Cannabis Growing 101

So you want to grow some cannabis? It’s not that hard. The first thing you need to do is make sure you have everything you need set up and in place before you start seeds.

Find two rooms that you can use. They can be as small as a closet or as large as you want or need. You need two rooms: one to keep your mother plants and new seeds growing until it’s time to put them into flowering mode, and the other room is for flowering.

Each room needs to be equipped properly. You’ll need lights. I suggest using 100 watts per square foot of space. So, a 2′ x 2′ space needs 400 watts. You can use LEDs, which save on electricity, but they need to produce enough lumens (light power) to be effective. They also need to be switchable from the blue to red spectrums. I prefer to use HID lights, which are high-pressure sodium (HPS) and metal halide (MH). The HPS is used for flowering, and the MH is used for the vegetative stage. Most modern lights offer the ability to go from 50-100% of the rated power.

Next, each room needs to have the walls lined with some sort of reflective material. This could be as simple as really white paint or mylar. I prefer mylar, as emergency blankets provide an excellent and cheap source of mylar in sheets to staple to walls.

Of course, you might want to put something on the floor that will act to hold water from soaking into the floor. Working in the basement is an excellent alternative.

You should think about fans and venting. Cannabis loves CO2, so you need to make sure there is plenty of air exchange in the room. This will also help with heat control.

Heat and humidity considerations: Many lights produce a lot of heat, and growing plants produce humid environments. Both of these things can be beneficial in certain amounts, but too much can be a problem. So, you may need to use dehumidifiers and vents to the outside world to control the temperature and humidity in the room.

Fans: You will need one or two small floweringsmall fans to circulate the air in the room. This will help reduce mold, mildew, bugs, and other issues.

Non-Hydro Method of Growing. Many people swear by hydro but unless you have experience and the ability to monitor lots of things dirt is the way to go.

Dirt Farming – requires dirt, not just dig it up dirt but potting soil in a bag.  Generally I use Miracle Grow potting soil but any good potting soil that has white flecks in it (perlite) will be good.  Soil has lots of advantages the best being it offers everything the plant needs to reach maturity right there.  With timers for watering and such you can even leave it for a few days without worry of them dying.

Planters: Starting from seed, standard seed starter trays work well. 2-inch square planters also work well to start seeds and grow plants.

seed in dirtStarting seeds: The method I use is to put 7 or more layers of paper towels on a plate, then a few seeds and a single layer of paper towel over them. Keep them wet and around 80 degrees F. Usually within a couple of days, to a week, you should see the seeds sprouting. When they have a small (1/4-1/2″) root, put them into a 2×2 container with dirt, and place a small amount of dirt over the seed. Keep it moist and in a day or two, you’ll see plants start to erupt from the ground. Make sure they are under indoor grow lights at full power. You want to watch the plants as they may have seed hulls or membrane that keeps the leaves from spreading open. Don’t be afraid to help them. Be careful not to over water or let them dry out. Too much water and they get a rot, too little they die of thirst.  You  can also use peat pellets or other starting methods using dirt.  Whatever works best for you.

Growing room: In your growing room during the growth cycle, you want the lights on 24/7, with no off time. You want to keep an eye on your new sprouts as they start to grow. At first, they will have round leaves, but the next set will be serrated like your regular cannabis plant. You want to keep the lights close to the plants, but not so close as to burn them. Generally, they will reach for the light even when they have more than enough, so watch them and do not be afraid to move the lights and plants. Do not make them strain for the light. You will see them bend towards the light, so move and rotate them around so they grow quick and straight.

When plants are young, they are more susceptible to disease and rot. Once they get several inches tall, they are getting into the “we gonna grow” stage.

Depending on how you want your room to continue, depends on what you do next. I prefer to use the Sea of Green method of producing cannabis flowers, but others prefer to grow their plants tall. See “Grow Cannabis 102” for more information on the Sea of Green method.

ready to flower clones
Clones ready to flower sea of green

Flowering: Once your plants go into the flowering room with 12 hours of light 12 of dark they will spring up from several inches to feet depending on the height of the original plant.  Depending on the variety it will be 8-12 weeks before they are ready to harvest.  While you can harvest early it reduces the amount of material you will end up with.

2-weeks into flower
2 weeks into flowering

Now that you have a general understanding of what is needed you can look online and order seeds.  Seeds are currently legal under federal law so go ahead and order pretty much without worry in most states.  There is plenty to choose from and kinds to choose from.

Types of Seed: find more details about seed here

Feminized Seed – These are seeds that produce 100% female plants.  Using techniques the producers are able to cross Female plants with Female plants.  This results in 100% female seeds.  Normal cross breeding produces approx. 50% female 50% male plants.  I highly recommend Feminized seeds.  It saves time and energy.

Auto-Flowering Seed – These are plants that have been crossed with a variety or low potency Ruderals Cannabis which flowers automatically.  While this has the benefit of only needing one room it has the distraction of lower potency, cloning and control of the crop.

Regular Seed – As most seed is produced from Male and Female plants this produces 50% male 50% female.  Male plants are great for breeding but they are a hindrance to producing seedless cannabis.  1 single male flower can pollinate an entire room and then its seeds galore at harvest time.  So if you’re interested in creating your own strain go for it, if not keep an eye on your crop.

Other Factors:

Land Race – Land race is a specific type found in a region of the world.  Durban Poison, Afghan, and others are considered the basic for all modern hybrids.

Hybrid – These are cross breeding that growers have done to produce unique types of cannabis.  Much like there are many different kinds of Corn, Roses and other plants there are many different kinds of hybrid cannabis seed.  Most seed suppliers give you some information on what types grow best in what areas, general potency and other information you can use to decide.

There I hope that gives you the basics of growing cannabis indoors.  For more advanced methods check out Cannabis Growing 102