Legalization across the various states across the US has made amateur gardeners of many of us. It’s fair to assume that for most, this is the first cultivation of any sort that they have attempted. That can in itself can make the task daunting, as can the thought of all your hard work resulting in a scrawny-looking plant that is all branches and no buds.
The good news is that even if you are not blessed with a naturally green thumb, there’s no reason you won’t be able to cultivate some plants to make you proud. Observing the following tips will set you off on the right path.
Food and water
It’s the stuff of life – none of us would have grown up to be big, strong and healthy as adults without the right nutrition as kids. The same applies to all living things, cannabis plants included. The soil in which you grow your plants needs to have the right level of nutrients or you are doomed before you begin.
Keep it natural, however. Don’t be tempted with those gro-bags that your granny uses for growing tomatoes. These usually have slow-release nitrogen, while your cannabis plant needs soil that is nitrogen-rich in the early stages and less later on. Instead, opt for good quality organic soil.
The other side of the magic equation is water. Here, you need to strike a balance, making sure the plant does not dry out but without over-watering. Keep a close check on the moisture level, and if the soil is dry below around two inches deep, it is time for a drink!
Choose your seeds with care
Is a good yield down to nature or nurture? The answer is, of course, a combination of the two. Our first tip was all about nurture, but you need the right seeds in the first place. The most important point here is to choose feminized seeds. This guide from Zamnesia explains more, but in essence, it is the female seeds that grow smokable buds.
It is also the case that some strains of cannabis plant will produce a better yield than others. Some of the most famous high-yield strains include White Widow, Amnesia Haze, Sexxpot and Somango XXL, so these are ideal seeds to start with.
Let there be light
If you are growing indoors, you need some sort of grow lights to get the best results. There are three types in common use, which are high intensity discharge (HID), compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED). There are pros and cons to each, and just as is the case in home and office lighting, advances in technology lead to changing trends.
For years, HID lamps have been the ones of choice, and these are the ones you always see on those old TV documentaries about secret cannabis farms. Recently, however, LED lights have become increasingly popular due to being more portable and energy-efficient.
Whichever source you choose, it is important to get the light levels right. Make them too bright, and you will do more harm than good. In a typical home growing environment, you need to be looking at 400W or 600W if you are using traditional HID bulbs.
Top the plants for top results
Topping can be a stressful exercise for the inexperienced, but it is neither as complicated nor as terrifying as you might fear. It’s a technique used in all sorts of horticulture to encourage lateral growth instead of vertical.
The last thing you want is a cannabis plant that looks more like a tree, putting all its growth efforts into a a thick central trunk and tall branches. However, if left to its own devices, that is exactly how a cannabis plant will grow. Topping means cutting off this main stalk, or “trunk” to make the plant more bushy. Once topped, it instead turns its energies to growing out the smaller branches at the sides. In time, you can also top these. It all makes for fewer branches and more buds.
When topping for the first time, sterilize a pair of sharp scissors and use them to snip the plant above the fifth node or “branch.” This will leave sufficient lower growth to bush out in the way you want it to. Subsequent toppings will be more subjective, but typically, you should top branches after the second or third node.
Each cannabis plant will generate a certain yield, but then it will be gone. Make sure you have the next plant or plants ready to start budding at just the right time. You will soon find yourself in a routine and most importantly, you will never run out of your precious crop.
When you never stop growing, you never stop learning. Before you know it, you will be able to give cultivation masterclasses of your own!