Why not grow a poppy patch? Here’s how… pt.2: cultivation & growing

Last time, we got everything together for our poppy growing adventure. Now we plant and cultivate.

They say poppies thrive on neglect (who says? the mysterious wise poppymen?). I’ll meet them half-way on this; I think fertilizer is important, but only once when first being worked into poor soil before planting, and a little (not too much!!) every month or so, after. Don’t follow the directions on the label if they require too much application. In my experience, old manure is better, but I understand that not many have the ambition or inclination for this; consider though that bags of sterilised manure-compost can be purchased easily, and the investment of time and money will pay you back in quantity and satisfaction; a 1:1:1 ratio of soil/compost/sand is ideal and recommended for awesome results, but not necessary. My rich, well-manured opium garden puts the lie to those who claim that poppies grow better in uncared-for soil; the eyes of any jaded Afghani grower would bug out in disbelief if they set upon my beautiful, huge plants and impossible pods.

The best time for planting is springtime, immediately after the snow melts and when one can till the soil without the rototiller getting gunked up with mud. The reason for planting this early is dictated by the seeds’ desire for a cold treatment, but if you plant later (preferably before June) it’s no big deal. The earth should be very loose and well-aired. We want to avoid packed dirt as much as we can; those roots love to travel laterally. Work the fertilizer or old poop (and sand?) into the top four to six inches.

Planting is simple; there’s no need to dig holes or trenches. We just broadcast our seed, diluted with a lot (a lot) of fine sand for an even spread. If you’re sure that you won’t be dealing with wind, you might get away with not covering your seed with dirt; but definitely be sure to use a rake to even out the seeds after broadcasting. Raking is generally fine regarding planting depth if the seeds are adequately watered every day to ensure they are impacted into the ground; but if you wish to plant deeper, don’t cover them more than 3/8″. In any case, water every day in the evening and make sure that the ground is absolutely drenched each time (be careful with pooling and run-off). When the sprouts come up, water a little less each day (don’t drench), but be careful; they are very fragile at this stage.

You will notice that after a time many sprouts have fallen over. This is normal. Just let them go at this time and water only if the rain isn’t doing its job. The ground should be neither soaked nor too dry.

Now it’s time to thin our poppies out. We want a space of eight inches around each plant. This might seem like too much space, but believe me, if you want big beautiful pods and a bounty, do it. Again, the roots need space because they travel laterally. Pull out the smallest and weakest plants.

From here on in, when the plants have caught, we can relax and just weed when necessary. Besides weeding, our only job is to ensure that the soil doesn’t get bone-dry; this doesn’t mean constant watering if you don’t figure it’s raining enough though; over-watering at this stage will just leave your poppies susceptible to mold, fungus and rot and may actually lessen potency. No, no, no!! Disaster and sadness will ensue!    :(

Happy plants=happy growers…    :)

~Next: harvesting and processing

Is there a ceiling for heroin use? Apparently so…

‘K, this isn’t a post about the virtues of tax-funded “harm reduction”, so please humour me and allow me a little diatribe…

~rant/on~

I’m one of those right/libertarian meanies who likes watching people in wheelchairs being forced to park at the outside edge of the Walmart parking lot and wheel in and out of traffic to get to the handicapped-unfriendly, normal-people-doors and wants the state out of his life if he hasn’t committed violence or theft. But with liberty and freedom comes self-responsibility; you want drug programs? Not with my cash. Get your grubby hands out of my pockets and take care of your own business if you’ve acquired an addiction…

…and don’t give me shit about “harm reduction” saving legal and medical resources. There would be less harm if the government would look at the whole picture and study why the drug war is futile, why organised crime is so powerful, why state methadone programs are not very successful, why the police-budget and resources are stretched, why health-care costs are higher than they need to be… then get the hell out and stop making such a fucking mess of it…

…now that would be “harm reduction”.

The point is, all drugs should be legal and taken out of the black market and allowed in the open market, and social programs for the drug-addled squished underfoot. This would radically lower drug prices for the under-class, save as much money as any fucking soul-crushing welfare program and justly disallow positive rights for parasites who otherwise develop a sense of entitlement to my hard-earned money.

~rant/off~

…Thank you for your patience.   ;D    Maybe I should have saved that rodomontade for another post but, well, I just had to get it out of m’system.

