Chosing Your Desired StrainEdit
It's very important to start with good genetics. What are good genetics? You tell us. Do you enjoy that hard hitting, sedative stone that puts you to sleep? Maybe you like the soaring euphoric cerebral qualities that will leave you in a hazed fluster? Or perhaps a little of both? There are three distinguished variations of the marijuana plant. These three variations include Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis.
Cannabis Sativa is a hard plant to grow indoors due to high lighting requirements, tall stature, and late flowering traits. Sativas come from equatorial regions, thus the neccesity for high ammounts of lighting and a warmer tropic-subtropic climate. You can identify a Sativa by its long, slender, finger-like leaves. A Sativa will typically produce a euphoric, energetic, cerebral high. Despite the Sativa's climatic limitations, they are truly a reward to obtain, grow, and smoke. A pure Sativa will take 2 to 4 months to finish flowering.
Cannabis Indica is a great plant to grow indoors as well as outdoors due to its low lighting requirements and tight internode spacing, also offering resistance to fungus and pests, early maturation tendencies, and dense flower production. Indica's come from colder climates exhibiting the traits described above by acclimating to the environment from whence they came. Their stout stature and extremely wide leaflets make them easy to identify. An Indica generally produces a hard hitting, tiresome, sedative stone, and will take around 45 to 60 days to finish flowering.
Cannabis Ruderalis is not a very good choice for flower production, indoors or out. Despite maintaining a short stature, growing only one to five feet tall, and maturing rather quickly, Ruderalis just doesn't produce the yield or quality one looks for in their flowers. A slight light cycle reduction can trigger a sprout with as little as 2 to 3 leaf sets to flower. Ruderalis spontaneously initiates flowering a few weeks after sprouting, and will not produce decent flowers unless the photoperiod provides around 18 to 19 hours of light. Even then, the yield and quality are less than desirable, incomparable to that of the Sativa or Indica sub-species.
You didn't think we'd forget to mention Hybrids, did you? Hybrids can carry the best of both worlds regarding high and growth patterns in their genetic makeup, some will not. A Hybrid has potential to exhibit every good trait one looks for when breeding. A rather common Hybrid is hard hitting, euphoric, energetic, dense, and stout, making that particular hybrid the perfect all around plant for someone looking for that particular high, growing indoors, as well as out. It all comes down to your growing conditions and personal preference.
Obtaining Your Desired StrainEdit
Attempt to find seeds from local gardeners that have been acclimated to the local climate conditions, and carry the best floral characteristics—potency, aroma, flavor, vigorous growth, early maturation, resistance to fungus and pests. Look for seeds that are dark brown or light grey. Some may have dark lines inset into these colors, like tiger stripes. White, small seeds are immature and should not be planted. All of these factors are considered by the seasoned gardener. You will benefit enormously by finding a friend to get you started. However, some of us are not fortunate enough to find these "friends" to aid in our seed need, so we go international. Ordering your seeds from an online seedbank becomes ideal in this scenario. Seedbanks are a great place to search for specific breeds you've grown rather fond of, as well.
Light is needed by a plant for using nutrients and manufacturing food. It has a great influence on chlorophyll production, growth rate, leaf size, and flower and seed production. Light will be one of the most important aspects of your grow operation. For the purposes of growing marijuana, there are two basic types of lights: fluorescent's and high intensity discharge (HID), including MV (mercury vapor), MH (metal halide), and HPS (high pressure sodium). HID vs. Fluorescent The main difference is that fluorescent's create light by passing electricity through a gas vapor under low pressure and HID creates light by passing electricity through a gas vapor under high pressure. HID lights are much brighter and while initially more expensive, are more cost efficient to operate and will grow a much nicer crop. Therefore, they are the light of choice for most indoor growers.
Fluorescents come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. There are compacts, twist bulbs and circle bulbs. They all work the same way. They have a starter and ballast which help provide a steady and regulated amount of electricity to the light. Before HID lights were available indoor growers used fluorescent lights. While fluorescents can be used for an entire grow from seedling to harvest, it is generally not advised to use them in this way. To grow effectively with fluorescent's, think small. These lights are better suited for starting seedlings, rooting clones and small plants, maintaining moms for cloning purposes, and providing sidelight for the undergrowth. These situations do not require a high intensity of light to run their course. The light emitted by fluorescents is gentler and more diffuse, it doesn't release a lot of heat, and doesn't make the plant work as hard. For this reason they can be kept closer to the plant. One or two inches is sufficient, but this also means that the lights must be adjusted almost daily to accommodate growth which can be troublesome. High Intensity Discharge There are basically three types of HID lights. Mercury vapor (MV), metal halide (MH), and high pressure sodium (HPS). These lights also require a starter and a ballast.
