[This article was originally written in February 2007 and updated August 6, 2015. All photos captured at the garden of Bushy Old Grower in December 2006.]
I’ve written hundreds of articles about the medical efficacy, business, and culture of cannabis. This is a special one. It was not only my first trip to Humboldt County, but also time with one of the culture’s most enlightened and talented cannabis breeders and small-batch craft cultivators, Bushy Old Grower.
BOG, or Bushy Old Grower, is a cannabis gardener in Northern California. He has decades of experience in breeding, cultivating, and helping patients who use medical cannabis—especially those who want to emulate him and be independent of the black market and grow their own.
Author of Bonanza of Green, a book that documents his personal stage-based grow process, BOG is known for several potent and top-shelf strains, including Bogglegum and Lifesaver.
Their names call to me like the Siren’s song: Sweet Cindy, Bogglegum, Lifesaver, and that oh-so-intoxicating Sour Bubble. All are strains bred by Bushy Old Grower—better known to many as BOG. A Michigan native who now resides in the Pacific Northwest, BOG is a well-respected grower and breeder who has produced a line of top-shelf strains based on Bubblegum (unlike some breeders, BOG fully discloses his crosses).
Finely grown examples of BOG’s strains are sought by connoisseurs, med patients, and edibles bakers throughout North America. They also fetch a competitive price on the dispensary and retail markets and are sold by the likes of Canada’s most finicky mail order weed services. BOG is one of the more spiritual breeder/gardeners on the scene; his Buddhist and American Indian principles guide much of his growing and breeding. Interestingly, it was first German Shepherds, rather than cannabis, that spurred him to indulge in breeding.
I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with BOG and his wife at their rural mountain ranch in December 2006. The following interview is an excerpt from that weekend.
Gooey Rabinski: You’re known to many people in the pot culture for your breeding skills and seeds. Do you still sell seeds?
Bushy Old Grower: I don’t really sell seeds in the way we were known for as far as sending them to a distributor who then markets them as BOG Seeds. No, we’re not doing that anymore. My genetics are safe…I’m keeping them…I have friends who are using my genetics. But at this point, I’m trying to be more public and get out there to promote my book a bit and be like anybody else in a state that allows medical usage.
GR: You mentioned your book, Bonanza of Green. You’ve been growing and breeding for decades. Does your experience culminate in this book?
BOG: I believe so. Early in my life, at 21 years old, I realized that my dogs were a part of my family. I’ve always had large German Shepherds that I love very much. I’ve bred them and I’ve found that, often, if you have a really special pair of parents, you’ll end up getting really special offspring. I don’t really look at breeding as something that’s rocket science. When you mix a couple of strains or you isolate a certain phenotype of one strain, what you’re doing is kind of a crap shoot. Hopefully you come up with something that’s unique enough and worthy enough that other people want it, too. That’s what I gradually evolved into doing.
Just growing my own marijuana, I ended up making my own seeds and—before I ever heard of them—I was making my own feminized seeds. That was something I swore off before I ever sold any. I don’t consider it reliable enough. There can be too many problems with feminized seeds.
People kept telling me that I had a book in me, and that I really outta write it. All I ever taught was the basics of growing in soil, indoors. I had found that that was a safe, easy way. It was the way I knew how to do it. I’m pretty much a self-taught guy.
The goal with Bonanza of Green was to write a simple beginner’s book. Things like filling a Dixie cup with potting soil and putting a hole in the bottom for drainage…just some of the things that a lot of people who are trying to grow need to know. I just feel that teaching people to grow is like teaching someone to fish. They can actually take care of themselves if they learn how to grow.
GR: What do you think about the scene on the West Coast?
BOG: Look at what they did in L.A. The Feds—the DEA—came in and basically robbed medical marijuana clubs that were totally legal in the state. No charges were filed against any individual. Basically, they just seized it because they can do it. Because of their Supreme Court decision, they can come in and harass. It’s the same thing that happened to Eddy Lepp with the largest marijuana grow in history…in America…with 32,000 plants. Two years in a row they popped him. The guy still has his whole farm and ranch there [in Lake County, California]. I don’t think [the Feds] want to get all the way to court with some of these cases where somebody is going to fight to say “this is my religious right.” And it is.
I’m a founder and member in a church that has documentation for ancient usage of cannabis and holy rituals and it’s no different than any other church. The church has these rights and the good news is that there are decisions being made and it looks like the religious rights will be upheld. And that’s on a federal level. That’s not just state medical laws.
GR: Let’s talk a little about Bonanza of Green. It’s more than a book; it’s a system of growing that, in your opinion, makes more sense than some conventional methods.
BOG: Bonanza of Green, or BOG, is a production-line system. It consists of separate vegetative and flowering rooms and continuous production so that it’s not all-at-once. You have plants at many different stages. You always have part of your flowering room getting done. Every time you harvest some plants from flower, there are vegging plants ready to move into the flowering room. Today may be the day you either plant some seeds or take some clones. It may be the day that you transplant some small plants into bigger pots. It may be the day that you move some plants into flower.
