Here’s How To Grow ‘Medical’ Weed in Your Apartment in Just 10 Steps
Just 10 easy steps to this. Photo via Flickr user Blind Nomad.
Last week, the courts made it legal for medical marijuana users in Canada to grow their own pot.
Federal Court judge Michael Phelan ruled the current “Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations” that require patients to purchase weed from licensed producers are unconstitutional. He suspended his decision for six months to allow the Liberals to create a new scheme; once that happens patients will effectively be in the clear to get high on their own supply.
But while there are still likely plenty of legislative quirks to work out, the resounding sentiment among my friends was: “I can start my own grow-op!”
The problem is, I know literally nothing about gardening. At best, I am a plant murderer.
My roommate recently asked me to water her plants while she went on holiday and I killed her jade by haphazardly dumping a bunch of water on it, causing several branches (are they called branches?) to break under the weight.
Still, the allure of having a replenishing supply at chronic right at home is pretty powerful, so I asked Al the Alchemist (he said he could turn weed into gold, so I guess he earned this name), an experienced Vancouver-based grower to walk me through producing for beginners. He told me my two obstacles—inexperience with gardening and limited space (I live in a 600-square-foot condo)—are actually no issue at all.
“It’s like making Kool-Aid,” Al told VICE from over the phone from Vancouver.
“Back in the 80s it would have been a lot harder. You would have had to source info on creating your own mineral profile… Now the industry has afforded the layman the availability to skip all of that and you can get it all pre-packaged.”
Here is a basic Martha Stewart-style guide to get you started:
• A basic digital ballast (electrical transformer that powers your light) $150-$200
• A small four-by-four box
• Bulbs—a Philips bulb will cost around $35. For this space, you’d probably want a 400-watt light
• A window or vent
• A pot
• A six-inch inline fan
• Furnace filter
• pH test kit
• Soil—Al recommends Pro-Mix, a peat moss and perlite based mixture available at most hardware stores
• Nutrients—General Hydroponics is easy to work with; grab the tomato recipe
BC-based Remo Cannabrands, which sells nutrients to LPs, also has a good reputation
• Seeds—you’re looking for a feminized seed (males ones don’t produce bud), and Al suggests brands like Northern Lights, Critical Mass, or Skunk #1 for newbies.
Al cautioned me not to be fooled into buying “top of the line” products—there are LED lights that cost $1,500—when the basics will often suffice.
“So many beginner growers get oversold by grow shops when all they really need to spend is maybe $300 to get started and they wind up with a $3,000 bill.”
My goal. Photo via Flickr user Mark.
1. Survey your home. In an optimal situation, you want the lab to be near a window or a place with a vent, like a laundry room. “This will give you a fresh air intake,” Al said. Having your plants outside, like on a balcony, can be an issue because you’re dealing with the elements and the possibility of neighbours spotting the plants.
“We’re just not progressive enough yet,” he said.
2. Take your wooden box and cut a hole in the back, near the intake vent, so you have fresh air coming into the box. Attach a standard 3M furnace filter to the hole so the air coming into the box is free of pathogens.
3. Mount your light.
4. Cut another hole in the front of the box and mount the fan outside of that hole.
5. Germinate the seeds. Al said the easiest method is to put four or five drops of vitamin B1 into 500 ml of water and drop your seeds into the water. They need to be in an environment that’s slightly above room temperature.
6. Once the seeds split, you’ll notice a white shoot coming out of them. Plant the shoot down into the soil—you don’t want more than 15 litres of soil for this size of an operation. Let the seeds grow for about seven to 10 days before adding fertilizer.
7. Follow a standard tomato recipe for the fertilizer mix (e.g. General Hydroponics). It’ll come in a three-part formula, with nutrient ratios appropriate for different stages of growth, first vegetative, then flowering. During the vegetative phase, which lasts about three or four weeks, you can leave the light on for 24 hours. In the flowering stage, you want 12 hours dark and 12 hours light.
