Sow A Seed Or Plant A Clone? [Part 2]
February 01, 2017 | DR. SCANDERSON FOR NORTHWEST LEAF
PART 2 of 2: Benefits and deficits of planting clones.
Last month’s Growtech explored the benefits and deficits of starting your gardens from a seed, so this month’s Growtech will illuminate starting your garden from a clone. Let’s jump right in.
So many farmers rely heavily on the nursery component of their farms as well as other supply lines to provide them with an ongoing fresh supply of healthy clones. The production and predictability of such a model assures reliability. Clones are already females, which eliminates the need for gender selection, as is the case with seeds. Clones also almost universally tend to display more vigor and accelerated growth rates — especially in the early and mid-veg stages — when compared to their seedling counterparts, which saves time.
As a proven winner, clones are more stable than seeds, as any intersexual traits have (theoretically) been selected out. Clones have higher tolerances against plant stressors such as unstable environmental conditions or flawed feeding applications. Clones also tend to have strong natural resistance to pests and diseases, and are able to maintain a perpetual vegetative state.
The consistent theme to all these benefits is the predictable nature that clones provide; you’ll know what you’re getting, at least to some degree. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more subtle features of this characteristic.
Discovering the correct feeding schedules and environmental conditions a specific variety of plant thrives under are among the most complex, time-intensive and important endeavors of gardening. Having reliable feedback on other growth characteristics such as ideal flower window, specific time periods for each stage of development from clone through veg, and each of the stages of flower through dry and curing schedules is also important.
Each of these puzzles have many different pieces and only provides feedback on the placement of each piece, once every 90 to 120 days on average, which is akin to filling an Olympic swimming pool with a dripping faucet. By starting from clone, you may not have the precise formula that will work for you specifically, but at least you’re starting with the pool considerably more than halfway full.
Knowing the specific flower you’ll end up with has many benefits beyond the grower’s perspective. Working a particular variety often includes a predisposed amount of marketability. Many of the most desirable clones garner such popularity from the demands the market places upon it. Even on a micro level, there are often specific varieties a particular patient or friend requests due to their desire to have a reliable supply for themselves. The intrinsic ability to have beneficial influence over the demand for the completed product is a stellar and valuable commodity that many clones can provide.
Any market for a variety of Cannabis also establishes mediums for cultivation standards, which allows for comparisons of test results with other gardeners. This environment fosters communal discussions that spread knowledge. Such openness amongst a community with a very specific shared interest results in a deeper, more accurate understanding of the information and improved accessibility to such knowledge. This ultimately furthers the plant’s agenda to have the greatest amount of its genetic potential actualized through our efforts in the garden.
Starting to sound almost too good to be true? Don’t worry, I’m a true seed-aholic and am here to rain all over this clone parade.
As much as one can tout the benefits of knowing exactly what you’re getting when growing from a clone, the devil’s advocate (ahem) would ask, “but do you really?” That is to say, you don’t really know what else you’re getting with all these assurances a clone provides.
Far and away, gardens suffering infestation from bugs, disease or a combination of the two can be traced back to the introduction of a contaminated clone. Protecting completely against any sort of contamination is a time-intensive process simply on account of the life stages and developmental stages associated with some of the most insidious pests and diseases. The practice of sharing clones further proliferates these parasites and can also be a prime contributor to the systemic resistance to treatment observed in resistant pest populations.
The predictability of the outcome of a specific clone can also be largely linked to the grower, or more specifically, the growing methods employed in its cultivation. It’s not uncommon to fall in love with a particular variety after enjoying its finished blooms only to find — after running it through your system — the results differ enough to no longer enjoy it in the same ways. Existing comparisons highlight these detriments as well as the benefits described earlier. Some cultivars can adapt to a wide variety of environments, while others thrive considerably in an organic environment and still others result in a most favorable finish when grown using synthetic feeding components.
Lastly, but perhaps most important to someone who promotes an artisan approach to cultivation, is the defined nature that growing another’s selection offers. A clone is simply another gardener’s opinion of an ideal representation of that variety. You may agree with the selection and enjoy sharing in the benefits pre-selected varieties offer, but at the end of the day, you are promoting another grower’s work. This is beneficial in many ways, but when it comes in place of promoting your own, it can remove what I consider to be the most enchanting part of the pursuit.
For me, the addictive intoxication I find myself lost in is the ability to express myself through the creation, discovery and selection of new varieties of Cannabis: New to you, to your friends and to the world. Introduced through your distinct partnership, and covered in your opinions that exists for no other reason than the result of your unique partnership with space and time as a human.
Ultimately, it all comes down — like everything in the pursuit of cultivating life — to what seems to intrinsically call to you? What benefits about farming from seeds or from clones gets you most excited? Which detriments found in either seem like they would be most reasonable to deal with? Somewhere in the past two months in this two-part exploration, my hope is that you will find some direction you can take your garden in. Discover some new varieties of Cannabis no one but you has ever visited or bring a new standard to a highly prized existing variety. Either way, enjoy the ride of being seamlessly woven into the fabric that is the evolution of this beloved plant.