While growing marijuana can be enjoyable as a hobby. It can be frustrating! So I am going to help you grow the best marijuana you can and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls. We want to only grow the best because that is what every home gardener wants his garden to be, the best! So here are things you can do to help you through your seasons.
We will get into the seed and all the way into the flowering stages of marijuana. While it is easy to make a seed start to grow, many things can kill them as they break out of their little shell.
First lets go over seeds and seed-starting. Cannabis seeds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Usually the bigger light brown seeds with what looks like veins poking out are Indica or have more of an Indica strain in them. Seeds that are small dark brown with spots or what appear to be painted on veins are more of a Sativa family. You can go into different types of marijuana page for more information on those types.
They all start the same, you get them moist for several days and they will begin to grow, I like to take a plastic margarine tub. Put some paper towel folded on the bottom and sprinkle some seeds on there, cover with another folded up piece of paper towel and ad just enough water to soak the tow lets. Place this by the furnace or in a warm spot and within 2 days you will see the shells start to split and a root growing out of the shell.
Caution here! If you leave the seeds in the water for more than for or five days they will begin to rot and they will die even if you plant them. The best ones will sprout right away and start growing a root, these are the better seeds anyway! They are fresh and strong. If you still have seeds that have not sprouted after 5 days, they are no good and you should just throw them away! Always clean the container and change the paper towel when starting more seeds, the old seeds or an old towel will contaminate your good seeds and kill them.
Once you have the sprouted seeds, put them a 1/2 inch into the soil, I like to use Styrofoam cups if I am not starting a bunch! I can put in half the soil and as the plant grows, I can ad some soil or potting mix to strengthen up the stalk. I can take about 15 cups in a little box and move them easily. They are in a fragile state here. Too much water or too much direct sun on a hot day will kill them. Fertilizer will also kill them if not mixed in a very weak solution. I like to water them and then I stick my finger in the soil every day to make sure they are not soaked,Â the soil should dry at least every other day so the root will not rot. Once the seedlings are a couple inches tall and have multiple leaves started then they are pretty healthy and can be put out in the woods or wherever.
When you transplant these to their new home make sure the ground is soft and bury them up to the area where the bottom healthy leaves start, this will aid in the growing process as well as make them grow faster and stronger because everything underground will turn into a root system.
When the plants get about two months old you can sex the plants, that is see which ones are male and which ones are female. Female plants usually grow a little slower or smaller than males. Males will grow faster and usually be taller that the females. When you look at the branches where they come out of the stalk, there is a little tab at each point the stem grows out. Under these you can usually tell something is coming out. If it looks like a teardrop it’s a female, if it looks like a little ball then it’s a male. Look at the examples below;
The female plant will grow a white hair out of the pod as it gets older and the male will look like a little ball or clump. If you are unsure you can check if your growing inside by turning the lights down a couple hours less than they are, around 11 hours and in a week or so you will see those white hairs or pistils coming out. Then pull all your males and turn the lights back up until you are ready to make them bud. If you are growing outdoors you have to rely on the time we have light available, when the sun starts setting earlier the plants will begin to change. some plants will show faster than others, this is the nice thing about Indica plants, they will grow in a certain time frame, not so dependent on the sun! Just make sure you get rid of all the males because just one small one 4 or 6 inches high can seed out your plants and ruin a good harvest. Believe me I had it happen. So pull everything out around the plants, weeds, small plants and any small marijuana plants so you don’t have a male pop up on ya! In the picture above you can see the different types of pods that will grow out of the stem. The male will grow into a long string type stem with little pods that look like balls and eventually will open and spread pollen. The female will grow like a long teardrop. As the plants begin to flower more, the female pods will grow on one another and start to make a bud whereas the males will just keep opening up pods to release pollen.
Fertilizing your plants is fairly simple, there are a lot of fertilizers available but make sure you do not use too much, follow the directions! Stronger mixtures than directed will burn the plant, you can tell by the leaves. If the leaves all have a yellow tint to them or the edges start to turn yellow/brown and start to curl, then that is a sign you have used too much. Your plants may die or go into shock which will slow down the growing process. Plants that go through this burning process can recover in several weeks if they get enough water to flush the soil but you will loose precious growing time. Water based fertilizers such as Miracle Grow are ideal because it allows the fertilizer to be drawn into the plant much easier. Dry fertilizers work fine outside but the absorption depends on how much you have and how much is dissolved by rain or water and how fast it gets to the roots.
Getting the most of your plants. As your plants mature, there are ways to increase the potency. One way is to not let them seed, when a plant produces seeds it is using energy that could be used for THC production to make seeds. Once the plant starts to produce seeds, it stops the production of THC. This reduces the potency of the plant. So don’t let them seed unless you are trying to create seeds from good plants for growing new ones. When the plant does not seed, it makes the flowers sticky by creating more THC so as pollen passes by it hopes to collect some so it can complete it’s growing cycle by making seeds. Another way is stressing, stressing the plant is a way to increase the potency if done properly! About two weeks before harvest, cut the water supply to the plants down. This can only be controlled if growing indoors. The plant will notice the lack of water and start to produce THC because it senses the lack of water and it will try harder to attract pollen by making more THC! The extra THC it produces goes to the flowers to make them more sticky to attract and capture pollen so it can make seeds. Just before harvest, like a day or even six hours, water the plants so the roots can soak up the moisture. When you harvest the plants hang them upside down so the moisture runs to the flowers, this will take any THC in the plant stem and roots to the flowers and increase the potency. Even if this method is not used, hang you plants or branches upside down so any moisture in the plant runs to the flowers.
Well there is a bunch of things to know before you can really look at marijuana growing equipment and then again, looking at all the different equipment may give you some new idea’s! Equipment will vary depending on if you are growing marijuana inside or outside of course!
