How to Grow Your Own Marijuana at Home
So you want to grow medical marijuana at home? Very good. Growing marijuana is a noble pursuit with a 6,000-year history. And the practice has come a long way since early humans began cultivating cannabis. Today we have the genetics, equipment, and nutrients to grow potent, medical-grade marijuana. But are you really up for the task?
Growing marijuana. Sounds like fun, right? And it is if that’s the kind of thing that you’re into. If you’re the meticulous, patient type with a dash of mad scientist thrown in for good measure you might just pull it off. However, if you think it’s as simple as growing something like tomatoes, you’re in for a shock.
Sure you can toss a few seeds from your last bag in some potting soil and watch your bounty grow! That is if “bounty” means a few scraggly little buds and a substandard smoking experience — if you’re lucky. But if you really want to grow medical-quality marijuana there’s just a little bit more to it than that.
In this series of articles focusing on independent growers, we’re going to provide you with some of the information that you need to grow marijuana at home, show you some of the equipment that you might want to gather, tell you about some of the most common mistakes that can ruin your crop, and link you to a bounty of educational resources that can help get you off on the right foot.
Here are some things to think about…
10 Questions to answer before you begin growing your own marijuana at home:
1. Can you get in trouble?
The first and most obvious questions: Are you actually allowed by law to grow marijuana at home? How many plants are you legally permitted to grow? Do you need a permit? And if you’re a renter, do you need your landlord’s permission to grow on the premises?
If you don’t live in a state where growing marijuana at home is legal, then you better think twice about growing. In some states where marijuana is illegal getting caught can result in trafficking charges, jail time, massive fines, and a criminal record. If that’s your state think long and hard about the potential consequences. You’re never as in control as you think you are.
2. Are you really willing to do what it takes?
Growing marijuana isn’t like growing a houseplant — at least if you want to do it right and end up with medical-grade pot. It takes time and money and determination and patience. If you don’t possess those qualities, then you are likely to get poor results or fail altogether.
And to know if you’re willing to do what it takes, you have to actually know what it takes. Before you go any further, hop on over to Youtube and watch some videos about growing marijuana at home. You might be surprised at how much is actually involved in growing quality weed.
3. Should you grow marijuana indoors or outdoors?
In several U.S. states, residents can now legally grow marijuana in their homes and possibly in their yards. This raises the first question you’ll need to ask yourself. Are you going to grow indoors? Or are you going to grow outdoors? There’s a huge difference between the two options.
Growing indoors requires a carefully controlled environment, grow lights, and a room set up for the task. Again, that is if you want to grow medical-grade marijuana.
Sure you could stick a plant in a pot by the livingroom window and grow some marijuana. Although it might not take much work, you’ll get what you pay for — very little low-quality weed.
Growing indoors requires some kind of system such as the right pots and the right potting soil, or hydroponics, or aeroponics. All three of these methods require all of the nutrients to be provided throughout the growing cycle and different nutrients at each stage. Along with electricity for lights, fans, temperature control, etc. the costs can add up quickly.
Growing outdoors is somewhat less expensive. However, growing outdoors requires more security as there’s a higher chance of some jerk jacking up your plants and absconding with your hard-earned buds.
Hopefully, you can find a sunny spot for your ladies. If you’ve got critters around you’ll need to deal with them. For gophers, you probably want to grow in pots so they don’t munch on the roots. For rabbits and deer and whatnot, you need adequate fencing. This is a shortlist.
In order to grow medical-grade weed outdoor plants will take just as much tending to as indoor plants. You’re likely to have to deal with pests such as aphids and caterpillars whether you grow indoors or outdoors. You need to be prepared to react very quickly if you see an infestation or signs of disease.
Finally, on this topic, your climate is obviously a big factor. If you live in Southern California or a similarly southern area you can grow more than one crop outdoors. If you live in Vermont or the like where winter is a thing, you’re only going to get one good growing season.
4. Will you grow in pots? Or will you go hydroponic?
No matter whether you choose to grow in pots or to use hydroponic/aeroponic systems or to grow indoors or outdoors, you’re going to have to feed the babies. We’re not going to go into details of these systems or the nutrients used to cultivate marijuana. We’ll cover that in a future installment.
We will say this: Hydroponic systems are more expensive and more complicated and they don’t necessarily produce better results. But they can be fun to tinker with if you’re the mechanically inclined type.
5. What strain(s) of marijuana will you grow?
Marijuana is not a one-size-fits-all product. Just like tomato plants can produce a wide array of tomatoes in a variety of sizes and colors and flavors, cannabis plants can produce a wide variety of marijuana buds of different sizes and colors and flavors.
