Wild idea: In states with home grow allowances for cannabis, you can save serious money by growing your own supply. Think of all of the benefits of being your own farmer. Free cannabis (obviously), no plastic packaging, completely assured organic status, fresh leaves for salads and juicing, pride in your ability to grow things—the sky's the limit.
Before you pull up a pot of dirt and stick in an errant seed though, do your research. Besides choosing strains and maybe some Instagram-worthy pottery to plant your green baby in, you'll need to do some reading.
Think of growing cannabis like a baking recipe, there’s a core structure to follow, but the techniques that make small changes come from your experience over time. Like any successful recipe execution, reading the whole thing to the end, before digging in, is the best piece of advice.
Once you get to know what to expect when you’re growing a plant, the rest is smooth sailing. Whether you’re planning a sun grown balcony situation, or a small laundry room tent, you can still get perfect cannabis plant with some know-how. Here’s where to start.
Grow Your Own—the book
Don’t want to wait for a technical book to show up in the mail? Pop over to your local big box store where the Grow Your Own manual lives. It went from an indie offering to a digestible, entry level cultivation class that all Americans can access, so you know it’s good.
This book covers all facets of cannabis growing from the how and when down to what to do with your harvest. It’s authors are all brilliant cannabis adjacent experts who came together to make this resource. Follow Nichole Graf and Liz Crain online too, to absorb a bit of their genius via social media—they share info generously.
An Organic Farmer’s Advice
Ruca Rossi, owner of Black Fir Farms Collective in Humboldt County, the chief cannabis growing region of California, believes in your ability to cultivate at home if you have the right outdoor space. She says, “You should be able to grow enough cannabis outdoors to last for a good part of the season. Before you grow your own, think about if you’re working for the year’s supply or just for fun? That should be driving your research.”
Here’s some of her best tips for new growers:
~ Pick the south-facing portion of the yard or outdoor area; you can’t grow weed in a window box, it needs full unfiltered sun. If you do have partial sun, you could do mixed light, which means adding a low wattage external light to supplement your plant’s needs.
~ For growing pot in a pot, you want at least a 25 gallon container, completely full of soil. The size of the pot determines the size of the plant. Go as big as you can, as long as you have full sun. ~ Water only to the root mass, overwatering is a huge problem with cannabis—it hurts the plant, so try to resist. You can increase water with the size though.
~ You need nitrogen in the beginning, depending on your strain, when you start seeing hairs. That’s when you can add the other basic nutrients like potassium and phosphorous. Just remember NPK in that order. You can buy these all from the big box stores, or any good gardening store or nursery.
~ Two weeks before you harvest, flush all the way to make sure nothing makes it into your buds. “Flushing” btw, is when you stop feeding the plant/s its aforementioned nutrients, and simply give them their water.
~ Make sure you prune, to make sure light can reach all of the nodes. What to prune? Look for low branches that aren’t getting any sun, and dying leaves, mostly.
~ Prune in the spring. Once there’s buds on the node, you have to have pruned enough to control where the buds are going to develop. It needs to look like it will look at harvest time. Remember, pruning means your helping your plant know where to put the majority of its growing energy.
Rossi also says if you don’t want to grow one large plant, you can try the “sea of green” technique. She says “Put six small clones straight in the dirt from the dispensary. They’re only gonna get two feet tall, but you’ll get as many buds as one six foot plant. It doesn’t matter how many plants you have, it's the size of the plant canopy.”
A Light Expert’s Indoor Tips
James Bradley, CMO of Fohse, a light manufacturing company, has a few tips for those who wish to take it inside for a more scientific and less earthy approach.
He says, "Starting a productive hobby grow can be daunting in the face of all these state-of-the-art grows popping up. The best piece of advice we can give is to really do your research about lighting. We are what we eat and plants are no different when it comes to quality light. You'll pay later for any shortcuts you take here.”
Quality is key when purchasing electronics, and lights are no different. Bradley says, “Spend top dollar on durable, moisture-resistant LED fixtures that deliver cannabis-specialized light recipes. And make sure they do so with gusto.
“Keep it simple! Some LED lamps give you the ability to manipulate every wavelength of light. This is overkill for almost anyone growing outside of research conditions. Learn the difference between “vegetative” and “reproductive” growth phases and you’ll have enough knowledge to get you started.”