GROW MARIJUANA ALL YEAR ROUND
No matter if you grow your marijuana outside or inside, in pots or in a garden, the taste and experience really is better with homemade. If you are one of the majority that believes gardens are only seasonal, you may find that you enjoy it quite a bit if your garden stays able to produce all year long. There are some alterations required for winter-time production, but you will have the benefit of fresh herbs and spices anytime you need them. Growing all year long will also allow you to grow foods as you would consume them instead of having to mass produce all summer and store them all winter. Each week you will still have to tend to your garden, but it takes up just a little space and time once you get the garden going. You will also be able to increase your potential connection to your skill once you learn how to use it year-round. The spiritual connection and enrichment you will receive from gardening will help not only produce better plants, but it will also help your own well-being.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARIJUANA TYPE
Everything in life wants to start out with the best genetics. Finding cannabis seeds that will grow well in your area and still give you the best characteristics florally is what you should strive to find before starting to grow. The characteristics you want to compare are growth rates, maturation rates, bug and fungus resistance, aroma and potency. These factors should be considered before planting by the grower so that you can successfully grow marijuana for as long as you want. If you are lucky enough to locate an Indica and Sativa hybrid, then you are good to go! This will work for outdoor and indoor growth and give a good high once mature. The Indica variety will provide a robust, euphoric high, while the sativa variety is typically harder to grow inside because of the necessary sun and long growing season requirements. Hybrids provide a cerebral high with an energetic component that matures earlier than the sativa would on its own. Indica's have broad leaves with rounded edges while sativa's have incredibly narrow leaves, so you should expect a hybrid to have qualities that are a mixture of both parent plants. You will often see leaves a bit larger than a sativa but smaller than an indica on a hybrid, which makes them easier to recognize once you are familiar with how they look. Dark brown and light grey are the most common colors of marijuana seeds, so make sure you get the right seeds for a hybrid. Striped seeds are fine for marijuana plants, but white seeds should not be planted as they are still too immature for planting.
THE STRATEGY THAT ALLOWS CONSTANT HARVESTING, BOTH INDOORS AND OUTDOORS
We recommend that you use natural light as much as you can to help curb your energy expenses when gardening at home. Natural outdoor light works wonders for flowering plants, while indoor light that is able to stay on continuously is great for early germination of your plants and growth of the vegetation. The natural cycle of dark and light will be used if you try this method, which will lower your energy bills. Even building a tiny greenhouse from PVC or Filon fiberglass can work, especially if you know how to make it blend in or look like it's more of a shed. If you happen to have a shed in your yard already, you can convert the roof over to glass, PVC, plastic or fiberglass and simply use that so that no one is any wiser of what you are up to. This type of shed will allow people to fly overhead without raising suspicion, and it will work for marijuana plants that are not light hogs as well, so you get the best of both worlds. If you use a greenhouse of some sort, it will also help keep many rodents away from your growing plants, keeping them safer, and you can lock it to keep out other "unwanted guests". Greenhouses without flooring can also provide you with the opportunity to grow directly out of the ground, giving you bigger harvests and allowing your plant to reach all new heights.
Indoor gardening is typically done during the cold of winter to start the new marijuana seeds up so they can be transplanted outdoors when spring comes. This gives the plants access to natural sunlight as soon as they can go outside, allowing you to harvest up to three times annually. Depending on how much growing room your home has, you can even exceed this and start new batches more often, giving you a new harvest every two months, and allowing you to bring some plants in during the winter to harvest them as well. The only thing you really need to know is that marijuana plants have two different cycles of growth. When you germinate a marijuana plant, it immediately begins trying to mass-produce vegetation, using every ounce of light up that it can find. This allows you to keep your lights on all the time, not having to worry about specific timers. This also allows your marijuana plants to grow much quicker than they would outside where the evenings would stop the photosynthesis. While it is not required, it is recommended that you try and keep the plants as lit as you can during this phase. Once your marijuana plants reach 12-18" (30-45 cm), your plants can already be forced into flowering, assuming your weather allows for you to place your cannabis plant outside. This is only possible during the spring and the fall. If you are trying to do this during the summer, then you need to shorten the light the plants receive so that the plants will believe it is time to flower. See the flowering section for more details.
Marijuana plants require even periods of both dark and light to flower, so if you are planting outdoors make sure there are no nearby lights that will disturb this cycle. The closer to 12 hours of both dark and light, the better results you will find. Plants will mature to be 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) by harvesting time. Marijuana plants that get moved from constant light to this new schedule will automatically flower, thinking that winter is coming soon. If you get your marijuana plants outside around March 1st, then your crop should be ripe by May 1st. The same goes if you move your crop outside May 1st then you can harvest July 1st. It takes about 60 days for the plants to mature to harvesting; it is just that during winter months, the crops are indoors and typically raised for small yield, winter stashes or just raised for seeds for next season.
