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4    Indoor Cultivation
Opium Poppy Cultivation, by John W. Allen



All the information given above also pertains to opium poppy cultivation indoors. When indoor cultivation is possible, you are able to grow on a year round basis. You can control the climate of your crops and control moisture levels more exactly. Under optimum conditions, mature poppies can be produced in three months, allowing you to harvest four crops per year.

Like cannabis, the opium poppy is an annual and they also both enjoy a great deal of light. Fluorescent lights are the best indoor source of light for your poppies since they burn cool and the plants can be placed within a few inches of the lamps.

You should always buy the longest fixtures that you can accommodate in your growing area, since the long fixtures are cheaper by the foot than the shorter ones. Buy only double tube type fixtures since the single tube variety simply does not emit enough light for a plant such as the poppy.

It is not possible to give the plant too much light. Keep your plants within a few inches of the light at all times. To do this, you should install your lights with pulleys or chains so that you can raise the lights just enough to clear the tops of the plants as they grow.

Gro-lux lights can be bought in any one of three types. The standard light will work, but the high output and very high output are more efficient since they emit much more light than the standard. The high output emits about 1 1/2 times the amount of light that the standard light emits and the very high output emits about 2 1/2 times the light of the standard.

The cost of the lights is relative to the amount of light they emit. A standard double eight foot fixture and two lamps costs about $40, while a very high output double fixture and lamps will cost about $90. If you remember that the VHO lamps are giving off 2 1/2 times the light that a standard Gro-lux emits, you can see that the VHO is actually a little cheaper to buy relative to the amount of light you receive.

Most fluorescent tubes will last 1 1/2 to 2 years before burning out. The fixture itself will probably last at least five years.

Operational costs are minimal. A standard double eight foot fixture and lamps will cost you less than $3 a month, even if you leave it on 24 hours a day. To make the most of the light you have, you should cover the surface of the growing room with some reflective material such as tin foil or mylar. At the very least, the room should be painted bright white. The idea is to keep the light 'in play' or bouncing around the room until it hits a plant and is absorbed. If your light came without a reflective hood, you can make one out of tin foil. Be sure to insert the foil between the tubes and fixture; never put foil over the top of the fixture since collected heat will build up and perhaps damage or shorten the life of your fixture.

The growing room should only be as large as you can illuminate effectively. If you have a large room and only a few lights, screen off the growing area so that light does not escape the immediate area of the plants. Good ventilation is also an important factor in indoor growing. If you are using a closet with just a few short lights, you will probably provide adequate ventilation simply by opening the door a few times a day, but if you are growing on a larger scale it will be a good idea to use several fans to ventilate your area. Ideally, you should have one fan for circulation and an exhaust fan to feed the stale air out of the room and cause fresh air to come in. Good ventilation is not only healthier for the plants but it will inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria which might otherwise create problems.

The fans should not constantly blow the foliage of the plants around; a gentle breeze is the desired effect.

There is one major difference between the life cycles of marijuana and the opium poppy. Marijuana is a short day bloomer. It usually flowers in the fall; hence, it requires a short daylight period and a long dark period for it to bloom. Poppies, on the other hand, usually bloom in the summer and therefore need at least 16 to 18 hours of light in order to bloom and produce pods. You can buy timers for your lighting system that will turn your lights off and on for a set rate of hours per day. When the plants are ready to flower, you should fertilize them with some kind of blossom booster such as the kind used on African Violets.

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