Since entering lockdown, many millennials have turned to baking bread, collecting stamps and urban farming. The obscure list of trending hobbies appears as endless as it is old-timey. But tucked in between crocheting and jigsaw puzzles is one activity that makes a lot of sense: Growing cannabis plants, especially if you grow the cannabis indoors.
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Though cannabis is still illegal to grow in large amounts in most of Europe, many have nonetheless taken the opportunity to try their hand at a bit of gardening. But, for those late to the farming craze, the following guide can help you get started with growing your first cannabis plant.
Growing sativa or indica cannabis
Even veteran gardeners will run into a fair share of issues when growing their first cannabis plant.
That’s why investing a smaller amount in your first grow means smaller downsides in case the cannabis grow isn’t a success. You can set up a relatively sophisticated operation with less than €100. Some so-called ‘micro groweries’ cost even less.
Attempting a small indoors cannabis grow can nonetheless be challenging for complete beginners. To improve the odds of a successful harvest, there are several factors to keep in mind. First, amateur farmers must consider which cannabis strain they hope to grow.
You may be interested in growing your favourite, ultra-potent bud or even your trusted stress-reliever. These are certainly important considerations, but when growing cannabis you also need to keep in mind the size of these plants. Indica plants, for instance, are much better options for small home grows due to how short they are. Typically, sativa plants grow much taller, making them unideal for growing indoors and within certain space requirements.
To put this in concrete terms, sativa plants can grow up to six meters tall, whereas indica varieties reach a max height of roughly two. Both can become quite large, but the former is clearly better for an outdoor operation.
After height, indicas also take less time to reach flowering.
Flowering isn’t the time at which bud can be harvested, by the way. This period in a plant’s life refers to the window during which the buds begin forming. For indica plants, this period can last eight weeks while sativa plants take up to ten weeks.
These are general guidelines, and environmental factors will play a key role in the exact duration of the flowering period. For clues about when you should harvest, you need to keep an eye out for the pistils of the plant, or those small hairs that we often see on prime cannabis. These little tendrils emerge in a whitish colour before slowly browning as the bud ripens. Once the majority of the bud’s pistils are brown, then your bud is ready.
This cursory analysis means that beginner growers should probably get started with an indica plant. They mature faster, are slightly smaller in size and, thus, far cheaper than their sativa counterparts. For reference, here is a shortlist of great beginner buds to help you get started.
Some of them are also blended with so-called ruderalis genetics. These genes are naturally more resilient and thus slightly easier for novice growers. It should also be said that though these strains may be easier to grow, this doesn’t mean these buds won’t deliver potent highs.
As the name suggests, this cannabis blend is simple to grow and yields 12 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis after just nine weeks. It’s also a relatively small plant, reaching a max height of 110 centimetres.
The advantage of Somango is its ability to grow in colder environments than its counterparts. Though an indica-dominant strain, this strain can grow quite large and may be better suited for outdoor growing if you can find the space. The larger size also means a much larger haul once the grow is finished.
Special Queen is easy to grow but still adored by veteran cannabis lovers. So, if not for novices, planting a few of these hybrid sativa and indica seeds is also attractive for those looking for quality buds without the hassle.
Now it’s time to dig into the various equipment you’ll need to help your plant thrive.
Choosing cannabis growing equipment
Of course, you could just throw a few indica seeds in some soil and wait and see what happens. Indeed, we all have one or two friends who’ve found success this way. But the chances that the finished bud will be worth the wait are slim. That’s also if the plants even make it that far.
Instead, you should consider a small investment in some top-notch growing equipment. Building a personal harvest is also a great way for hobbyists to learn more about the cannabis plant.
The short list of essentials includes soil, a grow space (i.e. a tent) and lights. It might also be wise to invest in a humidity and temperature reader. Plants can suffer and sometimes die if the environment is too dry, moist, hot or cold. For the sake of this guide, we have also capped the budget at €200. What’s more, this particular build shouldn’t take you more than an hour to set up.
Let’s begin with the space in which you’ll grow your cannabis.
Naturally, the main consideration is that of the physical dimensions of your tent or closet. Everything else, including soil, lighting and technical readers, won’t matter if your space is too small for the plant that you’re growing.
Special Queen, for instance, can reach a maximum height of 270 centimetres. This means the space should be roughly double this height to give the plant plenty of room to flourish.
Many high-quality grow tents can be found on Amazon for reasonable prices. Source: Amazon
The amount of soil and the size of the pot in which your plant will grow is equally important. If a rich network of roots cannot flourish, the health of your plant will suffer.
The type of pot is irrelevant, with many growers converting simple, large plastic buckets into premium cannabis containers. One conversion method is to drill holes in the bottom of such a bucket and then, to ensure adequate airflow to the roots and prevent water-logging your plant, place the container in a tray.
Soil is also less demanding. But if you can find a premium organic soil without any artificial growth agents, then that should do just fine. Finding a pre-fertilised soil will also save you money as you won’t need to purchase extra plant nutrients.
Now for the lights. Finding the right lights for your grow can be difficult simply due to the broad range of possibilities. You can quickly limit your possibilities along three metrics: budget, heat output and electricity.
150 Watt full-spectrum LED lights, for instance, can be a perfect fit for a small grow. Though the upfront cost can be higher than alternatives, this cost is made whole over the longer-term. When plants are in their vegetative state, lights often need to be kept on 24-hours a day for weeks at a time. And, insofar as LED lights are less energy-intensive and give off less heat, you’ll likely save money on your electricity bill.
Finally, consider investing in a small fan to help circulate the air within the tent and an energy meter that automatically turns lights on and off. A simple thermometer will also be helpful to ensure the environment keeps within a specific range.
Run a few tests with the lights and fan on and off. Ideally, 25 degrees celsius with the lights on, and no less than 15 degrees when the lights are off.
Cannabis growers need patience
Growing cannabis is as much an art as it is a science. There is more than one way to enjoy a bountiful harvest. Likewise, a bit of luck plays a role too, especially for beginners. Although you may have the ideal conditions and top equipment, you still may run into issues. These unpleasant surprises are the very nature of gardening.
And, whether it be sweet peas or pot, the activity can be one of the most rewarding hobbies. So be patient, run tests for what works and what doesn’t, and ask fellow gardeners in your community for any tips they might have.