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Growing marijuana in the ground

Growing marijuana outdoors in the ground

In-ground marijuana crop

Growing cannabis outdoors in the ground is undoubtedly the easiest, cheapest and most environment-friendly way of growing marijuana, since with very limited means you can get great yields. The materials needed to grow weed this way are:

  • Quality seeds. As the available space is large, you can use both regular and feminised seeds, since you won’t make the final transplant in the ground until sexing your plants.
  • 0.25 litre pots and 11 litre pots.
  • Quality soil, containing vermicompost, compost, perlite and black peat or coco coir, like Bio Bizz Light Mix and Soft mix by Bioaigua.
  • Worm castings (vermicompost).
  • Powder bat guano or liquid bat guano.
  • Nutrihemp (natural solid alginates).
  • Pure neem extract, pyrethrum or any other organic insecticide .
  • Propolis (fungicide and plant defense booster).
  • Bacillus Thuringiensis.
  • 5 litre sprayer.
  • PH tester and pH reducer.

Growing marijuana step by step

When you start growing you should take into account the final size that you want for your plants. If you want the largest possible plants, the best is to start growing at mid or late March. You will get plants between 250 and 350 cm in height, depending on the strain. If you do not want them to grow that much, then you should plant them a little later.

Germinate the seeds and once the small roots can be seen, transplant them to a 9×9 cm (0.25 l) pot with moistened substrate. During the next few days water them only with tap water (pH adjusted at 6) when you see the soil dry. Place the pots under the sunlight and wait for the small seedlings to start growing, which may take 5-10 days. Throughout this process the plants should be exposed to full sun, otherwise you will get very tall and weak plants.

After approximately three weeks, your plants should be about 20 cm tall and have about three pairs of true leafs. At this point, remove the plant from the pot if it has a good rootball. You can then transplant your plants to an 11 litre pot. Prepare the soil mix containing 80% of the recommended soil + 20% of vermicompost + 1/2 kg of bat guano and 250 grams of Nutrihemp per 100 litres of soil. Mix it thoroughly and proceed to transplant.

During the first two weeks after transplanting, water your plants whenever the soil is dry, always using tap water. You only need to add the required acid to adjust the pH, lowering it at pH=6.

By the fourth week after transplanting (eighth weeks after having started growing the plants, early June) you should start sexing the plants, as they reach full sexual maturity at this moment. This should be done if you have used regular seeds, ignore this step otherwise.

We are not going to expand on how to sex marijuana plants here. We recommend that you read our post on how to sex your cannabis plants.

Once you have identified the gender of your plants, it’s time to transplant them in the ground. You will have to prepare the site by making a hole about 50 cm deep and wide. Add 20 litres of vermicompost, one Nutrihemp bag and 0.5 kg of bat guano to the soil you get from making this hole. If the soil is clayey, add a couple of spadefuls of river sand to enhance drainage and 30 litres of the soil used in transplants to prevent compaction. Mix all ingredients and pour the mixture into the hole. Transplant the plants and immediately after that prune the apical areas from the seventh or eighth pair of true leafs.

After this, just keep watering the plants with tap water – pH=6 – once or twice a week, always making sure that the soil dries out between waterings.

From mid-July, anticipating the onset of flowering, provide the soil with more nutrients. Prepare the soil around your plants and add a mixture of 20 litres of vermicompost, 1/4 of a Nutrihemp bag and 1/2 Kg of bat guano per plant. Mix the nutrients added to the soil in the ground and make a slight dip or depression in the soil around the base of each plant so that water and nutrients are better retained and won’t directly run off.

Until the end of flowering, always water them with tap water – pH=6 – although if you stimulate their flowering with an activator like Green Hope, your plants will definitely appreciate that.

When flowering begins – mid-July or early August (later for pure Sativas) – you can prune the lower parts of the plants so the top buds get bigger, achieving better yields.

Buds will get bigger and bigger, so it is time to protect the plants from strong winds and storms; use stakes to fix the branches of your plants so they can support the weight of their buds.

When 80% of the pistils have ripened (turned orange-brown) it is the right time to harvest. However, we always recommend using a magnifying glass to check the trichomes, ensuring that you choose the right time to harvest your plants.

For further information on this subject, visit our post about harvesting marijuana.

Marihuana grown in the ground

Weed grown using this method gives a yield of 500 to 1000 grams per plant.

