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As the eighth week stretched into the ninth, I dutifully burped the curing jar every few days, gazing at the contents with awe before snapping the lid back in place and putting the container away, but I didn’t try it. Was I, on some subconscious level, afraid that I wouldn’t get high enough (or, even worse, not high at all) off my homegrown handiwork? Perhaps the thrill had really been about the process — the pursuit of happiness — the whole time and not about the ounce of weed curing in my pantry. Or maybe I wanted the best for my baby and was dragging my feet only until Diana Prince had cured a full six months?
I planted my first seed on Oct. 19, 2020, opting for an easy-to-grow strain called Lowryder. Considered one of the first autoflowering strains of marijuana — meaning the plant flowers after a set period of time instead of taking its cue from seasonal light changes — Lowryder is a cross of Cannabis ruderalis , ‘Northern Lights No. 2′ and ‘William’s Wonder’ that yields a compact, indica-heavy plant. Based on the grow guide included in my kit, my plant would be ready to harvest just before Christmas. In a nod to the holiday season timetable, when the first green sprout popped out of the soil a few days later, I nicknamed her Mariah in honor of the chanteuse whose 1994 album “Merry Christmas” seems to flower like clockwork year after year.
So after a few weeks of mourning, I decided to give pot-plant parenting a second try. And this time around, I was determined to spare no expense — potential tax savings be damned. I invested in a bathroom scale so I could weigh the plant between waterings, and when Taylor offhandedly suggested an LED grow light so I could raise my little green girl indoors, I immediately ordered one and cleared a spot in my garage, not far from where my hard-partying friends used to routinely smoke plants like her in the pre-pandemic days.
If you’re wondering why on God’s green earth anyone blessed with the SoCal sunlight would choose to grow a cannabis plant indoors — and shell out money for a light to do it to boot — it’s worth a slight detour here to give you the straight dope on growing your own dope in the state of California (and, by extension, Los Angeles, because the city doesn’t have its own regulations addressing personal cultivation).
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But the desire to get my grow on also has a lot to do with how I grew up in rural Vermont.
Mother-son pot entrepreneurs? Vape pens that match your track pants? We have questions.
Fast-forward two months and, instead of the towering THC-laced tannenbaum I was hoping for, I was headed into Christmas week with a seedling — all of 5 inches tall — curving out of its pot at a 45-degree angle. Since A Pot for Pot purchases include growing consults via email, I sent off a few photos and a plea for help. A few days later, I heard back from an upbeat consultant named Taylor who wrote: “Thanks for reaching out! What a cute little plant!” Then came the bad news: Based on the photos I’d sent and the timetable I’d described, Mariah wasn’t going to get much bigger. Taylor’s theory was that I had probably waited too long to transplant Mariah from her seedling cup to her 5-gallon fabric pot, unintentionally creating bonsai bud in the process. But the silver lining, as Taylor pointed out, was that because of her stunted size, there would be more than enough nutrients in the soil mix to support a second attempt in that same pot.
On May 8, I hacked the branches from the stalk and felt a sharp pang of sadness. After that came a flurry of activities that included drying the branches upside down (using coat hangers, binder clips and a rolling clothes rack), then trimming the buds and finally curing them in an airtight container. (Final yield at this point: 26 grams — just short of an ounce.) According to Taylor’s email, it’s this last part — the curing — that brings out flavor, eliminates the chlorophyll and makes for a smoother smoke. The recommendation was to cure the herb two to eight weeks. Taylor noted that some folks prefer the go-slow approach and will cure their bud for up to six months.
When I was a kid, my family had a small farm (so small that it hardly qualified as a farm by Vermont standards) that started with a cow and grew to include a pig, chickens and a flock of sheep that grazed the field beyond our vegetable garden. Only the milk cow, Star, who had come into our family as my brother’s 4-H project, was ever named. We’d been taught from an early age that the rest of the hoofed and clawed creatures around us were livestock (as opposed to pets) and cautioned against forming an emotional bond.
And there’s one last tiny hitch in the homegrown giddyap — and one that’s of particular importance in a city like L.A. where most of us live cheek by jowl: any plants you’re growing must be in a locked space that is not visible to the public.
In addition to having a hand in bringing eggs, bacon, chicken and milk to the table, my siblings and I saw how wool becomes yarn. We learned how to make rhubarb wine (the first kid down the stairs in the morning usually gave the crock full of fermenting fruit a good stir), how to bake bread on a wood stove (the Dutch oven came in clutch) and how to turn the sap from the trees around us into maple syrup. In short, we were doing farm-to-table before farm-to-table was even a thing, and it gave me a keen appreciation of the effort that goes into things that I otherwise would have taken for granted.
