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Growing marijuana for beginners

 

Over recent years, the indoor growing of marijuana has quickly become a popular experience. The reasons for this surge are varied by location and individual. Of course, it was bound to happen that one day people would take what they knew about plants and growing techniques to grow their own marijuana, which stems from an increased interest in experimentation with in-house plant cultivation. For those individuals who enjoy the occasional marijuana joint, it may be hard to find a quality source of marijuana without having to potentially deal with unsavory parts of society in an attempt to obtain the quality of marijuana they are searching for.

This also includes, of course, the criminal aspect of selling and purchasing marijuana. It is just as illegal to buy, sell or smoke marijuana as it is to grow it. Although growing a marijuana plant is something that anyone is able to accomplish within their homes without requiring the risk of dealing with people you do not trust or know, that does not make it legal. One of the most rewarding reasons for cultivating your own plants is watching the delicate, tiny marijuana seeds that you purchased grow and turn into incredibly lush plants, more so than you have ever seen throughout your house.

The 4 basic steps

We all have to start somewhere, so it does not matter if you have prior experience with growing a marijuana plant at home or not. It is still possible to have a reasonably successful crop by following these easy-to-follow directions of this guide. Even if you have experienced some problems prior with the cultivation of marijuana, it is highly possible that you will find solutions within this guide. There are four basic steps everyone should follow when attempting to grow marijuana plants:

  1. Obtain marijuana seeds. The good news is if you do not currently have any seeds to start your crop with, you can purchase several varieties of seeds through our private seed shop.
  2. Germinating your marijuana seeds. While it is possible to simply place marijuana seeds within moist soil, it does not necessarily guarantee that it will produce a marijuana plant. By first germinating the seed, you can ensure that your seed will in fact produce a plant. In order to germinate the seeds, put a small grouping of seeds between several damp paper towels or within the larger pores of your everyday-style damp sponge. Make sure the sponge or towels stay damp while also making sure they are not soaked. Some seeds can germinate in as little as 24 hours, but some others are known to take a few days, a week, or longer to germinate.
  3. Planting marijuana sprouts. Immediately upon noticing the opening of the marijuana seed, place the seed within moist soil, then immediately sprinkle soil across the top.
  4. Offer your marijuana plants some light. While fluorescent lights happen to be known by many growers to be the light of choice, any type of growing light will do. You will want to make sure that your lights hang 4-8" (10-20 cm) from the soil after your plants begin to appear through the soil.

It really is just that simple. By following these simple four easy steps, you can have your very own marijuana plant in no time. If you are looking to ensure exceptional quality and higher-yield volume, there are a few additional details that should be noted and followed.

Soil

Your first major concern after you choose the proper marijuana seeds becomes choosing the appropriate soil. You do not want to pinch pennies when it comes to selecting a soil. Ideally you would like to use the richest soil that you are able to get your hands on. If, for some reason, you end up using an unsterilized-type of soil, you can almost guarantee yourselves that you will find parasites within it that will likely harm or kill your marijuana plant long before you can transplant or save the plant. You can typically find several excellent types of soil available at various plant shops or nurseries. Some grocery stores, as well as full convenience stores (like K-mart or Walmart) will also carry exceptional soil for marijuana plants. Growers should make sure that the prospective soil not only drains well, but also has a pH level between 6.5 on the low end and 7.5 on the high end. This is important because marijuana plants do not thrive in acidic soil. By having sand, sponge rock and/or Perlite as components within your soil, you can be assured that it will be a solid draining soil. High levels of acidity within soil lead to plants becoming predominantly male within each specified species, which is a highly undesirable trait for a marijuana plant.

Your soil will also need to contain humus, which is a key component for containing nutrients and moisture. For those do-it-yourself types, you can create your own unique soil mixture using the following recipe: take two parts peat moss, one part draining sand, one part of Perlite (also known as sponge rock) and mix that with four gallons of potting soil. Use soil testing kits or litmus paper to test your soil's pH level. If you find that you need to increase the pH within your soil, add ½ lb. (20 kg) of lime to approximately 1 cubic foot (28 L) of soil in order to effectively increase the pH by a single point. For those who are absolutely adamant on working with dirt from your backyard or driveway, first you will have to sterilize the dirt by placing it within a 250 °F (120 °C) oven for an hour. Ensure that you moisten the dirt thoroughly first, as well as open several windows. You will also want to get yourself ready for a rapid egress, just in case. Baked soil will turn your kitchen into one of the worst smelling things that you have ever had the experience of cooking, so you have been warned. Once it has finished baking, add approximately 1 tablespoon of premixed fertilizer per gallon (3.5 L) of soil, mixing vigorously. This is an awful lot of work for little reward when compared to the low-cost of purchasing soil, but to each their own.

