How to grow loose-leaf at home
The loose-leaf market is exploding in the states it is legal in. With over $6 Billion dollars in sales in the legal market, the dry herb is doing very well for consumers and also the pockets of investors and the government. It’s not surprising, hence, that the tide is turning in public opinion about the legality of pot.
While this means there’ll be a significant increase in the number of dispensaries (both online and brick and mortar), growing dry herb at home is a convenient alternative, especially if you’re in a legal state. Why? There are several reasons that we’ll outline below.
1) The ability to customize and develop your own strain
This is massively overlooked when discussing the benefits of home growing loose-leaf. This would help recreational as well as medicinal users. Does your stash always give you too much of a head high? Is there a weird side effect you face that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you do? There’s always a nitty-gritty that’s annoying and can never seem to be solved. Mixing your strains and catering the environment for the plants you grow in a certain way makes a massive difference in how a strain comes out and what characteristics it possesses.
2) It saves money in the long-run and cultivates a love for gardening
While the introduction of legal dry herb has allowed the government to make money off it, the reason it makes so much of it is that most legal pot is at least twice the price of how much it used to cost when it was illegal. Meanwhile, we shan’t forget about the cases of bad quality product. On average, an ounce costs anywhere between $150-$400, while home growing the same quantity will cost between $60-$90. This is, of course, an estimation, but it includes the cost of light, water, other nutrients that you may need to provide to ensure a good yield, which also plays an important role in cost.
Gardening is proven to reduce stress and improve sleep and mood
Home growing also allows you to build a knowledge base of cultivating loose-leaf, but it also manifests within people interest in growing plants. Most people who live in urban, cosmopolitan areas have a tendency to stay out of touch with nature and gardening. Its therapeutic nature and health benefits are immense, with gardening providing stress relief, improved sleep and hand strength. More people should take up gardening (if possible).
3) You have an unlimited supply of dry herb
Once you buy the right seeds, you don't need to make significant purchases again. Most states allow at least 5 plants, which should give a healthy yield around thrice a year, which is an unlimited supply of dry herb. This is super helpful for people who require medical cannabis for their medical issues and also to people who live in remote areas without a dispensary/online shopping presence. Besides, self-sustenance is never a bad idea.
4) Improved personal safety
By growing bud at home, you eliminate the need to deal with shady dealers who can either give you bad quality product or cause some trouble. Yes, this happens only in illegal states, but it’s still relevant.
Now that the benefits have been presented, let’s get to how to go about home growing. A significant portion of people tend to grow their loose-leaf indoors, so this post will be focusing on that. Also, we must mention that cannabis is still illegal in a lot of states in the United States and also in many countries worldwide. Make sure you read up your local/national laws regarding dry herb and ensure that you’re complying with those laws.
What you’ll need
Depending on the type of grow, you’ll need:
- i) Soil
- ii) Nutrients
- iv) Lights and a light timer
- v) Pots with drainage
- vi) Good ventilation
Usually, any kind of soil works with dry herb. Using soil is a better option in comparison to soilless and hydroponics because there’s no need to focus on providing additional nutrients. Along with that, the produce one gets from soil is richer in flavor than the grows from soil-less or hydroponics. However, hydroponics and soil-less grows have faster yields and (apparently) higher potency, so it’s up to you to decide whether flavor and convenience are more important than potency and time/yield.
Note: Sometimes using nutrient supplements with a soil grow can also be beneficial.
Growing using soil ensures you don’t have to use external nutrient supplements
For loose-leaf, we’d suggest Fox Farm’s soil pack. It works quite well with most types of strains and while it can be a little too strong for a smaller yield, it’s difficult to suggest any other soil for a first grow.
Soilless is a good way to go if you want a shorter yield time and want to try something new. Since nutrients are provided externally (usually mixed in the water we add), the potency of the yield also proves to be higher.
Most growers tend to use either coco coir (fiber) solo or mix it with some perlite, which is a volcanic glass that tends to ease airflow to the bud.
This is where you grow your bud without any solid medium: the primary base is water along with the external nutrients, which is the same process as soilless growing. Hydroponics have faster yields and very potent harvests that have excellent quality. Yield times are shortened by a month or so, reducing from four months to three.
Much like us, loose-leaf also needs external sources of nutrients
If you’re growing your future stash source without going the soil route, you’ll need an external source of nutrition. When it comes down to it, loose-leaf isn’t a complicated plant to grow as long as you follow certain rules. Make sure your nutrition source has Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium and Magnesium. Nitrogen and Phosphorus are especially important since photosynthesis and bud size are directly dependent on them, respectively. We’ve seen some great response to Advanced Earth Organic for home grow.