PLANTING YOUR MARIJUANA PLANTS INSIDE
You will need to find a suitable indoor place that you can germinate your marijuana seeds in. This will allow your marijuana plants to go outside as soon as the last frost hits, getting them ready for harvesting sooner. It does not matter if you use an area within your basement or bedroom, an unneeded bathroom, or even a closet to germinate your marijuana. Some people have gone so far as to use entire rooms of their house for growing, so long as those rooms can be completely sealed from light escaping and ventilated for fresh air. Room size will determine how much and what kind of ventilation system you should be using. A small closet will only require a door be opened now and again, while a big room will require a full fan system. If you are able to provide a separate exhaust vent and fresh air vent, that is ideal. We recommend one in the top of your room to exhaust heat into the attic space or right out your roof, and another lower that brings the fresh air into the room. Cabinet fans from old computers can even be enough if the room is the right size for it. We recommend using a dimmer switch so you can control both the speed and the noise of each fan you use. Silicone works great at securing each fan to the 4-6" (10-15 cm) pipe required for the vent, which can then just be worked through a hole in the flooring or ceiling. Silicone will also help lessen the vibrations each fan gives off, making the sounds not audible through the walls. Going so far as to use the dull side of aluminum foil to wallpaper you walls can help diffuse your light sources, preventing hot spots from forming in your room, can also be quite helpful. Bright white paint can be used to reflect the light back to your plants if you wish, but mirrors are not recommended as they suck up the light. Make sure you also have plastic on the floor as well to prevent damage from spilled water.
Putting in sockets that will interrupt voltage and ensuring your electrical wiring can handle the lights you want to use is another thing on the to-do list. Ballasts used for HID lights should always be over floor level so they do not get damaged if water leaks on to the floor, but something as simple as a spacer can work as well. If you put in a new shelf above where you grow your marijuana plants, it will allow you to begin your cuttings there, germinating new seedlings. This shelf will effectively double your working and growing space and give you storage for your supplies when you are not working on new seedlings. Good things to put on that shelf include spray bottles, your marijuana plant fertilizers and foods and any other gardening supplies you may use on a regular basis. The benefit of using this shelf to germinate is no heating pad will be required due to how warm it will stay naturally, saving you time and money. If you are going to be flowering your plants indoors, then make sure you add a curtain to this shelf allowing the light from it to not escape and throw off your other marijuana plants. Velcro is a great idea when you need to keep this curtain stationary, and ties or grommets can be used to hold the curtain up when not being used. We recommend a black vinyl curtain with a white back. The next step is lights, and we recommend you just use a few simple shop lights if the marijuana plants will be going out to a greenhouse once large enough. Shop lights come with the bulbs and without, and are relatively easy to find on sale. The best light combination is one warm and one cool white light bulb between the two shop lights, giving your plants both forms of light they need. The expensive bulbs, such as Grow-Lux, are not worth it for this type of set up, so do not waste your money on them.
GROWING MARIJUANA ON A SHELF
Futuristic trends are looking like they will head toward using fluorescent bulbs due to cost and availability. Shelves are a great way to combine this type of lighting with marijuana plants as well. Each shelf has a fluorescent light and there are numerous shelves lining the wall. If the shelves are set up properly then each shelf can have its own timer for how long the light should be on without it affecting any of the other plants. You can use two areas or three, depending on if you need an area devoted to germination and getting marijuana seeds. There is an automatic assumption made with growing on shelves, however. You will keep your plants at or below 3 feet (90 cm) when you plan to flower them, which is why shelves are placed at 3-4 foot (90-120 cm) intervals. Less light will be needed for these shorter plants, especially when they are being forced into flowering. You will notice this particular style to be quite time consuming with the constant daily adjustments the lights will require, so do not plan for any vacations any time soon. The good news is: this is short lived. Once your marijuana plants are out of the vegetative phase (where growth slows significantly from 1" (2.5 cm) each day), there are less time constraints on the grower. You will typically move the lamps up daily because you do not want your marijuana plants to touch the lamps, but your marijuana plants need to stay within about 2" (5 cm) of the lamp for optimal growth-with growth slowing down the further away the lights are situated. Now, if you go on vacation and do not account for the right growth, your plants could be fried before you get back, ruining your entire crop. If you make sure to use enough lighting to cover the entire shelf with fluorescent light, then you can space the plants out however you want without getting spindly growth problems.
Another idea you can use is to germinate, clone or grow your small plants on a shelf inside a closet, only switching to HPS when the vegetative growth requires it. If you use a full shelf at the top of the closet and the light does not leak below, you can also use the main portion of the closet for flowering. Move your HPS so that it should never require adjustments, which is typically the top of the main area within the closet. If your marijuana plants require being closer to the light for some reason, an old box or small shelf will work for you. If you use a shelf, it should be 18" (45 cm) wide to 24" (60 cm) wide. Paint the walls bright white or use aluminum foil, as mentioned above, to reflect the light back to your marijuana plants.
You should also paint your shelves white, too, or use some type of material that is silver in color (other than mirrors) to help reflect as much light as possible. Space blankets and aluminized mylar are both good options for this type of project. Make sure to hang your shop lights from sturdy chains in a way that will allow easy adjustments to keep your marijuana plants close to the light without allowing them to get burnt. Marijuana plants that are kept too far away from the light will become long and spindly from them attempting to reach the light source, and this will decrease your final yield come maturity. The length of stem that is seen between each set of leaves, or internode, will be longer if you keep the light source too far away. Shorter internodes are what you are hoping to achieve because this will give you more branches and eventually, more buds. Some people refer to shelf marijuana growing as sea of green, or SoG, because so many different marijuana plants are able to be grown in the same small space and all the growers can see are the green plant tops blurred together. Clones of your marijuana plants should be grown at first with constant light and then moved to the 12 hour cycles once there is sufficient vegetative growth.
