Archive for Growing

Final day of ceremony

Committing to a ‘dieta’ is much more than attending an ayahuasca ceremony.

I knew nothing about it before I began the process as it is not common knowledge among westerners.

I am naturally a disciplined person so I began to research immediately. I learned that as with most things in life preparation is a large part of success.

Accordingly, beginning February 1st, 18 days before my ‘dieta’ was ‘opened’ I commenced abstaining from sex, cannabis and alcohol. I normally eat very clean; however, I further limited my use of honey, salt and oil. I do not eat pork so that was not an issue and it was easy to abstain from raw fish.

When I arrived in Peru I was well prepared. Papa Gilberto, the shaman, opened my ‘dieta’ on the 18th of February. I was staying at an eco lodge, and although it was at the end of a muddy dirt road we enjoyed most of the comforts of home. All of our meals were prepared by the wonderful staff, and while the food was very simple it was clean and nourishing home cooking, just the way I like it! Once the ‘dieta’ is opened one must abstain completely from salt, sugar of any kind including fruit, oil and of course sex, cannabis, pork, raw fish and alcohol.

These restrictions can be hard for many people. Other than sex people seem to miss sugar and salt the most. To my surprise I found myself dreaming about eating salty oily food.

In addition to the five ayahuasca purging/ceremonies we partook of, we also ‘dieted’ a second plant extract. The plant I chose was locally called Bobonsanna (employed for the healing and health of the emotional body), known to the western world as Calliandra Angustifolia. Beginning the night after my first ayahuasca ceremony when my diet was opened, I was provided with about one ounce of an alcohol extract (the only alcohol the shaman allows) of the inner bark of this plant.

It was a beautiful color red, extracted with cane liquor, and tasted awesome. I felt its effects immediately, it was warm and friendly, I believe it definitely aided in the subsequent cathartic purging of repressed emotions that followed my inner work in the days to come.

As my dieta came to a close I was looking forward to having some salt in my diet. Then on the night it actually was closing I realized that the real ‘salt’ of life is the experience of living in right relationship to the Creator and our fellow creatures.

I believe the accoutrements of life cannot really be enjoyed unless we are in right relationship. In fact we are likely to overuse these accessories in an attempt to find the true satisfaction that eludes us resulting in a depletion of vital energy and sickness.

After my dieta was closed Papa Gilberto instructed us to further abstain from sex, cannabis and alcohol for twenty more days, and to abstain from pork and raw fish for sixty more days.

Now that I am on the last day of my post dieta I find the same experience occurring. Instead of wishing this day was over, I will relish the last moments of this victorious battle. It’s not really about the extras in life, and it is not found in denying ourselves the enjoyments the Creator has bestowed upon the creature.

Rather, there is a sweet spot, in between attachment and denial. An abandoned freedom, found in the ‘way’ of the ‘here and now’ is the harmony of the dance between the Creator and the creature.

Remembering radical psychonaut Terence Mckenna

In my mid twenties I was ranging about on the worst section of life’s eight lane freeway I have ever traversed. I had managed to get a hold of myself for about one month when in a transcendental state of heightened awareness I watched a Terence Mckenna talk. During the talk Terence built a logically provable and morally mathematical equation for authentic interaction within creation. Finally he summed it up with these words “say what you mean, mean what you say”, this formula of sincerity resounded through my mind changing me forever. I have been living by these words ever since. Thank you Terence: for giving me this golden tool to change my life with.

I cannot emphasize enough the value I have discovered in the discipline of authentic and sincere self expression (this does not mean one indiscriminately says everything one thinks, mindfulness is essential to sincerity).

Recently I read ‘Food of the Gods’ by Terence and found his sound reasoning applied to broader topics including human evolution and modern culture. Terence has much to say of interest in this book, however, for today’s purpose I have selected one quote.

“No other drug can compete with cannabis for its ability to satisfy the innate yearnings for archaic boundary dissolution and yet leave intact the structures of ordinary society. If every alcoholic were a pothead, if every crack user were a pothead, if every smoker smoked only cannabis, the social consequences of the “drug problem” would be transformed.”

Page 166 Food of the Gods

Green communities are healthy communities

When I was getting over my surgery induced oxy/opiate addiction I watched many episodes of Drugs Inc. Despite my unhealthy fascination it was helpful to see such explicit examples of where hard drugs leave a person.