Unlike becoming the parent of a human, there’s a minimum age requirement — you have to be 21 — to legally become the parent of a recreational-use pot plant (different regulations apply to medical marijuana). And that six-plant limit? That’s per private residence — not resident — which means you can’t legally grow a dozen plants just because you split the rent with a roommate. Which brings me to another wrinkle that factors heavily into who does and doesn’t get to become a pot-plant parent in this fair city. Although not impossible, it’s far easier if you own the place in which you’re living and growing a pot plant. Even if your landlord doesn’t explicitly forbid the on-premises cultivation of cannabis (which he or she legally can), your lease agreement probably won’t cover the sort of modifications you might make to the property in your pursuit of off-the-grid ganja.
That’s why, when faced with midpandemic boredom, in a state where it’s legal to grow (under California law, anyone 21 and older can grow up to six plants for recreational use) and with an unused everything-but-the-seeds kit from A Pot for Pot (purchased while researching The Times’ 2020 holiday cannabis gift guide) lurking in the corner of my home office, I decided to connect with my roots by trying to get a pot plant to put down the same. By following the process from start to finish, I reasoned, I’d be able to better appreciate how those dried little nuggets of instant staycation get from the soil to the dispensary shelf.
The fix was easy enough. Brandishing my P-Touch label maker, I printed out “Lowryder strain, seed two” and stuck the label on the container of curing buds, right over top of the one that read “Diana Prince.” I instantly felt better.
Taken altogether that means your ability to become a legal pot-plant parent in L.A. — despite what your biological (or botanical) clock is telling you — hinges on who owns your house, how big your yard is and how much money you’re willing to spend on grow kits (like the 5-gallon, $99.95 one I was using), LED lights ($169.95) and feminized cannabis seeds ($89 for five Lowryder Autoflower seeds).
I knew these folks would be out there, somewhere, just as I was, hopping on the quarantine gardening train for some of the same reasons — and no doubt some different ones. Some would be planting their own pot to do an end run around corporate cannabis (which, with each passing day, looks more and more like Big Pharma and Big Tobacco). Others would pursue pot parenthood to save money (buying weed in L.A. — legally — includes taxes that increase the cost of THC-containing products by more than a third) or to stick a green thumb squarely in the eye of Johnny Law as a kind of cosmically satisfying payback for decades of cannabis prohibition. (Growing your own is legal in the Golden State, but it remains illegal under federal law.)
By late March, Diana Prince was stretching skyward and entering her flowering stage. Two months later, she was nearly as tall as me and appeared ready to harvest. Gun-shy from my earlier experience, I sought one last consult. (“Just going off your timeline, she is definitely ready,” replied Taylor — punctuating the sentence with a green emoji heart.)
Then it hit me: In my haste to marry the nostalgic farm-to-table experiences of my Vermont childhood to my love of weed, I’d forgotten the part about not forming an emotional bond and had done exactly that. Even worse, I’d given her a name and imagined a personality for her. By naming her Diana Prince, I’d become less of an urban herb farmer about to get his buzz on and more like the Titan Kronos of Greek mythology about to swallow his offspring.
From art galleries and speakeasies to deli themes and circus vibes, dispensaries have gone next-level.
In mid-January, I planted my second seed. When she burst forth from the soil Jan. 19, the split seed casing clinging to the top of the green shoot reminded me of an armored helmet. Having just watched “Wonder Woman 1984,” I impulsively decided this powerful woman would bear the name of the Amazonian superhero’s secret identity: Diana Prince. Eager to avoid my earlier mistake, Diana Prince was transplanted to her forever home just five days later and then locked safely in my garage under the new grow light (20 hours on, 4 hours off). I visited my baby daily, watering her just enough to keep her healthy and thriving.
In early July, the curing phase of Operation Ganja Green Thumb hit Week 8. From the beginning of this botanical adventure, this was the moment I’d been thinking about and waiting for, with visions of sticky bud dancing in my head. Now was the time to literally taste the fruits of my labor, to consume something I’d planted and watched grow to maturity. This was the culmination of my very first seed-to-sesh journey, a chance to bring the lessons of my growing-up years and my enthusiasm for cannabis full circle all at once. The time had finally arrived, and, even without fear of legal retribution, I found myself reticent to pack a pipe or roll a joint and take a taste of my own medicine.
