Preparing to Grow
So you’re thinking about growing marijuana?
Growing marijuana can be both enjoyable and rewarding, but it can also be very stressful and taxing. There are many factors that need to be considered before you begin growing. As with making any major decision, you should consider both the benefits and risks of growing marijuana. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly, especially if the law forbids growing marijuana where you live.
There are many reasons to grow marijuana. The following list summarizes some of the more prominent reasons:
- Price: If you’re only an occasional smoker, it might not be cost-effective to grow your own homegrown, but if you smoke regularly and are currently purchasing a lot of marijuana, ounce-for-ounce growing marijuana is far less expensive that purchasing marijuana from other sources.
- Quality: The quality of your homegrown marijuana will depend to a great extent on the genetics of the seeds you use and on the care of your plants, but if you take your time growing and harvesting your marijuana, you will be able to produce exquisite marijuana.
- Experience: Growing marijuana is an amazingly rewarding experience. There is great joy in watching plants develop from a tiny seed to a large plant, and you can proudly proclaim that you grew the marijuana you are smoking.
- Knowledge: Just as making your own wine from scratch can help make you a wine connoisseur, growing you own marijuana helps you build a solid base of knowledge about marijuana, being able to analyze marijuana by appearence, smell and taste. You will come to understand and appreciate marijuana on an entirely new level.
While growing marijuana may at first seem like the ultimate way to obtain marijuana, there are several downsides and risks to take into consideration. In many parts of the world, posessing and growing marijuana is illegal. Other parts of the world place restrictions on growing marijuana. Be sure to look into the laws in your area to make sure you don’t get in trouble with the law. Even if it is legal for you to grow marijauana, it can still be to your benefit to keep your crop a secret. The following list summarizes some of the cons of growing marijuana.
- The Law: The legal ramifications of growing marijuana in many parts of the world significantly outweigh the benefits obtained. You can face fines and jail time if you choose to grow marijuana where it is illegal. If you do grow where it is illegal, you have to deal with the threat of being caught at all times. The paranoia may lead to anxiety.
- Cost: Growing marijuana requires supplies. To get a high quality product, you will need to purchase lighting, soil, seeds, reflective wall coverings, nutrients etc. The costs can add up, but if you are resourceful, you can keep expenses down and still get some quality product.
- Jealousy: One of the reasons to keep your grow operation a secret even if it is legal for you to grow marijuana is to avoid issues with jealous acquaintances. If someone of lesser character knows you have a grow operation nearing harvest, they may choose to harvest without your permission. I have heard many stories of pot plants being stolen with no knowledge of who took them. It’s impossible to know what some people will do when dealing with a counter-culture product worth a lot of money. So keep your mouth shut!
- Time: You need to dedicate a significant amount of time to growiong marijuana. Quality marijuana requires at least three months to grow from seed to bud, and you need to spend some time out of every day to care for your plants. But once you get the hang of it though, time spent in your garden can become time well-spent.
So by now you must surely be aware that there are many reasons to grow marijuana and many reasons not to. Ultimately, the decision will be up to you and I hope you make a decision that you are comfortable with. Take some time to think it over, and if you come to the conclusion that you want to grow marijuana, you need to start, by getting your cannabis seeds.
Ready to get find some seeds?
The seeds you use define the genetics of the plant you will be growing. No matter how much care you give your plants, you will never produce exquisite marijuana with seeds from low-quality shwag. On the other hand, great seeds will not make up for poor cultivation methods. The seeds selected are merely one tool in growing great marijuana.
It is important to begin with the best seeds you can. Some people grow marijuana from seeds obtained from marijuana they have used. As a rule of thumb, the better the weed, the better the seeds, though there are many other factors that contribute to the quality of the marijuana. In general however, high quality marijuana is grown sinsemilla, or without seeds. The methods described in this guide will teach you how to grow sinsemilla. As a result, marijuana with seeds tends to be of lower quality, so the best way to get seeds is to purchase them from a seed bank.
There are plenty of places that sell seeds over the internet. Please be aware, however, that many sites are scams. Be sure to take a look around at what other people say about various seed banks before sending any money. Weed List provides hundreds of cannabis seeds to choose from. We have found that they are among the most trustworthy seed bank online carrying a large selection of strains.