SOG OR SEA OF GREEN
The theory that says harvesting a bunch of little marijuana plants that were forced into maturity early to get quick bud harvests is called the "Sea of Green" or SoG. Basically is means that instead of a few big marijuana plants, the grower chooses a lot of small marijuana plants because this can be done quicker and in the same size growing location. This may be ideal when trying to cut down on electricity use for some growers. This allows for a harvest to happen continuously, year round, with one set of seeds being started while another approaches maturity. When starting seedlings, you can easily fit four little marijuana plants in each square foot (100 sq. cm), but once the plants begin to grow, you should lower this to one plant in each square foot (100 sq. cm). The top of the plant will grow nicely even though you won't see a lot of branching off of the bottom. Do not worry about this because marijuana plants grown indoors have shaded bottom branches anyway unless there are horizontal lights. Most indoor gardeners realize very early on that most marijuana plants do not give the grower enough leaves near the bottom of the plant to make the time or energy usage worthwhile.
The only real exception to the above rule is if you plan to place your marijuana plants outdoors in the near future because the light and shading your plants will get outside will negate this issue. If you start your marijuana plants around the same date, you will likely create a "green canopy", trapping the majority of light near the top of your marijuana plants. Concentrating the light levels on top of your marijuana plants will help your plants gain as much growth as possible in this limited bit of time. Many growers have found that a trellis or nylon chicken wire will help support their marijuana plants if they happen to droop prior to the transplantation outdoors. Stakes are another option, but those tend to be used less frequently because of the difficulty reaching the plants in the back of your growing location. Many people prefer bigger marijuana plants because of the increased yield they provide, but smaller spaces lend themselves more readily to smaller marijuana plants that have a faster maturity time. Holland is where the SoG originated because they were the first to figure out that four huge marijuana plants placed in a room did not produce the same yield as a dozen tiny marijuana plants placed on a set of shelves above another set of shelves with another dozen tiny marijuana plants. The time to reach maturity for these tiny marijuana plants is only about 9-12 weeks from when they were germinated, and this process can be repeated constantly to allow for a new harvest every few weeks.
Just remember to focus on the quality of the final product when growing marijuana plants, not how big the plant gets. Two times the plants produce a harvest that can happen nearly two times as often. If you learn to harvest only the ripest of buds, you will find you are getting only the best quality of final product. If you are going to grow your plants in the four plants in each square foot (100 sq. cm), make sure you use pots that are no bigger than six inches (40 cm) across. Passive hydroponics will also help if you use a growing tray. Cat litter boxes are great for starting your plants as well. In a closet that is 12 sq. feet (1 sq. meter) you can grow 48 seedlings per shelf. If using rockwool cubes of 4" (10 cm) each, you can fit a dozen cubes in each tray. Getting 5 pans on a shelf that measures 12 sq. feet (1 sq. meter) allows you to have 60 baby seedlings per shelf. Once you are forcing the plants to flower, one plant in each square foot (100 sq. cm) is the best route to take. Fewer marijuana plants will require more time to fill your growing location which will cost you more time and money to get to your harvest. If you use too many plants to fill the growing location, your internode growth will start to take over, lowering your final yield. Make sure not to "top" your marijuana plant if your plan is accelerated growth. You will find a better result with a multiple of plants versus letting the plants grow to their maximum size because your yield will be greater and arrive in less time.
You may also find success with twist ties being used to train your marijuana plants to become bushy instead of growing taller. Twist ties made of paper or plastic can be used to wrap around the plant, pulling it down to 90° or 180°, followed by the twist tie being attached to the pot or your marijuana plant itself. You only have to keep this tied for a week, and then you can take off the tie. This will force your marijuana plants to bush instead of grow tall, filling your growing location quicker and allowing your lower branches to grow toward the canopy. This allows the plants hormones to take over, forcing each lower internode to try and bush out. Using the SoG method gives your plant top, or cola, the majority of the energy when growing, and the lower branches the best air flow to keep growing. Anything you trim off the bottom can be used as a clone as you will find a good deal of the plant will root easily, and the plant will grow quite quickly as that is what the plants hormones are pre-programmed to do.
You will find using square containers to pot your plants much easier. The square pots fit together more easily in the same space, allowing more plants than when circular pots are used, plus there is more area within the pots for the roots. This allows your garden to recycle old containers, like water jugs, and save you money. You could also use 2L bottles from soda, but those are circular, so you would not fit as many plants. You can fit thirteen pots in a litter box, and that is enough room for a 3' (90 cm) mature marijuana plant if grown hydroponically. If your closet can hold four kitty litter boxes, then you can fit 52 plants in this fashion while growing the vegetation. They will need more room when flowering, however. Old plastic buckets that are 3-5 gallons (10-20L) can also give you success. Old garbage cans or even garbage bags can be something that can work in a pinch, so use your imagination. You will want something sturdy enough to be sterilized, so avoid paper for something like plastic to help protect your marijuana plants. All containers need to be sterilized before you can plant anything, and we recommend a two tablespoons of chlorine bleach to a single gallon of water mixture for this procedure. The longer this can sit, the better the results, so numerous hours of soaking before you rinse off the sterilizer is recommended.