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That wasn’t the only connection I was hoping for. I saw becoming an L.A. pot-plant parent as a way to gain entree to an invisible social network in this city in the way those who raise children here end up forming lifelong bonds with strangers who happen to have had kids at the same time. Instead of bonding over hastily arranged carpool schedules or sitting on the sidelines at a soccer game together, I imagined mingling with first-time marijuana moms and dope dads in the gardening supply aisle at Lowe’s, sharing baby pictures of our leafy green chlorophyll kids and trading curing tips and yield-boosting hacks.
For almost as long as I’ve known about the cannabis plant, I’ve wanted to grow my own weed. This is partly because I like everything about it; not just the psychoactive effect of combusting and inhaling it, but also the way it looks, from the slender serrated fan leaves to the densely packed flowers shimmering with a crystal-like dusting (called trichomes, these tiny, hair-like structures are home to the high-producing compound THC). I like the skunky smell of a live plant, and I appreciate the fact that it’s only the female of the genus that will get you high.
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For small spaces or tents, clip-on fans can be attached to structures like walls, corners, or support beams. For larger grow rooms, use medium-sized oscillating fans or big floor models.
You’ll need a dedicated space for your marijuana plants—you won’t be able to move them around. Ideally, the space is next to a window so you can vent air from the grow space outside. Growing weed plants smell! Especially when flowering kicks in, you’ll want to redirect air so your house doesn’t reek of weed.
Standard plastic containers are a popular option for growers operating on a budget. These pots are inexpensive and provide the essentials for your plants.
Setting up fans.
Your cannabis wants a safe, healthy place for root development. Without healthy roots, your cannabis will never thrive. Roots are in charge of water retention, nutrient absorption, anchoring the plant, and they also facilitate vegetative growth.
You will definitely want to invest in a timer for your lights. Because the amount of light a plant receives dictates its vegetative or flowering stage, it’s important to give it a consistent amount of light every day, and that’s done with a timer. It’s a good idea to check your timer at least once a week to make sure it’s working properly.
One trick to avoid hot temps is to have the grow lights on during the evening, when it’s cooler outside, and leave the lights off during the day when it’s hot. This may help bring down the temps, but you’ll only be able to work on the plants at nighttime when the lights are on.
The biggest variability in how long a marijuana plant takes to grow will happen in the vegetative stage—after the seedling phase and before flower.
You can make this yourself by combining worm castings, bat guano, and other components with a good soil and letting it sit for a few weeks, or it can be purchased pre-made from a local nursery or grow shop.
When designing your space, you’ll need to take into account room for your plants, as well as space for lights, fans, ducting, and other equipment. You’ll also need space to work on the plants. Cannabis plants can double in size in the early stages of flowering, so make sure you have adequate head space!
For most first-time gardeners, we recommend buying a quality potting soil that will provide your plants with enough nutrients to get them through most of their growth cycle without having to add many amendments or liquid nutrients. This pre-fertilized soil—often referred to as “super-soil”—that can grow cannabis plants from start to finish without any added nutrients if used correctly.
If using nutrients, estimate how much water you’ll need for all of your weed plants so you can measure out and mix in the appropriate amount of nutrients.
The flowering stage will always take about eight weeks—some strains take seven, some nine, some even more, it depends on the strain.
As your indoor weed plants grow, they’ll need less attention, but you’ll still need to check up on them every 2-3 days.
Inexpensive options include standard plastic pots or cloth bags, while some growers choose to spend more on “smart pots” or “air pots”—containers designed to enhance airflow to the plant’s root zone.
For the most part, weed prefers these temps at each growth stage for optimal health:
Terra cotta pots offer a unique set of benefits to growers in hot climates.
You’ll need to ensure that temperatures remain within a comfortable range for your plants, between 70-85°F when lights are on and between 58-70°F when off. Some varieties of cannabis—generally indicas—prefer the colder side of the range, while others—typically sativas—are more tolerant of high temperatures.
So when growing weed indoors, you can control the size of your plants by flipping them into flower whenever you think they’re big enough in the vegetative stage.
Unless you’re growing in a large, open space with a lot of ventilation, you’ll need air-cooled reflector hoods to mount your lamps in, as HID bulbs produce a lot of heat. This requires ducting and exhaust fans, which will increase your initial cost but make controlling temperature in your grow room much easier.
