The cannabis industry is booming with no signs that it will slow down any time soon. In fact, the industry is estimated to be at $22 billion by 2022. As cannabis continues to grow on the business side, more local growers are diving into cultivating the plant themselves to cut out the middle man. As the plant gets legalized in more states across the country, the door to growing is unlocked for countless potential growers.
The only thing stopping many is the simple lack of knowledge in how to grow. Today, we’re diving into how to start growing your legal marijuana plants, what gear you’ll need, how to germinate your cannabis seeds, and much more.
Whether you want to grow marijuana for medicinal treatment, recreational purposes, or to eventually sell to others, we’ve covered everything in between to get you started. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to start growing your own legal cannabis plants.
What Gear Will I Need?
Before you can gather the gear that you need to grow, you must first decide which cannabis growing medium you want to use. This mostly falls into whether you want an indoor growing system or an outdoor growing system. For indoor growing methods, the most popular methods are deep-water culture (DWC) hydroponic system and growing cannabis with coco coir. There are also different outdoor growing methods, though not as complex as most indoor systems.
Growing Through Deep-Water Hydroponics
A hydroponic growing method indoors means that each plant’s roots are growing in their own tub of water. Using this method, your plants don’t have to grow in soil, which means your plants don’t have to expend the extra energy it takes to access those nutrients. Instead, nutrients are easily accessible through the roots of a cannabis plant being grown through the DWC hydroponic method. Ultimately, this promotes faster growth for the plant.
A bubbler bucket reservoir system is recommended if you’re going to implement the DWC system. This reservoir system allows plants to be suspended in a highly-nutrient, oxygen-dense solution. Check on your plants daily and watch them grow to monumental proportions before your eyes. Another tip is that if you’re using the DWC system, you can pick the strongest-looking females to continue growing by sectioning the reservoir ports and where they’re sending nutrients.
Gear that we often forget we’ll need for the DWC system is pH balanced water. Simple enough to remember but forgetting is a common mistake you’ll want to avoid making! Likewise, be careful about how many plants you keep in each reservoir. Too many plants in the same space can lead to white, powdery mildew, among other foul things.
Growing with Coco Coir
Especially for beginners, coco coir indoors is another great growing method. It takes the benefits of hydroponics and soil growing and combines them to create a superior, easier growing method. It’s different from regular soil growing thanks to the fibrous coconut husks used instead of potting mix. This causes rapid growth and a stimulated flowering time.
Growing with coco coir is far more forgiving than using the DWC method. When human errors are made, the shock stress can be reduced easier. Common mistakes like adding too many nutrients are a lot easier to come back from with this growing method. Likewise, the soil is more nutritious with this method. Oxygen is retained more efficiently because of the lighter texture of the method, plants can take up more nutrients, and moisture is absorbed more easily.
Additionally, growing with coco coir is easier to flush than using the DWC method. You aren’t changing out an entire water reservoir, sometimes every day, which means watering coco coir can be far more versatile. That is, you can use either a top water to waste system or a flood and drain hydroponic system. The top water to waste system, the most recognized out of the two, is simply the act of water your plant until water comes out of the bottom of the plant pot.
The flood and drain system is a little more complex, though it’s certainly nice gear to have if you’re growing your own legal cannabis plants. Controlled by a pump and timer, the flood and drain system is controlled by a pump and timer instead of dripping from above, like most hydroponic systems. This system temporarily floods from beneath the plant.
As far as gear you need for growing with coco coir instead of using the DWC method, the biggest recommendation is to get good quality coco coir. The quality of the coconut husks makes an immense, grand difference in the overall product. If you’re trying to stimulate aggressive root growth, use a 1:1 coco:perlite ratio to be able to water more frequently. This gives the plant a heavier nutrient intake, which only allows it to grow faster.
One of the most common gardening techniques, outdoor soil growing is no method to be laughed at. While it may not provide the superior quality that indoor growing can, there’s more versatility in the growing and watering techniques.
Important gear you’ll need to grow outdoors, first and foremost, is the right kind of organic soil. Regular dirt won’t get the job done! It’s not nutritionally packed enough, so you’ll need a nice organic mixture to get things going.
Likewise, you’ll need to decide which water technique you want to dive into. For outdoor growing, you can choose between wicks, deep irrigation, or top-fed watering, among other methods. They’re all viable methods to get your legal cannabis plants growing – it all comes down to preference and how much effort you want to exert on the project.
Even though you’ll need to consider how much effort you want to exert, outdoor soil growing is still possibly the lowest-maintenance option. Instead of continuously having to add nutrients, all you must do is make sure your organic soil base is nutritionally rich. Once you’ve got the base soil built up, you don’t have to do it again! That means less work for you.
However, don’t grow outdoors if you’re still trying to be stealthy with your growing practice. Whether legal or not, nosy neighbors is an entirely different beast that you may not want to deal with! The flavor and smell profile is likely going to be more intense if you’re growing outdoors, so just keep that in mind.
How to Germinate Cannabis Seeds
“Germination” is simply the process of a new plant growing from its seed. Before you start your lush cannabis garden, germination is the very first step. Online seed banks like Canna-Seed make it easy to find cannabis seeds that have the most genetic diversity and quality. Our seeds are always matured, and we label the ones that are feminized – cutting out more work you’d have to do trying to find the right mature seeds for your project.
A seed that’s ripe for growing should have a hard feel and be dark brown in appearance, with lighter accents throughout. We want to stray away from seeds that look green and feel fresh – unlike other types of vegetation, “fresh and green” are not the look our fully matured cannabis seeds should have.
Likewise, don’t start germinating until you’re confident in the space you have set aside for your cannabis plants. Whenever you have the room, you’ll need the following items to germinate through the best method possible: fully matured cannabis seeds, paper towels, and two clean plates.
Soak four sheets of paper towels in distilled water, ensuring that the towels are drenched but there’s no excess water running off them. Take two of these paper towels and place them on one plate. Spread the cannabis seeds out across this towel, ensuring that you stay at least an inch apart from any other seed. Cover the seeds with the remaining paper towels (that should still be soaked!)
Finally, take the second plate and flip it over the first plate and the seeds. This creates a dark, protected space for your babies to fully germinate and start sprouting. As a final note, make sure the space you’re germinating is always kept warm – you’re looking at anywhere between 70- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you’re completed these steps, it’s time to play the waiting game for when your seeds have germinated. Lift the plates every so often to peek at the paper towels inside. Make sure the paper towels stay sufficiently saturated – you don’t want your cannabis to dehydrate before it’s even finished sprouting. If you notice the paper towels start to lose their moisture, keep your seeds happy by applying more water.
There’s not an exact science for how long it takes cannabis seeds to germinate. On the contrary, each strain can be significantly different for its entire growing process. While some seeds take several days to germinate, others may spring up rapidly before you’ve even realized it.
Once a single sprout appears and the seed has split, this is a sign of a successful germination period. Once your plants are little sprouts ready to take on the world, they can be planted, and the cultivation process can finally be underway. With this knowledge coursing through you now, all you need is the seeds from Canna-Seed to start growing your legal marijuana plants.