If you want the strongest and best tasting marijuana plants, you will want to plant them outdoors. There are no problems with light leaking out, no necessity of darkness that will keep you away from your growing location, no increase in electricity costs and better plants! More of your marijuana plants will be hit when using natural sunlight, so you will end up with a bigger yield and more developed plant overall. The only thing you need to remember is if you grow outside without the aid of a greenhouse, your crop will be more at risk to pests, bugs, animals and the weather. If this is a problem where you live, you may need to grow your marijuana plants indoors. It all boils down to your own personal preference, but our opinion is sun is by far the best. Fencing can keep out many animals, so that may help you depending on your situation. Keeping a close eye on your crop, especially during the heated dry seasons, is recommended as well. If you are growing outside and are not using a greenhouse, then you should plant in soil as the water can evaporate far too easily when hydroponics are attempted. When you are looking for a growing location, you need to look at the amount of sunlight your plants will receive first and foremost. Next you will need to factor in privacy and ease of use of the area. Your marijuana plants will need sun from at least 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, but we would recommend 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. If your latitude is above 30 degrees, this may not be possible, but it is the target you are trying to achieve. Most growers do not like using greenhouses during winter, but you can still get a good judge of sunlight during this time so you know how to plant for spring through fall. Southern sides of hills often get the greatest amounts of sun followed by open northern sides of your property.
Eastern and western sides of your property can also work so long as they have a lot of direct morning or afternoon sun combined with a solid stream of mid-day sunlight. No one is completely sure, but some growers recommend having morning-only sun as they say it is more effective than afternoon-only sun, so if you have areas with both, you may want to choose morning-only sun. If you can disguise a backyard greenhouse as some type of shed by having the roof and one side made of opaque plastic and the rest of the shed painted to match, it will draw less attention. Your goal is to make it appear as a structure that has been long-standing, covered with tree branches or vines, so it looks more natural. Just make sure you do not cover it too much or you may restrict how much sun can reach your plants that are going to be growing inside. You can use corrugated fiberglass known as Filon, or PVC style plastic sheets to cover up your garden-grown marijuana plants. It is easiest to buy clear sheets intended for greenhouse use and make them opaque with a white wash of lime or a tinted epoxy resin that is put on as a very thin sheet. This option allows more light to shine through than Filon or PVC would allow, and it will still hide your marijuana plants. Epoxy has the ability to help preserve the Filon sheets for a long time, helping it last longer than standard. It will also give your shed a more realistic look if you are trying to pass it off visually as metal. Paint also works, but is not as protective. Only use a little bit of epoxy so that the sun can still penetrate the sheets. Make sure you dig a hole that is big enough to hold your plants through maturity because the roots cannot always penetrate the rubble and clay layers within your garden. Plus then you can fill this hole with quality topsoil, ensuring you know what your marijuana plants will be growing in. Most grassy fields have a good layer of topsoil, but there are not often backyards with the same quality of soil. The soil can, by itself, help you go from a 5' (1.5m) marijuana plant up to a 10' (3m) marijuana plant come harvest time. If you get to choose between growing within the ground or within a pot, choose the ground every time because there is no risk of root binding when the ground is used. Marijuana plants that are grown within the ground will also grow much bigger, so make sure you plan for the extra space that each plant will need. Remember, once a plant is in the ground, it can't be moved! If moving is something you think is important, then you should choose pots so moving remains possible. You can still put a hole in the ground to put the pots in, allowing them to not grow over the top of most privacy fences.
Planting in pots does have its advantages, like if a person has to come to your house unexpectedly for repairs or appraising. You should also make sure your marijuana plants are covered if they live outside. One time when I was a kid, we were growing marijuana plants in our backyard. We tried to build a roof to cover our plants and a police officer saw us moving the wood around. He assumed we were stealing the wood and looked into our backyard. It was then that we were busted, but had the officer only seen a roof, we likely would not have been. So, if you take anything away from my life, build your roof prior to your marijuana plants getting taller than your fence or train them from a young age to stay below the fence line... If you choose to grow marijuana plants out in the wild, you need to make sure your plants can get watered and stay safe. The source of water you use needs to be close enough for you to get it to your plants or you will have to carry it in to your plants regularly, which is a pain in the back! If you can find a growing location that has a water source, then that is your best bet. Just make sure you have a bucket hidden at your location to water your marijuana plants with. Ideally, finding a clear source of water at a higher elevation than your location that can be routed down close to your plants is best. You can force the water through a hose and direct it right to your plants using this method. You just need to use a 5 gallon (20L) can with tiny holes punched into it. Then you take the hose and run it out of the can's main hole, securing it tightly, then bury your can beneath a stream or river's rock-bed, keeping it submerged and well hidden. The hose should be buried as well, covering the hose's length downhill to your marijuana plants. This can save you time, money and work, plus you have the ability to use this contraption annually with each new crop.
