Here is how to stop paying high prices for medical marijuana and turn it into a productive and rewarding hobby! If you are tired of paying for expensive medical marijuana read this guide and you will become a professional when it comes to growing you own medical marijuana. This guide covers everything from buying quality seeds, to harvesting and drying!
(Disclaimer: I do not promote the illegal cultivation, or illegal sale of marijuana. Check your state law to see if you reside in an area where this is LEGAL! If you choose to ignore your state law and wish to proceed, you do so at your own peril! – you have been warned. Happy Growing!)
Getting Started: The Grow Room
Whether it is a closet, a cupboard, or an entire basement that has been chosen to house your “garden,” make sure you incorporate these things regardless of size.
Cleanliness: This is one of the most important things to abide by if you want to grow healthy plants. A clean area will allow the plants to be free of bugs and other pests that may harm them. Maintaining a constant level of cleanliness is vital throughout the growing process. Keep pets and other animals away from the grow room because they may track in dirt and other pests. Also keep your own things clean. Shoes are a perfect way to track in bugs and things into the grow room so be cautious. Always wash your hands before entering the grow room and always water your plants with clean water. Tap water should only be used after it has set out in open air for at least 24 hours, so the chlorine and chemicals have had time to evaporate. Never reuse old soil and never use old containers unless they have been properly sterilized. You can sterilize old soil by baking it.
Ventilation: Air movement is vital for growing healthy plants. Plants release toxins through their leaves so replenishing the air supply is crucial. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide so make sure there is enough available. Opening the door to the cupboard or closet is enough for a few plants, but if there is a large amount of plants, regular replenishment of fresh air and an oscillating fan will be needed. Ventilation is not just subject to the outside air either. Plant roots also need to breathe. Never pack the soil in too tightly and make sure all containers have holes in the bottom of them for ventilation and drainage.
Temperature: Marijuana is a weed that grows all over the world. Therefore, it will grow in almost any environment. Temperature is important, but not extremely hard to maintain. In most cases marijuana will thrive if the temperature is kept between 65 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Humidity: Humidity should be kept between 45 and 65. Too humid, and you risk getting mold and fungus. Too dry, and it will be hard to keep your plants hydrated properly, and all of their energy will be spent on staying hydrated instead of growing big and beautiful.
Getting the Seeds
The two most common ways most people obtain seeds are, buying from a trusted supplier, or just picking them out of some good stuff they smoked. Either way, the main thing to remember is to make sure the seeds are healthy, and have good genetics. The quality and potency of the finished product, no matter how good the growing conditions are, is 90% dependent on genetics. That is why buying from a trusted supplier is the smartest way to guarantee your marijuana will be potent, clean burning weed. This may be illegal in your country, so make sure you familiarize yourself with your country’s laws on growing marijuana. Trusted marijuana seed vendors can be found all over the web. Most seeds are sold in quantities of 10 seeds. Most range between 20-60 USD depending on the quality and strain. Most of the time when buying online, you will get the option of buying feminized seeds. Female seeds produce female plants, which is, of course, what everyone wants, and will be more expensive. If you picked your seeds out of a batch of weed you smoked, make sure the seeds are brown or grey; not pale or green. If they are, your seeds are immature, and chances are, they won’t produce decent weed, if even sprout. Some seeds have dark brown streaks in them, this is normal. Getting seeds in this fashion is easy, but risky. For one, you may not know what strain it is, and whether or not it is going to produce a male or female plant, so this method is always a bit of a gamble. Planting more than one seed is always best if you got your seeds in this way. After you have obtained your seeds you can germinate them.
There are several different methods to germinating marijuana seeds. The most common, however, is to simply put the seeds between moist paper towels and then seal it in a Ziploc bag to retain moisture. Seeds at this stage need water, but too much can be harmful. Do not soak your seeds heavily with water because they can rot, and/or drown. They like warmth too. Room temperature is fine, but some find utilizing a heating pad (set to its lowest setting) helpful. Lastly, cover the seeds, with dark material or leave them in a dark area where absolutely no light touches them. Some other methods include putting each seed in a small glass filled with water and waiting for the floating seed to sink to the bottom. This means it has absorbed the water and is ready to be planted. You can also just stick the seed in some soil, water it, and hope for the best. Experiment to see which method works best for you. The length of the germinating process varies with each case. Sometimes you will see the seed begin to sprout within a few days, where as others can take up to a week. Once you see the seed begin to sprout, it is time to put them into soil! The best way to tell if the seed is ready to be planted is to measure the root coming out of the cracked seed. It should be approximately 5mm in length.
Containers and Soil
The containers should be made of plastic or clay. Never use paper cups or anything that can lose its integrity due to water damage, and have proper ventilation and drainage (holes in the bottom). There are many different ways to do this, but most importantly; remember that you want to transplant/repot your plant as little as possible. Transplanting/repotting causes stress to the plant every time, and can shock the plant causing stunted growth and even kill it. Doing it as little as possible is the always the best method. If you choose to grow your seeds in seedling containers, using the kind that breaks down right into the new soil is best. If you do use smaller containers and plan to transplant, make sure they all have proper drainage and ventilation, as well as big enough containers to transplant them into.
