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How to Grow Dank Green When You Have a Brown Thumb

No matter how many succulents you’ve murdered, we believe in you

If you’re a serial plant killer, growing your own ganja may sound like a pipe dream. But it’s actually easier than you’d think — all you need are a few tools and some educated direction. As luck would have it, master herb farmers Caleb Counts of Connected Cannabis Co. and Travis Higginbotham of Harborside dispensaries are here to teach us how to grow weed like seasoned dope shamen

Pull out your pot — and some pots — and let’s get started.

What You’ll Need

The easiest way to grow weed is indoors, where you have better control of your environment. You’ll need…

A Spot: You can technically grow weed anywhere — a cabinet, a closet, your mom’s room — but a grow tent makes controlling the climate much, much easier.

Climate Controls: An exhaust system makes air circulation simple, and depending on your indoor climate, a humidifier or dehumidifier may come in handy.

Light: LED lights provide enough light to grow weed as well as a safe amount of heat, which is important if you don’t want to burn down your house. Also, snag a light timer so you can control how much light your plants receive each day. 

Gauges: A thermometer and hygrometer (which measures humidity) are crucial. A pH meter and water quality indicator can also be useful for ensuring your plants are receiving the right amount of nutrients. And if you want to get extra fancy, you could invest in a comprehensive climate control system, but that’s not necessary.

Fertilizer: Higginbotham is a fan of Nature’s Source fertilizers, but Fox Farm is a mainstay among weed growers.

Water: Tap water is fine, but consider filtering it to remove excess chlorine. You can also simply let your water sit outside for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine out of it.

Soil: Counts says you’re less likely to over-feed or over-water if you use coco fiber, which you can buy at any garden supply store.

Pesticides and Fungicides: Neem oil is an environmentally-friendly option.

Pots: As long as they have drainage holes on the bottom, any pots are fine.

Clones: You could grow from seeds, but both Counts and Higginbotham say starting from clones, a young cannabis plant that’s a genetic copy of its “mother plant,” which you can buy from many dispensaries, results in a better product, since the genetics of seeds are all over the place due to a still-nascent weed industry. Not to mention, seeds take an extra four weeks to grow.

The Timeline

Your clones are potted. Your pots are in your grow tent. Your exhaust system is on. Here’s what you can expect your plant to do if you keep it alive (more on that after):

The Vegetative Cycle: In the vegetative stage, your clones will begin to grow into full-blown plants. Your light timer should be set to 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness per day. Your thermometer should read somewhere in the high 70s when the lights are on and somewhere in the low 70s when they’re off. And your hygrometer should say anywhere between 40 to 60 percent relative humidity (this is where the humidifier or dehumidifier can come in handy if you need one or the other). All said and done, the vegetative stage should last 10 to 18 days, longer if you want a larger plant and shorter if you want a smaller one (it mostly just depends on your tent size).

The Flowering Cycle: To send your plants in the flower stage, you’ll need to adjust your light timer to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness per day. You should also bring the temperature down slightly — to the high 60s when the lights are off. And try to have your hygrometer read between 40 and 50 percent relative humidity from now on. You’ll begin to see buds growing on your plants, and they should be ready to harvest in about 63 days.

Curing: Once you’ve reached that 63-day mark, you can go ahead and break down your plants into four or five sections, then hang them up in your grow tent to cure. The temperature should be between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and relative humidity should be 45 to 55 percent. (Higher temperature will degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes, which will ruin the potency and flavor of your bud.) They should be almost ready for the bong in seven to 10 days — whenever the buds feel a little crispy and the smaller stems snap if you bend them. From there, you can simply clip all the buds off the stems, then store them in the same jar for another 24 hours — this helps spread excess moisture from the larger buds to the smaller ones. If they still feel gunky, just give them another 24 hours in the jar and try again tomorrow.

Daily Maintenance

Because your plants are alive through all of this, they’ll need attention. But since you have all these meters, taking care of them is pretty easy. Here’s what your daily routine should look like…

Check Your Gauges: Take a look at your thermometer and hygrometer, and make sure they’re within the ranges we mentioned above.

Water and Feed: Higginbotham says a little water every morning is usually enough for weed plants. You can kill two birds with one stone by dissolving your fertilizer in that water, too. Just stick your pH meter in your soil — Counts says the ideal range is between 5.8 and 6.2 — then follow the directions on your fertilizer and adjust as necessary. 

Pray They Grow: This is crucial.

Now, a couple things to keep in mind: You may need to do some experimenting with watering and feeding, which is why we’re only starting with a few plants. As Higginbotham says, “The plant tells you what they need.” For example, you may find that your soil is getting too saturated with water, so you need to ease up. Or your plant could start changing color, which may indicate feeding problems. If you’re running into trouble, Counts says you can always flush the plant with water — multiply the volume of the pot by three, and douse it with that much water — to start your feeding cycle over. That way, you have a second chance at reaching that ideal pH.

But if all goes to plan, you’ll be high on your own supply in no time.