Belgium's first legal Cannabis Social Club plans historic 2013 grow
One of the most important new European cannabis social clubs is the incredible ‘TUP’ club. This is Belgium’s first legal grow cooperative which was formed in 2006 and grew their first small crop in 2010. They have grown to over 200 members and have bought a sizable greenhouse where they will grow their stash in 2013, this will be their first large collective grow. TUP have worked hard to succeed and their leaders have been arrested several times and prosecuted for their cannabis social club. But each time they were prosecuted they appealed and got their convictions over-turned. Under Belgian law each member is allowed to grow 1 plant at a time. This is the story of how TUP are planning to use 3 consecutive crops of AutoFem’s in 2013 to prove that self-sufficiency is possible with only 1 plant per member. They will also plant some traditional varieties such as Frisian Dew which has the potential to grow into very large plants in their greenhouse. We will get updates and photo’s throughout the year. The TUP model could be one that will be copied across Europe as the legal position of cannabis improves. The words in this weeks blog are from TUP (in English TUP means ‘Trekt uw Plant’ or ‘pull your plant’)
Frisian Dew grown outdoors. In the TUP greenhouse Frisian Dew should grow into massive bushes similar to the one above
Words from TUP…
“Spring is around the corner again. At our Cannabis Social Club “Trekt uw Plant”, in Belgium, we have just recently begun to discover the huge advantages of glasshouse growing.
TUP want to show that it is very possible and beneficial for Society to regulate the Cannabis market. In Belgium you are allowed to possess one plant for personal use. This one plant per person has lots of possibilities, and gives creative minds like us a fair chance of setting up a regulated system that really works in practice. As long as we have this fighting chance in Belgium, we will do everything in our power to show the people what we can do when we can grow!
We started 2011 with 3 growers. Yield and quality were boosted. That same year, we implemented workshops and growing courses. Because of that, we could augment our number of growers to 8 at the end of 2011.
2012 was a fruitful year. Experienced growers joined the Club, as did a lot of new members. As a result of the Dutch ‘weedpass’, the coffeeshops in the South of Holland are no longer accessible for Belgian consumers. We saw our member count increase from 100 to almost 300 in just a few months.
We stand by our principles:
- Organic grown bud (know what you grow/smoke)
- No public nuisance (abide by the law)
- No minors, no hard drugs (duh!)
- Educate the people and lobby for regulation
Most of our grow locations are very small. Just one m² tent in a room in a house. It holds about 10 plants on average. We check the rooms regularly, have a technical description of the materials and have several important ground rules that growers must adhere to. There must be no smell, no fire hazards, practically no sound and the electricity must be properly and safely installed. This all gets checked before we allow a room to be a grow room for our Club. Then the grower receives the legal documents (ownership declarations + TUP rules) which must be kept in the grow room at all times. Also the declarations of plant ownership must be constantly present on site. TUP realized that they need to progress from 1m² tents to a professional situation where we can grow hundreds of plants.
A glasshouse grow combines indoor quality with huge outdoor yields, for a minimal cost. Some connoisseurs even argue the quality of the smoke is better when grown under the sun. While this is fairly subjective, the objective fact is that a fuller spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids can be developed when growing under the sun instead of HPS-lights.
I’ve seen glasshouse grows that rival even the best indoor quality bud (believe me when I say I’ve seen and smoked plenty of excellent quality indoor grown strains over the last couple of years), so why waste a ton of money and energy? Not a lot of growers are aware of the ecological footprint of one gram of indoor produced bud. I can tell you: you really don’t want to know!
Think Different, above, image from Hazy/Autoflower Network. Think Different will be planted in large numbers by TUP
The importance of Genetics - Autofem
As genetics are very important in a successful grow story, testing them in bare conditions first, will reveal a lot about possible problems. Last year (2012), we decided to test a few autofem strains, to see whether the positive rumors were true.
Two of our most experienced growers set up a test-area in their back yard. The objectives were simple: Let it grow naturally, no hands-on work; no special soil; no watering - just rain; no protection against insects, diseases or mold. “Just pretend it is a guerilla in your own garden”.
The strains we tested really amazed us. We knew we would get something really nice when we chose the Dutch Passion strains. We sowed Think Different (outdoor) and Auto Blueberry (glasshouse). In just 10 weeks, they both yielded per plant 100+ grams of good, tasty buds, soaking in resin. Not a single gram of ‘fluffy’ buds!