Growing inside requires a bit more in the form of equipment and planning! You will need containers, lighting, fertilizer, growing medium and gee a place to grow! As you get more into it you will need pumps, timers containers and plastic hose or pipe.
Normally plants grow on sunlight and water. The more sun a plant gets is good but the more water a plant gets isn’t good! If we can control the light and water a plant gets we are off to a great start. Marijuana is in it’s growing stage when light is above 12 hours and when that light is below that the plant will be in a flowering stage. We can easily force a plant to grow or flower by adjusting the amount o flight that plant gets related to hours. This is how someone can grow the same plants for a period of time, cut the light and make them flower, take whatever flowers you will and then turn the lights way back up to force the plant to start growing again! Cool too!
When we look at where we are going to grow plants in we can look at several factors, are we going to use hydroponics or are we going to water by hand at first? If going with hydroponics then we should be looking at a containers that we can easily cut and or seal and that will force the nutrients/water back to the bottom or a certain point that will run back to the pump by means gravity or a pump. There are many types of systems available in the market and looking at some of them you can easily design, purchase and install the stuff yourself!
This is an Eb & Flow system, your water/nutrients are in the bottom container and when you lift the bottom tray the nutrients flow to the upper tray. When you set bottom tray back down the nutrients drain back to the bottom container.
This system is a little more complex but still you can see the simple premise and could easily set one up with things you can find around the house! Everything is available at Loews or Home Depot or your corner hardware!
If you are going to grow in buckets and manually adjust things like light heights and watering times all you need is the lights , buckets, soil and fertilizer to feed your plants. Well of course water too! This takes a little more hands on but is very doable! Just make sure to make a schedule and try to stick by it for watering or turning on and off your light system.
Next we need to make sure we have the right soil in the buckets for the plants to grow well. If you are going with hydroponics, you may want to look into pea gravel or another substrate that will allow the roots to spread easily, give the plant support and also drain well so the roots dry. They do sell special substrate for this too! If your going to use all potting soil great but it can get expensive if you are going to use a lot. You can mix it with dirt from outside or you can use all dirt from outside if you have somewhere you can get enough. Potting soil is great because it already comes with everything in it you need to start your plants. The dirt from outside may need some things like lime to make the soil less acidic or fertilizers because lack of nutrients. Remember that this is weed, hence the phrase “grows like a weed”! It will grow anywhere almost! The more care the better the flowers!
There are many types of lighting systems that can be used to grow marijuana. Lets see, there is Metal Halide, Sodium Vapor, Fluorescent, Halogen, LED and Incandescent may work! When we talk about lighting, scientists usually refer to color temperature. Generally marijuana prefers a little more of the blue for growing and red for budding. I will try and explain this.
The measurement of color expressed in Kelvin (K). The reason this measurement is called a “temperature” is because it was derived from a theoretical object called a “black body radiator.” When the radiator is heated, it changes from black to red to yellow to white to blue. The lower the Kelvin rating, the “warmer” or more yellow the light. The higher the rating, the “cooler” or more blue the light.
You can see from this chart the correlation between temperature and lighting.
Most growers usually use several types of lighting systems so they get the intensity of the Metal Halide for its white-light and Sodium Vapor for the yellow and Mercury Vapor for the blue. This can be very expensive so just stick to Metal Halide if you can. I will attempt to explain the benefits and drawbacks of each type. These are all considered to be HID (High Intensity Discharge)
Metal Halide is probably the best system to use. It has the highest spectrum of light in its wattage output range. They are very energy efficient lights but that doesn’t mean your light bill isn’t going to shoot through the roof! These bulbs are usually in 400 or 1000 watt range. Ya better wear your sunglasses walking around these!
The drawbacks are they usually run on 220VAC so you either have to have the transformer with the light so you can plug into 110 VAC or you have to do some additional wiring and install/wire some transformers. These units can run up to $400.00 depending on the enclosure. These bulbs also put off some heat so you have to have a well ventilated area. The are also there are issues with the bulbs, you do not want to touch these with your hands and leave any oil on them or they could explode!
Sodium Vapor lights put out more of a yellow spectrum of light and are the size roughly of a incandescent light you would use in your house. They are usually 110 VAC and will usually come in a housing with a little transformer/starter. You can buy the bulbs and receptacles separately and design your own fixture. There are some higher output Sodium Vapors and they run on 220 VAC. They can run up to $150.00. They have about a 400 hour life and put out a good yellow spectrum.
Not really any drawback except not a full spectrum bulb, lower wattage so less electric bill! Less heat output but still with a few lights need ventilation!
Mercury Vapor lights are about the same as the Sodium Vapor but use a little different technology. They are the oldest of the HID lighting and put out more of a blue spectrum. Very inexpensive to get and setup. Not really any drawback except not a full spectrum bulb, lower wattage so less electric bill! Less heat output but still with a few lights need ventilation!
Florescent lighting is also available and will work, it has the temperature but it is a very low wattage light. unless you wanted to set up a tanning booth! You can buy grow bulbs with high output or watts, they run about $15.00 each and up. Fixtures are very inexpensive.
Incandescent lighting work but for the same reasons that fluorescent bulb has drawbacks, this bulb has really no color spectrum and is very hard to grow anything with the output power. Don’t even try it! Waste of time unless you put a whole sh*t load in!
LED lighting is a newer technology. It uses 80% less power than conventional grow lighting so it can save you a fortune in electric bills. Some of the new LED lighting systems are fairly high output because of the new 1 and 3 watt LED bulbs they have come out with. A good LED light will probably run about $300-600.00 but in the long run save you $60.00 per month per fixture.