Aspects to consider to grow weed in the ground properly

  • The distance between plants should be at least 2 meters otherwise, they can’t fully develop.
  • It is preferable that you also grow other varieties of plants in your garden, as they will help to create a suitable microclimate as well as enhancing the biological richness of the environment. It will also help us conceal our secret crop.
  • If your garden is very sunny and it’s very warm throughout the day, it would be a good idea to refresh the plant leafs by spraying them with water in the mornings and afternoons/evenings, always before the onset of the flowering phase, especially during June and July, when there is more proliferation of red spider mites.
  • If your garden is very exposed to strong winds, stones and ropes will be necessary to support or fix your plants, preventing them from falling.

Phytosanitary treatments for marihuana

Outdoor crops are exposed to numerous pests, so it’s important to carry out biological preventive treatments that will prevent both pests and the need to use chemical insecticides/fungicides later on. Some of these chemicals are toxic treatments, which are harmful for the health of people, animals and natural environment.

In-ground marijuana plant flowering

You should start pest control when you transplant your plants to the 11-litre pot, using neem-based insecticides or pyrethrum mixed with propolis to prevent red spider mites, whiteflies and aphids, as well as several types of fungi.

Treat the plants every 15 days until the end of July, at which time you should begin the next treatment. Then you should combine a weekly spray of Bacillus Thuringiensis – to avoid the appearance of dangerous caterpillars – with a spray of propolis to prevent powdery mildew. Continue with these treatments until two weeks before harvesting.

It is important to do all treatments, waterings and transplants early or late in the day to avoid heat excess, that could damage your plants.

Early Maroc grown in the ground

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Comments in “Growing marijuana in the ground” (18)

Ezed 2020-10-02
Hello, thanks for the information. Is there anyway to know what requirements should the soil have to plant cannabis? I have a field but i would like to know if it needs extra fertilizers and what quantities should i buy .

Tim Alchimia 2020-10-05
Hi, cannabis needs fertile and well-draining soil. I did a quick search for nutrient requirements and this is what I came up with: “Industrial hemp requires 80 to 100 lbs/ac (90 to 112 kg/ha) nitrogen, 35 to 50 lbs/ac (39 to 56 kg/ha) phosphate and 52 to 70 lbs/ac (60 to 80 kg/ha) potash. Hemp prefers a sufficiently deep, well-aerated soil with a pH of 6 or greater, along with good moisture and nutrient holding capacity. Poorly drained soils, however, are not recommended as excess surface water after heavy rains can result in damage to the hemp crop. Hemp is extremely sensitive to flooding and soil compaction.” I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

Will 2020-09-25
Can i dig up a plant from ground and finish in a container??

Tim Alchimia 2020-10-02
Hi Will, thanks for your comment and question. Yes, if you carefully dig the plant up without damaging the root ball then there’s a good chance that it will survive although it’s also very easy to stress the plant so much that it simply stops developing after being transplanted. A lot will depend on the size of the plant, with smaller examples having a better chance of survival. To summarise, it’s not the ideal way to finish a plant but if there’s no other option then it’s way better than losing the entire crop! I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

KRIS 2020-09-04
This is my first grow. I planted 3 clones in mid may. It’s the beginning of September now. They have gotten huge but haven’t flowered yet. It seems like they are getting plenty of sun throughout the day. What am I doing wrong? What can I do to start the flowering process?

Tim Alchimia 2020-09-04
Hi Kris, thanks for your comment and question. Do you know what variety the clones are? If they’re a Sativa-dominant hybrid or a pure Sativa then it’s fairly normal that they don’t initiate flowering until late in the season, going on to finish in November, December or even Jan/Feb in really extreme cases! If, on the other hand, they’re not Sativas then it could be that some light contamination is interrupting their night time dar period, which would prevent them from flowering. Check there are no street lamps or house lights nearby that could be causing the issue. If that’s the case then the only options would be to either move the plants to somewhere they don’t get light contamination (only if they’re in pots!), or alternatively you could force flowering by covering the plants with a light-proof cover of some sort, to fool the plants into thinking it’s night time. You’ll need to be very dedicated though, the plants will need to be covered and uncovered 12 hours apart, at the same time each day, for it to work properly. If the plants are in pots then you could move them into a dark garage or shed every evening, say at 8 pm, then you’d bring them out of the darkness at 8 am every morning, giving them 12 hours darkness (you can even do 13 hours darkness if you want them to flower a bit faster, but be consistent and don’t chop and change the light schedule! I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

Smoker76 2020-08-13
I am growing my plant outside, in the ground, this afternoon my plant fell over. It is about 5-6ft now. How can I save it? Help.