This system also has a couple of other benefits. A lot of people grow in a way that they have all of their flowering room coming mature at one time. They have a lot of smell as the plants mature and dry. For some, that’s a security risk.
GR: There’s a difference between four or five plants coming up and 30 plants coming up.
BOG: There sure is. Four or five is a lot easier to conceal and manage. Instead of having a whole lot of weed, all at one time, you’ve got some fresh all the time. I’d rather always have some fresh around.
GR: What was the first strain you developed?
BOG: It was a pure Bubblegum called BOG Bubble. It’s yummy stuff and quite a large yielder. And, you know, a lot of people had kind of put Bubblegum behind them. Bubblegum had been a really big thing in Holland. It was like the number one commercial clone in Holland for a long time. When I did my breeding and all my work back at the start, I didn’t work with other people’s clones, like a lot of breeders do. I didn’t have access to them. I was off on the fringes, you know? Up in my cave, in the mountains. The best I could do was get some seeds.
In the case of BOG Bubble, I took clones of the first group of seeds that I got. There were two different kinds of plants in them. The results were kind of variable, like a lot of people’s seeds are [laughs]. What I was calling pure Bubblegum may have been a Bubblegum/Kush cross. It’s hard to really know the history of everything that’s done in the breeding world. It took me a while to figure that out. But my Bubblegum was a pretty pure Bubblegum because the clones that I had selected tasted like Bubblegum and produced good, reliable Bubblegum seeds. Whereas the other clones seemed more potent and rare. The rare one is what eventually became Sour Bubble. It was a selection out of this…probably a Kush Bubblegum cross.
Some people would have said that making seeds from seeds had already weakened the lines that I was working with. It’s a myth, though. And I’d be willing to argue this with anybody. When you make seeds from a batch of seeds, those original seeds are often not stabilized at all, and are often first crosses. You really can’t expect a lot out of them. You get those seeds and then you can work with them to stabilize them. That was done for many generations on the BOG Bubble and then Bogglegum.
Bogglegum was the second strain I created, which was Bubblegum crossed to an NL5 [Northern Lights #5] in the form of a real hardy plant that came down from Canada. So that was a cross between one of Amsterdam’s best stains and one that’s very well known from British Columbia. Bogglegum is really easy to grow and matures pretty fast.
GR: What did you create next?
BOG: Most of the time, in my breeding, my best friends and people who later tuned out to be good breeders themselves would send me their best strains and I would end up crossing it to my Bubblegum. That’s what happened with Subcool’s JCB that I brought in and crossed with my BOG Bubble. That was a great combination that produced Lifesaver. Lifesaver was touted as a medical strain by a lot of people because it has a numbing effect…your teeth get a little numb.
GR: The Sour Bubble is really a standout strain. Tell me more about it.
BOG: We’ve maintained the same clone for about six and a half years now. That clone is my elite clone mom. Most breeders claim that they have a few. But this one I actually came up with myself from my own breeding and I have to say that anybody who has ever tried it loves it and that’s pretty much all I’m gonna grow. I’ve decided that the whole evolution of the BOG strains is getting right back to the start. Sour Bubble is really the side of the Bubblegum Kush that I liked the most all along. So that’s what we’re doing now and everybody’s real happy with it.
When I get trim from the Sour Bubble, I make the best hash. I make bubble hash using ice water and it’s definitely a marketable commodity. The better quality your trash, the better quality your hash. The better quality your strains or clones…it all adds up. When you have something that’s really good, you’ll never have any problem selling it. Even if it doesn’t yield as much as something else, it’s really nice to have that one thing they can’t get enough of.
GR: I’m really impressed with Sour Bubble. The first time I smoked it was with you in San Francisco after I’d been smoking with Eddy Lepp and Jack Herer and a bunch of hardcore tokers for five days straight. After a marathon like that, it’s really tough to get something to stand out. Between you, your wife, and me, we only got through half a joint of that stuff. It cut right through everything else.
BOG: I remember, you were pretty lit on that joint, Gooey. You were pretty happy. A lot of times I get that reaction. Sour Bubble is considerably stronger than any of my other strains. My other strains are no slouch; usually they compare pretty well to the good stuff that’s going around. But Sour Bubble…we got it tested in a college lab and we’re going to get it re-tested with chromatography real soon. But we came up with 32 percent THC in Sour Bubble.
GR: Wow. That’s like Trainwreck….
BOG: There may be a couple of strains that claim to be a little higher than that, but most people would call me a liar. But it’s high just because there’s an awful lot of resin on a bud. My next highest strain would be like Lifesaver at 25 percent.
Basically, genetics are a very important thing in the quality and the yield. Now I’m not tryin’ to tell people that they need to go out there and find the last pack of BOG Seeds somebody claims they have, okay? But besides method and technique, genetics tends to be the biggest factor in how well people grow. There’s no purpose in putting a lot of work into something that doesn’t have much potential. And that’s not the grower’s fault. If you grow something from poor genetics and it comes out mediocre, that’s the best you can do!
All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.
Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and is a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.