SOIL GROWN MARIJUANA PLANTS
If you are on the West Coast of the USA, make sure you use the soil called Super Soil because it is the only soil with a guarantee. Other brands are often too moist, do not have the right nutrients or contain a lot of wood filler. If you need to increase aeration or drainage, add some sand, perlite or vermiculite. Many organic growers will combine their own compost for their marijuana plants (usually made from a manure and a household waste combination). We do not recommend you use dog hair in your household waste if you plan to plant outside of your own property, however, as DNA tests could prove the hair belonged to your dog and incriminate you. P4 water crystals can be added to the soil around your marijuana plants to help them go a little longer between watering if the need ever arises. The crystals swell up when they get wet and hold on to water, slowly releasing it to the surrounding soil as the roots need it. This is a great back-up plan if a drought happens. Just make sure you do not use too much as it can suffocate new roots at the bottom of the pot, stunting growth in your marijuana plants. You just need to make sure you swell it with water before adding it into the soil, following the directions on the package. The size of plant you will get in the end is related directly to the size of the pot you plant in, so keep that in mind when picturing how big you want your final results to be. A pot that is 0.5 gallon (2L per foot) is usually sufficient, but a 6' (180 cm) plant would need at least a 3 gallon (10L) pot. Square pots are recommended for larger plants as well due to the increase in volume the roots would be given. The ground will always be a preferred method for soil-grown marijuana plants because of the plant's ability to grow to any size it wants without the concern of root suffocation. Organic farmers have many different options for fertilizer, including chicken manure, worm castings or bat guano. Keep in mind that manures are flammable, so they need to be mixed for a few weeks prior to planting with a good-quality top soil. You can also use sea weed to give your marijuana plants a slow and constant flow of trace minerals as it breaks down. Outdoor growing allows the gardener to put nitrogen-rich leaves in the hole to help feed the plants as they grow, too. You can then combine those leaves, some composted fertilizer and a bit of dolomite lime to give your marijuana plants a great start. You can also use minute amounts of plant food, like Formula Flora or Miracle Gro, to help your plants start out strong. If you are trying to grow primarily organically, you should avoid commercial plant foods, however, due to the waste that these companies produce. Mulch is also a good idea when trying to keep moisture around your marijuana plants, and it is easy to make from leaves.
You will be amazed just how camouflaged your marijuana plants will be when planted along with other plants. It is nearly impossible to discern them from other plants when they are all the same approximate size. The hardest thing you need to do when planting outside is to keep everything away from your crop while not attracting attention. Placing your marijuana plants more randomly is a good idea. You want them to be able to grow and not turn into some noticeable pattern. Putting them where plants are already growing will help them blend in even more. You just want to make sure they still get the sun they need while blending into their surroundings. Use what is around to your advantage. Plant a small cluster around a tree to blend them in, or use a fence to hide your plants from view. If you can, locate marijuana plant varieties that look like plants that you have in your area anyway. Giving extra nitrogen to marijuana plants will help them become greener if you need to blend them into another plant. You can also try putting fake flowers into your plant to make it look like something else. If you can visit your crops during full moons, just make sure you are doing something that onlookers would not think twice about, such as pruning a tree or mowing the lawn. If you dig a hole big enough to put your marijuana plant in, you can reduce the overall height by at least one foot (30 cm). Occasionally you will find gardeners who prune the plant once it reaches one foot (30 cm) high because the two tops that form after this pruning can be trained to grow in opposite directions along a fence or trellis. This will keep your marijuana plant from exceeding 3' (90 cm) in height. Most neighbors would not ever notice a plant of this height, even if you happen to invite nosy neighbors over for a BBQ!
NUTRIENTS AND PLANT FOODS
The three most important nutrients for your marijuana garden are Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K) and Nitrogen (N). Most fertilizer labels show them as N P K in a format like 20/20/20. The next most important nutrients for your marijuana plants are Sulfur (S), Magnesium (Mg) and Calcium (Ca). Trace amounts of copper, zinc, manganese, boron, molybdenum and iron are also required for growing marijuana plants. Each growth phase requires different nutrients. During germination and rooting, Phosphorus needs to be high while Nitrogen and Potassium need to be lower. During vegetation, Nitrogen needs to be high. One simple way of getting enough Nitrogen into your marijuana plants is to add human urine to your watering source at a ratio of 8 oz. (225 g) to one gallon (3.5L) of water. This is not all your plants will need, but in conjunction with a fertilizer it should be appropriate for hardy growth. Keep an eye on your magnesium, sulfur, iron and calcium levels as well. For hydroponic growers, a single tablespoon of hydrated lime, known as dolomite, is usually all that each gallon (3.5L) of growth medium will need. This will provide necessary calcium, magnesium and nitrogen to new plants. If you need to increase magnesium or sulfur levels, try using Epsom salts. Most people have noticed how flavors increase with the use of potassium nitrate (PN or P2N3), so you may want to include Formula Flora or Miracle Gro into your growing medium for that benefit.
If you are trying to grow vegetation, these fertilizers will be quite helpful. They can be used during flowering as well. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the effects of Salt Peter, or potassium nitrate. This combination is used to create impotence in men, especially in a medical capacity, so if you intend on eating these plants, you should change your fertilizer at least during the last few weeks of flowering to avoid this consequence. We recommend fish emulsion as a good alternative. If you are using hydroponics, you want to stay in the range of 150-600 ppm of dissolved solids with 3-400 ppm being ideal. You can use a conductivity meter to see a breakdown of the nutrients you are feeding to your marijuana plants, but you need to remember that most readings of dissolved solids range on the lower end, so do not take the reading as perfect. If you use passive hydroponics, you will want to keep your nutrients in check so they do not build up to a dangerous level within your growing medium. Every now and again, a drink of clear water is important. You should do this just until your plant loses a slight amount of green and then you should go back to your normal feeding regimen. When you "pump" up your marijuana plants, you water them in a way to help them grow faster. If you are not careful, this can harm your plants and their roots. This process must be done in a slow and watchful manner to ensure the marijuana plant is not drowning. Plant food should be diluted to 25% so your plants are not getting nutrient burn, and you need to rinse the plants with clear water about every other watering.
