Ever since legalization, the number of people using marijuana across the world rises every day. While some use it for recreational, a considerable proportion of these subjects use it for health purposes.
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According to medical journals, the use of cannabis can help alleviate chronic pains, improve your lung capacity, help fight diabetes, and, most recently, help in coping with some types of cancer. And now, whether you take marijuana for fun or its vast health benefits, you can grow it in your garden.
But is the myth true that everything about growing marijuana is expensive, time-consuming, and challenging? Well, that assumption is only because you have not done enough research. On the contrary, this exercise is pretty straightforward. All you need is a solid starting point, and you can start enjoying your homegrown marijuana. Today, let’s focus on how you can successfully grow your crop. If you are a beginner trying to raise some cannabis for your consumption or sale, below are five facts every novice needs to know about growing marijuana.
When growing cannabis, it is crucial to make the right decisions at the early stages. This way, you get not only high cultivation products but also the quantity of your plants increases. But, to make the right choices, you need the correct information. In this article, you’ll find the best tips to make your favorite strain of marijuana available in your backyard.
1. Basic Cultivation Requirements
To grow any plant, you must understand the conditions in which they thrive. And marijuana is no different. Once you know the necessary requirements needed for it to grow, you can tune them to provide the optimal environment for your plants. These conditions can be either indoors or outdoors.
These requirements include the growth medium, air, temperature, light, water, humidity, and nutrients.
i. Choosing a Growth Medium
Although many people refer to marijuana as ‘weed,’ growing it requires a particular combination of nutrients. For this, you would need to choose the medium to use to deliver the nutrients to your plants. You could choose from:
- Soil– This medium is the most commonly available. When planting indoors, you could transfer some soil to your space and spread it. Soil is critical because it houses the necessary nutrients required by the plants.
- Aeroponics – This is a modern growing technique that involves growing plants in a mist or air environment. You’d, primarily, not require any soil or an aggregate medium.
- Hydroponics – This technique of growth uses fluids to grow plants. Instead of the soil harboring the nutrients, they dissolve in an aqueous solvent, from where the plants absorb them. Here, the plants use their suspended root matrix to absorb the nutrients from the solvent directly.
All these media play an essential role in nutrient distribution. For marijuana, you need to supply your plants with elements such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. When these nutrients are lacking in the substrate, you can boost them by adding fertilizers in the appropriate ratios. Also, make sure that you provide your plants with an optimal pH of 5.8 to 6.5. And whenever it is too low, add an essential fertilizer to raise it, and when it is too high, add an acidic fertilizer to lower it.
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ii. Understanding the role of air
All green plants need a supply of clean, fresh air for their energy-making process, called photosynthesis. If you are planning to plant your marijuana outside, then the plants experience a natural breeze. However, if you opt for an indoor garden, you need to establish a way to circulate fresh air to your plants because stale air could stunt their growth.
The process of circulating fresh air is simple. All you need is a fan and an exhaust. The fan blows in fresh air into your indoor space, while the exhaust takes care of the stale air in your garden.
iii. Role of temperature in the growth
Marijuana is a well-adapted plant. It can grow in both cold and hot areas. However, like any living organism, it has its optimal conditions. That means the marijuana dries up in extreme heat and barely grow in extreme cold. The right temperatures, however, effectively boost the quality and speed up growth. For marijuana, these temperatures range from 75 to 86°C. During these conditions, the THC potency of your cannabis increases significantly.
At 80.6°C, marijuana thrives. However, when the temperatures drop below 60°C or go above 88°C, they go to survival mode, where they become dormant and go to a stasis state. Now, depending on your site of choice, you need to make a decision. For indoor spaces, a simple AC unit can achieve the optimal temperature. However, when going for an outdoor garden, you need to choose the climate and season carefully if you are to harvest an excellent crop of marijuana.
iv. Why do the plants need light?
