Mandala Seeds was founded three years ago by two globetrotters and breeders: Jasmin and Mike. Both traveled the world collecting cannabis seeds and developing their own strains for over 20 years. They share their wealth of experience by writing regularly on the techniques of cannabis cultivation and through their active engagement in customer support. Mandala Seeds aims to offer fresh genetics based on rare and outstanding land race strains, the power of F1 hybrids, and innovative breeding and seed production methods. Their cannabis strains have received consistent positive acclaim from growers for their quality and fair price.
We met up with Mike to learn more about their strains and the vision behind the seed bank.
Mike, what was it like to travel for so many years in places like India?
I guess traveling long distances, over oceans and continents, lies in our blood. Jasmin lived in South East Asia for many years before her family settled in Europe. Compared to that I was a slow starter. But once I left home I never looked back. When I met up with her in India I had already been scouting for cannabis seeds in North & South America and Jamaica. But India, and in certain respects also Nepal, really opened up my eyes to the enormous breeding potential of land race cannabis. Traveling for several years at a stretch on this huge sub-continent was very demanding psychologically, emotionally, and physically. I'm not sure we could do it again at our age now! We had our own jeep. Without it our adventurous expeditions could have never taken place because we wouldn't have been able to get to any far-out places. It was a special Mahindra model called „Wagonette“ and had a big back seat that looked like a sofa. To protect us from the black diesel fumes belching out of the trucks on the highways we got an a/c built in. And it needed a custom made steel luggage carrier to pack our gear. For surviving so many months on the road a lot of equipment was necessary. We encountered and had to cope with many situations that tourists or backpackers are normally spared. Military check-points ranked high on the list in testing our nerves. In Punjab there were a lot of them due to the volatile political situation in the north. One day a soldier insisted on screening our jeep for weapons with one of those hand-held metal detectors you see at airports. Well, every bag and box he passed the detector over made a beeping noise! It was a nightmare. When you deal with third world bureaucracy you can go nuts. But the military is even worse because they are drilled to follow orders like it's a matter of life and death. Anyway, inevitably the soldiers demanded that we unpack our entire 1.100 pounds of luggage. It was in moments like this that Jasmin's ID from the agricultural development project she had been working for saved us from hours of painstaking unloading and reloading... on a black asphalt road baking at 140°F. After one year of touring we eventually realized that it was best to alternate between settling down for a few months and going on our expeditions. So the winter was spent in Goa or Kerala, and when the hot season started in March we packed our gear to move back north.
How did you find the land race genetics you are using in your breeding projects?
It was a mixture of luck, patience, and adventurous risk. We are also in debt to the many friendly and hospitable local people who helped us in many ways like repairing our jeep when we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, or entrusting us with their botanical knowledge of the area. Cannabis grows wild in nearly every Indian state, but you don't always find it growing at the roadside, or next to the bus station like it used to be in Manali. It was relatively easy sometimes...and at other times we had to drive and trek into the wilderness in long and exhausting excursions. Since we were not just looking for some weed to smoke but viable seeds, it was usually necessary to do field trips one year, and return the next season at the right time to collect enough ripe seeds. Our sativa stock from Kerala came out of seeded buds that were really excellent for local cultivation standards. Jasmin and I often had the chance to meet and talk to villagers in remote areas with wild cannabis fields. In Himachal Pradesh it was the shepherds who were helpful in pointing out interesting routes and small valleys with patches of cannabis. During that time the drug tourism hadn't reached the dimensions that it did since the new millennium. Things were much more relaxed back then. I think that this has changed a lot in the past years. Our stay in Jammu and Kashmir was very fruitful after living on a house boat for one month and befriending the family. There were many different locations with wild plantations but it wasn't wise to just wander around aimlessly in a military zone. The never-ending conflict with Pakistan over the territorial rights of Kashmir had turned this paradisical place into a battle field between Pakistani backed militants and the Indian army. During our stay there were only five foreigners around Srinagar including us. We had to keep a low profile so as not to attract unnecessary police attention, since we were already standing out like pink elephants. Luck was with us that we had clear instructions where to look and were even invited to visit private held land.. In recent times large scale cultivation is being practiced in Jammu. Although I wouldn't recommend anyone to trek into these areas because they are often guarded by armed guerrillas. During the religious festivals like Shivaratri (the birthday of the Hindu God Shiva, also known as „lord of ganja“) we used to stay at famous temple sites and meet wandering Sadhus (India's holy men and yogis). Most of them smoke ganja (cannabis leaves and buds) and hand-rolled hash the whole day. They don't buy their stash from a dealer but collect it and share it amongst themselves. Whenever we had some charas with us we would share it with a group of Sadhus. Some of them had such clear eyes and warm smiles you could immediately feel their contentment with their free way of life. There wasn't any need to speak much... we all smiled and smoked. They often returned the favour by giving us some buds. A couple of these samples had seeds and turned out to be very special plants. These are some examples of the many paths we followed to obtain native cannabis strains.
After all these efforts and setting up your own seed bank why are your strains so inexpensive?
