There are different harvesting methods, but Johnson cuts the whole plant at the base and hangs it upside down with some twine in a dark room at a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a fan for airflow — you definitely don’t want the room to be humid, which will cause mold to grow, rendering your crop unusable. It’ll probably take around a week to dry.
When the pandemic hit, many of us turned to quaint pastimes to soothe our existential dread, whether it was baking sourdough, knitting, or doing jigsaw puzzles. If you want to expand your repertoire of distraction methods with an activity that still has that quiet, homey vibe, but with a bit more of an edge, consider growing your own weed.
If you use organic soil, all you’ll really need to do is add water, Johnson says — but don’t overdo it. The number one mistake he sees new growers make is watering their plants too often. In general, “watering every day is too much. The rule is, if you pick up your plant, and the pot is heavy, then it has a enough water. If it’s light, it’s dry, then you need to water.” You could also stick your finger knuckle-deep into the soil; if it feels dry, add water.
Your cannabis will be ready to harvest at around October. You’ll know they’re ready when the buds “start to get really, really swollen and packed pretty tight,” Johnson says. But it can be hard to tell if you’re a beginner. Many growers say that if you think your plant is ready to harvest, wait two weeks, since many newbies tend to harvest too early. Or, you could share a photo of your crop on a forum and ask more experienced growers to weigh in.
Since clones come from plants that have been grown indoors, let yours chill in a shaded area for a week before exposing them to full sun, Johnson says. “The clone hasn’t tasted sun like that, and the transplant itself will be stressful.”
Cannabis cultivation laws vary widely state-by-state. Also, we can’t stress this enough: Growing cannabis is illegal in a lot of places, and the penalties — which include steep fines and prison time — can be much worse than possession, since growing can imply an intent to distribute. Black and brown folx need to be especially scrupulous about heeding these rules, since law enforcement targets us way more than white people for weed-related charges, even if we consume it at similar rates.
If you buy seeds from a seed bank, look for those labeled “feminized” to ensure they give rise to female plants, Johnson says. But if you’re a total newbie, he suggests buying clones, which are cuttings from a “mother” female plant, available at some dispensaries, as well as at nurseries. Not only are they easier to obtain, “they’re easier to grow. You get a clone, and you transplant it to some soil.”
Before you get started
Whatever you do, don’t plant your clones in the ground. They’ll run rampant, and “you’ll have pounds of weed in your house,” Johnson says, recalling the trays of weed atop his kitchen table when his crop grew wild. “You don’t need the stress of plants getting out of control, growing over your fence.” If your neighbors can see them, they might complain about them, and having too many plants could get you arrested.
While you can absolutely grow cannabis indoors, outdoor cultivation is much simpler and cheaper, says Ron Johnson, author of How to Grow Organic Cannabis: A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Marijuana Outdoors, who also runs the website The Cannabis Gardener. “The sun is free,” he tells Mic. “You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in electrical bills.” An outdoor garden probably won’t allow you to turn over product fast enough, but it’ll suffice if you just want to grow weed for yourself. Plus, it’s gentler on the planet.
Get Clones – You need to know someone with live female cannabis plants if you want to get clones. Many cannabis dispensaries and collectives will sell clones to prospective growers, or you might know someone who can give you a clone. Learn how to make your own cannabis clones!
After your cannabis has been curing for at least 2 weeks, and they haven’t felt wet every time you’ve checked the jars for at least a week, you can start opening the lid once a week instead of once a day.
When it comes to temperatures, a good rule of thumb about cannabis plants is if it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your plants. And just like humans, cannabis plants can die if exposed to freezing or too-hot temps.
Step 5: Get Your Cannabis Plants (& Choose Your Strain)
There are certain types of grows (such as when growing cannabis in organic composted super soil) where you don’t need to test your pH unless you run into problems. This is because with a properly composted super soil, you actually have a microbial colony living in the soil that will take care of the pH and hand-deliver the nutrients to the roots of your plants for you. However, this is a rare exception to the pH testing rule, and almost all growers need to regularly test and maintain pH for a successful grow. If you’re not growing in super soil that you have amended and composted (or purchased) yourself, testing and maintaining pH is a MUST.
This cannabis growing guide will help you discover the best way to grow cannabis, for your unique situation.
Step 9: Harvest Your Weed
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) & household LEDs are what people commonly use to light up their homes. They aren’t really made for growing plants, but can be a good way to get your feet wet in the growing world without a significant investment. They lack the power of dedicated grow lights, but can get the job done. CFLs and home LEDs like these are dirt cheap, and you can usually buy them from any big-box store without arousing suspicion. In fact, growing with CFLs is what I did for my first grow and I got them from a local Home Depot. I imagine that my first grow would’ve ended the same (or even better) had I used small household LEDs instead of CFLs, though they weren’t available back then. Learn more about growing with CFLs.
MH/HPS grow lights (like the light pictured here) are a type of “HID” light like LECs. A combination of MH/HPS is what most commercial growers use when growing cannabis indoors. They are surprisingly cheap to buy and set up, especially considering how incredibly powerful they are.