Containers

Once you have finished preparing your soil, the next thing you are going to need is some sort of a container to place your cannabis plant into. You will need to make sure that the container itself is well sterilized, more so if it has been used by other plants previously. Considering how large of a container you choose will directly affect the growth rate and size of the plant you wind up with, you will want to choose carefully. You will only transplant your plant once. This is because the transplanting process for a plant will cause most plants, including a marijuana plant, to go into a state of shock. Once transplanted, there is a recovery time where growth will be slowed or come to a complete halt. It is recommended that the first pot you choose has a diameter of 6" (15 cm) or less, and be plastic or clay.

Before you decide to transplant a marijuana plant, prepare the secondary pot with soil, plus also dig out a hole the size of the current pot. Take your planted pot and invert it while tapping on the rim of the pot to release the plant. The soil and base roots should come cleanly out, and the soil will likely retain the same shape as the original pot without disturbing the roots. If you wish to avoid the transplanting process, it is recommended to use Jiffy-pots. A Jiffy-pot is made from compressed form of peat moss, making it able to be planted directly into damp soil. Once planted, they decompose, allowing the roots to penetrate the walls. The volume of whatever second container you choose should be a minimum of 3 gallons (11 L), as marijuana plants do not like being in a position to where their roots begin to bind or get confined. It is really hard to move or transplant a 5' marijuana plant, so make sure to plan accordingly. Smaller marijuana plants will be ready for transplantation into a permanent location in approximately two weeks. After their first week post-transplant, you will want to monitor the growth closely and avoid binding of the roots as this will stunt the growth and productivity of the plant.

Fertilizers

Marijuana plants require a lot of nutrients but if you are heavy handed with the fertilizer, it can damage or even kill your plant. Some fertilizers are known to burn your plant, causing damage to its roots when used improperly. Most store bought soils have the nutrients needed to feed your marijuana plants for approximately three weeks. It is at this point that you will want to begin fertilizing the plants. One very important thing you need to keep in mind during this process is that you will want to begin introducing the fertilizer concentrate to the plants gradually. You will want to begin with a diluted, or watered down, fertilizer solution, gradually increasing the dosage and decreasing the water. Formula Flora and Dutch Pro are two popular fertilizers for marijuana growing. Formula Flora is considered great for widespread use in marijuana cultivation and is readily available throughout the United States and North America. Formula Flora has special uses when it comes to marijuana plants as it contains ingredients that prevent your soil from getting too acidic. Fertilizers change the pH level of soil by increasing the level of acidity. During this process, the salts produced through the breakdown of fertilizer can stunt the growth of your plant and brown the foliage.

Avoiding deposits of those salts within your soil will help ensure your plant is receiving every one of the nutrients it needs. At approximately six weeks, growers can begin feeding through the leaves of their plants. To do this, simply dissolve your fertilizer in some warm water, then spray directly onto your plant and its leaves. Remember to slowly increase the amounts of fertilizer that you feed your plants. Marijuana plants have stomachs similar to a black hole and will eat all of the fertilizer you will give them, if done gradually. For the first two or three months, you will want to fertilize the marijuana plants every couple of days. Pay special attention to monitoring your plants' growth rate because as the growth rate of the plant and foliage slows, the plant is beginning to prepare for seed production and blooming. Your marijuana plant should have its fertilizer intake slowed as well to mimic its growth. Never attempt to fertilize your plant prior to harvest. The fertilizer will make your plant increase its foliage production, thus decreasing resin production.

Worm castings are second to none when it comes to organic fertilizers. Worms are often raised commercially now, specifically for gardeners and breeders to put the commercial worms into organic composts. While these worms reproduce, they eat all sorts of organic matter, eventually expelling what most consider the food for marijuana plants in the world today. Once they have devoured all of the available organic matter, they are removed, sold, and the remains are sold off as what one would call worm castings. When used as a fertilizer with your soil, it can provide your plant with an abundance of nutrients. While it is possible to grow your plants in nothing but worm castings, the cost makes this approach highly impractical.

