6/11/19: The 2019 Growing Season is On!


clones acclimating in the shade

Hello everyone, CannaDan here after a very long winter break!   There are plenty of new things to talk about including new nurseries, new strains, and new recipes.  With a few minor delays the 2019 growing season has started!

Darkheart Nursery Breaks Up With Harborside

Despite cannabis being legal for adult consumption now for 2 years in California, getting quality clones seems be getting harder than ever.  Last year, just as the outdoor growing season was getting started, Harborside’s selection of clones suddenly decreased to the point where you were lucky to get anything and we were stuck mostly with new, unpredictable strains.  This year a similar thing happened; for reasons unknown, Harborside no longer carries Darkheart clones making it even harder to find quality plants in the bay area.

Royal Budline Saves the Day

While Harborside no longer carries Darkheart clones, we managed to find a few dispensaries that do; unfortunately those dispensaries would only carry one or two strains and were a far distance to travel.  Fortunately, Harborside found another nursery to provide clones; Royal Bud Line.  Their website focuses on salves and makes no mention of clones and the clones that they offer at Harborside are mostly strains that I’ve never heard of.  It looks like 2019 will be an experimental year with new strains and a new nursery.

The Plants


a clone that has been planted

Once again I am planning on maximizing my legal harvest by growing 6 cannabis plants.  This year I was hoping to score some of Darkheart’s Chocolate Tonic CBD but it seems to have disappeared from the market (along with most of Darkheart’s strains).  Faced with a new nursery and unfamiliar strains, I decided to get some plants I am familiar with along with some new faces.  Here are the cannabis plants I will growing in 2019:

1. Blue Dream

Big and beautiful, Blue Dream is a strain every cannabis grower should try at some point.  This easy to grow sativa produces some of the largest colas in the cannabis kingdom and it’s heavy yields are great for growers interested in processing their cannabis into tinctures or edibles.  I’ve grown this plant before and am very happy Royal Bud Line carries it; I’ll be growing two Blue Dreams this year.

2. Mango Kush

Another familiar strain that I’ve grown before, Mango Kush is a great indica for outdoor growers that has a great flavor profile.  I am particularly happy to have gotten this one as  I am getting low on my Mango Kush tincture stock.

3. Orangeade

The first of many strains that I’ve never heard of, Orangeade is supposed to be a sativa dominant strain that descends from Tangie and Purple Punch, two strains that I have heard of but have never grown.

4. Purple Punch

Speaking of Purple Punch, I’m growing that too!  Purple Punch is an indica-dominant strain that descends from Larry OG and Granddaddy Purple.  I have never grown a parent strain along with one of it’s children; it will be interesting to see how Purple Punch and Orangeade compare!

5. Sour Afghani

Easily the most mysterious of the new strains that I am growing; this strain doesn’t seem to appear in google searches!  I’m guessing it’s an alternate name for Afghan Sour Kush, an indica dominant strain that mixes Afghani and Sour Kush; Sour Kush is itself a descendant of Sour Diesel which means this plant could have the genetics to be a very large producer.

Planting Late, Keeping an eye on the Weather


back row, left to right: blue dream, mango kush   front row: blue dream, sour afghani, purple punch


I usually try to purchase my plants in early May, let them acclimate for 2 weeks, and then plant them in the middle of May; with all of the delays in finding plants I’ve only given them 1 week to acclimate and was able to plant them in the first week of June.  I’ve seen growers produces successful crops with such a late planting but am a bit nervous that they won’t have enough time for vegetative growth.  The plants have survived the recent heat wave however, which is always a good sign.  The 2019 growing season has officially started.



11/7/18: Salvaging a Salve

One of the great aspects of growing your own cannabis is the sheer abundance of material one gets after a successful harvest.  My original goal as a cannabis grower was to grow enough flowers to last me until the next grow cycle; once I reached that goal my passion switched to building up a 20-year “tincture bank” in case prohibition ever returns.  Now that I have enough flowers to last me the year and enough tincture to last me several, my attention is being drawn to topicals.

