CHOOSING YOUR MARIJUANA SEED STRAIN
If you are planning to grow marijuana, then the first thing you need to do is acquire good-quality marijuana seed strains. This becomes even truer when you are not often around marijuana herb aficionados. The general rule of thumb then becomes the higher you get off of the supply, the better the seed is to grow. Marijuana buds offer up the cannabis seeds, and these are typically hardier to grow due to the acclimation of the current climate and growing season of northern latitudes. The sativa varieties common to Jamaica and Columbia cannot be replicated in northern latitudes due to the late-season production of the bud. This results in minimal, if any, bud growth before frost stops the growing season within most U.S. latitudes.
The sativa marijuana variety will typically grow taller than its indica (or indica-sativa hybrid) counterparts. Some view this as a drawback, especially later in the season, when this makes the marijuana plant stand out from other plants that are beginning to die off. Occasionally growers from southern climates have found a little success crossing sativa varieties with indica, creating a hybrid sativa variety that produces a bud a little earlier. Growers should begin to look for buds between October and February so they are prepared for the beginning of the growth season in March. This gives the grower time to prepare, gather information and have the proper seeds available. Make sure you always purchase your seeds from reliable and reputable seed banks so that your seed stock is most likely to grow, especially considering this is the most fundamental step of the growing process.
BLEND IN YOUR PLANTS BY USING A TRAIL
One good way to ensure success with your growth is creating trails that blend into their natural surroundings. This is sometimes easier said than done. The ideal location would be an area that has dense undergrowth and a lot of direct sunlight. This is due to the rapid growth that can continually hide any damage you cause to the vegetation when you check your plants during the spring and summer growing seasons. If you intend to grow your marijuana plants where it could easily be seen by others, then make sure you weave your trails so the plants are more likely to blend in. This is very important so that you do not have your crop stolen or worse-spotted by law enforcement. Hikers wander off the beaten path on a regular basis, so make sure your trail is hidden well, along with the plants you are growing. You want to plan your trails thoughtfully ahead of time to limit the access of other people around your crop. Make sure you do as little damage to your entrance as possible when accessing your crop, especially later in the growing season when your plants may stand out more. Later in the season, if you damage plants near your entrance, the damage will stand out even more due to the stoppage in vegetation growth. Make sure to keep your plants as covered as you can, keeping these two things in mind for your trail to your site:
- Are you able to see your trail? If not, then you did a good job, but if so, then is there a way to cover your trail better so it blends in?
- Is it easy for you to get to your site? If not, then you did a good job here as well, but if so, then it may be easy for others to stumble across your site as well.
Finding the Right Seeds
Other than finding the right seeds, choosing the best location to grow your crop is the next most important part for a marijuana grower. One of the top locations that marijuana growers tend to choose is grasslands with small trees or bushes spotting the landscape. An ideal location is an abandoned farm field that has had no crops within the last 10+ years. Another good spot would be a flood plain along a river or a stream, but make sure you include the risk of losing plants and seeds to flooding when choosing a spot like this. When marijuana growers live in more rocky terrain, they have even been known to grow their crops from within buckets or similar style planters. This will allow the plants to grow where the plants get some good sunlight but where the soil would not normally allow a plant to grow. Another suitable location that is often overlooked is where there is dense plant growth that stays short, similar to locations that are abundant with sticker bushes. The bushes will grow high enough to hide your crop and they can deter both people and animals from coming into contact with your crop. Marijuana growers regularly use animals and bugs to their advantage by having bees, green flies and ticks deter activity in the area that the crop is growing. A prime site will include good soil and water, plus direct sunlight and suitable cover from above. Everything else comes in second place when considering the right site for your crop. Even though it may take time to find a good spot, the importance of quality soil cannot be stressed enough. If you have bad soil, you will have a bad harvest. If you find a location that is great in all areas except soil, you may want to think about carrying in your own soil to help your crop stand a chance. The more established grasslands you find in your location, the better the soil likely is and the better your crop will likely be. Grasslands help move the nutrients around in the soil, leaving behind a nice, thick layer of quality organic materials.
