You saw dope photos on Instagram about some guy growing three ounces of frosty cannabis flower in his basement and thought “I could do that”. Well hear this: you could. In fact, there is a reason why they call it weed, because it grows like a weed. The truth that many dispensaries don’t want you to know is that growing cannabis at home is easy if you have the correct equipment to grow it. In this article on growing at home we are going to deep dive into the equipment you will need to get started at home.
There are many reasons to grow cannabis at home, from financial reasons, worries about the quality of store bought cannabis, or maybe because it looks like a good time, regardless of your reason the first thing you will have to do is choose a space to grow. When deciding on a space to grow there are three things you should think about, the environment, safety, and ventilation.
ENVIRONMENT (WARM, CLEAN, DRY, SIZE)
The space that you dedicate to your first grow is extremely important. If you choose the wrong spot, a place where your plant is under constant stress, you will see lower yields, reduced growth, or even crop failure. The bonus of growing at home is that there are many great places to grow, you just need to learn about what constitutes a ‘good place to grow’. You may have seen photos or videos of large grow operations with ventilation systems, large industrial lighting systems, and complicated watering and nutrient delivery systems. While these systems are necessary to grow dozens or hundreds of plants, if you’re thinking about growing one to four plants we can piggy back on your home’s ventilation and heating systems. Room temperature is a great temperature to grow a cannabis plant in. If you choose a small confined area like a closet, just be sure to check that it doesn’t get too hot which can sometimes happen if you are running a grow light for 18 or more hours per day.
SIZE (BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER):
Another factor to consider when choosing a place to grow is the size of the space. Cannabis plants can grow quite large, so if you’re expecting to grow ten plants in a closet, think again. In fact, smaller plants will net you more weed in confined spaces. A common ‘rookie mistake’ is to grow a plant right up to the ceiling or light of your grow space during the vegetative phase of your grow. As your cannabis plant begins to flower it will continue to grow and become stressed as it presses up against the walls, ceiling and grow light. The canopy, or top leaves, of your plant will consume all of the light emitted by your grow light leaving the rest of your juicy ganja to starve. Pretty soon you will be forced to cut back the plant to try and rescue it, not a situation that you want to be in two months into your grow. Instead, start the flowering stage of your plant by chaning the light dark cycle to 12 hours of light, and 12 hours of darkness when your plant has at least 18 inches or more of space above it. Although this is in no way a rule, it should ensure that your first grow doesn’t end in an overgrown disaster.
CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS
Wherever you choose to grow it should be clean. And if it isn’t clean make sure to give it a good scrub before your begin to grow. You might not think that sterility is important in a grow because plants are used to sitting in dirt all day, well you couldn’t be more wrong! Having a clean grow room is key to successfully cultivating cannabis, and doubly more important if you are going to try and maximize yields with hydroponics. Humidity, temperature, and nutrients won’t matter if you started your grow in a dirty environment, and will leads to a host of problems that as a first time grower will be difficult to diagnose and mitigate. So, do future you a favour and start clean.
So, interested what needs to be clean? Everything. Bacteria in the root zone of your plant can lead to big problems just as much as bugs and mold on your leaves. Fortunately the process to clean is quite simple. Wash everything with soap, water and a bit of bleach or a natural substitute. Don’t overdo it with the cleaning supplies, it’s important to make sure that you don’t have bleach residue in your water reservoir or soil container when you plant your future bud. Make sure to clean up any organic matter like dead leaves, stems or other bits that may decompose during your grow. As your plant continues to grow keep an eye out for dead leaves and make sure to clean them up.
As a last point on cleanliness, and I’m sure this goes without saying, but make sure that the area you choose to grow in doesn’t have a bug problem. You don’t want bugs to eat your pretty leaves or get into your cannabis flow before you have the chance to.
The last factor to consider when choosing a space to grow in is ventilation. There are a few reasons why proper ventilation is required when growing cannabis indoors and they are to control humidity, control temperature (usually this means reducing the heat thrown off from grow lights), and dealing with the smell often present while growing super dank weed. This might seem a complicated aspect of growing indoors so I’m going to simplify it for you. A single carbon air filter in a small grow can solve all three of these issues.
