Growing your own cannabis makes a lot of sense in today’s age of legal marijuana. For those who set their mind to it, growing high-quality cannabis is easier than you may think. The cannabis plant is typically hardy and resilient–and many strains are quite tolerant of minor mistakes made during the cultivation process. If you’ve considered trying your hand at growing your own supply, there are many compelling reasons to do so. Don’t be intimidated; it’s really not as difficult to gain the necessary skills as you may think.
For a little motivation, ask yourself some general questions. Do you enjoy cannabis on a regular basis? Do you grow tired of paying lofty prices for your flower and consider it a financial drain? Are you sometimes disappointed with the quality or cure of bud you buy? Would you like an inexpensive and ready supply of high-quality cannabis for yourself and to share with friends?
If the answer to most or all of these questions is yes, growing your own is a logical and intelligent decision. To learn more about getting started with this sensible pursuit, the information shared here will get you started down the right path.
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.
Deciding what type of lights to use in your grow should be a matter of great consideration and additional research. In the cannabis space today, most people use High Pressure Sodium (HPS) or Light-Emitting Diode (LED), but Metal Halide (MH) are still found in grows and have their place—especially with young plants.
As technology advances, grow lights are becoming more compact and energy efficient, but there is still a significant cost attached to using them extensively like cannabis requires. Look for the best deals online or in local horticulture stores. Investing in good lights will be a significant investment, but if you buy high-quality equipment the lights will serve you well for several years and pay for themselves many times over, and you will have covered your costs after the first successful grow.
During the vegetative stage of growth, regardless of whether you grow from seeds or clones, most growers keep their lights at 18 hours of light and 6 hours of darkness each day. Then, to induce flowering, the light cycle is cut back to 12 hours of light to 12 hours of darkness. These light cycles will provide for optimum photosynthesis throughout the growing period.
Regardless of whether you use a grow tent, cabinet, closet, or room, you need to ensure that you can provide adequate ventilation and airflow. Failing to do so will have a profoundly negative effect on your plants, and they will not thrive. Cannabis does not do well in confined spaces with stagnant air—particularly if it’s overly humid. Heed this bit of warning.
Any high-quality commercially available tents or cabinets will have built-in vents to accommodate airflow. The better units may have built-in fans as well, to ensure that adequate airflow occurs. If you use a closet or small room, you will have to make sure you provide enough airflow and ventilation through the use of slatted doors or by installing ducts to the outside. If the room is large enough, sometimes leaving the door ajar and using strategically placed fans is enough to stimulate adequate airflow (not ideal, but it will work in a pinch).
When placing fans within a grow room, you shouldn’t need more than a couple—three at the max. The three things you want to accomplish is pulling in fresh air from outside of the room, pulling air out of the room, and providing air circulation through the room. Providing airflow at two or three heights will ensure that the air at all levels is circulating. For the fan within the room, an oscillating fan set at a low setting should work perfectly. Do not set the fan blades at too high a speed. You want to provide a gentle breeze effect—not a wind-tunnel environment.
Watering, Fertilizers, and Soil
Usually referred to as “soil supplements” in the world of legal cannabis, choosing the proper fertilizer is very important. Providing the proper amount of water and fertilizer is the No. 1 area where most novice growers fail. More is not better, and this philosophy will have a very adverse effect on the overall success of your grow. Overwatered or overfertilized plants will not have the rich green color you want, and they will appear yellowish-green instead. The leaves of over-nourished plants will often appear curled or burned at the tips (too much nitrogen).
The vast majority of experienced growers will choose organic fertilizers and shun synthetic products. The cannabis flavors and terpenes produced by organic soil additives are superior to their synthetic counterparts. If you have access to compost, it’s the perfect cannabis food. Since most people don’t have access to it, organic bottled fertilizers are nearly 100% organic, and they are the most convenient option available to most growers. Bottled soil additives sold by established companies like Fox Farms (producers of Big Bloom, Grow Big, and Tiger Bloom) usually come with directions and dosages for best results. Back off from the dosages many companies suggest and use 75% or so for optimum results.
Fox Farms and other soil additive companies also sell high-quality soil mixes that come “pre-loaded” with fertilizer already mixed into the soil. For the first few weeks of growing, additional additives should not be added to these soils, or overfeeding will occur, which will have an extremely negative impact on your grow—if not kill it. Again, heed this warning.
Most beginner growers tend to overwater. The soil for cannabis plants should be moist, but never sopping wet. If there is pooled water on the surface, the soil is much too wet. Only use containers to grow in that are made specifically for plants and have numerous drainage holes at the bottom. The solid surface should look almost entirely dry before watering is once again necessary. Use a finger to dig down an inch or so. The soil should be slightly moist just before the surface before any additional water goes into the pots.
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. 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!