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The Best Supporting Method

The Best Supporting Method 0

Reprinted from Big Buds Magazine

And The Best Supporting Method Goes To…
Screen of Green, For Its Starring Role In Marijuana Gardens Everywhere!

P SCROG Primary

by 

In our first article in this series, we outlined the screen of green technique and its pros and cons.

To recap, screen of green, or SCROG, was created by growers working with limited ground space and/or vertical height in their garden area. It’s useful for small spaces, and in situations when a grower can only grow a few plants.

SCROG growers train their plants’ branches to grow into and along a horizontal support screen that’s suspended above the plants.

Training the plants, known as low stress training, or LST, creates plants with multiple main branches that yield more bud weight. This form of marijuana growing is especially useful for maximizing yield per harvest.

The key component of a SCROG garden is the screen itself, which consists of a flat support structure to allow for horizontal mounting of screen material such as netting or string.

Two main types of screening apparatus have been popularized for SCROG cannabis cultivation. One type is fixed in place and mounted over a cannabis gardening system that might be a grow table, ebb and flow table, or deep water culture bucket system.

Multiple plants grow under the screen; their branches are woven or otherwise fastened to the horizontal screen.

Meet Scrogger, Innovators From The Lone Star State

Instead of that approach, we recommend the second style of SCROG cultivating, which involves having an individual plant in its own grow container served by its own apparatus.

This kind of growing is facilitated by the P SCROG system made by Scrogger, a company headquartered near Austin, Texas.

Scrogger specializes in SCROG gardening and has created state-of-the-art, multilayered, adjustable screen kits to fit almost any SCROG garden size or style.

P SCROG by Scrogger features a height-adjustable apparatus, several screen options, and a base that can support up to 250 pounds of weight. Said base is mounted on casters so the entire system and the plant within it can be rotated in a complete circle, and can be easily moved to another part of the grow operation.

This mobility and ease of access erases the disadvantages of SCROG gardens that have several plants growing under and sharing a large fixed screen, including difficulty with watering, trimming, even accessing the lowest parts of the plants in the middle of the arrangement.

Margo Mermelstein co-founded Scrogger in 2015 along with her husband Gary. The family-run business owns the patent for its revolutionary gadget that now sells nationally, as well as in Australia and Canada.

Margo explains, “Our unique selling point is the screens. They are, if you will, our secret sauce, because they are clear, flexible, reusable — and that’s what people like. Whether growers are using our portable units or the 2×4 or 4×4 [units], which are not portable, we’re finding the commonality that runs through all of it is our unique screen.”

Scrogger screens are made from polycarbonate, with an impressive flex strength of 13,500 PSI. You can almost bend this material in half and it won’t break.

They’re built to resist degradation factors common in indoor marijuana gardens such as water, nutrients, ultraviolet light and heat. They’re nonporous, washable and food-grade, meaning the polycarbonate doesn’t contain any dyes or recycled plastic that’s harmful to humans. In addition, the food-grade designation means no other harmful chemicals were used in either the resin or in production of the plastic container.

This is in contrast to materials commonly used as screens, supports and trellising in SCROG gardens. Growers often resort to DIY methods for constructing SCROG apparatus. Some SCROG growers use metal wire, string, cheap plastics, wood, PVC pipe and conduit for their plant supports. These materials cause a variety of problems including off-gassing, unstable supports, sagging, disease vectors, and transfer of harmful toxins into the plants.

Scrogger systems eliminate those issues. They’re elegantly engineered plug-and-play tools created specifically for serious growers, and can be customized to fit your budget and your needs.

Such patented systems allow maximum versatility as growers train their plants, because the gadgets can be precisely height adjusted as plants grow, and the systems also allow for stacking secondary screens above the primary training screen that sits closest to the root zone.

Check out the below YouTube video to see how to assemble a Scrogger system.