A carbon air filter that is rated to move enough air to replace the volume of your grow space every few minutes will ensure the temperature and humidity of your grow room is roughly the same as the temperature and humidity of your home. Most carbon air filters will state how much air they move in cubic feet or meters per minute. With some quick math you can calculate the rough volume (length * width * height) of your grow room and find out how long it will take your filter to replace all the air in your grow room. Ideally you can vent the air from your grow room outside, but often that isn’t possible. Don’t feel bad if you vent your carbon filter inside. The humidity and heat given off from a small grow of four or less plants is not a big deal and if your buy a high quality carbon filter it shouldn’t smell. A pro tip, when you have a carbon filter one end will suck air, while the other will blow air. You want to make sure that the carbon air filter is blowing air out of your grow space, not blowing air onto your plant. By blowing air out of your grow space your will create a negative pressure zone inside your grow space and ensure that the only air that comes out of your grow area is pure, filtered air.
YOUR GROW METHOD
Now that you have defined a space, it is time to choose how you are going to grow. The first assumption is that you will be growing indoors. However, if you are in the proper climate, or have access to a heated greenhouse in cooler climates, it is possible to grow outdoors. It is important to keep in mind that if you choose to grow outdoors you may have to address a few other challenges, like the possibility of the theft of your plants, and laws that prohibit the cultivation of cannabis in public views.
There are two ways to grow cannabis with many variations falling under the broad categories of soil or hydroponic. While the hydroponic vs soil debates rages on, with many growers arguing the benefits of both the essence of the argument is essentially this: hydroponics is faster and harder, soil is slower and easier. Let’s unpack that a little bit.
What are the proponents of growing cannabis in soil? Well for starters soil is generally less expensive to begin with than hydroponics. It is very easy to drive down to your local garden supply shop and purchase all of the necessary equipment needed to grow cannabis in soil. Growing plants in soil is familiar and will not require too much learning to get started not to mention that it is the natural medium in which plants grow in. That being said all soil is not equal. If you opt to grow in soil it is important to buy high-quality nutrient rich soil. It would be a big mistake to go into your backyard and fill a pot with soil to being inside for a number of reasons the biggest of which is the possibility of introducing pests into your grow. Cannabis will take up to four-months to grow, it’s a good idea to start off with a solid foundation of nutrient rich soil. Another major benefit of growing in soil is that it is largely self-regulating. What does that mean? Well, let’s take hydroponics for comparison. In a hydroponic system growers add nutrients to water to make a solution to feed to your cannabis plants. The pH (pH is an acid-alkaline scale – and a subject for a different article), needs to be just right. Too alkaline and your plants will suffer, too acidic and they could die. pH is just one of many critical factors that are of crucial importance to the health of your plants in a hydroponic system. If you get these levels right, you are going to see far increased yields than someone growing in soil will see, however get it wrong and you might have sub-optimal yields. Coming back to soil, the pH, and nutrient levels largely self-regulate and there is less chance of accidental swings in pH or nutrient levels. In short, soil is more beginner friendly unless you have an automated system that will manage your hydroponic grow, like a Canna Closet.
So, soil sounds like a steadfast way to grow a tidy harvest at home, why would you want to use hydroponics? In short: higher yields, faster. The major proponent of using hydroponics is the ability to generate higher yields in a short amount of time. Reasearch into hydroponics began way back in a 1627 book ‘A Natural History' by Francis Bacon. Researchers quickly discovered that plants actually grew better in impure water, and soon discovered nine nutrients thought to be critical to the growth of plants in water. This has led to what is now a popular technique to grow plants called hydroponics. There are many types of hydroponics, from deep water culture, to run to waste, and ebb and flow.
Another major benefit of hydroponics is that it reduces pests and diseases. Bugs love soil and if you aren’t careful you may introduce pests to your grow if you purchase low-quality soil, or source it from the wrong place, like your backyard! Because hydroponics only uses water and chemical nutrients, like nitrogen, magnesium, calcium and sugars, there is far less of a chance that you will accidentally bring in bugs or diseases. Roughly ninety percent of all insects spend some of their time in soil, and because of that if you use non treated soil for your cannabis grow you may inadvertently bring them into your home. There are many bugs out there, like gnats, fungus worms, and beetle grubs, all of which can chomp on your cannabis leaves or destroy the root zone of your plant.
Lastly, hydroponics gives you a lot of control over your plant. The essence of hydroponics is that you are adding a nutrient mixture directly to the water your plant will consume. Because of this your plants has near immediate access to the nutrients you add to the water. This allows you to response almost immediately to deficiencies that you spot, and swiftly eliminate potential stressors to your plant. That being said, you can also quickly to damage to your plant if you accidentally double the amount of nutrients your plants needs and end up poisoning it. Get it right, and you’ll reap the rewards, get it wrong and you could irreversibly damage your plant. The bright side of using a hydroponic system is that there is a lot of information online to help troubleshoot issues, and most hydroponic systems will provide you with thorough guide on how to correctly provide nutrients to your plants.