How to Grow Weed at Home
As the weather warms up, our green thumbs tend to show and if you use cannabis for therapeutic purposes you’ve probably toyed with the idea of starting your home cultivation. For personal medicinal use, one plant may be all you need to get started, and the encouraging news is that a single supply can grow for about $300, not including the seeds or clone plant. That’s the equivalent of about 30g of dry flower purchased from an MMJ dispensary. A single plant grown under an intense light could yield 150g (5.0 oz) or more. You may need to supplement your return with flowers from another source until you learn how to improve the quality and quantity of buds. Better put away the Proto Pipe till you are ready with some home grown bud.
It’s 2017, and medical marijuana is legal in well over half the country if you count non-psychoactive forms of hemp oil, but growing even personal amounts is legal in many fewer states. Be sure to check with your state laws before even trying to acquire seeds. Don’t worry if you find that your state rules personal marijuana plants illegal; just study this article and bookmark it for the day when you can embark on your first grow. We don’t want anyone in trouble with law enforcement for the sake of a single plant. However if you’re looking to get more information on how to grow weed, read on.
How to Begin
Cannabis grows quickly just about anywhere, hence the “weed” moniker. However, it only flowers once a year, during the fall season when the daylight hours grow shorter. The good news is that the “seasons” and light periods are controllable when you grow your plant indoors. Keep your pot plant under a bright light for over 12 hours to stop it from flowering. There’s a reason you don’t want her to flower immediately, and that is because you won’t get the same yield from a young plant as you would from a big, ideal plant. Be efficient with the single pot plant you have and allow it to vegetate for several weeks under the long daylight periods.
Expect to be growing your little plant for about four to six weeks in total before you start inducing the flowering period. During the hold period the grow lights should be on for 16 hours at least, but 18-20 hours if you want to be safe. Horticultural lighting, which is the kind you will use to grow your wee weed, is the single most pricey part of the process. Even if you start with budget-friendly lamps, like A 250-watt HID (high-intensity discharge) bulb—either an HPS (high-pressure sodium) or MH (metal halide) costs $25 on Amazon—the specialized HID fixture and ballast that kind of bulb requires comes out to about $200. If you happen to be growing your plant in the middle of the summer and it has access to a window with lots of light, then you can use that light for as long as possible and substitute with fluorescent bulbs after sunset. Fluorescent bulbs such as T5’s, T8’s or even CFL’s all work, but they should only be supplemental. Ideally, you will be able to grow your single cannabis plant in a dedicated closet-like space with a 250-watt HID for at least a 12-hour photoperiod.
Feeding your plant with additional nutrients is a good idea, especially if you are watering her with reverse osmotic water. Start her at a half-strong mix when she is young; if you see brown on the leaves, you are using too much. Bring the mixture up to 3/4 strength when your cannabis plant reaches adolescence, marked by a period of rapid growth. Introduce full-strength nutrients when the plant leaves start to show signs of lightening and yellowing—a sign of strain from not enough nutrients.
Triggering the Flowering Cycle
The flowering stage can be compared to the human growth cycle as the part where we reach puberty. Once your female cannabis plant has reached adolescent status, it’s time to start reducing her time in the light so as to mimic the conditions of late summer, nearing harvest time. Don’t retire the lamp, just alter the timing of the light-dark cycle a little. That means 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. Your MMJ plant needs plenty of light during those 12 hours so that she can produce her mighty flowers. To help you keep track of the time, purchase a standard outlet timer (about $20-$40 on Amazon) and set it to a 12-hour cycle. Make sure that the room in which the plant lives does not leak light; the only light should be coming from the lamp when it is on. A confused pot plant is one that will produce a weak yield of medical cannabis; she may even create flower full of seeds, called a hermaphrodite flower.
A week or two after you initiate the new light schedule, your female plant will grow wispy white hairs—the pistils of her flowers (calyxes)—at the tops of branch joints. Calyxes building on top of calyxes is what creates the buds, and each one will have a few white hairs coming out of it. Good news that means this plant will eventually grow beautiful weed with buds/flowers/ganja that you can smoke. Once she is fully in the flowering stage, you girl is going to prefer the room temperature to be set around 65-80°F (18-26°C) to produce colorful, trichome– and terpene-rich flowers.
Just because your cannabis plant is flowering doesn’t mean you’re out the woods as a grower. Pay close attention to what she is telling you through her leaves during this time, or you could lose your entire harvest in days. To produce those beautiful flowers, she needs plenty of nutrients, and a deficiency will show in the form of light green or yellowing leaves.
Do’s and Dont’s of Growing Your Medical Pot Plant
DO Start with a clone (a young plant) instead of seeds if you can get your hands on a female one. Ask you local compassion club for leads on clones—they are way easier to start from than seeds.
DO Use a fabric plant container to grow your plant as they offer the most breathability. Look for pots, if not fabric, with drainage holes and saucers to catch run-off.
DON’T Let your plants sit in stagnant water for extended periods of time. Doing so will change the pH of the soil and may also attract bugs and mold.
DO Use organic potting soil, or a medium of your choosing that promotes air penetration like something based with peat, coco or sphagnum. Find a nutrient-rich medium with some sea kelp or guano, and you won’t have to add store-bought nutrients until flowering time.
DON’T Use salt-heavy synthetics such as Miracle-Gro; they are not worth the “convenience” in the long run.
DO Ask your local municipality for information on your water source. If the municipal water contains less than 200-300 PPM (parts per millions) of extra minerals and impurities, then it is likely fine to use, untreated, to water your cannabis plant.
When to Harvest Your Therapeutic Weed
You’re an eager MMJ patient in need of some affordable medicine, but no part of this process should occur out of impatience. Any grower will tell you that the hardest part of growing cannabis is waiting for the right time to harvest.
Wait until your plant stops growing the white hairs on her buds and pay attention to how fragrant the buds are. That’s the smell of terpenes oozing out and a tell-tale sign of a nearly ripe harvest. Once 40% of the white hairs have darkened and started to curl in, the harvest window is nearly open. Wait until about 50-70% of the hairs have turned if you’re looking for high THC potency. Wait until 80-90% of the hairs have darkened for a more CBN-rich, anti-anxiety effect. When you’re sure the buds exhibit all the signs of the medicinal cannabinoids you are after, cut off all the trichome-crusted buds and hang them upside down in a cool, dark place with plenty of ventilation—use the grow space if it is available and just keep the lamp off for this round.
The Final Stage: Dry Curing Your Medical Pot Supply
Pop your head into the dry curing space to check for mold, or overdrying of buds—you’re too close to the finish line to let those factors ruin your personal stash. You will know that the buds are dry if the small stems snap but the larger stems still carry moisture and bend.
Put dry buds into glass containers, leave some room for air, and close them tightly. Replace the jars in the space in which the flowers were hung. Open the jars once per day to let fresh air in and let dank, moist air escape. Don’t let moisture accumulate or you will encourage mold to grow in your buds. You may purchase cannabis curing products that help wick away moisture from the buds as they cure. Do this for up to two weeks or a month to create the most fragrant, trichome-filled buds possible. Check out our weed grinder section to get the best out of your new bud.
Finally, please have fun with the process and do not rely on your first single plant to yield enough flower to take complete care of your cannabis needs. It could take you some time and practice to raise a plant with yields that mighty but with some patients and rhythm you could eventually get that 5.0 oz harvest. Now we all should know how to grow weed at home.
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