Growing Your Own Herb
Marijuana, be it medicinal or recreational, is easier to grow at home than you might imagine. With medical marijuana becoming legal, more and more people depend on dispensaries to purchase their herb when they can in fact grow some at home. Growing marijuana at home is not only easy with the right information, in many states at-home cultivation up to a certain amount is also totally legal. So, let’s see the factors that decide how your growing your own herb turns out.
Indoor Versus Outdoor
When it comes to making the decision of growing your own herb, you first need to decide where you are going to cultivate- inside the house or outside. Indoors, you have the option of using hydroponics. With hydroponics you do not have to find suitable garden soil, you can pump the nutrients directly into the water that they are growing in. And you are able to have a bit more freedom in where you keep your plant. Much like cultivating coffee or grapes for wine, condition and geology of the location impacts the plant and the resulting product. If you decide to go with Hydro, you can improve the quality of your herb. Hydro allows you to carefully control these soil variables no matter where you are planting geographically.
For indoors, you would need to research what temperature and soil chemistry your particular strain likes and provide the appropriate grow lights that provide the spectrum your strain requires. With hydroponics your plant is going to get plenty of nutrients and hence chances are that it grows quicker. Hydro is the most potent way to grow indoors, but you can also grow it in soil like a normal plant inside your home. You will still have to provide the best mix of nutrients, environment and light. If you are just starting, avoid the investment of all the Hydro equipment and just get growing in commonly available equipment from a garden store.
With outdoor growing, you have a bit less control over your plants environment. If you plant directly in the ground you do have to worry about things like contaminants in the soil. Cannabis is an ‘accumulator’ plant and will draw everything it can from the soil, even things you don’t want it to. Water and light can also be challenges. You’ll need to select a good location for both. Be careful, direct sunlight may burn your tiny plant/clone and the final yield can be less. Seasonally colder climates will also provide some challenges for outdoor cultivation.
The strain you choose also makes a big difference in your overall result. For example, Blue Dream or Northern lights are hearty, readily available, highly accessible, and easy to grow. Seeds and Clones should not be a problem even in non-medicinal areas. These are also relatively low maintenance and with proper fertilization can provide a large crop with a good yield of buds under the right weather conditions. But if you choose a strain that’s not made for your type of climate, then you may be disappointed with the end result. I may love me some NYC Diesel, but the fact is, Blackberry Kush is the varietal best suited to higher temps and lower humidity where I live. Do your research prior to planting to determine which strain grows under what circumstances.
You’ll notice I refer to clones more than seeds. Seeds add a level of complexity you must be prepared for. The sex of the plant plays an enormous role in your yield. Only female plants develop the flowers (bud) that are in demand. Clones are typically easier to sex before they are sold. It is more difficult to sex a seed, even ‘Feminized’ seeds can still create a male plant.
With all plants, especially marijuana, you do need to know some basics about the care of the plant. When growing from seeds, you must thin out the crop and get rid of those not up to par to give the healthier plants a better chance to grow and thrive. Marijuana plants grow tall but can be a bit spindly in terms of the stalk thickness. You may need to support them with bamboo sticks or reusable plant ties so that your plant reaches maturity without the stalk getting damaged or broken.
All things that grow can develop parasite issues. I prefer organic methods over pesticides. Lady Bugs, Citrus and some forms of surfactants can be used to inhibit the spread of parasites.
You also need to pay attention to the leaves and to the areas of the plant that are not going to be used. Pruning the top can give a plant that otherwise was not going to grow too tall, will cause it to bush outwards instead of up, creating a better yield. You should cut off some nodes to help promote growth at the base and thickening of the stem. With cannabis plants, you can get a great deal of usable bud from one single plant. And taking the time to learn proper pruning can make a big difference in the health of your plant and the overall yield.
This blog is just a primer. When you are ready to spend more money for guidance, I recommend grower and author Jorge Cervantes. The JC Cannabis Encyclopedia and Indoor/Outdoor Cannabis Horticulture are indispensable guides to have on hand.
No matter what strain you choose, growing your own herb will be successful and easier with the right growth methods and care. You can be sure that everything in your medicine is medicinal grade and that pesticides, growth chemicals and plant stressing chemicals are not part of your meds or overall Cannabis experience.
Once you have the yield in your hands, dry and preserve your herb like a pro. And of course, enjoy your home-grown herb from one of your favorite handmade pipes.