How easy is it to grow cannabis or weed? With the commencing of planting season very near, it would be good to pick up the pace and study what you need to begin growing cannabis.
Growing cannabis might seem like a challenging hobby, but once you perfect it, you will try other strains and methods to get things right. The steps might be aplenty, but in actuality, they’re just right for the job.
To give you an idea of what you need to do, here are the important steps to know about growing cannabis.
- Select a Growing Area
- Choose Lighting Source
- Choosing the Grow Medium
- Selecting Nutrients
- Preparing the Plants
Choosing a Growing Area
Selecting a place for growing cannabis is the most crucial step. For the most part, your growing area dictates the other things you need to prepare for a bountiful harvest.
There are two (2) choices for grow spaces: indoor and outdoor.
Indoor grow spaces let you have full control of the environment your plants will cultivate. You can control all the factors that affect growth, and even speed up the blooming stage.
The space you choose for indoor growing needs to be “treated”, meaning you need to control temperature, humidity, and light penetration to get the best results.
The disadvantage to indoor growing is that it costs more money, due to the outlay you need to set up the whole indoor grow area. In some cases, the buds are potent, but not as powerful when grown outdoor.
Indoor growing also entails added studies, if you have not tried growing inside. You need to understand the amount of light you need, how to control humidity, among other things.
But don’t get intimidated, because once you get a hang of indoor growing, you get to unlock other possibilities. That includes being able to grow cannabis any time of the year.
Note that you don’t need to rent a dedicated space for indoor growing unless you are a commercial-sized operation. You can use existing spaces in your home, such as a basement, garage, and even an extra bathroom. If you don’t have these spaces, you can opt to use a grow tent. But if you plan to use a grow tent, take note of the suggested number of plants, so you get the best results.
Growing cannabis outdoor is pretty much a straightforward approach. You take advantage of natural sunlight, humidity, and temperature for the best results.
Using outdoor grow spaces is easier to setup. You don’t need extra equipment, and some strains have better potency when grown outdoor.
But outdoor growing does not come without drawbacks. While you have better chances of getting a more flavorful harvest, outdoor growing also means exposure to harmful elements, such as pests. If the weather does not go well, you need to find a way to protect your plants from excess heat from the sun or rain. And there’s also the risk of theft, which puts all your efforts to waste if you don’t secure your plants properly.
With all that said, as long as you can ensure the security of your plants outside, you can expect an abundant harvest later.
Choosing a Grow Light
If you are growing outdoors, that should not be a problem, as you only need the sun and some way to control the temperatures. You can use a greenhouse for this purpose.
Now, growing indoors means having to use grow lights, regardless of whether you use a grow tent or a large room in a specialized facility.
When designing a grow light setup, you should aim for the following qualities:
- Full Spectrum, which has the closest mimicking of natural sunlight
- Energy Efficient, as your need to produce the right amount of brightness at a given time.
- Effective Cooling System, as grow lights can overheat with the needed usage
- Long Duration, since grow lights need to be left on longer in certain stages of growth
- Value for Money, including the longevity of the bulbs.
When it comes to grow lights, LEDs are highly recommended for their energy efficiency, and longevity.
And while LED grow lights may cost more than other grow lights, it’s only a matter of time that they will be priced within the same range as their predecessors.
There are also HPS (High-Pressure Sodium), which have been around for a while. You can consider them if you think LEDs are expensive.
You might ask, can household Compact Fluorescent Lamps or ordinary LED bulbs be used as grow lights?
The short answer is: Yes
But, these lights were not designed for emulating natural sunlight. They don’t pack enough power, as compared to HPS or LED grow lights, but they can do the job. Your mileage may vary here, thus you can expect different results.
If you’re on a budget and want to experiment with indoor growing, CFL and household LED lights are a good way to learn the ins and outs of grow lights.
Selecting a Grow Medium
Growing mediums also set the needs of cannabis growth. While you can relatively get the same results, each grow medium will need a different set of nutrients to go with it.
In a nutshell, there are three (3) mediums for growing your cannabis.
Soil is the most often used medium for any plant. It’s practically free, and you can compost it yourself so that you get the right organic mix that will help your plants absorb all nutrients.
Composting takes a little more effort, and while you can buy ready-to-use soils that have compost, doing it yourself gives your freedom on how to mix it, and you know what goes into the mixture. Don’t forget to add perlite to help the soil drain faster and provide roots with better air circulation.
The disadvantage of soil as a medium is that it may contain some contaminants that may harm your plants. To make it more desirable, you can try sterilizing it, which can be a tedious process. You might be better off buying high-quality soils that are ready to use.
Soilless mixtures are a good alternative to soils, especially if you don’t want to deal with the unwanted elements that come with the latter.
One of the most notable things about soilless is that nutrients are mixed directly into the water you use for your plants, which saves you time in maintaining your growth.
Soilless mixtures are also lighter and less compact than soil, which means you can easily move pots and provide better drainage and circulation. Soilless mixtures also need perlite to improve the water and airflow in the medium.
If you are looking for a good soilless mixture, coco coir and vermiculite are some of the best combinations. They yield fantastic results and work better than soil.
On the downside, soilless mixtures tend to yield better results when cultivated outdoor.
