How To Grow Cannabis At Home: Getting Started

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Before You Get Started

Before you embark on the journey of growing your own cannabis, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Growing cannabis, even at a small scale, takes a large amount of attention, time and resources to pull off successfully. Respect the plant and make sure that you are ready to take on this responsibility before beginning.

Benefits of Growing Your Own

There are a few advantages of growing your own cannabis plants.

The first is the ability to save money in the long-term. Cannabis can be relatively expensive when purchased through a brick-and-mortar or online shop. Packaging, marketing, rent, and employee salaries are all costs that are passed on to the end consumer. When growing your own, you cut through those expenses. Although the equipment required to grow your own will require a substantial investment up front, you should end up saving some cash in the long run.

Notwithstanding the fact that cannabis in Canada is required to go through a strict quality assurance process, growing your own lets you monitor exactly what goes into the plants you consume. You can choose and control the exact type and amount of fertilizers and pesticides used.

Growing cannabis can be a therapeutic experience. Most gardeners can attest that tending to plants can help relieve daily stress and tension. Enjoy the subtle nuances of cultivating this miraculous plant.

seedling

Legality of Growing Cannabis at Home

If you are considering growing your own, it is important to understand the legality and regulations surrounding cannabis in Canada. Most provinces allow adults to grow up to 4 cannabis plants for their own personal use. In British Columbia, recreational cannabis consumers can grow their own, but their plants must not be visible from a public space.

Growing recreational cannabis at home is completely banned in Manitoba. However, medical cannabis patients are still permitted to grow at home in the province, as outlined in the ACMPR.

Quebec also banned the growing of cannabis in households when adult-use was legalized in 2018. However, this ban was ruled unconstitutional in early September 2019. The lawyer who led the challenge said those wanting to grow cannabis at home in Quebec can now do so legally, but he cautioned that the province can still appeal the ruling or rewrite the law to try to make the ban constitutional. Stay tuned.

Depending on what type of residence you live in, you may be restricted from growing. Condominium-dwellers are likely not able to cultivate in their units. Before you begin growing, check the terms of your lease and the policy of the specific building that you are living in.

Three Different Styles of Growing at Home

Converted Small Room: You can convert a small room in your house, apartment or dwelling into a grow space. This is completed by putting up vapor barriers on the walls using polyethylene plastic sheeting, which will remove the risk of mold growth. Converting an entire room is more suitable for medically licensed cannabis growers looking to cultivate more than 4 plants.

Tent / High Tech Grow Pods: There are several versions of grow tents and high tech grow “pods” that will allow you to conveniently grow several cannabis plants in your residence. If you’re looking to grow only 4 plants for recreational purposes, we recommend a grow tent as the most efficient method.

Outdoors: You can grow cannabis on your balcony, in your backyard or in any other protected outdoor area that you own. In most areas of Canada, this is only possible during the warm summer months.

LED Lights

Lighting

Once you have decided the style of growing you will pursue, you must purchase proper lighting. If growing outside, the sun will handle the light aspect. If growing indoors, there are a few options available to home growers.

The first is High Intensity Discharge Lighting (HID). There are two types of HID lights, High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide. These lights are generally easy to assemble and relatively cheap compared to the alternatives.

Metal Halide bulbs are powerful in the blue light spectrum, making them the best option for your plants during the vegetative phase. The average Metal Halide bulb will provide about 10,000 hours of light.

High Pressure Sodium light bulbs are mostly composed of sodium, which results in an orange-red colour light. This colour spectrum is well suited for the flowering phase of cannabis plants. An HPS light can last up to 18,000 hours but consumes more energy and generates more heat than Metal Halide lights.

Many growers recommend using a combination of both Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lights to ensure the healthiest and strongest plants possible.

It is important to note that High Intensity Discharge Lighting cannot be directly plugged into a standard light socket. To connect these lights to power, it is necessary to use an electrical ballast, a device that helps to limit the intensity of the electrical current.

LED lights are another option. LED technology has improved significantly over the past few years. LED lights can perform just as well as HID options and are usually a bit cheaper.

There are three main types of LEDs that you can use to grow cannabis. These include standard LED, COB LED and spread-style LED.

Standard LEDs consist of a mix of red and blue lights, which results in a purple hue. These are the cheapest form of LED lights but are also typically the lowest quality, potentially resulting in lower yields and suboptimal bud quality.

COB LED lights are made of hundreds of tiny LEDs on one small chip. COB stands for “chip on board”. COBs are considered to be the most efficient LED lights for cultivating cannabis. They produce a white light that mimics the natural light spectrum of the sun. These lights are energy-efficient and high quality but are also considerably more expensive than standard LED lights.

