Yeah, the thought of growing your own medicine is great. But how do you grow a marijuana plant? My goal in this post is to lay down the framework for how to take your marijuana plant and grow it throug seed or clone to usable, smokable medicine.
This will just be a quick overview of basic things you will need to grow your first marijuana plant, no matter what type of grow you are doing, as well as the different types of grows there are. There are several places you can get this information. If you would like a book that can show these things I suggest checking out Robert Bergman’s “Marijuana Grow Bible”. So, let’s get to it.
Deciding how you plan to grow your marijuana plant.
First, will be deciding how much money you have to spend.When growing just one marijuana plant or many, this is a huge factor. A small personal grow can cost anywhere from $300 to $1000 and a large commercial grow can go upwards of $20,000. There are also three main ways that you can grow your marijuana plant (I’ve even seen mix & match set-ups). The last thing you will need to think about is the space you have for your grow. Do you have the space to only grow one or many marijuana plants.
- Outdoor grow – usually takes a large plot of land bought or rented. Plants are usually started indoors first.
- Indoor grow – can be done just about anywhere, but the size of plants, yield, and cost depend on the space you are using.
- Hydroponic grow – usually an indoor grow. Considered an advanced growing technique.
Which grow you choose will depend on your situation, the money you have to invest, and the time you have to invest. I will have posts that go in-depth for each grow in time. For the sake of this first time grow, you will be following me during a small indoor personal grow of one to two marijuana plants.
What you need for your grow.
There are going to be things for each grow that you do need for that one grow. But there are several things that you will use for each and every grow. This is where the cost of your grow will come down to real numbers. It is easier to by clones or pre-sprouted seeds than it is to sprout the seeds yourself. On the other hand, it is cheaper to buy seeds than it is to get a hold of strong clones or sprouts (don’t quote me, but this is from experience). For just one or two plants, I would suggest going with seeds.
Lighting is another place that money will be spent no matter what. It just depends on what you have to spend. CFLs or fluorescent bulbs cost less than HPS or High-Pressure Sodium lights. There will always be a trade-off. Here is a list of things you will need no matter what grow you are doing.
- A place to grow
- Lights (at least until they are big enough to go outdoors)
- Pots (if you are planning to put them in the ground you will still need these until the plants are strong enough)
- Growing medium (At least until they go in the ground)
The choices you make in each area will affect the cost of your grow and your plants. The aray of lights will depend on if you are growing one marijuana plant or many. For my grow I will be using seeds that I already have. It will be a small soil grow. I will have one CFL bulb that as the plants grow I will increase in size. I will only be doing eight seeds to start. Eventually, I will be pairing that number down to one or two.
What are you growing?
I wanted to come back to this point specifically for a reason. Whether you are growing a seed or a clone depends on how you will start out treating your plant.
Clones have to be rooted with a rooting formula to get them going. Even with the rooting formula, it takes great care and time to make sure the clones are rooting properly.
Seeds have their own challenges. When working with seeds, you have several things you need to think about too. Are they colored right (Seed color and overall shape come from the strain you are growing.)? Are any broken?
Are they Feminized? If they are not feminized seeds, then you need to remember you have a 50% chance of getting a male plant. If they are feminized seeds, then you have the chance of running into a problem known as the hermaphrodite gene. I wanted to bring this to the forefront of your mind when you are planning your grow since this will determine how you start to care for your plants. If you have chosen seeds, then I suggest starting three or more to make sure you get one female marijuana plant to grow.
Germinating Seeds. (If you are choosing seeds)
Germinating seeds can happen in many ways. I have heard methods such as taking either a box cutter or some type of sandpaper and scuffing the outside before germination will help seeds germinate. I have also heard of putting seeds between two moist paper towels (Either bleached or non-bleached, I have heard non-bleached works better. Never tried myself.).
There are also some germination or seed sprouting kits out there on the market. During germination and the vegetative growth phases, you will want to keep your grow lights on for anywhere between 16 and 24 hours a day. I will be using just a small pot and some soil to germinate and sprout my seeds. Sweet simple and to the point. Of course, I am only looking to grow one female marijuana plant to full cycle.