Light

All plants need light. Whether it is sunlight or moonlight does not matter because without it, they cannot grow. Countries that are well known for marijuana growth have long periods of intense heat and sun exposure. Many parts of the United States and North America do not have this type of intensity or an extended growing season to provide a similar quality or growth of plants. To bypass the problems of winter months or shortened sun exposure, many growers have turned to indoor simulated conditions. Generally, the rule most follow in regards to light is the more available light your plant is exposed to, the better the yield. One instance showed how an 8' (240 cm) Very High Output Gro-Lux fixture was used with 8 marijuana plants. These marijuana plants began to grow at an alarming rate. The fixtures required readjusting and raising daily. There are several forms of man-made light, with each one doing something different to the marijuana plant. An incandescent style of light bulb gives off several colors of light that your plant is able to use, as well as a lot of far-red and infra-red light. These types of light force a plant to grow and stretch toward the light, resulting in a tall, frail plant that is so weak that it topples over.

An incandescent plant spotlight gives off more blue and red lights over your standard light bulb. While this is a minor improvement, it still has its drawbacks. It generates intense amounts of heat and can't be set near marijuana plants. As a result, the plant is forced to once again strain and stretch upward and is still at risk of falling over. Red forms of the light boost stem growth. This is not what you are looking for when growing marijuana. You want to boost foliage growth to give your plants more yield. Gro-Lux lights should be considered some of the most recognizable fluorescent lights on the market. There are two types of Gro-Lux lights: the standard and the wide-spectrum, and they range from 1-8' (30-240 cm) long. This makes them ideal for setting up a marijuana growing room within a small closet or an industrial-sized warehouse. Wide-spectrum forms of these lights emit infrared, which stimulates stem growth like we have already discussed, but when used as an extra, supplementary form of light source with standard Gro-Lux lights, you can achieve favorable growth. For individuals who are looking to grow a larger scale crop, standard fluorescent lights and their fixtures, the types of used in most commercial lighting settings, work incredibly well when paired with regular Gro-Lux lights. This form of commercial light fixture is referred to as "Cool White" and these fixtures are by far the cheapest form of fluorescent lights. They also emit the same amount of blue light when compared to Gro-Lux standards. A key component to stimulate foliage growth over stem growth is this blue light.

When struggling with the decisions about light intensity, Gro-Lux lights are available in three different intensity levels. There are regular output lights, high output (HO) lights and a very-high output (VHO) variety of lights. You will likely enjoy the results you get from regular output lights, but you will notice a difference when choosing the HO or even the VHO varieties. The higher the output of the lights, the quicker your crop will grow. Using a VHO light, you will get nearly three times normal growth rate you would with a regular output light. It is possible to have a 4' (120 cm) plant in eight to ten weeks with a VHO bulb, gaining 2" (5 cm) of growth per day. There are few drawbacks with these bulbs. The first is readjusting the bulbs daily for your plants, and the second is the cost. The cost is about twice that of regular bulbs, but we consider them to be well worth the price.

Now you need to decide on how much light to supply your crop with. When you will be able to harvest your plant is totally dependent on the amount of light your plants get each day. The more darkness the plants get, the sooner you will see them blooming. The rule of thumb is you do not want a lot of light within the initial six months of growth because older marijuana plant blooms will have better flavor. Once your marijuana plants can bloom, the plants metabolism slows down so the quality of your harvest will no longer mature. The older you can let your plant get before you make it bloom, the better your quality will be. If you want a simple solution to keep your plants growing for as long as possible, then just keep the lights on the plants all of the time until the time comes for the plants to go to bloom. Rarely will you find a plant that has bloomed anyway, as this is definitely the exception to the rule. Marijuana plants that get 12 hours each day of light will typically be matured by 8-9 weeks, whereas plants that got 16 hours each day of light will mature by about 10-12 weeks. 18 hours each day of light gives growers a mature marijuana plant in 14-16 weeks, so it is ideal to leave the lights on if you want an older plant come blooming time. If you do not want them on all day and all night, then you can easily and inexpensively find a vacation or away from home timer to use to regulate your light schedule.

Temperature and Humidity

68-78 °F (20-25 °C) is the ideal temperature during lit hours of the day with an expected drop of 15 °F (10 °C) during the darkened hours of the day. The location you choose to grow your marijuana should be kept relatively dry to encourage a coating of resin on all of the leaves. In order to accomplish this goal, you need to trick your plant into believing that it needs to defend itself from getting dehydrated. If maintained in a humid environment, the marijuana plant will develop wider leaves and produce lower amounts of resin you seek. You need to take special care to ensure the temperature of the dry room does not become excessively warm since your marijuana plant will not assimilate water as quickly as it needs to through the roots for proper recovery, causing the foliage to turn brown.