Hydroponics might seem intimidating for some, but many first-time growers took this route and came out with very promising results. Hydroponics involves submerging the roots of your cannabis into a water solution containing all the nutrients, including root supplements. The plants are held in place by soilless mixtures. You can expect faster growth when employing Hydroponics as a grow medium for cannabis. In some cases, the plants overtook the grow tent.
While Hydroponics can be a challenge, it becomes easy as long as you follow the instructions on your hydroponics kit and the recommendations for the cannabis strain you are cultivating.
Now Hydroponics also has cons that go with it. Should you take this route, you need to be aware of testing the pH levels of the water before even pouring it into the reservoir. Some have noted that they did not encounter any problems with the water during the early stages but ran into some bumps during the blooming stage.
A fourth medium, Aquaponics, can be used as well, but it is not as common when compared to the those listed above.
Now, each medium has its pros and cons, so you need to weigh which will fit you best, given all the things you need to do to successfully cultivate.
For the most part, nutrients are divided into two: Soil and Soilless or Hydroponics. It is important to use nutrients that are designed for your grow medium. You won’t get the best results if you use Hydroponic nutrients on the soil. While few do this, you can also opt to use versatile nutrient solutions, especially if you want to compare results.
A good example of this would be Dyna-Gro, which makes nutrient solutions for both soil and soilless mediums.
Selecting the Plants
There are two (2) ways to start growing: via clones and through seeds.
Cloning is perhaps the easier of the two, considering you already have a plant to start with. Clones are also easier to get, as some dispensaries sell them to other growers.
The good thing about clones is that the gender has been identified. Since male plants can cause trouble later on, it would be good to get female clones or seedlings. Now, should the clones be using a medium that’s different from what you prefer, can you transplant it?
If you bought clones that are not in the grow medium you want, you can safely transfer them. Switching from soil to soilless entails cleaning of the roots before moving them into the receptacle for your soilless to grow. Hydroponics and soilless grow, meanwhile can be transplanted easily to soil.
Germination, meanwhile, is better for those who want to do it yourself. It can be tricky, but you will learn a thing or two should you decide to do the process itself.
You can use a starter cube, which you need to keep damp or germinate the good old fashion way: the paper towel method. All you need to do is put your cannabis seeds in a wet paper towel and fold it. After that, put the wet paper towel on a plate and cover it to keep the humidity. eIn as early as one day, the seeds will begin sprouting. You can then transplant them into your chosen growing medium. Note that some seeds may take longer than four (4) days to begin sprouting.
You’ve started growing, now it’s time to make sure everything reaches harvest. In the vegetative stage, the main goal is to ensure that your plants grow strong.
You can give extra nutrients, but the strength must be diluted unless your plants are lacking them. As they say, too much of everything can be harmful.
Watering your plants is also important here. Soil and soilless mediums need to be hand-watered. Hydroponics has the advantage here, as watering is integrated into the system.
Now, how would you know if the plant needs water?
For soil mediums, you can put a hole and check if it feels dry. If it is, then it’s time to add water. If you mix nutrients, make sure to allot more, to account for 10-20 percent of water that drains below.
For soilless mediums, you need to water every day or two. A sign that it needs watering is the dry medium on the surface.
Sometimes you may notice that your grow medium takes longer to dry out. Is that a good thing?
If the grow medium takes longer to dry out, it means you need to study your setup for any issues. This problem can be attributed to the lack of drainage on the pot or soil, or the plant needs to be transplanted to a bigger container.
Considering that the vegetating stage has different needs compared to the blooming stage, how will you know if it’s time to switch?
In the vegetating stage, sunlight matters, especially for indoor growers. For indoor growing, you need to give about 18 hours a day of light.
Once your plant starts growing buds, it’s time to switch to the blooming stage.
The Blooming Stage is perhaps one of the most exciting stages. Here, you will see the potential of your harvest. At this point, there are two important things to do:
For indoor growers, switch your lighting schedule for 12 hours of light Lighting is pretty much self-explanatory. Switching to an equal light-darkness setting simulates how sunlight usually behaves when growing outdoor during the ideal season. This will help you get the best results.
At the same time, identifying gender plays an important role. You would want female plants over male plants, as the latter can cause pollination of female plants, which will produce more seeds, instead of buds.
As soon as you identify the male plants in your garden, you need to take them out at the soonest time. But how will you know if the cannabis plant is male or female?
Identifying The Gender Of Your Plants
As early as six (6) weeks, cannabis plants begin developing buds, which will then show the gender. While only female plants can produce buds, male plants have grape-like buds sprouting.
Now if you don’t rid of them, these buds will burst and affect female plants next to them.
Once your buds are ready for harvest, you can then take your cutting tool and begin cutting the plant for processing. Cutting the plant entails you to preserve the trichomes, which contain the potent ingredients.
When you cut your cannabis, hold it by the base of the stalk and cut them. You can then proceed to trimming, or drying and curing them.
Growing cannabis isn't a hard job, but it can be challenging if you do not follow instructions. And, if you look at it, the difficulty of growing cannabis is like any other plant. But truth be told, it's not easy, but neither is it hard. As long as you follow the steps listed, you won't find yourself lost navigating through your first cannabis harvest.