Jasmin and I have an unconventional approach to business. The objectives and the philosophy behind our seed bank was born long before we actually founded the company. We have always believed in "profits with principles" and work by our own code of values that encompasses fairness, reliability, transparency and respect. If everyone would just take as much as they need, we would see a great improvement in the global distribution of wealth and resources. We respect the cannabis community, nature, and the plants within it that heal our minds and bodies. There is a purpose why these plants exist and why they have such a strong medical and spiritual effect on humans. I believe that they are a sacred medicine that help us cope with life's challenges, opening cerebral doors of creativity that would otherwise remain locked under normal circumstances. Everybody who is in business automatically carries social responsibility. Since we work with a sacred plant we feel this is potentiated. On the one hand it's a valuable key to personal and social harmony, and on the other hand it is being threatened by an onslaught of political and industrial forces that want to destroy cannabis genetics and culture world-wide. A fair price policy is one of several ideas we wanted to put into action in support of the growing community that stands behind cannabis and it's liberating spirit.
What else, apart from the land race genetics they contain, do you think makes your strains unique?
It's their energy...their power. Also the interesting blend of aromas in each hybrid and balanced high is often complimented by growers. I'm a fan of sativas and love the freshness of a cerebral buzz. That's why we first introduced sativa hybrids and gradually expanded to include the indicas. We set out to create strains that are perfectly adapted to modern indoor cultivation and fun to grow. Growing methods have changed over the past decades. Increasingly people are growing in small apartments with very restricted space. They need plants that are reliable, yield well, stay compact enough to fit into closets and grow-boxes, and can stand the heat from HPS lamps – even in the summer. What is required is vigour and stability to guarantee easy plant care and fast recovery if a mistake happens. People with a busy schedule, who have to work, study, care for their family, are glad when they can relax more because their garden is flourishing with minimum plant care. Especially med growers who are automatically restricted through health problems, and can't always spend quality time with their plants, benefit from the fact that our strains basically do the growing for you.
How do you get a strain to perform like that?
We have a zero tolerance policy against genetic weaknesses like hermaphroditic traits, nute sensitivity, low yields and an unpleasant or weak high. The land race genetics infuse many of the outstanding traits like high resistance into the hybrids. We make the most of utilizing wild untamed breeding stock with our collection of „domesticated“ hybrids but this is a difficult and demanding process. You don't want to end up with a generation of hemp plants but resiny and high yielding cannabis. That's why we can only breed in a certain percentage of land race genetics for each cross. Every Mandala strain in our catalogue has gone through extensive long-term testing and must fulfill all our expectations to produce quality plants and buds. And our expectations are very demanding! I don't care, for example, if a strain tastes like strawberry ice-cream...if it's finicky, moldy, a pitiful yielder, anything like that... it doesn't come into consideration for breeding.
The typical Mandala genes and our special seed development method to produce our „Deluxe“ seeds give seedlings the best possible start right after germination. We develop and breed organically in soil under strict conditions. This results in our strains to have the ability to assimilate and utilize nutrients in any medium – soil or hydro – very efficiently. All of our strains exhibit hybrid vigour and a remarkable development that you can see with your own eyes: huge leaves, thick stems, fantastic root growth, and big head buds. Outdoors the Mandala strains can withstand rough and windy weather, soaring heat, and recover quickly from dry spells. Even plants eaten from animals down to the ground, or uprooted, sprout new growth. It's really hard to kill them! Mother plants provide excellent shoots for cuttings and produce well long-term. For all these factors to blend perfectly in a strain we pursue very high breeding goals and spend on average 5 years to develop an F1 hybrid to it's final version. When we see the feedback from growers we know it's been worth every working day.
Flowering time: 60 days
High: you can relax and unwind with this strong, yet gentle, psychoactive high that makes your mind fly while your body stays in a state of relaxation. This indica is seldom narcotic if harvested timely and is perfect for those after work hours or lazy afternoons. The high is impressively powerful without causing any paranoia and tends to build up over several minutes before it resonates throughout your mind and body.
Sadhu is especially perfect for closet and homebox growing. It's a robust strain with tight internodes and can take a beating when temperatures climb in small spaces. You can plant in sea of green style even from seed since she focuses most energy into producing a huge main cola. When applying LST (ie. tying down the head bud) the plants branch out with thick shoots loaded with buds. Sadhu is so easy to grow it's hard not to harvest tasty and chunky nuggets packed with resin. Her aroma is very enticing but won't overwhelm your stealth setup. Yields are generally above average even if you have to keep plants very short in a cupboard. This is also one of our prime hash strains. The parentage contains rare and unique land race genetics from the legendary Kashmir foothills in Northern India. Medical growers value the relaxing properties of Sadhu for relieving stress, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Flowering time: 60-65 days
High: a strong, up-high that leaves you clear-headed yet
wonderfully stoned; recommended as “leasure and pleasure”
cannabis; physically stimulating; cheerful.