~Junkies die in the streets. Lots ‘n lots of them. Why? I have an idea why, and when I think of it, I become pretty fucking angry; angry at the tsk tsking Immaculate who cannot stand the thought of people doing things they wouldn’t do, for fear of some mythical “breakdown of society” that would leave all and sundry raving and slavering in the streets, eyeing wives and daughters and productive mens’ wallets while businesses, houses and government buildings burn to the ground. This is the demographic that could, with a collective word, tell the politicians, “enough is enough”, and free the markets just a little more and allow a product in that should never have been taken out

…I don’t blame the pols, the cops, or Big Pharma; the blame, and the power, lie completely with the Conservative Immaculate.

You see, there’s something that’s been going on for a few years concerning drug legalisation; The Swiss heroin experiments allow users to buy unlimited amounts of clean product. “What?”, you gasp. “These junkies are going to die in a twisted carnival-land of smack! They’re gonna wind up, one on every street corner, swaying and nodding in unison, knocking their heads on newspaper stands and light poles!”

Sorry to burst your righteous bubble, Moses. You probably don’t want to hear this, but apparently there’s a limit to how much heroin a junky craves. And when the junk is clean and free of contaminants, properly inexpensive and legally accessible, the junky not only doesn’t crave more and more, but tends to find employment, become a social member of society and uh… not die…

…you see, when drugs are legal and in the markets, people just like you and me who haven’t necessarily hurt anyone, who were once stigmatised as criminals and sub-humans scurrying about, like cockroaches, searching for drugs in and out of the cracks of the surface-world and the under-world… suddenly aren’t criminals.

Suddenly, these people are allowed to breathe, to pause, to take their bearing, to walk out of the night and out of the cracks in the concrete with dignity, to watch the sunrise while walking out their homes rather than wearily stumbling into them, to make a plan and carry it through… because society has finally let these isolated ones know that one who takes a drug isn’t necessarily a thief or a thug; just a person like everyone else.

~The evidence from the Swiss Heroin Program suggests that when a user isn’t stressed by everything surrounding the illegality of the drug and he feels safe, secure and included within his society, there is an upper limit to his drug use; when he can see over his once-smoggy horizon, and into better, fertile lands, the evidence suggests that he is more likely to be inspired and motivated to change his priorities, make better and life-affirming plans, look less favourably on his past and the drug that fueled it and start taking less and less of it…

…we don’t need social programs to make this happen… we just need the will, wit and wisdom to let it happen…

…legalise it.

Is there a case for tramadol?

Tramadol is a mild opioid analgesic with weak agonist actions at the μ receptor; it also releases serotonin and inhibits the reuptake of noradrenaline. It’s scripted for moderate pain, restless legs syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Tramadol has been prescribed for refractory depression for years, overtly in the US as a last-line drug for depression and somewhat otherwise to trusted patients by intelligent doctors in other countries. Lurking around the internet however, one finds there isn’t as much love for this drug as for its opiate cousins. Because of its unusual actions, some are fairly content to use it with a few reservations, a very few love it (maybe because they have uncommon genuine serotonin issues), and most become disillusioned with it after a time (maybe because, like so many depressives, they don’t have serotonin issues); and tolerance is kind of an issue because of potential serotonin poisoning (god, I have a hate-on for serotonin), so in my opinion long-term use is not advised…

…but, and here’s the kicker, because of lack of knowledge patients who are scripted on-label for pain get caught in a trap of dependence and withdrawal hell. The net is filled with stories like these… …be aware.

Tramadol acts as a μ-opioid receptor agonist, serotonin releasing agent, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, NMDA receptor antagonist, 5-HT2C receptor antagonist, (α7)5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist, TRPV1 receptor agonist, and M1 and M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist. This is one hell of a mechanism of action, and the very reason I’m wary of this drug. Calling it a “mild opiate” is like calling someone the world’s tallest midget… “like, so what?” Opiate withdrawal and PAWS are bad enough; now let’s combine O withdrawal with a SNRI-type withdrawal (Effexor discontinuation syndrome, anyone?), and fun and happy-happy joy times are right around the corner (I can see the balloons, confetti and flying ribbons already). I’ve been through SNRI discontinuation syndrome, and I cannot imagine dealing with, both at once, O withdrawal and SNRI withdrawal.  If one must abruptly discontinue for any reason (there are many…) and is into this stuff up to his neck, one had better get ready to take some time off work and possibly check into a medical facility; there ain’t no staying in bed with the Thomas Recipe, benzo’s and classical guitar cd’s with this stuff.

