Table of contents
The Ultimate Guide to Grow Cannabis
- A Brief History on Cannabis Cultivation
- Indoor VS Outdoor
- Soil VS Hydroponics
- Cannabis Seeds
- Propagating your Cannabis Plants
- How to grow Cannabis Indoors
- Cannabis Growing Security Issues
- Controlling the Indoor Environment for your Cannabis Plants
- Vegging and Flowering of your Cannabis Plants
- Growing Cannabis with Hydroponics
- Growing Cannabis Plants Outdoors
- Basic Cannabis Plant Care
- Guerrilla Gardening
- Common Pests and Problems
- Harvesting and Storing your Cannabis Crop
- Photo Attribution
Introduction: The Ultimate Guide to Grow Cannabis
Cannabis is steadily becoming legalised around the world and this means that years of prohibition is coming to an end. The criminalisation of the Cannabis genus has led to a lack of information regarding the cultivation of high grade cannabis.
While the lifting of laws has opened up exciting avenues of research and new uses, there is also still a lot of cultivation knowledge to be gained. Cannabis breeding has already leapt forward in the last decade. However with the advent of legalisation, massive strides are being made in this area, particularly with regards to medical and recreational use.
More and more people around the world are starting to grow their own Cannabis whether it is for recreational or medical use. The truth is that home grown Marijuana is a lot healthier and keeps us away from dealers in the more shady parts of society.
Cannabis is legal in some countries and illegal in other. We will assume that readers of our blog will check their local laws before cultivating Cannabis. With all that said let us begin.
A Brief History on Cannabis Cultivation
Cannabis has been grown and used by the humans on planet earth as far back as recorded history. Grown by our ancestors for its many uses, Cannabis has spread across all of the known world.
In many parts of the world Cannabis grows naturally without the interference of man. Birds and animals eat the seeds, which ensures that they get spread. Our story began when we started to select and grow Cannabis genetics out of nature to start growing and breeding the various Cannabis crops we know today.
Cannabis plants belong to the genus in the family Cannabaceae and includes three species, C. sativa, C. indica, and C. ruderalis.
Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica genetics tends to grow tall plants with Sativa’s being the tallest. Some of these plants can easily reach over four meters in height. Many choose to grow Cannabis strains on the market today that are Indica/Sativa hybrids, a result of crossbreeding the two species.
Cannabis ruderalis is very short and has up to recently not featured much in Cannabis breeding. Autoflowering strains found on the market these days usually contain C. ruderalis genetics.
Some famous Cannabis sativa strains include the famous Acapulco Gold, from Mexico and also Colombian Gold from Colombia. Africa is also home to a lot of Sativa varieties like Congo Black and Swazi Gold, to name only a few. Many great Indica varieties originate from Afghanistan, India and Nepal. The species does not however limit itself to these countries.
Sexing Cannabis Plants
Another variable in breeding and cultivation to note is that like many other plants, Cannabis has both a male and female sex. This plays a large role in genetics.
Lastly, in nature Cannabis responds to the length of the day (light cycle) in regards to flowering. When it is spring and the days are getting longer the Cannabis plant will not show sex and simply grows. This is called the vegetative stage. Then, after the summer solstice when days get shorter, the plant receives the signal to start flowering in preparation for winter. This is known as the flowering stage. Growers simulate these conditions indoors by controlling the light cycles the plant receives.
Here are some pictures to help you get a clear indication of the difference between male and female Cannabis flowers.
When did we start to grow Cannabis indoors?
Some say that it was in Seattle, around the 60’s when people first started growing Cannabis indoors. This however is up to debate. Countries in Europe with low sunlight were also among the first to start experimenting with indoor growing.
Growers first used florescent lighting, however they quickly realized the benefits of using HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lights for flowering Cannabis plants. Growers use blue spectrum lighting to grow Cannabis in the vegetative stage, while HPS with its red spectrum is the main source of artificial lighting used to flower Cannabis indoors.
Cannabis has been legal in the Netherlands for a long time and a lot of indoor growing techniques that we use today were most likely developed there. The internet has also played a major role in Cannabis culture by connecting growers from around the world with each other. The USA has legalized Marijuana in 3 states (at the time of writing this) and there has been a surge of indoor Cannabis cultivation. We will look towards legal states as we begin a new age in indoor growing.
The time has never been better to start growing some of your own high quality Medicine.
Indoor VS Outdoor
When it comes to growing Marijuana one is usually faced with two options, grow it outside or grow it indoors. Both of these methods have their pro’s and con’s and the choice is ultimately up to the grower.
One of the main reasons that some people decide to grow Cannabis indoors is the fact that it is illegal in many areas. Indoor gardens are easily hidden and difficult to discover when growers keep their cultivation a secret. Controlling the environment is another reason why growers choose to grow Cannabis indoors.
In countries that receive very little sunshine, such as the United Kingdom, people tend to grow Cannabis indoors to get a better finished product than what can be obtained when growing Cannabis outside.
Growing Cannabis in the great outdoors can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a grower. There are however a few things that could potentially ruin an outdoor Cannabis crop if the growers do not tend to their plants accordingly. For instance a thunderstorm on the week of harvest would reduce resin content and even break branches off the trees and leave them covered in mud. To mitigate problems like these growers often build frames around their plants and cover them with greenhouse plastic or sheets to keep them safe from the thunderstorms.
Pro’s of Growing Cannabis Indoors
- When you grow Cannabis indoors it allows you to control all the factors concerning plant growth. This includes controlling the light, water, nutrients, temperatures, air circulation and the soil life.
- Indoor growers can induce the flowering stage whenever they choose. This is done by changing the light cycle to 12/12 (12 hours uninterrupted light followed by 12 hours uninterrupted darkness).
- More than one crop can be grown in a year resulting in multiple harvests.
- Indoor gardens are easier to hide from prying eyes. Security is paramount when you grow Cannabis in a country where it is not yet legal.
- Hiding the smell of your flowering Cannabis plants is easy to do indoors. Growers install carbon/charcoal filters in their grow room ventilation system to help mask the smell of flowering Cannabis plants.
- Indoor Cannabis plants are always exposed to direct light, which maximises growth, yield and potency.
- A lot more resin will coat the indoor Cannabis flowers as the rain will not disturb resin production.
- Pest control is easy in the indoor garden and there are usually less bugs indoors. Cleaning the growing space is simple and pests are easier to spot and deal with.
- Indoor growers can have a mother room where plants are constantly kept in the vegetative stage. Growers usually achieve this by supplying plants with the correct light cycle. The most popular light cycles for the vegetative stage are 18/6 (18 hours light followed by 6 hours darkness) and 24/0 (lights are kept on for 24 hours a day).
- Indoor growers can easily work with plants in all stages of development by having more than one grow-room. Mother plants and clones grow in the vegetative room, and plants that are old enough flower in the flowering room.
Con’s of Growing Cannabis Indoors
- The start up capital needed to grow indoors can be quite high. Buying or renting a property, electricity costs, growing equipment and maintenance all add to the cost of growing.
- Growing Cannabis indoors requires a person to learn and implement various skills in order to control the indoor environment.
- Failed crops costs the grower money and time.
- Dirty grow rooms invite a wide arrays of problems from bugs to leaf mold.
- Temperatures can be difficult to control, depending on where the grow room is located.
Pro’s of Growing Cannabis Outdoors
- Growing Cannabis outside is generally less expensive than growing indoors.
- Outdoor Cannabis plants usually yield more. When you grow Cannabis outdoors you will produce a lot more fruit per plant. Outdoor plants that bask the whole day in sunlight will grow much bigger than when grown under artificial lighting.
- Outdoor plants usually grow a lot more vigorously than than indoor plants and maintaining a healthy crop is quite easy.
- Some people live close to public areas and simply grow a “guerilla garden” there.
- A lot of medical patients report good results when using medicine that is grown under the sun.
- Cannabis plants that are growing in a greenhouse environment usually thrive and produce an abundance of high quality flowers.
- Beneficial insects may help control pest problems in organic outdoor gardens.