If you are able to discover a grassland location, you will have very little prep work to do, but other sources of soil will require some work. Sandy soil will usually need potting or top soil and some lime to increase fertility. Soil that has a lot of clay will need materials that will break it up some, such as peat moss. We prefer the natural approach that does not agree with planting along a roadway. The chemicals that can be found in that source of soil should deter anyone from growing a consumable product anywhere around. If you have no other choice, then a roadside could be used, but it should be a last resort. You will also want a source of water that is very close to your crop, so your site should ideally have access to a water table nearby. You do not want the dangerous job of transporting water back and forth where you could be spotted with your crop, and the more area you have to cover, the more tiresome this job will become and the more damage you could do to your trails. This will be especially true during the hottest summer months when you have to water the crop even more often.
The biggest threat of having to transport your own equipment to your crop is the potential of being seen, especially be law enforcement. The second biggest threat would be any destruction that you could potentially cause the vegetation by walking through it with bucket after bucket of water. The more trips you make, the more noticeable your trail will become. You will have to make sure that even during the dry months of summer you will have a regular water source, which can become difficult if small areas of water dry up. You will have to check your crop regularly during the hot, dry months of summer so that you know how much to water your plants and how often. Every trip that you take to water your plants puts you and your crop in harm's way. You do not want to be around your crop regularly if you want it to stay hidden. You will also want to make sure that your plants are getting at least 5 good hours of direct sunlight each day, with morning sun being preferable due to how well marijuana plants respond to this type of light. If you choose to scout out a location during the winter, remember to envision how much trees will shade the site. You want a good combination of sunlight and protection from outsiders who could steal your crop or call the local authorities.
You are going to want cover that is tall enough to hide the crop and thick enough to deter people from getting too close to your crop. The best way to get this accomplished is by using sticker bushes to your advantage. Most people or large animals will not wander near those types of plants. If you cannot find any sticker bushes, look for plants that grow 6-8' (180-240 cm) by fall and are far enough back to where most people would not wander too close. Your ability to hide your crop among the rest of the local vegetation will improve with time and practice. Marijuana growers tend to prefer placing their marijuana plants on the south side of other plants or bushes. This makes it more difficult for people walking past to notice the plants. Plus the marijuana plant will still get enough light despite the appearance of being crowded out by other plants. The ideal location is a place that looks impenetrable from the outside. In places where plant growth stays under the 3' (90 cm) mark then you will need to trim your crop or tie it down to keep the bushes smaller. Fields that have a lot of small vegetation may have bad soil or may be too dry, so use a cautious eye before planting here. If you can make your marijuana crop blend in with other local vegetation, then you will find fewer risks in the growing process. If you choose to grow marijuana plants outdoors, then make sure you know how to blend the crop into its surroundings effectively.
DON'T RISK IT
Pretend with us for a moment. You have some family visiting from out of town and one of your cousins-a marijuana aficionado-could potentially give you some good growing advice. You consider taking him through your trail, but we would caution against this idea. Even if your cousin could be considered an expert on the herb, it still may end up too dangerous for you and your crop. Your cousin does not know the area like you do and may not have any idea where to go if local law enforcement officers approach. Plus, walking through a field could attract some unwanted attention. After all, the bigger the group, the better the chances are of being seen. Plus you may widen your normal trail to where it becomes more noticeable. The last thing you want to do is put your crop and potential harvest at risk. The risk is going to be larger in more open spaces than it will in other areas, but either way, it is not worth the risk at all. There is no place that is completely safe. We would recommend that you do not bring anyone in to your site (other than your growing partner) unless it is an emergency where you must bring in a specialist or lose your entire crop. This reduces your risks and that of your crop.
PREPARING THE SOIL [EARLY MARCH - MID APRIL DEPENDING ON CLIMATE]
We recommend that you buy 40 lb (18 kg) bags of soil, preferably organic potting soil, and mixing this in with the existing soil from your chosen site. It may take a little bit of looking to find the right soil, but the effort is worth it when it comes time to harvest. You want potting soil over top soil because the soil is richer, which makes your base soil for your plants even better. If your area has acidic soil, then you may want to include some lime with your blend. If you have clay in your soil, then peat moss is the right additive. It is a good idea to avoid chemical fertilizers because of how much toxic waste is made when companies produce these types of fertilizers. Plus we prefer the benefits of organic farming anyway. We also recommend that you put up a small fence when you prepare for your crop. A fence around 2' (60 cm) high will keep small animals away from your growing crop. Using human hair or dried blood will also help keep deer away from your crop. Using a fence with gaps smaller than 2" (5 cm) will be ideal. Use sticks and stake up the fence about every 2' (60 cm). Use string or wire to tie the fence to the sticks and cut the outer parts of the fence to protrude outward, deterring animals from trying to jump your new fence. Camouflage your site and fencing as best as you can before you leave your site behind.
