There are many different styles, techniques, and philosophies when it comes to growing cannabis. Almost every grower you talk to has a slightly different way to go about growing cannabis. I could go on for days about the various options when it comes to growing. However, for those who are new to growing and just starting out it could get extremely confusing extremely fast. So I am going to do a brief overview of the basic decisions you need to make before growing cannabis and will cover various aspects in greater detail in the coming weeks.
How much to grow?
One of your decisions you need to make is how much you want to grow. Do you plan on growing for personal use or are you going to want to share with others? Do you want to grow for the flower or to make the flower into something else like oil or budder? Are you going to want to sell you product on the medical market? Do you want to grow for clones or genetics? Do you plan on doing any breeding with your grow? Starting small is always a good idea for the first time grower. Mastering how to take care of cannabis on a smaller scale will set you up for success and expanding once you get the hang of it is not a difficult thing to do. Deciding how big of a budget you have for getting started and where you are going to grow will affect how much you can grow starting out. Deciding on how much time you will be able to dedicate to your plants will be a huge deciding factor in how many plants you should and can grow.
Indoor or outdoor?
First you will need to decide where you are going to be growing your plants. When making this decision consider what time of year it is, what the weather and climate are like, and how much sunlight your plant will get. In the vegetative state the cannabis plant needs at least 18 hours of sunlight but ideally 20 hours. Ideally you want to veg your plants for at least 3-4 weeks to allow the plant to get big and strong enough to have a decent yield. In the flowering stage of growing your plant will need 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. Your plant will be in flowering for about 3 months, give or take, depending on the strain.
Where are you going to be growing?
Is your growing location a secure location? Thinking about how to keep unwanted guests out of your cannabis plants is key. Make sure that your location whether it is indoors or outdoors is easily secured and out of sight. If you are thinking about growing outdoors growing in a greenhouse is an option. If you are thinking about growing indoors, a separate room, a grow tent, a closet or even a cupboard can work to grow in. When choosing your growing location make sure to keep in mind that you will have to have your plants on a strict light schedule, make sure that your grow space will accommodate a 18-6, 24-0, and 12-12 light schedules. Ventilation is another big part of your grow space. You will need room for fans and a way to bring fresh air to your plants.
What strains are you going to grow?
Once you decide where you are going to grow you need to decide what you are going to grow. Keeping your grow space in mind when choosing your strains will save you a headache later on. Sativas tend to be tall and skinny whereas indicas tend to be shorter and more bushy. If you're choosing to grow indoors you might not want to go with a sativa that could potentially get to 10ft tall if you don't have the ceiling space to accommodate a plant of that height. Another thing to consider is if you are going to grow all of the same strain or multiple different strains. Growing all of the same strain can be less of a hassle than mixing it up. If you run into a problem, however, you could potentially lose your whole crop easier than if you had different strains that weren't prone to the same issues or as susceptible to getting the same issues. Making sure that your different strains cohabitate (same climate, temperature, humidity, and nutrient schedule) well together will save you some trouble down the line too.
Seeds or Clones?
Once you have found the strains you want to try growing the next part is deciding if you want to grow them from seeds or if you'd rather start with clones that are a couple weeks old already. Depending on where you live starting from seeds may be a faster more viable option for you to get the specific strains you want to grow. If you choose to start from seed know that there are three main types of seeds, autoflower, feminized, and regular seeds. With clones you already know that the plant is female and generally it has already taken root. Regardless of how you choose to start out your grow make sure to put some effort into finding good genetics. This will save you time and money in the long run if you make sure your plant is coming from a strong genetic background.
What are you going to be growing in?
There are many options when it comes to what to grow in. There is soil, organic soil, clay pellets, perlite, rockwool, soilless mix, or hydroponics. For the first time grower a good organic potting soil mix is probably the simplest route. You can grow in pots with proper drainage holes, fabric pots like "Smart Pots", or in a hydroponic drip system.
What lights will you be using?
There are many options for lighting these days. You can save money on electricity and grow with LED grow lights. There are the standard HPS (High Pressure Sodium), Ceramic Metal Halide, and Metal Halide light bulbs. Both of those require special fixtures and ballasts to power the bulbs. Ballasts come in electronic or magnetic ballasts. Fluorescent grow lights like T-5 and CFL grow lights are great for clones and seedlings but you can loose some yield if you use them all the way through to flowering. When deciding what lights to use consider your electricity budget, your space, and how much of a yield you are shooting for. When deciding on bulbs remember it's the lumens that matter more for your yield than the wattage.
What nutrients will you be using?
What nutrients you will need and how much you will need will depend greatly on what type of growing medium you are using. Taking some time to do a little research on your growing medium and on different nutrient brands will help you in the long run to avoid major deficiencies. Having some basic preventative treatments on hand for various pests known to plague cannabis in the NW can be helpful as well. Better to be prepared than to find an issue late at night and not be able to go to any store to remedy it.
The various growing options and techniques out there all have their advantages and disadvantages. I can not emphasize this enough, researching what will work best for your time, space, and needs will save you in the long run. Making your grow work efficiently for you will bring you the best results. In the coming weeks I will go into more detail about the various options for growing. We will talk about budget options, and hassle free options to save you time as well as money. Stay Tuned!