- It is easier to grow Cannabis organically outside.
- It is easy to hide Cannabis plants among other plants like tomatoes and corn for example.
Con’s of Growing Cannabis Outdoors
- Cannabis growing in a public area can be subject to discovery.
- Neighbors could smell the Cannabis flowers if their house is to close to the garden.
- In order to grow Cannabis outdoors one needs to be in the right area. Cannabis requires a lot sunlight and to ensure a good harvest, try to keep the rain off your Cannabis flowers.
- Some Cannabis flowers can develop mold or fungus on the flowers if the humidity is to high during the end of flowering.
- Strong winds can also damage Cannabis flowers as well as cover them with dirt, twigs, leaves and even other plants seeds.
- In dry areas constantly watering the plants might burden the outdoor grower. Plants that suffer from too much heat and not enough water usually produce inferior Cannabis or worse die.
- Severe cold spells can damage Cannabis plants and even kill them.
Should I Grow Cannabis Outside or Indoors?
Before one decides where to grow your own Cannabis ask yourself these questions.
Where can I safely grow Cannabis?
Everybody will have different answers to this question.
Do you own your house? If this is the case you might decide to grow in the basement or close up a spare bedroom and grow in there.
When thinking about growing outdoors consider a few things, how close is the neighbor’s house, can the neighbor see your plants, etc. Try to use your logic and you might find the perfect outdoor spot in your own garden.
Are you busy renting your house? If you answered yes to this, then you might consider that your landlord may discover you Cannabis crop. Many growers however choose to grow in their cupboards or attic as the landlord hardly goes in there. Others simply close off a room and change the locks, this way the landlord can’t go snooping around when you are not at home. Installing a carbon filter to remove any unwanted odors will also help here.
Growing outdoors in a rental property is similar, use your logic and you should find a decent spot to grow Cannabis in your backyard. Please keep in mind that the landlord can foil the best made plans of growers.
Some growers prefer to find a public area close to them and create a “guerilla garden”. This method can be by far the cheapest and safest way to grow Cannabis, however the harvest is not always guaranteed. Guerilla growers ensure their harvests by finding and growing in hard to reach areas. When you create a garden behind a overgrown thorn bush nobody will try to find it.
When it comes to where to grow Cannabis, just give it some thought and the answers will come to you.
How Much Will It Cost?
Growing the best Cannabis does come with its own costs associated with it. Firstly, lets take a look at the costs which can be incurred growing Cannabis indoors.
To Grow Cannabis Indoors
Renting or buying a property is usually one of the biggest costs associated with growing. Although few growers actually buy houses just to grow in, we do however buy houses to live in. After rent another reoccurring expense for indoor growers is the electricity bill. Use an “Electricity Cost Calculator” online to work out how much power your lights and equipment will use. This is quite easy to do, just add up all the power that your grow room will use and enter it into the calculator. Buying quality Cannabis seeds can also be pricey.
Cannabis growing equipment has really come a long way and there are tons of things that indoor growers can spend money on. An example is hydroponic cultivation systems. Most of them require quite a bit of capital to buy brand new. To navigate this cost, some growers choose to build D.I.Y hydroponic systems in order to save money. Hydroponic systems also have a running cost which includes buying new growing medium, nutrients and the replacement of any broken working parts. This is an ongoing cost.
Many indoor growers prefer to build their own living soil to grow in. Growing in soil can become an expensive hobby when there are hundreds of plants that need soil. There are many costs associated with building your own soil, such as coco peat or peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, alfalfa meal, kelp, worm castings, bat guano and even insect frass, to name only a few. When growers re-build their soil for every crop it may become quite expensive. Building your own soil will be discussed in detail throughout this growing guide.
We would advise people with a limit budget to start small and only grow more Cannabis plants when they are happy with the quality of the finished product.
To Grow Cannabis Outdoors
Mother nature surely produces some of the finest Marijuana with the greatest grow bulb ever, the sun.
As we mentioned above, the greatest cost associated with growing Cannabis outdoors would be renting or buying a property. Some growers may choose to grow Cannabis in hydroponic systems outdoors. These systems can be pricey and growers may choose to build D.I.Y hydroponic systems for their outdoor garden. Buying Cannabis genetics (seeds) can also be a costly affair.
When growing outdoors in pots there will be some cost involved. Most common gardening pots for sale are inexpensive, however growers could decide to buy “smart pots” or something similar. Outdoor growers can spend a lot of money on amendments for their soil. As we mentioned in the indoor section above, there are countless amendments to add to the living soil arsenal these days.
To take your outdoor Cannabis cultivation to the next level you might consider building yourself a greenhouse. Greenhouses can be fairly cheap to construct, although the best performing greenhouses will require some capital. Growers like to install industrial extractor fans and even add additional HPS lighting to their greenhouse. All this will add to the bill of growing medical grade Cannabis outdoors.
Buying additional nutrients is something that many outdoor growers decide on to help increase yield, flavor and potency. We would advise you to choose organic nutrients that will help improve your living soil over time.
In a nutshell growing Cannabis is like any other hobby, you will always find some goodies to spend money on. Like always just use your brain and you should come out under budget when growing outdoors.
Guerrillas Grow For Free?
Slashing their way through overgrown thorn bushes, searching for the hidden spots on land that is not their own, the Guerrillas sometimes farm with massive Cannabis trees, practically for free.
“Guerrilla Gardening” is a term used for Cannabis growers that go on to public land close to them in order to find hidden places in nature to grow their crops. These places are ideally hard to reach, there should be good soil and a water source near by.
Seeing that many of these grower will also have to buy seeds or clones in order to get started it is not really completely free. Some places will require the grower to drive or hike there which also costs some money.
Indoor Vs Outdoor: Costs Summary
Indoor growing is generally considered to be a more costly operation than outdoor cultivation. This is due to the necessity – rather than option in the case of outdoor growing – of equipment, tech and electricity. Without lights and the other essentials, no one is going to grow anything indoors. In contrast outdoor growing can rely solely on the energy of the sun and the effort of the grower, and additional lighting is a choice rather than an imperative.
That said, high end state of the art green houses can cost into the millions, particularly if the crop grown is for medical purposes and is on a large scale. So as you can see, the amount of money required to cultivate good crops is ultimately dependent on the individual grower and situation.
On a final note, capital input is one way to help guarantee success. However tight capital combined with enthusiasm and innovation is also sometimes the best recipe for success and practical methods.
No matter what method Cannabis growers choose, the quality of their product usually offsets the money that was spent growing the flowers.
Soil VS Hydroponics
This could very well be one of the most discussed topics in Cannabis cultivation culture today. Each method contains a myriad of other methods and ultimately defines what kind medicinal or recreational crop we will produce. Each method has merit when applied correctly, however the most beautiful crops can also be decimated when growers are not diligent in applying any method.
Lets take a look at the key differences between the two growing methods.
How to Grow Cannabis in Soil
Cannabis plants thrive when grown in a well drained soil with a PH between 6 and 7. Soil should have well balanced levels of trace elements, however growers will always benefit from adding extra calcium and magnesium to the soil.
Many Cannabis cultivation enthusiasts create their own composting systems and worm farms in order to provide their plants with all the nutrients and micro nutrients that Cannabis plants need. In these kinds of systems the growers can meticulously add exactly what their cannabis plants require. The worms and composting microbes ensure that all materials are broken down and can be used by the plants.
It is important to note that this kind of gardening relies on the microbial activity in the soil to feed and nourish the plant. Organic nutrients can get used on these living soil systems to further enhance the flowers of the Cannabis plant. Some non organic nutrients might have adverse effects on the microbial life of the living micro organisms that reside in your soil.
We always advise growers to try to stay organic, it is better for you and for our planet. With this said growers do use non organic nutrients with soil growing and swear by it to increase their yield. Some organic growers report a smoother, tastier smoke from their efforts, while other growers will claim that their non organic buds are the best.
Should I Grow Organic Cannabis?
