It’s high time to learn how to grow cannabis in your backyard garden!
As it turns out, growing cannabis the old-fashioned way—outdoors—is actually easiest. So if your goal is just to have a bit of decent weed around to occasionally enjoy, you may as well plant it alongside your tomatoes.
First things first: familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. In Michigan, you can grow up to a dozen plants for personal use.
Horticulturally speaking, here’s what you need to know to grow cannabis in your garden:
Choosing a Variety
Purchase seeds for varieties suited to outdoor conditions, rather than those bred for indoor grow operations. Any reputable supplier will specify that information in their varietal listings. Most will also note mold-resistant varieties, which are a wise choice in humid regions, as well as those with a “short flowering period,” an important consideration in northerly latitudes (this is akin to the “days to maturity” listed on your garden-variety seed packet).
Understanding Male and Female Plants
Cannabis is one of many species in the plant kingdom that produce male and female flowers on separate plants. The females produce the buds rich in psychoactive compounds, so look for varieties labeled “feminized.” These are seeds that have been bred to produce only female plants and are highly recommended for novice cannabis gardeners. Another option is to purchase clones, which are rooted cuttings of female plants. This is essentially like buying vegetable seedlings, rather than seeds.
Weed seeds require no special treatment, though they’ll germinate faster if you soak them in water for a few days before planting. As with tomatoes and other heat-loving vegetables, you’re better off starting the seed indoors in a sunny window in early spring, and then transplanting the seedlings outdoors once all danger of frost has passed.
Cannabis plants require a minimum of six hours of direct sun each day and excellent drainage. They’ll do fine in a typical raised bed like you’d use for vegetables, though five-gallon pots filled with potting soil also work well. Good air circulation is critical for preventing fungal diseases, so space the plants at least six feet apart.
Feeding and Watering
Cannabis plants love their nutrients, so be sure to feed them H-G Plant-Aide formulated specifically for marijuana. Simply, spray H-G Plant-Aide on plant foliage and soil media every 7-14 days for optimal growth. Make first application one week after plant emergence or transplanting to improve plant and CBD quality, plant mass, and nutrient availability. When it comes to water, this crop is also a thirsty one, so be sure to irrigate whenever the surface of the soil becomes dry.
To prune, simply clip off the outer 30% of each major shoot every few weeks. Pruning encourages a bushier form (rather than a tall, spindly plant) by stimulating the growth of numerous small side shoots, each of which will produce additional buds. Just be sure to stop pruning by mid-summer, so as not to interfere with flower production.
Buds will begin to form in late summer and should be ready for harvest in October. You’ll know they are ready when the flower pistils (those wispy hairs that emanate from the buds) turn from white to reddish-brown. Cut the buds from the plants, leaving 6 or 8 inches of stem below each one, and trim off all the leaves. Hang them from their stems to dry in a warm, shaded place for about a week and then enjoy the fruits of your labor.