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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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Getting the girls in the ground

How do you start a cannabis garden? Don’t worry, it’s easy!

When it comes to growing an outdoor cannabis garden, the Bay Area is a great place to start one. Not only is the climate perfect for it, but growing your own weed can also help you save tons of money.

One cannabis plant and a bag of good soil — which can cost less than $30 — can produce at least 8 to 16 ounces of flowers, according to Brent Saupe, a cannabis cultivation expert who has been growing in California for the past 30 years. Compare that to the average price of an ounce of store-bought ounce of cannabis – which costs about $300 – and it might seem like a good idea to grow your own cannabis.

And it’s all perfectly legal if you’re a medical marijuana patient. City rules allow patients to grow up to 24 plants, and when Proposition 64 goes into effect, any adult over 21 will be able to purchase and grow as many as six plants at a time.

Aside from the money-saving aspects, the best thing about growing your own weed is that it’s simple. Anyone can do it — and if you want help, pharmacies like Oakland’s Magnolia Wellness offer 10-week gardening classes year round.

“Growing cannabis is simple and incredibly easy,” Saupe says. “I sometimes
think people in the industry make growing sound a lot more complicated than it is.”

The best time to start a cannabis garden is in May and June so your flowers will be ready to harvest at the beginning of the rainy season in early November. To get started, you need to buy a clone – a baby plant – which is usually sold in 10 cm pots and embedded in rock wool. Pharmacies sell them for between $12-$20, but don’t go to a pharmacy in San Francisco as you won’t find one there. The city regulates how many clones a store can sell at a time, so you’d better go to Magnolia Wellness or Harborside
Health in Oakland to get one.

Clones can also be found on Craigslist, but while they may be cheaper than what pharmacies sell them for, Saupe warns they have a higher risk of becoming infested with pests or not being the kind you thought you were buying. If you want to grow a particular strain, Dan Grace of Oakland’s Dark Heart Nursery advises against growing Indica strains. They tend to be dense and prone to damage from moisture, he says, adding that he’s heard a lot of positive feedback about planting Blue Dream.

To prevent pests and fungal infections — known as powdery mildew — Grace suggests spraying plants with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water and a drop of dish soap. Mix the ingredients and spray it on the plant once a week.

“It’s much easier to prevent than to cure,” Grace says, noting that you should stop spraying two weeks before harvesting.

When it comes to soil, go for quality, and one of the best potting soils is Recipe 420, which is sold at Flower Craft in SF for just $17.50. Spend more on quality soil and you’ll save money in the long run because you don’t have to add nutrients or fertilizers.

Keep the clone indoors, but expose it to the sun for a day or two before planting, because after living indoors for its entire life, it will need to adapt to the outside light. You can plant your clone in the ground – which allows the plant’s roots to grow larger – or in a pot. It doesn’t matter what size jar you get, as long as it’s big enough to accommodate the clone. Either way, you’ll need to transfer it to a larger container once it starts growing.

There is no answer to how often you should water your plant, as it depends on the weather in the area and how much sunlight (or lack thereof) it receives in a day. But you should water it at least once a week – just make sure not to overdo it.

“Proper watering is crucial,” Saupe says. “The most common mistake new gardeners make is overwatering. Patience is an important quality in a cannabis grower.” A typical garden cycle lasts about five months, making plants that started in June ready to harvest in November.Another way to know when it’s time to harvest is when at least 70 percent of the pistils – the white ones hairs on the buds – has darkened Some varieties may make it more difficult to tell when the time is right, different varieties may look different at harvest Best to post photos of buds ready to harvest online and Grow Weed Easy (growweedeasy.com) is a good source for that.

To harvest, simply cut the branches. Dry them indoors for one to two weeks, which many people do by nailing a heavy rope between the inside of a doorway and clipping it to it. When the buds have dried, cut them off the branches with garden shears. Trimming is an art, just like a good haircut, and it’s a good idea to refer to pictures online before trying it out for yourself.

The buds should be kept in airtight containers in a cool, dark place and will keep for up to two years without significant loss of vigor.

And while smoking your weed is always an option, there are endless possibilities for the creatives, such as cooking and baking or turning it into high-quality hash.

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