Growing Cannabis the Easy Way
A New Era
Cannabis is big business. Once maligned as a dangerous drug by the federal government and society in general, it has recently made a 180 degree turn in its acceptance for medical and recreational usage. With recreational cannabis becoming legal in more states every election cycle, it looks like it's here to stay. There are dispensaries opening up across the country where users can buy a vast array of cannabis products in a safe and legal environment, eliminating the danger of having to make illegal transactions on the street with dealers who may or may not have the best of intentions. Where I live in Oregon, as well as many other states, the tight regulation and testing requirements make certain that the joint you are buying from your local pot shop is free of mold and other pathogens, as well as pesticides.
The prices are usually reasonable considering the convenience and safety of such a marketplace. There is a way to save even more money if you have a green thumb.
Cannabis is an incredibly easy plant to grow. There is a reason they call it weed. There are of course ways to maximize potency and harvest yield sizes, but growing one or two plants a year will usually leave a casual user with enough to last them until the next season, and even have some leftover to share with friends. There are countless in-depth articles all over the internet on how to grow cannabis, with very specific technical details. I highly recommend reading as much as you can to maximize the potential of your growing project. My intent here is to provide some very basic practices that almost anybody can follow to get a decent yield without buying expensive hydroponic equipment or elaborate lighting set-ups. Here I will outline the most basic and ancient way to grow cannabis- outdoors with natural sunlight.
You will want to start with healthy starts that are at least 14”-18'' tall, with at least 4 sets of leaves/ branches on the sides of the stalk. Keep your starts or clones indoors near a light source until the danger of frost or near freezing temperatures has passed. The first step is to dig a 3 foot deep by 3 foot wide hole for each plant. Fill it with a 50/50 mix of a good light, airy compost and your native soil. You should also add about 1 cup of slow release fertilizer that is formulated for cannabis, and mix evenly with the soil. Tomato fertilizer works as well, just make sure it's slow release. You will want to remove the two lowest set of leaves and bury the stalk up past that point. This will allow the plant to use it's rooting hormones to produce more roots at the point where the leaves/branches were removed. Pack the soil around the base of the plants and water generously.
The Cannabis Life Cycle
You will want to water every 2-3 days by flooding the plants rather than lightly watering every day. This will form deeper, stronger roots. Add a diluted mix of water and fish emulsion once every 8-10 days until the plants are flowering, then switch to regular water. The time to make this switch is usually around the end of summer or beginning of autumn, when the hours of daylight are rapidly waning. When the flowers are dense and sticky and the foliage starts to turn yellow and fall off, usually in the mid to late fall, it's time to harvest. You should notice the flowers will be covered in an abundance of trichromes, aka “crystals.” it will appear to be dusted with a fine sugar like coating and be very sticky. This is essentially the sap of the plant, which contains the active compounds THC and CBD, among other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Harvesting and Drying
It is now that you will want to harvest your flowers. Cut off the main branches and trim any large and medium leaves, Then focus on trimming the tiny leaves growing out of the flower buds themselves. The small leaves are called sugar leaf and can be saved and either smoked or used for cooking edibles.
Next you will want to hang your flowers in a warm room with good ventilation. After a couple weeks they should be dry enough to store and cure. I like to cure them in a paper bag to help remove any latent moisture without drying them out too much.
After curing in the bags for about another week or two your cannabis should be ready to smoke! You should then move it to a sealed, non porous container so it stays at a consistent moisture level and doesn't dry out further. By this point you you should have plenty of cannabis to smoke for some time to come!