To the best of my knowledge, I have seen no reports of this company accepting a payment and not sending seeds. For obvious reasons, it may be beneficial to send cash when purchasing marijuana seeds. Seeds are shipped in discreet packages, but it also may be beneficial to ship them to some location other than the final grow site. Be careful with what you do and be aware that sometimes, seeds do get lost at customs in international shipping. Break up large orders in case this happens to you. You’ll be glad you did.
Also, there are many local stores from which you can purchase marijuana seeds and even starter plants in areas where marijuana growing is legal. These stores may offer packages of specifically selected strains of marijuana and are a source of a wealth of information about the ideal growing conditions and tendencies of the particular strain chosen. They may also offer large bins of mixed seeds. Between these two options, I would recommend purchasing a particular strain of marijuana. Find a strain that is known for being relatively easy to cultivate and producing high quality buds. The staff is usually quite knowledgable, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Now you have your seeds, but nowhere to plant them. You need some soil.
The soil will be in many respects both the home and the food for your marijuana plant, so it should be taken seriously. Many veteran growers develop their own mixtures of raw soil, nutrients and absorptive material, but when you’re starting out, it’s best to find some commercial potting soil.
Soil character is specified by the ratio of three elemental components, Nitrogren, Phosphorous and Potassium, usually written N:P:K. Marijuana likes to grow in a soil that is rich in Nitrogen, so find a soil with a higher N value and lower P and K values. A typical good ratio is 20:10:10. The growing requirements of marijuana are nearly identical to growing tomatoes. If you are purchasing growing supplies from a store in which the staff is not knowledgable in cannabis growing, you can ask for advice regarding growing tomatoes to the same effect.
Many people prefer using organic soil for growing marijuana, but as long as it has the appropriate N:P:K ratio, good acidity, and enough plant food to feed the plant for three months, it should work fine. Another ideal characteristic is that the soil protects against over and under watering. Some soil manufacturers include materials that take care of this. While it is still very important to control your watering, this will help provide you with a margin of error.
There are alternative growing mediums to use. Another popular technique is the hydroponic method of growing marijuana. It involves growing marijuana in a reservoir of water and nutrients. The plant is held in some solid medium while the root system is suspended in the reservoir where it can absorb nutrients. This method tends to be more complicated and more expensive, but because you are able to control the nutrients the plant receives directly, you can end up with a higher quality product.
Now that you have your soil, you will need to get some lighting.
In lieu of the sun, we need some electric lighting!
Marijuana plants grow best in Latin America near the equator where the intense sun can give the plants enough energy to easily grow ten to fifteen feet tall. As the seasons change and the plant progresses through its life cycle, changes in the color spectrum of the sun and the length of the day let the plant know when it’s time to reproduce.
Flowers are the sexual organs of plants. When the season changes from Spring to Fall, the plants prepare for reproduction. Since we will be removing the males, when this occurs, the females’ buds will continue to grow and their THC content will continue to increase. You will need to use two different types of light for growing marijuana. This page describes the amount and kinds of light you will need.
During the stage of rapid vegetative growth, the plant will need a lot of blue-spectrum light turned on for most of the day. These lights are typically sold as daylight light bulbs. The color quality of lights is often measured on the package as color temperatue, expressed in Kelvin. The color temperature you want for this stage of growth will be higher, in the range of 6,500K. For good vegetative growth, you will need at least 2,000 lumens per square foot.
There are several types of lights that work well in this color range. If your budget is not particularly tight, you can purchase some Metal-Halide or MH lights. These lights are ideal for the vegetative growth phase of the growing process. They can produce significant qantities of light. MH lights require ballasts in order to operate, and tend to be more expensive. They also produce more heat. For a small grow operation, MH lights might actually be overkill. I would recommend fluorescents.
There are two types of fluorescent lights that are usable for growing marijuana. There are grow-light fluorescent tubes. A popular brand of fluorescent grow-light tubes is Grow-Lux, but several other brands exist. These kinds of lights require fluorescent fixtures to be used, which are available at any hardware story for only $5-$10 and they are relatively easy to construct.
The other type of fluorescent lights that can be used are known as CFL’s. CFL’s or compact fluorescent lights screw into standard bulb sockets and have a higher output of light. They can also be purchased in multiple spectrum ranges. For the vegetative phase, you want to use Daylight bulbs with a color temperature of 6,500K. When lit, they appear a clean white, almost blue color. CFL’s are the choice for lighting in small grow operations. They emit very little heat and can be used with reflectorized clamp sockets available at Walmart for as little as $5.00.
