Many people who are curious about the growing process of cannabis are not willing to make the commitment of having a huge garden, but are desiring to be a part of the cultivation process. People over the age of 21 can grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes (with a maximum of 12 plants per household), so long as they are kept in a locked location and out of public view. We will reveal some tips and tricks for the home weed grower to produce plenty of stash for their personal use.
The Grow Space
One of your first steps getting started is deciding how much space you can devote to your grow. Research how many plants are allowed in your state for a legal grow, which most likely will help you decide how much space to provide. If you live in an apartment or condo, a grow tent or cabinet may be a good option, especially if you want your grow to be discreet. If you choose this option, plan to invest anywhere from $75-$750. You tend to get what you pay for, but mid-range setups are usually decent quality.
If you want to utilize a larger area, plan to devote a walk-in closet or small room for your grow space. For this type of arrangement, you should purchase some mylar to line the walls. This highly reflective surface will boost the illumination in your growing area and promote plant growth. A utility room with a floor drain is a perfect area, but most homes do not have them. Most likely, you will have to purchase some thick, waterproof, plastic mats to protect your floor surface from water stains. From knowing the square-foot space you wish to use, you can calculate how many plants you will grow and the necessary lighting to attain your harvest goal.
Seeds or Clones?
Choosing whether to grow your plants from seeds or clones is a decision you will have to make. For new growers just starting out, clones will be easier, since they already have a head start and what they will grow into at maturity is already known. There is no guessing about the quality.
Seeds are available at many cannabis dispensaries in legal states. Usually there is a choice of indica or sativa strains from which to choose. If no dispensaries in your area sell them, a plethora of seed banks can be found online. These banks sell seeds from a variety of seed companies, and most of them will ship worldwide, using discreet packaging.
Clones are also available at some dispensaries, and stores specializing in only clones are becoming more common in legal states. When shopping for clones, make sure the plants are healthy and thriving, with no discolored or drooping leaves. Examine them closely for parasites—particularly if you have an established grow already going. Prevention is always the best practice, because once you have an outbreak of parasites like spider mites in a grow, they will be difficult to eradicate because they’re tenacious little beasties. If possible, segregate any new clones away from other plants for a few days to observe them for any signs of disease or parasites.
Regardless of whether you choose to grow from seed or clones, there is a much to be said for the multiple benefits of home growing.
Instead of topping, pruning or clipping shoots, which can slow growth and requires significant recovery time, try a technique called Low-Stress Training (LST for short), which involves using string, wire or weights to bend and pull down the top branches. As a result, the lower branches get more light and air circulation and, as a result, the plant fills out better.
Not only does LST result in bigger yields, but the technique allows you to control the height and shape of your plants. This is a godsend for those with small spaces doing micro-grows. Manipulating your branches into the desired shape can also help you maintain a level canopy, which results in a bigger harvest of nicely sized buds.
The key to LST is to minimize stress on the plants by bending the branches gently in order to avoid breaking them. New growth is easier to bend than old, so start the process when your plants are young. You’ll also need to factor in a couple extra weeks of vegetative time, but the increased yields will be well worth it.
How to Measure Soil or Hydro Nutrient Solution
When it comes to measuring fertilizer for either soil or hydro grows, many novices will be tempted to simply use an eyedropper or one of those 1-milliliter pipettes that sometimes come with the solution. But eyedroppers and small pipettes only deliver 1 or 2 ml at a time, forcing you to take multiple measurements. And that’s problematic because each measurement you take has a small amount of error associated with it, and over multiple times this error rate compounds, creating big differences in your grow.
That’s why we recommend measuring liquid fertilizer in as few steps as possible. For most nutrients, the best tools for the job are either a 10 ml graduated cylinder or a 10 ml syringe. To use a 10 ml graduated cylinder, fill it until the bottom of the meniscus (do a search for “meniscus chemistry” to see what we mean) is level with the desired reading when looking at it straight on. Pour this solution into the reservoir and rinse the cylinder with clean water to remove the remaining drops.
Syringes measure volume only by difference. For example, in order to measure 3.5 ml, pull out roughly 5 ml, flip the syringe facing up and push the bubble out so that only liquid remains in the syringe. Next, adjust the volume to exactly 4.5 ml and squirt the contents of the syringe into a small cup with reservoir water until the syringe reads 1 ml, for a total delivery of 3.5 ml (4.5 – 3.5 = 1). Syringes can be very accurate, but always use them to measure by difference only, and be sure to get rid of the bubble so that all you measure is liquid.
Traditionally, plants are grown in soil or soilless potting mixes that mimic natural earthy loam. Advances in hydroponics—i.e., growing plants with their roots immersed not in soil, but in a nutrient solution—allow cultivators to increase their plants’ growth rate as well as their final yield. Roots developing in a hydroponic system typically produce bigger plants much faster than the same roots in soil or a soilless mix.
We recommend that new growers use a soilless mix or coco coir (a renewable product made from the hulled shells of coconuts). These mediums allow plenty of oxygen to reach the roots without the typical hassles of hydroponic growing, such as water-temperature fluctuations or clogged drip emitters. Coco coir requires a slightly different nutrient and pH profile, and watering must happen more frequently than with soil, but we find it to be the best of both worlds, making it one of the easiest and most ecological ways to grow indoors.
You can grow connoisseur-quality cannabis, and it will cost you a fraction of what it costs to buy from a dispensary. Once you have a few successful grows under your belt, you’ll probably wonder why you ever paid for high-quality cannabis, and you may never do so again!
[Update, originally published 11.1.2017]