CANNABIS CULTURE – Looking to grow your own cannabis? Limited on space? Here’s how you do it. Have you ever tossed a seed into a container just to see it sprout? It’s not hard.
Even growing a simple tomato needn’t be so difficult for someone who was born without a green thumb or lacks a basic understanding of cultivation. In fact once you get over the fear and trepidation, it’s quite easy. There’s a feeling of satisfaction and pride when you first bite into that delicate red fruit knowing that the months you spent tending to it really did pay off in the end. All those hours feeding, watering and pruning, fighting off aphids and the nocturnal creatures of the night would soon turn you into a skilled gardener. It really is that simple and cannabis is no different. For it grows just about anywhere, under almost any condition and in basically any medium be it a ditch at the side of the road, a vacant lot filled with derelict cars or tucked in behind your grandmother’s azaleas.
If you’re a newbie to the grow and you’re more than keen to dive in there’s a few easy-to-learn steps you should consider before undertaking that which is an honorable rite of passage. First and foremost is to ask yourself: what do you want to get out of this? If you’re looking to become the next Pablo Escobar with a sexy girl on each arm and a bright red Ferrari in the driveway think again and walk away. If your answer is a few nugs of home-grown that you can show off to your friends and splash all over social media, then you’re off to a running start, but first things first.
The Law is the Law No Matter the Legislation
Depending on where you live always follow the law of the land. If you own or rent, examine your surroundings, take note of air flow, electrical conduits and optimal lighting conditions. If you’re going to go all granola using nature’s own bulb, the sun, play it safe and begin with something more akin to an indoor start-up kit such as a stealthy grow box or a spare closet – something that won’t attract too much attention from nosy neighbors or wanna-be narcs. However, if you rent, you’ll need to pay close attention to the landlord and that lengthy lease agreement, a document that can easily spell eviction.
Based on your grow you’ll need to determine the area that you wish to use, keeping in mind that proper air flow is needed not only to keep things cool but to insure that any odors are properly expunged. During the flushing and harvesting period the odor will often become intense! (Skunk and cheese strains are a no-no until you can master methods of better odor control).
Factors that can ruin a first grow are:
- Improper air flow and exhaust. Don’t use dryer vents, they can be fire hazards and lint can be toxic to plants.
- Inviting all your friends over and impressing them with your stealthy creation. Remember, loose lips sink ships and friends are always looking for free samples.
- Failing to keep a detailed log: watering, feeding, lighting schedules and recording temperature. Without a log you won’t be able to look back and implement changes to successive grows.
- Cleanliness and hygiene, no matter how hard you try if not adhered to dirt and mold can quickly take hold. Tools, surfaces and hands should be sterilized and washed before and after coming into contact with the plants. It may seem excessively compulsive but maintaining a tidy workspace can show results and your plants will thank you for it.
- Over-spending. Don’t think of your first time grow as a grand masterpiece because you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is just a test to see how well you can sustain a commitment. Walking into your local hydro store with a credit card isn’t going to give you any amount of street cred with the gurus of cannabis; you’ll just end up looking like a fool and that $400 metal halide light kit will lose about 60% of its value the moment you walk out the door.
- Not doing your homework. The key to any successful endeavor is to take the time to study everything about cannabis. Youtube is a great resource so are asking questions and taking notes. Hydroponic stores are more than happy to provide you with all the information you need.
Where to set up your grow
Ideally your grow area will have access to a continual source of fresh air such as a window or a vent both for inlet and outlet. Even the smallest cannabis plant will give off an aroma, especially when flowering. Small fans and carbon filter pouches, if placed strategically can reduce this. So too can hanging absorption bags. You’ll also want to make sure to keep both air and light from escaping. Use reflective material such as Mylar film or cheap reflective foil. Plans and information for small grow spaces can be obtained via the internet. Small cabinets are readily available on ebay, some as compact as a repurposed computer tower or speaker cabinets. However, the smaller the grow area, the smaller the plant – something to consider if there’s a space problem.
Let There be Light!
