How did you get into growing?
Prior to medical marijuana being legal here in Michigan, my focus was on farming organic vegetables. I specialized in growing unique tomato strains from around the world. Much of what I learned from researching the genetic characteristics of tomatoes gave me a head start when it came to understanding the character traits of cannabis strains from different hemispheres. While it’s important to know a strain’s name, and whether it is an indica or sativa, knowing the plant’s geographic origins is key.
What led you to working with Neptune’s Harvest?
I contacted Neptune’s Harvest in 2009 to share with them a few pictures of how well their products grew cannabis. Co-owner Ann Molloy replied and asked if I would help represent Neptune’s Harvest at the 2010 KushCon event held in Denver. Since then, I have been representing Neptune’s Harvest at Maximum Yield’s Indoor Gardening Expos across the country. I’ve also been working with another Neptune’s Harvest owner, Sandy Parco, who is in charge of research and development. Just recently, the company released two nutrient formulas geared for cannabis growing—Tomato & Veg and Rose & Flowering—and we are currently working on a special soil blend that incorporates many Neptune’s Harvest ocean supplements.
What products do you use in your growroom?
I’ve been using Neptune’s Harvest products for more than 10 years. It’s exciting to see how well they keep up with the latest discoveries in the cannabis field. Other products that boost my harvest include Smart Pots. These remarkable containers offer several advantages over conventional plastic pots. The main benefits are due to what happens to the root tips as they reach the side of the container. Once the root tips hit the edge of the pot, they are exposed to air and die off. In doing so, additional shoots grow. Smart Pots are made of a breathable material that helps cut down on excessive moisture retention, which in return assists in eliminating molds and water-logged roots.
In terms of water quality, I always start with water that has gone through a reverse osmosis system. It is also important to have a way to monitor pH and ppm levels as nutrients are added to the system. I’ve tried equipment from several companies and have found Autogrow Systems to be the most reliable in keeping up with my needs.
Tell us a bit about your additional industry experience.
Along with growing cannabis over the last several years, I have been actively supporting cannabis reforms. When the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was passed, I realized there was an additional need to get information out about the act. To me, cannabis activism goes hand-in-hand with the farming. As a cannabis farmer, much of the time it feels like we are walking a tightrope, constantly coming across individuals who regard the medicinal laws with disdain and who want to make safe access as difficult as possible.
I feel obligated to continue to protect what we have, as well as end the criminalization of cannabis. Together with my team, I’ve helped create patient support groups across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Another unique opportunity I had was doing volunteer work at several THC-qualifying clinics. This is where, working alongside Ricky G, I learned just how medicinal cannabis truly is. Medicinal marijuana means many things to those who have found relief through it. I have found it helps people cut down on, and in many cases eliminate, opiate pain medications.
What are you growing right now?
I have worked with several different strains over the last few years. I am always on the lookout for the perfect strain. Pineapple Express, Red Purps and Trainwreck are some of the current strains I’m growing, but I believe a strain called Lavender is above the rest in terms of medicinal qualities. The feedback we’ve gotten on this strain, which is being used by patients suffering from PTSD and chronic pain, has put it at the forefront.
What advice you can offer other growers?
I try and invite in as much fresh air as possible to flow throughout the cannabis fields in my greenhouses. But while fresh air is critical for a variety of reasons, it offers an avenue for unwanted pests like spider mites to enter. To combat spider mites, Arbico Organic products can be found in my greenhouse every season. The best product I have found from Arbico is beneficial preying mantises. I order some of these critters in early spring, and once the cocoons arrive at my doorstep, I let them sit in a glass jar with a lid screwed on—something I learned the hard way—and in May, more than 1,000 tiny mantises hatch. Nothing else handles a spider mite infestation as good as those guys!