However it can not be contested that organic Cannabis flowers are of more benefit for the medical user. Growers who are cultivating for profit are more likely to use non organic fertilization methods in an effort to maximize weight of yield and minimize costs.
Growers who are concerned solely with quality will usually avoid exposing their plants to chemical additives. Keep in mind that most growers also flush their Cannabis crops before harvesting the flowers. “Flushing” plants a week or two before harvest can remove a lot of non organic nutrients from your plants.
Experiment with growing in soil and you will soon find out what your Cannabis flowers will live and thrive in.
How to Create a Living Soil
Living soil refers to the intricate web of micro organisms that make up soil life. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes as well as larger creatures like worms and slugs make up healthy living soil.
If you are lucky enough to live within spade’s reach of nature, we would advise any new grower to collect some soil from the great outdoors. Dig up some soil next to a very old tree in a fertile valley, organic vegetable garden or in a forest, this will ensure that you have almost all the micro organisms needed to ensure a living soil.
In order to create your own living soil you will need to add certain amendments to ensure that microbial life will thrive.
Living Soil Amendments
Here is a list of the basic amendments we would add to the soil collected from under the old tree. This is to ensure that we create a healthy super soil mix that is teaming with microbial activity.
- Worm Castings – Contains humic acid which aids in nutrient absorbsion.
- Blood Meal – High source of nitrogen, this is very good for the vegetative stage of the Cannabis plant.
- Bat Guano (high in phosphorus) – Very good for the flowering stage of the Cannabis plant, as well as for leaf development.
- Fish Bone Meal – Source of amino acids, phosphorus as well as nitrogen.
- Azomite – Contains trace minerals which are an additional food source for the microbial life residing in your soil.
- Kelp Meal – Helps with root stimulation and the health of the Cannabis plants.
- Oyster Shell – Very rich source of calcium however it does take time to break down in the soil and become available to plants.
- Bone Meal – As a slow-release fertilizer it primarily acts as a source of phosphorus, protein and calcium. It will take about a month to become available to plants.
- Alfalfa Meal – Great source of nitrogen, phosphorus as well as potassium. Also known to stimulate root growth and flower development.
Please note that when ingredients are first mixed to the soil it is considered a “hot mix”. Growers wait 30 – 60 days after adding their amendments in order for the mix to “cool down” and then plant their plants. This ensures that all the nutrients and trace minerals in the super soil mix will be available to your plants.
Extra Amendments For Living Soil
In addition to the above amendments we would also recommend adding a few more to your soil.
- Gypsum or Dolomite Lime – Adds calcium and magnesium to your soil in order to assist in balancing the soil PH. We prefer to use gypsum but Dolomite Lime works great.
- Rock Dust – Contains more than 50 trace minerals.
- Epsom Salt – Adds more magnesium to your soil in the form of magnesium sulfate. It also aids in the absorption of phosphorous and potassium.
- Crab Shells – Crab shell is high in chitin, which promotes the growth of chitin eating bacteria in the soil. It is also a source of calcium and magnesium and helps to keep moisture in the soil. Crab Shells are usually crushed up before being added to the soil.
- Perlite – Helps with drainage and creates more a more airy soil, paramount for rapid root and plant development.
- Humic Acid – Acts as a soil buffer allowing the soil to hold more nutrients in the root zone. Also found in worm castings.
- Mycorrhizae – A good fungi that form symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with plants.
The ratios of all the different amendments will be outlined later on in the guide when we discuss the different super soil recipes.
Living Super Soil Recipes
Super soil mixes should rest for about 6 – 10 weeks to ensure that all the amendments are available for your plants. Some growers only wait 4 weeks and some add their “hot mix” at the bottom of the planting container from the start.
Super soil mixes are fed ONLY WATER as all the nutrients that your Cannabis plant will need is already contained within the soil. We will discuss soil that can be fed with bottled nutrients later on in this section.
Subcool’s Super Soil Recipe
- 8 x 1.5 cubic feet (roughly 8 x 20 liters) of high quality base soil. This can be purchased or found in nature. We use 4 types of soil as our base soil. We collect from the forest floor, mountain valley, underneath a old tree and soil from the vegetable garden.
- 1 x 33 lbs bag (1 x 15 kg bag) worm castings. Growers should try to use the highest grade of worm castings available to them. The brands that feed their worms crab shell are especially recommended to grow Cannabis.
- 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) fish bone meal.
- 3 cups (710 ml) kelp meal.
- 5 lbs (2.3 kg) high phosphorus bat guano.
- 3 cups (710 ml) oyster shell.
- 5 lbs (2.3 kg) blood meal.
- 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) bone meal.
- 3 cups (710 ml) alfalfa meal.
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) epsom salt.
- 1 cup (250 ml) dolomite lime.
- 2 cups (500ml) azomite.
- 2 tablespoons (12 ml) humic acid.
Add your amendments to your base soil and mix it very, very thoroughly. Keep soil in bags or buckets for 6 to 10 weeks until it is activated.
We would advise to add perlite to your soil in order to supply better drainage and provide more airation to the root system. When using soil acquired from nature add between 20% to 50% perlite to your activated soil mix before planting.
Subcool On His Super Soil Recipe
A lot of theses ingredients can be sourced from nature or easily purchased, whichever your choose your Cannabis plants will love you for it. The key to thriving gardens is to experiment with different methods until you know what works in your area for your strains.
Deciding What Soil Recipes
Growing Cannabis in soil is really not limited to any one soil mix as you are about to find out. Some growers choose to use bottled nutrients to provide their plants with all their needed nutrition.
Some of us like to re-cycle our soil, adding some amendments after every crop in order to build the soil up over time. Having perfectly aerated soil is the challenge of many a new grower and this area could take some experimenting with before finding the sweet spot.
Some growing mediums like coco peat are naturally very airy and are the choice of many growers. However when mixed with too much organic soil one could experience PH problems. When growing in soil we would advise to use perlite as aeration medium as it is easy to come by, however rice hulls is a great alternative for perlite. Let’s take a look at some more soil mixes.
Trusted Soil Recipe To Grow Cannabis
This recipe was started by Clackamas Coots and many growers apply it to grow nice organic harvests.
- 30% Sphagnum Peat Moss, Coco Coir or Leaf-mold.
- 30% High Quality Worm Castings
- 40% Perlite, Rice Hulls or Lava Rocks for aeration.
The above mix is a very aerated soil mix and will allow for a lot of drainage, however the grower will find that they need to water their plants more often. For a less aerated mix you can use the following.
- 40% Sphagnum Peat Moss, Coco Coir or Leaf-mold.
- 35% High Quality Worm Castings
- 25% Perlite, Rice Hulls or Lava Rocks for aeration.
The next step is to add our amendments along with trace minerals.
Add 1/2 cup of the following per cubic foot to the above base mix.
- Neem Cake and/or Karanja Cake (NPK, micro nutrients and reported bug defense all in one)
- Kelp Meal (NPK, micro nutrients, growth hormones and many other benefits)
- Crustacean Meal (Crab and/or Shrimp Meal) (Calcium, Nitrogen and Chitin along with other benefits)
Next add 1 cup of the following per cubic foot of the base mix.
- Glacial Rock Dust (diverse assortment of minerals)
- Gypsum (Calcium and Sulfur)
- Oyster Shell Flour (highly available Calcium to help buffer PH of the peat moss)
- Basalt (Paramagnetic Rock Dust from lava flow that is high in micro nutrients)
The soil mix should be allowed to rest for 6 to 10 weeks before it gets used for growing.
Soil Recipes To Grow Cannabis With Bottled Nutrients
There are many growers that prefer to feed their plants a particular feeding schedule of bottled nutrients. There are many organic and non organic bottled nutrients to choose from. Most basic nutrients come in 3 parts, grow, bloom and micro.
This should supply your Cannabis plant with all the nutrients it needs providing you follow the feeding schedule. There are many nutrients that have more than 3 parts, we will discuss bottled nutrients further later on in this guide.
Basic Soil Recipes
The following soil mixes are quite basic and therefore also cheap, which is always good.
