First-Time Grower’s Toolkit: Setting Up for Success in Growing Cannabis

Ashley Priest

Posted by Ashley Priest on 08/30/2023 in Home-Grow


Growing cannabis is awesome when you do it correctly. You can get delectable flavor profiles, bountiful yields, and strong effects from homegrown cannabis. You can also save a lot of cash by growing your own stash. If you want to learn to grow cannabis, the best way to do this is by jumping right into it and getting your hands dirty.  

Growing cannabis can be easy and fun, but don’t be fooled; it can also be challenging. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong, from nutrient deficiencies to pest problems and many things in between. Cannabis plants are moody and require a healthy growing environment in order to thrive. Sure, you can throw a bunch of seeds in an area, come back a few months later, and possibly find a few plants. 

But chances are, they’ll be males or hermies (female plants that turned male). On top of that, plants left unattended will most likely be contaminated with everything from bird and insect feces to issues like spider mites, Septoria, powdery mildew, and more. For your first grow, you’ll want to grow indoors or outdoors in an area where you can care for your plant or plants.

Essential Items You’ll Need to Grow Cannabis:

  •         Seed or Clone
  •         Growing/drying/curing space
  •         Temperature and Humidity Gauge
  •         Grow medium
  •         Planters
  •         Lights
  •         Ventilation
  •         Water
  •         Nutrients
  •         PH meter
  •         CO2

Choosing Seed or Clone

Before you jump into growing cannabis, you need to decide whether you will grow it from seed or clone. Growing from seed has advantages and disadvantages, just as growing with a clone does. Cannabis seeds tend to produce better yields. A downside is watching out for male plants. One male cannabis plant can ruin a crop. 

Growing with clones eliminates the germination process involved with seeds and gives you a head start on your grow. The downside is clones typically produce a lower yield at harvest. Clones can be purchased in various different stages of growth but also come with risks of contamination from their growing environment. With seeds, the only contamination you get is what you bring in.

Choosing a Dedicated Growing/Drying/Curing space

Having a dedicated cultivation, drying, and curing space is very important for growing cannabis. Having the ability to control the growing environment gives you a better chance of having a successful grow. A grow tent or outdoor garden space is a great place for new growers to start. 

Rather than investing the money in a dedicated grow room, try a grow tent and see how that works for you first. Not only will you need a place to grow cannabis, but you also need a place to dry it and cure it. A grow tent can also double as a great place to dry cannabis and even cure it. If you’re growing outdoors, make sure you have an open closet space or a cool area with low humidity for drying cannabis and a dark, cool spot for curing.

The Importance of Temperature and Humidity Gauge

Temperature and humidity are very important with cannabis throughout each phase of the cultivation process. Plants require more humidity when they’re young and less humidity as they near harvest. Helping to control the humidity in your grow gives you a helping hand at preventing nuances such as powdery mildew and mold while promoting healthy growth.

Monitoring the temperature of your cannabis plants is extremely important. Cannabis plants thrive between temperatures of 70 and 85° indoors for daytime temperatures or lights-on temperatures and 65° to 75° for lights-off. If the temperatures get too hot, you will start to notice your plants showing signs such as wilting leaves, stunted growth, and other issues. High temperatures lead to poor yields and could potentially stress plants causing them to hermie.

Choosing Yor Grow Medium

Growing indoors can be done using methods such as hydroponics and aquaponics, but most commonly is done using soil. Before diving into hydroponics or aquaponics, many people choose to have a better understanding of growing cannabis. Picking the right soil is essential for good cannabis grow. Soils with too much salt or fertilizers can burn plants, stunt their growth, and even kill them. When it comes to soil, there are lots of options.

Stay away from most of the soil you find at megastores. Instead, look for specialty soil for growing cannabis. You can also make your own soil. If you choose to do this, there are many different recipes online. However, making your own soil can require several weeks, even months, before that soil is ready. You can also purchase living soil. Do a little bit of research into soil and decide which is best for you. If you’re a new grower, start out with a simple bag of soil and take it from there. Remember, some soils have fertilizers in them and don’t require any additives for the first month or so plants are growing in them.