What is a Topical?

The most common forms of cannabis consumption are internal; we either inhale or digest a cannabis product, the medicine enters the bloodstream, and we get the desired effect.  A topical medicine, on the other hand, is applied to the body externally and are typically used to relieve pain, fight fungus and bacteria, and nourish the skin.

As someone who has suffered from tendonitis, carpel-tunnel syndrome, and a pinched ulnar nerve, the idea of creating a cannabis-based salve has always intrigued me.  With my fresh batch of cannabis-coconut oil and a few other ingredients ready, here goes my first take at a cannabis salve!

The Recipe


Cannabis infused coconut oil can be used for edibles as well as topicals

I wanted to keep my first attempt as simple as possible and found this recipe that at minimum calls for cannabis-infused coconut oil (which I made last week) and beeswax, which can be found at most health-food stores.  I simplified originalweedrecipes.com‘s even further and came up with this:





  • 2 cups of cannabis infused oil
  • 1/2 cup of beeswax
  • Essential Oils (optional)


  1. Heat cannabis oil in saucepan to melting point.
  2. Add a small amount of beeswax and stir it in to melt, repeat until all the wax is melted into oil.
  3. Add essential oils to cover up cannabis smell. (optional)
  4. Pour liquid into cupcake molds, about an inch high and let cool.



our first attempt

The original recipe calls for a 5-1, cannabis oil to beeswax ratio; I wanted something a little more thick so I upped the beeswax to a 4-1 ratio.  After stirring it at a low heat for around 15 minutes I set aside some of the salve to cool down and was left with a product that had the consistency of toothpaste and while the smell was wonderful, it was obviously cannabis; I wanted something a bit more stealthy and maybe a little thicker.


The Icarus of Indica


These look delicious but they are just burned wax and oil

I wanted a salve that I could wear in public which means I had to cover up the cannabis smell; this is where the essential oils come in.  I added a mixture of orange and lavender essential oils and within a few minutes the kitchen smelled absolutely lovely without a hint of cannabis!  I also added some more wax as I wanted a thicker consistency, then I got distracted; the fire ran too hot and all of the essential oils burnt off!


While not entirely ruined, my second attempt at a salve is a major dissapointment; it absolutely reeks of cannabis and it came out so thick that it’s difficult to spread!  On a positive note; it has the appearance of a gourmet peanut-butter cups which would be great for marketing if this ever reaches that level.

An Early Review

I was not able to mask the cannabis smell from my salve so I have not been able to try it myself due to my current living situation but I did pass some samples around amongst my friends and loved ones and got some early feedback:

“I LOVE it.  I think it helps me with my left hip pain.  I think it helps me walk more correctly.  I am in less pain” – cannabis salve user

I keep things anonymous for a number of reasons but will say that person who tried the salve is in their late 60’s/early 70’s and suffers from the typical joint discomfort that comes with age.  Like so many in the United States, this person takes a number of prescription pain medications on a daily basis in an attempt to live a “normal” life.  Tinctures and edibles have not worked for this person and they have all but given up on cannabis as an alternative remedy for their condition; this first attempt at a cannabis salve changed their mind and they are already asking about the next batch.  I truly believe cannabis is for everyone and after a rough year of growing and a disastrous day in the kitchen this is the kind of reassurance I need.

10/30/18: The Final Weigh-in and the Start of Processing

It is the day before Halloween, our crops have been harvested and our flowers have been dried and cured!  If we were only growing for flowers to smoke than we would be done for the year but this is not the case; the end of drying and curing means the beginning of processing our cannabis into tinctures, edibles, oils, and salves.  But before we do that, we have the main event of the year…

The Final Weigh-in

And now the moment we have all been waiting for; the final weigh-in!  This year’s harvest has been divided between flowers for smoking and flowers for processing; the flowers for smoking are placed in mason jars while the flowers for processing have been placed in oven-bags.