PLANTING MARIJUANA [EARLY APRIL - EARLY MAY]
There are numerous ways to plant a new marijuana crop:
OPTION 1: THE MARIJUANA SEED INTENSIVE METHOD
This specific method should only be considered when you have an over-abundance of the seeds you intend to plant. What you will do is plant many marijuana seeds in a small growing area. This can limit your risk because you have all your supplies (the seeds and trowels needed) hidden in your pockets. Once at your site, plant the seeds about 1/2" (1.5 cm) deep (unless in clay soil, which makes proper depth ¼" (0.5 cm)). If your site allows for small sites of 3'x3' (90 cm x 90 cm) square, then you should plant three rows with a seed every 1.5" (3.5 cm). That is about 72 marijuana seeds in each site. Typically most marijuana growers do not have this many seeds to start a new site with. If a grower does have the right amount of seeds and four sites of this same size, he or she is nearly guaranteed a quality harvest at the end of the season. Some crowding will happen and is expected, and nearly half of the plants will be male so extra trimming will be necessary before the end of the season, but this trimming will help the female plants grow more ferociously and give you a better harvest. This option tends to create smaller marijuana plants, but it will ensure a harvest for you every season. This smaller sized site will also help you avoid detection by cameras used from above. If you use the herb regularly then you will need enough sites to create a year's worth of harvest, but if you only dabble for experimental or hobby purposes, then one site may be perfect for your needs.
OPTION 2: PLANTING SMALL MARIJUANA SEEDLINGS
Most people who use this method argue that you get the best opportunity to choose which plants to plant in your crop by starting off the seedlings at home. The people who choose not to use this method argue that this option is too risky because the transportation of the seedlings is dangerous. You will usually need a box of some sort to conceal the seedlings while outside, but the size of the box could be totally unrealistic if you plan to plant a large crop. You could also risk shocking your seedlings if you move them around too much or expose them to cold climates, potentially damaging your final harvest. If you have the opportunity to create an enclosure around your site that is not insulated, then this option is ideal for your marijuana crop. This shelter could be as little as 18" (45 cm) or big enough for a person to walk through; it just depends on what type of safety your structure would have from onlookers. Your seedlings will gain the benefits from adjusting to outdoor climates if you use this method, plus they will also be protected from the unexpected late spring cold-snaps.
OPTION 3: PLANTING SEXED FEMALE MARIJUANA PLANTS
The obvious advantage of using this method is that each plant will produce cannabis buds. Once a plant reaches 4" (10 cm) high, the sex can be determined by a simple reduction of light to 8 hours per day. Male plants will be able to be identified within two weeks. As long as you are able to control the amount of light your plants receive and you can start them a little early indoors (late February to early March), then you will be able to reap the benefits of this method. The secondary benefit of being able to use this method is that you can plant much smaller sites over bigger areas, making your crop much less noticeable. For example, using about two dozen female marijuana plants over a farm that is about ten acres (4 ha) of single sites will nearly guarantee a great harvest. The only difficult part of this method is remembering where each one of your sites are at the end of the season. Having a map of the area that can be hidden will help in case you forget, but putting anything in writing can risk your crop and attach you to your crop should the authorities find it.
After about three weeks from your initial planting, you will need to return to your sites and remove the newly growing weeds that will be trying to crowd out your new seedlings. After another three weeks, you should make sure to weed your sites again. If you want to do an additional weeding in another three weeks, you can, but it is not necessary. It really depends on the site you chose and how heavy the weed population is in the area. Occasionally throughout the rest of the growing season you should cut the weeds back, but this all depends on how big they grow and how often you are at your sites. Some weeds will help conceal your plants, so don't chop them all to the ground. You will want to keep a few within the 3' (90 cm) radius of your plants to deter both curious lookers and animals from discovering your plants. If you have some vegetation near your crop, it will also help the soil hold a bit more moisture, lessening your need to continuously water your crops. Just make sure you are careful to not destroy your seedlings or their roots by pulling out the necessary weeds in your sites.