Spread-style LEDs are made up of a large number of small LEDs spread out on a panel or board. These types of lights are the most energy-efficient options but can be extremely expensive

Certain types of fluorescent lights will work for the vegetative period of growing, T5 grow lights are commonly used for mother plants and/or in cannabis nurseries.

Grow Tent

Medium

Another choice you need to make is the medium that you will grow in. There are three main choices here: soilless, soil or hydroponics.

Soilless growing methods are most often used indoors and are the most common techniques that new growers choose. Soilless media are commercially prepared growing mixes that are usually consist of a combination of peat moss or coir, perlite, vermiculite, bark, fertilizer and other substances. The benefit to soilless methods is the convenience that all of the nutrients you need for growing are already prepared in one product. It is important to select a mix that will not result in drying out too quickly nor one that will retain too much moisture.

Soil growing methods are techniques that use natural soil. Growing in soil is usually done outdoors. Outdoor cannabis plants should receive ample natural sunlight, which is the best type of light for any plant. Ensure the soil you are using is well-draining with a pH range between 6.0 and 6.5. Growing in soil outdoors has unique challenges including unwanted pollination and seasonal issues.

Hydroponics refers to growing techniques that use a nutrient-water solution and do not use soil. The plant’s roots are instead anchored into an inert grow medium such as rockwool, lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA), coir or coco fiber. Hydroponic methods can be intimidating for new growers but offer the benefits of faster plant growth and high potential yields.

Plants require specific nutrients during different cycles. Vegetative growth requires nutrients high in nitrogen, while plants in the flowering cycle require solutions high in phosphorus.

Maintaining certain pH levels when watering and feeding plants is essential for optimal growing. pH strips are an inexpensive solution to this problem, costing around $10 CAD. Alternatively, you can invest in a pH wand that costs about $100 CAD. There are a few nutrient mixes that can help to bring the pH level up or down if necessary.

For soil, 6.0-7.0 pH is the optimal balance, while 5.5-6.5 pH is optimal for hydroponics and soilless.

Outdoor Grow Plants

Environment

Controlling the environment while growing indoors is essential. This includes ensuring an ample supply of fresh air and maintaining consistent and optimal temperatures and humidity levels. Many growers believe that a good optimal temperature to begin your grow at is between 22° and 26.6° Celsius.

If the temperature in your grow room is too hot, your grow will result in low yields, suboptimal terpene production, and undesirable bud structure. If your growing environment is too cold, your cannabis plants will cease to develop as the plant’s metabolism slows down. Cold temperatures make it challenging for cannabis plants to absorb nutrients, resulting in visual deficiencies. Rapid temperature drops can raise humidity, resulting in a variety of potential microbial issues. Temperature can be adjusted by adding or removing air conditioning and air filtering.

The optimal level of humidity changes depending on what stage of growing your plants are in. Seedlings and cuttings prefer high levels of humidity in the ranges of 65-70% while during vegetation those levels can drop about 5% per week. During the flowering period, is it critical that humidity is kept between 40-50%. Techniques to lower humidity include increasing fresh cool air supply and using a de-humidifier.  Humidity can be raised by keeping the surface of the soil moist but hanging wet towels or clothes in your grow room or by investing in a commercial humidifier.

It is essential to create intake and outtake of fresh air in your room, pod or tent. Old air has to be vented out and fresh air circulated in to ensure that cannabis plants are growing properly. Small HEPA or carbon filters can be purchased to help with this process.

7acres-grow

How to Source Seeds and/or Starting Material

Seeds can be sourced through legal provincially-run and privately licensed channels.

Cannabis seeds from Licensed Producers can be found on provincially-run cannabis retailer websites such as the OCS.ca and bccannabisstores.com. Cannabis clones can be purchased through some provincial retailers including https://shopcannabisnl.com/ in Newfoundland.

The Cannabis Act allows adults to share up to 30 grams of cannabis with other legal age adults. This means that Canadians are permitted to gift cannabis seeds to each other for free. A friend with seeds is a friend indeed.

 Time To Begin

After you have sourced your starting materials, growing equipment and have prepared your tent/converted room/outdoor space – you are ready to get growing. Read our step-by-step growing guide to learn how to turn your seeds into big beautiful buds for consumption.

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seedling

How To Grow Cannabis At Home: Getting Started

Before you embark on the journey of growing your own cannabis, there are a few things to take into consideration. Growing cannabis, even at a small scale, takes a large amount of attention, time and resources to pull off successfully.
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