The Best Way To Grow Cannabis
Growing cannabis is one of the most rewarding things you can choose to do. This enjoyable pass-time will leave you enriched with a repertoire of cannabis knowledge and buckets of cannabis buds to be used the way you like. Let's take look at the differences in growing cannabis indoors and outdoors, and find the best growing option to fit your intentions and available means.
Choosing A Grow Space: In Or Out
Finding the right grow space is the first step in your cannabis grow. Whether you choose to grow outdoors or indoors truly depends on what you have available and what direction you want to steer your grow in.
If you are a first-time grower buying some tools needed for cultivation may require investments. The good news is that with the outdoor set up you can save on the inventory like grow boxes, light bulbs, etc., as all you need is already there: an all-natural lighting source for a good portion of the day, pure water, and soil. You can grow your plants in your back yard, terrace, roof, or on a balcony. Just make sure that your cannabis plants are covered up, as some strains tend to be very pungent toward the end of flowering and may draw unwanted attention. Meanwhile, outdoor growing has traps and pitfalls that you need to consider for a healthy grow:
Growing cannabis in its natural environment requires a good understanding of the local climate. Most cannabis plants can adjust to different growing conditions, but extreme weather can affect their growth and influence your yield.
For example, sustained temperatures above 86°F (30°C) can slow down the plants’ growth, while temperatures below 50-55°F (10-12°C) can damage or even destroy your plants.
Other weather conditions, like heavy rains, hails, or high winds, can lead to physical damage of plants’ foliage. Excessive moisture can result in mold, mildew, and other diseases that will affect the overall quality of your crops. Besides the weather patterns, it is important to take into account seasonal changes and the length of the day to make sure your plants have enough time for the vegetative and flowering stages.
- Pest Control
Protecting your cannabis plants from pests is another challenge related to the outdoor setup. Depending on the area you live in, you may have to protect your garden by building a fence to cover your crop from large animals. You may also have to deal with all kinds of insects.
Unlike outdoor growers, who need to foresee weather conditions and other nature-related factors, indoor growers have the ultimate control over their grow environment. With precise control over humidity levels, a fine tuned temperature regime combined with regular water and nutrient intake, indoor grows tend to run a little more smoothly than their outdoor counterparts. Here are the key considerations before commencing an indoor grow:
- Enough Growing Space
Indoor growers usually need 3’x3’x6’ (90x90x180m) to grow a full-size plant; however, smaller tents can be used to make the most of even the smallest space.
- Right Level Of Privacy
Most people opt to cultivate indoors for the relatively easy level of stealth growing. Carbon filters and other equipment can help do deal with the smell issue. Of course, it will require some investments, while outdoor growers can use less expensive precautionary measures – growing auxiliary plants such as tomatoes to camouflage cannabis plants.
Pick A Cannabis Growing Medium
Over the years, many mediums have been used to grow cannabis – with some being better than others – ranging from traditional organic soil grows to modern hydroponic techniques. These can be as simple as a wicking system all the way up to an advanced, mainly-automated DWC system, providing your plants a constant supply of nutrient-rich water, helping them grow bigger and more fruitful.
Soil is the most traditional way of growing cannabis, as it has done so for thousands of years. Soil growers take a different approach to soilless/hydroponic growers because all the nutrients the plant may need throughout its lifetime are already in the soil before the seed/plant goes in. Not only does this mean you don’t have to worry about feeding your plant necessary nutrients every week, it also saves on ongoing costs and stretches your money further. Another benefit of soil is the lack of a need to pH feed the water as the microbial systems in the root zone can buffer pH changes to about a neutral 7.2 pH with ease. If you like the sound of that, you’ll love hearing that organic grows tend to yield flowers with the best smell and taste – a well-refined flavor profile characteristic of the strain!
- No need to feed throughout grow – make sure to create a high quality soil mix before commencing your grow to get sustained release of vital nutrients throughout your plant's lifecycle.
- More forgiving on pH fluctuations.
- Excellent smell and taste.
- Great resin production
- Requires good soil selection prior to starting.
- Slowest growing method.
Hydroponic cannabis growing systems are some of the most popular ways of growing in the world because advancements in technology have made them more accessible. Hydroponic growing can be broken into two main categories:
Soilless systems are considered hydroponic, or aeroponic, due to the absence of an organic growing medium. Most commonly used combinations are coco coir mixed with either perlite or vermiculite (porous mineral rocks). This leads to a permeable growing medium, which allows for aeration of the roots and excellent drainage, minimizing risks of root rot and similar moisture-related issues.
