Basic Cannabis cultivation guide
Follow these simple steps described in our “cannabis basic cultivation guide” and you will get a good crop.
Before going ahead, I want to give you some tips to make you avoid many of the most common failures of beginners. They can be simple but they are very important. Many beginners make these mistakes, loosing months of work and a lot of money.
Don’t be stingy. It is quite shocking seeing how many beginners spend a remarkable amount of money in good seeds and after they dig a hole in their garden to grow them. Please, buy a good substratum! Don’t make such a mistake. The weakest part of cannabis is its root system. It has no strength. It needs a loose and spongy soil to thrive. Don’t buy cheap soil or buy it in the cheapest shops. Probably you cannot afford buying the soil that cannabis shops sell. But, at least, go to your nearest green house and ask for a good one. There is a well known brand that costs about 10 dollars a 50 liter sack.
You must avoid cultivating seeds whose origin is unknown. Very often I see beginners who tell me they are growing seeds that a friend of a friend gave them. Never ever make something like this. Grow only seeds whose quality is guaranteed. The best seeds are quite inexpensive if you think the production and quality you can obtain.
All the genetics have two genders: every plant can be male or female. And all the strains, excepting ruderalis, have a vital photoperiod cycle. The seeds germinate in spring and keep on growing during the season until the beginning of August. In early August the plants begin to flower and, even though they continue growing a little bit, the growth is much less intense.
The flowering period is the phase when the buds develop and it lasts until the beginning of the fall or a little bit later if the strain has sativa predominance. The flowering period lasts until the plant dies. But, of course, you must cut it before this happens.
As we said, cannabis is a plant that can be male or female. Only the female plants have psychoactive effect. The male plants have no importance for you unless you are a breeder and want to produce seeds.
A couple of decades ago, al the seeds available in the market were regular. It means you didn’t know if the seed was going to be male or female. You had to grow all them and as soon as you detected the male cut them. But nowadays most of the seeds are feminized. This is a great advantage because you can be sure all your seeds are female. Being a beginner we recommend you to start with feminized seeds.
We are going to explain this matter as it happens in nature. This way it will be much easier for you to understand it. Cannabis plants, except ruderalis, have a different photoperiod to develop every phase of its life.
People germinate the seeds and begin to grow the plants in spring. The plants continue growing (growing period) until the beginning of August, when the days become shorter. They start the flowering period. Pay attention. The plants grow as far as the hours of day light continue to increase. But, as soon as the plant detects (early August) the hours of day light begin to decrease, they start to flower. If we leave the plant alone it would die. But we will collect it when its level of THC (Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) reaches its highest peak. THC is the cannabinoid with psychoactive effect; the one that gets you high. We will see the precise moment to collect the flowers.
As we said before, cannabis can be cannabis sativa indica and cannabis sativa sativa. The indica strains have a more relaxing and narcotic effect. They are collected much earlier than sativa ones and are much more productive.
The pure sativa strains thrive only in the Tropics where the days and nights have the same amount of hours: 12/12. If you don’t live in the Tropics is almost impossible to grow them outdoor. By the time the days have less than 12 hours of day light the weather will be too cold and the plants will die. On top of it the flowering periods are very long (4 months eventually) and they are far less productive than indica strains.
However, they have a very special high that reminds of LSD. They are very potent and that is why many growers want to have them. Therefore, the breeders obtained hybrids between indica and sativa. These hybrids are as productive as indica genetics and the flowering period is much shorter than sativa genetics. A good hybrid with sativa predominance can be collected in mid October while a hybrid with indica predominance can be harvested by the end of September.
Germinating the seeds
Since the end of February till mid June you can and must germinate your seeds. There are two systems to do it and in both cases water is essential. Pour water in a glass (without chlorine) and put the seeds in it. You will see the seeds float. That is normal. Wait about 24 hours and then check them out. Some seeds will be in the bottom and other still will remain floating on the surface. Push down these ones a little bit with your finger. You will see that most of them will sink. But those that after being pushed down remain on the surface are useless. Don’t use them.
The other system is putting the seeds between two wet paper napkins. After 24 hours the seeds are ready to be planted. I personally prefer the first method because you can see immediately the seeds that are useless. With the napkin method you will not see that until you put them in soil, and wait one week or more. Past this time without results you can be sure your seeds are bad. You better use the first system.