Tim Alchimia 2020-08-17
Hi and thanks for your comment. Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear about your plant but I’m sure it can be saved unñess the plant has snapped off completely, in which case I’m afraid it’s history. If the plant has simply flopped over without breaking then its easy to fix. Get some canes or sticks and poke them into the ground around your plant then tie your plant to them, using soft string or specialised plant ties. Alternatively, you can make a cage from chicken or sheep wire fencing. The less the plant can move in the wind, the better. I would water with some kelp meal solution and Aloe Vera juice to help offset the inevitable stress of falling over. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

Tweak 2020-08-07
When planting marijuana and other companion plants in a planter, how far apart should each companion plant be from the marijuana plants

Tim Alchimia 2020-08-10
Hi Tweak, thanks for the question. It’s a tough one because it will depend on the final size of the plants, both the cannabis and the companion plants. Try to plant them so that the cannabis won’t block out the light to the companion plant, but not so far away as to negate any of the positive effects. You also need to consider the vigour of the companion plants, for example, I like to use mint as a companion plant but it will take over the planter if I let it, so plants like this will go in a separate pot to avoid them swamping everything else. I hope that helps, best wishes and happy growing!

Dan Routledge 2019-10-29
Hi I’ve just did my first grow,I had to pull the plants because of severe frost . I’ve have them in pots with water in my garage ,how long can I have them in the buckets.

Tim Alchimia 2019-10-30
Hi Dan, thanks for your question, and congratulations on your first grow, nice one! If you change the water in the buckets every day (or more if they seem to be drinking lots) and keep the garage at a reasonable temperature – not too hot, not too cold, then they’ll be fine for a few days or up to a week if they were really healthy when you cut them down. You can start removing the large fan leaves to help reduce transpiration and to speed things up when you get around to start trimming them. Personally I wouldn’t wait too long, at this point they aren’t going to mature much more so the sooner you get them trimmed and drying the better, in my opinion. All the best and happy harvesting!

Robert 2019-08-29
I am wondering if it would hurt or help if you remove the shade leaves on outdoor plants. I’ve grown a lot inside under led viparspectra 450 S and all ways remove leaves 1 n 3 week in flowering stage .I use lst ,supper cropping and go farms soil happy frog for seedling’s ocean forest for finishing . And I sometimes use my compost which I put cutting S out of lawn mower bag left over. Veggies I mow through the Wood to get sticks leaves and such I throw in a little. Bat guano fresh fish and some 00 60 and turn it till next spring .it seems to do good I’ve got a Saratoga growing in it and I have lst it ,supper cropped it and it is 6 feet tall and 16 feet around I love supper cropping it does wonders for them so does leaft defoliation help outside plants Thanks Rob

Tim Alchimia 2019-08-29
Hi Robert, thanks for your question. It certainly sounds like your soil is full of lots of life and great things, the compost sounds wonderful! I wouldn’t recommend defoliation on outdoor plants, at least not to the same extent as indoors, where all the shade leaves are removed (although it would be nice to do a comparative experiment with two of the same clones, one defoliated and the other not, just to see the results). However, outdoor plants can definitely benefit from having lower leaves and shoots cleaned up, removing anything that won’t receive much sunlight. This improves the air circulation to the lower parts of the plant and also helps to prevent mould and pests. I hope that helps, all the best and happy growing!

