Most of us have heard that age-old saying, “If you give a man a fish you can feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you can feed him for a lifetime.” With the increase in states legalizing both medicinal as well as recreational marijuana use, who would have thought that the saying above would be relatable to cannabis.
With dispensaries opening up every day across America, more and more Americans have access to not only cannabis but also information and resources regarding the plant. Cannabis users can not only legally purchase cannabis in dispensaries, but they also have the capability to get the necessary equipment and resources needed to get started growing their own plants at home. Here we are going to talk about the different techniques that cannabis users can utilize to grow their own cannabis at home.
You do not need to be an expert at gardening to grow your own cannabis plants at home. With the proper equipment, It’s not hard at all to accomplish. Here we are going to discuss the various methods that can be used to grow your own cannabis crops at home, which should be ideal for beginner growers.
Where Do You Want to Grow?
When it comes to growing your own cannabis, one of the first questions you have to answer is: where do you want to grow your plants? If you wish to save money on lights and other equipment, you can always choose to grow your cannabis outdoors. Another bonus of growing outdoors is the fact that your plants have the possibility of growing much larger since they will have more sun and carbon dioxide. Bigger plants tend to provide a bigger yield once it comes time to harvest.
If you choose to grow your cannabis outdoors, somethings you would want to consider include space, sun exposure, water, protection, and soil.
- Space: Space should not be a huge concern when it comes to growing outside. You will not have to worry about cramming plants together under a light since they will be receiving their light source directly from the sun. As mentioned earlier this will result in larger plants and a bigger yield!
- Soil: You should try to avoid growing in areas that have a lot of standing water since you do not want your plant soaking in too much water. Your soil should have enough give to it so that excess water can drain off. Also, you want to make sure that your soil has the proper nutrients during the vegetative and flowering stages, which we will get deeper into later on.
- Water: Your plants are going to need lots of water. Keep in mind if you choose to grow in an area where it does not rain a lot, you would want to make sure that your plants have access to a watering system whether it be a sprinkling system or a water hose. Since cannabis plants are sensitive, you will want to do a little research in regards to the pH level of your water source. Ideally, water used for cultivating cannabis should be between 5.8-6.5 pH levels.
- Protection: Let’s face it, cannabis crops are valuable. When considering a location for your outdoor grow, you will want to make sure that your garden is protected from people, whether it be thieves or possible neighbors who are not happy about your crops. You also want to make sure that no critters will be tempted to explore your garden set up as well.
Indoors Might Be the Better Choice
Not everyone is going to have the ability to grow cannabis outdoors, especially if growers want to try to stay discreet in the process. For those who wish for a little privacy, or want to be fully in control of growing conditions, it might be ideal to set up an indoor grow set-up. Growing indoors allows growers to provide optimal conditions for their plants to flourish, and provide the highest yields possible. However, growing indoors will result in having to obtain additional equipment since humans have to replicate what Mother Nature provides – such as light and air.
If you choose to grow indoors, you might want to consider purchasing a grow box. A grow box can allow you to grow anywhere from eight to 256 plants. A grow tent will provide you with a pace for your light fixture, and provides the necessities for proper air circulation.
Light Sources Are the Key
After purchasing your tent, you are going to want to choose your light source. When it comes to lighting, you have many options available. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are ideal when your plants are still in the seedling stage, however, they do not offer enough light for the later stages in the growing process. Other light sources include high-pressure sodium lights (HPS), which produce lots of light in the orange spectrum, which is good for the flowering stage, which is when your plants will begin to grow smokeable buds. Metal halide lights (ML) produce a lot of light in the blue spectrum, which is ideal for the vegetative stage in a plant cycle.
The vegetative stage is the part of your plant’s cycle when they are utilizing photosynthesis, which helps them gather enough resources needed for flowering and reproduction. Most growers will agree that the best lighting source available is LED lights. LED lights are not only energy-efficient, but they also allow growers to use one set of lights throughout a plant’s life cycle. While you are purchasing your light fixture, you might want to consider purchasing an electrical timer. Different stages of your plant’s life cycle will require different hours of light and darkness, and an electrical timer takes some of the burden away from the grower, just in case they forget to turn on/off lights when needed.