“[The screen is] great for people who have smaller number of plants, 12 or less, so they can turn them around, trim them — do all kinds of things, including adjust the screen’s height as the plant grows,” Margo continues.

“People who get up into 50 plants or more are looking to use our screens by themselves in higher configuration. It really depends on the individual and what they’re doing for their grow.

“Plus it’s great for people who are handicapped, because it gives them more flexibility.”

When you have a SCROG unit encasing each plant individually, the grower is afforded full access and is likely to enjoy superior gardening outcomes.

We recommend Scrogger because the engineering and materials are top-rank, and because the company’s customer service is excellent, as is it unusually comprehensive product warranties.

Especially for marijuana growers who haven’t cultivated crops with SCROG before, the Scrogger systems are much easier to assemble and use than other pre-fabricated or DIY plant support systems. These systems give you the ability to more easily and quickly maximize the benefits of this style of marijuana growing.

In our next articles about SCROG, we’ll take a deep dive into LST, as well as customized grow lighting, root zone and feeding techniques.

 

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Changing nutrients under a DWC ScrOG

Changing nutrients under a DWC ScrOG 1

ScrOGging with Deep Water Culture (DWC) presents unique challenges compared to other methods of growing under a ScrOG. The biggest issue DWC growers struggle with is topping off and changing out nutrients (nutes). However, DWC growers can enjoy all the benefits of ScrOG without ever removing the net pot, disturbing the plant, ScrOG or root zone with this simple method. 

2 x 5 gal DWC individual ScrOG
2 x 5 gal individual portable DWC ScrOG using P SCROG Primary Kits

2 x 5 gal DWC framed and fixed 2x4 ScrOG
2 x 5 gal DWC under framed and fixed P SCROG 2x4 Kit

Like anything else, there may be many solutions to this issue. One solution you may find quite useful involves exchanging nutes with a pump and topping off between changes with a watering can.

Nutes can be changed using a common small utility pump found at most hardware stores.

UTILITY PUMP 

AmazonHome Depot, Lowes

It is best to prepare your buckets at the beginning of the grow. Drill a hole in your net pots big enough to receive the end of a garden hose and buy rubber stoppers to plug holes when not in use.

Netpots with rubber stoppers

Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes

The pump utilizes common garden hoses to transfer liquids. In the case of DWC, the nutes are sucked into the pump and pushed out the other end. The flow is unidirectional so the gardener uses the pump's input to suck old nutes out. Then the pump's output hose is used to push old nutes into an empty "old nutes" bucket. Old nutes can be used on outdoor plants, don't throw them away!

The pump's hoses are reversed to add new nutrients to your grow's DWC buckets. Then the pump's input hose is used to push fresh nutes into your grow's buckets.

Pumping nutes

IMPORTANT!

DWC reservoirs of healthy cannabis plants are full of robust and abundant root systems that will burn out your pump if sucked into the intake side. This is easily addressed with "hose filters" found at hardware stores. Some pumps come with filters.

The filter should be placed in the end of the hose that goes into the reservoir, not the end that screws onto the pump. This placement makes it easier to clear any accumulated debris during pumping.

 Hose filters

Hose Filters
Amazon. Home Depot, Lowes

Root debris will accumulate in filters during the process and should be kept clean to avoid blockage and burning out the pump.

In between exchanges, nutes can easily be topped off using a common watering can through the same holes.

Watering can

 

Note

Reservoirs and root zones can be kept clean through use of H2O2 after each nute exchange and/or through the use of Hydroguard.

 

If you have another solution you would like to share, please reply to this ScrOG blOG.

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Tale of Two Widows

Tale of Two Widows 1

Long before SCROGGER ever sold its first P SCROG, a friend out west by the name of J. Washington was diligently doing trial grows with some prototypes we sent him. "J" catalogued a landmark grow in a 420Magazine grow journal called "Tale of Two Widows".

J is a long time lover of the White Widow strain and has had significant experience growing it hydroponically. However, in his 2015 grow he saw dramatic differences from what he had seen in the past.