Picking Your Planters

Choosing the planters that are right for you is another important step in cannabis cultivation. When growing in an indoor environment, three to five-gallon potters are typically all you will need. When it comes to these potters, you have choices between what you use. Most commonly, plastic or fabric potters are used because of their versatility and ease of movement.

You can use clay potters, but they can be a little heavy, and you wouldn’t want one to break in the middle of your grow. If you choose fabric potters, remember they require more frequent watering. For these reasons, many at-home growers choose to utilize an old-fashioned plastic garden potter as their planter of choice for cannabis cultivation.

Choosing the Right Grow Lights

Choosing the right grow light is a vital step in home cultivation. There are many different options for grow lights that come in a wide range of prices. Expensive grow lights can produce great results, but you can still get great results from good cheap lights. You need to determine how big your grow space is and then calculate how many watts of light you need and what type of lights you are going to grow with. Growers all have their own preferences. For example, I use 1200 Watt full spectrum LED grow lights in a 4×4 grow tent and see great results.

Others suggest utilizing HPS lights as they are definitely performers. Meaning they produce some big, beautiful buds and make for bountiful harvests. The downside is they consume a lot of power and put off a lot of heat. So make sure you do your research and choose the right grow lights for your situation.

Ventilation for Growing Cannabis

Ventilation is another essential aspect for a growing cannabis. Poor ventilation can lead to issues such as powdery mildew, mold, stunted growth, and more. All of these ultimately lead to poor yields and the potential death of plants. Cannabis plants require air to be pulled out and fresh air to be brought in. The air that is pulled out can be filtered into a room, out a window, into an attic, etc.

The air coming into your cannabis plants is best when it is from a fresh source such as an outside vent, window, etc. Cannabis plants also require a small fan inside of the growing environment blowing across your plants to help strengthen stems for bud growth.

Choosing the Right Nutrients

Choosing the right nutrients can be a difficult task. There’s lots to choose from and a lot to learn about them. The NPK levels can be confusing at first. Some of the best advice I was ever given that I would give to anyone is to start low and slow. You don’t need to use a ton of different nutrients until you learn more about growing cannabis. I personally started with the Fox Farm 3 and saw great success simply following the instructions on the bottles. I still use this trio but have started adding extras such as Humboldt Sweet and Sticky, Bush Doctor Cal-Mag, Kelp Me Kelp You, Wholly Mackerel, Open Sesame, Beastie Blooms, and Cha-Ching as I have learned more over the years.

What is PH, and Why is it Important in Growing Cannabis?

The term pH stands for “potential of hydrogen” and is basically a scale to determine the acidity level of water and other mediums. Cannabis plants can grow with pH levels between 5.0 to 7.0 but tend to thrive with pH levels between 5.8 to 6.5. They have meters that can test the pH of soil by simply sticking them in the soil. There are also test strips you can get. Another way to test the pH of your cannabis plants is to test the water before and after feeding them.

When growing cannabis, add your nutrients to your water (less is more), and then use a handheld pH meter to test the level. This way, you’ll know what you’re giving them. Collect a sample of runoff water from feeding your plants and see what that test at as well. Adjust nutrients as needed to achieve the optimum pH level. If you’re using tap water for your plants, make sure to leave it out uncovered for at least 24 hours to help improve the quality of the water going to your plants.

The Importance of CO2 for Growing Cannabis

CO2 is another important factor when growing cannabis. Cannabis plants produce oxygen but, like other plants, require CO2 to breathe. You don’t have to go out and invest in a CO2 system or even buy CO2 bags in order to grow cannabis successfully at home. Between the kids, the dogs, and opening and closing the door at home, my house gets plenty of CO2 for my cannabis plants.

With that being said, buying something like CO2 bags to hang in your grow tent can prove beneficial towards producing a healthier, more bountiful harvest. During the veg stage for cannabis, plants like CO2 levels between 800 to 1200 parts per million. During the flowering stage, those levels increase to 1200 to 1500 parts per million. You can monitor the level of CO2 in your grow with a handheld CO2 meter. 

The more you grow, the more you’ll know. While your plant or plants are growing, it’s a good idea to read up on harvesting, drying, and curing cannabis to help you stay a step ahead. Keep it simple to start, and have fun learning to grow cannabis at home. 

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