8. Watering. Al believes in an “active method,” so he suggests watering the plants every day.
“You’re only giving them enough liquid solution so they’re going to drink that in 24 hours and they’re dry.”
9. pH balance is important and should be around 6.8, according to Al. To test this, once a week pour enough water in the pot so that some of it runs out the bottom. Catch the runoff and tests its pH using basic $10 kit—you add the water to a vial with a few drops of the test liquid and it changes colour to indicate the pH level.
10. Yield. The flowering stage, lasts 60-90 days, so that’s how long it’ll take before you’ve got anything smokable. An experienced grower can produce about 1 gram of marijuana per watt of light—so a 400-watt light has the potential to grow 14 ounces (that’s like 780 joints).
But fuck, that’s a long time, even for that much weed.
Despite Al’s claims that this whole process is super easy, it’s hard to deny that simply handing $20 over a counter in exchange for a couple grams is still a lot easier. That’s mostly likely what I’ll end up doing after I inevitably screw up this experiment.
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Thanks to Canada's court system, medical pot users will soon be able to grow their own medicine.
Growing Weed in an Apartment – Balconies
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Spring time has finally come around which usually means good weather, depending on where you live, and growing weed in an apartment on your balcony or roof is a great way for medicinal and recreational consumers to grow their own affordable crop. In this post we’re going to show you one of the best ways to grow cannabis on your balcony, depending on your growing conditions and the needs that you need to meet.
Growing Weed in an Apartment | First Step
1. Controlling Light Schedules
For cannabis plants to properly develop and produce a decent yield, they need at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and an uninterrupted period of darkness – this means you’ll need to have a balcony with no light contamination at night time such as street lamps or the lighting from your own house. This is generally one of the more complicated issues regarding growing weed in an apartment.
If you have a space with more than 4 hours of direct sunlight and you’re sure that there’s no light contamination at night you can grow both feminized seasonal plants, regular plants as well as autoflowering strains.
When your growing area has light contamination at night, you’ll have to grow a non light-dependant autoflowering plant. If not, your plants might not even flower correctly due to having their nocturnal cycle interrupted.
2. Growing Weed Discreetly
When growing on a balcony or roof space, one of the most important points is discretion, as your neighbors might not be as in favor of your new hobby as you are, and some of them might even want to take tour plants. Plus, the aroma can be quite a give away for the authorities. In order to avoid any of these scenarios we recommend following these steps:
- Cover your growing area along the perimeter, and along the top if growing on the roof, using green shading mesh or bamboo meshing. You can also use plants or fake plants as decorations to cover your plants.
- Choose a strain that doesn’t grow too tall and flowers fast that produce earthy, incensed aromas. Avoid long-flowering plants that produce sweet, fruity aromas, which can be quite the give away.
- Grow different types of aromatic plants in order to cover up the smell of cannabis, such as mint, rosemary, thyme, and many other types of herbs. Some of these plants also come in handy when it comes to repelling insects and can also be used by people for cooking and other beneficial activities.
- Prune and train your plants in order to control their size in order to suit your needs, especially when growing seasonal plants. You can check out this post in which we explain the different type of pruning when it comes to cannabis plants.
3. The Right Sized Flowerpot
Choosing the right flowerpot is incredibly important; there’s a difference between autoflowering pots and pots for normal plants, for example.
Autoflowering pots tend to be 18L or 20L at the most, although the size of your pot is going to depend on the amount of space in which you’re going to be growing; if you don’t have much space and/or want discreet plants, we recommend using 7 or 11L flowerpots.
Flowerpots for seasonal plants
For normal light-dependant cannabis plants, you’ll need to chose your flowerpot size based on your available space and when you plan on planting them. If you have enough space to grow large plants from the start of the season, we recommend transplanting more than once, with the last transplant towards mid/end of July. If you don’t have much space, we recommend growing from June onwards and transplanting to 18L at most towards the start of July.