Just as the medium, air, and temperature are essential, the light also plays a massive role in the growth of plants. According to science, a green plant requires chlorophyll (the green coloring matter in the leaves of a plant), water, air, and light to make its food. In this case, the light can be natural or artificial. When you choose to grow your marijuana outside, the sun provides the required UV light for your plants to develop. For an indoor garden, you have to select the right illumination system to provide the light intensity needed by your plants.
In artificial lighting, your plants need about 16 to 24 hours of light, and about 11 to 8 hours of darkness until flowering. For natural light, marijuana only requires 12 hours of light for healthy vegetation.
Although the natural light is out of your control, you can use timers to control your indoor lighting.
v. Role of water in growing marijuana
Water plays an instrumental role in the growth of plants, mostly leafy plants like marijuana. However, too much water could suffocate your pants, and too little may stunt their growth. Therefore, you need to determine the frequency of watering your plants, depending on other factors.
For instance, if your plants are experiencing constant airflow, have the optimal temperature, and are also exposed to light for the correct number of hours, then you should water your plants regularly. This is because they experience vigorous growth, and water plays a massive role in that process.
Also, the frequency and amount of water for your plants depend on the size and age of the plants. It also depends on marijuana’s stage of growth and the medium used. That is, for soil, which retains less water, you should water more frequently.
However, if you use a medium that retains water, make a point to change the water after some time. This is because harmful bacteria could accumulate and start adversely impacting on the plant’s roots and nutrients.
vi. Importance of Humidity for growth
While water helps plants absorb nutrients, humidity supports the plant during photosynthesis. Below the recommended 40% to 60% relative humidity, the plants make less food, and in effect, they experience stunted growth.
For an outdoor garden, you rely wholly on the climate. However, plants become more robust as they adapt to the outdoor environment. Even so, with an indoor garden, you need to be careful about humidity regulation. With a humidity balance, you do not have to worry about mold or pests.
vii. Essential nutrients for your marijuana plants
A marijuana plant requires different levels of nutrients at various stages of development. The plant takes up these nutrients via the roots. The water dissolves the nutrients, and the plant absorbs them.
Once depleted, you can add these nutrients to your medium of growth. You can add either chemical, organic, powdered, or liquid commercial fertilizers. These contain a specified ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Also, you can boost the quality of your plant by availing nutrients such as sulfur, calcium, and magnesium.
In some cases, you might also need to add healthy bacteria to improve the soil. When you choose hydroponics, you can buy customized nutrient solutions for your marijuana plants.
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2. The Basic Stages of Cannabis Development
Now that you know the essential requirement for marijuana growth, you need to understand the stages of development and their demands. It would help if you tuned your nutrients and conditions to suit the different stages of growth of cannabis to improve on the yield and quality.
For a marijuana plant, there are four stages of development:
- Germination– This is the stage where the seed sprouts and the roots come out.
- Seeding– This is undoubtedly one of the most critical phases of development for the marijuana plants.
- Vegetation– During this stage, the prominent feature is the growth of roots, stems, and leaves.
- Flowering– Buds develop, depending on the strain of cannabis you are growing.
So, let’s get started.
Germination in marijuana plants could take between 24 hours and 8 days. During this period, growth hormones in the seeds require optimal temperature, darkness, and moisture to activate. Once active, they trigger the embryo in the seed, which then expands.
The seed coat which is the outer cover of the marijuana seeds cracks—giving way to the embryonic roots to emerge. With the help of hormones, the root grows downwards, anchoring the plant into the soil in about 2 to 4 days. Afterward, the embryonic leaves emerge from the soil in search of light.
You can help the seeds germinate by soaking them in the water at room temperature. Alternatively, you could use moist paper towels. However, keep an eye on your seeds to avoid mold.
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ii. Seeding Phase
This stage is the most sensitive phase in the growth of marijuana. The stage begins when the seed coat breaks, and the seed leaves emerge in search of light. During this stage, the plant requires optimal conditions to make food for its growth. That means you provide medium to high light intensity, optimal temperatures, and humidity.
