to go to California because I wanted to grow naturally tall plants. I wanted them to be in their most organic state and not interfere with their growth.

Ideally, I wanted to guerilla grow outside in the mountains and let the plants just grow naturally. This wasn’t going to happen, so I began to warm up to the idea of topping plants as it was best for indoor grows. I also learned from my mistakes in the garden such as: heat stress, wind stress, light stress, root bound issues, nutrient lock out (due to roots being bound), nutrient deficiencies, and thrips (little bastard insects)….

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