There are no secrets or magic-bullet techniques to growing high-quality cannabis at home; all you have to do is follow a few simple principles. Many people overthink it, and try to employ every trick they have ever heard from their friends to boost potency and yield.
In fact, the genetics you start with predetermine potency and yield. All you can do is give the plant what it needs to achieve its genetic potential. Changing that genetic potential is only possible through selective breeding.
You’ll need to make a few basic decisions before you get started cultivating your own high-grade cannabis. First you must decide if you are growing indoors or outdoors, and each has its challenges. Growing indoor cannabis requires you to control the light and climate to fool the plant into believing it’s outside. This requires spending money on expensive lights and climate-control equipment. Outdoors, it really is a simple as planting the cannabis in the ground or in a pot, with added concerns like bugs and animals and unpredictable weather to protect against.
Next, decide on your method and growing medium. Choices include growing in soil, which offers the beginner more flexibility than growing hydroponically. Soil is much more forgiving of issues such as over-fertilization.
Then, decide whether to start with seeds or clones. I usually suggest beginners start with clones, because they give you a head start. You can flower them right away, or allow them to vegetate and grow. Seeds, while often giving you a healthier plant and larger yield, require germination before planting and tend to produce both male and female plants. Unless you’re breeding, you only want female plants; clones come from known mother plants. The flowers of female plants grow into buds, while the flowers of male plants contain only pollen.
If you’re growing outdoors, once you have your clones or germinated seeds, put them in five-gallon (or larger) pots, or plant them directly in the ground. The key to a large, healthy cannabis plant is a large, healthy root mass. If the roots grow and thrive, the plant will too.
Fertilize the plant during its vegetative stage to help it grow as large as possible before flowering. However, if you are growing in good, rich soil, you may not need to add any fertilizer at all. During the vegetative stage, the plant needs lots of nitrogen, as well as phosphorus and potassium (symbolized by NPK on fertilizer packaging). Use organic feed for best results.
The authors home garden 8/28/17 San Fernando Valley OG Kush
Cannabis plants start to flower on a cycle of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. This naturally happens outdoors around the end of July or beginning of August. Indoors, it happens whenever you decide to change the timers on your setup.
The cannabis plant requires a different fertilizer profile when flowering than when vegetating. They require less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium. Watch the plant, let it tell you what it needs, and respond accordingly.
Harvesting your homegrown cannabis is the result of your hard work and labor. The optimum time for harvest is when the trichomes are mature. Trichomes are the glandular, resin glands that form on the plant. They’re clear when immature, but turn a cloudy or milky color when mature. Amber trichomes indicate overripeness. Many people harvest their plants when they see 30 to 50 percent amber.
Indica strains take about eight weeks, and sativas 10 weeks or more, to complete the flowering cycle.
To harvest your homegrown cannabis, cut the plants down at the base or branch by branch, and hang them in your drying area for a few days before trimming and curing. Keep your drying room clean and ensure adequate airflow. Keeps your pets away or run the risk of smoking pet hair. You want the air in the room to move, but not blow directly on the plants. A small fan is all you need.
Keep the temperature between 60 and 70 degrees, or your plants will dry too quickly. Keep the relative humidity between 40 and 45 percent to prevent mold. Properly drying your cannabis will give you a more potent, better-tasting final product.
When the drying process is complete, it will be time to manicure, or trim, your buds with sharp, sterilized pruning shears. You’ll need a comfortable chair, a space to trim, and a trimming tray or clean surface for your manicured buds.
First, remove all the large fan or ‘sun’ leaves. Next, cut the buds from the branch, and trim any excess leaf, leaving only the calyx that form the buds intact. Place the trimmed buds into a paper bag or other receptacle for now.
Once the drying and trimming are complete, it’s time to cure your buds by placing them in an airtight container. Pack them loosely; don’t overpack. Close the container and store it in a cool, dark, dry place. Go back in a couple of hours and open the containers. You’ll find the buds are no longer crispy and dry, as they’ve wicked water from deep inside. Allow the buds to breathe for a few minutes and reseal the containers. Repeat this a few times a day until the buds are no longer moist when you open the containers. This process will ensure that your buds cure properly. Store the finished product in a cool, dark, dry space. Happy smoking!