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Indoor grow guide marijuana seeds
I've been growing cannabis for 20 years and I'm amazed at how many people hesitate to start their own seedlings. Not because it's too complicated (In that case, we wouldn't be driving cars or using computers). It's mostly because we're afraid to fail.
'What if I give them too much water?' You might ask. Or 'What if I use the wrong nutes?'
Perhaps, negative thoughts like these kick in:
- I've never started seeds on my own
- I don't think I could do it
- I'm too old to grow my own seedlings
- I don't know where to start
- I have a brown thumb
- What will the neighbors think?
- I tried it once and it didn't work
Sound familiar? Truth is, one of our most limiting beliefs is the belief that we are not capable of accomplishing a goal, whatever it happens to be. For most of us, it's a matter of childhood programming which follows into adulthood. Our jobs, life at home and so on. We can get over that, even with starting seeds to grow our own smoke!
Good news! Plants WANT to grow!
And plants know what they're doing. You have that going for you. Like anything else, it helps to be passionate about growing cannabis: If you're not into it, then you won't succeed.
Believe it's possible and believe in yourself. Your brain is designed to solve any problem and reach any goal that you give it. Listen to Mark Twain: 'The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first on.'
Why it makes perfect sense to grow your own cannabis
Whether you have a full-sized garden, indoor grow room, outdoor grow plot, you can enjoy the fruits of your labors by growing your own bud. Starting your own plants from seed:
- You can cut your “weed bill” by a few hundred dollars a year!
- Gives you access to an endless variety of strains you wouldn’t normally find in your area.
- You're in control of what you want to grow, and when--No waiting on the dealer in alleys or risking getting caught by the police.
- Save yourself the cost of court if you get caught.
- Raising your own plants is one of the most satisfying aspects of growing cannabis.
Taking the mystery out of starting marijuana seeds
Maybe, once upon a time, you tried starting a few seeds, but they flopped. Or, maybe you're thinking about growing tomatoes for the first time. Either way, you're in good company because while the process of seed germination may seem soooo complex, I'll make it reassuringly simple.
In the article, we'll go over:
- When to start marijuana seeds indoors
- How to use a cannabis seed starting timetable for vegetables, flowers and herbs
- Containers and soil blockers
- The scoop on dirt
- How to prevent damping-off disease
- How to sow marijuana seeds (a pinch to grow an inch)
- How to raise seedlings (light, air, fertilizer, etc.)
- Transplanting to larger containers
- Transplanting outside
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"If you've never started seeds don't worry too much about it."
Remember, nature has designed them to want to grow!
As I said, we'll take things step by step. And once you've grown your own, you'll be hooked. Let's let's start with a little appreciation for:
Those amazing cannabis seeds
Did you know that a single male plant can contain over 200 seeds?
If you bought seeds from a reputable seed bank chances are all of them will germinate then grow.
Unlike other harmful drugs cannabis will not cause an overdose. Pictured right is an example of auto flowering cannabis seeds variety
Seeds are living things. In fact, even when they're captives in jars and envelopes, seeds carry on respiration, absorbing oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide. The magic continues when you add water and seeds spring to life...
When to germinate marijuana seeds indoors
To plan the best time to start seedlings indoors, you need to know the frost free date, which is the approximate date of your area's last spring frost. This is the date you aim for as the time to transplant your seedlings out in the garden. If you don't know your frost free date, ask local gardeners, your cooperative extension agent, or inquire at a good garden center or other growers. This is helpful if you plan to take your plants outdoors after germing them or, growing them indoors for a while then moving them outside.
Soil blockers: My favorite way to start seedlings
I enjoy starting my own seedlings, but I found it somewhat tedious. Until I discovered soil blockers. Since 1985, my favorite way to start seedlings is in individual cubes of soil. When grown in cubes, seedlings are much easier to handle--you don't have to dig them out when you transplant them! Plus, you'll save money by not having all those extra containers around.