Mercury vapor is the type of lights that were used for streetlights many years ago. Not very good for growing because it doesn't provide enough of the right kind of light spectrum. While they do provide a littleof the blue spectrum, MV also produces too much heat to get very close to a plant, and are very inefficient to operate.
The metal halide is a very good source of the white/blue spectrum of light that is ideal for vegetative growth. Many growers use MH during the vegetative phase. MH is bright and cost efficient to operate, but not as efficient as HPS lights. Most commonly used sizes are 400 watt and 1,000 watt. Works best when used in combination with HPS lights. High Pressure Sodium The best light available today for growing marijuana. High pressure sodium lights are very bright and very efficient. This light has a red/orange spectrum that is ideal for the flowering phase. With enough of these kind of lights you too can grow those centerfold buds. HPS comes in a wide variety of wattages from 70 watts up to 1,000 watts.
To correctly determine the best lighting for your space there are several things that you have to know. At this point, a couple of definitions are in order. The amount of light emitted by one candle that falls on one square foot of surface one foot away is called a lumen (lm). The amount of electricity flowing through a wire is measured in watts. Watt (W) hours measure the amount of watts used in one hour. A kilowatt/hour (kWh) is 1,000 watt/hours (Wh).
Find your kWh charge on your electric bill. Assume you have a 1,000 W light and your kWh charge is $.05/hour. A kilowatt (kW) equals 1,000 W, therefore it will cost you $0.05 cents per hour to run that light. Here's another example. Say you have a 400 W light and your kWh charge is $0.03. Since 400 W is not a kilowatt, you must divide 400 by 1,000 (0.4 kW) and multiply that by the kWh rate from your electricity bill (0.03 kWh), leaving you with a cost of $0.012 cents per hour.
Lumens Per Square FootEdit
To determine how many lumens per square foot you have, find out the square footage of your space by multiplying the width and depth. Divide the lumens available by your square footage. This will give you lumens per square foot. For example, say your space is 3 feet deep by 4 feet wide, for a total of 12 square feet. The total lumens available from your light(s) is 45,000 lumens, which means you have 3,750 lumens per square foot.
How Much Light Do I Need?Edit
Technology has advanced so much in the last 15 years that we are constantly refining the process and updating what we know works best for growing. Current theory holds that the minimum amount of lighting needed to sustain growth is around 2,000 lumens per square foot. Mid range is around 5,000 lumens per square foot. Optimal is 7,000 to 7,500 or higher lumens per square foot. How Many Watts Do I Need? The general rule of thumb for providing light for an area is a minimum of 30 W per square foot. 50 W per square foot is optimal. You can determine the proper lighting for your area by using this formula:
Watts x Square FeetEdit
For example, say you have an area of 10 square feet and a 30 W. That would mean you have a 300 W per square feet minimum. Also, remember that fluorescent's are weaker and emit less light than an HID. This means you will need 5 times the amount of wattage to equal the output of an HID. So, 30 W of HID would equal 150 W of fluorescent's. This is why it is advised to provide a minimum of 30 W per square foot for HID lights and a minimum of 150 W per square foot for fluorescent's. This is all important because the light intensity will directly affect the quality and yield of your crop. If you have less than optimal lighting your yield and potency will be reduced and buds will not develop as dense. This point can not be stressed enough. You must have the right amount of light for your space to grow high quality bud.
Can I Have Too Much Light?Edit
The basic answer is no. According to the law of diminishing returns, you could theoretically reach a point when your plants just couldn't absorb any more light, but it would be impossible to have that many lights in your space. Heat from the lights would become a problem long before you ever reached that point. So use as many lights as you want, just control the heat. Experimentation is the only sure method to determine the best solution for each plant. If plants are not receiving enough light, they begin to grow tall and spindly as if stretching for the light and foliage becomes pale green. Or, if they need to be moved closer to the light, or given a longer light exposure period. Too much light may lead to bleaching of leaves and flowers, browning and shriveling. Leaves would become overly compact and curl under at the edges.