The soil should be kept as close to neutral as possible for healthy marijuana growth. This involves keeping the soil PH between 6 and 7, which is about neutral on the PH scale. You can buy PH testers from most stores which sell planting supplies. The soil, depending on what you buy, will contain fertilizers or won’t. I recommend buying soil that already has added nutrients to save you time and money. The soil you buy should contain three main elements: (N) Nitrogen, (P) Phosphorus, and, (K) Potassium. These elements are crucial in growing strong and healthy marijuana plants. After selecting your grow medium, fill all the containers loosely with the soil. Do not pack it in tightly because that decreases aeration, and may suffocate the roots. Next, make a hole in the soil about a 1/ 2 in. deep and drop the seed in with the root facing down. Fill the hole with more soil and water thoroughly. Congratulations! You are now done with the hardest part.
Plants grown indoors use artificial light. Unfortunately, there is no true substitute for the sun, which is the most intense light of all. The good thing is that there are some pretty good alternatives. Plants in general, use two different spectrums of light. They are the blue spectrum and the red spectrum. During the vegetative state, plants grow from seedlings, mature, and after enter the flowering state. The vegetative state is when the plant uses primarily blue light. The flowering state is when the plant uses primarily red light. There is a lot of debate on which lights work best, and like most things in this guide, there is more than one way to go about it. The most expensive, but most effective are HID and HPS lamps. The HID lamp, which is short for high intensity discharge lamp, is high in blue spectrum and is best for growth. The HPS lamp, which is short for high pressure sodium lamp, is high in red spectrum and is best for flowering. Most people who call themselves experts will say that using them conjunctively is best. These lights give off lots of heat so proper ventilation is crucial when using these types of lamps. The most cost effective way of providing good lighting conditions is using florescent lights. Just buying any old florescent lights won’t do though. Buy “Cool Whites and Warm Whites” and use them together. The drawback to using fluorescents is that they emit less intense light; therefore, you have to place the lights extremely close to the tops of the plants and constantly adjust them as the plant grows.
Since you are growing indoors it is up to you to decide when to turn on the lamps, and when to turn them off. For this, most growers follow 18-6 cycles. This means 18 hours of light, and 6 hours of darkness imitating the long days of summer. It is advised to buy a timer for the lights so this cycle is constantly accurate. Messing up the light cycle can confuse your plants and stress them out. Keeping the lights on 24 hours a day will speed up growth, but isn’t cost effective if you’re using HID or HPS lamps. However, if you choose to keep the lights on 24 hours a day, it can have positive effects on your plants. One is your plants will grow indefinitely without flowering. This means they mature longer before they enter the flowering state, which will, when the time comes to flower, yield more plentiful and potent buds. Also, some say that the longer the lights are on, the female to male ratio increases. Later on, when the plants mature, switch the light cycle to 12-12. This means 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. This will imitate the shortened days of fall and make the plants enter the flowering state. As long as you keep the plants receiving more light hours than dark hours, you can mature your plants in the vegetative state for as long as you wish.
The Vegetative State
As your seedling begins to break ground make sure of two things. Make sure the light is intense enough so the plant does not have to stretch for the light. Stretching is bad for the plant; the stem will get long and eventually topple over unable to support itself. Also, do not overwater or over fertilize it. I recommended soil with added fertilizer for this reason. Both of these are common mistakes for beginners. Wait until the first two inches of soil gets dry to water again. Do not fertilize until you see the plant’s third and forth sets of leaves, and always follow the instructions on the product before administering any of it. If in doubt, always use less fertilizer to avoid over feeding and killing your plants. If done right, this state will be easy enough. As your plant matures you will begin to see interesting characteristics. If your plant is a Sativa strain, you will notice long and skinny leaves. These plants grow tall, and mature fast. If you notice short and wide leaves, you have an Indica strain. These plants often remain short and bushy as they mature. Sativas are known for producing an energetic and happy “high,” and Indicas are known for their harder hitting, “stoned” high. Once your plant reaches between 14-20 inches in height, you can move it into the flowering stage at any time.
The Flowering State
When you move your plants into the flowering state make sure you have your lights set to the 12-12 cycle. Once they begin to mature you will notice other significant characteristics. Female plants will start to grow little white hairs called pistils. Males on the other hand will begin to grow seeds, which look like little green balls. Once you have identified all females and males, immediately separate the males from the females. If the males are allowed to pollinate the females, you will be left with nothing but male plants. In more time, you will start to notice the leaves getting what looks like a white coating all over. This is the THC, or tetrahydrocannibinol. This is what gets you “high.” The more crystallized it looks, the more potent the product will be. Just be patient and you will notice all the buds beginning to look the same. When the buds begin to swell and the pistils begin to change from white, to reddish brown it is time to harvest!
Harvesting and Drying
First of all, the most important detail: About two weeks before you want to harvest,stop administering fertilizers! Just give it plain water so the plant can flush out all the chemicals, and you will have clean tasting marijuana. Also, stop giving water to your plant a couple of days before you begin cutting it down. This will decrease the drying time and help prevent mold. When you harvest your plant you will first need to take off all the big leaves. You can save these for other uses or throw them out. Next, take scissors or whatever you want to cut it with to the plant. Carefully cut away the stalks that contain the buds and be extra careful to not damage any of the buds. After that, you will need to hang them up to dry. Tie them upside down on a string or whatever and keep them in absolute darkness. As they dry, more THC will continue to build up. Make sure the stalks and buds do not touch each other. It may take up to a couple of weeks for the plant to dry completely.
Roll one up! Enjoy the fruits of your labor! Happy Smoking!
Intro to Organic Chemistry
, Streitweiser and Heathcock (Macmillian, New York, 1981)
Marijuana: A History
, Martin Booth, (Picador, New York, 2005)
, Carol S. Bot, RN (iUniverse Inc, Lincoln, NE, 2007)
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