Growing cannabis is fun, but it’s far from easy. People with massive indoor growing systems didn’t immediately dive into their projects with state-of-the-art equipment and resilient crops. They started small, too. As they say, “we must learn to walk before we learn to run”. Getting the hang of growing marijuana on a small scale will provide the foundation for much larger endeavors in the future.
Before starting, be aware of your state’s marijuana growing laws. Alaska, Washington D.C., Colorado and Oregon all allow for a limited number of indoor plants, provided the grower is 21 years of age or older. However, several counties in these states have their own laws, so make sure to do the proper research before you start growing.
When growing small, it’s important to note that certain strains are more conducive to this than others. In this case, it’s important to choose a shorter plant. Indicas tent to be shorter than sativas, and can be easier to grow indoors. Choose your seeds accordingly.
Growing cannabis – even a single plant – isn’t like growing a flower. Specific equipment is needed in order to create the proper conditions for marijuana to thrive.
Lights can cost a fortune for large indoor growing systems, but this isn’t the case for a single plant. This doesn’t mean any old lightbulb will do.
A relatively inexpensive option is to start with a 250 watt HID (high intensity discharge) or metal halide (MH) bulb. While these bulbs are available for just $25 in any hardware store, they require special light fixtures which can cost as much as $200, and will require additional cooling as these lights tend to run hot.
Another option is to use fluorescent bulbs, but only to complement natural light. If an area in your home gets a great deal of sunlight, then this equipment will do; however, it doesn’t offer the same benefits of HID or MH lighting. Consider this a backup option if you’re short on cash.
Despite being more expensive upfront, a more complete lighting system investment would be a LED lighting setup. While the initial costs are more, they use considerably less energy and thus cost much less to run, and they provide the plants with the perfect spectrum of light which can ultimately improve yields.
A light timer is also needed, as the light/dark periods need to work on an automatic cycle. A high quality LED grow light will often include a built-in timer.
Just like with lights, marijuana can’t be grown in any generic soil. The best place to shop is at a plant nursery or hydroponics shop. The experts there can walk you through some of the options. As a general rule, look for organic soil containing things like guano or fishmeal.
While this may not make or break your project, a little boost never hurts. There are lots of great fertilizers and supplements available to help the cannabis plant thrive. Again, a hydroponics shop can tell you more, but some options are compost teas or mixtures to add nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium (to name a few).
A PH tester is absolutely critical. It allows growers to make sure the soil isn’t too acidic or alkaline. An imbalance in this area will cut everything off at the knees.
For beginners, the easiest choice here is a grow tent. Grow tents come in a variety of sizes, and make it much easier to completely control your own grow environment.
During the seedling phase, the cannabis plant requires little space; however, once it sprouts, the cannabis needs to be transported to a container. A five-gallon bucket is a good choice, as it offers plenty of room for what the plant needs.
Ventilation is key to promoting the growth of cannabinoids and terpenes. For a single plant, one or two simple house fans will do. Creating some sort of ventilation system so air can continuously flow freely is critical.
This is a given, but not just any water will work. If the water supply in your area contains chlorine, it’s best to purchase the water separately, as chlorine is detrimental to cannabis growth.
Now with all the necessary equipment, it’s time to get started. Again, this is a very specific process.
Seed germination is the shortest step in the process. In fact, a sprout could pop up within a single day, but it’s best to give it three to five days before moving on to the next step.
The Vegetative Cycle
The period before the cannabis flowers and matures is called the “vegetative state”. It’s this formative period which determines how robust the harvest will be. This also means it’s the most critical time for the plant.
At this point, place the plant in the grow space and set the timer to keep the light going for 18 hours a day. Keep doing this for a minimum of three weeks. Some growers extend this to two months, but it’s not necessary to keep the vegetative state going for that long; however, the longer it lasts, the better the outcome.
Don’t overwater the plant. Wait until the soil is completely dry before adding more water. This is also the point where you can add nutrients as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
The Flowering Stage
Once the vegetative step is over, it’s time to trigger the flowering stage. This generates the buds which will eventually be harvested for smoking.
In order to trigger flowering, switch the light schedule to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. Depending on variables like the strain and genetics, this can take anywhere between five and sixteen weeks.
Harvesting and Drying
Once the buds are available, remove them from the plant and allow them to dry for seven to ten days. Finally, place them in airtight glass jars in order to “cure”. This can help get rid of unpleasant taste and increase the potency.
Learning how to master the growing the process comes with time and experience. However, once you’ve completed your first successful marijuana grow, each new seedling will get a little easier.