It’s easier than ever to be a lowkey gardener of homegrown weed
senior lifestyle correspondent
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.
I’m a lazy gardener, not a farmer. This is the same approach I’m taking to growing my own weed.
For the last year or so in Los Angeles, I’ve enjoyed legal access to marijuana. It’s easy enough to go to a dispensary or get it delivered. But you know what might be more fun? Growing it—and spring 2018 seems just the time to give it a go. (Here in California, adults over 21 can grow up to six plants at home for personal use, so long as they’re locked up and not publicly visible. Several US states and Washington, DC have similar laws.)
“You don’t have to have a gigantic grow room, or a huge outdoor cannabis farm,” says Grace Olivia Hicks, the co-founder of Green Carpet Growing, a San Diego, CA-based cannabis cultivation consultancy. “Cannabis doesn’t have to be far away—it’s within reach now and it’s also legally acceptable.”
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.
“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.)
If you live in a place where it’s legal, here are some basics to know before you get started:
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’s more, with a clone you can be sure you’re obtaining a female that will produce desirable flowers, also known as buds, if you play your cards right. (“Male plants are the bane of marijuana growers,” wrote Mel Frank in the Marijuana Grower’s Insider’s Guide. “They’re necessary for breeding and hybridizing, but otherwise they’re in the way.”)
In places where recreational marijuana growth is legal, you can find clones at cannabis nurseries, farmer’s markets, dispensaries, and even delivery services.
A wealth of resources
The resources for prospective pot growers today are incomprehensibly vast.
A recent search of WeedMaps, which is sort of like a cross between Seamless and Yelp for cannabis companies, showed that a clone of LA Confidential—a strain with a reputation for being easy to grow, according to the online resource Leafly—was available for delivery in Los Angeles for $12.
Once a person gets a plant, they can continue to read about how to cultivate it on Leafly or High Times, consult a go-to guide like Frank’s aforementioned Insider’s Guide, or even attend a workshop with the author himself, who occasionally teaches at Fig Earth Supply, a Los Angeles garden store. That’s not to mention the highly personalized consultancy services like those offered by Hicks at Green Carpet Growing.
The minimalist’s setup
All these resources can be overwhelming to the casual gardener, as they’re often geared toward those who are willing to invest lots of time, space, and money to harvest the highest yield possible: High Intensity Discharge lighting! Grow tents! Exhaust fans!
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.”
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.
“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.”
To flower or not to flower
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.
More than 16 hours a day of light will keep plants in their vegetative state, when they’re growing stronger and bushier without producing flowers. So if you wanted your outdoor plant to get a little bigger before it flowers, you might prolong its vegetative state by bringing it into a warm closet with the lights on every night.
Less than 12 hours of light a day will trigger the plant’s flowering phase. So, if you wanted to force a plant to flower, you should time its exposure accordingly. Or, just wait a few months until the days grow shorter, and let nature run its course.
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.
And if you fail miserably, just think of it like growing your own veggies. Sometimes gardening is a disappointing heartbreak. But it’s still fun, and you can always buy your kale at the store. And once in a while, you get to have your own homegrown tomatoes, warmed from the sun, sliced and salted on sourdough toast.
As marijuana continues its march into the mainstream, why not give it a go?
The Best Marijuana in the World is Homegrown
The best marijuana in the world is homegrown; no weed can be as satisfying as weed that you’ve grown yourself. Whenever you dedicate time and patience to your own plants, smoking them or consuming them in any other way is going to be much more satisfying than consuming any other cannabis that you can get your hands on. The best marijuana in the world is simply the one that you like the best; if you like feeling sleepy and relaxed, then the best strain in the world to you will be a nice strong and sedative Indica. If you’re a compulsive consumer and you want a strain for that every day grind, then the best strain in the world for you would be an energizing sativa.
Today we’re going to give you a list of strains that we know and love, so maybe you can find a decent one here that you want to try out for yourself! Our personal favorites are:
This strain is extremely potent and a favorite among smokers. It has dense and strong smoke that will conquer the lungs of even the most experienced of smokers. It’s really not hard to grow, as this strain isn’t delicate in the least. It grows strong and large during the summer and it turns into an absolute monster around mid-October (this is referring to Spain), it will obviously need to be planted and begin flowering at different times in different places around the world. These plants will fill up with long and fat buds. It tastes like… well, weed. It has that typical cannabis flavor that can’t be explained any other way. It’s perfect for helping you sleep, as you’ll feel the effect after just a few drags. Once you harvest this baby you’ll have potent buds that are full of resin, capable of K.O-ing the most experienced smoker you know. The plant in the photo was planted a bit late to keep it smaller, but you can plant it earlier and it will grow even fatter with a longer fattening period.
This plant is medium sized, and if you’re planting in Spain you’ll need to plant around March/April so that it can develop a large amount of branches that you’ll need to wire later on so the branches can put up with the weight of the heavy buds. This plant loves sun light and is incredibly pleasing to smoke. It has a sweet flavor and once you exhale, that flavor will stick around in your mouth for quite a while. This plant is quite eye-catching to look at, with a mix of blue/purple tones, but its smell is even more interesting. It smells literally like bubble gum and candy, making you want to eat it right away, and that smell will soon translate into taste once it’s ready for harvest. We grew this baby from a clone and ever since then it’s been one of my favorite go-to strains. It’s the kind of cannabis that you have in your bag and people can smell it from meters away, giving you strange looks on the bus.
This is almost every experienced grower’s favorite strain. I’m pretty sure almost everyone has planted this strain at least once, and if you haven’t then now’s your chance. These plants are strong and resistant to practically everything. You can harvest this bad boy outdoors around the end of September if you’re looking to get the most of it, although it can look ready much earlier than that. It grows out long side branches that grow upwards with the plant, making for a Christmas tree-looking kind of plant. This strain isn’t delicate at all and it can deal with a heavy diet, as it’s much harder to over-fertilize than other strains. If you’re looking for a plant for guerilla grows, for early harvesting or for a large production in a small place, then this is the seed for you. Its taste and aroma are truly unique and characteristic, so if you’ve never tried it, it can be a bit difficult to describe. This strain is also perfect for novice growers, as it really doesn’t need too much care and the seeds themselves are rather cheap.
This plant has an amazingly strong incensed and sweet taste. The fragrance coming from the flowers will absolutely flood your garden or grow room, and when you’re smoking it you’ll probably kick yourself for not having planted even more. This plant produces quite a lot of resin on its leaves, so using the trimmings to extract hash and whatnot is a major advantage this strain has. It also has a thick central bud, followed by multiple large branches; this plant really is quite large. If you decide to grow it using the SCRoG method, then the mesh will be full almost straight away due to how fast the branches grow. Its effect is mostly indica, and it’s perfect for going to sleep. It also takes fertilizing quite nicely, but it really doesn’t need much to develop correctly; fertilizing once a week is enough to get the most out of this plant. You won’t regret trying these seeds, even if they do take a bit longer to flower.
These are the strains that we’ve loved the most over the years, and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t forget to leave a comment below!
Author: Javier Chinesta
Translation: Ciara Murphy
The best marijuana in the world is homegrown; there's nothing like consuming the cannabis that you've spent so much time and hard work on.