The harvest moon has passed and the autumn freeze is coming. The window has arrived for me to harvest my first homegrown crop of marijuana. I am super excited and I love the scent of the skunky flower. After a lifetime of buying pot – and occasionally getting blessed with gifts – I will finally have my own free pot to smoke.
One of the coolest things for a Colorado weed smoker like myself, other than finally being on the right side of the law, is how many people are growing their own. Like me, many of these growers have little to zero experience in gardening. We learn how to grow in a childlike sense: conflicting advice from each other and a slow trial and error process.
The harvest process I am going through now is only my experience. I picked the advice from others that fits my levels of effort, time, and money. This is not an expert advice column. This is just my struggle to not ruin the lovely housewarming gifts that I have been tending to since June. Yes, housewarming gifts; I really love the people of Durango.
Do you know the word trichomes? Microsoft Word didn’t, and neither did I, even after having marijuana in my life for over 30 years. I was told to look at the trichomes, to determine the best time to harvest, with a magnifying glass. Then, most people told me harvest time is when they are all milky, but some said all amber. Others had an idea of what percentages of each was best.
Well, I got a magnifying glass with a little light and went outside to my green babies. Incorrectly, I looked at the sap-like crystals, and not the hairs. Apparently the sap stays milky and I was supposed to be looking at the partially amber hairs. Did you know that the trichomes are the hairs? Weed smoking is getting so scientific for me.
I end up harvesting the plants with about half amber, half milky trichomes in appearance. I am told that the difference at this point comes in THC potency and flavor. However, I think the former is under a percentage point or so of THC, and the variation in the latter won’t offend me regardless. At this point, I am just grateful to have my own plants to smoke, so this differential does not matter to me.
I first dragged the big pots into the garage to dry out – the rains came that week. I was under the impression the plants can dry out a bit, preferably in the dark, before getting cut. After a week of snuggling in the garage, awaiting their transition to a more meaningful life, I cut those babies down with big garden chompers. The one tip everyone agreed on was to harvest in the dark, preferably before the sun comes up.
Based on my internet reading, the next few weeks are the most important part of the harvest: allowing the flower to dry without mold and keeping the THC potency with the kief residue, and then correctly curing it after a generous trim. This is when I really need to be patient.
I laced some string through and across the garage door tracks and hung those sweet smelling beauties upside down. I cut some of the loose leaves first and had to separate a few branches from the main stem to keep the buds from rubbing on each other. I am just randomly creating systems to protect the integrity of the buds as well as airflow to avoid mold.
I let them hang for a week. I have friends doing variations of this all based on what their lives will allow, and I am no exception. Enjoy that smell if you can – it will overwhelm your abode. I loved walking through the garage looking at them hang up there, but the smell is the real tell-tale heart.
Once it was time for them to come down and shed their extraneous parts, I had to set aside quite some time to trim. You’ll need a nice little pair of trimmers and alcohol with rags to keep them clean. I had some old screens in the shed I used to put out as a work station so I could capture all the shake for future experiments with the dregs. It could be like making grappa for weed.
After spending about eight hours trimming my maximum legal amount, I was in a state of redundant bliss. Even though this old pot smoker wore gloves for the big event, the heaps of THC was more than I had handled in a while, and if there is a possibility of getting a contact high, I might have achieved it. Normally, it would just be the weed I smoked, but I took some time off smoking so as to get the full effect of my new batch.
After I had the piles of buds – I still have a hard time calling it flower all the time – they went into as many mason jars as I could find around the house. Luckily, we still had some of the big ones from another herb project. After all the weed was sealed, I placed them in a dark closet. This is the curing part and there are many ways to do it. I heard the medium-sized home harvesters prefer black trash bags.
Over the next three weeks – yes, I have to wait three more weeks after being so close to all those crispy looking buds – I will open those jars every two or three days and move them around to get the moist air out and fight the possibility of mold again.
That third week is coming up soon – very soon. I will finally get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. All those months of watering, giving nutrients, and pruning will hopefully pay off. This weed might not have been exactly free, but it is legal and it is mine.