So You Want To Grow Your Own Pot
Feb. 3rd © University of Alberta.
I, as a proud pot-smoking Canadian, have been a trifle disturbed by some of the anti-drug rhetoric floating around lately. We've seen such gems as Anne McLellan labeling all pot smokers as "stupid" and the shameless use of an American national tragedy to push an inane anti-drug agenda: namely, advertisements linking drug use to terrorism. This is spin that makes dervishes look amateur.
I'm a helpful guy, though. I like to lend a hand. I like to solve problems. I try to see both sides. So I'm going to suggest a course of action that should alleviate Anne's rational and well-informed concerns about the impact of marijuana on helpless Canadian adults' cognitive abilities while simultaneously fighting terrorism by removing a lucrative source of funding.
"John, you crazy-ass hippie neo-fascist anti-American bastard," you might say. "We already have a solution to this problem: just say NO to drugs!"
Right. However, you must keep in mind that Anne is concerned for our collective welfare. She would, perhaps, like to see some evidence that marijuana use hasn't already addled our brains. So I propose a solution that can assuage the sincere and ingenuous trepidation of both parties: grow your own pot.
A moment of thoughtful consideration should prove this to be the best solution: the money that at one time fed lurking Canadian Al-Qaeda cells will now be completely denied them, thereby stymieing plans to bomb the Vegreville pysanka. The Canadian economy will receive a small but detectable boost as hordes of happy marijuana lovers buy grow lights and gardening supplies, and our beloved government will receive even more tax revenue, as all marijuana-related purchases will now be legitimate. Anne might even get a raise.
Piling strength onto strength, we also find that growing marijuana requires some planning and research. It requires a working knowledge of many aspects of the natural sciences, skills of detailed observation and documentation, and advanced horticultural techniques. Learning how to properly grow marijuana, in fact, is a feat that puts to shame most undergraduate lab experiments. So, far from contributing to ignorance and stupidity, growing marijuana promotes intellectual initiative and an appreciation for science.
By now some of you might be frothing at the mouth, raging that I have misinterpreted Anne's remarks or, worse, deliberately taken them out of context. "What she meant," you might be saying, "is that pot smoking is so horribly damaging to your health that only a moron would do so. Asshole." Yet surely, after having been minister of health for more than two years, she should be aware that the scientific literature regarding marijuana's short- and long-term health effects, limited though it is, clearly does not support such a position.
The fact of the matter is that cannabis was criminalized for political, racial and economic reasons, not for the protection of human health. The movement for prohibition was affected by political lobbying early in the 20th century by the DuPont company to protect its new financial interests in synthetic fibers and petroleum products, which it felt were threatened by hemp; intimidation and control of the movements and actions of minorities, particularly Mexicans and blacks; the very personal and untiring anti-marijuana campaign of American Drug Commissioner Harry J Anslinger; and Canada's desire to accommodate and support the deeply hypocritical American war on drugs.
"But by golly," you say. "I know lots of reasonable people who think marijuana is very harmful. I've always thought so myself. Surely we can't all be wrong."
And yet, there are ways. State-funded messages and propaganda decrying the use of marijuana engender opinion and inspire fear in those who have absolutely no relevant experience, and make the democratic ideal of open and meaningful dialogue on the issue impossible. Through such classic films as Reefer Madness and High on the Range and more modern propaganda like anti-drug television commercials, North American governments have turned popular opinion against marijuana. This should not surprise us, however. As Bertrand Russell famously said, "There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action. Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones."
"Okay," you say. "The overwhelming lucidity of your arguments and, uh, depth of your research has broken my resistance. Where do I start?" Well, the guide that follows is as good a place as any. There are also a slew of online grow guides and FAQs which can address most of the questions of new growers.
Now that you've decided to grow, there are certain things you'll need, and certain things you'll need to know. I can tell you about both.
What You'll Need
Growing marijuana is an exciting, inspiring and cheap hobby. For less than the current cost of an ounce of pot, you can buy all you need to begin growing an unlimited supply. If you are growing indoors, certain items are absolutely essential, while others are so useful that they will pay for themselves in spared time and frustration many times over.
First, and most important, is lighting. Unless you are growing in a very confined space, avoid using fluorescent bulbs as your primary light source; invest instead in a 400W metal halide or high pressure sodium bulb and ballast. By price comparing online or at local hardware stores, you should be able to get one for about $100.
Next, unless you have access to rooted clones, you will need seeds. A package of ten Indica-dominant high-quality seeds will cost only $20. Marc Emery runs a secure and prolific seed distribution company from cannabisculture.com.