For the flowering stage of growth, the plant will grow best with a high proportion of red-spectrum light (approximately 2,700K) turned on for only about half the day. The actual quantity of light should also be increased as well to at least 3,000 lumens per square foot. There are no fluorescent tubes available which offer good light in this specture. CFL’s can however reach this spectrum and are sold as soft white lights. They appear orangish-yellowish when lit.
A brighter light that operates well in this spectrum is High-pressure Sodium light, or HPS. HPS lights require a ballast system to operate. HPS lights emit a lot of heat, so they should be placed farther away from the plants than the fluorescents.
All this lighting stuff can be confusing, so the following list summarizes the pros and cons of the various lighting types.
- Metal-Halide: High intensity light that produces a lot of blue-spectrum light. Requires a ballast to be operated. Great for the vegetative phase.
- Fluorescent Grow-light Tube: Long tubes that produce blue-spectrum light. Requires fluorescent fixtures to be operated. Great for the vegetative phase.
- Compact Fluorescent Light: Small spiral shaped tubes that produce either blue or red spectrum light. Fit standard light sockets. Great for vegetative phase (daylight/6,500K) or flowering phase (soft white/2,700K).
- High Pressure Sodium: High intensity light that produces a lot of red-spectrum light. Requires a ballast. Great for the flowering phase.
In reality, the sun never fully converts from one spectrum to the other. It can actually be beneficial to use both blue and red spectrum lights at all times. Instead of switching light sources entirely, choose a ratio of about 3:1 for either phase. That is, for the vegetative phase, use three times as much blue spectrum light as red spectrum light and for the flowering phase use three times as much red spectrum light.
You will also need a timer for your lights. Timers are sold at any hardware store or Walmart for around $5. They can be programmed to have different on/off periods, which will simulate day/night periods. For the vegetative phase, you want to have longer day periods, usually 18 hours on, 6 hours off. For the flowering phase, shorter days signal the coming of fall, usually 12 hours on 12 hours off. Invest in a timer, because turning the lights on and off becomes a pain and forgetting can mean the difference between good and bad marijuana production.
Don’t worry if this seems a little intimidating. We will remind you of what kinds of lights to use when we start growing. For a small grow operation, I recommend using CFL’s the entire way through. They are readily available, have a high light output, and can be purchased in spectrums ideal for either growing phase. Now that you have most of your supplies, you need to build your grow room.
Get your hard hat on!
Building your grow room will probably the most physically exhaustive part of growing your own marijuana indoors. The room can be anything from a bedroom closet to a home-built grow box. There are a couple of things to take into consideration when choosing a grow space.
- Temperature: The temperature of the grow room should not be excessively cold or hot. Marijuana likes temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees. Keep in mind that the lights will raise the temperatue. If you want to grow in a space that cannot provide temperatures within this range, you will need to bring in heaters or air conditioners which can be hard for a first-time grow.
- Humidity: The room should not be excessively damp or dry. Marijuana likes around 40-60% humidity, so make sure you can maintain the humidity in this range. You may use a humidifier or a dehumidifier if necessary.
- Light: The grow room should be isolated from external light sources. Light leaking out of the room can tip people off that something is going on and if you are trying to hide your garden from somebody, this is a dead giveaway. More importantly though, the plants need to have as minimal light as possible during their lights-off phases. Cardboard and duct tape are a great way to seal light leaks.
- Size: The location you choose will need to be high enough to support an adult plant (depends on strain) and will need to have enough surface area to support however many plants you choose to grow.
- Location: Location is very important. You don’t want the plants in high traffic areas where they might be spotted or people may interfere with their optimal growth. You also don’t want to plant somewhere next to electrical equipment or heating systems. If you need to get repairs done, the repairman might spot your crop.
Once you’ve found a suitable location to build your grow room, it’s time to start building. The first task is to work on your circulation. For small operations (1-3 plants) circulation can simply be opening the door to look at your plants every day, but having good circulation is important to maintain temperature and humidity. Also, plants exude waste materials through their leaves and if this accumulates, it can be bad for the plants. A good source of circulation is a simple CPU fan connected to an AC adapter. These can be connected relatively simply, but any fan would work. The fan should be used to take air in through some opening and should expel it at an exhaust hole on the other end of the room. Be careful not to let too much light leak through the exhaust system!