What you think of when you read hydroponic is probably to what is described here: a more sophisticated system consisting of pumps and reservoirs which aim to maximise the uptake of nutrients by your plants roots, therefore maximising its growth! The most popular types of hydroponic systems are:
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
Quite possibly the simplest truly hydroponic system, a DWC setup consists of plant roots suspend across a reservoir of continually aerated nutrient solution. This can be through multiple plants (in baskets of clay pebbles, rockwool, or other growing hydroponic growing mediums) in a single reservoir or a system of plants in different reservoirs.
- Ebb and Flow
Also known as flood and drain, ebb and flow systems are similar to DWC setups, but have periodic “flooding” of the growing tray followed by a “drainage” to remove the water and repeat the aeration process in an external reservoir.
- Drip System
Drip hydroponic systems are slightly more intricate and have a slow but constant supply of nutrient water dripping over the top of the roots (from above), which leads to constant exposure to air and nutrients – everything a plant needs for steady, healthy growth.
- Wick System
Wick systems work exactly how they sound! Plants are held in buckets above reservoirs and wicks are partly submerged in nutrient solution to slowly transport water and nutrients to the root zone. This is an excellent way to increase time in between watering and can be used to keep your plants happy, should you ever need to be away for a couple days.
Aeroponics is the most complicated form of hydroponic growing and involves misting the root zone with nutrient-enriched water, resulting in maximum aeration and hydration. While tricky to get right, once you’ve got it down it really starts showing its benefits.
Choose Your Cannabis Strain
The next step in growing large, beautiful cannabis plants is choosing the right cannabis strain. With advancement in breeding technology, autoflowers are by far the best choice for both indoor and outdoor first-time growers, due to their excellent resistance to stress-related issues and ability to deliver heavy yields of potent cannabis flowers in less than 10 weeks from seed to harvest!
Heavy Yielding Indoor Strains For First-time Growers
Extreme Impact Auto from Heavyweight Seeds is an autoflowering cannabis strain that is a cross between two incredible autoflowers – Mazar Auto x Fast and Vast. This Indica-dominant cannabis variety brings forward the best each parent strain has to offer: heavy indoor yields up to 2,13 oz/ft2 (650 g/m2), high quality resin-covered flowers packed full of rich lemony flavors and potent Indica effects.
Offered in a furious autoflowering format, Purple Punch Auto from Barney’s Farm is a fantastic tasting cannabis strain with the crave-worthy flavor of a freshly baked apple pie. Reaching 28" (70cm) in height, this compact cannabis variety is a perfect match for an indoor grower! With potent yields of up to 1.15 oz/ft2 (350 g/m2) and a short 8-week flowering, Purple Punch Auto is one of the most popular indoor autoflowers on the market!
XL-Yielding Autoflowering Strains For Outdoors
Gorilla Glue Auto is an autoflowering cannabis strain developed by FastBuds as a cross between the original Gorilla Glue and Ruderalis. This Sativa-dominant autoflower is surprisingly short 2-3' outdoors (60-100cm), does not need any special care, and gives off a magnificent lemon and pine aroma. Bringing in as much as 10.5oz/plant (300g/plant) after only 8-9 weeks from sprouting, Gorilla Glue Auto is a fantastic autoflower that adds a fresh touch to any grow space!
LSD-25 Auto is another sensational autoflower from FastBuds. This Indica-dominant autoflowering strain is a potent match between LSD and Ruderalis genetics. This easy to grow strain boasts a rock-hard tolerance to harsh weather conditions and common growing mistakes. On top of that, LSD-25 Auto is a heavy producer, yielding up to 7oz/plant (200g/plant) outdoors by early October!
Choose Your Cannabis Grow Lights
After you have chosen your dream cannabis strain, it's time to think of the right source of indoor lighting. This choice is crucial as cannabis grow lights can make or break a cannabis grow. There has been a lot of progress since the early days of clandestine cannabis cultivation which relied on high-wattage HPS lamps to provide intense amounts of a narrow spectrum light to produce heavy yields.
Newer alternatives powered using LED technology, have vastly improved the efficiency of indoor growing. They have also led to mammoth improvements in the yields and quality of the cannabis produced.