Rarefied Air for a Rare Plant
Once you have your lighting source situated, the next step is to make sure you provide sufficient air quality in your growing environment. To do this you will need the following:
- Air Intake: Just like all other plants, your cannabis is going to need fresh air to flourish. Most tents will already come with a hole somewhere in the tent that will allow fresh air to enter as the old air is being removed through the exhaust.
- Exhaust fan: You will need an exhaust fan to help replace all of the air in your tent every 1-3 minutes. When determining what is the best exhaust fan for your growing situation, you should determine the cubic area of your tent (length x width x height) and speak to someone from a local hardware store about the best fan suited to fit the space you are working with.
- Carbon Filter: A carbon filter will help keep your growing environment discreet by removing odors that you might not want permeating throughout your house.
- Oscillating Fan: An oscillating fan will help keep the air inside the tent circulating. This will help keep your plants from overheating and creating a breeze so that your plants will receive adequate carbon dioxide.
You may also want to purchase a thermometer and humidifier just to make sure that you are keeping your temperature and humidity level at a point where your plants can thrive. You will also still need to make sure that you have water and soil, just as if you were growing outside. When it comes to soil, you want to make sure that you have soil that has a proper amount of phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.
What to Grow
Now that you have your equipment and growing space figured out the next question is what to grow? For beginning growers, some easy strains to grow include Northern Lights, Super Lemon Haze, and Jack Herer. New growers should also auto-flowering seeds.
Usually, cannabis plants require 24 hours of light during their vegetative stage before switching to a 12 hour light cycles to encourage flowering. Auto-flowering plants, on the other hand, can flower with 24 hours of light, which translates into faster flowering and no longer having to separate plants that are in their vegetative stage to those in the flowering stage.
When it comes to purchasing cannabis seeds, you will also want to make sure that you buy feminized seeds to help you increase your yield. Just like other plants, cannabis grows from both male and female seeds, however, only female seeds produce the buds that provides THC.
Once you have your seeds picked out, the first thing you want to do is germinate your seeds. Germinating is simply the process of getting your cannabis seed to sprout a root. There are a few ways that you can germinate your seed.
- You can purchase a starter cube, or simply use a red solo cup (if you use a solo cup, make sure you poke holes at the bottom for proper water drainage). Fill either the cube or solo cup with soil and place your seed with the pointed end down, keeping the cup or cube warm and moist.
- You can also use a wet paper towel to begin the germination process, by placing the seed in a wet folded paper towel and keeping it in a dark place for 1-3 days before placing it in a solo cup or cube.
- If you have older or dried out seeds, you can place them in a glass of slightly warm water and placing it in a dark place. This method should have your seeds sprouting in 24-32 hours, however, if this does not happen, you should move them to a moist place to that they can continue to sprout.
- You can also choose to germinate your seeds directly into your growing soil by placing them one inch in the soil, keeping it warm and moist.
Once you have your seeds germinated you are ready to plot your seedlings in the soil if you have not already done so (such as in option 4 of germinating). At this stage, you do not have to worry about adding nutrients to the soil, once your plants are larger you will be able to move them into bigger pots and start adding nutrients after two to four weeks of growth.
Watching The Seeds Sprout and Grow
At this point, your plants are entering the vegetative stage of its life cycle. As stated earlier, this is the stage where your plants are growing and it usually lasts between four and five weeks. During this stage, you will want to make sure that your plants have enough water, which you can monitor by checking the soil. If the soil is dry up to your first knuckle, you know it is time to treat them with water. You can start adding nutrients at this stage as well, and you want to make sure that your plants are getting 18 hours of light.
When your plant reaches half of its desired height, you can begin the flowering stage. At this point, you should switch your light timer so that your plants receive 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness. During this time, you should check your plants for any male flowers. You can identify male flowers by the little pollen sacks around where the main stem connects to its branches. If you see these, they should be removed as soon as possible! At this point, you can watch your buds grow and hopefully prepare for a bountiful harvest!
It might seem overwhelming at first, but with a little bit of practice and patience, you soon will find that growing your own cannabis can be easy, and honestly fun. Who wouldn’t want to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor, while staying self-sufficient? If you should have any questions about growing cannabis at home, you should seek the advice of a budtender or another staff member at your local dispensary, who should be more than willing to help you with your grow!