HOW TO GROW MEDICAL MARIJUANA
easy step-by-step instructions for those
of you who don't have a green thumb
Step One: Choose your location wisely.
Step One: If at all possible, start with a clone rather than try to grow your own from seed. There are two big advantages to clones. First, they've already overcome the most difficult growth period (that two week period from seed germination to first growth shoot). Secondly, and at least as important is that starting with a clone will guarantee your plant is a female. There's nothing worse than spending a couple of months nuturing your plants only to find out they are males.
Step Two: Plant your clones in your hydroponic system. If your clones were started in rock wool cubes, plant the whole cube but make sure you take off the wrapper that surrounds fours sides of the cube first. I recommend putting some black plastic over the top of the rock wool cube to eliminate the possibility of algae forming. (see our hydroponics blog for more details.).
Step Three: Add water. Tap water is fine and it's usually already adjusted to the optimum pH level of 6.5. It's a good idea to let the water set for a few minutes before introducing it to your system.
Step Four: Turn your system on. For the first few weeks you'll be using lighting that is predominately 6500° K and leave the lights on 18 continuous hours a day.
Step Five: Juggling six plants. In most States allow you up to six plants. Here's how to use the six plant allocation to create a perpetual growing status.
Cautionary Warning One: Don't get greedy. There are six mesh grow pots in a hydroponic tub, and nine in a hydroponic reservoir. That does not mean you should grow six or nine plants at once. I like to start with at least four clones to see which ones do the best. As soon as I can, I eliminate two of the plants, leaving me with two healthy plants to grow to fruition.
Cautionary Warning Two: Be Patient. Wait at least a week to ten days before you add any nutrients. Any earlier with the nutrients and you run the risk of 'burning' your plants.
Step Six: Add vegetatative state nutrients. Every two weeks drain your system completely and add a new batch of nutrients. NOTE: If you use soil, add dissolved nutrients every third day.
Step Seven: Determine when to go into the flowering stage. It's important not to get greedy here. Your natural tendancy will be to grow your plant as tall as you can. Here's the kicker...once you switch from vegatative growth cycle to flowering growth cycle your plant is going to continue to grow taller--anywhere from 18" to 24" higher and if you don't have the height in your grow cabinet/closet/tent, you're going to end up with plants that grow higher than the lights. And easy way to determine when to go into flowering stage is to take the height of your grow area and subtract three feet from it. The balance is the maximum height you should allow your plants to reach before switching to flowering mode. So, if your grow tent is around five feet tall, you'll want to make sure you start flowering mode when your plants reach two feet in height.
Step Eight: Six to eight weeks after going into flowering cycle (which is accomplished by changing the light to mostly 2700° K, going into a 12 hour lights on, 12 hour lights off cycle, and switching to flowering nutrients) your plants are going to be ready to harvest. I usually harvest one main branch at a time and clip off as many of the leaves I can. Then hang the trimmed branch upside down in a dark, well ventilated space for about a week. Again, patience is a virtue....leave your plant drying until the branch breaks, rather than folds, when you bend it. Cut all the buds off and place them in a cardboard box or paper bag and let them dry another two to three days. All that's left is to enjoy your crop.
A Few Tips For Black Thumb Gardeners: The first thing to remember is that marijuana is a weed. This means you have to work at killing it. A lot of experts will tell you to wear surgical gloves when handling your plants, to carefully balance your water's pH levels, to have ventilation fans in place and make sure the temperature falls between 70° and 80° F.
Well, let me tell you: I've never worn gloves, don't test my water's pH levels, keep the front of my grow tent open during lights-on periods for ventilation, and have successfully grown crops in temperatures ranging from 65° to 110° F. For more practical tips and misconceptions, read our hydroponics blog.
Some Additional Tips: Enthusiasts have cross blended, gene spliced, and genetically engineered hundreds of strains of marijuana. I have yet to find a hydroponic strain that is as good as some street weed (Michaocon seedless to be exact) from 1969. So forget looking for exotic seeds, find a strain that you like and buy two or three clones. This way you are guaranteed female plants of a strain that you like and are two weeks ahead of schedule in the growing cycle.
Important Reminder: Your first instinct is to grow big plants. There are two cycles in the life of medical marijuana plants: veg and bloom. Your natural tendancy is going to be to forget that the bloom cycle is A) longer than the veg cycle and B) accounts for at least 50% of the plants growth (ie. height). This means you want to flip your plants to 12/12 lighting cycle (bloom cycle) when you still have lots of room (two feet to be safe) in your grow tent so your plants don't run into the lights.
If you look at hydroponic reservoirs (nine or twelve grow areas) or hydroponic tubs (six grow areas) you'll notice that they provide very little room between plants. If you try to grow as many plants as you have pots to put them in you'll will be disappointed. Unless you are willing to spend hours and hours pruning, bending and shaping your plants you will end up with very little harvest. I recommend two to three plants maximum per grow tent. You'll get bigger plants, more bountiful harvests and spend a lot less time pruning and bending and all that crap.
A word about nutrients. I've tried them all. I really haven't found a noticeable difference between any of them. My suggestion is get powdered nutrients. The liquid ones are mainly water so you'll end up paying a lot in shipping charges for them, even if you buy them at in person at your friendly hydroponics retail store.
Indoor gardening vs. hydroponics. I got into medical marijuana cultivation because I was intrigued with hydroponics. The first unit I used was a hydro tub with six mesh pots. After years of unsuccessful attempts to grow my own outdoors, I was blown away by how easy indoor growing with hydroponics was. However, after my third crop I had to replace my air and water pumps, and the clean up after a grow was tedious to put it mildly. My fourth grow started with a plant a friend gave me that was just starting to bloom. This plant happened to be in a soil container. Well, I just stuck it in my grow tent, watered it manually, adding nutrients every third or fourth day. At the end, I had a great harvest, almost no cleanup and no maintenance on finicky parts. My conclusion is that hydroponics is way too much work for little, if no, gain. Indoor gardening, using soil and hydroponic lighting techniques is much easier, as long as you remember to water. Additionally, plants in pots are easy to move. Plants in mesh pots in a hydro system are much trickier to move as their roots are all emeshed with the roots of your other plants. This comes in handy if you decide to embark on the perpetual growing machine
Perpetual growing machine for Hydroponics for Dummies Graduates. If you time things right, are smart and plan ahead, and invest a little extra in the beginning, you will be able to continuously grow and harvest medical marijuana without buying any plants or germinating any seeds. You simply need to setup a clone area, a mother plant area and a growing area (or two). Here's how it works:
Hydro Grow Tents are worth considering. You will need an absolutely light tight grow space for your medical marijuana, kept in total darkness according to a specific time schedule. Grow Tents make this easy and they are economical. The best ones are already pre-drilled to accept flanges for duct tubing for ventilation and odor control. Another thing to consider when thinking about grow tents...they have a tremendous growing area (almost 40 cubic feet for ours) with a very small footprint--i.e. floor space (8 square feet). Also grow tents are virtually waterproof. So if you're sloppy and over-water or spill nutrients it's no worries; and cleanup is easy.