"Ganja Guru" Ed Rosenthal has been growing and advocating for the legalization of cannabis for more than 40 years. Under his Quick Trading Company shingle (www.quicktrading.com) he publishes cannabis and hemp books written by himself and others, spreading the good word on good medicine, and excellent bud to the masses.
His understanding of the herb and all that it implies politically and sociologically has had many turning an ear in his direction for years, penning the column, "Ask Ed," for more than three decades. Originally running more than 20 years in High Times Magazine, the zine he co-founded, today his column can be found on numerous Web sites, including his own, and published monthly in Cannabis Culture Magazine.
Rosenthal also has his own line of natural oil-based and biodegradable pest products under his Z-Tolerance line (www.z-tolerance.com), helping gardeners with common pest problems." Just say no to bugs" with zero tolerance.
His new effort, "Marijuana: Pest & Disease Control," is a large edition, glossy, attractive reference book loaded with beautiful color photos - well, as beautiful as aphids, rats, and fungi can be.
Ed believes in working with nature, not against it, stating, "All creatures alive today, including the pests in this book, are survivors, no different than us, struggling to thrive."
Understanding your pests is key, and Rosenthal explains the life cycle, eating habits - even the sex life of garden pests - helping the average gardener get an edge on keeping them at bay.
The book can be put into use right away by traditional gardeners as well as those growing cannabis, for the bugs are the same in any garden, and whether you are growing roses or the best bud around, aphids, powdery mildew and white fly are an issue.
Biological is the buzz-word of the day in the grow world. And though the practice of using nature in its own game is not a new one, it's been sidetracked for a more than a few decades - muddled with promises of instant garden gratification... at the expense of tainted soil, water and toxic ingestion by humans.
Thankfully, Ed shares, gone are the days of synthetic or chemical warfare on garden pests and disease. For whether you are growing prize-winning tomatoes, or the best bud around, it's going into someone's body, and wellness is the ultimate goal.
Cannabis is good medicine and ingesting it, whether by smoking, tinctures or edibles is a given. Keeping both the herb and our bodies safe from harm is mandatory.
The Beneficial Living Center is Humboldt County's one-stop biological hydro shop. Founder Luke Besmer understands the natural approach to gardening, indoor and out, and has brought together many entities under one roof for a common goal - providing nutrients created from natural material, such as kelp from the sea, and offering it up bulk in reusable containers.
"The unnatural regimen some gardeners use is counter-productive to growing a truly healthy plant that expresses its phenotypic potential in full and total glory," Besmer explains. "For example, with the product ‘Sea Green,' its microbes have been cultured in such a way that promotes proliferation of salt-eating bacteria. By using these bacteria, which were made entirely by mamma nature, nutrient uptake is mitigated in a way that is both natural and extremely efficient."
Rosenthal explains that garden pests and critters are ever-evolving, and able to adapt to our constant stream of garden warfare much better than we are at protecting ourselves from our own toxic creations.
"Using natural plant chemistry and other natural means to eliminate problems is tried and true," he explains. "... natural pesticide chemistry has been used by plants with no help from humankind for millions of years."
Arthropods, or the soft-bodied insects - like the aphids and mites that can plague an indoor garden - are especially resilient survivors, and Ed reminds us we are no better than they are, having come to this very place together over time.
Kevin Jodrey is in charge of the grow rooms at the Humboldt Patient Resource Center (HPRC) in Arcata, Humboldt's oldest dispensary. Also an outdoor gardener, Jodrey has been dealing with garden pests, critters, and disease longer than he's able to admit.
"Ed did a great job with this book!" Jodrey said after having the reference book on hand for several weeks. "It is easy to read, easy to use, and covers most areas a gardener needs to be aware of concerning pest and disease."
Physicality is a top concern for any grower, not only for the safety of the grow, but in maintaining excellent conditions for excellent bud. As Ed puts it, the key words echo any realtor's mantra, "Location, location, location."
Outdoor gardens have a full ecosystem and the world of pests at its heels to deal with. Most growers intent on that full-sun-spot might not realize deer and other critters look for the same kind of habitat.
Indoor gardening is necessary for many growers for many reasons, but putting a greenhouse in a house made for people is a challenge like no other. Aside from using up to 60 percent more energy than the average U.S. household, it's the perfect melding pot for raising healthy pests and nurturing disease.
Keeping everything clean, Ed said, is the starting point. Washing pots and trays is a given, but Ed goes the extra mile advising, "Wash down greenhouse benches and side walls after production..."
With more states opting for medical cannabis, more people will grow, indoor and out - that's a given. With the locavore movement spreading across the country, more people will be growing their own food. How the gardening gets done, and the quality of food and medicine produced will become key in keeping up with the fluctuating market, and keeping good medicine and good food safe.
For decades information like this was passed down from gardener to gardener like so much folklore. How-to books like Ed's take the guess-work out of healthy gardening, but, more importantly, they normalize the entire conversation with intelligence and respect for nature.