Mr Soul is the creator of the strain Cinderella 99. He started Brothers Grimm in 1996 in Boston, and the business supplied high-quality genetics at a time when seeds where more likely to have hitched a ride with your bud than come in a packet. With the advent of the Internet came an opportunity to share information—and product. “You can imagine the online world at that time, it was very clunky,” Mr Soul recalls. “But there were message boards. We [cultivators] used chat rooms. We all talked on a daily basis and would share stories of what we were doing.”
Mr Soul met his business partner online: “His name was Sly. He operated from Las Vegas—and me, from Boston—never met, never shook hands. There came a day where he said, ‘I think my cover is blown, and the prudent thing to do would be to shut your operation down.’ We said, ‘Let’s drop all communication so no one can tie one to the other.’ That was the last time I spoke with him. That was in 2001.” Often we take the fraternity of our now open industry for granted, but at a recent event, Mr Soul met somebody who personally knew his former business partner and informed him of Sly’s recent death. “This was someone that I knew,” he says sadly, “really trusted, worked with for a long time.”
Mr Soul is a masters graduate in nuclear engineering and started growing cannabis during college. With information scarce in a pre-Internet age, “it was basically reading High Times magazine, the classified ads in the back of the magazine. At the time it seemed outrageous—‘Oh, look, you can write away for psilocybin mushroom spores and cannabis seeds.’”
Cinderella 99 made the Brothers Grimm name recognizable at a time when having a name meant being respected and sought after in a small corner of the Internet. But with the open market as it is now, he decided to bring Cinderella 99 back stateside, and Mr Soul isn’t shy about announcing that we’re seeing the return of a great strain. “It’s like Jimi Hendrix has just turned up again and said ‘Hey, I can still play guitar!’”
But how to resurrect a great hit from a long lost album? “I had individual seeds,” recounts Mr Soul. “I had trusted friends holding clones of my two most important females. When I wanted to start up again, I contacted them and got them to send [the clones to me]. Then it was simply a question of what male to use as a donor. I had seeds of the male I originally used stored at my grandmother’s house since 2002.”
Cubing Cinderella 99
In 1996, Mr Soul cultivated the few seeds in a bud of Jack Herer bought at Sensi Smile coffee shop in Amsterdam. One of the seeds produced a very special female Mr Soul named “Princess.” According to Mr Soul, Princess had a devastatingly psychoactive resin and stayed short, compact and had a heavenly aroma of tropical fruit and rotten meat. It was from Princess that Cinderella 99 was bred.
To create a stable seed line from Princess, Mr Soul decided to use a technique called “cubing.” Cubing a plant is a method to genetically replicate, as close as is possible, a seed line from a single female plant. In this instance, Mr Soul was hoping to share Princess with the world. However, in this breeding case, a male needed to be involved somewhere—Cinderella 99 seeds are created from a male P94 crossed to Princess.
The ideal male to donate his pollen is preferably the female’s father or a brother, to preserve any female traits linked to the male side of the family. The seeds that result from this union contain one half of the original female’s genes and half those of the male. It is then a matter of growing the seeds to flower.
The process is as follows: Pollinate a flowering clone of the chosen female with pollen from a male selected from the above group; these seeds contain three-fourths of the chosen female’s genes with the remaining quarter being that of the male. Mr Soul calls this the “first back-cross generation P75.” Repeat this process three more times, and the resulting seeds (in theory) contain fifteen-sixteenths of the original female’s genetics. Or, as Mr Soul would say, “The third back-cross generation, P94. It is this plant that becomes the donor male.” Theoretically, this will be a stable, true-breeding seed line from which all females are near-replicas of the original.
A mystical return
Good seeds are the beginning point of any great garden. And for many heritage growers, Cinderella 99 is fondly recalled. Mr Soul has a theory: “When I dropped off the radar in 2001 to hideout in Europe, I think that got the rumor mill going. [My disappearance] sort of made Cinderella 99 more mystical.” Maybe more mystical, but maybe just as good as it ever was.
A Lesson in Making Female Plants
If you’ve been in the market for seeds recently, you’ll likely have encountered “feminized seeds.” And though regular six-bowl Joe doesn’t need all the information that went into creating his consistent, well-thought-out high, having knowledge creates something Mr Soul calls The Connoisseur Effect. “As we become better informed, we are greater appreciators of subtleties.”
Mr Soul explains some of his research into feminizing seeds, sharing, “A group of plant scientists led by Dr. H.Y. Mohan Ram from India performed numerous documented studies which revealed several methods of inducing sex reversal in female dioecious plants to produce fertile male flowers.” To break that down, we’re talking about turning our ladies into men, purely for reasons of reproduction. Where ladies have two X chromosomes, fellas have one Y and one X chromosome. “Pollen from male flowers generated through sex reversal,” the female to male treatment, “will always contain only X chromosomes and thus are feminized so growers don’t have to worry about inviting male plants into the growing room.”
The female to male treatment’s name is “Silver thiosulfate anionic complex, or STS. STS solution consists of two ingredients which combine to form biologically active silver thiosulfate complex. Those two ingredients [compounds] are silver nitrate and sodium thiosulphate.”
“Dr. Ram found that silver ions block female plants’ production of ethylene, which is a compound involved in normal ripening and flower development,” Mr soul continues. “When ethylene is blocked, female plants are essentially ‘tricked’ into forming male flowers—male flowers which contain only female genetics and thus produce only female seeds.”
“Gardeners will be happy to know that STS only has a direct physical effect on the treated plants and is not absorbed or passed on to the female seeds produced . . . absolutely no STS residue is present in the female plants grown from female seeds produced through use of STS solution.”
In relation to concerns about handling these chemicals, Mr Soul explains, “Silver nitrate is commonly used in photography and has several medical uses due to its antiseptic properties. While it is true that silver nitrate is corrosive and will stain skin black if handled directly, it is very safe in the extremely dilute concentration used in STS solution.”
What about sodium thiosulfate? “Among its various uses, sodium thiosulfate is used directly on skin as a topical antifungal agent and is used as an ingredient in table salt—every time you add a salt packet to your French fries, you are eating sodium thiosulfate.”