Freddie 2019-05-28
Hey I have a question that ive been trying to find an answer to but just can find one. I planted a “Fire OG” clone in my vegetable garden here on Bethel Island in they Bay Area CA right next to 2 “Purple Punch” clones, this is my first time growing weed ever actually but im eager to learn as much as i can so i can hopefully get great results. we live in a 2 story home right on one side of the levee and obviously water on the other. At night, id say 3 out of 5 nights it is hella fuckin windy and have placed bamboo sticks next to them so they dont damn near get blown the fuck away lol but can that wind still stunt their growth? also, being this is my first time at doing this i was un aware of “topping” so the 2 “purple punch” plants im guessing are too far along to even try it and are already starting to bud. but both “purple punch” plants only grew to be about.. idk. not even a foot tall. so i dont think ill get much off of them. but, before those 2 started budding and were still growing, along with the “fire OG” to the left of them, the “fire OG” really didnt seem to be doing anything at all. once the other 2 started flowering, the “fire OG” still seemed to be barely hanging on. so, i tired topping it, once i did a little research on tips and things like that. and it seems to have worked. i see the beginning to 2 new leading stems. and this “fire OG” plant is only idk.. about 7 maybe 8 inches tall. these first 3 plants have been in the ground for a month now (i really wish i would have kept an exact timeline on my plants now that im learing more) the friend who gave them to me is also growing outdoors (although his are being grown in big pots) are doing way better then ours. another thing i left out was, our garden was dug out in 2 stages and the stage to the left (the first stage) got mixed with a big ass bag of some type of soil im not exactly sure what kind either (this whole thing kind of started and happened on a fluke ya know lol) and that side was dug out by the friend who gave us our clones. i dug out the second side to the right 3 our 4 days later which got basically no type of any soil mixed with it at all. (we are real strapped for cash so we are just doing the best we can with what we got) this right side which i dug out is where these first 3 clones were put in the ground. and above after mentioning the stage they are at now, im just gonna leave the 2 “purple punches” where they are. but the “fire og” plant seems to have been slowly but steadily moving along with its 2 new leading stems but really not getting any bigger or taller. (the friend who helped us and is also growing outdoor in pots said his grew way taller then our is half the amount of time) so basically one of the things im wondering is, would it be a good decision to transplant the “fire og” for what would be the second time, (first time obviously being when we put it in the ground to begin with) into in a big pot like the one our friend has his in? filled with some type of soil (that would have to be on the cheaper side) or should i just leave it be? also when watering them, the ground around these 3 eroded a bit so i filled it back in with some left over soil from the original bag that was used on the left/first stage on our garden. hoping then when watering, its nutrients would soak down into the ground. my bad for writing so much but i just wanted to be as thorough as possible in describing everything so i can get the best answers possible. i also have a couple other things id like to ask but ill save those for after a later time lol thank you and hope to hear back soon, ONE LOVE!

Tim Alchimia 2019-05-28
Hey Freddie, thanks for your comment. Let me answer your doubts one by one. firstly, strong winds can certainly slow down a plant’s growth, but they can also strengthen the plant too. As long as it’s well- supported, some movement of the branches is a good thing, as it will encourage them to grow thick and sturdy. High winds can, however, stress the plant in other ways, for example, by causing too much transpiration and drying out the plant too much, so make sure they have enough water on windy days. Secondly, your Purple Punch plants are flowering because they were planted outdoors too early in the season. Clones that have been kept indoors under an 18/6 photoperiod will begin to flower immediately they’re put outdoors before mid-late May. This is because the natural photoperiod before this time is similar to autumn, with long nights and short days, which will mean plants will stop growing and begin flowering. I imagine your friend who supplied the clones must be giving his some supplemental lighting to either extend the daylight or break up the nighttime, if they’re doing as well as you say, otherwise they would have been flowering too. With the Purple Punch plants, I’d let them mature as much as possible, then I’d cut them back, making sure to leave some healthy flowers and leaves so that they can revegetate and give you another harvest at the end of summer. As the days get longer, the plant will receive the signal to begin growth again, and new shoots will emerge from the flowers, meaning the plant will be able to grow and get bigger over the summer before flowering again. It sounds like the Fire OG may have been stressed at transplant, so rather than start to flower, it just stayed in stasis for a while. If you can see it’s recovering now, then I certainly wouldn’t recommend moving it again, you’re likely to stress it and have the same situation until it recovers. I’d leave it where it is and begin to work on the fertility of the soil where it is planted. You can improve the soil by top-dressing, which is as simple as putting soil amendments on the surface around the plant and maybe working them into the top inch or so of soil. Without knowing what the existing soil is like, it’s hard to say what you’ll need, but some good quality worm castings would be a good start and aren’t expensive. Check out our article about Living Soil and you should get some idea of how earthworms and natural soil microbes can help you get the most out of your plants without spending a fortune of nutrients and soil! I hope that’s helped, all the best with this crop and happy growing!

Alison Mclarty 2019-04-02
Thank you for the article, very informative. I have a question on the land selection. If I want to buy a piece of land for growing, is there any requirements or criteria for choosing the land (i.e. flat land, soil and etc.)?

