With the passage of Proposition 64, many Californians may be looking to take advantage of their newfound right, if they’re 21 or older, to grow up to six marijuana plants per home.
During a seminar at this year’s High Times Business Summit, the magazine’s chief cannabis officer Nico Escondido offered a crash course in home cultivation.
While it can seem intimidating with talk of lighting spectrums and atmosphere control, Escondido encouraged people who are thinking about growing cannabis for the first time that, while it takes effort, it’s a rewarding process that anyone can master.
“We call it weed for a reason, because it pretty much grows anywhere you put it,” he said. But he added, “It’s a different story getting good weed to grow.”
To start, he recommends pulling up curriculum for a basic agriculture course at a place like UC Davis. Aspiring cultivators can buy the recommended textbooks or review the suggested materials online to get a basic background before diving in.
There are many decisions to make upfront – though he points out that local laws and logistics will make some of the decisions for you.
While every Californian 21 and older now has a right to grow six plants per household, for example, cities have the right under Prop. 64 to dictate that it can only happen indoors. So check on your municipality’s rules before making the first choice: Should you grow indoors or outdoors?
They both have advantages and disadvantages. Outdoor grows tend to be less involved and produce larger yields, to start. But indoors, he said growers can control every aspect of the process and ultimately – in his view – produce a better product. So if you have a choice, he recommends creating a space indoors to start your first grow.
When choosing the spot for your garden, keep in mind that Prop. 64 requires home grows to be in a place that’s not visible to the public and can be locked to keep kids and others away. Beyond that, Escondido said it can be anything from a four-foot by four-foot closet to an entire room or basement.
There are self-contained units on the market now that come with lighting, atmosphere control and more. Those can of course get pricey. And Escondido said most people can set up a simple growroom themselves for between $400 and $500.
A model of a simple growroom he recommends covers the four basic elements to consider: lighting, controlled temperature and ventilation, containers and grow medium, and water and nutrients.
Escondido recommends breathable containers, a soil-less medium such as coco and hand-watering plants for first-time growers.
“Paying attention to your garden is paramount to get success,” he said. “If you want to get top quality out of it, you’ve got to put the time in yourselves.”
Of all the elements to consider, Escondido said a man with a doctorate in agriculture from UC Davis told him lighting is the most important. Plants can bounce back from a couple days of missed water or nutrients, but they’re done if they have no light for four days.
The goal with lighting is to mimic the sun, with the broadest spectrum of light possible. For now, he doesn’t recommend LED lights, though he hopes the technology will get there to make those the better the choice.
Regular care is key, he said.
“You can’t go a week vacation during the flowering cycle without getting someone to take care of your plants,” he said.
That care includes pulling off leaves at the first sign of curling or dying off. Just don’t pull too many off at once, he said, or you can shock the plant.
Other maintenance tips he offered were to water plants two times per day, then let them go dry on the afternoon of the third day. Also, be careful about using too many nutrients and try to keep the room between 72 and 76 degrees.
For more information, follow Escondido on Twitter at @Nico_Escondido or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s more coverage from the Big Industry Show and High Times Business Summit:
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