REMOVING MALE MARIJUANA PLANTS
[If the seeds you are growing are already sexed and only female seeds, then disregard these tips.]
Marijuana plants that are male will begin producing flowers and pollen in mid-July if the species you are growing is already acclimated to the climate you are growing them in. The varieties of marijuana plants that are used to the warmer climates may not flower until mid-September. It all depends on how long your budding cycle is with your variety of marijuana plant. Some bud early while others bud later, so you have to keep checking your plants to be sure if you are a new marijuana grower. The sooner you can identify the male species of the variety of marijuana plant you are growing, the better your harvest will be in the end. If you happen to miss the early flowering of your plants, you may end up with far more seeds than herb when you harvest your crop. You will notice your female plants can either produce a large bud that totally seedless, a large bud with only a few seeds inside or a large bud that is exploding with marijuana seeds. If you remove all of the male plants before their flowers open, you will end up with the seedless variety of buds.
If you see a few male flowers open but remove the majority of them without them opening, you will get a bud with a few seeds. If you totally missed the flowering of the male marijuana plants then you will end up with buds that are simply overflowing with marijuana seeds. You could end up losing nearly 90% of the plant that you can smoke should you allow all of your female plants to go to seed like this, but you will have more than enough seeds for next season's planting. Letting one or two of your plants do this per season will keep you stocked with seeds each year without having to buy more. Trying to explain the difference between male and female marijuana plants is difficult, especially to a new marijuana grower. The tops of new male varieties of marijuana plants are difficult to differentiate, but the easiest way to tell the difference is looking at the bud that forms at the top of the plant. It looks exactly the same as a female bud, but the female plant will have white hairs protruding from the bud.
THE FUNGUS AND YUOR CROP
If you are trying to find success with growing marijuana plants, then you have a few obstacles to avoid. The common obstacles are law enforcement, animals, insects and thieves, but there is also a fungus that can steal your crop right out from under you. Bud rot, or a common fungus to half-developed marijuana buds, can kill off the important parts of your crops leaving you without anything you can harvest at the end of the season. The ideal temperature for growing this horrible fungus is between 60 and 80°F (16 and 27°C) with high humidity, and when it hits, it spreads quickly and is very destructive to the plants it encounters. With the fact that this fungus can spread its spores via the wind, it is nearly impossible to stop or even prevent if the weather allows its growth to begin in the first place. If you see it starting on a single plant, then you must remove that infection immediately in hopes of sparing any other plants on your site, but this is not a guarantee that it will work. You can remove the infected buds or the branch as a whole, but removing the branch will give you better chances that you have removed the entire infection. If you want, you can take this sampling and try out your crop ahead of time, giving you a secondary reason to keep a close eye on your plants. Just make sure you are incredibly careful with the removal of the fungus, as it can spread all over again with the dropping of a single spore on to a healthy branch. You can also spread the fungus with your hands, so be sure to not get any of the infection on your hands to where you could just touch another, healthy bud, once again starting the cycle.
KEEP AN EYE ON EVERYTHING
You will notice that both the construction and real estate industries are currently conspiring to find your crop, so make sure that you keep a close eye that not too many people are investigating near your sites. Now, natural disasters such as hurricane or tornado with incredibly heavy winds would also require a much closer monitoring of your crop. A drought would also be something that would require you to visit your sites more often. You have to understand when starting to grow marijuana plants that there are times when you will have to visit your plants unexpectedly, but that does not mean go running out to your site every time you get a heavy rainfall. Keep your emergency visits to a minimum as you are dealing with a hardy plant that can take a bit of punishment.
THE HARVEST: DO IT IN THE NIGHT TIME
Harvesting at night will lower your chances of being seen while doing things such as carrying the freshly cut herb back to your car. If you can time your activity to the same time as police are changing shifts then you can increase the chances of getting your harvest done unseen. Use flashlights as little as possible if you harvest at night so you do not attract unnecessary attention, but make sure you bring enough batteries in case you do need your flashlight more than you thought you would. A small pocket knife can make the job a lot easier (and faster) if you are harvesting more than just a few simple plants. If you do not plan to use the big fan leaves to cook with, leave them in the field to minimize the space you need for the plants you intend to keep. If you happen to have multiple varieties, make sure you bring different bags to put everything in and something to mark each bag with. A backpack makes carrying all of this much easier and looks less suspicious when walking around with it on out in a field.