It became obvious the influence that narcotic trends in a community have. Humans love and crave altered states of mind, this natural and normal, the debatable point is ‘how’ these altered states are achieved and which are beneficial and which are detrimental. I will talk more about the many ways to alter the mind and even achieve states of heightened awareness, but this is outside the scope of today’s topic.

Today I will paint a contrasting picture of two very different community environments. The first I learned about from Drugs Inc. There were many communities in the US featured where prescription opiates had so infiltrated and become common place that a vast percentage of community members were hooked. This resulted in massive illicit trade of these ‘legal’ narcotics, however, it was clear that many could not afford these pharmaceuticals and resorted to cheaper options like heroin.

So, because everyone is using heroin in becomes one of the main business opportunities in town. What do you do to make money here? You sell heroin, and the problem gets worse until you have a ‘brown’ community riddled with a epidemic of hard drug use, overdoses, prostitution and crime.

Now, my mind naturally contrasted this view with that of a ‘green’ community, which thankfully I know well. When a community makes cannabis the financial cornerstone of mind alteration, it becomes health conscious.

Visit green communities and you will see healthy fit people who grow their own food, take care of their environment and attempt to assist the less privileged portion of the population. You will notice great availability of organic food, gluten free options and bustling farmers markets. There will be copious amounts of yoga studios, meditation centers and a focus on the arts, music and dance. Many people will be into alternative health lifestyles and outdoor activities. Specifically finances are directed away from unhealthy drug use and into family owned businesses such as awesome restaurants, sporting good shops, coffee shops, art galleries and local professionals who have nothing whatsoever to do with the cannabis trade.

Ultimately, you will see people who are interested in their own health and the health of their families, neighbors and community as a whole. You will see that a green community supports healthy human living: financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially.

I believe humanity needs to decide where power should reside. When we take power from hard drugs and big pharma and we give it to the green energy of cannabis we give power to our selves claiming back our humanity.

Green communities can make a Green Planet, but it must start with each individual, each family and each home.


I imagine that the ways in which I reacted to my suffering were not unique.

As a young child it was especially hard to bear, I did not want to ‘be’ at all. Thank God I found cannabis in my early teens as it was the least harmful/most beneficial way for me to cope until I could claim my power and free myself.

Despite having cannabis as my ally, I still acted out in many unhealthy ways. I am very grateful that I did not do any irreparable damage to myself.

I knew that my authentic self was truly ‘good’, and I wanted my actions and life to be a testament to my truth. It was deeply frustrating to always seem to be sabotaging myself and falling short.

Yet the ‘good’ spirit within me would always come through in every crucial moment. I knew that it was a very important cornerstone for me to get in good shape physically. I have been a lifelong martial artist and this has been as big a saving grace for me as cannabis (they go well together by the way). Four years ago I was in a bad way, drinking too much alcohol, and found it really hard to get exercising.

I purchased a Kangan water machine and made water my number one health product. After drinking the water for three months I started doing a beach body workout program called ‘Insanity’. I remember feeling the fat jiggling around on the front of my torso. Then one day I saw the line down the center starting to be revealed. I finished insanity and began P90X.

Halfway through this program I broke my femur when I climbed up high on my unstable compost bin (if you ever think to yourself ‘that might not be stable’ just STOP). My disappointment was crushing. I lay in the snow for ninety minutes staring my mortality in the face, passing out…coming to…finally calling for help. After losing three pints of blood in surgery I could not get up to use the washroom without my heart beat reaching 125 BPM. I was in the hospital for eight days and had to take two units of blood to be able to leave.

The only painkillers that worked on me were Oxy. After my first week, I used it only at night to sleep, but I was hooked. I used to count the hours until dose time. If it weren’t for the wise and loving support of my wife I may not have survived that addiction. It had so laid into my brain that I was ready to throw my life away. I only used it for five weeks, but getting off was hell.

I had to fight for my life back. Exercise became my weapon. I would go to the pool and run and do martial art in the water, bunny hop in the shallow pool and relax in the hot tub. When I was strong enough I gradually began P90X again. I patiently ramped up to the full program and completed it at least twice. I then moved on to UFC FIT which I completed three times. Now, ready to level up, I got over myself and donned a white belt for the first time in twenty years, joining a local jiu-jitsu school. I found this to be something my life had really been missing.

Throughout this process I continually reached new levels of being in the best shape of my life. I believe that this Body/Mind/Emotional strength developed through the warrior spirit was instrumental in my recent triumph over my lifelong suffering.

