GROWING EXPOSED SEASON 2 EPISODE 1: LA Grown Kush
Growing Exposed is the series produced by Jeremy Deichen. Coined “the MTV Cribs of the marijuana industry” the show is led by host Amanda Mackay. Growing Exposed has found a unique way to open up the once underground world, revealing the secrets of industry leaders. In addition to garden tours, David Robinson, author of The Grower’s Handbook lends his expertise in a segment entitled Teachings of The Garden Sage. David has dedicated his life to dispelling the myths behind cannabis while educating people on how plants grow.
Los Angeles is where people go to make it big, even when it comes to bud. LA is California’s best known and most populated city that continues to drive entertainment, music, fashion, and even cannabis trends for the entire nation. LA’s reputation is earned, as they have been a hub for years, moving large quantities of cannabis to the rest of the country. LA is the hometown of many cannabis celebrities, including legend Cheech Marin, best known for the comedy act Cheech and Chong. You’ll get to hear from Cheech later, alongside director, writer, producer and lead actor James Hutson, about the independant film Dark Harvest and learn why it took Cheech over 30 years to star in another weed movie.
However, if you’re a visitor to the city of Los Angeles, wouldn’t you like to know where the locals shop for their awesome Cali weed? You would probably have a completely different scenario in mind when they tell you “The Bridge”. In reality, it’s not quite what you would expect. Sketchy? Heck no. Sophisticated? Heck yes.
Here in the City of Angels, “The Bridge” is both a cultivation facility and a dispensary, conveniently located right next door to each other beneath the Santa Monica Freeway. If you want to get high quality, fresh and true grown LA Kush, this is the place for you. Now, let’s get out of the traffic and into the garden as we join expert of the hydroponics world Justin as he stands under a busy overpass, introducing himself to Junior, who can’t wait to show off The Bridge’s beautiful big flowers, extremely clean rooms, and their unique growing techniques.
All of their cannabis starts out as cuttings from select phenotype mother plants. At any one time, they try to have 2500 cuts on hand and another 2500 in small pots in pre-veg; that’s not including plants already in veg and flower. However, growing cannabis in California always has some serious downfalls to try and overcome, their main being the blackouts that occur due to the state trying to conserve power, so sometimes, power gets cut.
The veg room is beneath 10 foot solid concrete slabs separating them from the cars driving above. You can even feel the cars racing overhead under your feet. All plants are hand watered, hand-fed, drain-to-waste systems. Junior explains that every plant gets individual TLC with hand-watering. This system is far more labour-intensive, but the results and connection with the plants is worth it as problems are noticed much faster. Another important factor in managing a great garden is making sure all PPM/EC, pH, TDS, and temperature is data logged, and noting which strains are in the room at any given time. This means for consistent crop management every time between AM and PM crew. In Junior’s garden, this data is conveniently logged on the back of every door.
Fresh water is kept in huge tanks right beside a massive solid concrete pillar that supports the Freeway. If you had never been in the garden before, you may mistake it for a gargantuan reservoir like our tourguide Justin did.
Junior mentions other innovations in his downtown LA garden that makes the job so much easier. Taking huge bags of coco and supplies up and down stairs can be a gruelling task and gets old fast. The Bridge had a great solution to that issue by installing an elevating system. This cleverly solves the hassle of travelling up and down stairs to grab items when they can be conveniently brought up right to where they’re needed.
While in the veg room, Junior explains his reasons for why he prefers hand watering over automation. In this segment entitled ‘Teachings Of The Garden Sage’ veteran grower and author of the Grower’s Handbook, David Robinson, expands on the topic, going in depth on everything and anything you would need to know about hand watering.
David: “There are many advantages to hand-watering. Myself being a cultivator of craft cannabis, hand-watering has definitely been my method of choice. I like to give individual attention to each plant, even when I’m gardening the whole strain. It’s quite common that not all plants are drinking the same amount of water. As they develop their root mass, water consumption varies.
It’s crucial to lift the pots if you are able to and feel their weight in order to determine if the medium is dry. It can take a full irrigation, which is typically a 3 or 4 second count, or a little shot for just 1 second. You want to make sure your plant has enough water to last until the next irrigation period.
By doing this, I’m not entering the dangerous cycle of over-watering that slows down the plant’s metabolism. I prefer using a high quality wand that will give me an even and gentle shower of water. I like to utilise a pressure release valve, which discharges some of the water back into the reservoir so I can get the exact amount of pressure coming to my wand. This allows me to thoroughly and evenly saturate the medium.
One of my maxims is that plants love consistency, so it is very important to water plants at the same time each day in similar volumes. Plants can actually learn to expect their nutrient solution and will actually base the amount of water they consume on the regular receiving of the nutrient solution.
Automation is nice when you’re trying to cut labour costs, but when you’re trying to give individual plants care, love, and attention, nothing beats hand-watering.”
Cheech Marin hasn’t been in a cannabis film for over 30 years. So what made him take the plunge, especially now? By Hollywood standards, Dark Harvest is considered a small budget film, and Direct/Writer/Actor James Hutson took a guerrilla style filming to a whole new level when creating this film. He used real hydro stores and real grow ops and, of course, real cannabis, making this the most authentic cannabis film ever made. But what stroke of luck brought him to work with a legend like Cheech? We’ll find out in this exclusive interview on Growing Exposed.