For an indoor setting, compact fluorescent lights are the recommended type because they provide the intensity minus the heat. This stage could last between 1 and 4 weeks.
iii. Vegetative Phase
Once the marijuana plant has 7 sets of real leaves, with an 8th at the center of growth, then your plants have officially entered the vegetative phase. As earlier mentioned, different strains of marijuana have different nutrient requirements.
And during this stage, you need to get your measurements right. Throughout the vegetative phase, the marijuana plants use many nutrients. So, they need optimal light hours. For an indoor garden, this could take about 1 to 2 months, while an outdoor setting takes less than 2 months.
With the right nutrients and light exposure, new leaves develop. Also, at this stage, you begin to notice the sex of the plant, from which you can get an idea of the next stage of development. During vegetation, the plant uses up the nutrients and directs all the energy to the development of its roots, stems, and leaves.
Also, at this stage, the root matrix of the marijuana plant develops. Usually, it is in search of water and nutrients. As the root system grows, the chances of obtaining robust floral development increases. According to the genus of the plant, they take between one and two months to mature. At this time, you can identify the sex of your plant. Female plants are shorter with more branches, while male plants have flowers growing in panicles.
Using fertilizers with high nitrogen content is highly recommended for this stage.
During this stage, plant growth increases vigorously, and the plant could double in size. The plants then develop several branches with nodes during the pre-flowering stage. The marijuana plants spend about 10 to 14 days flowering, even after switching the light cycles to 12 hours of light.
The marijuana plant uses flowering hormones that are inhibited by light. So, to initiate the process, the plants need exposure to darkness for longer than the critical point. That means 8 or more hours of darkness per day. However, this period depends on the strain of cannabis you are growing. For instance, Indica strains take about 6 to 22 weeks to flower, while Sativa strains take longer.
For outdoor plants, you can cover the plants using black plastic, which cuts out the light from the plant for 12 hours every day. Once you notice the buds increase in size and weight, then you know that the flowering phase has ended, and the yield is ready.
3. How to Start Your Indoor Marijuana Garden (growing cannabis for beginners)
Growing your marijuana gives you a chance to experience a rewarding opportunity. You now know what you require to work on to achieve optimal results. However, it can be quite expensive and consumes a lot of your time. You can do it outside or inside. Although growing cannabis indoors provides you the rare opportunity to control some of the basic requirements, it’s a very expensive option for a beginner, especially if you have limited resources. Usually, you need some experience growing your marijuana outside before you venture into an indoor garden.
So, what can you do in your indoor space to achieve the perfect quality and quantity of marijuana?
You need to consider the room for cultivation, medium of growth to use, a means for air circulation, lighting system to use, climate control techniques, means of delivering nutrients to your plants, and the watering system. So, how do you pull off an indoor marijuana garden?
i. Choosing the right room for your garden
The most important part when starting an indoor marijuana garden is choosing the space in which you intend to grow the plant. The spaces range from a square space in the basement to a tent or cabinet. Also, remember that you are the one to control the internal environment for your plants.
Before going large-scale on indoor farming, try out small. This is because it is cheaper and easy to manage. With a small garden, you get to correct your errors without feeling devastated or losing much money.
When working with an indoor garden, remember that you might need to move your plants around. Therefore, you need to reserve enough space for you to move around. This is because you need to check on every plant several times a day when you are starting. Remember, cleanliness is just as important. You do not want to have mold growing in your marijuana cultivation space.
Finally, choose a space that you can easily regulate. That is, you can work the temperature and relative humidity to suit the plant’s needs.
ii. Choose a space with optimal lighting
As earlier discussed, light plays a pivotal role in the quantity and quality of marijuana. It would help if you chose the lighting setup wisely. Some lighting options you can choose from include:
- Fluorescent lights
If you want to maximize your cost of growing cannabis, then choosing fluorescent lights is a good idea. In one package, you get a reflector, ballast, and the bulb. Also, these lights produce very little heat, which means you do not incur the extra cost of cooling your garden.
- HID lights
If you are looking for an efficient, maximum output and lighting setup that gives you value for your money, you cannot go wrong with the HID lights. Despite their higher price as compared to the fluorescent lights, they produce more light and heat.
