Growing your own weed isn’t rocket science but it does require some proper steps. Hopefully in this basic guide, you’ll get a good idea on how to go about doing it.
Deciding on a grow-medium will determine which grow-method a cannabis grower uses. This breaks down as being a decision to grow cannabis organically, or use Hydroponics. Growing cannabis organically basically means using soil as the grow-medium; the soil is the means through which the plants root-system absorbs its nutrients and water.
Growing cannabis with hydroponics means growing the plant in a soil-less base, usually lava chips, rock-wool, coconut fibres and so on. This does mean that the marijuana plant gets no nutrients or water from the grow-medium; these must be provided by the grower constantly, by means of a water-nutrient solution (Hydroponics-fertilizer).
Growing cannabis using hydroponics covers a wide range of methods, ranging from simple to complex. Cannabis growers are encouraged to research into hydroponics systems to find one that suits them best. One example of a simple hydroponics system is the ‘wick system’, which uses ‘absorption’ to feed the cannabis plant.
Firstly fill a large container with the water-nutrient solution and place the plant-pot on a stand above the water level. Make holes at the base of the plant-pot and thread through some Nylon wick.
There should be enough Nylon-wick that one end starts within the grow-medium and the other end rests right inside the water-nutrient solution. The Nylon wick absorbs liquid from the water-nutrient reservoir, carrying it up to the plants medium, where the root-system reaches for the wick and the nutrients and water it contains. After a couple of months, growers find the root system extending out of the container and along the wick, into the water-nutrient solution.
When growing cannabis organically, growers must purchase the right kind of soil with the correct p.H balance and no pest infestation. Usually this is a planting mix that is enriched with organic fertilizers, ocean products, and essential minerals. Avoid cheap alternatives as they will most likely contain less minerals and nutrients, which will reduce yield and potency. Because the grow-medium is soil, cannabis growers will need to use some sort of container for the soil and the cannabis plant. Obviously the age and size of the plant will dictate the size of container it requires. For example; single stem plants require minimum sized containers of 6×6 inches. Plant containers should also have drainage holes for excess water in the soil to drain.
Maintenance involves monitoring the cannabis plant for signs of illness, malnutrition, pest infestation and inadequate conditions. Without prompt diagnosis of a problem, and the subsequent treatment thereof, the cannabis plant may not survive!
The most common problem begins with the seed. If it doesn’t germinate under the correct conditions then it was dead to start with. If a sprout grows limp and crooked it might need more intense light, or it is too crowded.
Cannabis plants that are too cold grow slowly and may take time to recover once warm again, then they might take days before they can begin new growth; whereas cannabis plants that are exposed to too much heat will grow rapidly but develop poorly forming skinny and elongated stems but thinner buds.
Under-watered cannabis plants will wilt and sag and if the situation continues the plants could die within hours. Water starved plants should not be given fertilizer when they are first watered. Instead give water alone and wait fro them to recover before continuing with water fertilizer solution. If the leaves on the cannabis plant point down and lose their colour, the problem might be with over-watering them; so water them less frequently.
Nitrogen deficiencies cause leaves to turn yellow; this change in colour moves through the leaf, from the bottom to the top, and the stems may also develop a purple tinge. If this occurs the grower can change their fertilizer to one with a higher nitrogen rating.
If your cannabis plant is suffering from a Phosphorous deficiency it may have a reddish stem and smaller darker leaves and, again, the grower should change to a fertilizer with a higher phosphorous content. A Potassium deficiency can be diagnosed by its thinner stems and patchy colouration on leaves; new growth may also turn pale green.
Change fertilizer to boost the potassium levels. Magnesium deficiencies can be harder to spot and harder to remedy; symptoms are slower growth and a yellowing of the veins in leaves. It can be treated by adding one teaspoon per gallon of magnesium sulphate to the water-fertilizer solution, some can also be sprayed on the leaves.
Pruning cannabis plants helps redirect essential nutrients and energy from unnecessary branch growth. This means that only foliage around actual buds is exposed to the maximum amount of direct light. Prune the cannabis plants within the first couple of days of their flowering/light-dark cycle and again a couple of weeks into the actual flowering stage.
Finally prune away leaves blocking direct light to the buds after five weeks of flowering. Pruning takes practise and there are quite a few techniques; some even using Bonsai methods to disguise the plant by cutting away parts of the leaves to make it less obvious it’s cannabis. Growers are advised to research into a method best suited to them.
Pests are most commonly Aphids, mites, and thrips. Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped insects which suck on plant-juices and multiply at an exponential rate. Use pyrethrum or Neem oil to treat the infestation. Mites are related to spiders. They are tiny arachnids which cause pinpoints on the leaves, surrounded by yellow or dead tissue.
They are a plague and must be terminated with extreme prejudice using Neem oil, but they tend to be immune to pyrethrum. Thrips are incredibly hard to see with the naked eye, but their presence is betrayed by a trail they leave, littered with their faeces. They can be controlled using a pyrethrum spray but killed outright using nematodes.
Many old hippie growers think of the cannabis plant as an example of Karma. They believe that, like Karma, what ‘good’ a grower puts into the cannabis plant, it will repay in kind.
If a grower has done their research; found a suitable grow-method for their location and means; treated the cannabis plants to all their nutritional and environmental requirements, the time for harvesting will reap great rewards. But harvesting a plant too soon, or too late will affect the quality of the flower-buds. Like fruit, the buds must ripen.
In the flowering stage, cannabis growers observe the white hairs that crown each sticky bud. As the flowering cycle draws to its end, around half or more of those white hairs should turn red before the grower begins to harvest the marijuana. When harvesting, only remove those buds that have mostly red hairs, and leave any bud with mostly white hairs to ripen more.
Drying the ripened flower-buds is simple; leave them to dry in a dark, cool and dry place. The result should be a dry and crumbly bud. Curing buds involves leaving them in a cool, dark, and drafty area for 2 to 3 days. This process helps convert starch to sugar, altering the quality of the smoke. Storing buds is most efficiently achieved in a glass container or tin boxes, and left in a fridge to keep very cool. The THC crystals attach to the lining of plastic, sealable ‘baggies’; forever wasted.