Tim Alchimia 2019-04-04
Hi Alison, thanks for the question. I’d look for land with a southerly aspect to maximise solar exposure. As far as soil goes, a rich fertile loamy soil that drains well is perfect, but it’s also feasible to improve the growing soil in terms of fertility, so I’d say that well-draining soil that isn’t going to get waterlogged or flood in heavy rain is the most important thing. You’ll also need to consider water supply for irrigation, which can make or break a grow operation. Flat, level land will be easier to work, but is generally more expensive to buy or rent. Hilly land can be terraced for growing, but that’s another expense and a lot of work. Avoid growing in a depression or dip, as cold air will settle in the lower areas, sometimes causing “frost pockets” in autumn, which can damage a crop quickly. Good air movement is essential in the growing area, but often this must be balanced against the discretion and privacy we growers often need for our plants, as we are forced to hide them to avoid theft or detection by law enforcement agents. That’s a few basic pointers for finding land suitable for cultivation, I hope it’s been some help. Happy growing!

Christopher Payne 2019-03-06
What exactly does this statement mean? “Mix the nutrients added to the soil in the ground and make a hole under each plant so that water and nutrients are preserved.” How do you make a hole under each plant that is already in the ground? Thanks

Tim Alchimia 2019-03-06
Hi Christopher, thanks for your question. I think this is a case of an article being written in Spanish and then later translated to English, so a few of the more nuanced meanings got lost in the process. Here, the idea is to make a dip or a slight depression in the soil around the base of the plant to avoid the water and nutrients running off straight away and being wasted. I hope that clears things up, I’ll go in and make a change to the article so there’s no more confusion 😉 All the best and happy growing!

John 2018-09-03
Idky but everywhere i look i dont get the answer im looking for i just wanna know if you can just put a seed in the ground after germination with a little soil and just waterinh it everyday but no one has a simple answer like that everyones buying grow chemicals etc. but ik that you can now bc started late in the season and i was told i probably wasnt gonna get any yeilds but i figured out they were wrong bc now i got a plant thats growing 22 buds so i think im in the clear for some bud this year just wanted to post this if anyone else had the same question amd one more thing is im growing a plant inside on a small 45w light im getting a better light soon just to start off but my plant went through stress and it mutated but it seems to be a good mutation everything its growing its growing double of idk if anyones seen this before but i just wanna knoe if it would increase the yeild considering its doubling

Tim Alchimia 2018-09-05
Hi John, thanks for your comment and questions. For sure, you can put a seed in the ground after germination and as long as the soil is good then you can give it only water without any problems. I wouldn’t water it every day from the stat though, at first it will only use very little water, and excess irrigation will water-log the soil, and stress the plant due to lack of oxygen in the rootzone. as well as potentially causing mould problems. There’s no need to buy chemicals to grow weed, although some good organic fertilisers can make a huge difference to the quantity and quality of your harvest. As for your second question, it’s unusual that stress in early stages has caused the plant to grow double the size, usually growth would be restricted by stressful conditions. Without knowing the reason for this phenomenon I’d say that if growth is doubling then it follows that the yield will also be increased too, although it could simply be the natural stretch period that plants go through at the beginning of flowering, which is more pronounced in some genetics than in others. You can read a bit more about the stretch here on our blog. All the best and happy growing!

Wendy 2018-07-28
I have 4 plants 5′ tall growing directly in the soil. I am located in southern B.C. and get lots of daylight hours during the summer and they seem to be happy. I want to have them be finished their flower before the end of September when frost arrives, but day/ night light ratios are still at 16/8 right now at the end of July. I built a frame to hold a light blocking cover but l still think a bit of light is still showing through during the 4 extra but slowly diminishing daylight hours and affecting my efforts. How crucial is this? Should I cover it further with black plastic? What would be better?

Tim Alchimia 2018-07-30
Hi Wendy, thanks for your question. I’d advise you to use an extra cover if you think that some light is getting through the one you’re using. It’s important that the plants get full darkness, any light leaks could slow down flowering and even potentially stress the plants to cause hermaphrodite/intersex problems. I hope that helps, all the best and happy growing!

