Growing things need four elements: air, light, soil, and water. They also need an attentive gardener with a special interest in the plants’ potential. It’s true of cannabis, too.
People have been growing cannabis for centuries, forests of it grow anywhere the climate permits—and the law doesn’t know. Even the states that have approved grow, sale, and possess have restrictions on growing weed. But, millions have grown product at home and will continue to do so.
11 Indoor Growing Essentials
Growing cannabis indoors differs from cultivating an ordinary house plant. It takes the same time and attention you would put into raising orchids or African violets. The very air, light, soil, and water are different, too. So, here’s what you need to know to grow weed indoors.
1. Space: You need square footage and height for your plants. That space must contain the potential plant’s height and mass, as well as lighting and irrigation equipment. So, you don’t typically raise your pot on the windowsill,
The floor needs protection from water damage, and the sides should be white or a reflective material. You still need the space and odor protection if you are trying to hide it from your neighbors.
2. Light: You must select and install the lighting allowing for safe wiring and flexible placement. You have several options: CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light), HPS (High Pressure Sodium), or HID MH (High-Intensity Discharge Metal Halide). If you opt for CFL, you need 100 watts per plant. If you go the HPS or HID MH route, you want 250-400 watts.
Each plant needs its own lighting, and you must adjust the position as the plant grows. Cannabis likes light coming from all angles including under the leaves, branches, and buds.
3. Air: It’s the circulation that’s vital. You need well-placed fans to manage the room temperature, of course, because the light will make it hot. But, all parts of each plant need oxygen.
They do not like forceful air conditioning, but they need circulation coming from all corners. So, it takes some strategy to make the best use of the lighting and fans in the space before you plant.
4. Soil: If you are growing from seed, you must invest in 3- to 5-gallon plastic buckets for each plant. After you have poked five holes in the bottom for drainage, you will set the bucket on a tray or lid to catch the water.
For the sake of this discussion, the planting medium is dirt. Although there are synthetic media available, organic potting soil is the preferred method. Unless the packaging has the information needed, you will test for the soil’s pH Factor with a PH Meter. Watering and nutrients will change the soil’s quality and acidity, so you will be testing the pH regularly for a score between 6.0 and 7.0.
5. Seed: Before you buy, you must know what you are looking for. It might make sense to start plants in your currently favorite strain. But, you have the consider the seed genetics that govern height and mass. The best seed sources provide extensive growing instructions.
You should do some research on specific strains and how they grow. For example, they have bred dwarf plants to grow, short, and plump and flower automatically. And, you can expect feminized seeds to produce feminine plants.
6. Germinating: You must germinate the seeds before planting in the soil. The recommendation is to place them between sheets of damp paper towel. After an overnight stay, the seeds should start to issue a sprout through the husk. If nothing happens in five days of the same process, throw the seed away.
You gently plant each seed one-half inch deep in each container. Then, you cover with soil and pack it firmly but not tightly.
7. Clones: A clone is a plant started from a cutting of an established plant. You’ll find a variety at a legal cannabis dispensary. SFGate says, “The advantages would seem obvious, you know what strain it is, what you can expect for yield and strength. And for an indoor grower it shortens the entire cycle by a month or more.”
You can learn to cut and nurture your own clones, but they are sensitive and need careful attention to get them off to a good start.
8. Lighting: Cannabis plants need “training.” You need to light them to create their circadian rhythm. So, you must organize and automate your lighting, so it shines 16 hours/day and goes dark for 8 hours/day throughout the first two weeks.
After two weeks on that schedule, you add one hour of light each day up to 18- to 24-hours of light per day. Then, you trigger the flowering when you cut the light down to 12 hours on/12 hours off once the plants grow to their genetic height.
9. Segregation: Once plants reach this stage, you can recognize the male plants because of their pollen sacs. You don’t want them to fertilize the feminine plants, or they will give up their potency to produce seeds.
Male plants are required for developing new lines of cannabis if you are a breeder. They are also necessary, of course, to producing seeds to continue your “farm.” Such plans take some sophistication. Still, you can use them for juice, fiber, and hashish.
10. Feeding: Cannabis plants need nutrients, but this also creates some controversy. Because you will ingest the smoke or fumes or consume the plant by-products in edible forms, you risk assimilating the chemicals in artificial commercial nutrients.
You can prepare or purchase a solution of Nitrogen (30), Phosphorous (15) and Potassium (15) to feed plants in their growth stage. Once the plant starts flowering, you change that to N(15)-P(30)-P(30).
11. Watering: If you don’t want to invest in driplines and timers or your space just won’t permit, you still must water plants regularly. In the first two weeks after germination, you use distilled water without nutrients. And, while you want to soak the soil, you do not want to overwater.
Water when the soil is dry on the top. If the plants are colorful, vibrant, rigid, and strong, you are doing well.
Essentials beginning growers tend to forget
The growth, health, and harvest are in your hands. When growing your own, you have total control of input and outcomes. But, it takes your discipline to plan, schedule, and diary your performance and the plants’.