- 40% Sphagnum Peat Moss
- 30% Perlite
- 30% High Quality Worm Castings
- Dolomite lime or gypsum
- 30% High Quality Worm Castings. High quality worm castings usually contain the correct ratio of carbon to nitrates. The brands that feed their worms crab shells or meal are especially sought after.
- 70% Coco Peat. Coco peat must be rinsed or it will influence the PH during the growing phase. Soak the coco peat and if the water has a brown color you need to flush the coco peat until the water is clear.
- Dolomite lime or gypsum.
It is important to note that dolomite lime or gypsum should be added to the above soil mixes to help control the PH. This will also act as a supply of calcium and magnesium for the plants.
Let your soil mix rest for 2 to 4 weeks to ensure that beneficial microbes from the worm castings will spread through it. Brew a nice organic compost tea for your plants in their first week. This will seed your soil with all the micro organisms that your plants will need.
These are considered to be light mixes and you will be able to use your bottled nutrients as directed by the manufacturer without complications. Please make sure that your bottled nutrients contain all the micro and macro nutrients that Cannabis plants need to grow.
Soil Recipe To Grow Cannabis Seedlings
Sprouts and younger Cannabis plants will require less nutrients, however they still enjoy good drainage and a well aerated soil medium. Here are some soil mix recipes that will be good for your seedlings.
Seedling Mix 1
- 5 parts compost. This needs to be well rotted compost, at least 6 months old.
- 4 parts topsoil or loam. Again we would go and find some good soil in nature, perhaps in a fertile mountain valley.
- 1-2 parts sharp sand.
- 1-2 parts leaf mold. Collect some rotting leaves from the forest or compost your own leaves for leaf mold.
- 1 part sphagnum peat moss.
- 2 teaspoons of lime.
Seedling Mix 2
- 2 parts sifted compost
- 4 parts sphagnum peat moss
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part vermiculite
- 4 oz (4 x 28g) lime
Seedling Mix 3
This is considered to be the standard seed starting mix for Cannabis.
- 50 to 75 percent sphagnum peat moss.
- 25 to 50 percent vermiculite.
- 5 lbs (2.3 kg) ground limestone per cubic yard of soil mix.
Organic Seedling Mix 1
- 6 gallons of sphagnum peat moss.
- 1/4 cup of lime.
- 4.5 gallons of vermiculite.
- 4.5 gallons of compost.
Then add one and a half cup of the following fertility mix.
- 2 cups colloidal phosphate.
- 2 cups greensand.
- 1/2 cup bonemeal.
- 1/4 cup kelp.
Organic Seedling Mix 2
- 10 gallons of 2 year old leaf mold sifted.
- 5 to 10 gallons of sphagnum peat moss.
- 10 gallons of sifted compost.
- 5 gallons perlite.
- 5 gallons coarse river sand.
- 2 cups blood meal
- 6 cups bone meal
These seedling soil mixes are also great when growing your Cannabis plants with bottled nutrients.
Amendments To Grow Cannabis In Soil
A lot of growers will make the mission and collect a lot of what they need for their soil mix from nature, however a lot of us will simply have to buy many of the amendments we need.
When buying your amendments please note that not all products are created equal and a lot of products out there could contain chemicals that you would rather not ingest. Do some research before purchasing any product for your soil mix.
A good example is dolomite lime or gypsum as it is literally just ground up rocks. A lot of commercial lime might not be absorbed so easily by your Cannabis plants. Experiment with different brands and remember that some of the best goodies are found in nature, like the humble crab for instance.
If you have any questions about any of these soil recipes feel free to ask us in the comment section below. We will be adding more information to this section but for now it is on to hydroponic gardening.
How to grow Cannabis with hydroponics
Hydroponics is the method used to grow plants in a soil-less growing medium. Many agricultural commercial farmers choose to grow their vegetable crops with hydroponic systems.
Needless to say a lot of Cannabis farmers love using hydroponic systems to grow their Marijuana. Some of the reasons include explosive growth rates, cleaner environment for plants, healthy plants and being able to feed the plants according to any nutrient schedule the grower chooses.
Popular soil-less growing mediums include Coconut Fiber, Coconut Chips, Expanded Clay Pellets (also called Grow Rocks or Hydrocorn), Rockwool, Perlite and Vermiculite.
Growing Cannabis with hydroponic systems is usually for the more advanced grower, however many first time growers have had great success. We would advise any grower that wants to grow hydroponics to buy themselves a electronic PH and EC tester. This will help you avoid many of the pitfalls hydroponic gardeners may face.
We would advise any new growers that want to try growing without soil for the first time to start small. When you have success on a small scale you can spend more money and scale up your hydroponic system. Most failures occur due to negligence and a lack of proper research on the subject.
Hydroponic Growing Systems
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
This is the hydroponic technique in which a film of nutrient rich water is continuously flowing through the Cannabis plant’s root system. Plants are held in small containers with a soil-less medium such as clay pellets or rock wool cubes. Some growers simply place big rock wool cubes in the system in order to grow Cannabis plants hydroponically.
How Does Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponics Work?
In an ideal NFT hydroponic system the table or gully on which the water flows should not be to deep. This kind of a hydroponic system allows a thick mat of roots to grow and good aeration to the roots is achieved. This kind of hydroponic system allows for explosive growth as there is very little growing medium for plants to contend with.
Water is stored in a reservoir and continuously recirculated over the plant’s roots. A nutrient solution containing all the macro and micro nutrients that the Cannabis plants would need is mixed into the reservoir. The reservoir is usually changed once a week with new water and the nutrient solution at the correct strength.
Water should not contain any chlorine, but chlorinated water can be left for 24 hours with an aquarium bubbler to remove the chlorine. Rain water contains no chlorine and is the preferred choice to grow Cannabis with, however high quality well, borehole and tap water can also be used.
With drip irrigation hydroponic systems the water and nutrient solution gets delivered via dripper tubes to the plants. There are three main hydroponic drip irrigation systems, they are recirculating drip systems, gravity fed drip systems and feed to waste drip systems.
How Do Recirculating Hydroponic Drip Systems Work?
In the recirculating drip system water is delivered to the plants from the reservoir with a pump. Most reservoirs have an air-pump with a air-stone to aerate the water. The water and nutrient solution drains back into the reservoir after it is pumped to the plants. Dripper lines are installed for every plant in order to supply all the plants with nutrients.
Gravity fed drip systems are a lot more simple and inexpensive to set up. The reservoir containing water and nutrients is located above the garden. Dripper lines are installed for each plant in order to assure the whole garden will get watered. Gravity fed drip systems are usually manually operated, however they can be automated.
In the feed to waste drip system water with nutrients is usually pumped to plants via dripper lines. Instead of running back to the reservoir the water runs off into separate container (for the outdoor vegetable or Cannabis plants), to the garden or simply down the drain. This system guarantees that plants are always fed clean PH balanced nutrient rich water.
Deep Water Culture (DWC)
Also known as Direct Water Culture, Deep Water Culture is a simple yet very efficient hydroponic system. Fairly inexpensive to set up and easy to maintain, along with super fast plant growth, DWC is a favorite among hydroponic Cannabis growers.
How Does Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponics Work?
A number of growing mediums get used in DWC hydroponic systems, however expanded clay pebbles is the recommended medium. Plants are suspended above an aerated reservoir in netted pots and the roots grow down into the aerated nutrient solution. The reservoir is topped up with nutrient rich water when the level gets low.
DWC hydroponic systems can be used to grow very big plants indoors as the roots can fill up an entire bucket. These kinds of systems are recommended for first time hydroponic growers. In a DWC system you could harvest a bumper crop by following your hydroponic nutrient solution’s feeding schedule.
Bubbleponics is a variation of the DWC hydroponic bucket system. The two systems are almost identical, however in the bubbleponic system the nutrient solution is also continuously drip fed to the top of the plant from the reservoir.
Expanded clay pebbles stand out as the recommended medium for bubbleponic systems. However growers are always free to experiment.
