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6 things every beginning cannabis homegrower should know

Published on September 20, 2019 · Last updated February 25, 2021
starting your own home grow, how to grow marijuana, how to grow cannabis

Growing your own cannabis is an educational experience. It can be whatever you want it to be: a lifelong pursuit or a temporary diversion. As with any pursuit, you get out of it what you put in. 

Not only do you develop hands-on cultivation skills, but you’ll also learn lessons that can be applied to just about anything. Crucial life skills like patience, forethought, restraint, and attention to detail all figure hugely into the cannabis cultivation process. As you develop confidence as a grower, you also may see the things you learn spill over into other areas of your life. 

So, without further ado, here are the six things you’ll learn when you grow your own.

Want to learn more about growing marijuana? Check out Leafly’s Growing Guide to get tips and advice from expert growers.

It’s challenging

This shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who’s ever given cannabis cultivation a shot, but growing cannabis is hard. Sure, you can always leave a plant by your window or in a corner of your backyard and maybe it’ll get to flower, but you’ll almost certainly end up with a handful of larfy, wispy, stem-heavy buds.

If your goal is to produce the kind of chunky, frosted flower you see in magazines (or your favorite dispensary), you’re going to have to commit: read some books, buy the necessary equipment, and prepare to put in some real effort. Growing cannabis is a skill, and like any useful skill, it takes intention, seriousness, and effort. Take the process seriously, and you’ll reap the rewards.

But not that challenging

Once you’ve gotten a harvest or two under your belt, you’ll start to find that the elements of cannabis cultivation that seemed overwhelming or confusing at first will start to come naturally. The types of mistakes you made early on fade away, and you learn what works for you.

Of course, if you decide to scale up or take on new growing techniques, there will be a learning curve. Take them slowly. Tending your garden will become second nature. If you’re growing primarily for personal use, you’ll rarely see the bottom of your jar again. As long as you make sure your basic equipment is in order and you are determined, your skills and harvests will continue to grow.

More doesn’t always mean better

More powerful lights, more nutrients, and more technology means more flower, right? Well, not necessarily. In fact, thinking “more” can often get you into trouble.

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Nutrient burn and nitrogen toxicity, which occur from nutrient overuse, can damage or even ruin an entire crop. Giving your plants too much light or putting them in proximity to lights that are too powerful can damage leaves and compromise plant health. Even overwatering can have nasty consequences, causing root rot. In cannabis cultivation, there’s no reason to go overboard.

Once you’ve found a process that works for you, stick with it, and only make incremental changes to dial in your process.

The details matter

There are a multitude of factors that play into cannabis growth and production and many of them won’t be immediately apparent to the novice grower.

When I set up my first greenhouse grow, I didn’t think to ensure I had proper airflow beyond keeping a couple vents open, which led to a lot of mold problems. In another example, a friend put together an exemplary grow setup, but didn’t seek out the best genetics, leading to a couple sad harvests before he wised up. It goes to show how seemingly small things can make a world of difference.

Success or failure may come down to something you never considered, so flexibility, ability to problem-solve, and attention to detail are a must.

Ask a friend for advice

There’s an enormous cannabis community you can draw on, either in-person or over the internet. If you want to maximize your chances of growing a great crop, become a part of the growing community.

No matter what issue you face, many others have inevitably gone through the same. If you have a question, ask your growing community for help—experience goes a long way. That can mean anything from checking out a message board to stopping by your local grow shop.

Don’t just stop at getting your question answered, though. Respect the community and learn if you can contribute to it yourself. The health and value of a community is defined by the people in it. Maybe someday you’ll run into someone with the same problem you had, and you’ll be able to keep the cycle going.

Patience is everything

The most essential ingredient in any cannabis harvest is patience. Patience is what makes you stick with it through the initial challenges, and it’s the safeguard to keep you from going overboard with excessive light or nutrients. It also ensures that you take the time to investigate little details like pest, disease, or poor yields, which can be the difference between success and failure.

And, of course, patience is what you need to keep from jumping the gun and harvesting your crop before its time. It’s easy to start harvesting before pistils stop growing and trichomes go cloudy, or stop curing before it’s perfect, but the few extra days will prove worth it in the end.

Practice patience and your shot at growing a successful crop will skyrocket.

With realistic expectations and a little preparation for the challenges you’ll no doubt encounter, going from seed to harvest can be as fulfilling and rewarding an activity as any you can find.

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Ben Klibaner
Ben Klibaner
Ben Klibaner is a freelance writer working out of Los Angeles. He came up in Denver during the medical cannabis boom and worked on both amateur and professional cultivation projects. He covers topics ranging from cannabis cultivation to medical technology to pop culture criticism.
View Ben Klibaner's articles
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