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The Best Time of Year in the Garden

The Best Time of Year in the Garden
Photos by Nikki Lastreto

Joint Opinions

The Best Time of Year in the Garden

The autumnal equinox means harvest time is almost here.

It doesn’t get any better than this. The clear smoke-free days are just hot enough to break a sweat yet not be overwhelming. A cool and gentle breeze, the precursor to autumn which is upon us, wafts through the cannabis garden. It rustles the heavy green branches, now covered in cream-colored pom-poms which will develop into luscious buds very soon. The pungent skunky aroma is intoxicating, especially in the morning.

The build-up to this past full moon in Pisces gave the girls an astounding boost. Almost overnight they shot up and out and are more glorious than ever. Every year it astounds me all over again how those tiny seeds that were lovingly placed in soil early in April are now, 6 months later, towering up to 14 feet high.

We may have called it “weed” for years, but this plant is clearly so much more than a weed! She wants to grow, and given the proper love and attention, and even a little bit of “torture,” she’ll be your gal.

Beautiful buds forming.

Experienced growers know that you always cut back on watering as harvest approaches. Cannabis originally hails from the Himalayas, where monsoon weather ensures wet summers. Hence, the plant instinctually knows that when the rains start to let up, it’s time for them to flower, the harvest must be soon. The angle of the sun is steeper, so as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, the soil remains moist for longer periods between waterings. This means even if the girls in the garden try to act like they are thirsty, let them suffer just a bit. As my mother used to say, “It puts starch in your spine.”

Every day now the plants grow more and more radiant and full. Individual traits appear distinguishing one girl from another. One may have pink pistils where her buds will burst, while another has enormous leaves or purple stems. They are in their glory, showing off to the world. I have to wonder if they know they will benefit so many people? It’s such a conscious plant, that I wouldn’t doubt it.

Pink Pistels on Swami Sherbet.

Soon their time will come to be harvested. After being cut down gently in the dark of the night just before dawn, they will hang in the timber frame barn to dry. Once deemed properly dry when the twigs snap, their long branches covered in buds will be “bucked” (cut into shorter pieces), wrapped in brown kraft paper, put carefully into tubs and sent off for trimming. I like to think of it as the girls going off to the spa and beauty salon, where they will be manicured and pampered, then placed in lovely glass jars to be finally sent off to work their magic. Even with all the new rules and regulations, that is the heart of it: getting premium cannabis to the people who need it.

The “dog days of summer” are passed now. It’s more like “puppy days.” Just warm enough to work in the garden and love it. Yet likewise, it’s the quiet part of the cannabis growing season when the plants don’t take such constant care. Once the trellises to support heavy branches are all up, farmers finally have the time to tend to other chores. These days that means taking care of all the paperwork associated with running a legal cannabis business in California. But hey, I’m not complaining. My office has a view of giant joyous cannabis plants in the distance through the wide-open French doors. It’s almost like being outside. I seriously doubt that I could ever return to a cubicle again.

Giant leaves.

But don’t get me wrong, this life is not for everybody. I admit I am still a city girl at heart. I was born and raised in San Francisco. I’ve now lived in Mendocino County for almost 18 years and I continue to feel like a newbie. I walk like an urban person and my clothes are too color-coordinated. But I love it here and do feel right at home. Granted, living in Indian villages did prepare me for an off-the-grid lifestyle, but it does take a certain type of person to tolerate the blessings and the bad sides of country living. Like, forget about ordering dinner to be delivered when you live off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere!. You either cook it yourself, or you don’t eat. I call it the Diet of Non-Availability. It works for me.

Sometimes it’s all about the “what isn’t there” instead of the “what is there.” It’s about the lack of paved roads, power lines, vehicles, towering buildings and satellite signals zipping around unseen. It’s a lot about the resonating silence.

Ganesh with the garden in the distance.

Right now, in the gloaming of a perfect day, if I really focus on listening, I can hear: a raven, a woodpecker, bees buzzing collectively, the chirping of a squirrel and an occasional faint snap of a branch when something larger walks through the distant forest. Mostly though, it’s about the silence. It’s so perfect. So pure. It lets me be me.

One could attribute my poetic nature this evening to the joint of Banana Lime I smoked before sitting down to play with words. No doubt it is a co-conspirator. But it is the combined forces of nature all around me, with the cannabis spirit inside of me and physically around me in the garden, that is the Inspiration. I thank the cannabis goddess, Ganja Ma, for guiding my life to this sacred place. I feel honored to be her humble servant.

TELL US, have you ever grown your own cannabis?

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