Growing weed is not that difficult. For the most part, deciding on what to buy is usually the trickiest part. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need if you’re looking to grow top-quality weed.
If you interview any cannabis grower about what it feels like to grow their own weed, 100 out of 100 will very likely start with “It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done”. Be it for commercial reasons or as a personal hobby, growing your own weed is a marvelous adventure.
You do not need to be a botanist at all, and soon you will understand the life cycle of the plant like no other. You will gain a much deeper appreciation as to what is primo weed, as well as heighten your perception of its colours, tastes, and smells.
Given the abundance of free information available online, it may be overwhelming for the novice. In this article, we will lay down the fundamentals you need to know before even thinking about spending any money on materials.
Growing proficiently will require some upfront investment, but growing as a hobby does not need that much overhead—and will certainly save you money in the long-term by becoming cannabis self-sustainable. There are dozens of different approaches and no silver bullets.
Here you will find the basics, a roadmap so to speak, for your journey into cannabis cultivation.
There is just one rule to growing cannabis, and that is to harvest great weed. For that, you need to give the plant all it requires to get the job done. That means a light source (the sun or artificial lighting), fresh air supply (plants feed on carbon dioxide), and a food source (fertilisers or a great soil profile).
Add a dash of love and caring, and for the most part, they will reward you with strong and vigorous growth.
INDOOR VS OUTDOORS
Choosing to grow indoors versus outdoors is not so much of a personal choice, but a convenience choice. If you have good terrain, no major security issues, and live in a temperate or subtropical region, growing outdoors is a great option.
Alternatively, in colder climates, more northern and southern latitudes, or anywhere that privacy and security is an issue, indoors is the way to go.
Technically, the main difference with growing indoors is you have the ability to control the environment with extreme precision. You can grow all year round, and pull 3 to 5 crops depending on your experience. Operational costs will be much higher, but yields should compensate by a significant margin.
Outdoor growing can be almost costless after initial overhead, but you will only be able to pull 1 to 2 crops max in any given year, being that two crops require a very green thumb to pull off convincingly. Major outdoor commercial operations usually settle for one solid harvest per year, merely due to the elevated workforce required. You will need to deal with natural weather, predatory insects, and potential moulds.
As a fun hobby project without major expectations though, outdoors is a great way to start.
Indoor growing is all about mimicking outdoor growing. You need to trick the plant into thinking she is growing out in the wild. This just means controlling day/night cycles, maximum and minimum temperatures and humidity levels, watering, fertiliser strength, pH, and plenty of fresh air.
This may sound like a huge ordeal, but it quickly becomes an easy and fun activity. And you do not need to worry about everything all at once.
Indoor grow rooms need certain conditions. You must be able to properly ventilate the room to replenish the air with carbon dioxide. This also doubles as a temperature and humidity control system, as exhausting air also removes excess heat. This is a must, as some lighting systems produce considerable heat.
You will probably need a dehumidifier to help control the environment. Anything over 70% RH is considered to put your plants at high risk of bud rot near harvest time. Ideally, around 40–60% during the vegetative phase, and 40–50% during flowering.
You will need an artificial light source. Some examples include high-intensity discharge lamps (HID), plasma, LED, and CFLs. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to each. One thing all of them will need is a timer, so you can control the number of daylight hours the plants receive, which is critical for each development stage.
Lighting will probably be your most significant investment; do take your time to study the pros and cons of each system.
Organic growing does not use petrochemical-derived nutrients and is harder to master. Chemical fertilisers are easier to control, but you will need an EC meter (electroconductivity). Both require you to control the pH level with a dedicated meter too.
With a little experience, chemical fertilisers yield great results and make for an easier diagnosis of any deficiencies your plant may encounter. But, they are far less forgiving if you aren’t careful.
Organic growing is much more forgiving to the inexperienced, and if done right, will be much more environmentally friendly. Many growers out there swear by the increased quality of the final product.
There are all sorts of automated feeding systems for more advanced growers handling lots of plants at a time, which we do not recommend to start off with.
We recommend either soil with organic nutrients for extra peace of mind, or coco coir and chemical fertilisers for the more adventurous tinkerers out there.
Base water is of extreme importance. Unfortunately, there are many regions where well water or urban municipal water is simply not good enough. For that, there are reverse osmosis units to filter out all the bad stuff, be it dissolved salts and metals, or even some rogue pathogens.
But the truth is (contrary to popular belief), well or municipal water usually is good enough. You just need to figure out how hard the water is in your region. Too much of a hard water supply will very likely cause toxicity and nutrient lockout in your plant. Too much soft water and you need to add extra micronutrients, usually calcium and magnesium.
Hard/soft water is very hard to determine at home. EC meters (or TDS meters) will not tell the true story. In most regions, you should be able to have access to public water analysis or even cheap testing facilities. Alternatively, head over to any horticulture shop and simply ask for the opinion of a knowledgeable local farmer or gardener.
Finally, when designing your grow operation, take into consideration that size does matter. There are numerous guides online that will help match your room size to container size, light intensity needs, etc.
Usually, the more the better—but sometimes this can be way too much. So beware of growing a sativa strain inside a 40l pot inside a 1.2m high tent; she will likely try to escape by growing way too big!
Do not fit a 1000W HID light inside a cupboard—it is just way too much power for the space and a potential fire hazard.
There are dozens of ready-made indoor kits that do the math for you and are an excellent entry point for your hobby. Have a look at them to get a sense of the ballpark figures for your needs.
NOISE AND SMELL: THE OFT-FORGOTTEN ELEMENTS
These are two huge points to consider. Growing indoors poses a security challenge. For the most part, you really do not want people asking questions or figuring out what is going on.
If you live in an apartment block, noise from fans really does travel, so be wary of huge exhaust fans pumping away air 24/7, making your neighbours complain from lack of sleep. Older LED fixtures also usually make lots of noise, though next-gen products remedy this.
Smell is the number one snitch when it comes to security. Invest in a quality carbon filter before your exhaust fan, to scrub the exiting air of the lovely terpenes that cannabis produces. Even if your neighbours are a bit far off, cannabis smell can really travel. Odours are detectable by humans up to a few miles in the right conditions. Just a handful of plants near harvest can stench up an entire block with extreme ease.
All you need to really worry about is having negative pressure in your grow room so that all air goes out through the carbon filter, and you are set.