Your plants should be started and taken through vegetative growth with a 24/7 or 18/6 light regimen. The reason for an 18/6 regimen is to give the plants a short dark period to breathe and to reduce your electric bill a little bit. Most plants thrive with at least 16 hours of light a day. Adjustments should be made according to individual plant requirements. For flowering 12/12 is the norm. Again, adjustments may need to be made. A minimum of 12 hours of darkness is required to trigger the flowering process.
Don't burn your plants by getting them to close to the light(s). Fluorescent's do not put out much heat and can be as close as one or two inches. HID lights get much hotter and will need to be farther away. A good test is to put your hand between the light and the plant. If your hand gets too hot for comfort, the light is too close. There are some common lights that may induce a seed to come up, but are worthless for growing purposes. These lights include; Any incandescent (regular) light bulb, halogen lights, black lights and heat lamps. Don't waste your time trying to grow with these lights, you will only be disappointed.
So, you have your beans in your hand. Now you are wondering what you are gonna do to get these to start growing. If you have purchased seeds from a reputable seed bank then you can be sure that they are all fit to attempt to germinate since they have been through a screening process already. However, if you have obtained your seeds from a bag then you need to do some simple checks to see if the seeds are viable or not. One way to test yourself is to lightly squeeze the seed between your index finger and thumb. If it gets crushed, then it's no good. Usually white, dried up seeds are immature and will crush. Dark green, green or brown seeds are more apt to germinate well. You can't tell the sex of a plant by looking at the seeds. The are some theories here but there are no physical signs that one can use to distinguish male from female seeds. Some people like to germinate the seed using methods such as the paper towel method before they grow the plant. This is to ensure that the seeds get off to a good start. But it is not really necessary to do this unless you have a large amount (50 ore more) of seeds for your area. If you only have a few seeds then you can plant them right in the soil.
Paper Towel MethodEdit
To germinate in a paper towel simply place the seed between to dampened pieces of the paper towel. Next, place the seed/towel combination into a Tupperware container or plate. Set the container on top of a computer monitor, refrigerator or propagation pad and wait until the seed cracks and you see a tiny white root tip start to emerge from the seed.
Planting The SeedEdit
After you have germinated the seed you will see a little white root sticking out of the split shell. Dig a small hole in the soil. The end of a pencil works great for making a hole. When planting the seed or sprout be sure to only go down 1/4" to 1/2" and drop the seed in. Make sure that the root or pointy side of the seed is pointing down when inserting into the soil. Fill over the whole with soil, then keep the soil moist but not damp/wet with some water. You should provide at least 4" of vertical space for the tap root to grow down. Place one seed each in a 20 ounce cup, or a one gallon pot, then place your pot under your lights. Start with a 24/7 light cycle, meaning twenty-four hours on, seven days a week. You should see sprouts within 2-14 days depending on your individual conditions and the method you used. For quickest results try and keep the temperature in the mid to high 80's (F). You will see slower germination rates but lower temperatures are acceptable as well (70s), this will simply increase the amount of time it takes to germinate the seed.
What To Look ForEdit
The sprout will emerge first with the two seed leaves. These leaves are small, smooth and round followed by a set of single bladed, serrated leaves known as the first leaves. The height of your light from the sprout will depend on what kind you are using. If using florescent lights, they usually run cool enough to put them within 1-2 inches of your sprouts. If your going with a HPS or MH type of light, they get hot, so you won't want them too close. A good way to test a light is to put your hand between the plant—or in this case soil—and test how hot it is with your hand. If it's uncomfortable for your hand, it's too hot. Raise the light up until you reach a good temperature. These type of lights will also dry your soil out fast, so keep your eye on it. Once your light is set and the leaves start coming in you now are on you way to growth stage. Once you see the plant break though the top of the soil—it should take from 1 day to 1 week—you will see two small round leaves. Your plant will grow up a few inches with the two leaves getting a bit bigger and new leaves starting between the two round ones. Your stem will probably look white, green or even purple at this stage. The color depends on what strain of plant you have.
What To AvoidEdit
It's advised that you refrain from giving your plant fertilizer during the first stages of growth. These stages are quite delicate, it doesn't take much to make a fatal mistake. Remember though, that throughout the whole life span of your plant, like most other things in life, the more things you have going on at one time, the more likely for a problem to arise. Your best bet is to keep things simple.