Harvesting plants that you’ve been growing for months, is one of the most exciting times for a gardener, it’s also contains the most annoying and meticulous process – trimming. At Hydrobuilder, we seek to make your harvest a purely enjoyable experience without any of the common hassles that weigh it down.
What Harvesting Your Plants Looks Like
There are three main phases of the harvest:
- Removing and trimming the flowers or fruits
- Drying or canning
Removing fruits and trimming flowers
Here you have two options: either cut down the entire plant at the base or remove the individual stems/flowers to hang. Before you dry your plants, you will need to trim and remove leaves and other undesired foliage. Trimming is usually advised before you dry the flowers because the leaves will curl into them making the process more difficult.
Gardeners that live in dry climates will sometimes break the trimming process into two phases: once before drying and then again before curing. The more untrimmed a flower is the slower it will dry, and rooms with low humidity will dry plants out too fast.
At Hydrobuilder we offer two ways to trim your plants:
- By hand – This this is most affordable option, but very time-consuming. You will need scissors and a cleaning agent for them when they get dirty, which they will. It’s also recommended to have gloves and a trim tray to keep your hands and the surrounding area safe and clean.
- A machine – This will rapidly speed up the process and make it a much more enjoyable experience, but they can be quite expensive and some pollen lost will occur. Highly recommended if harvesting several plants at a time. Depending on the trimming machine, you may still need scissors/sears to remove stems and/or get a closer trim.
The drying process
The drying process, along with the curing step that comes next, this is incredibly important because it has a large influence on the quality of the finished product. A poor dry and cure will not only dramatically reduce the quality of the yield but the quantity as well. Mold can ruin a plant that took several months to grow, and you will always need to have an eye out for it even when perfect conditions are met.
You can dry in three ways:
- Hanging – You can simply hang your plants up to dry, and it’s recommended you do this in your grow tent as there are humidity and temperature conditions that need to be met. The biggest pro of this method is it’s free. However, hanging takes up a lot of space, and one plant can take up your entire grow tent.
- Drying racks – Drying racks are a great way to condense space and give you multiple drying options. They let you both hang your plant material and allow them to lay them flat on a rack. The one negative of a drying rack is your flowers can flatten on the side that’s resting. However, simply turning them over will prevent this, and they will unflatten a bt when curing.
- Freezer – Freeze drying is the process of placing plant material in a low humidity freezer where the moisture is pulled out by CO2 around the material. They are great for reducing the drying time from days to hours, and preserve flowers just as effectively as any other drying process, if not more so.
Drying should last 5-9 days under optimal conditions:
- Humidity – between 45 and 55%
- Temperature – 65 and 75°F (18-24°C)
- Airflow – A slight breeze will dry the plant material out evenly and help prevent mold.
The perfect cure
Technically, the curing process starts once the plant material is removed from the plant. Once your flowers have dried, you will fill airtight containers until they about 80-90% full, seal the container, and wait 24 hours. After that they will need to be periodically “burped” to remove the built up moisture – this is done by opening the jars for around a minute. This process lasts for two weeks, but additional curing will occur up to six months – the jars will not need to be “burped”.
Why we cure:
- Flavor and aroma – Curing is important because it breaks down the leftover minerals and sugars produced by chlorophyll. When these aren’t broken down they create a harsh and poor flavor. Curing also preserves aromatic compounds that degrade when temperature falls under 70°F.
- Long-term storage – Curing will keep your flowers fresh and prevent lost of quality. As well, it will remove enough moisture so mold won’t grow.
You can cure in two ways:
- Jars – This provides a very affordable way to successfully cure your flowers. With this method there is more room for human error, and in general more work and monitoring involved. You will need an hydrometer to monitor humidity.
- Curing machine – Because curing is an incredibly important process, a curing machine that reduces labor, automatically vents out built up moisture (burping), and carefully controls humidity is a godsend for larger operations. You can set the parameters and walk away knowing that your cure will be perfect.
Curing can last anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks under optimal conditions:
- Humidity – Between 55 and 65%
- Temperature – 65 and 75°F (18-24°C)
- Airtight – Your container must be completely sealed.
Tools needed for an incredible, heavy harvest
Trimming Machines – Trimming is often considered to be the most hated part of the growing process, and trimming one plant alone can easily take hours. That’s why we offer a wide variety of different trimming machines, that range from small trimmers great for home gardeners to commercial scale trimmers where they are a absolute necessity.
Extraction Equipment – Concentrates and edibles are quickly becoming many people’s favorite way to consume, but they come with a higher cost associated with the extraction process. That’s why we offer affordable extraction machines that make incredible high-quality tinctures and oils for home growers. And commercial operations that are looking to get a one-up on their competition will love our variety of commercial extraction machines. From presses to dry ice to dry sift we have the entire field covered.
Hand Trimming Supplies – Those that are looking to save money on harvesting equipment will love our range of scissors, trim trays, gloves, and cleaners all designed to make the whole trimming process fast, precise, and stress-free.
Drying Racks – Drying racks are a great way to conserve space and evenly dries flowers of all different sizes. Perfect for drying smaller flowers and flowers without stems that make hanging them impossible.
Curing Machines & Freeze Dryers – Curing machines and freeze dryers remove human error giving you a higher quality final product without having to dedicate anywhere near the same amount of time as manual methods.
Harvest Storage – Here you’ll find jars and humidity packages for manual curing, as well as vacuum sealers for long-term storage and harvest bags designed to absorb odor and makes transferring discrete. Humidity packages will reintroduce moisture if you remove too much from the plants when they are curing or drying.
Harvesting Packages – Don’t feel like putting together a harvesting setup? No problem, because we offer you a variety of one-in-all packages because no shoe fits every foot.