Here are a few questions and answers that address very general and frequently asked questions I receive from readers regularly. If you have more questions about growing cannabis, you can submit them to me at edrosenthal.com.
I am looking for tips on how to grow my own. I don’t know anything about it. What should I do?
Before you plan a garden or buy any equipment, you should read at least one book on growing cannabis. There are a number of good books out there written by many authors. Although the techniques described in the books differ a bit, all of them will improve your success rate. Rather than attempting to start a garden using trial-and-error techniques, which often results in buying expensive but unnecessary equipment followed by failure, use others’ expertise to create a productive garden the first time. Information is the cheapest, most effective equipment you can buy. Think of it as software for your garden. Even with equipment worth thousands of dollars, the garden cannot be run well without knowledge of how to do it.
In addition, there are lots of videos and video channels online providing demonstrations of different growing techniques and methods. You can also take classes at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California. Its classes range from weekend seminars to 14-week intensive classes.
I also recommend my own book, Marijuana Growers Handbook. It will help you grow a successful garden the first time.
What’s the most important factor in growing cannabis? Would it be soil, temperature, nutrients or something else?
The most important factor that affects the quality of the cannabis you are growing is the plant’s genetics. No matter how well a plant is grown, it can only reach its genetic potential. The cheapest way to improve your garden is to find better varieties.
Environmental conditions enhance the potential of your crop, or rather they can hinder your plants from reaching their full potential if the plants’ basic needs are not met. Light, water nutrients, CO2 and temperature are the limiting factors.
Where can I get seeds?
It is illegal to possess or sell cannabis seeds in most states in the U.S. In states where it is legal to grow medical or recreational cannabis clones, seeds are offered by dispensaries or shops. In some states, seeds and clones are available at cannabis fairs.
You can also get genetics from friends and acquaintances. Most marijuana aficionado growers are happy to help up-and-coming cultivators get started.
How do you force flowering?
Cannabis is called a “short day plant” because it flowers in response to long night cycles. The plant measures the number of hours of uninterrupted darkness each night using a hormone called phytochrome. During the day, the presence of red light keeps phytochrome in its active form, which prevents flowering. In darkness, phytochrome gradually reverts to its inactive form, allowing flowering. When the hormone builds to a critical level, which occurs when the dark period is long enough, the plant flowers.
When the gardener creates this critical period of 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness in each 24-hour cycle it is called “flower forcing.” When the 12-on/off regimen is maintained, the plant soon changes from vegetative growth to flowering. The first flowers appear 5-10 days after forcing.
Is it better or easier to grow using the hydro or soil method?
Planting mixes are generally more forgiving of mess-ups such as over-fertilization and water pH being out of range. If you do follow directions that are sensitive to the plants’ conditions and prefer a system that promotes fast growth, try hydro.
The choice is yours. Do what feels comfortable for you. Growing plants should not cause you stress. There is no right or wrong way, as long as the plants are healthy and thriving.
How can you tell that plants are ripe?
Plants range in how long they take to ripen based on their variety and the conditions provided. Ripeness can be recognized when the ovaries recede and swell to bulging with THC. The white hairs called stigmas dry up and turn color, and the trichome caps, where the cannabinoids are made, fill with resin, which stretches the caps’ membranes taut. Then the clear resin begins to turn milky or amber. At the same time, the odor intensity increases substantially. The plants are ripe, and it’s time to harvest.
How can I minimize the telltale smell of my garden?
There are several ways to remove odor in the garden. The easiest is to use a carbon filter. You can place it in the garden to clean the air circulating in the space. Negative ion generators and ozone generators precipitate odor molecules, leaving the air smelling fresh. However they also neutralize odors in the plants so they should not be used in the grow room, but in adjacent rooms or in the exhaust system to clean exiting air.