Grow Your Own Cannabis: Seed and Soil
This is part one of a four part, series entitled “How to Grow Cannabis.” There are a lot of guides on how to grow Cannabis. I found the best one, in Jorge Cervantes’ book, The Cannabis Encyclopedia, and trimmed the fat.
Part 1: Seed and Soil
- Cannabis seeds
- Ziplock bag
- Glass cup
- Paper Towel
- Small Pots
The first step in cultivating your own cannabis plant is to get some seeds. There are a few ways you can get seeds. The most straightforward way is to buy the seeds online. This gives you the freedom to choose your strain, and you can rest assured that you’ll be getting high quality, healthy seeds. Many sites which ship to your location can easily be found with a Google search. But you can also get seeds from a grower friend or ask for them at a local cannabis dispensary. Most dispensaries have unwanted seeds laying around in the back room and might give you them for free if you’re nice. Another method, if you have cannabis buds at home, is to look through them for seeds. The production process is not perfect, and chances are you will find a seed in every few grams if you look closely.
There are four basic types of seeds to be aware of:
- Natural: these are mother nature’s seeds. They will produce about 50% male and 50% female plants unless you use methods during early vegetative growth to shift the scales. (More on that in the next section).
- Feminized: These seeds produce only female plants. These seeds were developed in 1982 by H.Y. Mohan Ram and R. Sett at the University of Dehli, India. They are a bit more expensive, and work 99% of the time.
- Autoflowering: These seeds grow and are ready for harvest in about 75 days after germination, regardless of light conditions. These seeds contain Cannabis Rudelaris genes in conjunction with Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica. They are the easiest to grow, but may produce poorly and are difficult to clone and breed.
- Autoflowering Feminized: Same as autoflowering, but produce only female plants and are ready for harvest in about 90 days after germination.
Once you have your seeds, the next step is to put them in the fridge for a week to simulate winter. Get a little plastic bag, put the seeds in, and leave them in there while you prepare the rest of your materials. Make sure your freezer isn’t too cold.
After a week has gone by, remove your seeds from the fridge and put them into a mason jar or glass full of water overnight. The water will work its way into the seed and begin the germination process. Make sure to take your seeds out within 24 hours or they may suffer oxygen deprivation and die. A pro tip is to scuff your seeds with sandpaper before putting them into water. This insures that the water will penetrate the hard outer shell.
Now that the hard shells of the cannabis seeds have been penetrated by water, they need to be introduced to the air again. Take them out of the water and wrap them in a damp paper towel, and place them onto a plate. Put the plate in a dark cupboard with a ripening banana. The Ethylene gas from the banana will stimulate strong growth during the germination stage. Ethylene gas is also important during the sprouting process, since it will increase the chance that the flower becomes a female (and thus produces buds). Make sure to keep the paper towel damp for the next 2-7 days while the seeds germinate. Never let the towel completely dry out. If anything causes me the most trouble in the beginning, this is it. A good rule of thumb is to moisten the towel once in the morning and once at night. So set an alarm on your phone. The dark cupboard and moist paper towel simulates a wet, underground, but controlled environment: perfect conditions for a young seed.
Once a healthy seed has germinated, it will have a white tail extruding from its shell. This tells you that it is time to plant the seed. The tail should be about 1 cm long, or twice as long as the seed. The seeds will all germinate at different speeds, so make an effort to plant each as soon as it is ready.
- Go to your local garden center (or supermarket) and buy fine soil. put the soil into the garden, or into small pots. Saturate the soil with water and pre-drill a hole for each seed. The depth should equal twice the length of the seed (1 cm), so that the seed is covered, but doesn’t have far to go to reach the surface.
- Once your seeds have sprouted white tails, place them into the pre-drilled holes with the tail facing down (the tail is a root tip). Remember to keep the seed as wet as possible while handling and planting it, but do not drown the seed in soggy soil–healthy seeds need oxygen
- To increase the number of female plants, add nitrogen to the soil, make sure the seedling is getting blue light (sunlight), and keep the seedling near a bunch of bananas, which release ethylene gas, the female plant hormone, increasing female tendencies.
- Within a few days, the seedling will emerge from the soil with tiny leaves. This stage lasts from 3-6 weeks. While aboveground growth at this stage is slow, a root system is rapidly growing underneath the soil. Try to keep the plant cool, and water it often. Some of your plants will grow quickly, and others will may look sickly and weak. Cull the plants that aren’t doing well and focus your time and energy on the healthy ones.
So that’s one quick and easy way to plant seeds. The next phase of the Cannabis plant’s life cycle, the vegetative growth phase, will be discussed in next week’s article.