Walter 2017-12-06
Iv planted about 5 shash seeds on a small surface area of about 7inches and they have sprouted young plants with the monocots and new centre leaves can thy be transplanted or shud I wait till there bigger please help. Walter KENYA

Tim Alchimia 2017-12-07
Hi Walter, thanks for your question. The seeds were planted in soil, right? I think it’s probably best to let them grow a little bit more, once they’ve got a couple of sets of true leaves their root system ought to be robust enough to be able to transplant them safely. The trick is to do the transplant before the roots of the 5 plants become too entangled with each other, and be very delicate with the fine and easily breakable roots when transplanting. Good luck and happy growing!

Kerrie 2017-11-16
I was told of a disguise for growing outdoor dope Go to the cheap shop and get the cheap flowers and place them on the plants, Looks like a bush with flowers.

Tim Alchimia 2017-11-17
Hi Kerrie, thanks for that ingenious tip, what a good idea! I’ve heard of people hanging plastic tomatoes or other fruit from their plants in an attempt to disguise them, but flowers really do make a lot more sense! Thanks again!

Junkman 2017-10-28
Never top use a fim techniques

Koren55 2017-07-10
I transplanted my two girls right into my established veggie garden. We’ve been adding composted leaves and Fall leaves each Spring to soil, and then roto-tilling. I don’t like using any chemicals, either for fertilizer or for insecticides. Will I need to add additional fertilizer to the two girls as they approach flowering time? I’m already going to have to use Neem.oil.spray – I noticed some red spider mite damage on.one plant, normal for outside this time of t 🙂 e year

Dani Alchimia 2017-07-10
Hi Koren55, Once flowering time comes, you can add some slow-release organic nutrients to the soil, also liquid organic nutes once into bloom if you see the need. Hope it helped!

Ruben 2017-03-17
Can you just plant your seeds around your yard just in normal dirt and expect them to grow naturally or is soil the only way?

Dani Alchimia 2017-03-20
Hi Ruben, Normally, people use quality soil to grow their plants, it is one of the do’s for any grower, otherwise you may have problems like poor development and yields. What people do is digging a hole in the ground and filling it with quality substrate. The bigger the hole, the more quality substrate you can put in, so the better your plants will grow. You can mix your soil with solid nutrients or use liquid fertilizers to have more control on the exact dose. Hope it helped!

Gene Dattapoli 2016-04-15
Could you please explain, preferably with pictures, how to “prune the apical areas from the seventh or eighth pair of true leafs”

Dani Alchimia 2016-04-22
Hi Gene, You just have to cut the tops of the plants. Count the pairs of leaves starting from the lower part of the plants, and cut the tops when you reach the 7th or 8th pair of leaves. In this way, you’ll get two tops on each stem/branch, and the plant will look more bushy and compact. Hope it helped!

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In-ground marijuana crops give us the opportunity to offer our marijuana plants full freedom for their development. In this post we show you all the n

Decarboxylation: How to Decarb Your Weed

by Sirius Fourside

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: What Is Decarboxylation?
  • Why Is Decarbing Important?
  • Using Small Pieces of Weed vs Grinding Your Weed
  • How to Decarboxylate Your Weed
    • Natural Method (Slow!)
    • Baking Sheet
    • Oven Bag
    • Mason Jar
    • Ardent Nova (Decarb machine)

What Is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that can be used to make cannabis edibles potent. The sciency-sounding word describes the process of turning THCA, which isn’t psychoactive, into the THC we all know and love. Since cannabis typically contains THCA instead of THC before it’s heated or smoked, decarboxylation is an essential step when processing cannabis for eating. The regular cooking process typically isn’t enough to decarb cannabis fully, and it won’t happen naturally in your stomach.

That’s why in most recipes for cannabis edible or tinctures, decarboxylation – or the informal verb, “decarbing” – is the first step you take.

Don’t worry, it’s simple. Decarbing simply means subjecting your weed to high temperatures (

250°F) over a period of time before using it in your recipe.

These cannabis buds are about to get decarbed

When you smoke or vaporize cannabis, the heat of the fire/vaporizer makes the decarboxylation process happen. The heat turns the THCA in your cannabis to THC, you inhale that THC and feel its effects.

When you decarb, it forces the same transformation to happen, yet leaves all that good stuff on the bud so you can eat it or cook it into something like butter or oil.

Did you know? Heat isn’t the only way decarboxylation happens. Even if you never heat your cannabis, the process of decarbing also occurs naturally over time at regular temperatures. So older cannabis is often already decarboxylated.

Why Is Decarbing Important?

