Growing your own cannabis: So many questions, so little time. Next week’s going to be Snowdown and the only thoughts on anybody’s mind will revolve around consuming the weed in order to get out and have some fun. Until then, there are a few final topics to cover before everyone goes traipsing their ways back to the 1980s.
Last week, soil was the focus. This week, we’ll address your options to start plants, lighting needs and a few tips that will make things easier. The first thing you’ll need to decide on is an area to grow; while “closet grows” can be complicated to take from sprout to harvest because issues like space and heat become problematic, a few square feet is all you need to get some gorgeous, healthy plants prepared for the outdoor season.
Your main consideration will be deciding what you want to use as a light source. While full-scale grow lighting systems are undoubtedly better for a full-scale indoor grow, they are costly, they use a lot of electricity, create a lot of heat and are probably more trouble than they’re worth in order to start six plants or fewer.
The good news is that there are several very good, low-cost options for starter plants that maintain their effectiveness throughout the entire vegetative phase. These lights will not need to be changed until your beauties are ready to enter their flowering phase when you transplant them outdoors to use the ultimate light source in late May. There are, again, endless tutorials online documenting the use of T5 shop lights and CFL (compact fluorescent lighting) setups. These lights will run 24 hours a day, so the reduced wattage will save you money. Many folks have used these arrangements over the years and some longtime growers swear by them, eschewing the metal halide and high pressure sodium lighting systems favored by most industrial-sized grows. Whatever space you decide to use, you will maximize your use of light by painting it using flat white latex paint. This will allow some light to bounce off the surfaces without creating a harsh environment.
Your next big choice will involve whether you will begin your grow using clones – “baby” plants trimmed from a fully developed “mother” plant and delivered sometime in their first month or so of life – or from seed, which involves a couple of extra steps but is pretty straightforward. The benefit of keeping mother plants is that you will always have access to potential clones. All you have to do is trim them, dip them in cloning medium (which costs just a few bucks at the grow shop) and let them soak in water in a “clone sponge” until their roots show and they’re ready to go into dirt. You’ll know where your babies came from and have reasonable expectations of how they’ll develop. Plus, you can keep those mothers growing for months and months (years, even) before deciding to plant them outdoors – their strong root and stalk systems can deliver excellent yields once that decision has been made.
The upside of growing from seed is that you can grow six different strains in six different pots. This raises the level of complexity slightly because each strain has different durations of growth and some superficial differences in appearance and rates of development. But an enterprise of that nature could be a fun and interesting science experiment with a very cool payoff in the autumn.
However you do it, be very gentle with your plants in the early stages of their development.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]