Where To Start

Gertrude starting to show her second set of true leaves.

Where exactly does one start when they are a complete beginner to cannabis cultivation? For an outsider looking in, growing cannabis for the first time can seem quite daunting. With prohibition slowly crumbling, the market is becoming flooded with new technology, seed banks, and varying opinions on how, exactly, to grow the best buds. I personally spent months researching before I ever put seed to soil, and still found myself a prisoner to my own indecision. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was to just pull the damn trigger. It’s easy to hem and haw over this or that product, soil or hydroponic, synthetic or organic, and on and on. Making the decision to just dive in and do it, was by far the most freeing step in my entire process.

That being said, absolutely do some research on the basics before sinking your hard earned money in to this. A friend of mine with a bit of experience growing told me to “prepare to have a second girlfriend”, and he could not have been more right. If you want to grow top shelf cannabis, it’s going to take up a lot of your time, as well as a significant amount of coin. I’ve already invested well over $1500, and still have a ways to go before I am fully set up. Now, a hobbyist could certainly get away with spending a whole lot less and still end up with a satisfying experience. But I plan on turning this into my livelihood, so for me the investment is worth it.

All the girls after moving into their new home under the big light.

After discussing with my significant other my plans, I began scouring the internet. And let me tell you, that old saying about opinions and assholes stands true. Maybe even moreso in the world of cannabis cultivation. Every person has their preferred methods, seed suppliers, equipment suppliers, you name it. And they will fight tooth and nail that their way is THE way. And, you know, if they are achieving their goals and expectations, then they are right. One of the best bits of advice I’ve stumbled across was “grow your own grow”. I wish I could remember who to attribute that quote to, but dammit that hit home. You can read, study, and watch videos ’til the cows come home, but ultimately you have to find what suits you, and your needs best.

For me, the first thing I needed was a proper environment. I am fortunate to have a spare room, but i had to figure out how to make a hospitable space for my girls to flourish. So, first things first, I secured a tent, slightly used, from a relative. It wasn’t mint, but would definitely do for the time being. That being squared away, I dug in to what would be my largest investment. A good and proper light source. I had already decided on LED over other options, as their efficiency is bar none above the other options. The problem with LED is if you want quality, you’re going to pay. Still, the multitude of options is staggering. I found myself many nights in the blue glare of YouTube videos, searching for just the right light. I ultimately decided on the Raymatix Hamr. Clocking in at around $300, it didn’t hit the old pocket book too hard, and it was highly recommended by one of my favorite YouTube reviewers. (I will cover this light more in depth in a product review down the road.) Happy with the light, I hooked up an in-line fan, and mistakenly assumed the environment was good to go. More on that later.

After many failed attempts, this is the first sprout that I would keep alive.

Satisfied (incorrectly) with my environment, I started about trying to find a source for seeds. A Facebook group I had joined had a handy list of trusted vendors, although this didn’t narrow it down a whole hell of a lot. An excellent resource nonetheless as there are a lot of scammers out there. I chose to get some autoflower seeds from Grower’s Choice. Autoflower plants grow and produce fast, with no need to flip your light schedule to induce flowering like photoperiod plants. I figured I could bang a crop out while I got some photos going…I failed miserably. In the meantime another batch of seeds from ilovegrowingmarijuana.com. Again, I attempted germination, following the ILGM prescribed method. This time I got 3 out of 5 seeds to germinate and sprout. Happily, I set them up in the tent, and we were off to the races. Or so I thought. My environment was shit, and I lost all three seedlings.

This was when I realized there are no shortcuts. I needed a proper set up, preferably automated, to make sure temperature and humidity stayed within range. I picked up an AC Infinity inline fan, installed an air conditioner in the room, and got a humidifier. I ran some tests, and was satisfied with the environment. I also picked up a humidity dome for starting the seeds. This time around 5 out of 5 seeds sprouted, and 4 of them are going strong today. I learned a hard lesson that cost me a reasonable sum of money. Absolutely make sure your environment is up to snuff before germination.

If you find yourself considering cannabis cultivation as a profession or even a pastime, my suggestion is to take a couple months and research, research, research. Know your grow, and invest in quality products. Be prepared to fail, and learn from your failures. And, never stop learning. I hope you found this helpful, and I will continue posting about my experiences to help anyone, myself included, get their start in cultivation.

Shane

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