How to Start Growing Your Own Cannabis

Why Grow Your Own?

I choose to grow my own cannabis because I like knowing exactly what is going into growing the cannabis. It’s also very therapeutic to garden. Cannabis is no different. I love spending time in the tent, tending to my plants with love. It is so rewarding to take a plant from seed to harvest. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. It’s truly wonderful to watch then grow from a seedling into plants filled with beautiful, fragrant buds. I’m always astonished at the quality of buds that I can continue to grow.

It also saves money. I was able to break even after my very first grow. It took me just over 3 months to grow enough cannabis to justify the costs of my entire grow setup. Now, it costs me about $20CAD an ounce to grow my cannabis. You can’t get good quality cannabis for $20CAD an ounce anywhere, except when you grow it yourself. It is work but it’s also so therapeutic to garden.

Before You Start Growing Cannabis

Before you start growing cannabis at home, you should consider some basic things regarding your grow.

  • Where do you want to grow?
  • Where do you buy seeds?
  • What type of marijuana do you want to grow?
  • What size pots do you want to use?
  • The type of growing medium you want to use?
  • What type of nutrients do you want to use?
  • If growing indoors, what type of light do you want to use?

Keep reading to get an in depth discussion about each of these questions. In the end, each decision is based upon personal preference, space available, and your budget.

Where To Grow Your Cannabis

Our Old 4×4 Tent Setup

When choosing where you want to grow, you need to consider the following.

  • Grow outdoors or indoors?
  • Do you have a spot outdoors where you won’t get your plants stolen?
  • Do you have a spot indoors that you can hide from guests if need be?
  • Does the area you are considering have consistent temperatures or does it fluctuate?
  • Do you have a spare room or area in your home you can dedicate to growing?

I personally wasn’t able to do an outdoor grow because I don’t have a spot where people won’t steal my plants. But, if you have an outdoor spot that is safe from theft, growing outdoors is a great option as it cuts the cost of a light, electricity and possibly pots.

When growing cannabis indoors, it’s important to consider the option of being able to hide your grow from guests in your home. I’m sure you trust the people you bring into your home but they could tell someone who then tells someone else. When you put this much effort into your grow, you want to minimize the chance of it getting stolen. Even though cannabis cultivation is legal, there will still be people who want to steal what is yours. You’ll also want to consider the temperature of the indoor area you choose to grow in. If it fluctuates, you’ll have to work harder to keep a consistent environment for your plants. Once you consider all these factors, you’ll be ready to choose your grow area.

Where To Buy Seeds

There are many reputable seedbanks that you can order from. My personal favourite to order from is True North Seedbank. I really like them because they have many different breeders available to choose from. They have sales fairly frequently and they always give freebies with your order. Bonus, you get to choose your freebies too. There is a $20CAD shipping fee for Canadians (I’m not sure about international shipping). They only do e-transfers as a method of payment, but I’ve never had any issues in 3 years.

I also have used i49 Seedbank when they had a Canadian counterpart. One of my favourite strains to date is still the i49’s Blueberry Auto. It smells & tastes like fresh blueberries and has dense buds. Here are some other seedbanks that are highly recommended but I’ve never personally tried yet.

  • Crop King Seeds
  • Seedsman Seed Bank
  • BC Bud Depot
  • Dr.Seeds
  • Canadian Seed Bank

What Type of Cannabis You Want to Grow

There are 2 types of cannabis plants:

  • Photoperiod
  • Autoflower

Which one you choose depends on a couple things: Space and time.

Autoflower Plants

  • Flower automatically regardless of light cycle
  • Can continue the same light cycle the entire grow (24 hrs of light, 20-4,18-6)
  • Great for small spaces as they only get so big
  • 30-90 days seed to harvest

Photoperiod Plants

  • Rely on the change in light cycle to 12-12 to start flowering
  • Generally gets bigger than autoflowers, hence need moire space
  • Flower time ranges from 8 to 14 weeks

I started with autoflowers for their quick return and also because of limited space, but I think every grower should try both at some point just to say they’ve grown both. I plan on growing photoperiod for my third grow.

What Pot Size to Use

Different Pot Sizes (from wilsonbrosgardens.com)

Pot sizes depend on a couple things:

  • The type of cannabis you’re growing
  • How big you want the plant to get

An autoflower plant can use anywhere from a 3.5 gallon pot to a 7 gallon pot depending on how big you think it’ll get. It’s best to plant an autoflower seed directly into it’s final container to avoid unnecessary stress on the plant. For our first grow, we used 5 gallon pots for our autoflowers and they worked very well for us. Photoperiod plants on the other hand, can start out small and gradually move up in size into the desired size is achieved. So, you could start with a very small pot and work up to a 10, 15 or 20 gallon pot until harvest.

Once you decide the size pot(s) you need, then you have to decide on a type of pot.

There are traditional plastic pots with tray, smart pots/grow bags, or air pots. The last 2 types of pots are different than traditional pots as they have better airflow to the roots causing air pruning of the roots. So, it stops the plants roots from becoming entangled and pot bound. I just used regular pots my first grow but I’ll be investing in some grow bags soon. Your choice of pot type is really a personal preference.

What Growing Medium to Use for Growing Cannabis

2 Different Brands of Soil and a Bag of Perlite

Here are 3 common types of growing medium and some key points about them:

  • Soil/Soil mix/Compost – can create living soil, can use organic growing style, doesn’t require special knowledge, ideal pH 6.0-7.0
  • Soilless medium (Coco coir & perlite) – can also create living soil, can use organic growing style, doesn’t require special knowledge, ideal pH 5.5-6.5
  • Hydroponics (DWC) – fastest growth, most control over nutrients, requires some special knowledge, requires extra costs, ideal pH 5.5-6.5

Soil is the traditional growing medium. A coco coir & perlite mix is a new favourite among many growers, which is made from coconut fibers & perlite. Hydroponics (DWC) means you’re growing your plants roots directly in water. Choosing your medium comes down to cost, your knowledge of that style, and what you want out of your grow.