Ventilation

Making sure that your growing location is properly ventilated is also rather important. The larger number of plants sustained in a single room, the greater the importance ventilation becomes. Since marijuana plants use their leaves to breathe and remove poisons, proper and well maintained ventilation is a must. If these criteria are not met, the tiny pores within the leaves will get clogged, killing the leaves. The more air that is able to circulate, the quicker the poisons evaporate off of the leaves, leaving you with a healthier the plant. Small rooms can typically be ventilated by simply opening a door to the room to inspect growth and to cover watering needs, but larger rooms need a more organized ventilation system. While you can grow plants that appear healthy in rooms with poor ventilation, it is safe to say they could be bigger and lusher with fresh air. The more time you spend within your growing location, the better your marijuana plants will grow. This is due to your body releasing carbon dioxide every time you exhale. It can be difficult to get a fresh air supply into your growing room since it is typically tucked away in a quiet corner within the house. In cases like this, using a fan to generate air movement will help to a degree. This will also cause your plants to grow a healthier, sturdier stalk. Typically when grown in indoor environments, a marijuana plant's stem fails gain strength and rigidity due to lack of elemental exposure to rain and wind. There is a silver lining to this approach though. It allows your marijuana plants to use most of their energy to produce resin and leaves rather than fortifying stems.

Dehumidification of your grow room

A marijuana plant that grows within a hot and dry room will have much more narrow leaves than one grown within a more humid environment because the level of evaporation is accelerated in the dry room. Humid environments cause the evaporation process to be slowed leaving the plant with wider leaves to try and achieve the same evaporation results. Broad leaves will produce much less of the resin than their narrow counterparts even with a fuller appearance, but this will not produce better quality marijuana in the end. The point of the plant creating the highly desired resin is to protect the plants leaves from getting dry, so the more the plant believes it is in peril, the more resin it will produce. Most dehumidifiers are a bit expensive, so this is not always achievable for a hobby grower of marijuana.

Watering

If you are lucky enough to live on or near a crystal clear alpine stream, you should completely skip this part on water quality. However, for the rest of us, please continue to read.

Most of our water supplies come by means of city pipes where chemicals have been added to our water by others. Typically they add chlorine in differing quantities based on location. The human body has learned to expel this chemical from the body, whereas marijuana plants have yet to learn to do the same. The chlorine within the water will evaporate within 24 hours if left sitting out in a container that is uncovered. This has a dual benefit. First, it allows the water to adjust itself to standard room temperature, avoiding a cold shock to the marijuana plants, and secondly it helps limit or remove the chlorine from the water. If you find out that your water contains excessive amounts of chlorine, you can always purchase anti-chlorine additives or drops from a local fish store or a local pet store. Another important thing to keep in mind when watering is making sure you water very thoroughly. A marijuana plant grown within a 3 gallon (10 L) container can be watered with up to 3 quarts of water at a time. The idea behind this is to ensure that the soil is well moistened from top to bottom and the excess water will just drain away.

If you fail to use enough water or do not water them often enough, the water will fail to penetrate to the lower parts of the soil. This causes roots to turn and grow up to reach the water, rather than continue to grow downward, stabilizing the plant. The second thing growers will want to keep in mind is the drainage ability of their chosen container. There ought to be several holes at the base and bottom of the container to allow excess water to be expelled from the container. If your container is unable to drain properly, it will develop water pockets within the soil that will rot your roots from your plant or cause the soil to grow mildew. As mentioned earlier in the guide, water must be allowed to flow-freely through the soil to help prevent it from becoming packed or hard. If you made sure your soil had both Perlite and sand, then your drainage should be more than adequate for a thorough watering. Feeling the soil is the most trusted way to see if your plant needs watering. If it feels moist, wait one or two days before watering. Your plant can tolerate going a day without water much better than it can tolerate being submerged into too much water, so make sure you watch your plant carefully when watering so as not to overwater.

Marijuana bugs and pests

Avoiding bugs is the ideal situation for all marijuana growers, but this is not always easy. Once you get one plant infested with bugs, your entire crop will typically end up with the same infestation. Using sterilized soil along with sterilized containers is your first line of defense from bugs, and keeping all of your plants in one location is another. If you bring in new plants from another location, you can potentially contaminate your entire crop unknowingly. Keeping pets away from a growing room is another way to lessen your chances of getting bugs in your plants because of the potential transfer from animal fur. Always keeping an eye out for spots, insects, browning leaves, droopy branches and holes in the leaves will help you stay ahead of an infestation. If despite your best efforts you find bugs, then using a non-toxic insecticide on the marijuana plant is going to become necessary. After all, you do not want to ingest potentially lethal insecticides when enjoying the smoke from your harvest!