People are more and more advocating tramadol as a possibility for refractory depression, but I wonder if they’ve done their homework or don’t take seriously the potential for pain caused by this drug. Again, I have experience with these side effects and have no problem with the thought of saying “uhh… no.” Consider too, possible seizures for some, and tramadol starts to sound like not so much fun anymore. Indeed, a growing awareness regarding seizures appears to be another of tramadol’s bad raps…

…so, if one thinks combining tramadol with most mainstream antidepressants to increase efficacy might be the ticket, I would be inclined to put that thought away; maybe I’m wrong, but possible serotonin complications make this idea hard to defend.

~If your doctor is willing to script tramadol (imo, stacked with no other ADs), and you’ve done your homework and are aware of the negatives, you might be presented with an opportunity because it’s a “mild opiate” and maybe not so stigmatised by patronising (or just simply worried about a patient) doctors; maybe it is worth trying. As long as the supply doesn’t get abruptly cut off, you don’t develop a scary tolerance and this funny little opioid works as well as other “normal” opiates for refrac-depression, maybe try it out. There is evidence that tramadol binds to kappa receptors, but no evidence of wretched κ effects; so this is a big point in its favour. Just be careful and don’t beat a dead horse if it doesn’t work the way you want it to in the long-term…

…a blog-mate recently wrote that she takes a very small dose every few days to excellent effect. Maybe this is the way to go with this stuff. Little to no tolerance is built, and the potential for bad side effects is reduced big time.

I might look more into tramadol later, if my interest is piqued; but I can’t help feeling like a bit of an opie-snob with this stuff. Because of its obscure actions, this drug may be the holy grail for someone with an obscure kind of depression, but probably not much fun for most. I just don’t know if it comes close to “real” opiates for a person with EDS/refrac-depression…

…personally, I’d try LDN before tramadol.

Addiction & dependence are not the same

I don’t crave opium. I know it sounds like delusion and denial, but it’s true. I don’t seek the euphoria, and when I feel the wd’s coming on, I don’t crave O. Whenever I have to taper off for some reason, I just taper off. Yes, there’s that PAWS “hole” in my life for a while that users talk about that’s hard to fill with something else, but otherwise, no; I just spend more time mountain climbing and backpacking, my favourite hobbies, and being with my valued people. If there ever came a time when I was forced to go cold turkey and, say, some kind of benzodiazepine or tranquilizer was available to deal with the anxiety and a pain-killer for the aches, cramps and kicks, I would feel no pull toward opiates.

I think I can understand people with big gaping holes in their lives who just simply crave an altered state. I’ve seen them. We all long for beauty, don’t we? I know I do, and when I see the way some others live, where they live and their circumstances, whether in a semi-derelict state in a rented apartment/hovel or middle class but painfully empty state in a moneyed situation, I think they have an unusual “need” to fill these big gaping holes of “ugly” any way they can. Do they lack an imagination, or capacity for just filling the gaping hole with beautiful things and edifying activities and experiences instead of drugs?…

…or is there something biological that compels them to seek drugs? Maybe, but I’m not so sure about this.

Then we have ones for whom drugs have little appeal. These are people who acquire scripts for pain, or have tried opies and other drugs recreationally and find no inspiration in them. They are many. I’m one. If it was not for O’s incredible efficacy for my particular depression, I wouldn’t use it. I know a guy at work who was on a ten-year morphine run for back pain at inhumanly high doses, until he got sick of it, took a year off and used that time to taper off. He never craves, and “good riddance.”

We’re not the only ones who know that the whole “addiction” thing is pure bullshit. There is a difference between addiction and physical dependence, and you will never hear this from anyone in a position of governmental authority or with a “drugs-are-scary” agenda.

[all block quotes from Wikipedia]

~”severely distressed animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress pharmacologically if they can.”

And this is absolutely correct… and, know what? Any rational person would. Why in hell, in this age of relief, would man or mouse not under the spell of phony machismic or masochistic convictions “man up” and crawl through the devil’s rat-cage of pain instead? Explain the dignity in this, please. The above quote is from Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander, referring to Rat Park, a happy little place wherein once lived a happy little colony of lab rats, about which an experiment was carried out to test his own suspicions and find out if the disease hypothesis of drug addiction was a load of rat poop.

To test his hypothesis, Alexander built Rat Park, an 8.8 m2 (95 sq ft) housing colony, 200 times the square footage of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16–20 rats of both sexes in residence, an abundance of food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating and raising litters. The results of the experiment appeared to support his hypothesis. Rats who had been forced to consume morphine hydrochloride for 57 consecutive days were brought to Rat Park and given a choice between plain tap water and water laced with morphine. For the most part, they chose the plain water. “Nothing that we tried,” Alexander wrote, “… produced anything that looked like addiction in rats that were housed in a reasonably normal environment.” Control groups of rats isolated in small cages consumed much more morphine in this and several subsequent experiments.