This is especially important if you are growing marijuana plants in soil. Using just a little Oxygen Plus style plant food or even a hydrogen peroxide that is food-safe will allow you to have more oxygenated roots, lessening the chances of over-watering problems. You will regularly need to make sure that the pH of your soil stays neutral if you use hydrogen peroxide. Some growers refuse to use hydrogen peroxide in their growth mediums due to pH issues, but as long as you are regularly checking your pH level and correcting any abnormalities, your cannabis plants should be fine. Check your marijuana plants for adequate drainage and adjust your watering accordingly. If your soil is draining well, you can move up your watering schedule from one time per week to every 3-5 days. Lava rock and perlite are often used to help increase drainage of growing mediums. This would start the "pumping" process as you are forcing extra nutrients to the plants and oxygen to your roots. You always want to make sure that your growth medium is nearly dry before you water again because this will help your plants grow faster. A different option would be adding a stronger version of plant food one out of every three times you water. This suspends the nutrients within the growth medium, allowing it to be stored to be used by the plant as it needs it. This process flushes out the excess nutrients with the two times of using clear water so you do not have to worry about a build-up of salts within the soil. (This does not pertain to hydroponics.) Make sure you stop using plant food for the last two weeks prior to harvesting because if you don't, your harvest will taste just like plant food. (This does pertain to hydroponics.)
Do not use too much fertilizer!! You will kill off your cannabis plants if you do. Make sure you follow the fertilizer's instructions carefully. If you are going to fertilize during each watering, use only half-strength for both hydroponics and soil. You will want to slowly increase your dosage over time. Most new growers accidentally over-fertilize cannabis plants, leaving a build-up of salts and dissolved solids. If you think that your plants are experiencing a build-up, then make sure you use a little straight water for an occasional feeding. Marijuana plants grown in pots need to be leached monthly. If you notice your marijuana plants turning too-green, then you may need to stop feeding them for a short time so you know your plants are not getting too much food.
FERTILIZERS AND PLANT PH
The success or failure of your nutrient solution can be determined by its pH. You want to stick between 6.2 and 6.7 so all of your nutrients are free flowing. A staple requirement for hydroponics is proper pH before the plants become exposed to the solution. Phosphoric acid brings down pH while potash or lime brings up pH. A pH meter that is useable in hydroponics, water and soil can be your best friend in making sure your marijuana plants have the best chances of success. A neutral growing medium can have a bit of vinegar added to give the pH a boost from 7 down to about 6.5, so keep that in mind. Many times when you add fertilizer to a growing medium it will change the overall pH, so check your pH often. If you are getting brown foliage then you are likely facing acidic growth medium that has not been corrected. You may also notice older plants needing additional food because of the ineffectiveness of the roots. Between these two maladies, feeding through the leaves sometimes becomes necessary to give your plants the best food possible, giving you the best final result. You can feed your marijuana plants through their leaves starting about about 1½ months by dissolving some fertilizer in a little warm water and then spraying that mixture directly on to each marijuana leaf. The veins absorb the fertilizer. If you end up doing this then make sure you are not giving your plant too much fertilizer.
As long as you have a well ventilated growing location, you can increase the speed your marijuana plants grow, the quality of your harvest and increase your yield simply by foliar feeding. The only thing you have to do is to make a tea of plant food and water and then feed it to your marijuana plants during the vegetation and beginning flowering phases of growth. You can use bat guano, fish emulsion, worm castings or an over-the-counter plant food for this process. You do not want to do this later in flowering or you will end up tasting it with the final results a bit later on. Usually a break for the last 2-3 weeks is sufficient. You will want to make sure you clean off the leaves with clear water weekly to keep the stomata from clogging. Daily or every other day for feedings is usually plenty. Between 7 & 10 am and after 5 pm are the best windows to feed during because that is when the stomata are most open and will accept the most of what you are spraying on. You should also feed when the location is at 72 °F (22 °C). Above 80 °F (26 °C) and the stomata are typically closed. The easiest way to do this is to find a cooler portion of the day when it is hot outside or vice versa when it is cold. It may involve you spraying your plants at 2:00 in the morning, but you signed up for doing whatever your plants needed when you planted them. You want a sprayer that can mist the plants with an atomized solution. You want to make sure your pH stays between 6.2 and 7, using baking soda to increase pH or vinegar to decrease pH. The rule of thumb is to spray more often with a little bit of food rather than less often with a lot of food that could damage your plants. A wetting agent should be used to help your plants not get beads of water on them because that can damage your plant leaves. You should try and spray only when the light bulb is cooled off. You may also want to try and combine your plant food with seltzer water so that you are giving your marijuana plant all of its requirements at the same time. This is considered the best route to avoid nutrient lockup for marijuana plants.
Make sure you wash your leaves from harvest before they dry because those leaves that are eaten could contain nitrate salts.
When using HID lamps, you must vent often, but not very often when using fluorescent bulbs. The build up of humidity will also make it to where you must vent regularly throughout the day. Ideally you want your vent to clear out your grow room within five minutes, and then you want the fan off for the next 25 minutes. This would then repeat every half hour. You could also find a three minute vent timer with a 12 minute off time if you prefer 15 minute cycles. You will need to find a timer that can perform these actions, which may not be easy or cheap, but it can be done. You can also use a window-style fan that turns on and off at certain temperatures, but this is more difficult because it is regulated by temperature instead of CO² needs. You may end up dispersing too much or too little to your marijuana plants. You can sync up a relay that senses when you are releasing CO² and then starts a fan a while later, but this is difficult and expensive, so you may want to stick with something that is controlled by the environment. All you are really going to need is a switch that can turn on or off your CO² tank and your fan, and a way to clear the room in just a couple minutes. If your grow room does not have a fast heat build-up and you are able to vent your room very quickly, then you may be able to leave your CO² on continuously to allow a build-up of CO² between venting cycles.