Flowers for Smoking


Each mason jar contains about 1 ounce of cannabis

Because I don’t smoke much myself and because of the early harvest due to bud-rot, I have only reserved 9 ounces of flowers for smoking.  Each mason jar holds about 1 ounce of cannabis and I tend to smoke during the daytime so I made sure to include lots of the GG#4 as it is the only sativa-dominant strain that I grew this year.



For smoking and vaporizing I have set aside:

  • 5 ounces of GG4
  • 3 ounces of Sherbet
  • 1 ounce of Blackberry Fire

Some of this will be shared amongst friends and loved ones throughout the year and I usually save a few ounces for the following year’s processing cycle to make CBN tincture. Sadly, none of the Blueberry Muffin flowers are suitable for smoking and have been reserved for processing.

Flowers for Processing


A simple kitchen scale is ideal for weighing your cannabis.

In general, I prefer tinctures and edibles compared to smoking or vaporizing so I have set aside the majority of my harvest for processing.  Most of this cannabis was harvested early due to an oncoming bud-rot epidemic; they are inferior for smoking due to their immature trichomes but will make great material for creating other products.




For processing I have set aside:

  • 23 ounces of GG4
  • 17 ounces of Blackberry Fire
  • 16 ounces of Sherbet
  • 4 ounces of Blueberry Muffins

My tincture recipe requires a 3 ounces of cannabis per 32 ounce bottle and each bottle tends to last me 3 months.  I have a total of 60 ounces of cannabis which will make 20 bottles of cannabis; enough for 5 years of my personal use!  I may have to pick up more grain alcohol and coconut oil…

The Bottom Line

My total harvest this year is 69oz; that’s a little over 4 pounds!  Not bad considering I only had 4 decent plants.  Here’s how it breaks down:

  • 28 ounces of GG4
  • 19 ounces of Sherbet (average of 9.5 ounces per plant)
  • 18 ounces of Blackberry Fire
  • 4 ounces of Blueberry Muffins (average of 2 ounces per plant)

As expected, the GG4 and Blackberry Fire are this year’s big winners and I am particularly interested in growing more Blackberry Fire next year as I prefer indica and the strain has an excellent bouquet and flavor.  The relatively low yield of the Sherbet means that I will not seek it out again and the extremely low yield of the Blueberry Muffins ensures that it will not find a place in my garden ever again.



It may seem counter-intuitive to roast your cannabis in the oven but it’s an important first step to processing


This may come as a shock to some but cannabis, in it’s natural state, has no THC; instead it has a non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as THCa.  THCa is converted to THC through heat; when we smoke or vaporize cannabis the process is done automatically and we never have to think about it.  If we were to make edibles with raw cannabis flowers than we would receive a product that will not give us the effects that we desire; we will have to heat it up in the process known as decarboxylation (or “decarbing”, for short).

We will follow the method that Magical Butter recommends for a high THC decarb:

  1. preheat oven to 250 degrees fahrenheit
  2. bake cannabis in oven bag for 30-45 minutes

If we bake the cannabis at a higher temperature or for a longer time the THC will convert to CBN, a cannabinoid that promotes sleep.

Decarbing large amounts of cannabis in your oven will fill your house with a strong, but pleasant aroma similar to vaporizing; you might want to do this late in the evening after the neighbors go to bed.

Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil


The magical butter machine saves time and create a superior product.

Cannabis is fat-soluble which is why so many recipes use either cannabis-infused butter or oil as a base.  Coconut oil is perhaps the most popular fat to use because it is extremely  versatile (can be used for edibles as well as topicals) and is a solid at a room temperature which makes it easy to work with.  If needed, we can use either a crockpot or a double-boiler on a stove-top to make this oil but we will use a more specialized tool; the Magical Butter Machine.

Though it’s a bit pricey, the Magical Butter Machine is a very useful device for those who are primarily interested in processing their cannabis as most of the steps are automated and it works equally well for butter, oil, or tinctures.  It gets so much use in my household I may end up buying a second one!