As this is your first grow stick with CFL’s. Not only are they cheap and available, they are also ideal for compact spaces. The heat they generate is nominal. Initially for the vegetative stage you’ll need a bulb that produces a spectrum of at least 5000k (Kelvin) changed to 2000-2700k for flowering. You’ll need to place the CFL’s at least five inches above the canopy, adjusting as the plant grows. In addition you can replace CFL’s with a T5 grow light.
Soil is King; Soilless is Better
As an experienced grower, trial and error have shown true succesess – and although there is much debate about natural organic soil, going soilless has proven to be not only cost-efficient but fruitful. Nutrient-rich matter such as compost, manure and potting mixes can be great for outdoor flowers and vegetables. But for now I urge you to use a less invasive growing medium – soilless. Artificial lights, moisture and heat can serve as a breeding ground for mites, aphids and gnats when using basic soils. Soilless on the other hand can act as a preventative measure in keeping pests at bay this is because soilless ingredients have much less chance of becoming contaminated. Begin by purchasing a bag of ProMix (make sure it’s the all-purpose indoor brand). It’s a great medium in which to start, expensive but in the long run your plants will thrive.
*To cut costs drastically see recipe for the best homemade soilless mix below*
Keep It Simple and Don’t Overthink
Finally, don’t concern yourself with scrogging or lolly popping; save that for when you become confident. (1) The best grows are usually the small or micro grows, cabinets that can fit into a closet or under a table. (2) Start with one plant. (3) Begin by sprouting your seeds, use the paper towel method. (4) Obtain a container large enough and depending on the size of your grow area, you’ll need to transplant at least three seedlings, often one will turn out to be female and if you’re lucky you won’t have any males to upset the fun. (5) Cannabis needs at least 18 hours of constant light in order to properly fill out during the vegetative cycle reduced to 12 hours for optimal flowering. A timer, one of the indoor grower’s best tools, can take care of this.
Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?
Once again, don’t concern yourself with feeding your plant(s) until at least two to three weeks into your grow; otherwise premature feeding will end up burning the roots or causing the leaves to discolor or wilt. The same can be said for watering. Keep a schedule. Too much moisture will result in soggy roots and lack of oxygen necessary for optimum health; too dry and your plant will wither and be unable to recover. Do not use tap water; distilled or non-chlorinated only and have a pH kit on hand to maintain levels; too low or too high can cause absorption of salts.
The best nutrient supplements are organic so stay clear of over-priced chemicals that can do more harm than good. Fish emulsion is best, though not all fish emulsion is organic – and it’s also rather odorous and will attract not only public health officials but also the neighborhood cats. Just be sure if you’re going to use this nutrient that you do so sparingly. For my own personal tried and true I use (organic) bat guano powder, high in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Not a lot is needed, and it mixes well into a plant tea. Feeding, more than any element in growing, is one step that should be taken seriously, so keep a schedule. Least but not last, flush with filtered or distilled water one week before harvest.
The Harvest Festival
Cultivating cannabis isn’t brain surgery nor is it supposed to be. Above all have fun with your new hobby. Given time it’ll turn into a rewarding experience that you can reap for years. By now, if you’ve been focused, your little grow should yield you a small amount of flowers. When dried and cured, a first time micro grow of two plants can easily produce 10 – 20 grams. Now that’s something to be proud of. Sure it might have cost a small sum and taken several months but you were there, overseeing every stage of the process.
Best Soilless Mix (for 1 gallon container/1 plant)
- 1 full (1 gallon) container – Peat moss or coconut coir
- ⅓ cup ea. – Perlite/Vermiculite (for aeration and water retention)
- ⅓ tsp. – Mycorrhizae for roots (peat mix may contain supplement)
- ⅔ tsp. – bat guano powder (preferred, or dried kelp powder)
- 1 tbsp. – Glacial Rock Dust 0-0-1
- ¼ cup – course sand (not beach)
Mix thoroughly, then add water until moist but not soggy. Bat guano acts as a feeding agent until seedlings reach 6-8 inches in height.