Our #GrowInspired series features our innovative and creative garden partners. Whether they’re working with two acres or 200 square feet, we are constantly in awe of their hard work and kick-ass gardens. These are some of our favorite growers and gardeners who inspire us to get out and play in the dirt.
Eric Olsen — aka @eric.smarpots — is the SW Territory Manager for Smart Pots and runs their popular social media accounts. When he’s not busy in the world of Smart Pots, he grows cannabis and veggies at his home in California. He chatted with us about his cannabis growing journey, using C-BITEs in his garden, his advice for newbie cannabis growers and much, much more.
Eric’s Cannabis Growing Journey
I moved out to California in 2007 after doing multiple business trips to the state and seeing how different cannabis was seen, especially compared to where I grew up in Wisconsin. So once I moved out here, I started with one light, then expanded to two and then four and then eventually I started running a 32-light operation underneath somebody else. From there, I got a little disillusioned with the industry as far as the fact that this was before Prop 64 and working with dispensaries at the time was very challenging and had its own set of hurdles. Then, I got more into the plant nutrients side of things and discovered a product and tried to sell that into retail and hydroponic stores. From there, I bounced around to another company until I got with Smart Pots, which is where I am now. It’s definitely been an interesting road on the cannabis highway and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the past twelve or so years I’ve been doing this.
All About Smart Pots
I am currently the Southwest Territory Rep for Smart Pots and there's so much business in Southern California alone that it really keeps me busy. But I also go up to Fresno, and then Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and I’m also responsible for Texas and Oklahoma as well. So I cover a big territory.
I am also in charge of the Instagram and YouTube account for the company, so that’s been really cool to interact with our customers through those channels. During the pandemic, we weren’t focusing so much on in-store purchases so we naturally put more energy into our online business. So it’s been fun to highlight our products on social media.
Eric’s Home Grows
For cannabis, I am currently growing ‘All Gas OG’ from Humboldt seed company. That’s a really solid strain and I’ve been doing that for three runs and really like it.
Other things that I grow here at my house are tomatoes, corn — for the second time, last year’s corn didn’t get nearly enough nitrogen in the soil, so I am trying it again — I also love growing peppers and succulents. I grow a ton of succulents.
Eric’s Biggest Growing Challenge This Year
The biggest challenge for me this season was dealing with caterpillars; they're very destructive, especially to cannabis plants. At first I was just being super observant and picking the little suckers off. But now I don’t leave my cannabis plants in the open-air. I’ve got them inside a little greenhouse with framing and netting to reduce any caterpillars or moths landing on the plants.
His Favorite Plant To Grow (Spoiler: It’s Cannabis)
Cannabis is definitely my favorite thing to grow because there’s no other plant that will change so radically in the end-product depending on its environment and what nutrients you give it. Unless you’re growing indoors and have it really dialed-in, everything is going to be slightly different from grow to grow. But that’s what makes it so fun! Plus, you get to partake in the harvest afterwards and you know exactly what you put into it and what you’re consuming without fear of any additives.
On Using C-BITEs On His Tomatoes
C-BITEs have really been helping me keep my tomatoes orderly and growing up right. We especially love cherry tomatoes and those tend to get pretty gangly around here, so the C-BITEs really help with that. I also love that C-BITEs come in different sizes because I have a lot of various sizes of bamboo stakes I’ve accumulated over the years, and it’s super easy to create whatever size trellising structure I need for the container I’m using.
Smart Pots and C-BITEs really compliment each other and it’s great that we’re both American-based companies and have similar viewpoints and places in both the traditional and cannabis industry. We’re both trying to make the gardeners’ life easier and help them grow a better crop.
The One Piece Of Advice Eric Would A New Cannabis Grower
I would say first — definitely learn the basics of plant science. There are a lot of great videos on YouTube; in particular, there is one guy named Harley Smith who has some really great videos where he just breaks down the basics of what nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all doing in your plants. It really helps to demystify the whole plant nutrition science to where newbies and amateurs can understand the nutrients they’re buying and using, which makes them more empowered as growers and they produce better yields. So yeah, knowledge before anything else, because what good is a product if you don’t know how to use it?
Eric’s Future Growing Plans
I’m going to be honest — our family is considering moving from California to possibly Texas or Florida. So the whole climate issue of where we might live — plus the legal ramifications of where we are — can really dictate what I’m going to be growing in the future. California is a beautiful state but every year it gets harder and harder to justify living here.
Exciting New Products From Smart Pots
Last year, Smart Pots came out with some vibrant new colors including mandarin orange, violet purple, and berry blue. Some stores have picked them up and they’ve done really well selling in the stores they’re at but because of the pandemic, we didn’t have a huge launch last year. So we are re-launching them now and honestly I didn’t think I would care so much about new colors but boy, when you see them potted up with flowers and arrangements they look really, really cool. I’m really glad we added those colors to the lineup.You can find Eric on Instagram at @Eric.Smartpots and @SmartPots.