Finding Your Way: Getting Started with Cannabis Cultivation
Getting started with growing cannabis can be a bit overwhelming for a first timer. Many will turn to the internet for advice, and get even more confused on how best to begin. Everyone has something different to say, everyone has a “must use” miracle product, and everyone thinks they have all the answers – and they often contradict each other. Hop on a cannabis growing forum and you’ll see this wide variety of opinion. Who’s advice should you follow? How do you weed through the hype? We caution first time growers against getting sucked into the black hole of bad advice on the internet, and advise that you KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Focusing on the basics, and improving systems as you learn your room and how to read your plants, is the best way to find success as a new grower. The basic recipe for success in growing: 50% is your environment, 25% is the quality of your light (hey isn’t that 75% for environment?…Yup!), and the last 25% is your grow style, genetics, nutrients, water, etc. Don’t skimp in setting up your environment! You have to be able to control your light cycle, temperature and humidity for your plants to thrive. Tuning in your environment and learning how to read your plants can be overwhelming enough for a first time grower, so keep the rest of it as simple as you can. Don’t get sucked into a full feed nutrient program that has you adding 8 things to your water on your first grow. A single part nutrient feed along with a bloom booster will do just fine!
First step is figuring out where in your home you are going to grow. We are partial to indoor cultivation as you have much more control over environment, you can grow year round, and you can get better quality product than growing outdoors in Vermont which has a very short growing season. Basements and spare rooms are popular grow space choices, and each have their benefits. Basements are relatively even in temperature year round, which is helpful in controlling your grow room space. Spare rooms can be temperature controlled, or air conditioned in summer, which has it’s benefits for regulating heat during the summer months.
Next you’ll need to create your environment. A grow tent is a great way to start as they are easy up and down, and have all the access ports you need for intake and exhaust systems. Think of it as a little indoor greenhouse. You can also build out a room if you don’t have the ceiling height, or if you’d like to customize the space. The most important factors in setting up your room are that it’s light tight and that you have the ability to have an intake and exhaust. You don’t have to have fresh air intake or exhaust outside, but you do have to have air flow in and out of your grow space (unless you are doing a sealed room w/ AC but that’s another level and something we are not going to cover right now).
Now you need a light that can take you from the seedling/clone phase through flowering your cannabis plant. Cannabis is a high light requirement plant, and the better quality your light is, the better quality your product will be and the higher your yields will be. If you shop with us, it’s no secret that we are partial to the LEC 315 lights from Sun System. These fixtures take you throughout the entire grow cycle using a very efficient 315 watts of electricity. We’ll go over why we prefer these over just about any LED fixture in a follow up post.
The last piece of setting up your grow space is determining the grow style you are going to use. We typically recommend a simple soil system for first time growers, but can certainly help those who would prefer to play with a hydroponic system. Pick something that feels manageable to you. Grow style is something that many people experiment with over their years of growing and it can be fun exploring the different ways to grow and what best suits your room, your lifestyle, and of course, what gets you the best results!
For those who need or want a reference guide, get yourself a grow book from one of the OG grow masters – Ed Rosenthol or Jorges Servantes – are two originals who have great grow books available. It’s helpful to have this to refer to for sexing plants, understanding when to harvest, and getting some general tips as you go through the process. Beyond that, utilize the people around you for advice. Shop your local grow store. See what products they recommend – get your gear and nutrients from them, and they’ll be more likely to help you with advice along the way. With observation and time, you’ll learn how to listen to your plants – they’ll tell you what they need, and if you’re having trouble understanding what they’re trying to say, we’re here to help!