- Induction lights
These lights are a better and superior option to the fluorescent lights. Not only do they last longer, but they are also more efficient. They suit the needs of many indoor growers. However, they are a bit expensive and are not as readily available to the farmers.
- LED lights
LED lights are a common option among marijuana growers. This is because they are cheap, last longer, and use less power. Additionally, they are easy to install and produce minimal heat.
To increase the production of your marijuana, get better quality and more yields, you need to choose the right lighting system for your indoor garden.
iii. Air Circulation System
Photosynthesis, the process of making food in plants, requires a sufficient supply of carbon dioxide. One supply of this is the air, which contains about 0.04%. By providing your plants with a steady stream of air, you effectively increase the rate of photosynthesis and, consequently, growth.
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In an enclosed space, you could install an exhaust valve at the top of the room to remove the warmer air. On the inlet, you would require to install an air filter. This takes care of the dust and contaminant particles.
Also, a constant breeze over your plants helps to regulate the presence of mold spores and flying pests. Therefore, you not only protect your plants but also promote their development.
Finally, when deciding on the size of the air vents to use, refer to the size of your growing space.
iv. Select your growing medium
Since you do not rely on soil, like an outdoor grower, you have a variety of growth media from which you can choose. You could go with a hydroponic system containing a Rockwool slab, or you could move soil into your indoor space.
Both of these media have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, working with soil makes it cheaper for growers. This is because the soil is readily available. Also, for a beginner, who doesn’t have any clue how hydroponics works, then you can choose to go with soil. However, the soil provides a conducive environment for many species of harmful bacteria and pests. Also, it is subject to leaching and does not retain water for long.
On the other hand, you could go to hydroponics, which is gaining popularity and fast. Although hydroponics is a bit costly and requires some complex mechanics to work, they make it easier for you to distribute nutrients to all your plants.
Remember, marijuana is a delicate plant when it comes to the supply of nutrients. Too much could scotch the roots, and too little could stunt their growth. So, take your time to choose the best medium to grow your marijuana.
v. Climate control
As a beginner, getting the conditions right for your marijuana plants can prove to be problematic. However, it is not impossible. When you choose to grow your cannabis in an indoor space, you need to have a timer to control the lights and a thermostat to work the temperature and humidity. By choosing systems, you can set to maximize your indoor growing space, and also, turning the lights on and off saves you a lot of energy and workforce.
Remember how light cycles are essential to marijuana plants throughout their growth? Well, being human comes at a cost. You could forget, and this creates a detrimental problem for your plants, especially during the seeding phase. With a timer, you can set it precisely to provide the optimal lighting to your plants.
The thermostat works with a fan to provide optimal temperatures and air circulation. Once you set it to the recommended temperature, it turns on the fan to remove the exhaust air, along with the unwanted heat.
vi. Watering system
Tap water can prove to be very dangerous to a sensitive plant like marijuana. It contains a large number of dissolved nutrients, which could harm the roots. With some of these nutrients even blocking the root pores, your plants start struggling to take up nutrients from the soil. On the other hand, the water could introduce pathogens and fungus to the soil, which is very harmful to your plants. So, which is the best water to use when watering your marijuana plants?
Make sure the water you are using is chlorine-free. This is because the chlorine is very harmful to some of the microbes that help the plant roots to absorb nutrients or break down the nutrients in the soil. To remove the chlorine, you can pass the water through a filtering system.
Finally, avoid, at all costs, overwatering your plants. Too much water blocks the pores in the roots, which in turn makes it hard for the roots to breathe. Consequently, your plants start dying due to suffocation.
vii. Nutrient supply for your plants
The quality of marijuana is directly proportional to the number of nutrients supplied to the plants. So, the more nutrients you give your plants, the higher the quality and the more the quantity. These nutrients include macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, and calcium.
As a beginner, who has no experience with measuring nutrient content in fertilizers, you could go with a pre-fertilized organic soil mix. Otherwise, you need to fertilize your soil at least once a week to provide the necessary nutrients.
