Question: how to apply the Sea of Green method?

Growing Information

When the cannabis industry began to migrate to indoor nurseries, growers gradually realised that growing smaller plants closely together would use light, water and space more efficiently. The Sea of Green method was born and has been used ever since.

What is the Sea of Green growing method?

Sea of Green (SOG) is the practice of growing lots of small plants closely together simultaneously to reach harvest in as short a space of time as possible. It should not be confused with ScroG which is a method of growing weed plants across a trellis or frame. SOG was first developed when weed farmers began to cultivate marijuana indoors. Before this, weed was primarily grown in areas with favourable climates such as northern California. Large fields of tall plants were encouraged to grow all summer before harvest in the autumn and space was not an issue in the Emerald Triangle. The cannabis plants could almost be described as trees and were easily capable of yielding three pounds of weed.

Why does a Sea of Green grow increase yields?

The SOG method has been preferred by commercial growers in Europe since it reached The Netherlands in the mid-eighties. No other method is as good at increasing yields. It allows plants to spend less time in the vegetative phase while still producing the same amount of buds. It allows fast harvests and is a kind of mass production in the weed sector. Plus if you are organised, even novice growers can achieve more than one crop a year.

Advantages of a SOG grow

The SOG method is super-efficient for indoor and greenhouse grows. Done correctly it has the following advantages:

  • You can start one crop when another crop is approaching harvest. This enables you to potentially harvest all year round.
  • It’s a method which is perfect for growers who don’t have a lot of space.
  • You will save money on fuel bills as you will be growing plants that grow quickly so less time is needed to reach harvest. This is especially important when it comes to electricity, which can cost a huge amount because of the powerful lights that are needed almost continuously.
  • SOG grows are great for taking cuttings and future clones.
  • Using light and space to the maximum advantage allows greater crops and increased profits.

Disadvantages of a SOG grow

SOG is a brilliant method but it does have some disadvantages:

  • It is high maintenance – looking after all those plants is quite labour intensive in the early stages;
  • It works best when used with cuttings or clones;
  • Stealth grows are very difficult which can lead to legal issues;
  • It can be very challenging to grow a variety of Sativas and Indicas;
  • As the plants are so close together diseases and pests can spread very quickly and be difficult to get under control. However, the shorter growing time reduces the risk of these taking hold so it all balances out;
  • If you are keen on making hash, the lack of lower trim leaves is a slight disadvantage;
  • If you live in a location which has a limit to the number of plants you can grow legally, you will have to take care as it is very, very easy to exceed this when using Sea of Green. Make sure you know the risks and penalties before you get started.

How to grow in a sea of green method?

The Sea of Green method is surprisingly easy to master, although you will need at least four of five plants or it won’t work as you need enough leaves on the top branches to form a canopy. Conversely, too many plants squeezed together will also hinder your efforts as the plants will concentrate their energies on developing branches rather than buds. These two points aside, you’re good to go. Here’s all the information you need to pull it off:

1. Place your plants together

Each plant needs to be placed so that they are about 12″ by 12″ away from each other. You may wish to space them slightly further apart. It doesn’t matter, it is a question of personal preference and the limitations of the available space. However, you should not place them too closely together as this will result in plants competing with each other for and straining for light – the so-called ‘jungle effect’. This is stressful for plants and often results in the formation of fewer buds – the last thing you want.

Experienced cultivators often use shelves to place several growing levels on top of each other, saving even more time and space.

Use low-stress training (LST) to encourage your young plants to grow sideways and outwards rather than upwards. This method is very simple to learn and kind to your plants. It simply involves bending the plant as it grows by tying branches with string or gardeners twine when they become too long.

Allow a dense canopy to form on the top. The lower branches will not receive much light but there doesn’t need to be any waste – you can use the lower branches to form clones for your next crop once buds have formed on the top.

2. Time the vegetative phase

If growing feminised plants, you will need to time the end of the vegetative phase for a couple of weeks. Research the preferences of your strain – it could be 24 hours of light or 18:16 depending on the variety. Use containers that hold between four to six litres and are ideally no more than 15 cm in height.

3. Flowering phase

SOG is all about a quick harvest so you will need to start the flowering phase by altering the lighting program to 12 hours on and 12 hours off until the plants show signs of being ready to harvest.
You will need to keep a close eye on your plants to work out the right time as the exact time from flowering to harvest is not an exact science. Missing the window of opportunity can mean the difference between a successful crop and a disappointing one.

Tips for your Sea of Green grow

That’s pretty much it! SOG is a simple and straightforward method of cultivation that is easy to master – there’s no great mystery or skill required. Here are some more tips and tricks you may wish to deploy to increase your chances of success even further:

  • You should choose an Indica which grows in a naturally bushy and compact way compared to its leggy Sativa cousins. Indicas also produce a single primary cola, a structure which favours Sea of Green. Autoflowers also suit SOG well and you don’t need to worry about altering the lighting cycle to encourage them to flower. Sativas aren’t the ideal choice but if you really want to try a Sativa strain, such as Super Silver, it is possible to use the SOG method as long as you are prepared to top them before altering the light cycle to 12:2 or when the plants have four pairs of leaves.
  • Similarly, choose a weed with a short flowering time – these vary from strain to strain. You need to know the flowering time to judge growth and the time for harvest.
  • If using cuttings, make sure all the cuttings are a similar size and sourced from the same mother plant. They should all be the same age and between three to seven inches in length. In fact, growing from seeds is not generally recommended for the SOG method because seedlings naturally grow at different rates and do not have the same uniformity as clones. Plus you also have to wait for seeds to germinate, making the time to harvest a bit longer.
  • Uniformity is the key to success with the SOG method – in every aspect. Each plant must receive the identical amount of water, light and nutrients. A hydroponic system makes the delivery of water and nutrients seamless, but drip systems are also very effective.
  • When pruning or trimming the plants are the vegetative or flowering phases, great care should be taken not to remove too many leaves from an individual plant. If you are too ruthless with the secateurs you could send the plant into shock leading to fewer buds and abnormal growth.
  • If you wish to grow from seeds – and with such a tempting choice of seeds available at Weedseedsexpress who could blame you? – it is advisable to ensure that they are all the same variety and to try an Indica known for its suitability for SOG. We recommend Northern Lights seeds, Somango XXL and the legendary White Widow. Autoflowers are also suitable for SOG but the buds may not make such a potent weed because of their Ruderalis genetics.

Related blog: best strains for the Sea of Green method