Next you’ll want to do is cover the walls with some reflective material. This can be as simple as painting the walls white, but for maximum reflectivity, I recommend using mylar wall-covering. Mylar is available relatively inexpensively at any grow supply store. This should be placed on the walls smoothly and as completely as possible. Duct tape works for adhering it to the walls.
Then you will want to have some kind of platform to hold your lights. This can simply be a board holding CFL’s in clamps, any number of fluorescent tubes, or an MH/HPS ballast. The platform should be of an adjustable height to accomidate the growing plants. I recommend using a chain connected to the ceiling so that it can simply be hoisted up as the plants grow. Make sure whatever you attatch the lights to can hold the weight of the potentially heavy lights. Connect the ligths to an automated timer that will control the light cycles.
You are now basically done. The final task is to ensure the area is sealed in terms of light. It might be beneficial to place some kind of plastic surface on the bottom to avoid water damage. The way you build your grow room is up to you, but this guide should help a little. Be creative and have fun, you’ll be spending a lot of time here. Now you can germinate your seeds.
This guide assumes you are only going to have one grow area. If you are planning on operating a larger grow operation in which you would like to be harvesting as often as possible, you may want to consider have two separate areas, or two separate grow rooms altogether, one for the Vegetative Stage and the other for the Flowering Stage. Growing marijuana this way is sometimes called Sea of Green.
You’ve got your supplies; now you’re set to start growing!
For this stage you will only need two paper towels, some seeds and a warm dark place to keep the whole setup for a day or two. The process is really quite simple, and I would recommed setting up the germination while preparing the rest of your supplies. You want to use spring water or purified water. You can use tap water, but let it sit in open air for 36-48 hours. Using water straight from the tap is not great for the plants.
It is important to note that not all marijuana growers feel that this stage is necessary. These growers prefer to simply place the seeds approximately 1/2 to 1 inch below the surface and cover with loose soil. There is debate amongst growers as to which method is better, but more than likely the influence is fairly insignificant. Germinating your seeds ahead of time is a good way to know which seeds are and are not viable, however.
To germinate your seeds, simply take one paper towel and pour a quantity of water onto the paper towel. Soak the entire paper towel. The plants need a lot of water to germinate properly. Place several seeds onto the paper towel and cover with the remaining paper towel. Soak the second paper towel with water.
Some people like to place the germinating seeds inside a zip-lock bag or a tupperware container. Others simply place them in a closed drawer on a plate. Regardless of which you choose, place the paper towels in a warm dark place and check back in tweny four hours. You will probably begin to see small white sprouts penetrating the seed coat. Once the sprouts reach a lenth of about 10mm, it’s time to plant.
When your seeds look like the picture below, you’re ready to begin the seedling stage.
Now you will be able to experience the miracle of life!
Now that your seeds have sprouted, you are ensured that they have the potential to form a full-size plant. They may look small right now, but if you take your time and care for them, you will be able to grow plants as tall and large as you would like! So let’s begin with our soil. As we mentioned in the soil section we recommend using some potting soil.
Begin by taking several small container. I recommend using Solo 12oz cups; they are great for the seedling stage. Cut four small slits near the bottom of the cups for drainage. Pour water into the cup and let it drain. Allow 10-20 minutes for the water to drain completely.
Once the water has settled, poke a small hole in the dirt using a pencil. Make the hole at most a single inch deep. Making sure not handle the seeds by the sprout, drop the a single seed into the hole. The white sprouts coming from the seeds are the roots of the plants, so drop the seeds in root-tip down. If you mess up, its not the end of the world. Attempting to rotate the seed will more than likely do damage to the plant at this delicate stage of life, so just leave it. Cover the seed with some loose soil. Don’t burry it too deeply. Just a little below the surface is fine.
For this stage of growing, you should be planting around twice as many plants as you would like to grow. There is around a 50% chance that any plant that grows will be female and we will only be focussing on the females. There is a third sex option with plants and there are more factors than simple genetics, but when you are beginning, you need not be concerned with this. The seedlings like to grow in a particularly humid environment. To provide this environment, you can purchase a humidity dome, but alternatively you can just place plastic zip lock bags over the cups.