Why decarb? Because decarbing is what makes edibles work! Decarboxylation could be seen as the most important step in making edibles since it’s the process that makes your weed actually feel like weed when you eat it.

It may seem counterintuitive to “cook” your weed by itself. Wouldn’t that burn off all the good stuff and make it less potent? No, it won’t reduce the potency as long as you follow the instructions in this tutorial.

In fact, it’s the opposite. If your buds are not decarbed before being eaten, you won’t feel the psychoactive effects of your weed. You could eat a whole ounce of raw bud and only be left with a breath that smells like a dispensary!

Break buds up to prepare them for decarboxylation

Small Pieces of Weed vs. Grinding Your Weed

There’s a bit of debate about how to prepare your bud before decarboxylation. But in our opinion, as long as you break it up a little bit there isn’t a whole lot of difference.

Small Pieces

Breaking your weed into smaller pieces means it all gets baked a lot more evenly than if you had used whole nugs. The downside to breaking your weed up by hand as opposed to grinding is that it’s slightly more time consuming since grinding can be done with machines like a food processor.

Don’t get scared off though, it’s easy to do. If you have enough finger mobility to break up broccoli florets with your hands, you can break up your bud. It only takes a few minutes and it’s free!

I used my fingers to break this weed up into small pieces before decarboxylation

Grinding

A huge benefit to grinding up your weed instead of breaking it up with your hands is that you can use a machine like a food processor to do all the work for you. You just put some bud in, hold a button for a few seconds and dump out the finished product!

This is the method I typically use because it’s a bit easier to do than breaking up nugs. It’s hard to mess up because you can’t really grind your bud too small/fine. I’ve made edibles with weed ground so fine it ends up as a powder. Some growers claim that grinding the weed can cause it to lose potency, but I never noticed that in my experiments.

You can use a food processor to save time compared to breaking weed up by hand

I had this older model food processor for almost 6 years. I miss ya, pal.

However, there is a downside to grinding: it’s easier to lose material the finer your weed gets. You can lose some herb to the sides of the grinder, some in transferring containers or some in the container you use for decarbing. If you’re concerned with saving every last bit of bud, you might want to break buds up by hand. That being said, you can save the vast majority of your ground-up material by just making sure to be a little careful about collecting and moving your weed.

Extra Note: Some devices that help make edibles (like the Magical Butter Machine) suggest that you don’t grind up your weed before using it in their recipes. So, if you’re thinking about using a Magical Butter Machine, break your buds up by hand. If you’re going to make edibles without a machine, grinding is a solid solution.

How to Decarb Your Weed: Overview of Methods

Alright, let’s get into details. We’ll go through the popular methods of decarbing, how to do them, what supplies you’ll need, and grade them based on convenience and how much smell they make.

Natural Decarb (Time Method)

Did you know time turns THCA to THC? Weed that sits around long enough decarbs on its own. Just wait for a long, long time. In all honesty, this method is so time-consuming and inconsistent that it isn’t really a viable technique for making edibles. That being said, sometimes it works out. Nebula and I grow a lot of weed, and once we had a particularly high-yielding harvest sitting in jars in our cupboard for over a year as we slowly went through it. After a year, the weed was still fantastic to smoke, but had clearly gone through changes as it had turned into a rich golden-brown color.

We could’ve added it directly to food and felt psychoactive effects without decarbing. But if we had used that weed for edibles, we still would have decarbed it separately just to ensure all the THCA had turned to THC.

Convenience: 1/10
Smell Containment: 10/10

  • Weed
  • Time
  • Wait a long time, or use a different method if you want your edibles in less than 12+ months.

There are better ways to decarb than just waiting!

Baking Sheet

This is the most common method growers use to decarb their weed because many people already have all the materials they need to do it without needing to make a trip to the store.

It’s also worth noting that this is by far the smelliest method for decarbing. If you’re going to use this method, just know that your home is going to be flooded by an unignorable, pungent, unmistakably weedy smell. Running a fan with an attached carbon filter helps a lot, but it’s still going to get funky.

Convenience: 7/10
Smell Containment: 1/10 (smelliest method)

  • Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Foil or Parchment paper (no wax paper)
  • Weed
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  3. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis on the baking sheet
  4. Bake cannabis for 30 minutes
  5. The cannabis should change to a brownish color

This is an ounce of cannabis before being decarbed on a baking sheet…

…and this is the same ounce of weed after being decarbed on a baking sheet at 250°F for 30 minutes.

