Now that growing your own cannabis plants is legal in the Australian Capitol Territory, and hopefully soon to be more Aussie states, you may be thinking about trying out growing your own cannabis at home.
For those of you who are new to growing, take a read of this handy guide to give you the basics of starting your first cannabis plant and then harvesting it. From picking the right kind of seeds, to tending to your plant and then making the most of those juicy buds!
Growing your own cannabis can be a cheaper way then buying from a dispensary, it can taste a lot better, plus you have the freedom to grow which strains you like and to have some fun too!
Where do I start?
First up, read the laws in your area. At the moment, the only state where you can legally grow cannabis is in the ACT, and you are allowed to grow two plants at home, or four per household, for recreational use. It is also wise to keep up to date with any changes, as this is a developing law so things can change at any time.
You should also think about where you will grow your cannabis, and whether you will grow indoors or outdoors. There are benefits to both, which are explained below.
Find a spot for your cannabis plant
You will need to first work out where you will grow your cannabis plants.
Growing indoors can be slightly more costly with electric bills, grow tents and lights, however you will be able to monitor your plants more easily, keep the humidity and temperature consistent, and they will be more discrete.
Growing outdoors, you will need to ensure an excellent quality soil, and make sure your plants are not at risk of theft, although growing outdoors can be a natural way to grow, plus your plants will grow bigger in an outdoor environment.
You also need to think about whether you will grow your cannabis plants straight into the ground, or in a pot, as well as from either a seedling or germinate directly from a seed. If you live in an area where the soil is not excellent quality, perhaps its very clay-like or sandy, then it may be better to grow in a pot with some good quality soil. You also have more control over the size of your plant when grown in a pot. If you do not mind your plant growing wild and tell, then planting directly in the ground might be the way to go!
You will need to ensure an outdoor plant has sufficient sunlight. Cannabis plants need lots of direct sunlight per day, so pick a sunny spot, or move your pot around to sit in the sunny areas throughout the day.
For indoor grows you will need to buy the correct grow light for the number of plants you are growing. For smaller spaces you may also want to think about purchasing a grow tent. Read more about grow lights here.
Either way, it is wise to ensure your plants are placed in a discreet spot, away from prying eyes. You can buy tools to help extract the smell from an indoor grow room, to help disguise that distinct weed aroma.
Pick your fertiliser
When growing your first cannabis plant, you will need to think about whether you want to grow naturally with organic fertiliser, use chemical fertiliser or grow hydroponically.
You can get away with growing your plant without any fertiliser, or use naturally organic things (such as eggshells, orange peels, coffee grounds etc). However, using fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can really boost your growth. Different amount of these main nutrients will be needed during each growth stage.
Growing from seed
If growing from a seed, then ensure the temperature is at least 12 degrees Celsius outside. If the weather is still too cold outside, then start your seeds indoors before moving them outside.
Young seedlings will not need any nutrients right at the beginning and you should avoid watering too much. Overwatering is common with beginner gardeners. Water until a little water runs out the bottom, and then wait for it to dry before giving more water. You can also put your finger in the top inch of the soil, if that is dry then give your plant some more water.
When choosing your seeds, it is important to pick a strain that is feminized. This is because only the female plants are the ones who produce buds. A male plant will just be wasted, unless of course you are a breeder. It is best to avoid the likelihood of a male plant, so you do not waste time and money. If growing both varieties, then make sure you keep the male plants away from the females to avoid cross-contamination. You can also buy clones of female plants to ensure you are growing a female plant.
It is important to monitor your plant throughout its growth cycle, to ensure it has sufficient light, water, nutrients, and is growing well. Watch out for nutrient burn or disease and act quickly in order to salvage your plant. Keeping an eye on it regularly will allow you catch any problems early on.
Harvesting your plant
Autumn is generally the time to harvest your plant, which is the start of October in the Northern hemisphere or the beginning of April in the Southern hemisphere. You can also tell if your plant is ready for harvesting by checking the trichomes on your flowers.
Looking closely (you may need to use a microscope), check if the trichomes appear clear or transparent. If they are, then they are not ready to harvest. When the trichomes turn to a milky white colour, they are typically at their highest level of THC and CBD. This is a good stage to harvest. If you are looking for less of a ‘high’ effect and a more relaxing feel, then wait a little linger until they turn an amber colour.
For more about growing cannabis both indoors and outdoors, take a look at out cannabis grow guide.