Within a day or two, the plants should begin to protrude from the soil. At this point, your plants will begin embarking on a journey of massive growth. Some plants take longer than others to sprout. Some will sprout within a day; others may take several. Watch as the plant pokes through the soil and spreads its first two leaves (the cotyledans). Watch as the first set of rough leaves expands from the center of the smooth leaves. Once the plant has its first two sets of leaves, you can remove it from the humidity dome. Lightly misting the plants’ leaves will help ease the transition to the dry air.
Your plants are now ready to grow!
Now that your plants have sprouted, it’s time to watch them grow. You want your plants to grow up big and strong before you transition them to the flowering stage where they will actually be producing the buds. This stage which will last 4-6 weeks and in general, the longer you wait, the bigger the plant, and the higher the yield. Please note that there is a point of diminishing returns at which waiting any longer will actually reduce yield, but 4-6 weeks is perfect.
As your plants get bigger and bigger, they will begin branching off into several leaf branches. You may begin to notice rudimentary sex organs showing up at the nodes, but in general you will not be able to sex your plants until you move to the next stage.
Once your plants start hanging over the edges of the cups significantly, it might be time to move them to larger pots. I would recommend using 5 gallon pots as these will be able to support the plants throughout their entire lives. To transplant them, simply fill one of your new pots with soil and dig a small hole to fit the plant. Take a utility knife and cut 4 large slits all the way up the sides of your solo cups. The soil should come out together very nicely. Then, simply place the plant into its final home and fill in the empty spaces with loose soil. Be careful when transplanting as this can be a fairly stressful time for the plants.
Throughout this stage, you should be using mostly lights in the blue spectrum range. Look for daylight bulbs and if the package displays color temperature, you want 6,500K. The lights should be on for 18 hours and off for 6. Pick a sun-up for when the lights should turn on and keep this the same throughout the entire plant’s life. We will only ever be adjusting the sun-down time. Try to keep the plants in complete darkness when the lights are off as light leaks can increase the propencity of hermaphrodism (having both male and female parts).
If you are using CFLs or fluorescent tubes, you should place the lights within a couple inches of the tops of the plants. They can even be touching the plants as these lights do not produce much heat, but 2-3 inches away is ideal. If your lights are too far away, it might cause your plants to stretch. Since you are growing indoors, you want to control height as best as possible and for the best yield you want bulky strong plants, not tall lanky ones.
Keep a thermometer in the room and monitor the temperature. While the lights are on, the temperature should be between 70-85 degrees Farenheit. During lights-off, the temperature can drop a little. A humidity detctor can be useful as well. Try to keep the humidity between 40-60%, though this is harder to control. Both of these devices can be purchased at grow supply stores, hardware stores and even Walmart.
If you used potting soil with nutrients already included, you will not need to use any nutrients at this stage. A lot of newbies overfertilize and can end up damaging the plant. Be careful if you are using nutrients and follow the directions that come with the product.
Your primary responsibility to your plants at this stage of life is to water them and provide them with light. Do not overwater your plants! Only water plants when the top of the soil is dry and crusty. Plants can handle periods of drought much better than torrential floods. Waterings will end up taking place once or at most twice a week. Look for drooping leaves as this can be a sign of overwatering.
Your plants will tell you how they feel by the way their leaves look. In general, any deviations from strong green leaves is a sign that something might be wrong. There are many things that can cause these deviations. This guide summarizes many of the issues plants can face and what causes them.
You will also need to protect your plants from any invading critters that want to snag a bite of your plants. In general, you’ll want to remove any bugs you see the moment you see them. The only exception is carnivorous bugs which will actually help control the population of other bugs in the garden. Good bugs are spiders and lady bugs. If you find you have an infestation of small plant-eating bugs adding some lady bugs is a nice organic alternative to insecticides, though if it comes down to it, insecticide is sold at your local grow supply store.
Once your plant is about half as tall as you would like it to be, at least around 18″ and has 4-6 main leaf branches, you can begin the flowering stage. At this point in time, plants may begin showing signs of their sex. To learn how to determine sex, visit he Sexing Plants page. Below are several pictures of healthy plants during the vegetative stage.
If you bought feminized seeds, you don’t need to do this!
Your plants will usually begin to show signs of their sex before flowering, but the signs are quite subtle. You will most likely have the best luck and make the least mistakes by waiting until the plants have been flowering for a little bit. If you don’t see signs of sex yet, you can start the Flowering Stage.
