A Quick Guide to Growing Marijuana
There are plenty of different reasons people decide to grow cannabis. Some in the US, in states where it’s legal, are looking to develop a business. Many others, however, grow it for their own private consumption. Some want to get high. Others use cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The good news is this: Growing marijuana is actually pretty easy. Anyone can do it. You don’t need a large amount of space. All you really do require is a little know how and some patience.
Choosing the Seeds
One thing you are going to need to do if growing marijuana is buy some seeds. There are plenty of places you can do this online nowadays and the choice is amazing. You can pay anything from a few dollars to several hundred depending on how many seeds you want and the type strain.
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For beginners, shopping for seeds can be more than a little confusing simply because there are so many strains, strengths and varieties out there. First of all, it’s a good idea to check the online store you are buying from has a good reputation. If they are providing a lot of information and advice, it’s usually a sign that the company has put some effort into their operation and are keen to provide a good service. Most good stores will have seeds that are ideal for beginners who are growing marijuana for the first time. It’s probably best to stick to these if you are a novice.
Growing Marijuana Basics: What Your Plant Needs
Once your seeds have arrived you can begin planting practically straight away. When you’re growing marijuana indoors, the space you choose will be really important. Many cannabis plants grow fast and they can get tall and unruly if you don’t look after them properly.
Here are the other main factors that you need to consider:
- Light: Most people know that cannabis plants need a good deal of light. Indoors you will be providing a minimum of 12 hours a day to keep your plant healthy. In the initial, vegetative stage your plants will require 18 or 20 hours a day with just a few hours in darkness.
- Ventilation: It’s one area that newbies growing marijuana for the first time tend to not think about. Make sure that your plants are well aerated as this will stop them getting damaged by mold and ensure they stay healthy and strong.
- Soil/Growing Medium: The soil you put your plants in is important and can vary slightly from strain to strain. Autoflower cannabis, for example, only needs low levels of nutrients while some sativa varieties need a lot more.
- Watering: It’s easy to overwater plants and once that happens it often leads to root rot. One bit growing tip is to make sure that you have great drainage for the soil. This should help avoid your planters from getting waterlogged.
- Temperature and Humidity: The other big factors are temperature and humidity. This needs to be fairly constant – not too hot nor too cold – if you want to a good yield.
Light and Growing Marijuana
Setting up your light system takes some thought. This isn’t just about a few lamps here and there. You can buy specially made grow cupboards which are really good if you are stuck for space or want to keep your plants limited to one area. Lights can be standard CFL or the new LEDs. You could go for a traditional high power sodium or metal halide lamps as well.
One thing you need to consider is the heat that these lights create. Place them too close your growing marijuana plant and you will burn the leaves and damage it. The other factor is whether you put your lights on a timer or not. This can save you forgetting to switch on or off on time – don’t forget the hours of light you expose your plant to are going to be critical.
Germinating The Seeds
There are plenty of different ways to germinate seeds and it’s not that difficult. This is where you get the seed to spring into life and form a small shoot ready for planting.
You can place seeds directly into your main pot if you don’t want the hassle of transferring later. Some people prefer to put their seeds on dampened paper towel and then transfer once they germinate just to make sure everything’s working properly. You can also buy specially made germinating stations.
Much will depend on your personal preference but what you generally need are three key ingredients: Water, a stable, warmish temperature and the right location.
The Lifecycle of Your Plant
There are two stages to the development of a cannabis plant. These are the vegetative phase where the stems and leaves grow and the flowering phase where your buds begin to develop.
The vegetative stage when growing marijuana requires lots of light. You will need your indoor bulbs trained on the plant for around 18 hours a day to keep it in this stage and this will last indefinitely if you maintain the same light levels.
The average time for the vegetative stage can be anything from 2 to 8 weeks. The longer you leave it, the more your plant will grow.
During this time you may want to prune your plant, make sure it is watered regularly and use feeding solutions to keep the nutrient levels up. The amount of work you need to do will depend on the strain you choose but the general rule of thumb is not to overdo the feeding and to allow it grow as naturally as possible.
The flowering stage takes between 6 and 12 weeks. Outdoors this will happen naturally with the daylight changing as the season moves on. Indoors you need to give it a little nudge by reducing the amount of light you provide. This means changing to a 12 hour light/dark cycle.
This all applies to photoperiod strains which tend to make up most of the products on the market. If you’ve bought autoflowering seeds, however, they will go into the flowering stage without you changing the light levels.
Harvesting The Crop
The next big decision you will need to make is when to harvest your growing marijuana crop. Most strains come with instructions from the breeder which include how long you should keep in the vegetative state and how long you should flower for.
If you want to be more accurate you need to look at the stigma of your flowering plant. This is the central stalk inside the flower and when it is ready to harvest this changes from white to orange. The other, more popular method, is to keep an eye on the many trichomes that cover the surface of the flower bud as these change from white to amber as the plant matures.
Harvesting is the fun part of growing marijuana and there are different ways to do it. The aim is to make sure you disturb the buds with their amber trichomes as little as possible. Some people focus in on these and cut round them, others take whole branches that they hang up to dry.
Drying and Curing
Even though you have harvested your crop, you aren’t quite finished with growing marijuana. The final stage is to dry and then cure your plant. First check all the buds to make sure there are no problems such as mold.
Drying requires you to have good ventilation around the cannabis and a temperature of about 21°C with low humidity. Chose a safe place to do this as it’s going to take as much as a couple of weeks. You’ll know it is finished when the stems snap rather than bend or dried petals flake off. Your buds should feel a little waxy and that’s because of the resin they contain so don’t worry about this.
Curing is about adding flavor to your cannabis and is a vital part of the process. For this you need dark and an airtight jar. Put you buds in the jar, screw the top on and put somewhere like a cupboard. For the first few days you should open the jar to let out the old air and some new in, a process that is sometimes called ‘burping’.
Curing can take quite a few weeks but the longer you leave your cannabis buds, the better it will taste. Most experts suggest anything between 4 and 8 weeks.
This is a simple guide on growing marijuana and there are plenty of things to learn that can help you produce a good crop. Our advice is to find out as much as you can online and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In other words, get planting sooner rather than later.
You will want something that is relatively easy to plant and grow while delivering good results. There are plenty of strains that are ideal for beginners, including: