A while back I was smoking a joint with a friend. We were sampling a crop that was drying in the next room – something I don’t normally do, but it was a moment of weakness. Feet up, we were wistfully savoring the flavor and sharing a few chuckles when there was a knock at the door. We froze like rabbits. The knock came again, this time more insistent. I crept over and listened.
Outside a group of people were talking, some of them neighbors. “He must be home,” said one of them, “that’s his car.” There was more knocking. I crept to a window and peeked outside. There were two policemen at the door – one of them was trying the handle! Fortunately, it was locked.
“Maybe he’s out on his bike,” said the neighbor. The policemen moved away and spoke into a radio. “I’ll check the roof,” said the workman accompanying them. My blood ran cold; behind me I heard a hissing sound and the word ‘shit’. My friend was running around like a deranged baboon and spraying air freshener everywhere. Jolted into action, I joined in and gathered up the evidence, but there was nothing I could do about the plants in the next room. Shit, the air outlet was on the roof! I dove for the extractor switch; there followed more intense spraying. Through the frosted skylight I could see the silhouette of the workman on the roof. We trembled like hobbits below.
It turned out that a broken drainage pipe had flooded the property next door and the plumber had called the police to provide access, but we didn’t know that. A simple thing beyond my control had almost gotten me busted.
Some essential gardener’s guidelines:
When growing, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the smallest thing can land you in trouble, like the growers who moved in next door to a police station. Thinking it would be the last place anyone would look, they were actually correct – for a while. However, the guys started ordering pizza from the same restaurant as the cops. One night after a delivery to the growers, the money (stinking of weed) was given as change to the police next door. Bingo! The bust, and the extreme embarrassment it caused, became the next day’s headline.
There’s also the clever idea, carried out by an idiot. Growing ‘on the move’ was such an idea. A tractor trailer housing a complete grow installation, always moving, always one step ahead. Now introduce an idiot into the equation. In this case, the stoned driver that took the unit under a low bridge, ripping off the trailer roof and exposing the five hundred plants inside.
A good grow operation is more than just gardening, plumbing and a bit of equipment. You need a load of anticipation; all the bases have to be covered. If the knock comes, you’d better have the answers. Pay attention to everything – if power consumption’s the problem, buy a ceramic kiln and have a few badly made pots lying around; with the latest filters and ozone equipment, there’s just no excuse for smell leakage.
If the great outdoors is your garden, there’s the threat of the infrared photo followed by the eventual posse in all terrain vehicles. The ‘tree walkers’ solved that problem, growing above, up in the trees. As crazy as it sounds, it works, but first you need a forest – the bigger the better. Selected trees are scaled and grow bags secured (with ropes) in the top branches. Five plants are placed in a bag hooked to a camouflaged water pipe running to the lower branches. Throughout the summer backpackers would show up, uncoil the pipe and pump water and nutrients up to the plants. Spread throughout a forest, there could be a hundred dope-laden trees, safe and undetected. Should ‘they’ come looking, it’s usually at ground level and they’d find nothing. A great idea, now introduce it to idiots.
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A time back, in a certain mid-west state, a group of amateur growers heard about the tree idea. Extremely lazy, they used 4x4s to reach the trees, leaving a clear trail through the forest. They also placed so many plants in a tree that feeding them took time, so they’d smoke a cigarette. After a few months, the trees were growing out of ashtrays. How they made it through the summer without being busted is a miracle. Despite detection on flyovers, ground investigation found nothing,
Then, only days from harvest, a grow bag complete with five mature plants dropped out of a tree and flattened a hiker. Despite being a nearly ‘lethal dose’ of marijuana, the hiker survived. The local police, however, didn’t see the joke and staked out the place. Days later they watched the crop being harvested and simply busted them when they’d finished. Total haul: 1,200 plants. With a few more brain cells and a bit of anticipation you wouldn’t be reading this story, and they wouldn’t be doing time.
Some things you just can’t anticipate. One day a letter arrived from the local authorities – usually it would go straight into the recycling bin, but luckily this one was opened. It informed me that in five days they were going to inspect the building. The fact that there were a hundred flowering plants upstairs in a back room was going to be a problem.
In a flurry of deranged nocturnal activity the crop was removed, along with 1,500 lbs. of soil. In the daytime and behind locked doors, all evidence was removed and the spaces turned into hobby rooms. From the moment the letter arrived until the very last possible minute, someone was working on this transformation. On inspection day they arrived late and then only inspected the neighbor. It was lunchtime and they didn’t inspect any further!
For this a crop was trashed and cost five days of back-breaking work, only for me to find out it could have been left alone. On a positive note, as a training exercise it was a success and with what was learned, a better grow could be built next time.
Peace to all growers.