Just to touch base if you decide to use clones. This step would be to root your clones with a rooting solution in some sort of base like rock wool. I will probably cover this in another “First time” set with either outdoor growing or a hydroponic system.
Okay, so you have got your seeds to sprout and they have four or five sets of leaves (called nodes). Your plants are now moving into the stage of their lives known as vegetation. In this stage, there is no bud growth. It is strictly leaf and stem grow to support the flowers that will turn into your herb.
The length of this stage depends on the grower, the strain of weed, money to support the grow, and environment the plants are in. Sativa strains can be in vegetative growth for several months, while indica strains can go as little as a few weeks in the right environment. I have an indica strain that I will be using as my one growing marijuana plant.
The last thing I want to touch on in this first post is nutrients. Once the plant is in vegetative growth you will need to supplement the soil or growing medium with nutrients or fertilizers. These will help with the growth process. Nutrients are used to keep the things plants need in the growing medium.
As the plants use these nutrients or they get washed out of the growing medium they will need to be replaced. This will kind of be part of my experiment for this first grow. I still have not picked a strain I would like to grow. The plant itself will have to be kept pretty small though because of the space I am using and the money I have to put into the process. I have also never used fertilizers or nutrients on any plants. So this will be a huge adventure for me.
This is where things get fun. One day 4-6 weeks down the road you have several good bushes of marijuana plants. You decide that maybe it is time to start the flowering stage.
For an indoor grow, the flowering stage is triggered when you wash all nutrients from the growing medium and replace it with a flowering fertilizer as well as change the light period from a long vegetative 16-8 or 24-0 hour light cycle to a 12-12 light cycle.
For outdoor growers, the sun will determine when the plants will move into the flowering stage. The plants will do a couple of things from this point forward. Most of the vegetative growth will stop completely.
Each node on your plants will develop two little hairs called pistils. These will be the first indicators of the sex of each plant if you are using seeds. On males, they will look like they are coming from pods. On female plants, they will be long, slender and open. At this time remove the male plants from your garden. (I know so much work just to waste a few.) From then on its smooth sailing.
So, when do you harvest? You will notice all of the changes that have happened to your marijuana plant since it went into flower. Hopefully, you have cleared out all of the male plants in your garden as well. Your buds and plants will get bigger and better as they grow. Anywhere from another 4 to 6 weeks.
When you notice the growth slowing a bit take a magnifying glass and look at the pistils. These contain your max THC. Take a close look at your trichomes. Do they look like a light brown or orange? Or maybe they are just a really thick milky white? When over 65% of the pistils of your plants have changed from light or clear to a darker color then your plants are ready to come down and be dried.
Drying, Curing, and Storing
How to go about drying your plants? You can either cut and hang them branch by branch or you can cut the whole plant down and hang it from the base. You can take the time to remove all of the large fans leaves also known as water leaves or you can choose to leave them attached to the plant. I will be deciding the method to my drying process when I get a little closer to harvesting my plants.
What about curing? This is just another part of the drying process. Once your buds are dry to the snap of a stem, you want to cure your bud. Some people might not see this as necessary, but I beg to differ.
It is just my opinion, but in my experience when someone has not cured their herb it tends not to be as good and does not sell as the grower expected it too.
There are many curing methods just at there are many ways to do just about everything. Some people put their plants in plastic tubs. Some choose to use brown paper bags. I have even seen glass jars used many times, though it can be more time-consuming.
I do suggest that you cure your marijuana at least one to three months before calling it finished. It will taste better and give you more of the medicinal relief you are looking for.
Storing, oh, storing. The debates on how to store marijuana are kind of a laugh to me. It all comes down to the same three things. Can it air seal? Can it hide the smell? Most of all can it keep the marijuana in a decent limbo between too wet and too dry? Medicine bottles, glass mason jars, ziplock baggies, and pretty much anything that can meet these criteria is a good enough storage place for me.
Maybe growing your own medicine isn’t that hard. Maybe you can do it on your own. I don’t know. I know that with this base knowledge, a lot of research, hopefully, some help from this blog, and my own mistakes; I am certainly going to try. I might even go buy Robert’s book! So, please bear with me as I make mistakes, discoveries, and hopefully some good bud!