The president of Nextleaf Labs says the process isn’t too difficult and Canadians have plenty of good reasons to give home growing a try. With any luck, Canadians will be able to legally grow recreational marijuana in their own backyards, maybe even by this spring with the feds expected to introduce legislation legalizing weed this week. Before planting, marijuana seeds need to be germinated. Germination is the mechanism by which a seed sprouts into a new plant.
From seed to plant: How to grow your four legal cannabis plants
The president of Nextleaf Labs says the process isn’t too difficult and Canadians have plenty of good reasons to give home growing a try.
Marijuana plants hang on a drying rack. Photo by Joe Mahoney / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Adults in most provinces will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use after legalization on Oct. 17.
Grow expert Tom Ulanowski, president of Nextleaf Labs in Coquitlam, says the process isn’t too difficult and Canadians have plenty of good reasons to give it a try.
From seed to plant: How to grow your four legal cannabis plants Back to video
“It’s a lot cheaper than buying from a store or LP (federally licensed producer), especially if your grow is low-tech or if you choose to grow outdoors,” said Ulanowski, a chemist and former quality-assurance manager at Canna Farms.
“You have total control and know exactly what your inputs are. And gardening can be fun and therapeutic, as well.”
Once a grower has their gear and has legally acquired seeds or seedlings (the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will sell seeds in B.C.), here’s how Ulanowski recommends they put them to good use.
Fold a piece of paper towel twice into a pocket, place four seeds inside and dampen it with water. Seal the pocket inside a ziploc bag and put it in a warm place. After about a week, the seeds will open and plant tissue will show.
PLANT AND TRANSPLANT
Carefully take the four seeds and put them in peat pellets or small pots with damp peat-perlite mix or coco coir, about 2.5 to five centimetres deep. Set an 18-hours on light cycle, with the six hours off at night. Stalks will emerge in a week or two, and nutrients and water can be added. Vegetative growth will continue for a month or two, at which point the plants should be transplanted to larger pots. Trim away larger leaves.
FLIP AND FLOWER
Once the plants reach between 30 and 60 centimetres tall, give them a 12-hour light cycle. They’ll start flowering and reach maturity within eight to 10 weeks, depending on seed variety. Trim leaves two or three times during flowering. Once the plants mature and their trichomes (hairlike glands) turn cloudy, it’s time to harvest their buds
HARVEST, DRY AND TRIM
Cut off the larger branches and hang them upside down in a dark environment with about 50 per cent relative humidity and 20 C for a week or two. The drying process is done when smaller stems snap, not bend. Trim off leaves and remove dried buds. Put them into a mason jar with a special humidity-control pack. Keep the jar in a dark, cool place like a cupboard, opening the lid to “burp” the buds every few days. After a week or two they’re ready to consume.
Ulanowski said it’s crucial home-growers keep safety and cleanliness in mind. They should abide by dried cannabis possession limits in their province (1,000 grams at home in B.C.) and make sure their landlord or strata council allows home grows.
Tom Ulanowski, president of Nextleaf Labs in Coquitlam Photo by Submitted: Nextleaf / PNG
“Stay away from pesticides, if possible, and instead rely on sanitation, environmental controls, and beneficial insects to control pests and disease,” he said. “Be discrete for obvious reasons. For example, B.C. laws require you to hide your plant — it can’t be in public view.”
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How to grow your own marijuana in Toronto
Few things are more satisfying than growing your own stash. With any luck, Canadians will be able to legally grow recreational marijuana in their own backyards, maybe even by this spring with the feds expected to introduce legislation legalizing weed this week.
The federal government task force that submitted its report in December recommended allowing the personal cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes, to a maximum four plants per residence. They haven’t completely freed the weed, but you can still get high thinking about the savings from growing your own stone.
My local storefront dispensary sells dry leaf for $10 to $15 a gram. A single plant can yield about 125 grams on average, though double that and more is possible, which works out to a little less than a cool $2,000 you won’t have to spend on weed. The only investment you’ll need to make is for seeds going from $60 and up for a package of five that you can order online and have mailed to your door.
In advance of the happy day when Canadians can grow their own, here’s some basic advice on planting successfully outdoors. (Let’s leave indoor growing for another day.)
Don’t let males spoil the party
Pot plants are either male or female. For stoning purposes, you want female plants, and you don’t want them to make contact with male pollen. A female plant pollinated by a male stops producing THC (the ingredient that gets you high) and concentrates its energy instead on making seeds.
