The Easiest Way For Colorado Residents To Start Growing Marijuana
Posted by Catelyn Snow | November 21 2012 | 21101 views
By Catelyn Snow
Amendment 64 allows Colorado citizens to cultivate their own marijuana.
(Click to enlarge)
With the landmark passing of Proposition 64 in Colorado, which legalizes the possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21, more citizens that ever might want to consider their hand at trying to grow the green stuff.
We thought that now would be a great time to cover quick ways to get your own grow started today, and it isn't as expensive as you may think. Grow rooms are easy to construct, can be tucked into almost any closet or extra bedroom, and growing yourself can save a lot of green — not to mention that sweet feeling you get when you first light up your own crop.
Building Your Own Grow Room
While it may seem daunting, building your own grow room can be cheap and effective, and allows you to customize many aspects of your grow.
Step One: Start With Your Structure
If you have a whole room or large closet to dedicate to growing, begin by lining the walls and floor with a reflective, waterproof material, and planning where you will vent the heat and humid air from the room, perhaps out a window. Reflective material can be purchased from hydro stores or home improvement stores quite cheaply.
Because Colorado's new law allows for three mature (i.e. flowering) plants and three immature plants, if you can, separate your growing space into two light-tight rooms you can create a perpetual harvest cycle, flowering on one side and vegetating on the other, so that you consistently have fresh marijuana to harvest and enjoy.
While setting up the room, make sure you have a way to hang grow lights and exhaust fans from your ceiling. Look for wood beams and attach heavy-duty hooks to those. The last thing you want is for a heavy light or exhaust fan to come crashing down onto your poor little plants. You will also want to create a shelf (perhaps from a piece of surplus wood), somewhere up off of the ground for all of your electrical equipment to sit safely out of harm's way.
Step Two: Pick Your Lights
Lighting is one of the most important factors in determining how well your plants will grow, and how your buds will turn out during the flowering phase. You want adequate, but not excessive, wattage for your size room, and to pick the correct type of bulb for your needs. You will also need a ballast to convert your residential electrical current into one that works with high-powered hydroponic lighting.
The most popular light bulbs used in growing marijuana (and other hydroponic plants) are metal halide (MH) for the vegetative state and high-pressure sodium (HPS) for flowering. The MH bulb mimics the bright summer sun, while the reddish-orange tone of the HPS is more reminiscent of the light during the fall harvest season. Try to find light hoods and ballasts that work with both types of bulbs; it will save time, money, and hassle.
Some growers have had success with LEDs as well, but while LED lights give off far less heat and use far less energy, most growers are still unimpressed with marijuana plants grown using LEDs. However, if your budget is very tight, LED may be a good choice.
As for wattage, a good rule of thumb is to supply 40-50 watts of light per square foot of growing space. So, if your hypothetical room is 5 ft. x 5 ft. you have 25 square feet and would need one 1000 watt lamp, or two 600 watt lamps. Your plants need plenty of light, but after a point you are just wasting cash and energy. No one wants that.
Step Three: Set Up Your Ventilation
Not only do those hot grow lights need to be ventilated, your entire growing space needs to have air constantly circulating to keep temperatures and humidity regulated, in order to avoid mold or mildew development. Those are crop killers!
As far as venting the hot air, many will use windows or attic exhaust fans, but I have also seen growers attach grow room ducting to the central air or heating ducts in their home, which is a great way to allow the heat to disperse. In the winter, the hot air will help to keep your home warm.
A properly-ventilated grow room will have at least one exhaust fan to pull cool air through the light hood(s) and another one near the ceiling (heat rises) to blow the hot, humid air out of the garden. You also need to include oscillating fans to move air across the canopy — the most sensitive area to heat damage, and where your best buds will grow.
Step Four: Choose Your Hydroponic System
For optimum versatility, I recommend using an ebb and flow system with individual pots. Systems like this use a "brain bucket" to control water flow between the pots and the reservoir, and these brain buckets can often accommodate up to 42 potted plants (though don't try to grow that many marijuana plants anywhere in the U.S.), allowing growers who start small to quickly expand their garden without buying a whole new system. Also, if one or two plants start to look ill, they can easily be separated from the rest, avoiding a complete wipeout of your crop.
Systems like this can be bought intact, or can be made yourself with some buckets, tubes, a pump, and some know-how. Keep an eye on this site for an upcoming step-by-step on how to build your own system.
Along with your hydroponic system, you will also need a reservoir to hold your nutrient solution. To select the right size, I recommend at least two gallons of nutrient solution per plant. So, someone growing six plants would want a reservoir that holds at least 12 gallons. The water that you mix with your nutrients should be pristine -- reverse osmosis is always a safe option.
What Else Does A New Growers Need?
Nutrients will likely by one of the most expensive parts of the grow, but believe me when I say that you get what you pay for. Like the food we eat, plant nutrients allow the plant to build strong, hearty stalks and stems, and grow thicker, heavier and better tasting buds.
For brand new growers, I recommend Advanced Nutrients' pH Perfect® Sensi Grow Two-part system for the vegetative state, and pH Perfect® Sensi Bloom Two-part for flowering. These nutrients are made for your plants, and have most of the essential ingredients for growth right there in that bottle.
I also suggest considering, Advanced Nutrients' Hobbyist bundle, which comes with a great selection of basic yield boosters for the beginning grower. Once you feel comfortable in your abilities (and have a little more cash to spend), consider branching out into AN's other lines, which vary from Hobbyist to Grand Master grower.
These nutrients are all available in AN's new pH-Perfect line, which essentially eliminates the need to use a buffer solution, like pH up or down, to regulate the pH of your reservoir.
Knowing what is going on in your grow room is incredibly important, and meters are the best way to keep on top of things. You will need a meter to measure the temperature, pH, and ppm (parts per million which, in this case, measures nutrient level) of the nutrient solution in your reservoir, and a meter to tell you the temperature and humidity of your grow room.
Clones or Seeds
And now, for the star of the show! For beginners, I recommend starting with plants that are already partially grown and have some sort of root development. Starting from seeds can allow a lot more customization, but requires more knowledge and work. Clones, which are cuttings from a mother plant, are a much simpler way to begin.
Clone prices vary based on the strain, the seller, and how old they are. Brand new clippings will be less expensive, while larger, more developed plants (commonly called "teens") will be more expensive, but will be heartier and require less time in the vegetative state. Make sure you examine your clones thoroughly for any sign of pests or mildew, which will quickly kill your plants if not handled immediately.
As far as picking strains, it can sometimes be a crapshoot, but make sure that you do your research on the strain, its potency level, and whether it is an Indica (typically a thick, heavy plant with a thick, heavy body high -- excellent for people with chronic pain) or Sativa (a thinner-leaved plant which causes more of a head high -- this is the one you want for an evening of contemplating the meaning of life.) There are also plenty of hybrid Indica/Sativa mixtures, which can give you the best of both worlds.
No single article will take the place of truly diving into the industry. Visit your local hydroponics store for expert advice and to get hands-on with products. Then, read everything you can in hydroponic magazines and on websites (like this one) and check out videos and forums online as well. The Internet is a treasure trove of great help.
There are also a wide variety of books available about growing hydroponic plants, many specifically catered to marijuana cultivation. There are a multitude of tricks and techniques that growers have discovered to maximize harvests and save money in the process. Good luck, and happy growing!
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Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Article by Catelyn Snow, on Nov. 21st 2012