Newbie grower needs help: 1st Grow not going well

1st time grower, probably doing most things wrong, could really use some advice…

Southern Hemisphere, so it’s summer here (think August 1st in San Diego for equivalent climate). Don’t own or have access to grow lights, but do have a massive 30’-wide floor-to-ceiling window with good ambient light all day and strong direct sunlight afternoons. So I guess this is called a “Window Grow” but they are very big windows so it’s almost the same light as an outdoor grow. Southern California like climate so longer summer season than most places.

YES, I DO UNDERSTAND IT’S WAY TOO LATE IN THE SEASON TO BE STARTING A NATURAL LIGHT GROW. But… well, shit, this is when my circumstances allow me to start and I don’t want to wait almost a year. (Planting season here is October, our spring). So I’m starting now, knowing it’s suboptimal in many ways. Good news is our summers are long here and there’s plenty of good light left. I hope.

My first assumption is that due to planting mid-season, my plants will flower and mature relatively small in size, so I’m compensating by planting far more plants than I would normally need for personal consumption. 15 seedlings now planted on the assumption some will die and others will be harvested long before reaching full growth size. Yeah, I know, not the right way to do this. But it was either that or wait a year…

Growing in Coco Coir, feeding with Ph’ed RO water and “Top Crop” designed-for-coco nutrient system.

Strains and rationale for planting them: I chose ALL feminized photoperiods, figuring that my natural light situation would not allow autoflowers to grow to adequate size before they went into flower on their own.

(3) Quick Critical Plus: Advertised as the “fastest feminized seed in the catalog”, I figured that since I am trying to start a natural light grown when the season is already half over, something that grows fast makes logical sense. I normally favor Sativas over Indicas, but happy to compromise for the sake of having a few “short growing schedule” plants.

(3) Moby Dick, but 1 already died as a seedling: Seemed a good balance of Sativa-dominance (user preference) but still relatively short 60-70 day advertised flowering period

(3) Purple Afgan Kush: Girlfriend liked the picture, short flower period, very popular locally per seed store clerk (local seed source).

(3) Silver Haze #9: Seemed a good near-pure-Sativa choice with relatively short 65-75d flower period

(2) Y Griega: Another Sativa-dominant choice reported to grow very quickly but with longer 80-90d flower period

1 Royal Haze, 1 Freddy’s Best: High quality Sativas with semi-modest 70-84 day flower periods.

Tried taking the clear plastic cover off too early (after 1 week) and suffered some leaf burn as a result of inadequate humidity. Put it back on and not really sure when to take it back off.

After 2 full weeks of growing I have way less progress than all the pics I see on YouTube vids 2 weeks into a grow, but those guys are experts growing under top shelf lighting systems 18 or 24 hrs a day of light, and I’m just relying on natural light, so maybe this is normal?

The seedlings seem too tall and weak to support themselves without falling over, hence the toothpick-like stakes I added to some plants. Not sure what to do to get them strong enough to stand on their own.

I originally planted 12 seeds total, figuring even after things go wrong there should be enough yield to supply two active consumers for a full year which is how long until NEXT year’s harvest after we start the next grow at the correct time of year. But then 1 suffered infant death, and I decided to plant 4 more to replace it. So the 4 pots you see with no visible plant were just planted yesterday. The rest were planted on Jan 14 and 15 (15 days ago). Still seem pretty darned small to me…

I am aware that the green stuff is algae and that’s not good, but I don’t know what to do about it.

For the first 8 days I fed the plants RO water only. My Ph meter had not yet arrived so it was all 6.9 to 7.0 RO water. Since the Ph meter arrived this past week I’ve been Ph’ing the nut solution to 5.9 per advice of one of the YouTube vids I watched about growing in coco coir.

After the first 8 days or R0 water only, I started adding 0.5ml/L CalMag, 0.75ml/L Top Crop “Top Roots”, and 0.75 ml/L Top Crop “Top Coco A & B”. Then after day 12 I added 1ml/L of Top Crop “Green Explosion", which is a veg accelerator that sounded like a good idea given my natural light and limited timetable due to starting late.

I’m watering once a day (always including nuts now per advice on YouTube) until I see visible runoff coming out the drain holes. This was more YouTube wisdom. Most things I read say it’s impossible to over-water in Coco Coir, but the green algae makes me wonder.