In the bubbleponics system the roots grow effortlessly in the aerated nutrient solution as well as receiving water from the top. This allows plants to spend a lot more energy on producing vegetative growth, and as a result gardeners experience explosive growth rates.
Recirculating Deep Water Culture (RDWC)
Growers that start off growing in DWC buckets usually move over to RDWC when they want to scale up and or want a more manageable system. One of the main reasons for this is that DWC buckets heat up and to place chillers in 20 buckets is unrealistic.
What is the difference between DWC and RDWC
Recirculating deep water culture usually combines four or more buckets that are connected to a main reservoir with a chiller. The water then constantly recirculates and cools itself down in the main reservoir. This system is easily managed when in the correct working order.
In order to achieve maximum growth rates for the Cannabis plants each bucket has a air-stone installed and water is constantly oxygenated. PH and nutrient levels are controlled via the main reservoir which makes growing healthy hydroponic Cannabis plants quite easy.
DIY Recirculating Deep Water Culture (RDWC) Tutorial
Follow Blazeoneup’s tutorial when considering to build your own RDWC system to grow Cannabis, good luck!
Here are some videos about Recirculating Deep Water Culture hydroponic systems to give you an better understanding of their workings.
“Under Current” Recirculating Deep Water Culture (RDWC) system
Ebb And Flow
Another popular hydroponic system used to grow Cannabis these days is the “Ebb and Flow”, also called “Flood and Drain” system. The basic idea is that growing tables gets flooded with a nutrient solution and then drained back into the main reservoir.
How Does Ebb And Flow Hydroponics Work?
Ebb and flow hydroponic systems can easily be constructed and D.I.Y. tutorials are found all over the internet. A wide variety of growing mediums are suitable, such as expanded clay pellets, rockwool, perlite and coco peat.
Growers report minimum problems and the that learning curve is not so steep. However as with some other hydroponic systems one needs diligence to grow like a pro. This is another hydroponic system that can easily be scaled up to grow more plants.
When talking about aeroponics growers refer to the process of growing plants with their root systems suspended in mist. The nutrient solution is misted onto the root zone periodically causing rapid root and plant development.
How Does Aeroponic Systems Work?
Roots suspended in a mist of nutrient solution grow effortlessly and are usually very healthy, this is due to the abundance of oxygen available to the roots. Another bonus of this system is that anaerobic bacteria responsible for root rot find it very difficult to live in a high oxygen zone.
Aeroponic systems require constant monitoring. as the plants would die if there was no water misted onto their roots. Aeroponic systems act as a good step up for the already experienced hydroponics grower. Like always, start small and scale up when you are happy with your flower production.
One of the older hydroponic systems around, growers use wicks to transport water and nutrients to their plants. The wick system also has non hydroponic applications when gardeners grow Cannabis, however it is possible to grow in a soil less medium with a wick system.
This is by far the hydroponic system with the least moving parts. Growers could leave their gardens for a week at a time, however we would hardly recommend this!
Bubbling To Grow Cannabis With Hydroponics?
You should have a good idea about the different hydroponic systems used today to grow Cannabis after this section. We will discuss growing with hydroponics in detail later on in this guide.
Again we would advise anybody planning to grow Cannabis with hydroponics to invest in a electronic PH and EC meter. This will help you to measure the PH and EC of your nutrient solution on the fly.
When it comes to nutrients there is a wide variety available today and growers can choose from a range of brands and products. There are also hydroponic nutrient brands that claim to be organic so keep an eye out for that if you like a smoother smoke or a better medicinal crop.
Most hydroponic systems could fail due to wrong PH, wrong EC or not enough air to the root zone.
Aside from becoming a master grower, Cannabis genetics might be one of the biggest factors limiting anybody from growing top shelf smoke. For many years now Cannabis breeders across the world have been collecting, breeding and sharing the genetics of certain strains in order to create a multitude of hybrids.
Let’s start at the beginning. In order to create some of the strains we know today, growers collected seeds from different countries. The term for these is land-race Cannabis strains.
Let’s say for example the guys at Sensi Seeds collected ten thousand land-race seeds in Afghanistan. They would grow out a thousand seeds at a time and select only the best ten female Cannabis plants to make seeds with. After the ten thousand seeds were grown out only a hundred would be selected to continue the breeding process.
From those hundred selected Afghani plants another ten thousand seeds would be grown out and again only the best 100 would be selected. By doing selective breeding the breeders have seriously improved the Cannabis strains that were available 30 years ago.
Since the internet made it possible for people to trade and sell seeds online the industry has grown quite big with hundreds if not thousands of seed companies. With new seed companies popping up every day it is good to be cautious and do your research about where you buy your seeds.
If you are a medical user or lucky enough to live in a state where Cannabis is legal you could just buy seeds from your trusted dispensary. Most people however will buy their Cannabis genetics on the internet.
On our Buy Cannabis Seeds page you can find some strains and companies that we recommend. Do some research about the strains you want to buy and see if anybody has grown that strain. You can search for “grow journal” and your strain that you are looking at and see if anybody has grown it.
Buying Cannabis Seeds Online
When purchasing seeds online you will be able to choose from a lot of different attributes, such as indica 40%/sativa 60%, flowering time and so on. Let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider when buying Cannabis seeds online.
- Breeder: The person or company that bred the particular Cannabis strain that you are looking at. We would advise researching different breeders. The best test is usually to buy a few and grow them out.
- Seed Type: Here you can choose between regular or feminized. Regular seeds will germinate male and female plants whereas feminized seeds will be all female plants.
- Available As Single Seed: Some seed companies allow their clients to buy single seeds, this is great if you just want to sprout a few beans to see what its about.
- Flowering Period Type: This is usually to distinguish between autoflowering Cannabis strains and the regular strains that need the 12/12 photo period.
- Indica/Sativa: To indicate whether a plant is indica, sativa or a hybrid. Some companies will even include a indica/sativa ratio such as 40% Indica/60% Sativa.
- Enviroment: Can the grower grow the seeds indoors or outdoors.
- Strength/THC Levels: This is to indicate how strong or how much THC the particular Cannabis strain has.
- Yield: Breeders like to give their clients an idea of how much they can expect to harvest, however any plants that are not cared for won’t yield well.
- Experience required: This is to indicate the growing difficulty of the particular strain.
- Medical Strain: Is this a medical Cannabis strain and if so what conditions is it suitable for.
- Indoor Flowering Time: Indication of how long growers need to flower the Cannabis plants after switching to the 12/12 light cycle.
Do I Have To Buy From A Seed Company?
The quick answer here is no, you don’t have to buy seeds in order to get good Cannabis genetics. However buying from a reputable seed company should be the quickest and easiest way to grow Cannabis with good genes.
That said, some of the legendary strains around today came from seeds in a bag of weed that was bought. You might have heard of Chemdawg ’91 allegedly responsible for strains like NYC Sour Diesel.
Bagseed usually means seeds from Cannabis flowers that one has bought, was gifted or collected in nature. The rule of thumb when it comes to bagseed is this, if the product was good the seeds should be good as well.
Parents carry over their genetic traits to the next generation, however the ultimate test is to sprout the seeds and grow them. Growers can further improve their Cannabis genetics by educating themselves about breeding.
There are forums online where growers trade and sell their Cannabis seeds. You might want to ask friends that smoke or that make Cannabis edibles to keep seeds found in the good buds they buy, especially when it came from a medical dispensary.
We will discuss sprouting and growing your Cannabis seeds in the next section.
Propagating Your Cannabis Plants
When we talk about propagating Cannabis plant you might think we are referring to germinating seeds, however with propagation of the plants we refer to the entire growing cycle from seed to harvest.
Before you jump in and start propagating your Cannabis plants you should ask yourself a few questions about your grow.
- Where will you grow, inside or outside?
- How will you germinate your Cannabis seeds?
- Will you use containers or a raised bed?
- What size will the containers be that you choose?
- Will you grow from seeds or clones/cuttings?
- Would you select a mother plant to take future clones?