I believe that most of us truly want to be ‘good’. We all have to start somewhere, and the battle is right now. Fight minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, never give up and you will be ready for the most important battles of your life. Your triumph is worth every struggle and sacrifice. Your truth is worthy of all your effort and discipline. Believe and rejoice for your success is within your reach.

First morning back in my beautiful home in the west Kootenai region of British Columbia.

The plant kingdom is a divine gift to humanity; however, I believe we must be mindful not to mistake the gift for the Giver. Humans can have a tendency to deify components of creation in the enthusiasm of gratitude.

It is my belief that giving in to this tendency causes us to ‘miss the mark’. While it is wonderful to appreciate a gift, it is more wonderful to fix our eyes on the Giver and direct our appreciation to the Divine source of All.

My mission to the Peruvian Amazon was a gracious triumph. I will admit that at first I hoped to be fascinated by fantastic visions and was disappointed when that did not occur. In retrospect if that had occurred the whole effort could have become a colossal waste of time. Instead ‘my stuff’ came up. I wanted to ‘run away’, but I held fast to my true purpose, and mustered all of my will power. As difficult and unpleasant as portions of this experience were I have lived with it for so very long that my desire to be free and ‘purely’ myself won out. The way I see it, the Divine source proved it self to me once again as it has done countless times.

Now I will meet the efforts of the Creator and climb the narrow and steep path that is ‘my way’ to the top of the mountain.

I bravely give the prayer of devotion that was bestowed upon me and took all my concentration to distill into words on the night my dieta was closed.

*Note: please take no offense to my use of the word ‘Father’ to refer to the Creator as I see the Divine source as a loving parent to all creatures. It’s just a name, don’t fuss over it. Replace the name with ANY designation that rings true to YOUR heart.

Now and forever, I am Purely the True Good and Beautiful Spirit you created me to be Father.

Because, I Believe in you Father.

Because, I Believe in you in me.

I Believe in the solid and stable nature of my Belief.

Because, I Trust in you Father.

Because, i Trust in you in me.

I Trust in the solid and stable nature of my Trust.

Because, I have Faith in you Father.

Because, I have Faith in you in me.

I have Faith in the solid and stable nature of my Faith.

Turning 42 I find myself reflecting.

Turning 42 I find myself reflecting on how the plant kingdom has played a fundamental role in my presence and success in navigating the challenging world we find ourselves living in.
Life as we know it would not exist on this planet without plants. Plants provide the essential foundation for the chemical processes that sustain our planetary atmosphere. Plants provide for all of our needs in the areas of food, medicine, fuel, fibre, potential wireless communication technology and more.

Plants have saved my life many times: Starting with cannabis in my early teenage years. I swear I barely knew a good night sleep until I discovered cannabis. Cannabis contributed to the natural development of my philosophic mental capacities and eased my emotional turmoil, making it bearable until I could truly work my way through those issues and achieve true freedom of personality expression.
When I was 36 I was bitten by a brown recluse spider on the forehead. I thought that I was dying. Thanks to my brilliant mother in law who believed in the healing power of plants we learned that basil breaks down the enzymes in spider venom.

If you get bit apply essential oil of lavender to the bite several times a day until there is no danger of necrosis, and eat basil until your mouth is numb several times a day for 30 to 60 days. I recovered in a period of about 90 days whereas I know of others who suffered reoccurring symptoms from the same type of spider bite for 5 years and finally had to do very aggressive rounds of antibiotics.
Now I am off to Peru for a dieta, a series of ayahausca ceremonies in a traditional shamanic setting. My intention is to heal and purify myself by rooting out and transmuting my weaknesses into my strengths thereby unlocking my full earthly potential.
You will hear from me more when I return from my healing journey, until then keep turning to our most powerful external earthly allies, the plant kingdom, for assistance and support in realizing the full potential of the life you were created to live.
Teachings of the Garden Sage

Nutrients & Additives

Nutrients & Additives: The #4 Factor In Maximum Yield

nutrients-3It can be very helpful to utilize the triangle of photosynthesis to understand lights on metabolism. Light energy in the presence of CO2 and water and nutrient is processed into sugars and starches. This is lights on metabolism. If you don’t have enough CO2 in your garden, the light that you are paying to generate will literally bounce off the leaves. If we don’t have enough water and nutrient to support the process of photosynthesis, the plants cannot process Co2. Whenever we are assessing situations in the garden we have to keep the triangle of photosynthesis in mind.