Again, we will follow Magical Butter’s recipe for making our cannabis-infused coconut oil:


  • 2.5 ounces of decarbed cannabis
  • 5 cups of coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons of soy lecithin


  1. Warm coconut oil on a stove top till it turns to liquid
  2. Put all ingredients into the Magical Butter Machine
  3. Set temperature at 160 degrees fahrenheit and run machine for 2 hours
  4. Strain liquid through Magical Butter filter or cheese cloth into containers and let it cool (it will be hot so wear insulated rubber gloves!)

The final product: 5 cups of high quality cannabis-infused coconut oil!

I am using the GG4 for this recipe as it is the one that I have the most of and I will primarily be using this oil for topicals.  In it’s current state this oil can be consumed on its own or used in a number of recipes. Our oil will be stored in the freezer for now for later use as we move on to other projects.




10/17/18: Drying, Curing, and our First Taste of 2018

With the harvest officially over it is time to turn our attention to turning our freshly cut buds into a consumable product.  At this point we have a raw product that can be converted to flowers, hash, tincture, oil, or any other cannabis product you can imagine.  No matter what your end goal is for your harvest, the next step after trimming is to dry and cure your cannabis.

Drying vs. Curing

Drying cannabis is fairly self explanatory; you dry cannabis to remove moisture in order to prevent mold from spreading when storing and to create a product that is combustable for smoking.  Drying your cannabis is an essential step even if you have no plans on smoking your flowers; do not skip the drying process and do not try to store wet cannabis in a sealed container.

Curing cannabis is much more complicated than drying and is practically an art form itself.  “Curing” is essentially “slow, controlled drying” and is done to break down the chlorophyll in cannabis flowers and leaves in order to remove the “grassy” flavor while preserving the terpenes and to provide a superior throat-feel when smoking or vaporizing.   Buds that are not cured properly are still smokable but are best used for processing into hash, tincture, or oil.  Growers who focus on producing buds for smoking will typically cure their buds under close observation for at least 2 weeks before moving on to the drying stage; growers who do not have the time to check on their cannabis daily are better off drying their cannabis first.

Drying on the Rack


an herbal drying rack in a dark shed with ventilation is perfect for drying your cannabis

Because I don’t live on the site of the garden and only visit on weekends I cannot commit to the daily checkups needed for a proper cure so I dry my cannabis before curing.  Immediately after the buds are properly trimmed they are placed on the drying rack in a storage shed that gets plenty of ventilation.  Direct light will damage trichomes and lower the potency of your cannabis; make sure your drying room is dark and never dry your cannabis in a green-house!

Cannabis flowers take about 2 weeks to dry in typical Bay Area weather in October; the more dense you pack your flowers, the longer it will take to dry.  I like to pack my buds fairly dense so the plants don’t dry too quickly, creating a harsh smoke that tastes like freshly cut grass, but this does cause the risk of mold spreading so it’s important to remove any suspicious buds.  The easiest way to tell if a bud is properly dried is to try breaking a branch or stem; if it snaps than it’s dry, if it bends than it’s still too moist for storage.

Curing in Brown Paper Grocery Bags


The dried buds are placed in a brown paper bag to cure for 1-2 weeks

Proper curing requires either storing buds in a room with controlled humidity or storing them in sealed containers and allowing them to breathe a little bit every day.  The challenge of a proper cure is balancing the “slow drying” against the possible spread of mold; without daily observation your prime buds can turn into a rotten mess overnight!

Because we are not on site everyday,  want to make things as simple as possible, and are focusing on processing rather than flower for smoking we curing our buds after the drying process and doing it in a way that does not require daily observation.  The secret?  Brown paper grocery bags!




After curing, the buds are placed in oven bags and put back in the labeled brown paper bags

After the buds have dried they are placed in brown paper grocery bags and placed in the same dark shed that they were dried in.  Leave them in the bags for a week, take a bud off and smoke it, if it still tastes like grass and isn’t too harsh then leave them in for another week!  This method typically takes two weeks to cure; once they are cured they are either placed in glass mason jars to store for smoking or are placed directly into oven  bags to be decarbed for processing.