If you’re experienced with pruning and training, you can use larger flowerpots, especially when planting normal seasonal plants.
4. Type of Flowerpots
The type of flowerpot you’re going to use is something you’ll also need to keep in mind. There are various different types, such as black and white flowerpots, as well as fabric pots and auto-pruning pots for the roots. These are generally the most used pots when growing cannabis.
White plastic pots are the best at keeping your plants’ substrate from heating up, which is why they’re a better choice than white flowerpots. Balcony growers generally use white plastic flowerpots.
Fabric flowerpots are a great choice; they don’t heat up much and allow your roots to air much more, which increases root growth, which in turn means large yields. However you’ll need to water more frequently, and feed them more often too. You can also transplant straight into the ground while in the flowerpots or into larger pots without needing to remove your fabric pot.
Root pruning pots come in various different sizes, although the white ones are probably best for cannabis. They allow for air flow through the roots and keep them growing at a constant pace, although not as intensely as fabric pots.
5. Protecting Roots from Heat
As we were saying, choosing the right flowerpot is incredibly important if you don’t want your plants’ root system to end up heating up too much and dying off. We recommend keeping your flowerpots off the ground if at all possible using bricks or any other material that’s going to be cooler than the floor.
You’ll also want to try and avoid the sun directly hitting your flowerpots if they’re dark in color; you can use cardboard, rocks or anything else that you can put around the flowerpot to keep it shaded.
When Should you Start Growing Weed in an Apartment?
Outdoor growing season starts as soon as spring arrives, although depending on where you live it may or may not be possible to start growing, this depends on the temperature and how hot the sun is. Regardless of this factor, we recommend growing various autoflowering plants (normal or XL) combined with a few seasonal plants that are either fast, early versions or normal flowering plants.
In general, you can start growing cannabis on your balcony towards the end of March, although we’re going to go through the various different stages right now to make it clearer.
If the weather is right for it, you can grow you first set of plants at the end of March, taking plenty of care to keep an eye on how cold it gets and if it rains or is too windy. We recommend starting with autoflowering plants, as there are an enormous amount of different auto strains out there that can produce over 200g, and reach up to 300g in some cases. In order to do so, you’ll need plenty of sunlight and growing space as well as an intense feeding schedule. Autoflowering strains take a total of 70 to 90 days to fully mature.
Around the first half of may, if you have enough space to grow in, we recommend starting your second round of autoflowering plants. If you don’t have enough space, you’ll need to hold off and if you weren’t able to germinate earlier due to bad weather, now is the time to do it. Around this date,your first round should be about 4 weeks old, and once the new round is about a month old you’ll be able to harvest and plant again.
This is the first two weeks of June and this is when you’ll need to plant your seasonal strains if you’ve chosen to do so. Make sure to grow them discreetly, and make sure you have no light contamination at night.
The first two weeks of July is when you should germinate and plant your third and last round of autoflowering plants, around 4 weeks before harvesting the second round. If you started the second stage in May, the fourth stage becomes the second and last round of autoflowering plants.
This stage is for growers lucky enough to have a decent climate at the start of September; you can plant autoflowering plants and harvest towards the end of November, if your climate allows.
Growing Weed in an Apartment | Feeding and Prevention
Feeding plants grown on a balcony isn’t any different than a normal grow indoors or outdoors. You’ll need to keep in mind that your flowerpot is going to heat up a bit more in the sun, reaching temperatures over 40°C which can double on the inside. We highly recommend using enzymes and root stimulants, as well as beneficial fungi and bacteria.
Preventing Pests and Fungi
It’s just as easy for plants on a balcony or roof to get insect and rot infestations as it is for plants grown indoors and outdoors if the growing conditions aren’t ideal. You’ll need to take certain measures to increase your plants’ natural defences when it comes to bad weather and insect infestations.
Spring time has arrived, and outdoor crop season is officially here! Read on to find out some of the best tips and advice on growing weed in an apartment!