Think Different (125g) and Auto Blueberry (200g) showed us that you can easily go on a 6 week vacation after the plants are 2-3 weeks old, come back and start harvesting. So easy, it’s just brutal. We knew for the next season how easy it was to get quality bud with these genetics. They both grew super fast, budded super quick and delivered a high of the finest quality. Truly amazing!
But as I said, it is spring-time again, so we took what we learned and the preparations for the new season of buds are under way. Guess what genetics we will be using this season? That’s right, Autofems from Dutch Passion!
Summer 2013: new system, new challenge
Knowing that a good preparation of your grow is absolutely vital in yielding a good quality crop, we decided to start preparing for a new and daring project.
- First things first: Plan your grow: seed to consumer. This way a lot of unforeseen mistakes or problems can be avoided.
- Second: find a suitable and discrete location to make the magic happen.
- Third: select your genetics and partners (seeds/ growshops/ soil companies / testlabs /…). They will be the pillars that hold it all together.
- Fourth: prepare the glasshouse for planting.
- Fifth: measure every parameter for learning purposes next season.
So TUP bought an old glasshouse, in a rural and sunny location. It was abandoned, filthy and crawling with fungus, molds and dead plants.
A lot of work was needed to clean it. The soil in the glasshouse was made up of lime, clay and sand, with mostly hard clay. It’s a hard soil, but very nutricious. When improved with good organic soil, it will be heaven for the plants. First, we’ll till the soil, scoop away the salty top layer, and mix in some sand (for drainage purposes). Then, we’ll pour in a single layer of organic soil, added with another 2 layers of organic soil, lime, bat guano, mycorrhizae and perlite. Finally the top layer will be added. In this top layer, clover will be planted as a cover crop. Her nitrogen-fixing properties will provide the plants with nitrogen from the air that is made available for up-take through the roots of the Cannabis plant. Clover roots will form symbiotic relationships with Cannabis roots. When you harvest, you simply till the top layer of the soil and mix it in under a new layer of fresh organic soil. The clover will break down and will serve as nutrient for the next plants (‘green manure’). Another nice touch of this cover crop is that it will prevent soil dust from spreading in the air on a hot day and prevent the soil from drying out.
Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial to Cannabis roots. They too form symbiotic relationships with the roots, promoting health, nutrient up-take, increased biomass production, improved water management and better protection against diseases, insects and other fungi. Don’t underestimate the power of the smallest creatures! They too will be added to the growing medium.
AutoBlueberry, above by Robwars/Autoflower network. AutoBlueberry is another top quality auto which TUP will be growing in 2013
The work set out for us to do in the next months:
- Get rid of all the old, dead plants and old soil
- Recycle used soil and compost dead material for next year
- Take out the trays and rusted iron pipes
- Remove the ground cover and inspect the soil
- Clean out the glasshouse and clean absolutely everything inside
- Disinfect the inside with eco-friendly disinfectant
- Till the soil where the plants will be placed and make bedding
- Make ready for planting, climate check
- Install fans and carbon filters
- Plant companion plants like mint, pepper, thyme, rosemary etc.
- Do a final check and sow the autofems
So much to do, so little time to do it in… But the hard work will pay off in the end, we all know that.
The flagship of this glasshouse and grow system will be the Autofem generation from Dutch Passion.
Strains such as Think Different, Auto Blueberry, AutoMazar and AutoXtreme will be pushed towards their full potential. We want the world to see that these autofems are the way of the future. Plants will be grown no more than 50 at a time (limitation rule of the Club – sorry guys J ). But, every plant will have 1m² of space and planted in full soil (>250l per plant). This way, there are no limitations of growth. The seeds will be sown directly in the soil to prevent taproot blockage or transplant damage. This way we want to plan for 3 consecutive harvests this summer.
The goals we want to achieve with these strains:
- Having multiple harvests and grows in one summer - testing genetics
- Full-on organic growing with ecological mind-set
- Gathering good and transparent data about the strains and plants
- Optimize climate conditions for glasshouse growing in Belgium
- Get heavy yields from autofems, push them to the limit organic style
- Having the cannabinoid/terpenoid content of the harvested buds tested in a laboratory.
- Curing the different autofems in different ways to recommend the best way for each strain
- Document everything so YOU guys can read up on it
- Get feedback directly from the consumers/club members
We are very excited to work together with Dutch Passion on this project. Dutch Passion is a reliable source for quality seeds that will help you get top-notch bud from your plants”
We will be in touch with more pictures and news from TUP as their first AutoFem crop of 2013 gets started. Good luck TUP !
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