The First Taste


Our reward for a successful harvest

With my first two cuts of the harvest season already dried and cured, it’s time to sample our flowers!  These flowers were harvested early as a precaution due to the oncoming bud rot and will ultimately be used for processing but will provide a sneak peak for what my mature buds will bring in a few weeks.

The Blackberry Fire really does taste like it’s fruity namesake and I wish I had the time to give it a proper cure; with it’s high yields, calming indica-high, and excellent flavor I will definitely try to grow this strain again.  The Gorilla Glue still tastes a little grassy but burns very smoothly and provides an excellent daytime high one would expect from a sativa; I am very happy with the results.  The Sherbet continues to disappoint as it came out very harsh and tasting like a freshly mowed lawn; it was a fun experiment but I doubt this strain will find a place in my garden in the future.

The Next Few Weeks

With the harvest out of the way and our buds drying and curing it is time to figure out what to do with all of our cannabis!  Most of our buds are already in oven bags ready to be decarbed and converted into either tincture or oil with the remaining “late harvest” buds being saved for flowers for smoking.  Now is the time to research recipes and make sure we have enough grain alcohol, coconut oil, and containers to create the products we want.

10/11/18: The Harvest (Part 4): The Final Cut


One last look at the garden

It’s the middle of October; a time of transition when the days get noticeably shorter, early sunsets give the landscape a golden hue, and agricultural communities celebrate the fruits of their labor with harvest festivals.  October is a time for reflection on the impermanence of  life; crops die for our sustenance as we reconnect with our living friends and family for holidays that celebrate those we have lost.  For the outdoor cannabis grower it is a race against time as our plants begin to rot away; the end of the harvest has come.

Sherbet: Dead Flowers


last week these buds were almost ready to be picked, today they are almost unusable

Last week I made the decision to give my Sherbet and Gorilla Glue one more week before  I make the final cut on them.  All three plants had the dreaded bud-rot creeping up on them and it was just a matter of time before the rot spread through the whole plant killing it; the trichomes were not entirely mature and I really wanted to get a few prime smoking flowers this year so I delayed cutting.  A week later, I regret my decision.

Both Sherbet plants (which had been largely resistant to the rot) are dead with the majority of the buds rotten.  Each dead bud is absolutely covered in beautiful trichomes; if I lived on-site I could have saved them but I live 2 hours away from the garden and only get to visit for a day or two at a time.   The rot and mold on the buds makes these innappropriate for smoking or converting to butter or tincture.  In theory I could use these buds to make hash but it is a messy, time consuming process and with such little material to work with would not provide much reward for the effort.  I salvage what buds I can, give my plants one more look, and then rip them from the earth and throw them into the compost pile with their fallen brothers-in-arms.

Gorilla Glue: The Last Plant Standing


the last bud of the season

With the two Sherbet plants gone, all that remains is the Gorilla Glue.  Gorilla Glue is named after a brand of adhesive; the idea being that the trichomes are so sticky that they cause trimmers to get stuck as if someone had glued them together.  Fortunately, I have not noticed this phenomena as my trimmers and clippers have had no problem with this plant.

Gorilla Glue (officially “GG4” for copyright reasons) is the only sativa-dominant plant I have grown this year.  As expected, it was the largest and heartiest plant in the garden and my early estimate suggests that it will provide almost half of this years total harvest. Despite the oncoming bud rot and my severe pruning of the plant last year it still has several large lollipop buds and even some colas!  I pull out my trusty Bonsai Hero Testarossa clippers and plow through the remaining larger buds, then resort to hand trimming for the smaller lollipops; two hours later I make the final cut signaling the official end of the harvest.

The Next Steps

The end of the harvest marks the beginning of the drying, curing, and processing phases.    These are “passive” activities that require very little hands-on work which means the majority of hard work is already done.  Now it’s time to take a rest, research new recipes for processing, and start thinking about what plants to grow next year.