Sea of green growing is the practice of harvesting many small plants, which are matured early so that you can crop out often and get the fastest bud production possible. Instead of the typical growing strategy, where a few plants are grown slowly for a long period of time, sea of green is basically growing lots of plants in the same amount of space. This makes it so there is less time between harvests, but a lower yield per harvest. This method is recommended if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, and it’s hard to pay your electricity bills.
The best way to grow sea of green is to start one crop while another is maturing. This way, you’ll have constant harvests all year long. Generally speaking, about 1 mature plant per square foot is adequate for SoG growing. While plants are seedlings/small, you can do more like 4 plants per square foot. 1 square foot is perfect because it allows the tops of plants to grow big and strong, but doesn’t allow for many lower-level branches. This is fine because low branches don’t get much light when grown indoors, and won’t grow well anyways. If you plan on moving your plants outdoors at some point, SoG is not recommended. If you do choose to grow SoG and move plants outdoors later, give them more than 1 square foot of room, so that the lower branches can grow without blockage.
If you start all or most of the plants at the same time, they will create a canopy of foliage. This absorbs almost all of the light, regardless of the type of lamps you’re using. With this strategy, the goal is to capitalize on the available light, and produce as quick as possible. Since most light goes to the leaves and bud, often times plants grown in SoG will have weak limbs. To counter this, you can use nylon poultry fence or another trellising material to help support the plants. Especially when bud starts to develop, plants often become droopy. Stakes can be used too, but are not recommended as they can be hard to install in the middle plants.
Most growers want big plants. It’s obvious why they do – the bigger the plant, the bigger the yield (in most cases). However, for smaller growing areas, a SoG strategy, which prefers smaller, quick-maturing plants, is preferable. If done right, plants grown in this manner will mature within 3-4 months – that’s from germination to crop-out. And, with SoG, you can fit 12 plants, or even 24 if you use shelves, in the same space you’d normally fit 3-5 plants. A good Sea of Green setup can have you cropping out every 30-45 days.
Keep in mind that it’s not all about the size of the plant, but rather, the maturity time and the quality of the bud. With SoG, twice as many plants, grown half as big as normal plants, will fill a growing area twice as fast. This means that you can essentially crop out twice as fast as with normal growing methods. After a while you will figure out how to determine what starts are early-flowering. When you figure that out, only pick the “winners” of the bunch, and throw those into a SoG setup.
Most growers use 6” square containers for SoG growing. This will allow for about 4 plants per square foot. Personally, I like to use cat boxes. They are available at Target for about $3 each. You can plant about 4 per square foot in these (when plants are in vegetative seedling stage). Planting like this, you can fit up to 48 seedlings in a 12 square foot closet per shelf. With 2-3 shelves, that’s 96-144 seedlings in one small closet!
For SoG setups during the flowering stage, about 1 plant per square foot is recommended. This gives plants plenty of room to grow, but also allows for the quickest growing possible. If you allow more space than that, it will take plants longer to fill the available space, resulting in more overall energy costs, and longer times between harvests. Growing with less than 1 square foot per plant is also not recommended, as plants will be crowded and often will produce less overall.
If you want your plants to grow a little bushier, you can actually train your plants. To do this, use twist ties or string to secure branches in the pattern you want. The easiest way to do this is to wrap a tie around the top of a plant, and pull it over until the tip is bent over at about 90-180 degrees. Next, attach this group of bushy plant to the main stem, lower down on the same plant. Leave the plant in this position for about a week, and release the plant after that. This will help plants grow bushier and end up taking up less vertical space, and filling your sea of green quicker. This method is actually more technical than you might think. When the top of a plant is pulled down, it actually releases a hormone in the plant that allows it to bush out from all the lower-level internodes.
Usually with Sea of Green, you harvest the top of the plans (called the cola). Bottom branches are usually trimmed down, so that air can flow freely under the thick plant tops. When you trim the lower branches, you can use them for clones. These are actually ideal clones, and take root very well. Plus, the lower branches will regenerate very quickly after flowering has started, so it’s the best place to take clones from.