Spider mites typically cause quite a bit of damage to marijuana plants if they gain access to them. Since spider mites are nearly microscopic, they become extremely difficult to spot. They leave a substance behind that resembles a web that clings to leaves as well as tiny spots across the leaves, which will likely be your first clue. Since these mites drain the enzymes from plant leaves, they will lose much of their glossiness and may even lose some of their green coloring. Occasionally the leaves will look as though they have a fungus coating them. Spider mite eggs resemble small black dots, which will require the use of a magnifier of some sort and a scrutinizing eye to detect. When inspecting your plants, make sure you examine the bottom of each leaf as well. To kill spider mites chewing on your marijuana plants, "Fruit and Berry" spray by Ilers is a very effective insecticide to use. "Ortho" also manufactures several insecticides which can kill spider mites, but the ingredients are lethal to all living creatures, not just the bugs they are intending to kill. The insecticide detoxifies itself in approximately ten days, then you will be able to safely smoke from your crop about two weeks after spraying.

Most insecticides only work on adult mites, and require you to spray at four day intervals for roughly two weeks, ensuring all of the adult mites are dead. During this time you will want to keep your eye on your plants, as just one mature adult mite can re-infest your marijuana plant and potentially your entire crop. If you happen to notice small bugs zipping around your marijuana plants, you are likely looking at white flies. Adult white flies are completely immune to nearly all insecticides except for "Fruit and Berry". While this will not destroy the eggs or the larva, it will kill the adults. Unfortunately the larval form of the white fly causes the most harm. They also suck the enzymes out of your plant, and if left unchecked, will quickly kill your plants. You will need to set up a regular spraying schedule with this just as you would have with the spider mites. If you want an organic alternative, then you can try soap suds. Ivory soap flakes dissolved in lukewarm water, agitated to create suds that can go all over the entire plant is going to be the most advantageous approach. You will want to ensure to wash off the soap suds before harvest, however, or you will taste the results when the harvest is smoked.

Pruning

In regards to marijuana plants, pruning is only occasionally necessary. Considering the main reasons that anyone chooses to prune is to promote secondary leaf growth and give immature leaves access to light, some marijuana strands that naturally will grow thicker and bushier than other varieties will never need to be pruned. In fact, those strands if not pruned will allow for the sap to flow uninterrupted all the way up the plant, where it produces flowers that are covered with resin. If the marijuana plant seems spindly or tall for its age (3 weeks), it may be a good idea to do a little trimming. Once your plant is three weeks old, it should have a minimum of two pairs of branches or a total of four leaf clusters. To prune your marijuana plants, use a razor blade to cut the top of the plant off roughly where two of the branches are facing the opposite direction of each other. If you wish, you can take the top that you just removed and set it in a little water until some roots appear at which time you can replant it. If you plan to do this, you are going to want to cut the bottom on a diagonal to uncover more plant surface, exposing it to the water or the chosen rooting solution. Whenever you cut the top off of a marijuana plant, the plant will regrow two new top branches from the bottom of remaining branches. Plus, pruning will also encourage the lower branches to grow quicker.

Drying and Curing

Now that you have successfully grown your own marijuana plant, there is really only one step left: to dry and cure it. You want to make sure that you cure it properly to provide a clean, smooth smoke. We are aware of different systems of curing marijuana that provide a mild, mellow flavor instead of a harsh, choking smoke. First, you will want to pull your marijuana plants up by their roots, hanging each plant upside down. This should be done for 24-48 hours. Next you will want to put each plant into a paper bag and leave it unsealed for three to four days, until the foliage is dry to your touch. After that, you will want to strip the resin-coated leaves from the stem, placing them within glass jars-preferably jars with lids. Take care not to pack your leaves in too tightly as you want to allow air to be able to reach each of the leaves. One of the largest dangers during the curing procedure is mold. Leaves that are moist when placed in the jar will generate mold, and with mold destroying resins, it will also ruin the marijuana crop. Check your jars daily by checking the scent of them. If you detect a pungent aroma, remove the marijuana from the jar, loosely spreading it across newspaper to dry quickly. Another method is to uproot each marijuana plant and hang it upside down, taking burlap bags which are damp from water, slipping them up and over your marijuana plant. Try to keep each bag damp while leaving them exposed to sunlight for a minimum of one week. Then place the plants inside of paper bags for three to four days until it is dried out enough to roll. Similar to fine wines and cigars, marijuana mellows with age. You will find the benefit of the aging process to be that it removes that home-grown chlorophyll taste that will rattle your teeth and make you think your fillings have dissolved.