pH of Water: 6.3 to 6.7. “You’ll need a meter that you can stick into your water and tell you the pH,” Lipton said. “You want something between 6.3 to 6.7 pH for watering your plants. That sounds like pretty sophisticated stuff but it’s really not. A lot of times your tap water will be 7.8. You can use what they call pH down. That’s a crucial step.”
Even in our most progressive states, however, the law is far from simple. “In Colorado, it’s now county-specific,” Lipton said. “When the amendment first passed, they said you could grow six plants per person. But now, certain counties and municipalities have come out and said it’s just six per house — there’s no combining plant counts. That means you can have three vegetating and three flowering at any given time.”
For some people, cannabis cultivation is a hobby. Others a life-long passion. But it’s unique in its vast demographic appeal. “Everyone I know grows,” Lipton said. “There are people in their 20s doing it. I know people in their 60s. It’s a fun thing for people. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.” Here are Lipton’s tips on growing your first plant.
Plant and maintain the vegetative cycle until the plant is mature.
Another layer to consider is that cannabis cultivation must happen “out of plain sight.” “You can’t have any odor. If it’s offending people in the neighborhood, then it’s an issue.”
Cannabis plants yield the highest-quality (and quantity) flowers after maturing. This usually takes about a month to happen. “I recommend planting in a five-gallon Home Depot bucket,” Lipton said. “It’s really important to have proper drainage, so you want to drill some holes in the bottom. The biggest mistake people make is that they overwater and suffocate the roots. Cannabis likes to be watered and dried out before it’s watered again.” During the vegetative cycle, the plant should be exposed to a minimum of 18 hours of light. Remember to open the closet door while the lights are on to prevent the space from heading north of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Foster the right growing environment.
Before someone even begins to consider the genetics of their preferred strain, they should first ensure that their apartment is cannabis-friendly. There are five main factors to consider: space, temperature, humidity, the pH of water, and the amount of light.
It’s important to remember that cultivating even one cannabis plant for personal consumption is felony on the federal level and punishable by up to five years in prison. Meanwhile, four US states — Alaska, Colorado, Washington D.C. and Oregon — have passed local amendments, allowing citizens who are 21 years old and over to grow a limited number of plants without fear of persecution.
That’s probably a few years off though.
For now, one place which has accepted home grow is Vermont. Of the nine US states which have fully legalized, Vermont is the only one not to allow a commercial industry. Instead, the state will allow possession and home growing, up to six plants, including two flowered females.
The plants can attract unappetizing blights like spider mites, fungus gnats, powdery mildew and grey mold, also called bud rot. And the odor can annoy neighbors. The most vocal opponents of home growing may be the Quebec government which has said it will not allow home grow immediately, as part of an effort to legalize at its own pace.
Cannabis is a sexed plant; the drug is the flower from the female. The hard to detect presence of a male plant can ruin the flower produced by a whole room of females. To avoid pollination, large-scale marijuana grows typically use clones instead of seeds, and Graf recommends novice growers to begin with clones as well. The wrong lighting can also be ruinous for a very expensive crop.
How to grow your own weed
Marijuana growing can be relatively straightforward or “as complicated as you want to make it”, Graf said. Like so many aspects of cannabis, this is a culture advanced largely by solitary men, deeply invested in their competitive world.
As legalization spreads, more cannabis enthusiasts are naturally going to want to try cultivation for themselves. The 2018 National Gardening Survey found 15% of US households would grow marijuana at home if it was legal. But, along with edibles, home growing is generally among the most contentious topics within the legalization debate.
But home growing has its pleasures. Like tomatoes or carrots, growing one’s own cannabis is cheaper than buying it, and a chance to learn something.
“There’s an empowerment that comes from being able to do it yourself,” said Nichole Graf, who left New York City with her partner in 2013 to start a marijuana farm in Washington state. Growing, she said, would also be useful if the administration went after the industry and pushed the drug back to the illegal market. With her business partners, she co-authored Grow Your Own: Understanding, cultivating and enjoying cannabis, a nicely illustrated and eco-minded introduction.
Allowing it, police say, enables criminals to hide in plain sight. For law-abiding growers it could invite burglaries, since their stash is worth $1,000 a pound and easy to resell. Firefighters worry about the blazing hot lightbulbs growers use and their elaborate electrical set-ups.