- You might want to make more seeds for your future crops.
- Will you grow in soil or hydroponics?
- What kind of hydroponic system will you use?
- Types of hydroponic nutrients that you would like to use.
- Will you grow organic Cannabis.
These are just a few questions that a grower should ask themselves before attempting to propagate any Cannabis plants. In order to grow Cannabis of the highest caliber a grower must be prepared for any situation. These kinds of questions will help you be better prepared.
Let’s take a look at some of the questions asked above.
Should Grow Cannabis From Seeds Or Clones/Cuttings?
Both of these methods have their pro’s and con’s and most growers tend to choose either one of these options or both. Seeds can be bought online and clones can be bought from dispensaries or other growers, however many people source their clones from friends for free.
Grow Cannabis From Seeds
When we buy seeds to grow Cannabis it can turn out to be expensive with seeds ranging anywhere from $3 to $12 a seed. A good option is to buy ten or twenty regular Cannabis seeds from a strain that you would like to grow. Sprout all the seeds and select the healthiest and most vigorous male to pollinate the female plants from the same batch of seeds. Pollen from the male plant can also be harvested and stored for later use.
You can easily make a hundred to two thousand seeds in a single batch depending on how long you leave the male to pollinate the female. The longer you leave the male the more seeds your female plants will produce. Seeds take about two to four weeks to mature depending on strain and the health of the plant.
Remember to ONLY do this if you don’t want to buy seeds for your future crops. Most growers kill the males before pollination to ensure that they get a seedless crop, and merely buy seeds again for their next crop. The crop with seeds will not be the best smoke, but it will ensure that you have countless seedless crops, practically for free.
Making seeds and giving them to friends to grow will ensure that we always have genetic diversity when it comes to Cannabis genetics.
Grow Cannabis From Clones/Cuttings
Growers usually buy ten or more Cannabis seeds from a particular strain and grow them out. Male Cannabis plants get killed and all female plants get cloned and labelled.
Once the clones have rooted growers usually take their new clones/cuttings to the vegetative room, or veg room. Here the light cycle is 24/0 or 18/6 ensuring that the clones will not continue to flower and remain in vegetative growth. After having grown, harvested and cured their flowers, the growers will decide on which plants to keep for their mother plants.
Mother plants are used to take future clones/cuttings from. Growers decide on different traits and then choose their mother plants accordingly. Yield, flavor, growth rate and potency are usually key traits to focus on when choosing a mother plant.
Many people live in legal climates and simply purchase some clones of whichever strains they prefer. There is usually a good supply of clones and many growers choose to use this avenue. Buy your clones from a reputable source and you are sure to get top shelf genetics.
How To Germinate Cannabis Seeds
A viable Cannabis seed should germinate easily when given the right condition like most other seeds from flowers or vegetables. However growers have developed many different ways to germinate their seeds, some with more success than others. It is only natural when buying seeds to try and get very high germination rate.
Germinate Cannabis Seeds In Soil
To mimic nature we prefer to germinate our seeds directly in soil. Using a moist light soil mix (seedling mix) that is well aerated we usually germinate 8 to 9 out of every 10 seeds that we plant.
Moisten your light soil mix before planting your Cannabis seeds with a water sprayer. Soil should be wet to your touch but not be so wet that it becomes muddy. Using a well draining, well aerated light soil mix when germinating seeds will help with over watering.
Using the greenhouse method growers can push their success rate up to a hundred percent germination. In order to implement this method cover your small container that you planted your seed in with a sheet of clear plastic. Secure the plastic sheet with an elastic rubber band, this will ensure that the moisture in the soil does not evaporate to fast.
Seeds will take up to 7 days or more to germinate, however viable healthy seeds could break the surface of the soil within as little as 3 days. We believe that seeds which one has sprouted directly in soil will be healthier later on in life. There is a big debate on this issue so we won’t have the final word on this just yet.
Here is a very informative video about germinating your Cannabis seeds, enjoy.
Germinate Cannabis Seeds With Only Water
In this method you will need a jar or simply a small glass. Place your seeds that you would like to germinate in the jar or glass. Pour a little bit of water in so that seeds are floating then leave it for 14 – 18 hours, however you can leave them for up to 24 hours.
After the first day you might already have some seeds that have cracked, you will notice a white line on the seeds when this happens. Empty out the water taking care not to lose the seeds in the process. Add more water to the glass until the seeds float, empty out this water in order to rinse the seeds.
After the first 24 hours many growers choose to plant their seeds into a light soil mix or put them in a damp towel until the taproot start to show.
To continue germinating the seeds using only water add more water after you have rinsed the seeds. Leave them for another 24 hours and repeat the process every day until your Cannabis seeds sprout. When your seeds have a nice tap root you can transplant them into a well aerated light soil mix or a soil-less medium like rockwool.
Some growers have great success using this method, however if you are not diligent your seeds might rot and not sprout. We advise beginners to use the first method shown here, germinating seeds in soil.
Dampen the soil before you plant your sprouts and keep the soil moist for the next couple of days. Be careful not to over water your seedlings, using a fine water sprayer is a good solution for this, however keep an eye on your soil that it does not dry out.
Germinate Cannabis Seeds With Seed Towel Or COTTON wool
The seed towel method refers to growers placing their seeds on a damp towel, however cheesecloth can also be used. The seeds are then covered with another damp towel and the grower keeps an eye on the seeds until they germinate.
Cotton wool is a favourite medium to germinate Cannabis seeds with. Similar to the method above the cotton wool is placed on a plate and then another layer of cotton wool is placed on top. Water the cotton wool until it is wet and drain off the excess water and keep an eye on the seeds until they germinate.
Again some growers have great success using these methods, however you will have to keep an eye on your seeds in order to ensure a successful germination.
When your Cannabis seeds have sprouted you can plant them into a well aerated soil-mix or a soil-less medium like rockwool. Dampen your soil before planting to help avoid over watering issues. Keep seedlings moist but not too wet and take care that the soil does not dry out completely.
Germinate Cannabis Seeds In A Soil-Less Medium
Many growers choose to germinate their seeds in propagation kits using rockwool or expanding coco coir plugs. Seeds are placed into soaked rockwool cubes or coco plugs and are kept moist until the seeds germinate.
Growers use a very low nutrient solution or “seedling juice” to water their young Cannabis sprouts once they are above the ground. Be sure to use a very low nutrient solution or even just plain water for the first watering.
This method has a very high success rate especially when used in combination with a propagation kit. After the roots of the seedlings appear underneath the rockwool or coco plug it is time to transplant your seedlings into a well aerated light soil mix (seedling mix).
Tips to improve the germination rate of your Cannabis seeds
- Don’t leave seeds or seedlings in a cold draft.
- Ensure that the room is kept warm.
- Cold temperatures will inhibit germination.
- Temperatures that are too hot will evaporate water quicker.
- Be careful when using germination fertilisers.
- Try not to disturb your seedlings once they sprout, let them grow.
- Do not overwater newly sprouted seedlings when you transplant them.
- Use a water sprayer to keep the soil moist.
- Do not let the soil dry out.
- Some seedlings might stretch and fall over from lack of light.
- Try providing a better light source or tie seedlings to a stick.
- Old seeds might have trouble germinating.
- Try using the best seeds available to you.
What Container Should I Use To Grow Cannabis?
When it comes to choosing a container to grow Cannabis in growers have a lot of choices. Some growers choose to make specialized D.I.Y. growing containers for themselves.
The container will house our plant for a part of its lifetime or even for its entire lifetime, for this reason it is important to give it some thought. Some growers decide to use square containers to maximize floor space in their garden, however others decide to go with round air or smart pots to help avoid over watering problems.
Containers should have enough drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage. A general rule when it comes to pot size is about 12 inches (about 30 cm) of plant height per gallon (roughly 3.8 liters). So if you would like to grow a plant that is at least 24 inches tall you should use at least a 2 gallon pot.
Bigger pots encourage plants to grow a bigger root system which in turn will result in a bigger harvest. However it is important to note that roots will take longer to fill a pot in growing medium with bad drainage.
