From preparing your cannabis garden to curing your final cannabis product, use these tips for a successful cannabis growing season
by Dessy Pavlova · May 15, 2023
Are you lucky enough to live in a country, state or province where growing cannabis at home is legal? If so, you might be getting together your cannabis seeds and tools to get your garden started. You likely have a cap on how many cannabis plants you can grow at home, so you better make the most of the cannabis growing season!
Cannabis is a resilient plant–if you give it a lot of sun, water, and a little bit of love, it’s bound to grow even in the worst conditions. You can grow it in regular high-quality potting soil with no additions, hydroponically with nutrients added, and in soilless mediums like pure coconut coir, with each requiring its own care regimen.
If you’re a first-time cannabis grower, it’s easiest to start with soil, but you have to pay attention to the ingredients because the growing medium is the main source of nutrients for your future bud, and what it contains can vastly impact the resulting bud from your cannabis plant. You can look for additions in your soil mix like earthworm castings, compost, kelp, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and various types of meal (bone, fish, etc) can help to add micro and macronutrients.
If you opt for a soilless or hydroponic grow, you’ll have your work cut out for you in terms of finding the right nutrient mix to keep your plants happy in a standard PH environment, and it’s unfortunately much more difficult to keep organic and all-natural.
You can also make your own organic soil if you have a composter, or by mixing mediums. A number of different ingredients can give your soil a natural nutrient boost. Mix equal parts worm castings, coco noir, perlite and vermiculite with 4 parts potting soil, and add in some organic material. If you’re adding food scraps, you’ll want it to be entirely composted before adding to your plants.
Store-bought organic additions like kelp and crustacean meal won’t hurt your plants, while additives like chicken manure, which can do wonders for vegetables and other plants, can burn your cannabis plants if you add too much or aren’t careful. Try using an easy compost tea throughout the growing cycle to keep giving your cannabis plants (and soil!) nutrients without potentially harming them.
If you have cannabis seedlings outside, getting to know compost tea can help add a boost to your garden as it grows. There are many different types of compost tea you can easily create and experiment with. The main materials you’ll need – although many household green bin items will help your plants besides these – worm castings, compost, molasses, and kelp. You could just throw these all in a bucket and leave them for a week or two, and experiment with ratios and resulting PH levels. If you want to keep the potential stink-factor to a minimum, add your 2-3 cup mix in the middle of a cheesecloth, and let the mix hang in your bucket. Mix it every day to add oxygen to the mix without a pump.
Cannabis successfully grows in different climates all over the world and in many different types of growing medium and nutrients, but different cultivars grow better in specific environments. Cultivators in the cannabis industry have learned a few secrets about how best to help plants grow successfully depending on their environment. If you’re growing at home, outdoors, you might want to pick an autoflowering strain that will finish along with your growing season ahead of cold spurts and heavy rains.
White Widow, for example, has long been a strain grown successfully across North America, though it originated in the Netherlands. The resin-covered buds make it resistant to pests. Early Girl is another cultivar well-known for its quick growth cycle, which lets growers in less-than-lengthy gardening seasons to harvest ahead of worsening weather conditions. If you’re along the coastline, you might want to consider mold-resistant cultivars like Afghan Kush or [Durban Poison](https://bud.com/strain/durban-poison. All that being said, even seeds found in your bud can grow into big and healthy plants with limited tending.
Debatably, drying and curing can be the hardest part of growing cannabis successfully. Even the most beautiful cannabis plant, harvested at just the right time and trimmed to perfection – before or after drying – can be quickly ruined without proper planning for the complicated drying and curing process.
Like managing the growing medium and nutrient conditions throughout the growing process, managing the climate during drying and curing is absolutely essential to a clean final product. There are many ways to achieve an incredible result, but you want to dry your bud in an environment in conditions of 60-68 F/15-20 C with 55-65% humidity. If you go under, you might end up with a dry, crispy bud with limited terpenes and taste; if you go over, you can grow mold and completely ruin your crop. You can start curing your harvest when the stem of the dried bud snaps when bent – don’t let your bud lose that spongy feel! If you dry right on the stem, it’s much easier to tell, but if you strip your buds off the stem, you’ll have to manually test your buds regularly to avoid your common cannabis pitfalls.
Once you’ve dried your cannabis, you’ll have to focus on curing the crop before you can test it to desired results. Ideally, you’ll use a large glass jar stored in a dark place, with a slightly lesser temperature of 60-65 F/15-18 C and a humidity level between 50-60%. You’ll have to “burp” your curing cannabis – a relatively easy process of releasing humid air by opening the jar 1-3 times a day, gradually decreasing the opening time to once a week throughout the curing process. Some homegrowers are happy to test their product as soon as it’s dry, but ideally, you’ll cure it for at least 2-4 weeks to get the terpene levels up along with moisture levels of 8-11%.
Everything is a process when it comes to cannabis, so don’t be discouraged if your first growing season doesn’t go according to plan – cannabis can be easy to grow, but getting your ideal final product can be more difficult than your average plant in your home garden.
If you’re able to grow though, get going! The growing season is short, and becoming a Master Grower takes years of work and careful planning. Let us know how your growing season goes!