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Get Bigger Harvests and More of Them Right Now! – Part 2

A beautiful sea of green… parsley. A beautiful sea of green… parsley.

If you choose to grow from clones, an accelerated rate of growth and therefore an increased number of harvests per years occurs because you eliminate the extra time that seedlings require. Cloning also eliminates the lost time and space that comes from growing unfeminized seeds, some of which will produce males that you likely won’t keep.

Perpetual Harvests

If you choose to grow from clones, an accelerated rate of growth and therefore an increased number of harvests per years occurs because you eliminate the extra time that seedlings require. Cloning also eliminates the lost time and space that comes from growing unfeminized seeds, some of which will produce males that you likely won’t keep.

If short bloom times are what you desire, about 40 percent of available high-quality genetics will give you bloom periods of about 42 to 55 days.  

However, the key to a perpetual harvest garden is to use crop timing and multiple grow environments to always have younger crops coming forward as your older crops mature towards harvest. You also have to maintain carefully chosen mother plants in a perpetual vegetative phase so they’re always ready to give you more cuttings whenever you need them.

Few growers think of a perpetual harvest operation that involves successive sets of seedlings of different ages coming to maturity in a staggered schedule, but it can be done, although seedlings are somewhat harder to work with than clones. Unless you use feminized seeds, some seedlings will be male, and some may display genetic variations so that they mature faster or slower than companion plants germinated from the same seed stock at the same time. Cloning gives you all females and a more uniform set of genetics with almost identical growth characteristics across each set of plants.

Whether you choose seedlings or clones, what you want is wave after wave of plants. As one crop is being harvested, another crop is just behind it, being flushed in preparation for harvest. Coming up behind that is a crop that’s several weeks away from being flushed. By ensuring that several sets of plants are maturing in a timed sequence, you get a perpetual harvest all year round, making for extremely impressive year-end totals!

This approach requires a minimum of two grow environments: your 18-hour veg environment and your 12-hour flowering environment. In some cases, you might opt for two or more extra grow environments to accommodate early cuttings or seedlings and your mother plants. Why? Because seedlings and clones have different needs than rooted grow phase plants and mother plants, and blooming plants have different needs from earlier plants.

If you have unlimited space to create a lot of compartmentalized grow areas, it would be great to have five to seven separate, specially configured grow environments in which to sequester your sets of plants as they mature towards harvest.

Plants of different ages need different things, and of course, one crucial factor is the length of your light cycle, and/or your light intensity. You don’t want flowering plants in your 18-hour room, nor do you want your seedlings or clones bombarded with high intensity light until they’ve developed healthy root systems.

Whether you choose seedlings or clones, what you want is wave after wave of plants. As one crop is being harvested, another crop is just behind it, being flushed in preparation for harvest.

You should know ahead of time that a perpetual harvest garden is way more complex than a single-room garden that grows plants from start to finish and then starts over again.

To get a perpetual harvest, you must manage different environments and carefully plan your crop timing. You will be conducting different feed programs at the same time, as well as mixing and matching your lighting rather than running one set of plants under the same lighting regime. The payoff is that you are constantly harvesting fresh flowers and getting more harvests per year from the same grow space.

High-Yielding Genetics

Along with providing ideal nutrition, supplements, light, climate, CO2, aeration, and using the sea of green and perpetual harvest methods, selecting the best genetics plays a large part of your getting more from your hydroponics garden.

Genetic selection is among the most overlooked but powerful methods for getting more harvests per year. Simply put, you can research and source strains that have reliable estimates for how long they will need in bloom phase and other timing characteristics. To get more harvests per year, select strains that mature faster and are ready for harvest faster.

Of course, sometimes you just can’t get fast finishing plants to have all the other qualities you want. If short bloom times are what you desire, about 40 percent of available high-quality genetics will give you bloom periods of about 42 to 55 days. That’s about as short as it gets. Just be aware that plants with very short bloom phases have a different set of floral qualities than plants that take longer in bloom phase.

Even if you decide to go with strains that need a couple of months or longer in bloom phase before they’re ready, you can use the wave-after-wave sea-of-green approach to establish a productive rhythm in your hydroponics operation so that longer-blooming times don’t much limit how often and how big you harvest.

If you’re ok with these compromises, you should source seeds from reputable breeders after finding out how long bloom times will last for specific varieties. Grow those seeds out, choose the best girls, and turn them into mothers. If you are growing from clones, find out what the bloom time is for your originating clones or their mother plants, and then decide if those clones will be ready for harvest fast enough for you.

Even if you decide to go with strains that need a couple of months or longer in bloom phase before they’re ready, you can use the wave-after-wave sea-of-green approach to establish a productive rhythm in your hydroponics operation so that longer-blooming times don’t much limit how often and how big you harvest.

I’m excited to know that you’re going to make this your biggest hydroponics gardening year ever. Using what you learned, you’re guaranteed to get more from your garden than you ever thought possible.

Missed Part 1 of this series? Click here to check it out.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 18:39

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