Roots have to work hard to make their way through the soil and it can take a long time for the plant to grow a big root system. So a big container does not always mean a bigger root system.
An aerated soil mix that drains well, or a soil-less growing medium will give the roots very little resistance to grow. The Cannabis plant will colonize the container with its roots much quicker this way.
Growers should transplant their their Cannabis plants from different growing stages gradually working their way to the final big container.
Grow Cannabis In Regular Containers
A favorite among indoor and outdoor gardeners for many years, regular growing containers work great for Cannabis plants. You can easily source and find them at most garden and hardware stores. The great thing about regular pots is that you can find them in all sizes, big and small.
Indoor growers tend to choose square containers when available to maximize the floor space they are using. When using the traditional round pots a bit of root space is lost.
One mistake new growers could make with these regular containers is overwatering their plants. One can avoid this by using an aerated soil mix that drains well. However even so growers can still overwater plants.
A great method when using regular pots is simply to pick them up and feel their weight. Pick up your containers periodically and you will quickly learn when you plant is dry. A watered container will be quite heavy and will get lighter as it dries out.
Another good rule is to wait for the top inch or two of soil to feel almost dry to the touch. Please take note that this method is only advisable for big pots, smaller pots should be kept moist to the touch.
Grow Cannabis In “Smart Pots”
A “smart pot” is in essence a fabric container that growers use to grow healthy plants instead of the traditional regular pots. Fabric pots allow the root zone to breath more and greatly reduces the risk of you overwatering your plants.
In a regular container the roots usually grow alongside the container walls until they reaches the bottom of the pot. With fabric pots quite the opposite happens. When roots grow to the side of the pot and come into contact with air the root tip dies and the roots branch off. This is what people refer to as “air pruning” the roots.
Many growers swear by using smart pots as they have noticed increased root production and healthier plants. These pots do however have their drawbacks, one of which is under watering. Fabric pots tend to dry out quicker and growers may have to water their crop more frequently.
You can use smart pots to grow plants in soil and in soil-less mediums. These containers are easily available online or at your local garden store, however this may vary depending in what country you live in.
Grow Cannabis In “Air Pots”
A favorite in the garden these days is the air pot. Made from recycled plastics to help reduce our carbon footprint when growing. The air pots work very similar to the smart pots that we discussed in the section above.
The containers are available in various sizes and can be sourced online or from your local grow shop. Air pots are great for small and medium sized plants, however some growers report that very tall plants may topple over when in smart pots.
The air pots work great for growing in soil and a soil-less medium. Growers have incorporated these pots into most hydroponic systems, such as Ebb and Flow, DWC (Deep Water Culture) and NFT (Nutrient Film Technique).
Here is a video explaining how the “Air Pots” work.
D.I.Y. Containers To Grow Cannabis
There is a movement around the world to recycle and reuse what materials we can without going full derelict. People that grow Cannabis are no different and there is a wide range of D.I.Y. container tutorials out there.
Our favorite must be the faithful 5 gallon (20 liters) paint buckets. Can’t seem to find enough of them. The 5 gallon container is great for growing nice Cannabis trees indoors or outdoors, if planted later in the season. Paint buckets come in many different sizes and we try to collect them all!
Paint buckets are readily available and can be sourced for free most of the time, however fellow growers might not part with them so easily. We create our own “Air Pots” by drilling tiny holes into the side of the paint bucket. You don’t want to drill to many holes as it will dry your soil out quicker, however don’t forget to drill bigger holes at the bottom for drainage.
Many growers choose to make their own fabric “Smart Pots” and there are plenty of tutorials online that will show you how to do it. In the outdoor garden many Californian growers build massive smart pots that raise out of the ground. When planning to grow Cannabis outside you should really consider this method.
Take a look how the guys at Mendo Dope fill a 1000 gallon smart pot. These massive pots are available for purchase, but can also be DIY-ed.
When considering to recycle or reuse any materials to grow Cannabis, you will probably find a tutorial on the internet showing you how. Some gardens will try to have the newest equipment, but we try to remember this mantra, 10 % equipment, 90% grower.
Grow Cannabis In Classic Raised Beds
There are many gardeners that prefer to grow Cannabis in raised beds outdoors, however some indoor gardeners also use this method. These days there are many kinds of raised beds that you could use, but let’s start off with the classic.
The original gardeners that used raised beds did so in order to naturally heat up their growing beds to get a early start to the season. The classic raised bed requires the grower to pile up some logs, sticks and branches from trees to create the bottom layer of the raised bed.
On top of this layer of logs and branches we will add a lot of leaf mold compost as well as ordinary compost. Growers can add sand, worm castings, soil, more compost that is rich in carbon. Growers also add all the amendments they would require for the growing season.
This heap is left to cook for at least two months before growers plant their seedlings or clones. Sometimes gardeners add an additional layer or soil mix that will cater for the needs of the young plants. The bottom layer of decaying wood, leaves and compost increases the temperature of the raised bed and young plants can resist colder mornings, evenings and nights.
Another great addition to this method is to construct a greenhouse on top of your raised bed. Carbon dioxide released from the raised bed is trapped in the greenhouse and helps your plants grow better.
Take a look at this video with George Cervantes to get a good idea about how the old school raised bed works.
Grow Cannabis In Modern Raised Beds
We make a distinction between the two raised bed methods because some requires less time to set up than the classic method. Raised beds can be build with wooden planks, bricks, stones and different fabrics used for smart pots. Gardeners usually then fill up the beds with a living soil mix.
The growing beds stand raised between 1 and 4 foot depending on what size plants the grower wish to grow. A great method when you choose to grow Cannabis, build a raised bed and attach a your greenhouse to it or just let your plants enjoy the great outdoors.
A modern raised bed is filled with the growers chosen growing medium. Amendments are premixed into the soil or mixed in after the soil has been added to the raised bed. It is advisable for growers to wait the usual 2 months for the soil to cool down. In order to grow Cannabis with a really healthy root system we would advise you to fill the bottom of your raised bed with leaf mold compost.
Growers add a layer of cardboard right at the bottom of their raised bed in order to kill any weeds or grass that tries to grow up from the bottom. Cardboard is biodegradable and can compost in about 3 months. This will add a lot of microbial life to your raised bed.
Take a look at this video to see how the modern raised beds are used to grow Cannabis.
Should I grow organic Cannabis?
Patients that grow their own medical Marijuana at home should consider only using organically grown Cannabis flowers. This kind of medicine has a smoother and overall a more pleasant taste than the kind grown with synthetic nutrients. Organic bud will also be free from any toxins found in petrochemical byproducts such as synthetic nutrients.
This does not mean that medical growers don’t use liquid nutrients, however they usually choose to go with only organic brands. This is better for the earth and better for your health as Cannabis plants will absorb harmful chemicals from the soil if they are present. Needless to say the patient will then ingest or smoke those chemicals that the plant extracted from the soil.
When growing Cannabis commercially growers tend to avoid the more expensive organic route and use synthetic nutrients. This does boost plant growth and yields, however patients usually complain about a harsh smoke and inferior flavor. Growers claim that flushing the growing medium enough before harvest rids the plant of any remaining synthetic nutrients in its system.
Organically grown Cannabis seems to have the better overall taste and effect, but yielding less when compared to plants grown using synthetic nutrients. Growers have made great strides in both directions and this subject of organic and synthetic nutrients is still very much up for debate.
Organic growers claim that certain compost teas and home brews along with well aerated living soil will also increase yield. This is a interesting development as the commercially grown medical Marijuana should not suffer in quality because of the need for quantity.
As always do your research and let your experience be the final judgement on the subject.
Should I use bottled nutrients to grow my Cannabis?
Using bottled nutrient to achieve healthier crops and maximize yield is so commonplace that one might think it is the only way. Many crops have died because because the growers used to much nutrients instead of too little. Always remember to use water with no chlorine to feed your plants. If you need to use tap water let it stand for 24 to 48 hours to get rid of any chlorine in the water.
