What are the Basic Needs for Any Weed Grow?
There are three things you must consider when setting up your first grow: seeds, environment, and tools. For a first-time grower, we recommend purchasing a brand name, feminized seeds from a well-established seed bank. If you are planning an indoor setup, choose seeds that will not grow too tall. Besides seeds, you will need to address the plant’s needs for light, temperature, feeding, and ventilation.
One of the most important decisions you will have to make is between indoor and outdoor growing. The primary advantages of an outdoor grow are that it requires minimal setup costs and you will have access to the best light source around… our sun! However, this must be balanced against dealing with variables in temperature, humidity, and the length of the growing season where you live.
Indoor growers can control these variables much more effectively, but the setup costs are higher and odor control is critical. Beginners may do better with a more controlled environment that allows for growing weed easily.
Grow Weed Easy – The Set Up
Growing weed outdoors is easy to set up and won’t cost you a fortune. After purchasing your seeds, all you need is a place to plant them. This can be done in a container, a raised gardening bed, or even a flower garden. Remember, it’s a weed, give it a chance and it will grow.
Indoor growing needs more gear, but you gain a much higher degree of control over the environment. A “grow tent” is a good place to start. If you’re a beginner, consider a 2 x 4 tent (good enough for 2 plants) or a 4 x 4 tent (good enough for 4 plants). You will also need a light source. The current trend is towards “full spectrum” LED lights. For a small grow you will need something in the 400-600 watt range. Ventilation is also critical, not only to move air around inside the tent, but also to remove the skunky odor of ripening cannabis from your home. Fortunately, local hydroponic stores and Amazon offer many tent kits in the range of $300-$500, which include everything you need. Not exactly inexpensive, but such a setup should yield at least 50 grams of fresh bud 2-3 times/year, which means after just one year the cost per gram is between $2-3. Not bad at all. Alternatively, you may be able to find some used equipment available online or at your local hydro shop for cheaper.
Both indoor and outdoor gardeners will also have to feed their plants. There are a huge number of options available, but don’t get overwhelmed. Choose a simple to use, pre-mixed nutrient line from an established company and you will have everything you need.
Finally, you will need some basic equipment such as a watering can, a container to grow in and some good quality soil. A pair of small pruning shears will be very helpful when it comes time to harvest your plants. For indoor growers, a thermostat that indicates relative humidity is also very helpful.
Another enclosed, indoor grow option you may want to consider are the new “grow boxes” now on the market. These setups fully automate the entire growing cycle, but they are not cheap. Most of these grow boxes start at $1500 and go up from there!
Things You Shouldn’t Cheap Out On For Your First Grow
When it comes to seeds there is no substitute for high quality genetics. Good seeds can cost between $8-$20 per seed, but remember, your plant will probably yield anywhere from 30-60 grams of cannabis. Cheap seeds likely won’t save you much, as they generally have a lower germination rate (fewer seeds will turn into plants) and may be inconsistent in the plants they produce.
If you are planning to grow inside your home, make sure to get a properly sized carbon filter to handle odor control. A skunky smelling house is not fun. Don’t buy a budget filter!
Finally, use a high-quality growing medium for your plants. You can’t simply fill a container with dirt and expect a good yield. Regardless of the medium you select (soilless, coco coir, organic, etc), pay a little more so your plants will have a happy place to live as they mature.
How to Get the Most Out of your Grow
Perhaps the most frequently asked question of novice growers’ concerns yields, or how much cannabis a single plant will produce. While breeders will provide some guidelines, be aware that getting a good yield has much more to do with the environment and technique than the plant’s genetics. In our opinion, it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity if you want to grow weed easily.
While achieving true “top shelf” results requires years of experience, there are quite a few ways for even beginners to improve the quality of their harvest:
- Don’t overfeed or overwater your plants. Allow the soil to mostly dry out before watering again. Don’t add more nutrients than are called for thinking it will help, it generally does not.
- Indoor growing quality (and quantity) can be improved through techniques of flattening out the canopy, making all the flowers the same distance from the light source. These techniques include SCroG (Screen of Green), super cropping, LST (Low Stress Training), and others. None of these techniques are overly complicated, and all of them will improve your harvest. LST, in particular, is an easy technique for beginners, in which strings are used to tie down certain branches making room for others to grow upward.
Upgrading Your Grow Set Up
All growers are constantly looking for ways to improve their growing technique. Once you’ve completed your first grow, there are a number of ways to upgrade your gear and knowledge to improve your results.
For gear, consider purchasing an automated controller for your fans. When the lights are turned off, these controllers will modulate the speed of the fans to maintain a consistent temperature and relative humidity. Another useful addition would be a pH meter, which will indicate how alkaline or acidic your water is, and a PPM (parts per million) meter, which will tell you the level of minerals in the water.
Down the road, you can consider bigger ticket items such as a hydroponic/aeroponic setup, CO2 enrichment, and the use of UV lights.
But there is no substitution for experience. The more you grow, the more you will know. As my father use to say, “A poor workman blames his tools”. An experienced grower will be able to produce better quality cannabis with a minimal setup, than a novice grower with the best equipment money can buy.
Perhaps the best advice to offer a new grower is to have fun. Don’t stress too much about your plants. Enjoy the learning process and be willing to learn from your mistakes (we all make them). Take some time to seek out other, more experienced, growers who can help as needed. The weed growing community is huge, and generally always willing to help a new grower.