So you are thinking about growing cannabis for the first time, but you are a beginner and don’t know where to begin. We understand that the massive amounts of information out there about growing cannabis can get overwhelming. But fret not, this post is here to help. It will guide you through the first steps in how to grow weed.
Is Growing Cannabis Right for You?
Before you go any further, it’s time to find out if growing cannabis is right for you at all. True it can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but it is not for everyone.
So before we even tackle the important second question of indoor versus outdoor cannabis cultivation, let see if cannabis gardening is a suitable endeavor for you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a good space where I can grow cannabis? Outdoors this means a safe, secure place away from children and nosy neighbors. Indoors it can be any unused room, corner or closet depending on the size of your grow (yes you can grow a single plant at a time).
- Do I have enough time to grow cannabis? -- Outdoors figure on working from May through November in addition to preparing soil and starting seedlings or clones in advance. Indoors it varies. Indicas will generally need 8 to 10 weeks in flowering mode, 12 to 14 weeks for sativas.
- Do I have enough money to grow cannabis? Growing outdoors need not be expensive, but you can realistically plan to spend at least a couple of hundred dollars on supplies. Growing indoors is more costly. Expect to spend from about $500 on the low end to $4000 or more setting up larger grows. However you can save a bunch of money by buying everything in a complete kit like those from the Bud Grower.
- Do I have enough patience to grow cannabis? It is said that you learn something new with every grow. That means no matter how experienced you are, growing cannabis always comes with certain challenges. If you are expecting a hands off, set it and forget it situation, think again.
What is the best way to grow weed?
OK. You passed the first question and determined that you do want to try your hand at growing your cannabis. Now you want to know what is the best way to grow weed. And you will again find yourself overwhelmed with information if you search the internet.
Relax. The basic elements needed for marijuana to grow consist of nothing more than air, water, light, and nutrients.
But it is how you provide your plants with these elements where the art of growing premium marijuana comes into play. And if you are going to go to the trouble of growing cannabis, you might as well grow top shelf.
Growing Cannabis Indoors vs Growing Cannabis Outdoors
The next thing to determine is if you will grow indoors or outdoors. Let's look at the pros and cons of each.
Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation Pros:
Less expensive – You can grow some respectable marijuana with an investment of $200.00 or less depending on what you already have on hand. Besides supplies, the sun will never send you an outrageous electric bill.
Less work – While you will have to watch and tend to your plants, outdoor grows usually require less maintenance and tinkering.
More environmentally sound -- When you use natural sunlight and rainwater you consume far less environmental resources.
Bigger Harvests – It’s hard to beat natural sunlight and Mother Nature! Under the best circumstances, you can grow some HUGE plants outdoors. We have a friend who once yielded 5 pounds of trimmed flowers from a single outdoor plant!
Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation Cons:
Exposed/More Vulnerable to Humans – Unless you live way out in the middle middle of nowhere with no nearby neighbors, outdoor grows are generally harder to hide and usually more exposed. Law enforcement aside, your outdoor grow is prime prey for neighborhood thieves, unethical meter readers, or any other cannabis lovers with questionable morals who might happen upon it and who will try to rip it off. Depending on the laws where you live, you might also have beware of those who don't like like marijuana and will report you to the police.
Exposed/More Vulnerable to Pests – I’m not saying you can’t get predatory pests indoors, but some of the outdoor variety can be difficult if not impossible to control. For instance, spider mites are a common problem both inside and out. However, you'll never have to deal with critters like squirrels, birds, deer, and locusts (yes locusts) when you grow inside. All of these creatures have endocannabinoid systems too and they all enjoy cannabis.
More Vulnerable to the Elements – A week of cloudy days, powerful winds, out of season frost and/or excessive heat, a freak hailstorm, and more, can all damage or wipe out your outdoor cannabis crop without warning.
You Only Get One Chance – With an outdoor grow you get a single shot. If something goes wrong and it dies during the season you are out of luck until next year.
Indoor Cannabis Cultivation Pros:
More Controllable – To your indoor plants, you are God. You control their water, their light, their nutrients. You control how long they stay in veg state. By changing their light cycles you also control when they go into flower. Finally you determine when they are ready for harvest.
Year Round Harvests – You can set up your indoor plants on a rotating schedule so that you are continually harvesting throughout the year. Some growers set up to harvest a few plants every week, others every 2 weeks, others every month. If you plan to keep a perpetual grow find a rhythm that works for you.
More Stealth – In theory it’s easier to keep an indoor grow stealth unlike an outdoor garden exposed to God and everyone.
Indoor Cannabis Cultivation Cons:
Way more expensive – Even if you grow in dirt (as opposed to hydroponically) you will still need a system of lights to grow indoors. In order to keep the room at optimum temperature you will probably have to vent it and/or run air conditioning, especially if you live in a hot climate. If you grow hydroponically expect to spend more buying or making the equipment involved including a water circulating system, not to mention a system for filtering water so it’s pure. You will also need fans to keep the air moving and help strengthen the plant leaves and a way to filter air to reduce odor. A system to supplement the room’s CO2 content will also help you grow better plants with bigger yields. If you don’t have a room or two you can dedicate to growing, you’ll also need to purchase a grow tent or two. It all adds up. Even on the cheap, expect to spend a minimum of $500 to $2500 to set up a small indoor grow. However you can save a lot by buying a complete grow kit over piecing out the parts.
More work/time consuming – Indoor grows, especially hydroponic grows, generally take more daily work and tinkering than their outdoor counterparts.
Bigger learning curve – It’s not difficult, but there is more to learn about maintaining a successful indoor grow.
Bigger physical risk – Because the lights use substantial electricity there can be fire dangers. Always consult a trusted electrician and be sure you have adequate power to handle the electrical drain of your indoor grow. This shouldn’t be a problem with one or two plants, but always do your homework before planting. This used to be a far bigger issue before LED technology evolved. Today's LED grow lights use far less energy, run cooler, and grow great cannabis. (More about this in a future article.)
Vulnerable to Power Outages – If you live in an area that’s subject to frequent power outages it can interfere with your plant’s light cycle and damage your crop unless you have an emergency back up plan that keeps the lights on without interruption.
Steps on How to Grow Weed
Now that you have made a decision on whether or not to grow indoors or outdoors, let’s take a quick look at the road ahead. In other words, what steps are necessary to grow marijuana.
We will go into further details on all these in future articles, but for now here’s what you can expect before you will be able to enjoy your first home grown cannabis crop:
- Germination – This step is only necessary if you will be growing your cannabis from seeds. If not, you can skip to step 2.
- Seedlings – You can purchase seedlings in the form of clones (more on this in a future article) or grow them yourself from seeds. Cannabis plants typically stay seedlings for 2-3 weeks.
- Vegetative State – This is where your plants really start to grow like weeds (pun intended). Veg state can last between 3 and 16 weeks typically.
- Flowering State – This is where those sticky resinous buds form and grow. Flower stage typically lasts 8-11 weeks but can go longer in some strains.
- Harvest Time – The day you’ve been waiting for. Time to harvest your plants.
- Curing the Harvest – No crop is complete until it is dried and properly cured. Skipping this step can seriously impact the quality of your cannabis.