With all that effort going into providing the most nutrients for your plants, take care so that you do not set your pH off-balance. For marijuana, optimal pH is between 5.5 and 6.5. In the event the pH goes above 6.5, it becomes too basic and would require an acidic soil treatment to lower the pH. On the other hand, a pH below 5.5 is too acidic and would require an alkaline treatment to correct.
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4. The basics of outdoor marijuana growing
Is this your first time growing marijuana? Are you looking for a plentiful harvest while spending less money? If yes, then an outdoor garden could be the place to start. Whether it is in your balcony, the backyard, or rooftop, all you need is a sunny spot, and you are ready to go.
Growing high-quality marijuana requires a few things. These include an understanding of your climate, type of soil, an optimal growing space, and plant protection. Also, you would need to find a suitable method to water your plants and fertilize the soil.
i. Plant protection
The outdoor space is very different from an indoor garden when it comes to growing marijuana. For your outdoor garden, you need to protect your plants against storms, cold, and too much heat. Remember that temperatures below 40°F damages most strains of cannabis. If you regularly experience such harsh climates, then a greenhouse could offer the protection your plants need.
Strong winds can easily break the branches of your marijuana plants. Therefore, you need to install some windbreakers. Also, you need to install some protection from the rain. Although it seems useful at the moment, rain can be destructive. It could contain acids that destroy the root matrix for your marijuana plants. Besides, the rainwater encourages the growth of mold and mildew, which are hazardous to a flowering plant.
If you are fighting against the stubborn crawling and flying pests that attack cannabis, then you can use organic pesticides tailored to help growers with their plant protection.
ii. Understanding your climate
If you want to start growing cannabis in your area, you must have a proper understanding of the climate in your locality. This is because marijuana is adversely affected by extreme conditions despite its impressive adaptability. Remember, cannabis only thrives at temperatures above 55°C but below 86°C. Temperatures above 86°C scorch the plant, while those below 55°C stunt the growth of your marijuana plants.
Heavy rains and winds can also cause physical damage to your plants. With broken branches, there is less productivity, and excess humidity lowers the process of photosynthesis and can lead to the accumulation of mold.
Finally, clarity on the average sunlight hours in your area is crucial. This is because sufficient light determines when your plants start to vegetate and flower.
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iii. Choosing a growing space
Choosing the right spot to grow your cannabis is a crucial step when starting as a marijuana grower. If you choose a mobile location, then you can quickly move your plants to the sunlight. However, if you decide to grow the cannabis directly into the ground, then you need to choose that spot that has the most direct sunlight exposure.
Remember how the flowering hormones in cannabis are deactivated by sunlight? Well, you need to carefully choose when to start growing. The best time to start planting is during spring so that when fall approaches, the plants experience fewer hours of sunlight and more hours of darkness.
A constant breeze is suitable for your marijuana plants. However, in higher altitudes, such as higher floors in an apartment, the winds are stronger, and this could break the branches of your plants. To prevent this, you should plant the marijuana close to the wall or a fence to break the wind.
iv. Soil type
One primary reason why people plant marijuana outside is because of the availability of soil. Alternatively, they could buy soil. The traditional soil consists of different ratios of clay, silt, and sand. These soils all have different properties in terms of drainage, aeration, and nutrient content. Marijuana thrives in soils with much organic matter.
So, when you choose to grow your marijuana directly on the ground, you need an understanding of the type of soil in your garden.
Heavy clay soils have poor drainage and do not hold oxygen. Therefore, they have poor aeration, which makes them unsuitable for growing marijuana. To correct this, you could dig the soil one month before planting, mix in some compost, manure, and other organic materials.
Sandy soil, on the other hand, has good aeration and warms up quickly. However, due to their porosity, they do not hold nutrients very well. If you live in a region with heavy rains, then this type of soil is the best as it does not hold too much water.
Finally, silt is the ideal soil to use when you are growing marijuana. It contains many nutrients, warms quickly, holds water for an appropriate time, and has good drainage.