Rats are valued for research because we share an almost identical genetic compatibility. This gives us some measure of confidence despite that rats have no conscious sense of purpose, aesthetics, values, goals, self-esteem or other human traits that might set motives for drug use and abuse. Doctors in the UK with experience scripting heroin feel little trepidation regarding most patient’s motives because, well, most patients aren’t at risk to divert from their purpose; so, apparently we and rats share many of the same attitudes toward drugs.

According to Alexander, the disease model makes either of two claims:

  • Claim A: All or most people who use heroin or cocaine beyond a certain minimum amount become addicted.
  • Claim B: No matter what proportion of the users of heroin and cocaine become addicted, their addiction is caused by exposure to the drug.

Several decades of animal studies have been seen as supporting these claims. Avram Goldstein wrote in 1979: “If a monkey is provided with a lever, which he can press to self-inject heroin, he establishes a regular pattern of heroin use — a true addiction — that takes priority over the normal activities of his life … Since this behavior is seen in several other animal species (primarily rats), I have to infer that if heroin were easily available to everyone, and if there were no social pressure of any kind to discourage heroin use, a very large number of people would become heroin addicts.

Against this, Alexander argues that the main evidence for the belief in drug-induced addiction comes from “the testimonials of some addicted people who believe that exposure to a drug caused them to ‘lose control’,” and from some “highly technical research on laboratory animals”. He argues that this weak evidence has been embellished in the news media to the point where it has acquired the status of an unassailable fact, whereas the great bulk of historical and clinical evidence, he says, runs against it. He writes that, although the use of opiates in the United States and England during the 19th century was greater than it is now, the incidence of dependence and addiction never reached one percent of the population and was declining at the end of the century. In Britain, he writes that heroin has been widely used in medication for coughs, diarrhea, and chronic pain until the present day; in 1972, British doctors prescribed 29 kilograms of heroin to patients, which he writes amounts to millions of doses, yet a 1982 study of the statistics on iatrogenic addiction in the UK showed a “virtual absence” of such addicts. Recent research confirms that many people use heroin regularly for years, for either recreational or medical purposes, without becoming addicted.

I have refractory depression and must supplement with opiates, understanding that they facilitate the things I enjoy and value and motivate me to partake in them.

Opiates don’t addict people. Attitudes addict people. Also, withdrawal is a nasty business, but is not addiction. If one has an addiction problem, one must do his best to change his financial/social circumstances, environment, and most of all, head space…

…find instead beauty in the world and in life, not in a drug. The drug is for enhancement of these, not an end in its self.

Why not grow a poppy patch? Here’s how… pt.1: getting things together

Grandma doesn’t know this, but her poppies will send you to heaven. Those pretty flowers in her yard are papaver somniferum, and don’t need to be sliced and the wonderful goo collected to be effective; in fact, it is much more efficient and… erhm… less conspicuous to simply let the pods ripen after flowering, freeze them fresh or dry and grind them into a powder for tea…

…yum yum!

If you’ve never considered growing poppies, there’s really not much to it; just a few tips to learn and easy soil prep. If, like me, you live in Canada, you’re lucky. We have the best climate in North America for our little horticultural adventure and the bonus, besides money saved on pharmaceuticals, is a truly aesthetic and meditative experience in cultivation, raising and harvesting… and it’s not just about the inner beauty of these flowers. They are really quite beautiful on the outside too. Growers, completely unaware of their inner potential, preferentially propagate poppies. When at its peak, a poppy patch is a whimsical and fantastical thing that invokes dreamy imagery with its blend of different colours and flower styles, dragon heads and pods. A patch or two can make your back yard look like a dreamer’s heaven…

…it’s therapeutic really; and dare I say… somewhat anti-depressive.

~Our first job is to find seeds. We have a couple of choices; We can go to Wal-Mart and check out the spice aisle, or buy them on-line. If you choose the spice aisle, bear in mind that you’re kind of rolling the dice in terms of quality. It doesn’t matter if the seeds are white, blue or black; they can grow quite potent flowers or quite wimpy, if pretty, eunuchs. I don’t bother with this. Your best bet is to spend the cash (it really isn’t that expensive) and get good product on-line. I suggest Canada. You won’t be disappointed. Look around the web. I won’t make recommendations, but I’ll give you a hint: buy your seeds from a farm that specializes in papaver somniferum, and nothing else (there are many different strains and types of somniferum, by the way). Seeds are perfectly legal, too… for now.