I recommend buying “feminized” marijuana seeds that grow female plants. If a male plant gets into your grow, yank it out and get it away from the females as soon as you can tell the difference, which will take a few weeks.
How to tell the difference: the female will develop two upraised feather-like stigmas that are usually white- or cream-coloured, generally found on the main stalk. The male plant grows little clusters of bell-like sacs that give off a yellow- coloured pollen.
Preparing your seeds for planting
Start in early April. First soak seeds in water over night. Then place the seeds between thick paper towels, lay them on a plate and cover with water. Place the plate in a warm, dark area and wait for the seeds to crack open. Good seeds can take two to seven days.
Let the taproot grow a little, up to 0.5 cm. Then carefully plant the seeds in a small container in no more than 1 cm of soil. When shoots appear, the seedlings need lots of light, about 16 hours a day, and it has to be of a decent intensity, so put them under a grow light. You want the seedlings to grow to no more than 10 cm, which means the lighting system needs to be elevated to maintain a healthy distance (about 95 cm) as the plants grow taller. Plan on keeping your seedlings under lights for 30 to 45 days before moving them outdoors.
Important tip: don’t just stick them on a windowsill. They’ll be too stringy and likely won’t survive the move outdoors. You want these babies to grow sturdy stalks with a robust root system. Use a plant starter fertilizer (with a 10-52-10 mix) to promote root growth, readily available at hardware stores and garden centres.
Tricks for the move outside
Your plants need a spot with good soil and full sun.
But before they go in the ground, you have to toughen them up. You do this by giving them short bursts of direct sunlight – a minute or two on the first day and five minutes on the second day. Keep your plant in a shady area outside after each dose.
On the third day, give the plants 10 minutes of direct light, 15 the next, 30 after that, and then your plants should be hardy enough to go into the ground.
It’s a good idea to transplant using a starter fertilizer again. Also, pot needs room to grow the more space you give it, the better the yield.
From here on in, the plants need regular watering (a couple of times a week should suffice). Pot plants do not like continuous irrigation, but at the same time you do not want the roots to dry out. Let the surface soil dry out to about a depth of 5 cm before watering.
In late June, you can apply a 20-20-20 fertilizer to stimulate vegetative growth, and again in mid-July. Then in mid-August I recommend using a fertilizer that promotes flowering (5-30-5). No more fertilizing after this point.
Depending on the variety, your plants should be ready to harvest sometime in September or early October. Leaves can be used for cooking and the buds for smoking.
Watch out for mould – and lilacs
After growing weed for more than 40 years, I still find new and unique problems. The pitfalls are too many to get into here, and besides, you’ll learn through experience. For example, I learned a couple of years back not to grow next to lilacs, which have a tendency to get mouldy toward the end of the summer and infect your weed. You should not smoke mouldy weed.
Secrecy is paramount
The biggest threat to a successful harvest is thievery. So you may need to trim the plant to a size that keeps it hidden or do your planting a little later in the year, on the first or second week of July so the plants will only grow to about 1 metre.
Alternatively, you can stake the plant’s branches to the ground and force them to grow sideways. Branches may splinter, but that’s totally cool as long as they stay connected to the rest of the plant. Hidden bonus: staking increases your plant’s exposure to sunlight, and that means higher yields.
Drying your buds
Do this on drying racks in a warm, dry and airy location indoors, making sure to give the buds lots of room. Pack them too tight during the drying process and you risk losing the crop to mould and rot. Your buds should be ready to smoke after two weeks of curing, depending on humidity levels. Take your time and keep an eye out that the plants don’t become too dry. Trim and enjoy! 3
Erik Tanner is a Toronto-based writer and co-author of Highlights: An Illustrated History Of Cannabis.
How to Grow Marijuana From Seeds
Before planting, pot seeds need to be germinated. Germination is the mechanism by which a seed sprouts into a new plant. Germination, otherwise known as “popping,” is the first phase in beginning a cannabis garden. If you want to know about all the steps within the process, read on.
Steps to Plant Pot Seeds
If you’ve been thinking about growing marijuana, you may be unsure how to begin. Here’s a quick rundown of the methods we’ve found to be the most effective for beginning seeds and growing seedlings into stable plants ready for transplanting:
To speed up germination, put your seed in a small jar of lukewarm water and leave this in a dim, warm location for 12-24 hours, and no further. The seed consumes the water completely after being drenched, kicking off the germination process.