James: “We’re here in this grow op as this is a marijuana movie and we filmed in real grow ops, real hydroponic stores, everything in the movie has been authentic. It seemed appropriate to do the interviews here and we thought we might be able to score some free bud. [laughs]. Dark Harvest is a marijuana thriller, a noir movie set in the world of cannabis as it’s becoming legal. It traverses the terrain of illegal crop in the beginning of the movie to much more legal by the end.”
What made Cheech want to be in this small-budget noir thriller about cannabis?
Cheech: “Well, it was in Vancouver, and I used to live in Vancouver, so I wanted to go visit. I was intrigued by the script; the script was really good and I could shoot relatively quickly, so I was in and out, but it turned out to be a really good experience. We won, between the two us, 3 or 4 Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor awards in the festival circuit and the film is in a number of top ten lists of all movies ever made. It was a fun thing to do.”
You might be blown away, wondering how an independent filmmaker like James got in touch with a star like Cheech Marin? The answer is very simple: the internet.
But Cheech got tons of cannabis films being thrown at him by his agent over the years, all of which he turned down for 30 years. What caused Cheech Marin, best known for his marijuana humour in Cheech and Chong, to try and steer away from that for so long?
Cheech: “When I split from Chong, I wanted to establish a separate identity–that was my criteria–and anything that didn’t have a joint in it I would do. Now, I’ve established my individual persona and I thought ‘Hm, I can do whatever comes up.’ This was an interesting project, you know, and the cheque cleared – that’s really the important part. [laughs]”
James: “I had to grease a lot of palms and literally blindfold a lot of actors to bring them into these kinds of places to film, and some of them freaked the shit out of them. It changed when I got better hook-ups and contacts, and here we are in this legal grow op.”
Cheech: “For my films, I used to grow the weed. We were shooting two doors away from where I was living at the beach, and I had this little greenhouse going, and we’d bring them over every day to shoot. Then, one day, they disappeared. Teamsters. Jelly donuts all over.”
Although all the cannabis is real in the movie, however when filming they didn’t smoke the real thing. That may sound surprising and be a bit misleading to people watching the film, but filming and acting is a hard job that demands over 12 hour days, so you can’t afford get high on the job. However “stunt-dope” is a good alternative to the real thing–without getting high. As long as it burns and looks authentic, it is good enough to fool anyone watching.
Where can you watch the film? It is available on any digital platform, including iTunes. You can find the most up-to-date information on DarkHarvestMovie.com and GrowingExposed.com.
The flower room is always one of the most exciting parts of our Garden Tour. Justin and Junior take us through several of the ten flower rooms to show us different heights and stages of bud during the approximately eight and a half week flowering cycle.
Now in the flowering room, Justin pops the question we’re all thinking: what strain are we growing here?
“We are growing Banana.” Says Junior. “You can see the difference between styles now, especially with height and growth. Nice and clean, just the right amount of leaves, not stripped, so the light can penetrate.”
Canopy management is key to ensuring a really good yield. Using a ‘Sea of Green’ technique, you get a very even crop, which is a technique Junior implements to make sure his plants are uniform in height.
In the next room, Junior shows off his plants that are only a week and half away from harvest. All the plants are completely sugar-coated in trichomes. This garden utilizes double-tier trellising. This catches the bottom buds that are heavy from falling over or touching the water. They try to keep around 250 – 300 plants per room with 340 lights.
Junior takes a whole lot of pride in his work, and it really shows. He does a lot of the work himself, including mixing nutrients. Junior has huge reservoirs of nutrient solution. His nutrient system of choice is GP3 and Massive Bloom Formulation by GreenPlanet Nutrients to ensure he gets big resinous buds. Between his 10 rooms, he can go through 3 reservoirs a day. That is a lot of food.
There are a number of factors that make this grow unique. 1. It’s under a bridge in Downtown Los Angeles. 2. It has its own dispensary right next door.
But what about the process of trimming and curing the cannabis? First, they de-leaf all the plants before it is trimmed. This gives the trimmers an easier job managing the flower and the sweet leaf on it. They cure for about 7 – 10 days before it’s ready to be sold in the dispensary right next door.
The dispensary has a number of different strains, including unique ones as well as the most popular. Sourlope, Sour Diesel, King Louie XIII, Green Crack, PR. Girl Scout Cookies, White Russian, Desert Breeze, Maui Waui, Phantom OG, Blue Dream, Bango, Mad Men, 5 Stars OG, XXX OG, Blueberry, Baby Gangster, Skywalker, and so many more.
In this episode of Growing Exposed, we saw a unique garden right under an overpass in downtown Los Angeles with a dispensary right next door. We also explored the technique of hand-watering, and learned about a cannabis film called Dark Harvest in an exclusive interview with Cheech Marin and James Hutson. This concludes our tour, but it doesn’t have to end here. Connect with Growing Exposed on social media or visit our YouTube channel to see extended coverage of our exclusive Cheech and James interview and head over to darkharvestmovie.com to watch the film.
For all the latest and greatest on cannabis cultivation visit us at www.growingexposed.com.