If you have no idea what soil you are working with, then you could conduct a soil test. This provides you with details of the type of soil, nutrient content, and the pH of the soil.
v. Nutrient addition
As previously established, the nutrient levels in your plants determine the quality and quantity of your yields. The plants require a combination of macronutrients and micronutrients to thrive. Before adding any fertilizers to top up the nutrient requirements, have a soil test done to determine what is deficient.
If possible, get an organic alternative. This is because these fertilizers also add to the number of healthy microbes needed by your marijuana plants to breakdown nutrients and aerate your soil.
vi. A plant watering schedule
Rain and underwater add to the benefits of growing your marijuana outside. However, this water could be insufficient for the optimal growth and production of your plant. For instance, during hot summers, there are fewer rains, and the ground could dry. Then, you need to water your plants regularly.
Also, the climate in your region largely contributes to the frequency of watering. If you live in a region with hot and windy summers, the cannabis plants tend to transpire at a higher rate, which means they lose more water compared to cool and calm summers. Therefore, you need to water your plants more regularly. Alternatively, you could lay a slab of clay soil before settling the soil on which you grow your marijuana.
Living in a rainy region requires that you look for a solution to the potential waterlogging problem you are bound to experience. You can either dig some ditches—directing the water away from your garden or mix the soil with some gravel or clay pebbles.
Finally, before using any water on your plants, test it for impurities and dissolved nutrients. Too many nutrients could destroy the roots or throw your soil pH off balance. Alternatively, too much chlorine could kill the healthy microbes in your soil.
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5. Strains of marijuana that are easy to grow
Now that you have done everything in preparation for the planting, the final step is the most important. That is, choosing the right strain to grow as a beginner. Although all species of marijuana follow almost the same procedure of growth, some are easier to grow, especially if you are a beginner. These include:
i. Green Crack Punch
The Green Crack Punch is a crossbreed of Purple Punch and Green Crack. It performs better than other strains of cannabis when it comes to overwatering and pH imbalance. This strain blooms in less than 60 days and gives resin-saturated and dense buds. It contains 20% THC, responsible for the powerful muscle ache relief, energy, focus, and peaceful calm.
ii. Royal Jack Auto
For medical use, Royal Jack Auto is a favored species. This species defies the norms of growing marijuana. Even if you leave your lights on round the clock, the flowering hormones activate. That means it begins to flower within two weeks of germination. So, in less than 10 weeks, you can start harvesting the cannabis flowers. With 16 % THC, the buzz begins with motivation and a burst of creativity, before leveling to a chill and mellow ending.
iii. White Widow
White Widow is a crossbreed of Brazilian Sativa and Indian Indica. Most professionals regard it as one of the simplest and best strains of marijuana to grow. Since this strain requires more light for higher yields, it is best for an indoor grower. With good soil, you can get a bountiful harvest after just 9 weeks of flowering, since it has no special nutrient requirement. If you want an excellent cerebral high, then this is the strain to grow.
iv. Special Queen 1
This is the strain of weed that is reasonably priced. So, you can harvest the flowers and save the more expensive seeds for when you become a pro. After 7 to 8 weeks of blooming, the plants develop Sativa-dominant blooms. Since it is highly adaptable, Special Queen 1 has become a rewarding strain of marijuana to professionals as well as novices.
This strain of marijuana contains 18% THC, which results in a cerebral high with a definite mood lift. Few puffs cause droopy eyes, expanding your thought, and relaxing your muscles.
Growing marijuana should be a rewarding and exciting activity. To achieve the intended results, you need to do a bit of research. This way, you avoid simple mistakes that could be considerably costly and kill your morale.
Before you buy and plant your strain of marijuana, get enough knowledge on the medium to use, the species of marijuana you want to plant, the fertilizers, and nutrients the cannabis needs. Go a little further and understand the growth stages of the particular strain you choose, and how much light and water they need.
Once you have the reports of your soil analysis, and you have clarity on the climate in your area, you can then choose where to grow your weed and what to do to provide the best conditions for its growth.