Although the two White Widows came from the same batch of seeds, they grew and looked very different. 

The final product looked totally different and yielded different as can be seen below.

Click to enlarge

Read more about the "Tale of Two Widows" at 420Magazine... 

Click to enlarge

This is how WW 1 progressed through veg and flower. See the grow detailed side by side at "Tale of Two Widows" at 420Magazine...
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Best

Best "How to ScrOG" Guides 4

Sea of Green (SOG) vs Screen of Green (ScrOG)

A great deal of confusion exists regarding the difference between Sea of Green (SOG) vs Screen of Green (ScrOG) methods of growing cannabis. Before I present what I consider to be some of the better "How to ScrOG" Guides, allow me to briefly define the difference between SOG and ScrOG.

SOG - SOG is used to create "perpetual harvests". The method involves high plant counts per cu ft and short grow cycles. Clones are introduced to 12/12 flowering with little to no veg cycle. Trellis or other screen material may be used to support heavy colas but no plant training techniques are used. Many growers cannot use SOG due to local plant count limitations. 

Sea of Green (SOG), multiple plants


ScrOG - The ScrOG method involves lower plant counts, typically 1 plant per 2'x2' area. Veg periods vary, with longer veg periods resulting in canopies larger than 2'x2'. Screens are used to facilitate plant training which results in short bushy plants with virtually all target bud sites in the best lighting zone. ScrOG method is touted to produce 2 to 3 times the yield of traditional growing methods.

Screen of Green (ScrOG), single plant


There are a number of variations of the ScrOG method. We have scoured the internet and selected what we consider to be some of the better "How to Guides" below.


How to ScrOG like a pro
ScrOG Diagram
ScrOG in veg stage
BudsonBuds
Best ScrOG video ever
Argument for single plant ScrOG

The original Screen of Green (ScrOG) was invented and popularized by Wolf Segal of Portland, Oregon. Previously, underground growers (including Wolf) would use SOG (Sea of Green) to ensure perpetual harvests. SOG puts several plants under one screen. Wolf was arrested and jailed during operation "Green Merchant" in the 90s and gained the distinction of having the highest plant count in history. Wolf then came up with the concept of ScrOG to dramatically reduce plant counts and at the same time maintain high yields.
Growers who have embraced the concept of ScrOG have found far more benefits than just reducing plant counts.

Why do many growers prefer single plant ScrOGs?
  1. Ease of providing individual plant care - When 2 or more plants are placed under a single ScrOG net, those plants are typically treated the same out of necessity.  Growers have trouble getting to plants at the far reaches of the grow. All plants are treated the same despite their strain maturity level or health.
  2. Simple to move around if necessary - If you need to pull a plant from a grow for any reason, you need to cut the net and remove it, leaving remaining plants unsupported. 
  3. Improved light distribution - Growers can rotate, custom adjust heights, plants grow at different rates and mature a different rates.
  4. Easy to remove troubled plant from grow space, lowers risk of damage to remaining crop
  5. Easier to water and flush
  6. Allows gardener to harvest plants individually at precise maturity
  7. Eliminates crawling under nets/wire mesh
  8. Wheel chair / handicap accessibility
  9. Irrigation equipment accessibility
  10. Use over and over for years


P SCROG Techniques
P SCROG Techniques

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Optimizing Light

Optimizing Light 0

Plant training methods have been around for hundreds of years. In the 17th century, the French developed a technique called “espalier” which was used both for decorative and fruit production purposes.

Espalier trees

Espaliered Pear and Apple Trees
Espaliered Pear and Apple Trees (above)

 The most important advantage (of espalier) is that of being able to increase the growth of a branch by training it vertically. Later, one can decrease growth while increasing fruit production by training it horizontally.” 1  

Scrogging builds on the espalier technique to grow short, bushy horizontal plants allowing for maximum bud development. The main stem of the plant is forced to multiply by Topping.  Low Stress Training (LST) is accomplished by bending the branches of stems under the lower training screen resulting in more
bud development per branch.  Lollipopping all leaves of lower branches focuses the energy upward to bud development. A flat horizontal plane of buds, developing all in unison, can be placed in the optimal light intensity band at the same time.  No buds are stunted due to upper growth shading and all plant energy is focused solely on bud development.