If you are using a well balanced living super soil (like we discussed earlier in the guide) there is really no need to use bottled nutrients. Growers like ourselves like to add tiny amounts of high quality organic nutrients to our water when we feed our plants. Some strains are too sensitive and they will only receive plain water.
When you are growing your Cannabis in a light soil mix with only a few amendments it is advisable to use bottled nutrients. We usually start with half strength nutrient mix and work our way to full strength as the plant become more mature. High quality organic nutrients will help build your soil feeding the microbial life which in turn will ensure your plants are healthy.
When growing in a soil less medium growers should always use some form of bottled nutrients with all the micro and macro nutrients needed to sustain plant life. There are many brands of nutrients out there that you can use, some are organic however some are not.
Here is a great video from Monster Gardens talking a bit about mixing nutrients, enjoy.
Some organic Cannabis growers brew aerated compost teas ,use natural amendments such as coconut water, aloe vera juice and even dandelion flowers to supplement their plants.
How can I feed my plants without bottled nutrients?
As mentioned above growers brew a variety of different compost teas as well as using coconut water and aloe vera juice.
Gardeners usually brew compost tea using about a gallon of water and an aquarium air pump. Ingredients are mixed with chlorine free water and left to bubble for 24 to 48 hours. To brew bigger amounts the grower must acquire a high pressure air pump, but more on that later.
When brewing compost teas we usually brew according to what part of the growing cycle the plant is in. For example we will make a leaf mold, molasses and alfalfa compost tea for our Cannabis plants when they are in vegetative growing stage. This will supply the plants with nitrogen as well as microbes, fungi and enzymes needed for early plant development.
Growers now use coconut water as a natural amendment for watering their plants in the vegetative cycle. Coconut water contains macro and micro nutrients needed for plant growth. Blended dandelion flowers can also be a part of the feeding to provide plants with extra growth enzymes.
Growers also dilute aloe vera juice with water and feed this to plants during the flowering cycle as a natural bloom booster. Aloe vera also contains macro and micro nutrients that will feed your soil.
These are some of the basic things growers can do to get away from using bottled nutrients. It is a great system where growers use nature to feed nature and in turn keep things organic. This kind of growing tends to work better with a fully amended living super soil.
What is a good compost tea recipe for growing Cannabis?
The definition of compost is organic matter which has been decomposed by microorganisms and recycled by them into a fertilizer and soil amendment. The microbial life within the compost can radically multiply itself if it becomes an ingredient in compost tea.
We always recommend making your own compost or to buy from a local source. Growers also inoculate their compost with mycorrhizal fungi, leaf mold from the forest floor and even mycelium. Good soil from below the roots of a old healthy tree should contain all the necessary bacteria and fungi needed to inoculate your compost heap.
If you brew a teaspoon of compost in water and molasses the microbial life will feed on the molasses and multiply exponentially. The compost tea requires aeration so that that both the aerobic and anaerobic microbes will have enough oxygen to multiply.
Basic compost tea recipe to grow Cannabis
- Compost – Compost is the basic ingredient which one needs to brew compost tea. We advise using homemade or local compost as discussed above.
- Worm Castings – Worm castings will introduce more microbes into the brew and also some readily available nutrients. You should try to use high quality worm castings. Worm castings from worms that consumed additional crab meal are preferrable.
- Fish Hydrolysate – This is made up of dried fish and crustaceans and makes for a nutrient rich soil amendment. Chitin is a great immune booster for your plants and occurs mostly in crustacean exoskeletons. This is good for the bacterial and fungi colonies living in your compost.
- Kelp – Kelp acts as surface area for microbial life to colonise as well as providing food for them. Kelp also helps to boost Cannabis plants growth.
- Molasses – Molasses will act as the main source of food for your microbial colonies living in your compost tea. Molasses is also a great amendment for soil.
Growers experiment with using different ratios of the above ingredients when brewing compost tea. Here is a PDF from the Beneficial Living Center indicating the suggested ratios for mixing the ingredients.
You can dilute your compost tea up to 1:20 ratio when feeding it to the roots, however you can also use it at full strength too.
For foliar feeding your Cannabis plant leaves use full strength or dilute the compost tea at a 1:2 ratio.
How to grow Cannabis Indoors
Indoor growing usually refers to the growing of Cannabis plants inside of a building using artificial lighting. Indoor growers usually use one of two different methods to grow Cannabis.
Growing Cannabis in soil is the one method and the other is to use hydroponic or soil-less techniques. We would advise first time growers to grow in soil as it is a more forgiving method compared to hydroponics.
What kind of artificial lighting can I use to grow Cannabis?
A wide variety of artificial lighting can work to grow Cannabis. HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights such as HPS (High Pressure Sodium) and MH (Metal-halide) are the best lights to use in our opinion. The reason for this being that these lights have a great spectrum and very high lumen per watt output ratio.
LED lighting has made a lot of progress over the last few years and there are a number of growers using them. These lights gives the grower an opportunity to spend less money on their electricity bill. LED lights can also act as supplemental lighting for HID lights.
Fluorescent lights can work to grow Cannabis, but the growers usually yield a lot less when compared to HID lighting. Fluorescent lights are perfect for raising seedlings, clones and housing mother plants. For this reason fluorescent lights is a favourite among many growers.
HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting
HID lighting is a bit more expensive than other lighting. These lights consist of a ballast, light and a reflective hood.
The bulb connects to the reflector and then connects to ballast which usually plugs into a socket. Growers also wire their HID lights directly to a switchboard.
HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lights have a spectrum that is close to our natural sunlight. It provides the plants with a reddish orange light which is great for flowering Cannabis Plants.
MH (Metal-Halide) lights usually have a much more blue light spectrum and is our favourite light choice for plants in the vegetative stage.
These bulbs are usually available in 250 watt, 400 watt, 600 watt and 1000 watt. The 600 watt bulbs are our favourite and many growers love their 1000 watt bulbs and swear by them.
When choosing the size of the HID light you would like to use take into consideration the following. The bigger the bulb the greater surface area you will be able to grow. Bigger lights also penetrate deeper into the canopy of Cannabis leaves.
Surface area that HID lights will cover.
- 400 watt HID light – 3 foot x 3 foot (1 meter x 1 meter) – 3 foot x 4 foot (1 meter x 1.2 meters).
- 600 watt HID light – 3 foot x 4 foot (1 meter x 1.2 meters) – 4 foot x 5 foot (1.2 meters x 1.5 meters).
- 1000 watt HID light – 4 foot x 5 foot (1.2 meters x 1.5 meters) – 5 foot x 8 foot (1.5 meters x 2.4 meters)
LED lighting is the latest addition when it comes to lights that growers use indoors. As Cannabis legalizes and is a regulated item, many new kinds of LED grow lights are being developed by companies.
There are already a lot of growers who have adopted LED lights whether it is to save power or to supplement lighting. Some LED grow lights have a higher lumen per watt ratio than the conventional HID lights.
It is important to note here that all LED grow lights are not created equal. Growers choose a lighting system that uses at least 3 watt LED lights instead of the cheaper 1 watt systems. These lights usually contain many 3 watt or 5 watt LED’s per light.
Advanced Platinum LED, GalaxyHydro LED, Mars Hydro LED, King Plus LED, Roleadro COB LED, Apollo Horticulture LED, Morsen LED, Nova LED, ViparSpectra and G8LED are good LED grow lights. We recommend you take a look at these brands when choosing your LED grow light.
Growers use LED grow lights to easily switch between flowering and vegetative mode. This will provide your younger Cannabis plants with a more blue spectrum of light. Switching the light to flowering mode will provide a nice orange and red spectrum that flowering Cannabis plants love.
While LED lights uses a lot less electricity they also have fans built in so they run a lot cooler. This is great for growers that have heat buildup problems in their grow rooms.
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- Male Cannabis Flower – Photo taken by Banana patrol
- Male Cannabis Flowers – Photo taken by H.Zell
- Cannabis Seeds – Photo taken by “thoR