There are several factors to consider and understand before growing Cannabis for ‘personal use’. There are two options in Canada currently, depending on where you live you may be able to grow up to four plants for recreational purposes. The alternative would be to apply for the ACMPR program, with a medical Cannabis prescription.
Consider having all electrical work done by a professional, for both safety and potential legal reasons. The security of the grow-op location and storage of the product should also be a high priority. Most importantly, be sure you have an insurance policy that will cover damage done by a ‘legal’ grow operation; there are several, so do your homework.
There are several different methods which can be used for growing Cannabis with each having advantages and disadvantages. You can use plain dirt; it is the cheapest method but has the highest risk for contamination and bugs. There are also different inert mediums which can be use instead of dirt: Rockwool, perlite, vermiculite, coconut fiber, gravel, sand and so on. These mediums produce better yields then plain dirt would but require special fertilizers. Some other methods include hydroponic, deep water culture and aeroponics. These methods are often more costly and are labour intensive but produce bigger yields.
These steps below are basic instructions on getting your Cannabis plants started through the first phase of growth, using Rockwool as the substrate. First things first, you must sex your seeds. Why? Because you don’t need to waste valuable effort and money on plants that won’t produce flowers and could accidentally pollinate your crop. YouTube is a great source to check for more detailed information.
Begin by soaking the Cannabis seeds in tap water with a PH level of 5.8 – 6.2 to germinate and at temperatures of 75-80 F.
Germination should take 1 to 3 days, sometimes more. Then store in a dark, warm place above the fridge or on a heating mat. Discard any seeds that haven’t sprouted.
While seeds germinate, soak the Rockwool grow cubes in tap water with a PH level of 5.8 – 6.2.
Then squeeze excess water, ensuring cubes are not too damp. Place cubes on the heating mat for 24 -72 hours until it reaches temperatures of 75-80 F, then remove mat.
Once Cannabis seeds have sprouted, make a small hole in the Rockwool cubes. I use the small end of a chopstick.
Very carefully place the seed root down into the depression and gently pack in the sides to secure it.
Place in a dome covered seedling tray, under T5 fluorescent lights, on a schedule of 18 hours on and 6 hours off.
Check each cube frequently so they do not dry out but be careful not to over water either.
Increase the PH level to 6.2 to improve fertilizer uptake from plants.
Don’t fertilize until the fourth set of leaves develop.
Remove any delinquent or mutated plants that develop.
Prepare the grow room or greenhouse as required.
If using Hydroponic growing, prepare the lava stones by sterilizing them in boiling water.
I prefer to use deep water culture, as there are less equipment concerns.
After the fourth set of leaves have developed, begin giving plants fertilizer, mixed with tap water PH of 6.2
For the first watering use only a quarter strength of manufacturers recommendations, increase gradually until the next phase.
Plants are ready to be put into buckets.
The Cannabis plants remain in the vegetative growth stage for two months or until they reach two feet tall, whichever happens first.
Running lights 18 hours on 6 hours off. Using tap water with a PH level of 6.2, fertilize as directed by manufacturers. Check PH levels regularly.
Make sure you know all the rules for growing and always work safely.
Check back soon for the next installment about flowering and harvest!
References: Simply Hydro, and Marijuana Horticulture.