How to grow your cannabis at home for beginners
With the majority of the US states legalizing the recreational and medical use of cannabis, users now have more leeway in making the most of this intoxicating herb. The legalization of cannabis implies that now you can not only buy the herb offline or online without having to show a medic’s prescription but also grow weed in your backyard. Depending on where you live in the US, the current marijuana policies permit the cultivation of the herb at home to an extent.
So, if you wish to make the most of cannabis legalization by growing the plant at home, read through this article. Home cultivation of marijuana is not only cost-effective but incredibly simple and exciting, provided you follow the steps properly. This article which has been developed keeping the interests of first-time growers in mind, walks them through different growth stages of cannabis.
Additionally, we elucidate on how to take the best possible care of your crop and the indispensable tools you may need for the same.
At the outset, you’ll need space for farming marijuana. Beginners are recommended to buy a quality grow tent as cultivating in soil (earth) or hydroponic medium requires some experience. Grow tents are designed for use indoors, come cheap, and can be set up and dismantled quite easily.
The sheer variety of grow tents available in the market could befuddle you as some brands come with expensive plastic together with complex hydroponic tools. As a beginner, go for a simple grow tent that includes the basic equipment necessary for nurturing weed.
The next thing you’ll have to buy is a grow light. You can choose from HPS (high-pressure sodium vapor), also called HID (high-intensity discharge lights) or Metal Halide lighting. Since HPS or MH lights give off intense light beams that could overheat the grow tent, you can opt for CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
No matter whatever lighting system you ultimately choose, make sure it lights up the entire grow tent. You could also do with a quality timer for monitoring the switching on and off of the lights. Investing in an integrated carbon filter and an exhaust fan will be necessary as well for keeping out odors and preventing heat buildup.
A pedestal fan or ceiling fan will facilitate the circulation of air and a hydrometer or thermometer helps control humidity and temperature. Finally, you’ll need marijuana seeds that’ll germinate inside the grow tent and grow up to yield a rich harvest. You can buy the seeds from a dispensary or order them online from a reputed site.
In case you wish to farm discreetly in private, have the seeds delivered to an address that is different from your growing site. Purchase 7-8 buckets having a capacity of 3-5 gallons and fill them up with airy and loose, well-drained soil. However, ensure not to fill up to the brim rather leave a gap at the top.
Make small holes or cavities at the buckets’ base and place large saucers or plates underneath to prevent water from overflowing. Do not forget to buy a portable watering can with a detachable perforated cap as well as a bag of nutrients. You’d be better off buying a packet where nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are blended in a ratio of 10:10:10.
Farming marijuana and taking good care at every growth stage
Once you’ve sowed the seeds (or planted clones), you should get ready to nurture them to good effect. Direct the reflector (s) towards the plants and keep it close so that they can get the optimum amount of light. However, do not place the reflector too close or else the plants may suffer a light burn.
As your plants reach the vegetative phase, and graduate to the flowering phase, position the lights higher up. During the vegetative phase, make sure the plants receive light every day for at least eighteen hours and stay in darkness for six hours, respectively. So, you’d have to set the timer accordingly.
Fresh green leaves, branches, and stems all through the vegetative phase. However, flowers will start appearing only during the flowering stage if it’s not an auto-flowering strain. You should be extremely cautious not to overfeed or overwater the plants under any circumstances.
The roots of the marijuana plants thrive when you maintain a wet/dry phase. Check the weight of the buckets by lifting them up, and you’ll have a fair idea of whether they can do with or without watering. You’ll know that you have overfed your crop when you spot any burnt leaf tip.
Keep in mind one rule of thumb when you’re growing cannabis for the first time. Do not be too preoccupied or anxious with the growth and development of your crop; rather, let them develop naturally. Also bear in mind that since grow space is very limited in a grow tent, you should ensure to make the most of the available space.
Therefore, as a beginner grower, you can expect the best results if you grow auto-flowering varieties like Stardawg, Bubble Kush, and Amnesia Haze. Cultivating Sativa or indica-dominant strains demands a specific level of experience. We’ll focus on this aspect later in the article.
