A suds-sucking America living in fear of a total collapse of the booze distribution chain has turned to homebrew to ensure that the road to sobriety is less traveled. But the stoner class, well, let’s just say they don’t always have the same opportunities. Sure, cannabis dispensaries have been deemed “essential businesses” in some legal states – providing access to a variety of pot products – but in areas of prohibition, the situation can be grim. To make matters worse, all of this lockdown noise is causing weed shortages all over the nation. And I’d be willing to bet a barrel of bongs that the impact of this pesky little bug and a crippled U.S. economy is going to bring about more deficits in the doobie in the coming months. It’s just impossible to tell how desperate these strange times are going to get before it is all said and done. That’s why pot-loving citizens should take it upon themselves during quarantine to learn how to grow their own weed.
Growing pot can be a little intimidating at first. After all, not everyone is born with a green enough thumb to so much as keep that plastic palm tree in the corner of the room from looking puny, much less cultivate a plant that gets them high. There are also all of these master growers out there that make growing dope look more like rocket science than gardening. But that’s all it is. Repeat after me: Marijuana is just a plant and it wants to grow. Seriously, it’s been doing so for millions of years without all of the fancy pants tricks that some of these bastards have come up with over the decades. All it needs is soil, water, sunlight and the right temperature and it’s going to do its thing. So don’t be afraid to dive into home cultivation. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Since the marijuana laws vary across the United States – and it is absolutely illegal at the federal level — the most challenging aspect of growing weed at home is tracking down seeds. In a legal state, finding this component can be as easy as visiting a dispensary. Seed collectives like Exotic Genetix and the Southern Humboldt Seed Collective are also an excellent place to start when searching out reputable breeders. But for the newbie grower living in a prohibition state, European seed banks like Sensi Seed and DNA Genetics are probably the best source for buying seeds online.
Germinate the seed: Before your newly acquired marijuana seeds can be planted, they need to germinate – or sprout. This is done by wrapping the seed in a moist paper towel, sticking it in a sealable sandwich bag and storing it in a dark, warm place for a few days. The seed will do the rest.
Transfer to soil: Once the seed germinates, grab one of those red solo cups from the kitchen (one for every seed), poke a few holes at the bottom, and fill with potting soil. Some highly recommended brands are Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil, Espona Organic Potting Mix, and Roots Organic. But any quality soil from your local gardening center that might be used to grow tomatoes will work fine. Sprinkle in a root stimulator (recommended for healthier plants) and insert the seed. After 30 days or so, transfer the plant from the red solo cup to a 5-gallon flower pot or bucket. Just make sure whatever it goes in has holes cut in the bottom for the water runoff.
Put the plant under a grow light: Get yourself a full spectrum light. They are affordable and about the closest thing to natural sunlight as there is. You can find them online or at any garden center like Lowes or Home Depot. Keep your plant under light for the majority of the day. It’s perfectly acceptable during the initial phase — vegetative stage — to keep the plant lit up for 18-24 hours a day. During the second phase – the flowering stage — your plant is going to need roughly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark. This can be managed easily through the use of a light timer.
Water: Your cannabis plant is going to be thirsty. You’ll want to keep the soil moist at all times without overwatering. As a rule, if the plant gets droopy, it needs more water. If the soil is dry to touch, it needs more water. But if the water starts pooling up on the surface and drowning the plant, you’ve gone overboard.
Nutrients: For healthier yields and more potent weed, it is always wise to incorporate plant nutrients. Some strains have a voracious appetite for extra feeding and will significantly benefit from it.
Temperature: Just like most humans, the cannabis plant enjoys and flourishes in climates between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more easily controlled in an indoor grow op than an outside garden. Most legal states don’t even allow pot to be cultivated outdoors. The only exception is Colorado, but there are still some specific guidelines a person must follow before getting into all of that. In prohibition states, it goes without saying that planting weed outside is probably not the smartest move. Unless the grower lives out in the middle of nowhere, a nosy neighbor could see it and rat them out to the cops. Therefore, growing weed indoors is just a better move.
Ventilation: Your cannabis plant is going to need air. And while the full spectrum lighting system does not get extremely hot, proper ventilation is just a necessary component to growing healthy plants. This is not a crazy expense. All you’ll need for a single plant is a regular house fan.
Controlling Those Odors: Your plant is not going to stink up the house or apartment at first, but eventually, it will. You’ll want to get a jump on it before it begins reeking up a storm, alerting the neighbors that someone in the vicinity is potentially breaking the law. But with a single plant, odor won’t be overly problematic. More than that, however, you’ll want to get a carbon filter system with an inline fan and ducting. This allows the stinky air to be filtered out and odor-free air to be shot out on the other end. Some grow kits come with these odor-elimination systems built in.
Staking: During the flowering phase, your cannabis plant is going to grow, well, like a weed. It’ll get relatively big too, so keep that in mind when carving out space for it. You want to prevent the plant from falling over whenever it starts to bulk up, so use staking techniques to give it that support. Again, this is the same process as one might employ when trying to manage a tomato plant.
Harvesting: All of this might seem like a lot of work to grow only one cannabis plant, but it’s easier than it sounds. Just remember that some strains are more forgiving than others, and failing to do everything right isn’t necessarily going to lead to ruins. There’s definitely a learning curve, but again we’re talking about growing a plant and not performing open-heart surgery. It will, however, take some time and patience before you’re getting high on your own supply. The cannabis plant typically needs around nine to ten weeks before it is ready for harvest. But if everything goes as it should during that time, your single plant should produce up to six ounces of weed.
Now, while this column provides a handful of grow basics, you’ll need more education to really make your home grow shine. I highly recommend checking out “Cannabis: A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Marijuana” by High Times senior cultivation editor Danny Danko and the “Marijuana Grower’s Handbook” by legendary pot grower Ed Rosenthal. Both provide solid advice for new pot growers.
Author’s Note: Be sure to check your local pot laws before launching a home cultivation operation. In some places, just growing a single plant is a felony offense and can lead to jail time. And the only thing worse than having no weed during this quarantine is spending it in the pokey.