When picking your seeds, keep two things in mind: always choose the hard looking, dark seeds over small, white-ish seeds. This is because white seeds will not give a plant at all. The second thing is that while growing at home can be possible from picking seeds from some loose-leaf you purchased from the dispensary, most buds have half male seeds and half female seeds, so there’s always that angle to consider. However, if you’re growing multiple plants, using multiple seeds from your existing bud isn’t a bad idea.
If you want to avoid that uncertainty or need better quality of seeds, buying online is an option too. The only issue here is that delivery times can be a killer: anywhere between 3 to 6 weeks is the standard.
How to identify male, female plants: the 5 steps to growing
You must be wondering, “Wait, why are male plants regarded so poorly?”
To those out of the loop, male cannabis plants don’t “flower”, usually have less THC content and are in general less lucrative and less suitable for consumption. Most growers tend to discard male plants once they can identify the difference between a male and female plant. This happens during the vegetation phase.
Female plants tend to flower, while male plants don’t flower
or have as much THC as female plants
What is the vegetation phase? It’s one of the five phases of growth in the plant’s life. The first is the seeding phase, where the seed has been planted. The seedling is the small leafy plant one sees after about three weeks. Next is the vegetation stage, where the structure of the plant comes to fruition: male plants have leafy stems but no buds, while female plants have buds. This “budding” happens during the end of the vegetation phase and beginning of the flowering phase, which is when the bud shows up in its final form. After this, you can harvest the bud and you’re almost done! But wait! Before you buy all the ingredients there’s a few things you need to know to grow bud at home:
This might seem a little confusing. “Why do I need to buy lights when I can just keep my plant next to a window?” Firstly, that’s risky even in a legal state. More importantly, it’s not enough light, especially if the window is closed. In such cases, buying a space bucket (a place to securely and discreetly grow your bud) and having it ready with a source (multiple in most cases) of light is important. You have to provide direct light to your plant for at least 8 hours.
Lighting plays an important role in how your yield turns out
While CFL grow lights can work, they’re not efficient or bright enough. They produce tons of heat and aren’t super energy efficient. This leads to overall poor yields, which is why we recommend LED grow lights. While there are better lights out there for your bud, LED lights are a good way to get started. The initial cost of purchasing all the LEDs can be expensive and it comes with its own slew of issues (heating, extra care due to the possibility of hurting plants), LEDs are a solid way to get started, with the quality of bud being top notch. It’s also cost-effective in the long run and easy to set up.
Make sure you get a light timer so that your lights start at a certain point and stay on for at least 8 hours. They’re cheap and easy to operate, so setup shouldn’t be a problem.
Watering your plant regularly makes sure your growth is on track
You need to regularly water your bud: ideally between two to three days a week. The best way to ascertain whether you need to water your grow is by touching the surface of the soil and seeing if it’s wet or not. If it’s dry, put enough water that it starts draining from the bottom of the flowerpot. What? Yes, you need to buy -
Pots with drainage
It’s not easy to know exactly how much water needs to be poured into your plant. Which is why we recommend buying pots with holes in the bottom to allow for water to be drained out. This is pretty common with flowerpots anyway, but it’s important that you check.
Don’t choke your plant: provide the ventilation it needs
Plants need to breathe as well. The ideal source of ventilation would be not too close to a window or a place where there can be disturbances (water, snow, dust or external heat) with a consistent but medium flow of air. Try not to provide gusts of air unless you want your bud to fly out inside a random stranger’s pocket.
Circumstantial: Heat source
Providing a heat source in cold climates and a cooling source in hot climates
will help in maintaining the flavor and yield of your harvest
This really depends on what kind of climate you stay in. If temperatures in your locale often drop to freezing or close to it, especially during the daytime, it’s advisable to get an external heat source to make sure that you don’t freeze your plants. The same goes for areas where temperatures cross 100 frequently: getting an external cooling source would be beneficial as you don’t want your bud to taste like a burnt pizza.
In conclusion, home growing your pot is beneficial in the long run in terms of cost, quality, safety and even in terms of efficacy: people overlook how customizable strains can be. Pot is also gifted in that it hasn’t been genetically modified yet (in that the seeds are drastically altered). The act of growing plants itself is therapeutic, and harvesting crisp looking bud is some of the most satisfying things one can go through. It really is as rewarding as it seems, so if possible, get some seeds and get to work!