Upon first inspection, this topic is going to appear overwhelming. There are so many different nutrient companies offering different nutrient lines. But, 4l-massivejust as when you walk into the supermarket and there’s five different brands of bread, keep in mind that a lot of these products are different brands of the same thing. So what I want to communicate to you is the principles of the matter. You need what we call “a main food” or a “basefood”. The main food is going to comprise all of the necessary macro and micro nutrients. Main foods, whatever the form, are all going to be mostly complete. It can even be as simple as a one part organic product that you use from start to finish with no additives to produce clean medicine. The number one nutrient requirement you need to address is the main food.

In addition to the main food many gardeners routinely use some supplements. Standard supplements include B-vitamin formulas which are known to reduce stress, calcium/magnesium additives (typically not enough of these important nutrients can be included in a main food), root stimulators and bloom enhancers. There are a few other products that you might chose to use like microorganisms which can colonize your root zone, stimulate root growth and facilitate nutrient uptake. Organic gardeners may also consider the use of humic and fulvic acids needed to break down organic sources of NPK into the chemicals available for nutrient uptake.

nutrientdenseLet us take an in depth look at the flowering process. Other than our main food, calcium and magnesium is one of the most important flowering additives that we can consider. Calcium and magnesium assist in the hardening of fruit and flowers and calcium facilitates nitrogen uptake. From there, we have the additives that actually blow up flower size. These additives typically increase the amount of P and K that is in the nutrient solution and provide some additional natural stimulants to the flowering process. Flowering additives usually do increase yields substantially.

One of the other supplements that you may benefit from in the flowering process is a carbohydrate additive in a liquid or powder form. These additives give the plants energy without making them work for it. Other considerations may be root disease controls and an additive which is going to increase the essential oil production of your particular plant.

nutrients-1Those are your needs. Talk to your local hydroponic retail professional and find out how you can gain access to these yield enhancing products. It’s hard to remember everything all at once. So keep in mind that good nutrient manufacturers put together what we call feed charts, with weekly schedules to help you focus on exactly how to mix your nutrient solution so that you get the best use of the products you’ve purchased. Once you get into this process you are going to find it’s like following a recipe and you will probably really enjoy feeding your plants and mixing nutrient solutions. Just remember to keep an eye on your parts per million and your PH so that your plants can really make use of these excellent nutrient solutions that you’re going to apply.

Systems & Set Up

Systems & Set Up: The #3 Factor In Maximum Yield


systemsMany gardeners think that there is one particular system that is going to lead them down the path to success. I always say to people: I’ve seen great yields out of every system there is and I’ve seen poor yields out of every system there is. What it really comes down to is; understanding how plants grow and applying that knowledge to your system. You need to know the ins and outs of the particular system that you choose.

systems-mediumsFor example drain to waste gardens are very common and allow great flexibility in medium and nutrient choice and plant size. A major advantage of the drain to waste system is that fresh nutrient solution is applied every irrigation and we can catch the runoff and track the ppm and ph.

This article is only an overview of systems that can be chosen, in order to properly run any chosen system we must take the time to investigate the potential pitfalls. For example in recirculation systems flood and drain gardens can be low risk and low labour. You can definitely load a lot of plants into a table with 4 inch Rockwool cubes on slabs. NFT systems – nutrient film technique, where a thin film of nutrient passes over the roots can also be low risk and low labour. Aeroponic gardens deliver a fine mist of nutrient solution to the roots. Top feed drip systems can systems-3 be utilized with many different mediums and container sizes. If we are moving to larger plants like trees, we might consider a system that allows us to space the plants accordingly. In the case of growing larger plants an appropriate vegetative system must also be considered to obtain efficient flow between vegetative and flowering stages of growth. Deep water culture systems offer good flexibility for different plant sizes.


The word “hydroponics” means to work with water; ultimately we are limited by our understanding and imagination. Having said this do not feel like you need to reinvent the wheel. Often a good way to proceed is to follow the system of a gardener who consistently obtains bountiful yields of the same strain you are growing.

coolcolor2As long as you chose a system that supports the genetics you’ve chosen, then you can build the rest of your environment around the system and you will be well on your way to getting good yields. Again I can’t emphasize enough developing the knowledge that you will need to work the ins and outs of the particular system that you chose. So once you have focused your attention on the genetics that you need, identified where you can get them and what their important characteristics are, you can move forward on selecting a system, talk to your local hydroponic retail professional to receive guidance in using that particular system, or consult the Grower’s Handbook, Teachings of the Garden Sage, which tells you all the ins and outs of each particular system.



Environment: The #2 Factor In Maximum Yield

Once we have obtained genetics that are pest and disease resistant and yield the desirable characteristics in good quantity we can turn our attention to “conforming the garden to our plant”.