                           
                   Optimal Light

Most references to the ScrOG method espouse 2 to 3 times increase in bud yield.2

Scrogged plant
P SCROG Primary System
References
1.        Wikipedia  “espalier”     2. GrowWeedEasy.com
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The Denver Defoliator

The Denver Defoliator 1

 Mike didn't seem like the abusive type when I first met him at Indo Expo in Denver.     ...until he showed me what he does to his plants!!  

Mike (L) & Gary (R)

4 of Mike's defoliated plants in P SCROGs

The reality is Mike is a gentle man and one great indoor gardener! And like most great gardeners, he pushes the limits of experimentation with his plants with such techniques as defoliation. He's really not abusive at all.

When I Googled defoliation what I found was that the technique as it applies to cannabis is quite controversial (see growweedeasy.com). So, I asked Mike if he would demystify the technique for me and for readers of the ScrOG blOG in the following interview.

Gary - So we're talking about Defoliation and to be quite frank with you, I had never even heard of defoliation prior to you bringing it up. ...pruning and trimming yes, defoliation, no. Although I acted like I knew what you were talking about, it wasn't until our second conversation did I ask you, "what the heck are you talking about?" 

Mike - Defoliation is simply removing leaves from parts of the canopy. Everybody has the tendency or urge to do this when they see a yellow leaf or a leaf that's not doing well or a leaf that clearly has a bug on it. They are very quick to pluck that leaf from the plant to discard it in the trash. But defoliation in regards to increasing cannabis yield means being more aggressive at removing leaves from the canopy. Not just removing the growth that's struggling but removing new growth and bushy growth to help get light penetration to the lower canopy. Leaf removal helps when utilizing some of the newer lighting technologies like LEDs. Fewer leaves promotes air circulation, helps plants breathe and helps to prevent issues with powdery mildew where you've got damp leaves touching one another. It gives the plant a little bit more opportunity for growth because you're giving it better conditions. 

Gary - A lot of people lollipop, remove fan leaves and prune here and there but it seems that the defoliation technique is much more aggressive at leaf removal. When you showed me the pictures I was shocked. There were hardly any leaves left!

Mike Absolutely, the way I like to do it is in the first week of flower I cut every leaf that I can get scissors to on the stems. I don't really work to get the tiny tiny leaves but I go in and I thin the plant out and I make it super super bare. A lot of people would freak out when they see the plant minus all its leaves.



It takes about 3 days for the untouched little leaves to sprout out and create a full canopy again. I was told that 
this is merely because of the plant's need for 
photosynthesis and a need for a leaf to be at the site, It understands when you've pruned it. The plant thinks, "man we don't have much capacity to to do our solar photosynthesis so we need to push out a new set of leaves" and in that way it kind of forces a quick new growth and it bounces back healthier when you knock it down a little bit.

Gary - So to me it's kind of counterintuitive. You need the leaves to absorb the light to produce flowers, yet you're removing those leaves.

Mike - That was a concept that I had difficulty grasping also and I have got to tell you I don't currently know the science behind the technique. I just know that it works.

The best answer, and this is just a total guess, is that while you've removed all its leaves and the little baby ones are there, the plants are like maybe twenty four to forty eight hours behind. You have stunted it and you have taken its leaves but its stalk, its roots and its processes are already determined. It has already told those little leaves to grow. They are already on their way to fruition and it's kind of like nothing you do stops that from happening. And a few days later, you have got a full canopy.

Full canopy
Gary - When you first told me about this I went online and I started doing some research. I found there are some hardcore advocates, but there are also adamant opponents of the method.