Oven Bags

The oven bag (or turkey bag) method works just like the baking sheet but with a bit less work. You don’t need to line a baking sheet this way, and collecting the finished material is a piece of cake. Also, the bag doesn’t get extremely hot to the touch, so in that way, it’s safer than using something like a glass mason jar. There’s also much less smell than if you just bake the cannabis on a baking sheet.

The downside is that this method takes having something that probably isn’t in your house right now.

Convenience: 8/10
Smell Containment: 6/10

  • Oven
  • Baking Sheet
  • Oven bags (sometimes called turkey bags)
  • Weed
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis in the oven bag
  3. Tie a tight knot in the oven bag
    1. This keeps the weed and smell inside the bag
  4. Place the bag on a baking sheet (no foil/parchment needed)
  5. Bake for 30 minutes
  6. The cannabis should change to a brownish color

Place your broken-up cannabis in the oven bag, tie a tight knot, and bake for 30 minutes at 250°F on a baking sheet

Mason Jars

Glass mason jars are great, aren’t they?

They’re great for curing cannabis, they can be vacuum sealed, they’re an amazing tool for decarboxylation, and you probably already have at least one in your house if you grow cannabis. Additionally, they’re pretty darn good at keeping the weed smell contained; even better than oven bags and WAY better than just baking the weed on a baking sheet.

Convenience: 8/10
Smell Containment: 8/10 (screw the lid on tight to keep the smell in)

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Place your broken-up or ground cannabis in the mason jar
  3. Screw the top on tight. Real tight!
    • A tighter seal means less weed smell will escape the jar
  4. Carefully place the mason jar on your oven rack. The jar should not be touching the heating element or sides of your oven.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes until cannabis changes to a brownish color.
  6. Important: The glass will be very hot when it comes out of the oven! Make sure to use oven mitts when you touch the jar and give it time to cool before opening.

The left is untreated weed and the right shows weed that has been decarbed in a mason jar at 250°F for 30 minutes

Ardent Nova

I didn’t even realize this was a thing until a reader wrote to me about it. The Ardent Nova is a machine with a singular purpose: decarbing weed. It’s a set-and-forget style system, meaning you can load it up, start it, and walk away. While you’re gone, the Ardent Nova will slowly and thoroughly decarb your weed and stop applying heat as soon as it senses the job is done. No need for an oven because it plugs directly into the wall. Plus it makes almost no smell whatsoever; I had to put my nose right up to it to smell anything.

Downsides? It takes longer to decarb your buds than the oven-based methods (up to 2 hours instead of the normal 30 minutes), you can only do an ounce of bud at a time (maximum), and it’s expensive ($190).

However, after trying out the Ardent Nova, I was converted. I live in a condo in a populous city, so my neighbors are pretty close to me. The total lack of smell was enough to make me a fan of the Ardent Nova all by itself, but being able to start the process and go run errands without worry sealed the deal.

Convenience: 9/10 (would be a 10 if not for the price)
Smell Containment: 10/10

  • Ardent Nova Decarboxylator
  • Weed (1oz maximum at a time)

First, consult the instructions that come with the device. Here are the general steps:

  1. Plug in your Ardent Nova
    • The light on the front will turn green
  2. Take off the top and purple seal underneath
  3. Take out the metal container and load it up with weed, up to an ounce at a time
  4. Put the metal container back in, put the seal on top (it fits loosely), and replace the lid
  5. Press the button on the front of the Ardent Nova
    • The light on the front will turn red
  6. Come back in roughly 2 hours (or whenever you feel like, it stops automatically)
    • The light will turn green again when it’s done
  7. It takes about 2 hours to decarb a full ounce

After decarbing weed in the Ardent Nova, this is what the buds looked like inside

There you have it! You now have a handful of effective methods to decarb your weed and get ready to make butter, oil, gummies, tinctures, infused food, etc.

If you’re not sure what to do with your newly decarbed cannabis, butter is the best option in my opinion. Cannabutter is super versatile and can be used in hundreds of dishes that use butter or just as a topping on a “regular” dish (like a baked potato).

I ended up decarbing more than 6oz of weed while writing this, so stay tuned and we’ll have some great ways for you to use your decarbed weed coming in the next few weeks!

If you're looking to make edibles/tinctures/cannabutter/etc., decarbing your weed is the first step! Come inside and we'll teach you what you need to know!