While the laws, limitations and regulations are different for each state, almost every state with some form of legalized marijuana does allow home cultivation to some extent. Even though it’s completely legal, some people do not take advantage of their right to grow cannabis due to the perception that it is too difficult, expensive or time-consuming.
Don’t let the lack of ambition from others discourage you though. If done correctly, growing cannabis at home can be fun, simple and cost-effective! We believe everyone should have access to their own clean cannabis. That’s why we decided to bring you a comprehensive guide to growing marijuana, created specifically with beginner growers in mind.
Who’s ready to start their cannabis growing journey?
SELECT FEMINIZED SEEDS
It’s very important to selected feminized seeds before embarking on a growing operation with the aim of producing massive, top-quality yields. Doing so will ensure you avoid catastrophes that can greatly slow down the process and even reduce the yield of an entire crop.
Feminized seeds are bred to harbour no male chromosomes, meaning that every plant grown from them will be a female plant that offers smokeable flowers. Since only female cannabis plants produce medical and recreational marijuana, they are favoured by most cultivators over their male counterparts.
Therefore, choosing to start a grow with feminized seeds allows growers to avoid the time-consuming process of identifying any male plants early in the flowering phase and removing them from the grow space.
Not only will using feminized seeds save time, they will also help you avoid potentially disastrous errors. If any males within the grow space are missed, they will start to release pollen and subsequently pollinate the surrounding females. Once a female has been pollinated, her efforts to grow large buds coated in sticky resin will cease, instead diverting her energy into creating seeds instead. This is the last thing you want if you’re hoping for a potent harvest of cannabis flowers.
START SEEDS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
It’s best to start seed indoors in January or February at the latest. If growing from clones, I recommend getting them going indoors no later then April.
Ideally, you want to put out a plant ranging from 16 to 24 inches by June 1st, allowing the plant another 8 weeks of vertical growth before flowering.
HARDEN-OFF YOUR PLANTS BEFORE THEY GO INTO THE GROUND
When introducing the plants you started inside to the outdoor environment, it’s important they are “hardened off” first.
To do this, move the plants outside in their pots and place them in a shaded area for a day or two, then slowly move them into the sun a few hours more each day. When the plants seem OK in full sun then it’s time to get them in the ground!
QUALITY PLANTS NEED QUALITY SOIL
Not surprisingly, the soil you grow your plants in will have a big impact on how well they produce. And while it might sometimes be called a weed, prime pot needs just the right kind of dirt to do its best.
Plants that aren’t limited by the boundaries of a pot grow much larger, need to be watered less and get all the benefits of growing in the earth (for example worms, soil microbes, etc.).
TOO MUCH FERTILIZER MAKES FOR FEEBLE FLOWERS
Using a quality soil should enable you to avoid adding certain supplements to it that could end up doing more harm than good. If your soil is depleted, your plants will start to suffer the consequences. This is where some growers opt for synthetic products to attempt to restore the health of their plants.
However, the incorrect use of these products can result in undesirable outcomes such as root burn and the damaging and weakening of leaves. These scenarios can result in nutrient lockout and may obstruct adequate photosynthesis.
Extra fertilizer helps make plants grow tall, strong and leafy, but is less useful during the flowering stage. High rates of fertilizer were associated with lower concentrations of some of the important cannabinoids that we rely on for the medicinal effects of the plant. For more potent buds, cut back on the fertilizer once your plants start to flower.
EXPOSE YOUR PLANTS TO PLENTY OF LIGHT
When looking for a good location for your plants, choose a spot with a southern-facing location that receives full (i.e. all-day) sun. The more sun, the better your crop will turn out.
Plants need light in order to create energy – energy that allows them to survive, thrive, and produce the frostiest and dankest buds imaginable.
When light hits the surface of leaves, the green pigment chlorophyll plays a role in converting this energy into sugars. These sugars are the food of plants, and the more they create and consume, the larger and more vibrant they become. So, it’s easy to see why plants should be given as much light as possible during the grow cycle.
What’s important to realise is that not all light sources are equal. If you believe you can get by using a standard desk lamp, your plants will soon wilt and weaken. When growing indoors, powerful and mighty grow lights like HPS and LEDs are required to provide your crop with enough light to grow fast and strong. Strong, bright lights will do wonders for your plants and will result in improved potency and much larger yields.
IF YOU WANT BUDS, TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
Cannabis plants in nature respond strongly to light. But more light isn’t necessarily better, particularly when you want to maximize the production of the flowers that contain active chemical ingredients like THC, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids.
If the plant has more than 12 hours of daylight it will remain in a vegetative state.
Extra light will help the plant will grow quickly, as it stores energy into its leaves and stems. The result will be a big plant — but when you want it to flower, it’s time to turn out the lights.
When that lighting period is adjusted to 12 or fewer hours, then the plant starts to flower.
FOR POTENT POT, A LITTLE (DROUGHT) STRESS IS GOOD
You might worry that cutting back on the water would limit your plant’s growth.
A little water deprivation — or “drought stress” — appears to even improve potency.
The key is to find the right amount of drought stress. You can’t just allow your plants to dry completely.
He advises letting the plants’ leaves wilt to about 50 per cent more than its original angle.
Drought stress is commonly associated with high quality herbs and spices. Evidently, this applies to cannabis as well as other herbs that find their way into your kitchen pantry.
REAP WHAT YOU’VE SOWN
Don’t chop your plants down too soon. Plants develop most of their weight in the final stages of life. If you cut down too early, you could be missing out on an extra third in weight (and the same cannabinoid levels).
Research your strain. If the producer says harvest early to mid-October, then you know September is too early.
Look for hairs changing to red. If you see 40% of your hairs are still white, let the plant go until its closer to 15% white before considering cutting your plants down. Ideally you should allow the plant’s hairs to change completely. (Kurt Fisher, Production Supervisor)
Frosty mornings = frosty nugs. Allowing your plants to experience a light frost can enhance the final look of the flower and increase cannabinoid levels and yields.
Frost can bring out colours like purples and reds and causes the plant to increase cannabinoid production by making it think it’s dying.
The plant will drive energy into protecting its non-existent seed and by default produce more cannabinoid content in the plant.
Hang-dry with the leaf on. Cut the plant down, remove the fan leaves (the large, hand-sized leaves that don’t surround the flowers), and hang the plant on a line.
The remaining leaves curl over the flowers like a shroud and protect the crystals from light and air movement, and also help the plant dry a little more evenly. Dry in the dark for a week or until the stalk snaps but doesn’t break in two. Remove all the dry leaf then remove the flower and cure in glass jars by opening the lids once a day for 30 minutes for 10 days. Your flower will be smelling beautiful and looking pristine.