Beginning the process of growing your own cannabis plants is daunting, confusing and, unfortunately, a little expensive. There are some pros, however, like growing your own cannabis being cheaper than buying it on a regular basis.

You can also control the process and produce the best possible quality buds, in the most environmentally conscious way.

A step-by-step, bare bones set of instructions are contained below, and should provide helpful information for the budding grower.

Before beginning, there are some things you would need:

  • Tent or mylar film
  • Growing material
  • Nutrients
  • Fabric pots
  • Grow light
  • Water filtration system
  • pH Down
  • Watering can
  • Carbon filter and intake fan
  • Duct tubing
  • Durable tape
  • Paper towel
  • pH test strips
  • Combination Hygrometer thermometer

1. First, you will need to choose a space to grow in your home. If you share the domicile, it is best to gain consent to grow from roommates/housemates. This is unless you have personal space that is sequestered, such as a closet in your room, which would insulate others from the smell, which will be distinct during the flower stage.

2. Next, once a space is determined, an appropriate tent; or even a cardboard box with reflective mylar film roll should be set up with a grow light. Grow lights come in three different professional varieties: high pressure sodium, fluorescent (CFL) and LED bulbs. All three types have advantages and disadvantages, but for the price and efficiency, LED lights are by far the best of the three. I recommended LED lights, specifically the brands; Mars Hydro, Spider Farmer or VivoSun.

3. The next choice is what material, or medium, to grow in. Soil is the cheapest, most universally used medium. For soil, Fox Farms soil is above and beyond the best, hands down. Coco coir, which is shredded coconut fibers buffered with calcium and magnesium, is an inexpensive, recyclable, and inert option. It is also resistant to pests and root rot. For everything coco coir, I recommend Coco Canna for both nutrients and the physical medium.  Hydroponics uses water and nutrients, constantly pumped over the roots, to produce the highest yields and the fastest growth times. In terms of difficulty, soil is easiest to use, while coco coir and hydroponics are for intermediate and advanced growers. For hydroponics I recommend using the brand General Hydroponics.

4. If smell is a concern, an intake fan with a carbon filter is recommended一 it will take the dank smells of flowering buds and make your operation scentless. Intake fans and carbon filters correspond to growing space size, so buying space appropriate intake fans is necessary, but the brand isn’t important to be picky. Some hardware stores carry intake fans, as will the local hydroponics store.

5. Now that equipment is mostly taken care of, it is time to germinate seeds. Seeds can be purchased legally through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS); or through other online retailers, but the product grown from seeds not bought from the OCS is considered illegal. First time growers should use auto-flowering, feminized seeds, as they will switch between vegetative stage to flowering stage automatically and have no chance to be male. Male plants are undesirable, as cannabis grows only in the absence of male pollen. Soak your seeds in reverse osmosis or distilled water for 24 hours, place seeds on a paper towel and spray with reverse osmosis water to keep the paper towel moist. Cover seed with a paper towel and continue to soak and monitor them for an emerging taproot.

6. Once the tap root has emerged from the seed shell, place it in the growing medium approximately 1.3 cm (0.5”) deep, with the taproot facing down. Growers must take care to handle the seedlings carefully as the taproot is easily damaged. You can amend soil and coco coir with perlite to prevent compaction but it is not necessary.

7. The grow light should be 30 to 45 cm from the seedling or maturing plant, this is to ensure both maximum light utilization and to prevent foliage burn.

8. Water for soil should be pH 5.8-6.2 and 6.0-6.5 for coco coir for maximum nutrient absorption at the root, with as little work on the part of the plant as possible. Add nutrients to a container, following the manufacturer’s feed directions, then test the solution for pH levels. To manage pH, it is recommended to buy pH down (more acidic) or pH up (less acidic, more basic). Adding nutrients to your water will change the pH, so adding nutrients first , then the PH amendments is the best way to prepare nutrient mixes. 

9. After about 8-12 weeks, the plant will be most likely ready to switch from vegetative stage, to flowering stage. Auto-flowering seeds will begin to show tear-drop shaped budding sites at the crevice between the plant’s limbs and the main stem. When starting seedlings, a light cycle of 16 hours on, and 8 off is advisable. When switching to the flowering stage, the light cycle will be 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

10. About 6-8 weeks after flowering has started, your buds should be almost fully developed, if your plant is an auto-flowering cultivar, then it will begin to show signs of the plant signalling harvest time. Regular feminized seeds allow the grower to control when the flowering stage is initiated and can therefore allow the plant to develop further past these general timelines. These signs will include; fan leaves browning and dying, lack of rapid growth in the buds and eventually, if left too long, bud rot and complete plant death.

11. Once the plant is ready to harvest, it should be flushed of nutrients excess nutrients in the plant will cause the bud to taste bad and the smoke harsh. Flush the plant for two to three days before harvest. I recommend General Hydroponics Flora Kleen, one or two flushes with flora clean will leave your bud tasting and smoking cleanly.

12. For harvesting, a grower will need a drying rack, trimmers, and gloves. Bud should be dried for 5-7 days or until the stems attached to buds snap with a satisfying, stick like sound. Once dried and trimmed, buds should be cured, but this is not a necessary step and changes the buds’ taste as well as the kind of high one can experience.

13. After about a month, the first changes to cured bud can be observed and felt, the crystal structures visible on the buds will change color from clear, to amber, which is THC breaking down to another cannabinoid, cannabinol or CBN. CBN produces pronounced body effects compared to more cerebral effects produced by THC. The taste of cannabis changes over time as well as terpenes, the molecules responsible for cannabis’ flavor break down. It is possible to cure buds for the long term,  but for the smoker who grows it for daily consumption,  a month is the most ideal compromise.