Once the plants reach the flowering stage, see to it that the plants stay in light and darkness for equal hours. Also, keep an eye on the amount of water and nutrients your plants need at this stage. Also, do not interfere with the 12hrs light/12 hrs darkness cycle. With regards to supplying nutrients, ensure that the formulation suits the flowering phase.
You’ll find nutrient mixes available as flowering or vegetative formulations. The time when you will start flushing the plants depends largely on the flowering period. For example, if you’re farming a strain with a 60-day flowering window, you should start flushing from and onwards the 46th day.
Always use plain tap water for flushing the growing medium.
When it comes to pruning, ensure that you begin early and do it more often. Keep an eye out for wherever two fresh shoots appear and nip the branches over this nodule. If you prune the branches applying the technique mentioned above, then you’ll have plants with compact canopies typified by the profusion of buds. Take good advantage of this technique if you wish to maximize yield from a limited space.
Nevertheless, following the above strategy will extend the vegetative phase, and so you have to remain patient. Control the urge to prune or clip the moment the plants start flowering as doing so might adversely affect your harvest. In case branches have overgrown and become unwieldy, tie them to prevent light burn.
The best way to keep your plants from over stretching (that could make them appear ungainly) is to offer them steady support. Towards this end, you can invest in a quality trellis made of wood or chicken-wire. By installing a trellis, you’ll enable the bud sites to fan out further, eventually leading to a rich harvest.
Harvesting the crop and processing the yield
Realizing when to pick the buds is as crucial as understanding the growth process. Look up the trichomes (the hairy outgrowths on the buds) closely with a magnifying lens. These glandular hairs are known as “crystals,” and the glandular stalks of these hairs abound in the psychoactive compounds (THC, CBD) that stoners and medical marijuana users crave for.
The ideal time to harvest would be when the glandular hairs start turning a gray-white and before they take on an amber hue. If you’re looking forward to heady highs, then wait until the stalks become fully amber. Once you’re done with picking the buds, hang them up for drying thoroughly.
Your buds should dry up completely within a couple of weeks but allow them to dehydrate on their own. Once you notice that the buds have dried up completely, preserve them in jars or containers with hermetic sealing for curing them. Once every few days, take out a stem or two and try to snap them; if they curve instead of snapping indicates that the buds have not fully dried up.
At this stage, you don’t have any other option than to allow the curing of the buds that’ll completely remove the moisture. Always store the buds in dense (opaque) containers and keep the jars in a dry and cool room. If you notice condensation droplets in the inner walls of the jars, keep the containers open.
Close and open the jars a couple of times a day to allow the outside dry air to replace the moisture inside the containers. Your buds will have cured in a month, and after that, you’ll be on course to enjoy your smoking sessions to the hilt.
Why beginners should focus on auto-flowering cannabis strains
If you’re seriously considering farming cannabis as a beginner in the comfort and privacy of your home, then you’re in luck. Novices and first-time growers may struggle to cultivate indica and sativa strains as nurturing these varieties to their full potential calls for a degree of experience. Nevertheless, as a beginner, you can experiment with cannabis ruderalis strains.
The majority of breeders and professional growers are too caught up with sativa and indica varieties, as these strains have immense commercial value. Consequently, the ruderalis strains, by and large, tend to be overlooked. However, this lesser known cannabis variety offers benefits and comes with attributes that could be of use to medical marijuana users.
And since cannabis ruderalis is an auto-flowering variety, beginners will have it easy plowing this variety’s strains. Wondering what is an auto-flowering variety? Cannabis ruderalis strains, unlike their indica and Sativa counterparts, invariably switch from vegetative to flowering stage irrespective of any change in light cycle or phase. Hence ruderalis varieties are known as auto-flowering strains.
Sativa or indica varieties do not auto-flower instead they’re photoperiod i.e., they start blooming only if they’re exposed to specific hours of light and darkness. Hence, novice growers will find it easy to cultivate the auto-flowering varieties as they won’t have to bother about keeping their crops in sunlight or artificial light.
Benefits of growing cannabis at home
Growing your cannabis crop in your home can be quite rewarding and beneficial in several ways. Following are some of the benefits you reap from cultivating marijuana in your home garden:
- You’ll always ready stock of cured buds
- The process will not burn a hole in your pocket
- Immensely beneficial for medical marijuana users as they’ll be spared from sourcing the buds from a dispensary
- High quality pure buds