Grow Marijuana: Tips for the Small Cultivator

So you got your license or whatever you need to grow your own medicine. Now what? Information on growing cannabis is quickly becoming its own gardening niche, but a lot of it seems to assume that you own a multi-acre grow-op, know about supplementing your C02, and are looking for tailored spectrum lighting.

Don’t despair, even the experts started out learning what size pot to use and why it was never a good idea to grow marijuana in the closet.

I’m going to be writing for the folks who want to grow six or fewer plants, the small scale canabist. This series of articles is for you even if you are only growing a single plant. Although there’s a lot of cross over between small and large scale growing, the differences are substantial.

For example, growing cannabis hydroponically in water instead of soil is more cost and work efficient on a larger scale.

It’s easier to give a hundred plants their dose of nutrients by feeding it through the water supply, than by applying it to each pot by hand. But do you need this kind of system in your living room, humming over the dialogue while you binge watch Weeds?

Small is Beautiful

sprouting cannabis seedsScaling down takes a lot of concerns out of the mix. You don’t have to know the stats on how different ballasts for lighting compare because you can simplify when growing only half a dozen plants or less.

There are quality products such as lights that are geared specifically for the scaled down grower as well as corners you can cut.

And then there are the corners you had better not cut, or you’ll find your grass is closer to lawn.

What I’m going to present in this series of articles is not a definitive and all encompassing guide, but it will be enough to get you into the game. From there you can research and supplement with additional info to suit your situation, and I will be providing links to some of that stuff.

Through the series I’ll be talking about sprouting seeds, sourcing soil and potting pot. Soon enough you won’t remember what life was like before you started cohabiting with your lil’ green buddies. Which brings us to the first concern… should you grow inside or outside?

Grow Wild in the Country

Pot plant growing outside You’ve seen pictures of monster marijuana plants? No guarantees that you will produce a plant like that, but it’s always easier to grow a larger cannabis plant outdoors.

You need the right conditions, including being in the right growing zone.

Marijuana used to stretch across North America, growing as a wild weed. The government applied a lengthy eradication program to bring it to its current state of controlled substance.

So there is nothing exotic about growing this otherwise crazily exotic plant. Weed literally used to grow almost everywhere and part of its eternal beauty is how many hybrids it easily spawns.

However, there’s a lot you can’t control in the great outdoors, such as pests and weather. Varmints can dine on your dope and your mighty tree of a plant could turn out to be mostly stem. In some places, theft and pollutants are a problem. You want your bud to be as clean and healthy as possible.

Basically, you need to treat your marijuana plant like a food because your ultimate goal is to ingest it in some way. So the first tip is never forget that your harvest is something you will be consuming. Clean air, soil and water are a must, most especially if you are using it as a medicine — and if that’s not guaranteed outside, then you are heading inside.

Growing Cannabis Indoors

Watching cannabis grow A lot of the information in this series will apply equally to raising your lil’ buddies inside or outside. For example, your seeds need to germinate no matter where they end up.

However, I’ll be giving more time to inside growing because you have to create a certain version of the great outdoors for your beanie crop.

You will literally produce night and day and this is critical, because your plant is responsive to the seasons.

So to grow cannabis indoors you need to turn into Mother Nature. Congratulations mom!

Congratulations and break out the pink, because all your little ones are going to be girls. It’s the female that holds most of this plant’s superpowers for reasons that I will get into a little further on in this series.

What’s important right now, at the beginning, is that you are able to control for pollination since you don’t want all your beautiful bud going to seed. Generally, that is easier to do indoors than out since you don’t necessarily know if there are other plants in the vicinity.

One male cannabis plant can send out enough fine pollen dust to make sure your female plant is included in a sizable neighborhood cannabis family. If you are planting outside in favorable conditions you must never forget that cannabis is indeed a weed, because it acts like one. It’s a seed-makin’ machine which is great for someone who wants seeds, but you want buds.

Not Perfect

Growing indoors does have its own drawbacks, such as that you must turn into Mother Nature as noted. That’s perfectly fine if you were going to be a helicopter parent anyways, because you want to check in on your sprouts daily.

You’ll need to learn about and purchase a selection of equipment and your grow center will cost money in electricity. Ah yes I know, the dreaded electric bill!

But things have changed radically in this department due to new developments in lighting such as LEDs. Gone are the days when you had to chose between bankrolling your grow wattage or taking your vacation. Lighting merits having its own article, so look for that one coming up soon!

Lighting a Cannabis Grow

One of the biggest problems facing the indoor cannabis grower is pests, because the plants will be somewhat stressed by their unnatural environment. As we go forward, I will be giving tips to reduce this stress as much as possible and I will provide information on products that can control or eliminate certain common pests.

Since we are treating cannabis like a food, we’re going to stay organic because chemical pesticides reside on or even inside the plant long after the bugs are gone, and who wants to eat or smoke chemicals?

And so We Begin

I’m going to assume that all you have in your hand right now is the permit that allows you to grow marijuana (if you need one). And of course a joint. And OK, maybe a coffee.

But what I’m getting at is, what’s not in your hand is seeds. The second article in this series is going to start looking at seeds, where to get them and what to do with them.