When I first saw the algae starting to form after about 7 days I figured the problem was too much humidity from keeping the plastic dome over the seedling pots, so I removed it. That led to wilting and burnt leaf edges, and some of that damage is still visible in the photos. So I opened the little vent twist things on the top and put the lids back on. Hygrometer says 85%+ most of the time, so that’s probably why the algae. But taking the lid off was a disaster before. I don’t know what to do – can’t very well take it half way off…

Any and all advice welcome and deeply appreciated. I’m obviously trying to do something a bit misguided to start with here planting for natural light when the season is already half-over. But finished product is not easy to find for sale in my area and waiting another year for the crop just wasn’t going to fly. If I can get a TOTAL of 500g from all 15 plants I’ll be more than happy.

The plan is to transplant into 20L (5 gal) pots (they are inverted under the seedling planters in the photo), but frankly I don’t know when. The videos I’ve watched all say to transplant after about 2 weeks after planting the seeds. That’s right now! But these plants don’t seem anywhere close to ready to be transplanted compared to what I see in the videos being transplanted. So my assumption is I should wait until the plants are much bigger than they are now.

My biggest fear is how these tiny little stems which seem longer than they should be are going to support the weight of bigger leaves. I guess they get thicker with time. Fingers crossed…


Welcome here! I really, really want to pour over your post and try to address some off your questions. It has been a crazy two weeks with hubby off and our son and his family came in. Think our three dogs, a 2 year old, and a 9 month old.

Just wanted to say hello. I can say this, if your aiming for 500 grams and you manage to get most of them to harvest, dude! You are going to have an incredible amount of cannabis. I just finished out four autoflowers in hydroponic and two in soil, in my tent. I ended up with something like 460 grams from just those autos. So doing the photos, and outdoors, you should have a nice harvest.

Being offline, other than grow diary, have too much to catch up with, but, from what I have seen with my grows the stems early on just seem like they won’t hold up but always grew and did well. I avoid transplant stress by using a completely true biodegrable Cow Pot, cow manure based container. I plop that in their final destination as soon as I can. I will shore up the stems with a bit of the medium used in the container. Not deep, but enough to just stabilize it. They are similar in tomatoes in that if you cut a stem off you can plant it and it will root and grow and I believe, from what my grows seem and I am a nerd and always do a post mortem and check rooting system, etc through out the container after harvest and prior to dumping it in the compost pile, anyways, it appears that they grow roots off of anything that was in the soil. So I think you are okay. I have at one time used a bamaboo disposable coffee stir stick as a crutch. That plant seemed too tall and sure enough, had to scupper it yesterday due to this plant being a male.

Some of the other growers will have great input and may have conflicting opinion than mine, which I like, as we all learn as we grow. Many, many times though I have found that my mistake was someone else’s method. I wish you well with your grow.

Next week will calmer for me and I can actually get online here more.


I’m afraid you are going to find the window glass cuts away too much light to be able to grow cannabis. You can see the seedlings stretching now.


If it provides any solace, my brother grew a plant…under his bed, with the blinds closed…about 3 grams harvest lol…buy some light…CFL from the grocery store or fluorescent from the hardware store…or put them outside…they are just little babies, no one will notice for now

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Thanks KikiGee!

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Thanks for the feedback @KikiGee and @originalmunchie!

@Myfriendis410, yikes! That would suck if true. But your comment “reaching for the light” made me realize something I left out of the post that is probably quite relevant. For the most of the first two weeks, I told myself that it was “best” to use some photography lights. These are LED panels that look similar to the grow lights, but not as big. I figured they could enable an 18/6 light schedule for the seedlings, but I knew they were not big enough for after transplant. SO MOST OF MY GROW WAS UNDER THESE LIGHTS SO FAR.

Then I got my first cheap light meter and discovered it shows more light next to the windows than directly under the photography lights. So I just moved the whole grow to the window a few days ago.

Now it all makes sense… The seedlings were “reaching for light” under the LEDs because they were the wrong kind of LEDs, not bright enough, and that resulted in very tall stems despite still very small leaves. Hopefully that didn’t permanently damage the plants.

Of course it’s still possible the window won’t provide sufficient light as you say. But we have grown tomatoes in the same windows very successfully in the past, so it seems at least some growth is possible. Again, this is why I planted 15 plants just for personal use. I know I’m starting late and doing it wrong, and I don’t expect anything close to advertised yields.

I guess the test should be the 4 seeds I just planted 2 days ago under natural light. They will grow up entirely under the available natural light, so it will be very interesting to see if they grow shorter and wider than the first batch.

What worries me most is that it’s already August 1st (converting current date to Northern hemisphere equivalent). So while I really am pretty sure there is sufficient light in my window NOW, it won’t last more than another couple of months, which I assume means my plants will flower and be ready for harvest long before they grow anywhere close to the size I see on indoor grows in the youtube vids.

Thanks again everyone!

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When you reach the trigger point and plants are mature enough they will all go into flower on their own. You won’t be able to get large plants in the time you have but gives you data for next year. Likely you’ll get a yield but probably going to be loose and airy due to light.