Environmental basics can be considered in terms of what works 90% of the time. Obviously there will be exceptions to these rules as we look at fine tuning an environment for a specific strain.

Our indoor environment starts with lighting. Current debates are between the proven HID lighting and LED lighting. LED lighting has great future potential, but at this time, in my experience it does not produce the largest yields per watt. LED lighting appears attractive due to the perceived power savings, however, we calculate yield per watt. So it does not matter if you are running less power if the yield per watt is not adequate.

environment-love-consistencyWe used to be happy with 1 gram of dry plant material per watt of lighting. With the new double ended HID lighting technology my clients are not happy unless they are getting 1.4 grams per watt. Some clients even claim 1.8 grams per watt to be the new goal. These numbers blow all previous records out of the water. Accordingly, DE lighting is my current recommendation. Some DE lighting even comes with very intelligent controllers, going far beyond a basic timer board, into environmental control like sunrise/sunset options, high temp shut off and auto dim. There is some debate on lighting layout. Some layouts create a higher amount of light intensity which may reduce yield per watt but increase overall production, while layouts with lower intensity will generally increase yield per watt with a reduction in total production.

Whichever form of lighting we select we must arrange it accordingly in our garden. It is usually best to consult with a professional on the specifics for each particular space and application.

Now that we have selected our lighting we must control the heat load. Heat load is normally calculated in BTU (British thermal units). We have a number of choices for cooling our gardens including air conditioners, water cooled chillers and intake/exhaust systems. The cooling method selected should be accurately sized to handle to heat load produced year round.

environment-7Another essential component of the indoor environment is Co2. Simply put, if we are not enriching with cold gas or burning gas to produce optimum levels of Co2 then we MUST move lots of air in/out of the garden.

Air movement within the garden is usually achieved with oscillating fans, potentially one per light. Essentially all the plants must dance in a gentle rhythmic manner.

Lights off temperature must be maintained with heaters on heating thermostats in cooler climates and in warmer climates with a cooling thermostat set to the lights off set point.

Basic environmental parameters are 80-85 degrees F during lights on. Lights off is maintained at 70 degrees F creating a 10-15 degree differential between lights on and lights off. A humidity of 50-60% is typical, although any of these parameters can be fine tuned for a specific strain. We can develop a vapor pressure deficit chart for our selected genetics.

environment6There are also certain circumstances that may require us to manipulate the environment for a specific reason, such as: to control vertical stretch during the first two weeks of flower we may employ a positive differential by bringing our lights on temp down to 78-80 degrees F and lights off temp up to 73-75 degrees F, or to control a spider mite infestation we might drop our lights on temp to 78 degrees F and raise humidity to 65%.


Genetics: The #1 factor In Maximum Yield

First we have to understand what we want to create. We have to pick a specific genetic that is going to fulfil our purpose. There are a lot of resources available these days for researching genetics, you can Google it, there are apps for it, and there are books.

So once you’ve identified the plant material you want to grow for the specific purpose that you have the need for, you can then research the reputable breeders that are available.

1024px-marijuana_seeds Starting plants from seed is going to give you the best run of good successful gardening with fresh genetics. We get about two years of vigor from fresh seed stock at which time the health of the plants can start to decline.

They may start to attract diseases; they may be compromised by viral infections, at which point it gets harder and harder to get those big yields and we have to rely more and more on crutches, nutrients and supplements.

However, if we take the time to breed our favorite geneticsclone2 with a suitable counterpart we can renew our plant material and engage in a fresh run of genetic diversity. Performing a true breeding generating new seed and then taking the time to identify favorable phenotypes can carry you on into years of bountiful gardening.

Once we have selected the phenotype we want to grow stable crop production is achieved through the technique of cloning.


Solid reasoning showing that genetics is the number 1 factor is evidenced in the realization that if we take awesome genetics, put it in a mediocre environment, our results are usually still very good. However, If we take mediocre genetics, and load it into an ideal environment, our results are usually still average. We are not bringing a pony to a horse race. We are going to figure out what genetics we need for our intended purpose. We are going to identify the best sources, obtain them and then care for them in a sustainable matter.

Once we have identified the genetics that meet our purpose, we have to understand the characteristics of those genetics. One of my maxims is “conform your garden to your plant”. This again shows the importance of genetics being the number one factor in maximum yield. We have to understand if our plant likes to grow large or it likes to be small. That’ s definitely going to affect the way we conform our garden.