Mike - Yeah you can mess it up. I mean clearly anybody who has worked with their plants more than just putting them in a pot and letting them grow; anybody who has gone in there and tried to bend the branches out or remove growth or low stress train their plant in any way, knows they always have the potential  break the plant. You may breakstem, or even worse break the main stalk while manipulating it.

A lot of people who are clumsy you know and don't trust themselves worry about breaking their plant and that istrue concern. Some people worry about over stressing their plants. For new growers or people who bring a plant into the space that's unhealthy, that is a serious concern as well because their plants might not be able to tolerate the stress, the training and the removal of leaves and branches likefully healthy plant with great root mass and in prime condition. So you definitely want to bring a plant to the table that has no diseases or other problems and is a very healthy grower. You can also defoliate too often and mess up the internodal spacing causing the plant to stack.

Gary - How often do you defoliate during a plants life cycle?

Mike -I try to defoliate three times at most. Once during vegetative cycle, usually somewhere in the 8 to 12 week range, around the time I am topping the plant. The second time is in the first week of flower and the third at around 18 to 21 days of flower. I find that it really helps with the bugs because there's nowhere for them to live. It helps with light penetration and helps stimulate auxin production, the hormonal response forcing the plant to grow.

Gary - Just about everything we do to a plant we do to increase the yield. I would assume that is the same goal with defoliation. Since the end goal is to increase yield you must really believe in the technique.

Mike - I don't necessarily do it for the increase in yield. I believe it  improves the uniformity of buds. So by defoliating hardcore and lollypopping the lower branches that we're going to be a little shaggy and larfy anyways, we are telling the plant where to focus its energy. We're kind of bonsai instructing the plant. That puts more growth into the bud sites that were selected so they will be larger and more uniform in their appearance. We don't end up dealing with the smaller popcorn that would have grown there. I can get to my weight a lot easier and it's going to be a lot more attractive. For me it is more about quality of final product and usable bud weight...dense uniform buds.

Uniform buds


Gary
- Is everything below the screen kept clean? I know you use the P SCROG. How does defoliation work with the P SCROG?

Mike - Everything below the screen is clean for sure. 


Clean below screens
The P SCROG makes execution of all the techniques simpler. I put the plant in the P SCROG without the screen in early veg, then top it 2 to 3 times to create 4 to 6 main branches. When the plant reaches 10 to 12 inches tall I apply the lower training screen and flatten the canopy using low stress training with the main branches spreading under the screen symmetrically. I defoliate the plants while in the P SCROG 3 times according to the schedule I mentioned earlier. Lollipopping occurs as soon as the screen is applied and I continue to remove any new growth below the screen as soon as I see it for the rest of the plant's life.  Anytime plant tips try to grow through the screen they are tucked and weaved back under the scree with the objective of creating a flat canopy. The flat screen ensures that all selected bud sites fall within the most effective lighting zone.

Since each plant is in its own P SCROG and is on casters, accessibility to perform all techniques effectively is a dream come true compared to how I used to struggle with all plants under the same fixed ScrOG.

At harvest, I cut the main stalk and remove the screens, leaving the canopy in tact. I prefer to dry trim, so I hang the screens with canopies on hooks to dry and immediately put the unit back into production with a second set of primary screens.

Hanging screens
P SCROG screens hung for drying
 
With this method I get 5 grows a year per P SCROG bringing  down  my investment expense to just a few bucks per grow and at the same time giving me more usable and esthetically appealing bud.

Gary - Last time we visited Mike in Denver he turned me on to some of his "Green Crack" he grew with love and using all the techniques he shared in this blog. That bud was one of the prettiest I have ever seen and the quality of the taste, smell and high would rival some of the best Leafly reviews.

So as odd as defoliation may seem to some people, it's one more discipline one might want to consider in the quest to grow better and better weed.  

Mike, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in this ScrOG blOG.

Mike - Thank you also.
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