Photographic LED’s are just not going to put out the light you need for cannabis.

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Thanks @Myfriendis410! It seems clear that trying to use the photographic LEDs for the first two weeks was a huge mistake and the result was the long weak stems (reaching for light).

At this point do you think I should abandon my 14 extra-long seedlings and replant new seeds to be grown exclusively in natural light? On one hand it’s already August 1st here so it’s REALLY late to be starting over now. But if I wait 2 or 3 weeks and the first batch of plants die because they developed wrong in early growth, I’ll look back on today and wish I’d just thrown them out and started over.

I can live with the low yield and loose and airy. I anticipated that and planted 3x the number of plants I’d normally have needed for exactly that reason.

Nah; just bury the stems in some extra soil/media and you’ll be fine.

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Bury them about half way up stem. Bite the bullet and get a good lite. You want that energy to go into root development, not stretching to get light.

Thanks! That’s a terrific idea. Totally obvious to anyone who knows anything, I suppose, but not to me until you mentioned it.

Should I wait till transplant time and then do the transplant to the 20L pots so that I add another couple inches of coco coir above the old “ground level”, or should I take this on now by trying to re-plant them in the small pots at a deeper level?

Thanks again @Myfriendis410!

The thing that stands out to me is almost all modern windows have u.v protection coating. So much of the beneficial light won’t make it to the plants. Some kind of led supplemental light would help.

Hmm. After transplant to the large pots, that just won’t be practical. It would take a lot of supplemental lamps to cover those 15 20L pots and I don’t have space or budget for that.

What I could do is set the photography LEDs up as supplemental light in addition to the window light, but only for as long as the plants stay in the small 1L seedling pots. After transplant I can’t see how to make it work.

Does it make sense to try and do that just for the next couple of weeks that they’re still in the small pots?


You can wait if you want but you don’t have to. I wouldn’t bury stems unless they are prone to falling over.

I topped up the pots with more coco coir/perlite media, adding about 1/2 - 3/4" of depth. That helped hold up the plants that were starting to fall over and also had the bonus effect of covering up the green algae layer. Probably did nothing to “solve” it, but at least it’s out of sight now.

Germinating a couple of more seeds today, figuring the way this is going a few are likely to die and none are likely to produce anything close to advertised yields given my circumstances.

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How wet is your media? It should only be slightly damp. Green algae is telling me overwatering may be happening. This will ‘damp off’ the seedlings and they will drown. Remember that the sprouts derive all of their moisture out of the air for the first couple of weeks until a taproot develops. A clear dome over the starts for the first ten days, misting inside of dome twice a day is all they need.

Good luck! We gotta do what we gotta do down here

Thanks VERY much for this. Sounds like I’ve been doing it all wrong.

I read elsewhere that “it’s basically impossible to over-water coco coir” and mostly “you should water every day until you see runoff water come out the drain holes in the bottom”.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Watering every morning until I see runoff water come out the drain holes in the bottom. AND keeping the seedlings covered with a dome that has mist on the inside of it.

But they’ve been under the dome much longer than 10 days. 16 days now. I tried taking the dome off after a week and promptly got wilted leaves and dried out edges/tips. That was before I started adding nutes to the water so it wasn’t nute burn. I diagonosed the problem as needing to keep the dome on longer. And I still have the domes on now.

Sounds like I’ve been over-watering and the business about watering every day until there is runoff thru the drain holes only applies later in the grow when out from under the dome and maybe into the bigger pots?

Also sounds like maybe I should try again taking the dome off and leaving the plants in open air again? Would it make sense to “ease” them out by taking the dome off at night but putting it back on during hours of direct sunlight to keep the leaves from drying out again? Last time I tried taking the dome off the leaves got dried tips and started to curl up, so I’m kinda scared to try it again right away.

Thanks again @Myfriendis410 for all the great tips!!!

Seedlings and sprouts have to be treated differently. Once plant’s canopy matches the pot you can water to runoff and yes you should water every day: coco becomes hydrophilic if allowed to dry out so your nutrient water just runs through the pot.

Over watering is extremely common and one of the first things most of us look for.

Just what I do.

Thanks so much for this!!! I know these probably seem like incredibly stupid questions to an expert, but for newbies like me, there’s no way of knowing that seedlings are a totally different game than established plants in terms of watering strategy. I think my problem is reading about established plant feeding and thinking it applied to seedlings.

Is there a particularly good book I should read? I feel like the youtube vids and random blog posts I’ve been reading are a big help in some areas, but they leave major holes like this one in my understanding of the whole process.

Thanks again!!!

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