Soil, soil amendments, pots and fertilizers, assuming a moderately sized grow, should cost no more than $40. A digital pH meter ( I recommend the Hanna pH Tester ), including shipping, costs only $30. Add on a few dollars for a carbon filter, fans, and other odds and ends unique to each grow space, and the total comes to approximately $250. Very reasonable.
What You'll Need to Know
The basic requirements of plants are fairly simple: water, light, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nutrients and a properly balanced pH. Different species and varieties of plants prefer differing amounts or ranges of each. Perhaps the least familiar is pH. Improper pH tends to "lock out" nutrients, causing the plant to slowly starve.
With pH, as with all other elements, the success or failure of your plants rests almost entirely on your ability to provide the right balance.
There are three stages in the life of a marijuana plant: germination, vegetative growth, and flowering. Each stage has requirements and challenges unique to it. So let's get prepared.
Take care not to: * use bleach * overheat or chill the seeds * scuff or damage the root tip
A marijuana seed contains an embryo and enough food to allow the embryo to grow small roots and a single pair of small, round leaves: the cotyledons. These leaves then take over the task of supplying energy to the growing plant's tissues by photosynthesizing. To "trigger" development of the embryo, all that is necessary is a warm, moist environment.
The best way to germinate seeds is to fold and moisten several sheets of unscented paper towel, forming a thick pad. This pad is then placed on a clean plate, the seeds scattered on top of it, and then covered with a second layer of folded and moistened paper towel. Cover the first plate with a second, inverted plate to form a chamber, and place the unit somewhere warm. The vents of computer monitors and televisions provide the right temperature ( roughly 25-30C ). In anywhere from twelve to 72 hours, the seed coat will rupture and a small, white root tip will poke out. Germination is now complete; it's time to plant the seed.
Relevant tutorials on cannabisculture.com: long-germination techniques, fresh-water germination, use of bleach.
Take care not to: * over fertilize * under fertilize * overeater
As beginners, it is best to grow in soil. Soil, while it has many unique challenges, tends to be more forgiving of mistakes than hydroponics or aeroponics. Good soil is soft so the roots can penetrate without difficulty, drains easily so they can get oxygen and the water does not become stagnant, yet retains a great deal of moisture so that the roots don't dry out. You will need to "make" this soil.
Get a bag of unfertilized (I repeat, unfertilized) soil. Get some peat moss, and some perlite or vermiculite--either will do. In a large tub, blend together two parts soil to one part peat moss and one part perlite or vermiculite. Fill several small, punctured pots or cups ( 250-500cc ) with the soil mixture, and pat it down gently ( I repeat, gently ). Wet the soil thoroughly using clean, pH-balanced water and allow it to drain. Now, with tip of a pencil or wooden match, poke a hole in the surface of the soil roughly half a centimeter deep. Gently place the germinated seed in the hole--root tip down--and sprinkle a small amount of soil on top. In anywhere from a day to a week, the seed will root itself, break the surface of the soil, and spread its leaves to the world.
Upon emerging from the soil, your plants should immediately be placed under your grow lights on a light schedule of 20 hours on, four hours off. You will need a timer. Start the light 18 inches from the tops of the plants, lowering it each day until it is approximately eight inches from their tops, where it should remain. Under these conditions, your plants will flourish, growing at a rate of an inch per day or more. As they grow, you will need to transplant them into larger pots. You should end in three to five gallon pots.
Marijuana grows as separate female and male plants. The eventual sex of the plant is apparently not predetermined in the seed. Few marijuana smokers know that only the female plants produce "buds"--smokable marijuana. Few marijuana growers know that you can radically influence the proportion of females to males. The secret is to provide a cool, moist, high-nitrogen environment with twelve hours per day of bluish light--ideal springtime conditions--for the first ten to 14 days after germination. This can increase the percentage of females from roughly 50 to 90.
Now that your plants are rooted and self-sufficient, it is important to provide them with ideal vegetative conditions. Water the plants properly: soak the soil deeply with clean pH-balanced water, then do not re-water until the surface of the soil is quite dry. This will force the roots to "chase" their water supply as gravity slowly pulls it down, resulting in a dense root system. Always soak the soil thoroughly before fertilizing to avoid creating "hot spots" of high fertilizer concentration. Begin fertilizing within a few days, but mix to only one-eighth the recommended concentration at first, increasing the dose gradually to full strength and beyond. Do not fertilize with each watering; every second watering is recommended. Lastly, leach the soil every few weeks to remove mineral salts by slowly pouring four to five times the container's volume in pH-balanced water through it.
To start flowering, the third and final stage of growth, the plant must receive twelve hours of light and twelve hours of complete, uninterrupted darkness each day. Reset your timer.