Most importantly, different strains produce different amounts of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD as well as different amounts of essential oils known as terpenes that give the buds their distinct aromas and flavors.
In addition to providing a flavorful experience, individual terpenes have different effects on the human body. Some wake you up, some make you sleepy, some make you hungry, some suppress appetite, some are good for relieving pain, some are good for relieving anxiety, and so on and so forth.
Also, some strains are better for making oils and concentrates or hash or kief or what have you. Also, some strains grow tall and thin and need vertical space while others grow short and stout and need a wider area to grow properly.
You really need to do your homework here to find the strain or strains that fit into your lifestyle and your growing space and are effective for your particular medical condition or desired effects.
6. Will you grow from seeds or clones? And where will you get them?
You can either start with some high-quality cannabis seeds or you can get a head start by buying some clones. Sure, you could plant those two seeds you found in your last batch of pot, but they might not be bred to be started from seeds and thus could produce inferior results. Even worse they could be male plants (which don’t produce marijuana.)
Also, if you didn’t buy your bud from a reputable dispensary, then those seeds might not be the strain you think they are. Even then, mistakes can be made.
The initial conditions have a big effect on the final outcome, so start with either seeds or clones that were bred specifically for growing either indoors or outdoors, and that will produce the effects you desire.
Seeds can be purchased online or at some marijuana dispensaries. Clones can be purchased at select dispensaries or obtained from a friend or a growing co-op.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll list some reputable sources for seeds and clones as well as nutrients, equipment, education, and so forth. Sign up for the newsletter if you want to be informed of future episodes.
7. How will you learn what you need to know?
Trust us, there’s a lot to know about growing your own marijuana. it’s not as simple as growing a houseplant. At least not if you want the good stuff. So how are you going to learn what you need to know?
Are you a reader? There are plenty of great books on the topic with all kinds of helpful photos and illustrations. Links below. If you’re the visual type, there are a plethora of videos on how to grow marijuana on Youtube. If you’re the watch and imitate type, you can also hire someone to help you through your first crop and harvest. This can be an in-person or online relationship.
Are you an introvert or the type that thrives within a community? There are countless groups on social media where home growers can bat around their issues with other home growers for advice. This can be very helpful and can provide timely advice for things like why your leaves are turning yellow or what those little white dots are on the leaves and how to deal with them. It’s a good idea to follow along with one of these groups before you jump in with both feet.
8. What will you do about the smell? Do you even need to worry about it?
To some of us, the smell of marijuana is like a scrumptious magic spell. But to non-believers marijuana plants smell like a potent cross between skunk spray and turpentine.
If you’re growing in an apartment building — and you’re doing it right — this might be a problem. But there are ways to filter out odors if you’re growing in an enclosed indoor environment. Next week we’ll go over some of the equipment you might want to gather.
If you’re growing outdoors and you’re not surrounded by rose gardens, then just make sure you’re not upwind from one of those skunk/turpentine types who turn up their noses and stir up trouble.
9. How much marijuana do you want to grow? How much can you grow?
If you use marijuana on a daily basis, you’re going to need to grow some number of ounces of dry bud every year. If you’re growing for more than one person that needs to be taken into account. Given the strain you plan on growing, how much room do you need for each plant and how much can the strain you’re planning on growing produce in the given space? Do your homework.
10. How are you going to dry, cure, and store your weed?
Marijuana isn’t like tomatoes. You can’t just pick a bud off the vine and send it down the hatch. Marijuana needs to be properly dried, cured, and properly stored. In order to dry marijuana, you’ll need a place that’s extremely well ventilated to avoid moisture which can cause mold and destroy an entire crop just as it’s approaching the finish line.
Furthermore, in order to produce top-quality marijuana, you’ll need to put it through a “curing” process. We’ll get into what that means in a future installment. Then once it’s cured you’ll need to have a safe place to store it and enough containers that are airtight.
It's time to Get the big picture before you start growing marijuana
If you plan on growing marijuana at home you need to know that you can follow through with the process mentally, physically, financially, and, of course, legally. The more forethought you put into the process the better the outcome is likely to be.
You’ll need to know where you’re growing, how much room you have, what system you’re using, what equipment and consumables you’ll need, what strain(s) you plan on growing, whether to use seeds or clones, and whether or not you’ll need to deal with the odor issue.
And finally, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Go ahead and experiment if that’s fun for you, but if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor and money, then do what the experts do — nothing less and nothing more.
If you pull it off you’ll find great satisfaction in the process and in enjoying the fruit of your labor.
More to come...
In the coming installments, we’ll get into some more details and collect some great lists of resources for education, equipment, and supplies.
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