The answer to managing problems in the garden is not, “Don’t have one,” says Clint Harris, cultivation director at Oregon’s Eco Firma Farms.

“Fixing problems on the fly may sound great in theory, but it’s not realistic. It’s best to be prepared to handle problems swiftly and efficiently as they arise — and believe me, they will,” Harris continues.

Since 2012, Eco Firma Farms has been steering its business toward becoming Oregon’s first carbon-neutral cannabis farm. Today, Eco Firma operates on 100 percent wind-powered renewable energy and uses all-organic pest, mold and mildew management. The farm’s overall carbon footprint has been greatly reduced by using recycled products and exercising responsible fertilization practices, and it’s the sustainable grow op’s mission to one day be completely carbon-neutral — while spreading good will along the way.

Eco Firma Farms provides top-shelf, artisanal craft cannabis while improving conditions for its workers, the environment, and surrounding communities. Treating business partners honestly, being an active participant in the industry, and giving back to causes it holds dear, Eco Firma Farms takes seriously the wellbeing of those that come into contact with what its staff grows, whether medicinally, recreationally, or both.

A member of the Craft Cannabis Association and a founding member of the Oregon Cannabis Association, decades of patience, hard work and passion has brought Eco Firma Farms triumph in several cup competitions, including two first-place Dope Cup wins and two second-place Cannabis Classic wins.

Here, Cannabis Community Info sits down with Harris to learn more about his top tips for keeping a clean, green grow.

1. Don’t Assume There’s One Simple Fix For A Sick Plant

“Assuming there’s one simple fix for a sick plant — that’s usually the first mistake growers make when transitioning to sustainable integrated pest management [IPM]. You can’t just spray a fungicide/pesticide or throw some biologicals at a plant to fix it. Once the damage is done, the first step is getting rid of the damaging invader. The next step is to bring the plant back to a healthy state of being. The best solution is cleanliness and a stable environment — I can’t express the importance of this enough. Once the environment is stable and clean, you can introduce their biologicals and begin working to solve the problem.”

2. Be Meticulous And Calculated

“The second mistake is typically the order of operations when working to attain a clean environment during the eradication process. It’s important to be meticulous and calculated when moving from one space to another as you clean, to ensure zero cross-contamination. Keep in mind that moving from a dirty environment to a clean one just reverses your entire process.”

3. Don’t Ignore The Importance Of Good Soil

“The third mistake usually involves the base. Don’t ignore soil, it’s the foundation for plant health. Having a great probiotic and biological regimen for your soil will ensure a strong immune system for the plant. Like any living organism, the healthier they are, the harder they are to infect.”

4. Research Your Ingredients

“One of the biggest challenges is understanding the label, its active ingredients, and how it affects crops. Just because an active ingredient is allowable, does not mean the binder in that product is allowable, too. Look at EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] standards. Then, ensure that the biological organisms are still alive when applying them to the plant. This is crucial. In the past, I’ve applied dead organisms to my regimen, not realizing why I didn’t notice [crop] improvement.”

5. Understand Bug Populations

“An important lesson I’ve learned in using biological controls for pests is how to understand bug populations. One must be able to continually identify the ‘good’ players from the ‘bad’ and keep a winning population on the field. Once you fall behind, regaining control is time-consuming and expensive. There’s a good chance you’ll lose the battle.”

6. Don’t Underestimate How Much Work It Takes

“And, I’d say the biggest lesson learned was underestimating what it takes to truly bring an environment back to clean and a plant back to healthy. This is usually a major undertaking, especially if you can notice the problem visually before you’ve begun treating for it. Mother Nature never sleeps. Once a problem rears its head, the battle is 24/7 and you’re already behind. Cleanliness coupled with stable plant health will take you a long way. If needed, early detection and action is the key to conquering issues as they arise.”