WHEN TO HARVEST
Each plant has a few factors that decide when harvesting should occur. You have to include factors such as bud development, fungus, thieves and the weather when you consider the timing of your harvest. You also have to consider which variety of marijuana you are growing when you consider harvesting because some strains have different maturity rates than other plants. Your location is also a factor that you must include, because some latitudes will mature before others. The indica varieties need to be harvested in late September, while other varieties need to be harvested in late October. If you happen to notice a bad frost in your forecast then you may need to harvest a bit earlier than you planned so that you do not harm your crop. The opposite weather can also factor into harvesting early, because if it gets to warm then the risk of fungus grows and it may not be worth taking a chance that you could end up with a damaged crop. Another circumstance that may force you to change your harvest is the threat of someone finding your crop sites. You do not want to chance losing out on your crop or being found out, so you must take precautions when deciding when to harvest. You will want to make sure that you will not have hunters wandering around your crop later in the season and you will not want cold weather to harm your marijuana crop, so keep a close eye on both through monitoring the internet. Now, if you accidentally miss the first frost and your plants do get some damage, then you can still harvest your crop, it may just not be as full as it would have been prior to the frost hitting. Balancing when to harvest is not always easy, but more practice will help you learn when the time is best. When you consider the weight of the situation, make sure you do not forget the factors that should be most important at harvest time: variety of marijuana plants (some mature sooner than others), weather (current and near future predictions), bud size, site location, etc. The prime time to harvest any marijuana varieties that have acclimated to the Northeastern latitudes will be late September through mid-October.
When you are growing a variety that is not accustomed to the Northeastern latitudes (such as sativa), the crop should be left until the later part of October through the middle of November, weather permitting. Make sure you do all that you can to avoid harvesting in the rain as well. The moisture can cause issues when it comes to the drying process, and the last thing you want is your harvest collecting mold or fungi. The more moisture that is already out of the plants when you harvest, the better the end result will be. Keep in mind that you want to use seeds accustomed to your weather and terrain, because otherwise you could end up with a crop that will never make it to maturity from a harsh cold snap. The first time you start a marijuana crop, you may have to experiment a little to learn what varieties to use and when to harvest, but the time will help you learn the right steps to take and which steps to avoid next time. You do not want your harvest left in their bags longer than a few hours, so make sure you have your drying facility planned out before harvesting. Mold and fungus will begin to grow rapidly if the harvest is left in a bag for 12 hours or longer. Preparing your harvest includes removing the fan leaves that you do not need, along with any other large leaves. If your drying room has a temperature higher than 85°F (29°C), then leave a few large leaves around the buds to keep them from drying out too quickly. Attics, dresser drawers, basements and closets are standard places that can be used to dry your harvest. Hanging the harvest upside down will allow proper air circulation, speeding up the drying process. Keep in mind if you use a dresser drawer or other confined space that you do not want to double stack your buds or this can cause a damaged area on the bottom of the marijuana buds.
You will want to rotate your marijuana buds daily so the harvest dries uniformly, and this will allow for a close inspection to warn you for signs of fungus or mold. If you are able to get the entire plant including the root ball, then you can hang this upside down to dry in the same procedure as mentioned above. This will not increase the quality of your yield, however. THC is formed within the resin that coats the marijuana buds, so the roots do not have any impact on how potent your product will be in the end. You should be able to complete the drying process within 4-6 days, depending on which variety of marijuana plants you used, the temperature and humidity of the drying location, and how big the plants were at harvest time. If you dry your marijuana buds too fast, then you will notice a harsh flavor of your crop and the THC levels may never reach their full potential. If you did not dry your marijuana buds fast enough then a similar effect will occur. This will happen through mold or fungus forming on the buds, still decreasing flavor and potency. You need to make sure you monitor your progress on a daily basis, no matter what method you use to dry your harvest. If you are able to keep your humidity low, then you can even use a room left at room temperature to dry your harvest, but if this is not possible, then make sure you install some type of heater and or a fan to aid in the process.