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Frank. M: Marijuana Growers Insiders Guide USA 1988 - 374pp

Disclaimer: "The material in this book is presented as information which should be available to the public. Neither the publisher nor the author advocate breaking any law. However, we encourage readers to support the efforts of NORML, CALM and other groups in their efforts to secure the passage of sensible and fair marijuana legislation."

The preface refers to the widespread incidence of marijuana use and cultivation in the USA, and states "the purpose of this book is to let you know how home gardeners successfully grow high-quality marijuana, no matter where they live, or whether they've ever grown a plant before."

Chapter 1 gives a brief history of cannabis use, an account of the life cycle, whether to grow indoors or out, and a list of federal penalties (including sequestration) for persons found growing marijuana. The author urges the reader to consider the consequences "the purpose is... not to encourage you to grow illegally, but to report on how growing is done legally, and how it may be done when growing is decriminalised".

Chapter 2 discusses the different types of lighting available - fluorescents, high-intensity (MH/HPS) and fittings, light movers, coverage and spectrum. The costs of such fittings (by brand name and coverage) and sources of supply are also listed.

Chapter 3 - setting up an indoor grow-room - discusses requirements of space and lighting. The "basic set-up" is shown as a light fitting, timer, thermostatically controlled fan heater and oscillator fan. There are sections on hanging the light system, fluorescent fittings, reflectors/light balancers, electricity, wiring and safety measures. Chapter 4 - photoperiod, discusses the day lengths necessary for propagation, growth and flowering, and the need for electric timers to control lighting. Chapter 5 looks at grow-room options, discussing single and multiple chamber (for propagation/vegetative growth, and flowering) systems, and crop rotation schedules, suggesting a "continuous" process of transplanting and harvesting, as well as simultaneous transplanting of the whole, or half a crop at one time. Suggests (p77) three-chamber (Tricameral) system, and shelf-gardening systems, where all three stages are contained within a single area, partitioned with light-proof materials, similar in concept to that of the Kushti box proposed by Marlow..

Chapters 6 and 7 deal with indoor natural-light, and outdoor/greenhouse gardens.

Chapters 8 and 9 advise on containers, soil and hydroponic systems. The main requirements are stated to be a loose texture, presence of nutrients, and a neutral pH. The author recommends rockwool blocks for use in hydroponic systems, for ease of use and transplanting. Organic composts and soil-based systems (with added moss, vermiculite, perlite etc.) are discussed, with a list of nutrients provided by organic fertiliser types. There is a very detailed account of the theory and practice of hydroponic cultivation and watering/nutrient delivery systems.

Chapter 10 amounts to 20 pages of advice on selection of cannabis varieties, with descriptions of the characteristics of cannabis from different parts of the world, including "skunkweed" (stated to be developed from indica varieties from Afghanistan & the Hindu Kush). Chapter 11 advises on germination (recommends direct planting in soil or germination blocks) and the early stages of plant development.

Chapters 12 to 15 advise on the requirements of growing plants: water (frequency and nutrient composition); air (temperature, circulation, humidity and CO2 enhancement); fertiliser (including foliar feeding, and the dangers of overfertilisation); and general plant care, including transplanting, pruning, evening growth, repairs and training to particular shapes and/or sizes. Chapter 16 deals with the problems of insects and pests, including aphids, and spider mites, garden insects, rats, mice, cats & dogs. Suggests biological control (predators) where possible, as well as organic and proprietary insecticides and fungicides.

Chapters 17 & 18 discuss sexing of plants and the flowering cycle, advising removal of male flowers and the problems with hermaphrodites, with illustrative photographs.

Chapters 19 & 20 deal with breeding and propagation of cuttings, including the steps required to produce cuttings from mother plants, and the selection of plants & collection/storage of pollen for breeding.

Chapters 21 to 25 give detail on changes in THC potency during the harvest period, advising that potency of flower clusters is higher in the evenings than during the day, and peaks at 10-14 weeks of flowering. Advises on harvesting and manicuring, rejuvenation of underdeveloped lower branches, and drying techniques. Advises grading into tops, smaller leaves and shade leaves, with tops up to 8 times as potent as the lower leaves, and on storage of marijuana, indicating that with storage in a cool place, without exposure to air and light, marijuana can retain up to 90% of its potency two years after harvest (p348). Advises on storing seeds.

The book closes with an exhortation to "grow American" and a request for feedback from readers. There is a comprehensive index, a note that the directory of suppliers had been removed following "Operation Green Merchant" - the DEA operation targeting suppliers of horticultural equipment advertised in High Times. There is a commentary on drug policy, and addresses of cannabis law reform organisations, and advertisements for other publications by the author.

Comment: The book contains a great deal of technical information and reproduced research findings. As a reference it has particular value in bringing together much disparate information on the subject. The principles of growth and grow-room construction are similar to those in Tricameral Sinsemilla, although Frank appears to favour hydroponic, rather than soil-based, cultivation systems. Although the "shelf-unit" system has many similarities to the "Kushti box" it differs in the arrangement of compartments and partitions. Alludes to continuous production without recommending it. There are a large number of diagrams and tables, roughly every other page, illustrating points made in the text.

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