You could try syncing up two timers, but you will likely only be able to find the timers with 48 trips during a 24 hour period for a reasonable amount of money. This would make it to where your fan was on for a half hour, then off for a half hour. This can also be set up to work with your light so you aren't venting when your plants are dark. This will allow you to also set your CO² to turn on when your fan is off or the other way around. It might be possible to sync them closer together, but it will be difficult. Many types of venting fans are quite expensive, but many local liquidators of electronic parts will have what are called muffin fans, at a great discount. Garden stores often carry the same fans brand new, but they are more expensive. You want a fan that is good enough to keep down not only the temperature, but also the humidity, distributing CO² evenly to your marijuana plants. You will need movement within your grow room as well. Oscillating fans work really well to distribute the CO² and circulate the air within your growing location. This will help you reduce the fungal risk within your grow room as well by lowering the humidity within the room. If you mount it on the wall, it keeps your floor space open which is always at a premium in growing locations. The ideal growing location will have a lot of circulation within it from many directions.
You must be sure to maintain the proper temperature when growing marijuana plants, but this is not always an easy task. Most growers believe the ideal temperature is between 70 and 80°F (21 and 27°C), but there are times where that temperature range is too low. When you do not have to factor in genetics, some plants just seem to have the ability to absorb additional light when placed under higher temperatures, even up to an astounding 90°F (32°C). Increased CO² and light could even extend this range up to 95°F (35°C). Some growers are even putting their marijuana plants in extremely high light situations with 1500 parts per million (ppm) CO² and perfect venting that keeps the humidity down and keeping them around 95°F (35°C). No one is sure how the potency is affected by these increased temperatures, but you may want to lower the temperatures once your marijuana plants begin to flower to hold on to the potency. This may slow growing speeds, but it would be worth holding on to the potency. Increased temperatures will grow the vegetation of marijuana plants much quicker because it increases the plant's metabolism whenever the increased light and CO² are able to be absorbed. The humidity of the room must also stay low for this to work. If you keep normal CO² levels around your marijuana plants and you have really good venting, you should go no higher than 90°F (32°C), but we think that 85°F (29°C) is ideal for most situations. Anything above 95°F (35°C) will hurt your plant growth.
If you try and grow marijuana plants below 70°F (21°C), growth will not occur. This is only acceptable at night, but should never drop below 60°F (15°C) or growth could stop all together. Shock will start below 50°F (10°C) and death will happen if your plants are repeatedly exposed to temperatures below 40°F (9°C). If you believe that the ground temperatures are pulling any heat out of the roots, make sure you have your plants elevated. This can be an issue outside or even on a cold basement slab. With increased temperatures, so does the air's ability to hold on to water, reducing your room's humidity. This means that higher growing location temperatures should also have the ability to help you avoid marijuana plant fungus. The only time you want high humidity around marijuana plants is when germinating or rooting your new plants. The lower the humidity, the better ability your marijuana plant has to transpire CO², reducing the risks that your flowers will get mold. Most growers and researchers agree that potency decreases as temperature increases, so make sure your plants do not get too much heat when they are flowering.
The quicker and gentler you can handle each of your cannabis plants, the less shock you will expose them to. You only want to transplant your plants once if you can, twice at the most. The transplanting process will slow down your growth and your final results. It takes up your time, it isn't easy, and it is a lot of work. This is all on top of the threat to the plant. The bigger container you start your plants in, the lower the chance you will have at needing to transplant them down the line. We recommend using a square 16 oz. (450 g) plastic container. You can also use other things, such as a 2L soda bottle bottom, or even a 1 gallon (3.5 L) milk gallon. This works even when using hydroponics. You can also start your seeds off in 16 oz. (450 g) plastic cups. You would have much better success having fewer seedlings than more seedlings that require a lot of transplanting. The larger your cup, the less transplanting will be required prior to your initial harvest. You will want to make sure these cupped plants are transplanted into 1 gallon (3.5 L) containers before you try and force flowering. If you want to regenerate any of these plants, you will want to wait until it starts growing vegetation again and then put it into a 5 gallon (20 L) bucket. If your growing location cannot hold that large of a container, use 2-3 gallon (7.5-10 L) containers.
ONE MORE TIP:
A research study out of Russia has shown that marijuana seedlings that have 4 inches (10 cm) or more of growing medium when started tend to end up female. This study says "this may be why some farmers get female to male ratios as great as 80% to 20%."
NEGATIVE IONS AND ODORS
Many growers use negative-ion generators to remove the odors from grow rooms, but now growers are noticing an increase in yields and growing speeds. We are not sure how true this is, but we know that people feel better in this type of environment, so it makes a bit of sense that plants could as well. It won't hurt anything to place one of your plants near one and see what you find out. Some growers have noted a milder scent at harvest time, but most do not complain about this. You can go with one of the cheaper models to just try out the process. Some can even collect dust on to a plate within the unit or a nearby sheet of foil. All you need to do is clean off the foil or plates monthly and see if it helps any. Just make sure your unit is grounded and that the wall behind your unit is covered to avoid any discoloration from the dirt in the air.