High intensity discharge (HID) lamps work in a similar manner to HPS bulbs and have similar performance profiles. Both create a large amount of heat alongside creating plenty of light, which may need to be considered by those who are low on space.
The most cost-effective and old school lighting source is fluorescent lighting, whether that’s tube lighting or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, is rarely used outside of budget/micro grow circles due to its incredibly poor light penetration and the large amounts of heat produced.
Choose Your Nutrients
Those who opted for organic grows will love to hear all of the benefits of an organic nutrient feeding system. Most growers tend to make their own organic mix of nutrients from a range of sources and use this as the starting point for their own grows.
Mineral nutrients – those mixed in with water – can be a great way to improve the performance of your plants. Those with a proper feeding regimen have shown greater yields and production of larger, dense cannabis buds than their plain water counterparts.
The Different Stages Of The Cannabis Lifecycle
The cannabis plant goes through various cycles post germination before it is ready to be harvested. These can be grouped into two stages: vegetative growth and flowering.
After germination, the seed should be placed inside a growing medium as soon as possible and within a few days, a shoot will have broken through the surface. Over the coming weeks, this shoot will turn into the first few sets of leaves of your beautiful cannabis plant and eventually into a sexually mature plant.
If female, which a lot of our cannabis strains are, this plant can be flowered through a reduction in the photoperiod (a simulation of the natural changes in daylight toward the first weeks of autumn). The flowering period for most indoor cannabis strains is between 8-11 weeks, with genetically Indica-dominant cannabis strains having a shorter flower period than their Sativa-dominant counterparts.
Time for Harvest!
If you’ve done everything right, you shouldn’t be too far off from harvesting your very own cannabis plants. You'll know your plants are ready to harvest once you've inspected the trichomes and pistils like suggested.
The right way to trim cannabis is, and always will be, up for debate. There are strongly held opinions on both the wet trimming side as well among the dry trimming enthusiasts but in short, some growers believe the best way to trim their plants is while they are still wet while others believe that cannabis flowers should be allowed to entirely dry out first before being manicured. While the way it should be done is up for contest, there are benefits of doing it one way over the other.
Pros of Wet Trimming:
- Wet plant matter is easier to cut through, meaning less effort is required to trim.
- Possible to shape the bud more than when trimming dry.
Pros of Dry Trimming:
- Dry plant material easier to handle.
- Drying with leaves on causes leaves to dry around the buds in a protective manner resulting in minimal trichome loss.
Cannabis flowers need to be dried before they can be consumed, and this usually takes about 2 weeks from germination until they are dry enough to consume. Cannabis flowers are most commonly dried by hanging upside-down on a clothing line with a gentle breeze passing over them. The combination of Air-drying with a soft breeze results in the perfect balance between exterior and interior drying leading to buds which are uniformly dry all the way through. While air-drying goes a long way toward the final product, to get the ultimate smell and taste from your cannabis buds, give them at least a 2-week long cure.
Curing is the final stage in the drying process before cannabis buds are perfect for consumption. While some growers think this step is optional, it is increasingly accepted that curing is a crucial step in the growing of cannabis and bringing out their best terpene profile. Curing is done by placing your buds in air-tight jars for a couple days, opening to remove the drawn-out moisture and repeating until cannabis flowers are at a suitable internal humidity level (using 2-way humidity control packs). It is recommended to cure your plants for at least 2-4 weeks. with the best growers giving their plants up to 6 weeks to cure.
Useful Tips To Help You Grow Beautiful Cannabis Plants
Here are some tips and tricks to help you grow great, high quality cannabis:
- Don’t throw away your trim! It’s loaded with terpenes and cannabinoids which can be repurposed to make a range of concentrates such as RSO and cannabutter!
- If you think your plants are ready to harvest, odds are they need another week before they’re perfectly ripe. Buds that are ready to harvest will look swollen and have a slightly golden tinge to them.
- Always use a jeweller’s loupe to check your trichomes – your plants are ready to harvest when your trichomes are 40% amber and 60% cloudy, although each grower has their own personal preference.
- Low-stress training can go a long way in creating a dense, multi-cola canopy.
You should now have enough knowledge to successfully start your own outdoor or indoor cannabis garden. Cultivating and growing plants is an enjoyable and rewarding pass-time, depending on what space/resources you have available, you’ll be able to bring in anywhere from an ounce all the way up to pounds of potent, high quality, homegrown cannabis. The most important thing is to spend lots of time with your plants and have fun!