A: Be discreet. You wouldn’t tell everybody you have $2,000 just sitting on your nightstand, so don’t tell everyone you have $500 to $1,000 worth of marijuana in your basement. Putting a lock on your growing-room door and installing a home security system is not a bad idea.
But if you’re trying to get six plants to be as robust as possible, you probably need to install something that’s more permanent, like a 400- to 600-watt lamp with a hood assembly that comes with a ballast, which you place at least a forearm’s length above the plants.
Q:OK, say a home grower successfully gets three pot plants to the final flowering stage. They’re healthy and producing buds. How are they processed?
Processing the harvest
So the best place to grow marijuana is in a room in the basement with a locked door so light doesn’t inadvertently get in when the plants are “sleeping.” If you don’t have a basement, a small closet with light-leak protection around the door will work.
Nick Hice, cultivation facility manager at Denver Relief, harvests several of the plants, getting them ready for the drying process. Kayvan Khalatbari, owner of the pot-growing business and dispensary, talks about growing your own marijuana.
What we think is best is to take down the plant and cut off all the leaves at once. If you leave the sugar leaves on, they may make the marijuana harsher. We trim so the (flower) bud has a clean egg shape, and use (the sugar leaves) to make concentrates to smoke, vaporize or cook with.
You also have to watch humidity, because every time you water plants in a small space, you’re going to get high humidity. It should be below 50 percent to prevent bud mold or rot.
A: Most plants are ready to harvest after 65 to 70 days of flowering. A good way to tell if the plant is harvestable is to get a 45x magnifying glass from a grow store and check out the trichomes on the flowers. Trichomes are the translucent resin glands that contain the cannabinoids. When they turn amber or a milky purple, you know they’re ready. This sounds difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy for the layman to do.
Depending on where you live, if you got a healthy clone from a dispensary today, there’s nothing to say you couldn’t just plant it in nutrient-rich soil in a sunny spot, and have flowers in the fall. By then, you will have read all about how to harvest, dry, and cure them.
“It’s like a recipe,” says Hicks. “There are certain parts that have to be done correctly and at a certain time to get you from point A to point B to have product at the end.” (See: Willamette Week’s accidental “Pot Massacre of 2017” due to heat and over-fertilization.)
“A good window to the soul of your plant is to look at the leaves and know what’s going on,” she says. “It can be really difficult for people to trust what they see with their eyes when cannabis farming. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a plant that people who are growing it are so nervous to grow it… People don’t necessarily trust their instincts with cannabis, but they should.”
Rather than investing in a high-powered indoor setup, Hicks says using the natural power of the sun—either outdoors or on a sunny (but private) windowsill—is a good approach for the minimalist. And while many are particularly nervous when it comes to growing pot, looking at the plant itself will give you some guidance, Hicks says.
The minimalist’s setup
Still, it’s not quite so easy as plopping a pot of basil on the windowsill. Yes, it’s called “weed” because it grows like one, but cannabis is a complicated plant, and its cultivation has many steps where things can go wrong.
I do not have a particularly green thumb. Any gardening success I’ve had—mostly with the pots of cherry tomatoes and herbs on my patio—has been due to good luck and strong sun.
The quantity of light that cannabis is exposed to—also known as the photoperiod—will determine whether the plant enters its flowering phase. And because it’s an annual, you’re only going to get those flowers once. That’s why many growers try to save the flowering phase for when the plant is bigger and will produce more buds.
Clones vs. seeds
Just like those of us planting tomatoes in the spring, weed gardeners are faced with a choice between starting with seeds or small plants. In the cannabis world, many start with the sprouted cuttings commonly known as “clones.” While sprouting a seedling in a wet paper towel has its charm, clones leave far less margin for error.
What if you just want the herbal equivalent of a handful of cherry tomatoes? “There’s nothing wrong with having a teensy tiny plant with buds on it,” says Hicks. “It’s cute, it’s ornamental, it’s fun.”
Most cannabis strains prefer an upper-temperature range between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. When the lights are off, keep room temperature between 55 and 75 degrees. Indica strains tend to prefer the cooler end of the range.
Other mixes are “neutral,” without any nutrients present. These mixes need appropriate amounts of fertilizer right from the start. Amendments to soil ingredients include compost teas and mycorrhizae bacteria, as well as other organic compost nutrients.
HID grow lights
Lastly, some strains indeed require more calcium than others to produce robust, healthy nugs. Perform a little research on the particular strain you are growing. This process enables you to become more familiar with the kind of “food” it needs and prefers the most.
Induction lamps are an odd choice for indoor growers. However, some companies have recently adapted them for the cannabis industry. They can potentially represent decent value in terms of cost and efficiency.
EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo
Some people like to grind the sugar leaves and use them. However, it is all about the clean, leafless nugs if the goal is to fully enjoy an intoxicating high. You can use the sugar leaves to make cannabutter, however. After trimming, you should hang the buds up to dry. After 7-10 days, you can place them in airtight containers to cure. The more patient you are, the better the buds will taste. They are also more potent!