One of the exceptional qualities of this all-rounder is her ability to flower satisfactorily even under low-light conditions such as CFL and 250W sodium vapour lamps. Budget minded growers who need to save on costs can't go wrong with choosing White Satin. Although the plants develop a n impressive head bud this strain tends to branch out more which is an added benefit for SCROG grows and pruning methods. The buds and small leaves are coated with trichomes during peak flowering.
White Satin retains a fresh look even towards harvest making her shine with a frosty-white glow. This strain is our stealth cross since the plants keep odor levels in the low range. The high has the tendency to spread happy times with plenty of laughs and an upbeat energy. It's a great daytime and party herb.
Flowering time: 65-70 days
High: a clear, cerebral high and strong potency that sets in quickly; it supports concentration & creativity; very inspiring and stimulating. Ideal for writers, artists, musicians, or other creative people. The effect is very long-lasting and fades out softly leaving the mind calm and refreshed.
If you are looking for a clear, mind-expanding, creative high that is uplifting and inspiring but always thought sativas are finicky and low-yielding... then you are in for a surprise. Satori combines the best of potent cerebral effects with an indica-like growth pattern for easy plant care and maximum yields. The hybrid vigour, long main cola, and heavy bud sites turn her into a huge producer whether you are growing in soil or hydro. Satori is very heat resistant which is a clear bonus for indoor environments and hot summer grows. One of the main reasons for her generous harvests is not just the amount and density of the buds but also that these are loaded with quality resin. Unlike most sativas Satori is a breeze to grow, has strong branches to hold bud weight, and is easy to trim after harvest. Potency is not just strong, but above all long-lasting and rewarding for regular users who have developed a higher level of THC resistance. Medical growers suffering from the foggy effects of pain medication and the stress of their illness especially benefit from Satori's euphoric and lucid effects.
Flowering time: 65 days
High: the classic chill-out weed; an expansive indica stone with a powerful high that sets in with the first toke; the buzz is first light-headed and very balanced before switching to a stronger narcotic phase towards the end of your flight.
Hashberry has won the hearts of many growers. Based on old school genetics and an extraordinary land race strain it's no wonder that one is reminded of the finest grass in the 70's with regards to flavour and high. She will leave you with a sweet-hashy taste lingering on your palette when you have savoured the fruity buds. This is also one of the highest yielding indicas on the market. Results in grows such as DWC („bubbler“ system) are simply awesome so you can expect to see remarkable root, shoot and bud development in hydro. But Hashberry has much more to offer than that. Her extreme vigour allows for massive baseball bat sized colas even in regular potting soil. Plants perform to the maximum with a minimum of feeding. This is due to the extremely efficient nutrient uptake of our strains originating out of our breeding methods and the plants' well-developed infrastructure. Growers with closets benefit from this high-yielding indica by making the most out of their space. Along with Sadhu she has little stretch and can be made to fit into any grow box. Hashberry is true to her name and will provide you with exceptional bud quality, plenty of fat trichomes and a delicious aroma.
Flowering time: 70-75 days
High: a mighty, sativa high with an energizing body effect; sensual and stimulating. Good for active recreation; heavy indulgence can lead to a temporary state of being blissed out; excellent potency despite long-term regular use.
A tremendously vigorous sativa strain that allows for fast SOG style rotation in your grow space due to the quick rooting and growth of clones/seedlings and short vegging period required. Whether you start from seed or take cuttings this strain is extremely adaptable to all grow methods. It has the remarkable ability to flower well under low-light as well, similar to White Satin, despite the powerful sativa genetics. Kalichakra is a generous yielder with a beautiful bud structure and high calyx-to-leaf ratio. Her ability to forgive mistake in plant care, good mold and pest resistance, heat resistance and strong overall development makes this strain also an excellent choice for novice growers or people who can't devote a lot of time to their garden. Connoisseurs appreciate Kalichakra's powerful high that can impress the most seasoned cannabis growers. Named after the Hindu Goddess Kali, who is a consort of Shiva, Kalichakra should be treated with due respect or you may find yourself temporarily blissed out from the soaring sativa buzz and unable to do anything except sit down with a dazed grin on your face.
Flowering time: 55 days
High: the “surfers” choice - a stimulating and balanced indica buzz that does not put you to sleep. You can feel wide-awake yet completely relaxed. The high provides plenty of energy for social activities and partying till the morning hours.
If speed is the issue this lady can deliver a quick harvest with little fuss or worry. Speed Queen is a compact and short plant that can be cultivated in any grow system. The main objective with this strain was to create a robust indica with a quick indoor finishing time within the regular 3-4 week vegging period. But it also responds well to pruning or LST if you prefer to give the plants a longer vegging time and grow them with multiple head buds. The dense, crystal-loaded flowers provide a very good yield despite the moderate height of the plants and short flowering time. Due to the thick shoots and sturdiness of Speed Queen it's a great outdoor strain for withstanding windy climate. Since it doesn't autoflower and is dependent on the length of daylight to trigger flowering, the harvest times in far northern latitudes will stretch into October. To shorten outdoor flowering it's best to plant out clones or 3-4 week old plants around summer solstice.