This page includes both botanical drawings and photographs of males and females so that you can differentiate between males and females as easily as possible. The differences can most easily be examined by using a magnifying glass. You want to look at the nodes, where the branches meet the main stem.
The preflowers of the male and female are quite distinctive. The male preflower consists of short rounded structures, whereas the female preflower consists of long hairs. Look for these features. The images on this page should help you identify the sex of your plants.
The pictures below are botanical drawling of the differentiation process (left), a male plant (middle), and a female plant (right).
The pictures below are photographs of a male plant (left) and a female plant (right) with the points of interest highlighted.
Once you’ve determined the sex of your plants, you should remove your males to allow the females to grow sensimilla. This will certainly be a sad time for you as the boys you raised so caringly now must go off to their deaths, but this is the price of good marijuana. Give them an honorable funeral and if you haven’t already, it might be time to start the Flowering Stage.
Excited for some real payoff?
The flowering stage is by far the most exciting of all stages of growth. You will finally start to notice marijuana buds forming. The sweet smell of fresh marijuana will begin penetrating the air, and you will have some seriously nice looking plants. All your hard work is about to pay off, but don’t get too excited. Let your plants keep growing until their peak. Harvesting too soon can seriously reduce your potential yield. Be patient, and you can expect a great harvest.
As soon as you notice the plants showing sign of their sex, you will want to remove the males. If both sexes are allowed to grow to maturity, the males will pollenate the females and your weed will not be sinsemilla. To learn about determining the sex of your plants, see Sexing Plants.
The biggest change from the vegetative stage is the lighting. We want to increase the amount of red-spectrum lighting and we want more light in general. Attempt to maintain 3,000 lumens per square foot of growing space. If you were growing with fluorescents, you can keep any tubes out there. A lot of people like to use fluorescent tubes to provide side lighting for your tall plants. This is a good idea. You will want to replace most of your 6,500K CFL’s with 2,700K CFL’s. The 2,700K spectrum is usually called soft white.
You might also want to think about High Pressure Sodium bulbs. They sell standard socket HPS bulbs at hardware stores for about $20. It’s more expensive than other lighting, but you can produce a much greater light output. They also produce more heat, so keep them farther away from your plants, a foot or so should suffice. Direct contact is perfect fine with fluorescents, but proximity to HPS lighting will burn your plants.
The lights need to also be on for less time. The perfect flowering light cycle is 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Keep the same dawn time you used for the vegetative stage to reduce stress on the plants. This lighting cycle will let the plants know Fall has come, and for the Cannabis plant, Fall is the season of love.
Keep your watering the same. If you were using nutrients for vegetation (nitrogen-rich), stop them as the plants will need more phosphorous than nitrogen at this stage. Grow supply stores sell great nutrients for flowering. Almost anything with the word bloom in the name will work, but ask the sales staff for advice if you’re uncertain. Nutrients will usually be mixed in with the water at watering. Just like before, only water the plants when the top of the dirt has become dry and crusty. The plants are still very suceptible to over-watering.
Remember only to do any gardening while the lights are on. Lights on in the middle of their night-time periods is not good for the plants. The care you have to provide here is much the same as with the vegetative stage. Control any insects and keep your plants happy. Pay attention to their needs. You might want to trim some of the larger leaves to allow light to penetrate to the lower levels, but this is not absolutely necessary.
When you start to notice a snowy haze forming on your buds, it’s time to consider Harvesting your marijuana. Below are several pics of healthy marijuana plants during the flowering stage.
By now you are probably quite excited to start smoking your buds. To achieve the best marijuana possible, timing is the key. Knowing when to stop nutrients and when to harvest is an important skill to master. The first couple times you grow, you will most likely not get it perfect, but through trial and error you will eventually figure it out.
To achieve the best tasting marijuana, you will want to stop all nutrients about two weeks before harvest. This allows the nutrients stored in the plant to be used up in the growth process and not in your buds. If you don’t stop nutrients, you will have poor taste and difficult-to-light marijuana. A good rule of thumb is to stop nutrients the moment you begin seeing any of the trichomes turning an amber color, but if you have knowledge of your particular strain, you can follow whatever guidelines are provided with the strain.
Trichomes are the small resin glands found on your buds. The trichomes are quite small, so you will need a pocket-microscope to see them well. The pictures above show the progression of the trichomes from a clear color, to a milky translucent color, to slightly amber. Not all trichomes will mature at the same time, but you will want to harvest when most of the trichomes have become the milky color. Amber trichomes are fine, but high concentrations of amber trichomes will tend to get you stoned, while high concentrations of milky trichomes will get you high. A good ratio is ideal.