If you know another grower who has given you a “clone,” which is just another name for a rooted cutting, then you can jump past this next post because your lil’ buddy is already up and bobbing about. For all others, its time to dig in and make this happen!

12 Replies to “Grow Marijuana: Tips for the Small Cultivator”

  1. Wow. I have never even considered growing marijuana in my life, but now your article and website had me thinking about it. You explain it in such a simple way that anyone can understand it. I am thinking of growing it both hydroponically and in pots, just to see which way works best for me. Thank you for the knowledge. Clay

    1. You are welcome. Even though concerns about the plant are the same no matter how you grow it, the equipment and a host of other factors are different for hydroponic and soil based cannabis grows. I would say start with soil since its cheaper and hence any mistakes will not cost you a fortune. 

      You will learn a lot about the character of the canabis plant in a soil grow that you can carry over into the more technical hydroponic set up later. Even gaining a good knowledge about what nutrients are in the soil will serve you further down the road when you have to add those nutrients to the water or cycle them out. A number of optimal practices can just be carried over to a hydroponic cannabis grow such as everything to do with lighting. 

      And there will be things that are pretty different such as the pests you contend with and how to control humidity and water PH levels (how alkaline or acid). People used to say that hydroponic grows produce better weed but that was before the development of so many top notch easy-to-grow strains. Now its more, as you say, a matter of personal preference which type of grow suits you better. 

  2. Awesome post. My brother used to grow in his closet using a hydroponic system. It was recreational though not medicinal.

    Using carpeting skills, he installed a dry wall in the middle of his closet, totally segregating half the closet space to where it was hidden from view.

    That hobby died a few months later when his plant died.
    It just goes to show your quote all the way back at the beginning of your post that it’s “never a good idea to grow marijuana in the closet.” =)

    1. Haha thanks for that cool little story. Yes the problem with closets is that you can move air within them with a fan but actually getting hot moist air out and fresh air in is a trick. That’s why so many closet plants develop pests and molds. That makes it one of the hardest places to grow a plant yet its the one so many people try. I hope your brother tries again now that the attitude toward cannabis is changing. I’ll be writing about alternative set ups that work much better than the stuffy old closet. 

  3. I really enjoyed checking out the post. I live in Ohio, so growing my own weed is a still a no no at this point but it’s only a matter of time. I have heard that there is a lot that goes into this and after reading I feel I would be in over my head but it’s still fun to read about and look forward to the future lol

    1. I agree on both counts, its only a matter of time for Ohio and growing is a bit involved. Its why I’m dedicated to laying out the steps in easy-to-understand pieces. I think a good comparison to growing cannabis is tomatoes. You have to pick the type that works for your circumstances then once you start that seed its off to the races because the whole thing is going to go from seed to flower to harvest in a matter of months. That said, there is an advantage to cannabis in that it really is a weed, it wants to grow. Hopefully you are able to try your own hand at it in the near future.

  4. Great article — I myself do not have a Green Thumb. So every attempt I have made to Grow plants has failed, or has had very little success at best.
    I have a few friends that seem to get it right. In my opinion I like the outdoor grown plant better.
    Thanks for sharing you knowledge, I think I might have to give this a go again…

    1. Thanks for your comment. Definitely try giving it a go again. I’ll be posting a whole series on all aspects of this so you can follow along at all stages of growth if you like. As the series rolls out you might discover the thing that has been a sticking point for you in the past. It could be something simple, so don’t give up — organic bud is the best bud 😉 

  5. I never really had a green thumb I mean I can barely keep houseplants in my home so I would be scared to grow marijuana. It seems too complex for me. You give a lot of examples to go about it and I think growing indoors does sound like the best way to provide observation but I would be afraid of the drawbacks. Which method do you prefer?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I really prefer indoors because in Canada there are few places that have a long season for outdoor growing. Also, why be chained to the schedule of the seasons when you can grow when you want indoors? The trick for indoor growing is to have a covered cabinet where you can control the light. I’ll be explaining how to make or get one of these in a future post. You’re right that its kind of a complex plant to grow, so I’m going to try to keep things simple so people can follow the posts and try for themselves. See what you think after reading the series and you can always ask me questions in the comments.

  6. Haha that is a good idea growing weed outside. As you mentioned if you live in North America. I can imagine there being so much free land to grow plants. From living in Manchester, England for most of my life. The biggest problem over here is the fact that most of the weed is grown indoors and they use pesticides which is probably why I feel so tired and bad after smoking a joint.

    What do you think is the better option, inside or out?

    1. Part of the reason I started this series is to show people how to grow indoors with no pesticides. However, this works better if there are fewer plants, so the small grower has an advantage here. If a big grower has a pest on one plant, they have them on 100. Not so for the small grower who can monitor each plant closely, isolate if necessary, and treat organically. And yes I’m with you, people are suffering the consequences of smoking chems such as tiredness, headache, allergy-like symptoms. Inside or outside really depends on whether you have access to an outdoor area with clean air, soil and water. You don’t need a lot of room cuz you don’t need to grow a field of weed. Even growing 3 or 4 plants is all it takes to give yourself access to organic quality bud or green for clean medicinal use. 

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