It also serves to break the shell by making it thinner, making it possible for the embryo to split apart. Once the seed settles to the floor, it’s time to plant it, and it will even sprout a little taproot. And if a seed doesn’t somehow sink, it can still be cultivated.
You can also choose pod seeds made from a combination of compressed peat moss and coco husk. Drench it in a water bath for 15 minutes to enlarge it. Drain any extra water until your seedling pellet has consumed sufficient water and grown to its full capacity. The expanding product should have the consistency of a wet sponge, leaving no stains on the table.
For your crop, make a small opening about 1/4 inch deep. If a taproot has emerged, be careful not to break it. Install the marijuana seed lightly in the space and softly cover it with pellet soil. After two weeks of starting the germination process, the seedling should emerge from the field.
3. Plant Emerges
Your plant will usually come overland in 1-2 weeks, which would be the most exciting period. It will take some days for the seedling’s shell to break off after it emerges from the soil. You can leave it alone; nature will take care of the rest. If it hasn’t emerged from the field after two weeks, the chances of survival are slim, and it’s advisable to start again.
Even the strongest marijuana seeds still germinate at over 85% of the time. When the seedling emerges from the earth, it will seek out direct sunlight.
Seedlings need a moderate quantity of sunlight to spread, but not so much that they become charred. If you keep the seedling in full sunshine, the leaves will twist, and if you give it almost no light, the seedling will expand.
Seedlings need to see a clear source of light while rising outdoors to avoid expanding. A bright window ledge with more than half a day of sunshine helps a lot while you’re indoors. Alternatively, a distance of 18 inches from a rising light is ideal. Your plant can only grow to a maximum of 6 inches in length.
It’s safer to use drinking water for small seedlings, so it doesn’t have chlorine. When you’re using tap water, let it sit for one day before watering to allow the chlorine to disperse. Post soaking your seedling pellet, it should have all of the water your plant requires until it emerges from the soil under normal circumstances.
It would only require about a shot glass worth of water each week to keep the medium moist as it rises. Seedlings wouldn’t drink much water, which is understandable considering their simple structure. Your plant would do well on a moist soil surface. It’s almost as dangerous to overwater as it is to dry out.
The cotyledons will be the first leaves to emerge from the soil. These tiny leaflets are filled with vitality and will expand to a length of around 1/4 inch before dropping off.
The second group of leaves will appear as single blades that mimic normal pot leaves. They’ll grow to be many inches long. The plant starts “hardening off” at this stage. You’ll see that the stem begins to harden to toughen up a bit. You’ll see that the stem begins to harden to toughen up a bit.
Once the plant has hardened off, roots may emerge from the base of the seedling pellet, signaling that it can be transplanted into a larger container.
Here are a few tips:
- Take care because any tension would stifle its growth.
- Create a small hole for the seedling in your larger pot and put the base’s root pack.
- Then gently pry your seedling and its seedling pellet-free.
- Reverse the germination container, knock on the rim, and be cautious not to let any material come out.
- Place it on top of the rooting pack, leveling the base of the stalk with the topsoil, and give it good irrigation to keep it safe.
Sources for Getting Seeds or Cuttings
In places where cultivating cannabis for private use is lawful, you will normally find cannabis seeds for several pharmacies. One might even come across farmers who sell cuttings or clones. A ten-seed packet could cost between $50 and $100. Scan the labeling and every other detail the retailer gives on their webpage or in the catalog when purchasing seeds or cuttings to ensure you’re having the right seeds or cuttings (the strain) for the plants you want to produce.
Laws Concerning Purchasing Marijuana
Before actually purchasing marijuana seeds or cuttings, familiarize yourself with the laws governing the purchase, sale, possession, and transportation of seeds or cuttings across boundaries in your nation, state, province, and locality.
The below are few examples of standards and procedures:
- Few European countries have laws prohibiting the cultivation of cannabis, but the seed is legal. Since cannabis seeds are non-psychotropic, you can buy and consume them, but you can’t use them for cultivating cannabis. Some European nations, like Germany, use their seed legislation.
- Seeds can be transported through territorial borders in Canada, where cannabis is federally legal.
- You can buy marijuana seeds from certain companies in the United States if you live in one of the states where marijuana is legal.
It’s a remarkable journey, to begin with, a seed. Learning genetics is one factor; understanding how a tiny miracle bean will grow into a massive tree capable of affecting the body and mind is nothing short of a miracle. Or, to put it another way, a plant-human co-evolutionary tale.