I prefer two strains- “hens & chicks” and “afghan specials”. H&cs are interesting because of an anomaly peculiar to the strain; each pod is surrounded by many very small misshapen “podlets”. If not for the difficulty slicing the “hen” pod because of the surrounding, interfering “chicks”, and that these flowers take longer than usual to grow, this strain would probably be prefered by growers who collect latex because of its unusual potency. But because we’re making tea powder, h&cs are the way to go. The flowers range from deep red to light purple with dark centres and are many-petalled.

Afghan specials are my other prefered strain. they produce a thick, barreled, morphine-rich pod that makes a beautiful cup of tea. These are truly special and valuable, so because different poppy strains cross-pollinate readily, you may wish to grow these by themselves, far away from other strains, and seed-save from the best pods unless you don’t mind buying seed every year (or buying a big lot of rather expensive seed, and planting a fraction of it each year). The flowers are bright pink with a white center, or more rarely, all white…

…as an aside, we never know when the long arm of the state with its liberty-choking hand will make these precious seeds illegal and unavailable- y’know, for our own collective good (the collective being the “almighty standard”). So one might consider seed-saving and keeping these poppy strains as pure as possible… just a thought.

There are other types of opium poppies, like giganthemum with, as its name suggests, enormous pods; persians with many flowers per plant; high yielding india whites; and many others, like peony poppies (papaver paeoniflorum) that look like peonies, and are popular with innocent flower gardeners. If you’re a jumpy type and retain visions of prison bars dancing in your head now that you own this forbidden knowledge, you may wish to consider peony poppies. They tend to have less alkaloids, but you can adapt by growing more of them. One particularly interesting strain is the tasmanian, which has an unusually high thebaine content for use in drugs like oxycodone and buprenorphine. Because tazzies are under ownership by corporation, they’re somewhat hidden in the market, but if I can find them, you can too. Thebaine is a more stimulating opiate while morphine and codeine are both downer and relaxing, so I don’t have an interest in tazzies. Others may though. At any rate, these are all somniferum.

With seeds procured, we head to our future poppy patch. I suggest a plot at least 18-24′ by 12′ with a path through the middle, lengthwise. 24 ft might seem like quite a length, but poppies yield less per plant than more common psychoactives. The patch must be in full sun from sunrise to sundown, or as sunny as possible. Don’t ignore this. The soil is best if rich, but if yours isn’t don’t despair; poor soil can be picked up simply by adding fertilizers, though in my experience old manure works best.

Cultivate as early as possible in the spring. As soon as the soil has thawed, we start tilling when the soil is dry enough to be broken. This can be fairly early in some areas. Poppy seeds are very hardy and prefer to be planted in cold soil. Some growers broadcast seeds in late fall to over-winter and let them come up in the spring as they wish. This is generally successful, but early spring planting, more so.

Poppies love loose, loamy soil; but will do nicely if the soil isn’t great, yet fertilized adequately. As well, if our soil is very loose and airy, we’ll have almost guaranteed success and seemingly more pods than we know what to do with. If soil is poor, rectify this a bit. It’s not difficult to bring up to par a little flower patch with some fertilizer (though, again, if you can instead find old manure you will be stunned by what you’ve accomplished come harvest). Poppies will let you know if soil is too crappy by a disappointing harvest. Avoid this; a soil/compost/sand ratio of 1:1:1 is a sure way to ensure excellent results. If you’re sure your plot is rich enough, or if you’ve just churned a chunk of lawn into a plot, you might be okay. If not, and you’re not into manure compost, get some chemical fertilizer with a higher middle number in the N-P-K ratio (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium). This is important because while nitrogen is good for lush green growth and potassium for roots (and flowers, aiding phosphorus), phosphorus is necessary for flower growth; so you’ll need a flower fertilizer, specifically…

…so phosphorus is key; too much nitrogen will promote green growth, at the expense of flowering… Not good, not good! Think PODS…

…if this excursion turns into a hobby, you’ll be getting into more technical aspects like soil PH and testing, composting, breeding and seed-saving and other geek stuff, most of which can be found on the net. You’ll find that your goal will be to produce bigger and juicier pods…

…i guarantee it…    :)

~Next: planting and cultivation