CANNABIS CULTURE – The seeds of cannabis liberation now sprout worldwide. Here’s what you’ll need to know to cultivate your own crops:
If you’re a cannabis enthusiast and live in an area where it’s legal to grow your own, well… lucky you! However, it can be daunting trying to figure out where to start. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started and make sure you get the most of out of your crop.
Where Can I Grow Cannabis?
Cannabis grows best in warmer climates. If you live in a warm climate, growing marijuana outside is an option, but many growers choose to build a grow house instead, simply because it provides a greater level of environmental control so you’re able to get the most from your crop without worrying about the fickle whims of Mother Nature.
Building a Grow House
Building a grow house is often your best choice when it comes to getting the most out of your growing experience. A grow house is usually divided into two sections — the growing section and the drying section.
The growing section should act like a greenhouse, either relying on natural sunlight or grow lights, depending on where you live. Using a greenhouse allows you to control a number of factors that could affect your plant’s growth, including humidity, temperature, and contaminants like pollen, molds, or pests. Grow houses are a great choice because they also allow you to ensure that your crop can be protected — legal grow houses are highly regulated, so it’s essential to keep your investment safe.
The drying section, as its name suggests, is used to dry the completely grown plants. It’s a humidity controlled environment where the plants and leaves can be dried without worrying about it mildewing or rotting on the rack.
A grow room can be as small as a cupboard or as large as a greenhouse, depending on your needs and what is legal in your area — which varies depending on whether you’re a Canadian grower or you hail from the states.
Your Starter Shopping List
In addition to your plants, which we’ll discuss in a minute, you need 6 things to ensure that your plants grow successfully.
- Light — You can get by with natural light, but if you don’t get enough sunlight in your area, artificial lights are your best option.
- Air — Air circulation is essential for healthy plants, but you don’t need a stiff breeze. Just enough to keep the air moving.
- Medium — What are you going to plant your marijuana plants in? Dirt isn’t the only option; there are other growth mediums that you can choose.
- Water — This is common sense. You need water to grow plants. You do also have to keep track of the PH of the water you’re using.
- Temperature Control — Marijuana grows best in warm climates. If you live somewhere cold, you’ll need to keep your grow house warm. It’s recommended that you keep the air in your grow house at a temperature that is warm and constant, but below 85 degrees Fahrenheit, or 29 degrees Celsius.
- Nutrients — Typical soil doesn’t have the right nutrients to sustain a marijuana plant, so you’ll have to supplement.
Now that you’ve got all the basics, it’s time to get started with the really fun part — growing!
Learning the Life Cycle of Cannabis
The life cycle of cannabis starts in spring and ends in winter. You’ll plant your seeds in the spring and they’ll sprout and continue to grow throughout the summer. Once the days start getting shorter, your plants will begin to produce either flowers or pollen.
After your plants are pollinated, the ‘female’ plants will make seeds. Hang on to those seeds — you can use them to continue growing your strain next season.
This only applies to plants grown outdoors. You can keep your plants in a perpetual state of spring or summer by controlling temperature and light levels, allowing them to continue producing year round as long as they have the proper nutrients. This will keep them in the ‘vegetative state’ where they grow stems and leaves. The flowering stage is what you’re really looking for. That is when the buds and flowers are being produced, which is the part of the plant you want to harvest.
Male vs. Female Plants
We all know the difference between men and women, but did you know that there are male and female cannabis plants?
Most flowers generate both male and female reproductive organs. In marijuana plants, they develop two distinctive genders. To determine the gender, look for the pre-flowers that grow between the nodes (the area where the leaves and stalks grow apart.) Male pre-flowers are small round nodes, while female ones grow with tiny hair like stalks sticking out of them.
The buds that are consumed, the large ones full of resin, are from female plants.
If you want to allow cross pollination, you can keep male and female plants in the same grow house, but if you separate the male and female plants, you can encourage your female plants to grow large resinous buds. Seeded buds are harsher to smoke, though so keep that in mind when you’re separating your plants.
What Strain Should I Grow?
There are dozens of different strains of marijuana grown all around the world, but they all fall into one of three categories — indica, sativa, or hybrid strains.
Indica strains are the ones that tend to cause more of a physical high. They also tend to be mellower than the other strains, which makes them ideal for people looking for relaxation or help sleeping. They grow in small, short bushes, which makes them ideal for growers with small growing spaces.
Sativa strains cause more of a mental high, and tend to have a more energetic result. They’re a great option for people who need a bit more energy before a project or a social gathering. Sativa strains do tend to grow much taller than indicia though.
Hybrids are a combination of the two — whether they provide energy or sedative qualities depends on the characteristics that they inherit from their parent strains.
What type of strain you grow will depend on your individual needs — make sure you research the specific growing needs for each strain.
If your plants are growing well, it can be hard to tell when it might be time to harvest. This is going to depend on your particular strain, but in general, there are a few things that you should look for, including:
- An apparently decline in the plant’s health — You’ll see the stems start to turn red and the leaves start to turn yellow.
- Resin starts to darken — The resin on the buds will start to change to a darker color.
- Pistils start to turn red — You might need a magnifying glass or a digital microscope to see this but once the pistils on the buds start changing color, you’re getting close to harvest time.
Indica strains are ready to harvest after about 8 weeks. Sativa strains take around 10 weeks to fully mature. Once you’re ready to harvest, you’ll need to dry the plants to get the best yield out of them.
Growing cannabis, where it is legal to do so, can be a great way to ensure that you always have what you need on hand — and getting started isn’t as complicated as you might think.