Once you feel your marijuana has matured to an optimal point, it is time to harvest. You have two options, harvest the branches one at a time or harvest the whole plant at once. I recommend harvesting the plant all at once as a beginner. It will be easier for you. Simply cut the plant at the base using scissors of garden shears.
This might be a particularly difficult time for you as well. No doubt your plants and you have become very close over the past couple months. Say a prayer and thank the plant before cutting it down and immediately move to trimming and manicuring.
Trimming And Manicuring
Once you have cut down the plant, take it somewhere to work. Working on a flat surface will allow you to easily collect the material you remove. This material is low in THC, but THC is still present and it can be used to make hash oil.
Trimming the buds is a relatively simple process, but make sure to take your time. Essentially all that you need to do is cut the branches holding the buds from the plant and removing all the leaves. Take your time and use a pair of scissors with small blades so that you have full control. You will get the hang of this with some practice.
When you are done trimming the buds, they should look like the image below. These trimmings are not smokable yet, they still need to be dried and cured, but if you’re excited to get smoking (as I’m sure you will be), you can take a small about and use one of the quick drying techniques to smoke it today. Only quick dry a small amount, as quick-dried marijuana smoke will be harsh and less potent.
Time to prepare your buds for smoking.
Preparing your marijuana for smoking is two-part process that can take as long as two months, however a good amount should be smokable within a couple of weeks. Be patient and don’t quick dry too much because if you have the patience, you will likely have the best weed you’ve ever smoked.
Hanging is the most common way to dry you buds. Take the long stems of trimmed marijuana and hang them from strings. The environment in which they are being dried is very important. Humidity should be low as high humidity will cause mold. If you notice mold forming on your pot (foul-smelling, fuzzy, very noticable) don’t let it spread to other buds and reduce the humidity. The temperature should be relatively low, less than 70 degrees. High heat and humidity will cause mold and actually decrease potency. Let the buds dry for a few weeks, or until they are dry. A good way to tell when the buds are dry is that the stems will snap instead of bending.
Once your buds are dry, they will be mostly smokable. Most of the smaller buds will be ready to be rolled into joints or smoked in a bowl, but you should still cure your buds. The curing process is a very passive process that is not particularly hard to stick to, because the weed is generally pretty smokable while you are waiting for the optimal cured product. To cure the buds, simply remove as much of the stems as possible and pack the buds lightly into mason jars with lids. Open the lids once or twice a day to let excess moisture escape and continue this process for about a month.
After you stop seeing moisture forming on the inside of the jar, you have officially grown your own marijuana. The buds are then ready for long-time storage. Sit back, and smoke your marijuana.
Quick Dry Techniques
If you can’t wait for your buds to dry…
When you harDvest you’re weed, you may be overcome with excitement to smoke some right away. While these quick drying techniques will make your weed smokable, take a few weeks to properly dry and cure the vast majority of your buds. Use these techniques only on small amounts to smoke right away. Smoke from quick dried marijuana is harsher and less potent.
- Place your buds on a glass plate. Place the plate in the microwave. To avoid burning, make sure the microwave is set on low (about 30% power, microwaves may vary). Turn on for 10-15 seconds at a time. Pull out and check buds, then rotate them. Do this several times until the weed looks smokable.
- Place the buds on a cookie sheet and put in the oven at around 120 degrees. Bake for about 10 minutes. Pull out and allow to cool, rotate and repeat.
- Place your buds inside an envelope and put the envelope on some heat source. Radiators, old tvs and other heat sources work great. This method can take a couple hours, but will be marginally better than the above methods.
Enjoy a bowl, but don’t quick-dry your whole harvest. Properly dried and cured marijuana has much better flavor, smell, potency, and smoothness.
Now you have some marijuana. Ready to smoke?
If you’ve completed this guide from start-to-finish, I can assume you have experience smoking marijuana. You probably already know the ins and outs of smoking with all kinds of smoking devices. You probably consider yourself a conoisseur of smoking marijuana. And well you should; you’ve just grown your own marijuana, something most smokers have never accomplished. So sit back, and enjoy yourself a joint, blunt, bowl or whatever. You’ve earned it.