Relevant tutorials on cannabisculture.com: "training" plants to keep them from growing too tall, "topping" or "FIMming" to encourage branching and to increase yield, "sexing" plants by looking for pre-flowers, "SOG" or "ScrOG" techniques.
Take care not to: * let males or hermaphrodites live * interrupt the dark period
During the first two to three weeks of flowering, the plants will grow upward and outward at a tremendous pace. The growing tips and all nodes will begin to produce dense clusters of white hairs--stigmas--on female plants, or clusters of grape-like pollen sacs on male plants. Unless you wish to produce seeds, remove the males immediately.
After this initial spurt, the plants will typically slow or stop their upward growth, and will instead devote their energy to producing fat, sticky buds. It is important at this time to switch from a high-nitrogen vegetative fertilizer to a high-phosphorus flowering fertilizer.
As the plant matures, many of its stigmas, which were once bright white or yellow, will wilt, turning a deep brown or red as they do so. This is indicative of ripening. The most reliable indicators of ripeness, however, are what people commonly refer to as "crystals"--small globules on tiny stalks known as trichomes. Trichomes grow densely on healthy buds and are initially clear. As they mature, however, they will slowly progress to an amber colour. When 20-30 per cent of all trichomes are amber, the buds should be harvested.
This is the single most reliable indicator of ripeness and the only one that should dictate the harvest time. To properly view the trichomes, it is absolutely essential that you have a powerful magnifying glass or handheld microscope. They cost around $10.
It is also extremely important to stop fertilizing your plants for the last ten to 14 days before harvest. This is known as "flushing." Unflushed marijuana burns poorly and tastes worse.
Relevant tutorials on cannabisculture.com: "sequential harvesting" to maximize yield, sexing tutorials, water curing.
Drying and Curing
Take care not to: * let mould get established
Once the large buds have been removed or the whole plant harvested, it is important to trim, dry and cure the buds properly.
With a sharp pair of scissors, trim away all the bud-leaves. Place or hang the buds or plants in a clean, dry, dark area with good air circulation. Break up any large buds into their smaller components to prevent mould.
If air cannot get to the bottom of the buds, rotate them daily and examine for mould. Discard all mouldy buds immediately. After three to five days, the buds should be thoroughly dry--small stems should snap under pressure with an audible "crack." The buds should now be gently placed in sealed glass or plastic jars to cure, or age like wine.
Safety and Security
Take care not to: * get your ass caught
Those same techniques which allowed years of clandestine masturbation in your parents' home will serve you well in concealing your plants.
First, don't tell anyone you're going to grow or are growing. Muffle any sources of sound, such as the hum of the ballast. Ensure that your grow area is light-proof and that there are no conspicuous power cords.
Mask any odours with an activated carbon filter or with an odour--neutralizing agent. Clean up after yourself and don't leave any conspicuous items in the open. Don't have sensitive materials sent to your home address--use an alternate address. And last but most importantly, always pay for products in cash. The total increase in your power bill, depending on your light schedule and the stage of growth, will be from $5 to $14 per month--absolutely and utterly undetectable.
There are two major categories of marijuana: Indicas and Sativas. When purchasing seeds for a first-time grow, buy Indica.
There are literally hundreds of unique varieties of marijuana, each with different growth and smoke characteristics. Indicas on the whole tends to be more forgiving of mistakes and provides the classic "stoned" high most people associate with smoking marijuana.
Long-flowering sativas, on the other hand, is fickle, but provides much more interesting highs; it is the fine wine of marijuana. Soil-based marijuana plants prefer a pH of 6.2 to 6.8--it is imperative that you have a good digital pH meter.
There are many tips, tricks and other methods I couldn't cover here, including breeding, cloning, flavouring, and bubble hash. For more information, I highly recommend the guides, links and people found at cannabisculture.com in the New Grower's Primer of the public forums.
Go to HempCar.org
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"But the whole truth is much uglier. We have documented in detail how the Iran-contra drug-running and gun-running operations run out of Bush's own office played their role in increasing the heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana brought into this country. We have reviewed Bush's relations with his close supporters in the Wall Street LBO gang, much of whose liquidity is derived from narcotics payments which the banking system is eager to recycle and launder."
*Industrial-Hemp has no psychoactive properties following definition of the European Economic Community (EEC); THC content is less than 0.3%. In general, low THC-seed varieties without psychoactive properties are those that have a THC content of less than 1%. (See also No-THC Hemp-seed.) THC= Delta-9 TetraHydroCannabinol. Last Update Made; Friday, December 16, 2011
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