Have the soil ready before transplanting the seeds
Before putting the seed in the substratum is essential to have it ready. Prior transplanting you must water the soil in abundance. Once the excess of water comes out of the pot through the bottom holes, the soil is ready. It is wet but not soaking wet. Once the pot is in a sunny place, make a hole in the center of the soil. The hole must be about 1 centimeter deep and 1 centimeter wide. Put the seed into the hole and after cover it up with the same substratum. Within two or four days you will see how it comes out. In the beginning you will see just a weak stem with a couple of cotyledons.
And the same protocol is needed if you choose to grow directly in the soil instead of using a pot. Dig a hole enough for 50 liters of good substratum. Fill the hole with it and water deeply. Wait some minutes and then put the seeds as we said when using a pot.
In some cases, there are certain things that you never ever should do.
A/ Never buy the substratum in cheap shops. A good substratum never can cost less than 8 or 10 dollar a fifty liter sack.
B/ Never buy a sack that doesn’t contain all the basic information like EC, PH, N P K etc. No serious company would omit that information.
C/ Never buy substratum whose basic compound comes from pine bark. It is poison for cannabis.
In this period the plant is so small that once you have watered the first time you will not have to water again for, at least one week or more. To check it out you must introduce your finger in the soil. If the first two centimeters are dry, then you can water again. As soon as the plants grow and the roots become bigger, the plant will need more water. But remember it is worse to water too much than watering too little.
From this moment you will see how much your plants grow. But in the beginning they grow very slowly. During the first 3 weeks the plants can grow about 25 centimeters. However, during the following 3 weeks the same plants can grow more than 3 feet. It is very common to get desperate during the first 3 weeks. Don’t worry. It is normal.
Your plants will continue growing like crazy until their next phase; the flowering period. This happens in early August (North Hemisphere) and even though they grow less than during the growing period, anyway they keep on growing; but much more slowly.
Fertilization. During this period your plants will need a fertilizing protocol which is richer in N (Nitrogenous) than in P (phosphorus) and K (potassium). Ask in your shop about a good product. But, to give an example, a good fertilizer for this period could have a N P K of 7 – 4 – 4. In other words, it would have 7% of nitrogenous, 4% of phosphorus and 4% of potassium.
In the north Hemisphere the cannabis begins to flower in early August. In the beginning they develop some little white filaments in the internodes between the stem and the branches. These preflowers become bigger and bigger until they become big flowers (buds). By the end of September or October they reach their highest peak in concentration of THC. That is the moment to collect them. If we don’t cut the plants and leave them alone, they will die a little bit later.
The buds are full of trichomes and resin. These trichomes are glands that contain all the cannabinoids. It is your task to detect the moment when the buds have more THC (Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinoil), the psychoactive cannabinoid. Imagine how important is to collect the buds when they reach their highest peak in THC. To know when this happens is necessary to watch the tricomes.
Usually, most of the hybrids available are collected between the end of September (hybrids with indica predominance) and the end of October or early November (hybrids with sativa predominance). The best way to exactly know when your plants have their highest content of THC is using a fifty magnification magnifying glass. Using this glass you will see the trichomes very clearly.
In the beginning the trichomes are white transparent, Little by little they become white translucent. And after this moment they begin to turn brown. It is precisely when a 10% of the trichomes are brown and the rest remain white translucent when the buds have their highest content in THC. It is the moment to cut the plants.
Fertilization. In this period the fertilization is different. You will need more P and K than N. Ask in your shop. A good example of a goof fertilizer for this period would be a N P K of 3 – 7 -7. As you can see, a little bit of N and much more P and K.
Harvest and manicure
Once you cut your plants, ideally you should put them to dry. But before this process you should manicure the buds. This means you must cut the leaves because they don’t have any THC. Some growers leave the little leaves close to the flowers because they contain a little amount of trichomes. These growers use to extract the trichomes and get some hash. But remember; all the big and medium size leaves must be cut before drying the plants.
This process should be done in a place as dry, cool and dark as possible. Day light degrades THC. Therefore, the effect will be less potent. As we usually cut the plants (North Hemisphere) while the weather is still not too cold, the plants are completely dried between 10 and 15 days.
The best way to know when the plant is absolutely dried is breaking a thin branch. If it breaks neatly and produce a dry sound; a clear “crack”, you can be sure the plant is dried enough to consume.
Curing your plants
Even though it is not essential, curing your plants after drying them is more than recommendable. Curing your buds is very simple. You must keep them in a cardboard or wood box and leave them there for one or two months. Better two than one. But the box shouldn’t be hermetically closed. It is necessary to allow the oxygen to circulate. Just put the buds in the box and close it. Doing this the organoleptic properties get better. Both odor and taste improve. It will avoid the unpleasant cough cannabis produces after a drag when the product has not been cured.