Plants in the vegetative stage maintain a low odor as they haven’t begun to produce terpenes, the plant’s aromatic compounds. As weed plants transition into the flowering phase, trichomes will start to develop and produce terpenes, causing them to smell more.
Equip yourself with these cheap and easy-to-use tools to take measurements in your indoor cannabis setup:
We love these types of seeds so much that our Grow Kits include a $40 discount coupon on autoflowering seeds from our friends at ILGM.com .
Related : The Ultimate Guide on How to Harvest Weed to go in-depth on cannabis harvesting tips and tricks!
Online Grow Support.
Indica vs. Sativa Growing Styles.
In summary, you’ll need to consider your budget. Weigh the pros and cons of growing pot indoors or outdoors before you start growing. Then, select the option that works best for you and your specific situation.
Avoid Common Mistakes.
Autoflowering cannabis can be grown as a houseplant, just put her in the sunniest spot in your house and let her rip. This method of growing cannabis is best if you are just looking to grow and don’t have high expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect something.
For all types of marijuana, you will want to consider adjusting the temperature. The flowering stage requires cooler temperatures, so keep it between 64°F to 78°F . Ideally closer to 65 degrees Fahrenheit if possible! If you used any nutrients, make sure you’ve stopped and are providing plenty of water. This helps with taste, aroma, and potency when it’s time to enjoy your cannabis.
Once your marijuana seedling develops a pair of leaves, she has officially entered the vegetative stage. This is when pot plants have the singular purpose of growing bigger and stronger in preparation for the coming flowering stage.
more plentiful buds. So, remember to provide the best care for your plants in the vegetative stage!
What pot sizes should I be using for Autoflowers?
People typically grow marijuana indoors in a grow tent or dedicated grow room. The goal is to optimize the plant’s environment and blast the plant with as much light as she can handle so you can yield the most amount of cannabis per square foot. Although, as most cannabis growers will tell you, locking a 600-watt HPS grow light in a 5x5x7 grow tent will give you more problems than you’d expect. Heat, humidity levels, airflow, and pest management practices are all things to consider and plan for. (Yes, indoor grows are just as likely to get bugs as outdoor.)
Seed Coupon Included.
Your plants will get large and bushy. You may want to ‘train’ them by trimming and/or bending the leaves to form a flat canopy on top. This pruning allows light to reach all parts of the plant for maximum yields. Pruning is an advanced technique, so you’d want to read up on it first before trying it.
If you plan to grow in one of these environments, we suggest setting aside no less than a $700 budget for the tent, lights, fans, timers, and control boxes you will need, plus an extra $80 a month in power bills. Keep in mind this is a pretty hefty investment if you’re just looking to grow a small amount of cannabis. However, if you are looking to make some cheddar from the cheese you are growing, this is a good way to learn to grow your own sticky icky before scaling up. We all know that commercial cannabis will never be as good as homegrown goods grown with love and detail to attention.
Growing Cannabis Outside.
Cannabis ruderalis and photoperiod cannabis both have strains that lean towards either indica or sativa dominance. The experience post-consumption and their growth traits are the same for both photoperiod cannabis and autoflowering cannabis.
By far, the easiest and cheapest plant to grow for beginner growers is autoflowering cannabis . It comes from the species Cannabis ruderalis . This type of cannabis flowers, as the name suggests, automatically.
If you opt for natural sunlight and you aren’t using autoflowers, you’ll need to ensure that your plants receive at least 18 hours of sunlight during the vegetative stage of their growth. Unfortunately, that means unless you are growing during the correct season and in the right area, this may not be obtainable without supplemental lighting. In other words, even if you are growing outdoors, investing in an LED lamp for those cloudy and or ‘short’ days might be a good idea.
You can grow the best cannabis indoors or outdoors. A good indoor setup for weed provides total control over the growing conditions. Indoor growers have a lot of responsibility — you become Mother Nature! Your cannabis plants depend entirely on you to meet all of its needs – including light, humidity, airflow, temperature, food, and water. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to get all the right equipment, plus you must consider the cost of ongoing electricity.
If your goal is to grow one small cannabis plant, you should grow some of the best autoflowering strains, such as OG Kush, Cheese Strains, Northern Lights or Girl Scout Cookies. Indica-dominant autoflowering cannabis plants typically grow to around 2 to 4 feet tall. This makes them great for growing in gardens adjacent to nosey neighbors!