My knowledge on hydroponics is limited, mostly because I’ve never grown that way before. I can’t give you much insight on costs, setup of equipment or how to set up the water system needed for hydroponics. I chose soil because it was what I knew and was comfortable doing.

What Nutrients to Use for Growing Cannabis

Nutrient Line by Advanced Nutrients

Nutrients have a N-P-K ratio or nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ratio. These are basic nutrients plants need to photosynthesize and grow. There are two types of nutrients:

  • Organic
  • Synthetic/Chemical

Here are some key points about each:

Organic

  • Better smell & taste to buds
  • More natural
  • Not for hydroponics

Synthetic\Chemical

  • Increased potency
  • Faster growth
  • Only choice for hydroponics

What you want out of your nutrients and what type of grow you want to have will help you decide what type of nutrients you should use. I chose the organic nutrients as I had used a living soil as well and the two work well together. I use Gaia Green products and love them. I’ve been using them for almost 4 years now.

What Kind of Light to Use for Growing Cannabis

Our Old 3000W LED Light by Wills

There are a few options for lighting when growing cannabis: CFL, HID, or LED.

CFL or Compact Fluorescent Lights

  • Cheapest option
  • Standard sockets
  • Low light output compared to other options
  • Need many lights to achieve same effects as other lights
  • Best suit for small grows

HID or Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium Lights

  • Golden Standard for growing (may be changing)
  • MH for vegetation & HPS for flowering
  • 600 Watt most popular size
  • More costly upfront than CFL but less than LED
  • Most expensive for electricity costs
  • Creates a lot of heat; 600W and higher need exhaust fan
  • Have special hood and ballast

LED Lights

  • Cheap on electricity while producing great light output
  • Produces some of the best result
  • Cooler than HID lights
  • No ballast
  • Highest initial cost

I decided to go with a 600 Watt HID-MH/HPS light system for our first grow and got a whole kit for under $200CAD. I ordered my light from Grow Lights Canada and was very happy with my experience.

The light kit came with 2 light bulbs (we got 1 MH & 1 HPS), a hood reflector, ballast, rope ratchets for the light, and a timer. It was well worth the money and came in the mail within a week.

Know Your Budget

Another deciding factor in whether or not to grow is how much it will cost to start up. After completing our first grow, I can give you a list of my supplies and their cost (in 2019). Keep in mind, the prices may vary based on location. This list does not include a grow tent as we were able to use a spare room. But, I will also include the prices I’ve found for a 4’×4’×5′ grow tent, 4 inch inline exhaust fan, fan controller, carbon filter, ducting, and tape.

Start Up Costs for Your Grow

  • Light kit – 600w MH & HPS bulbs, hood reflector, ballast, timer and rope ratchet ($227 taxes & shipping included)
  • 6 Feminized Autoflower Seeds ($80 taxes & shipping included)
  • 2 Fans: 1 oscillating, 1 stationary ($56.48 taxes included)
  • Four 5 gallon traditional pots and trays ($31.64 taxes included)
  • 42.5L bag of Fox Farm Ocean Forest Soil & 30L bag of Gaia Green Living Soil ($62.15 taxes included)
  • 2 500g Gaia Green Organic dry amendments; one 4-4-4 all purpose & one 2-8-4 power bloom ($29.28 taxes included)
  • Thermometer/Hygrometer ($19.20 taxes included)
  • Two 12pks of wide mouthed 1L/32oz Mason jars for storage & curing ($33.88 taxes included)
  • Cool mist humidifier ($45.19 taxes included)
  • Misc. hardware for hanging equipment ($15)
  • Ties for LST ($10)
  • Lemon juice for pH down & Molasses for late flowering ($10)
  • Electricity & water costs for entire first grow ($252.57)

Total Start Up Cost: $872.39CAD

  • 4’×4’×5′ Mylar grow tent ($203.39 taxes & shipping included)
  • 4 inch inline exhaust fan & 4 inch carbon filter with fan controller, ducting and tape ($203.35 taxes & shipping included)

Total Cost for Tent & Exhaust System: $406.74CAD

Total Start Up Cost with Tent & Exhaust System: $1,279.13CAD

Costs of Growing Cannabis Indoors

Worth the Investment

While that may seem like a lot up front to invest, it will save you a ton of money in the future. For example, our first grow we had 4 autoflowering plants which grew from seed to harvest in roughly 3 months. As a result, we harvested 11 ounces dry weight and 3.5 ounces of trim & popcorn/little buds that can be made into edibles, oils or hash. This is almost enough cannabis to last us an entire year! If you figure the price we were paying per oz prior to growing was between $160-$190/oz depending if the site had any sales. Even on the low end at $160, 11 ounces would cost $1,760. That means even with the start up costs, we’ve broken even and saved money just with our first grow.

Surprisingly, we would have still saved money if we bought a tent with the exhaust system. This just goes to show you that the investment is worth it. We will be investing in the tent & exhaust system for our second grow as it was hard to conceal the smell when we grew it in the room that we chose. I will be purchasing it from the same website that I ordered my grow light from Grow Lights Canada. They are not compensating me in any way; I just think they have good products at good prices.

Now that you can decide what YOUR grow is going to look like, don’t wait! Get growing cannabis at home!