Marijuana plant roots require a l ot of oxygen to remove the plants toxic chemicals and they need it to help absorb the nutrients into the plants. Growers often use food-grade hydrogen peroxide within the water being fed to the plant to help increase the amount of oxygen each plant gets. Plants quickly use the extra oxygen atom that H² O² has, and that's why the plant food Oxygen Plus (with 25% H² O²) is so popular. This in combination with an aerated growing medium can be the perfect solution for plant growth. You want proper drainage from either gravel or Perlite within your growing medium so that your plant does not drown. If you have too much water, you can reduce the oxygen your plant can absorb. We will discuss that more in the hydroponic section of the guide. Adding oxygen through aeration prior to watering is also helpful. Bubble pumps put in your water source is often more than enough for growing marijuana plants, or else you can use a cup that has a lid and vigorously shake it up just before watering your marijuana plants.
Most varieties of marijuana plants will require pruning to help increase production and health, no matter if the plant was cloned or grown from seeds. If you prune the lowest limbs, it will give the plant more air circulation and give you cuttings you can use as clones. The secondary benefit is also giving the plant the ability to focus on the top limbs, increasing yields. If you regenerate your marijuana plants, they will need pruning so the plant's energy can be focused on the main stem. This boils down to clipping off anything that is shaded below the canopy of your marijuana plant, and clipping off the growth in the canopy that is not robust. This allows the strongest parts of the plants to survive. This can offer the grower a small harvest of a few buds that did not sprout any new growth during the regenerating process. Your marijuana plant might even give you a lot of material to smoke if you can catch it right before the old flowers have dried up completely or died during the growth of new vegetation. You will need to prune regenerated plants twice. The first is when the plant starts to show new growth, allowing you to cut off the parts that are not regenerating new growth for smoking. The second is when you have lower plant growth or too much upper plant growth, allowing the grower to thin out the plant to increase its yield at harvest. If you choose to not prune your regenerated plants, you will have a lanky plant that will have only tiny buds with a much smaller yield than most marijuana plants.
HARVESTING AND DRYING
When you reap the bounty of your garden, that is called harvesting. You will likely enjoy this time with your crop more than any other time. You need to harvest your marijuana plants when the flowers are completely ripe, and this is usually when the pistils (hairs) go from white to red, brown or orange and they start to pull back into what looks like a seed pod. The pods will then swell with the resin that is usually saved for producing seeds. When you harvest will determine the levels of "high" within the buds. If you harvest early, with just a couple pistils having changed color, your buds will have a higher pure THC level, leaving less THC to turn into CBD or CBNs. Those substances help to create the bouquet within the pot, which controls how stoned or stupid a person acts when high. The purer the THC, the more cerebral the high will be. The higher the levels of THC that has turned into CBD or CBN, the more hazy the buzz will be. Marijuana plants that are harvested later will have higher CBD and CBN levels, which may not be the kind of high you prefer after you have gotten to taste the different varieties.
Make your own decision about what you like the most, no matter what the proposed experts are saying. You have to remember that a fully ripe bud will weigh more and is what you will most often see being sold. However, you can take buds earlier than when fully ripe and make the choice for yourself on whether or not you like the flavor. If you are going to sell your product, you want to make sure that it is fully ripe, but if you prefer smoking an earlier product, pick some early for yourself. Novice growers usually pick a little product early due to their own impatience, and that's alright. Just make sure if you do that you take your buds from the middle or top of the marijuana plant. The rest can then continue to mature. The tops of your marijuana plants are usually ripe first. If you can harvest those and allow the rest of the plant to mature, you will increase the yield that can be sold. The buds lower on the plants will get fuzzier and larger when they approach full maturity. This will help give you a bigger yield because these buds will then be getting more direct light. If you can take your harvest as each portion of the plant is mature, it will increase your yield greatly over a single harvesting. You will want to take a magnifying glass to look at the THC crystals on the trichomes to check the color. Mostly clear crystals means that full potency is nearly at its peak. If you have mostly brown crystals, then your levels of THC are falling along with the potency of your plant due to wind and light exposure.
Make sure to not harvest your marijuana plants too late. It is common and easy to harvest too late from being too careful. Learn when your plants are at full potency by watching them closely. Make sure you do not leave your curing marijuana plants in the sun or you will lose even more potency. Buds that are hanging upside down in a well ventilated place will cure more slowly and keep more of their potency. You can also dry using a paper bag, and some people find this process more convenient. You will likely enjoy the flavor of a bud that has been slowly cured for at least 1-2 weeks. If you cannot wait, there is always the option of drying a couple of buds between paper towels using a microwave. This is a slow process that requires constant monitoring to avoid burns. The defrost setting works better for this process. You will get a harsher smoke using this method, however. You can also use a food preserver or dehydrator to dry out your crop, but the taste will not be as good as drying things slowly (although we find it to be pretty similar). This will help speed up your harvest as well, and avoid the stress of hanging marijuana around your home. You want your marijuana buds dried to the point of snapping stems before curing them in sealed containers that are opened for turning and air exchange daily for two weeks. We have also heard the recommendation of using an area within your home that is not insulated, such as your garage, so that the temperature changes can affect your drying marijuana plants. Allowing for these changes makes your cannabis plants use up a bit of its chlorophyll, creating a less harsh smoke.
ONE FINAL COMMENT
You can get positive results even if you find yourself in a negative situation (like a 4"(10 cm) pot having nothing more than a skylight to help it grow). If you have a nutritious medium that drains well, some good light and ventilation for your plants, a solid fertilizer applied regularly, some pest control and you can avoid being detected, you can, too, find success growing marijuana seeds to a harvested crop.