Made in England from brass and sturdy plastic, the soil cuber works like a cookie cutter, punching out 20, 3/4-inch soil cubes at a time. Each seed or clump of seeds gets its own growing space (cube) which eliminates transplant shock and tangled roots. This heavy-duty tool will last you a lifetime and it's something you can use to impress your friends! You can purchase a soil blocker many garden stores.
Pictured on the right: Seedlings grown in soil cubes under fluorescent lights. Lights are kept 2 to 4 inches above tops of the seedlings.
When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall and have developed their second set of leaves, it's time to transplant them. Seedlings grown in soil cubes are easy to transplant. Simply pick up a cube and set it in a soil-filled container. The cube stays intact and since each seed or seed clump gets its own cube, the roots aren't disturbed and the plant doesn't suffer from transplant shock.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go over what to look for in a seed-starting soil.
The scoop on dirt
After collecting your containers, the next step is to fill them with soil. Buy a good quality seed starting mix, available from any good garden center or nursery. Seed starting mixes are blended to drain well, yet retain moisture.
Here's an important tip: Avoid using soil from the garden. If placed in small containers, garden soil packs down and drains poorly. By using unsterilized garden soil, you also run the risk of introducing 'damping-off,' a disease that causes seedlings to rot at soil level and keel over. It's not a pretty sight and many cannabis growers who are new end up thinking they over nuted or over watered.. Seed starting mixes have been sterilized. (Seeds contain enough food to nourish themselves through the first stages of germination).
HOW TO PREVENT DAMPING-OFF DISEASE
- Rinse your containers with a mild bleach-water solution.
- Spray plants & soil with chamomile tea (1 tea bag/2 cups water).
Moisten the planting mix before you fill your containers. Seed starting mixes are mostly peat moss, so allow time for it to absorb water. Scoop pre-moistened mix into the containers to within 1/2 to 1 inch from the top, then tap it gently to settle it in. Smooth the surface but don't pack it down.
How to sow marijuana seeds, or a pinch to grow an inch
To sow seeds, make individual holes or tiny furrows with a pencil, chopstick or plant marker. Drop onto the soil with the tap root pointed down. Here are some general guidelines:
- Plant seeds at least 1 inch apart.
- Plant bigger growing strains further apart to prevent root joining between other plants.
- Plant dwarf plants away from other plants that will require more nutrients.
Cover the seeds to a depth of about ¼ inch then. Spritz them with water and avoid pressing down. Write a label for each kind of seed you plant and put it in the plot or container as soon as the seeds are planted. For outdoor plots draw a map showing where the different varieties are planted.
Place the containers of planted seeds in a warm place where you can check them daily. You can cover them with a lid, but be sure to keep an eye on them. As soon as they germinate, remove the lid. I prefer to allow the tap root (radicle) to extend a ways out before planting.
The one seed shown with long tap root is perfect! The rest of course will work also.
How to raise a healthy litter of seedlings
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Seedlings, like children and puppies, need constant attention. By providing the right amount of light, heat, air, and moisture you'll have a healthy plant(s), crop of seedlings that will thrive in the great outdoors. Here are some helpful pointers:
Lack of light is the single, most common problem when raising seedlings. And it's probably the #1 reason why people become discouraged over starting their own seeds. Seedlings need more intense light than full-grown plants--14 to 16 hours a day is ideal. If they don't get enough light, or if the light isn't intense enough, they become spindly, leggy and weak.
Seedlings need 14 to 16 hours of light per day!
Pictured on the right: Seedling showing first set of true leaves with familiar ridges
Windowsills are popular for starting seeds indoors, but they don't provide enough of the right light for healthy seedlings. Direct sun from a southern exposure can be too harsh, resulting in wilted plants. In northern latitudes, light might be in short supply, or the windowsills are too cold or are in view making them not safe for cannabis growing.
I prefer low-cost fluorescent shop lights over the costly grow lights for raising seedlings. Suspend the lights from chains, keeping them 2 to 4 inches above the tops of the seedlings, adjusting the lights as they grow. You can also add aluminum foil or flat white reflectors. If you do use a sunny windowsill, remember to rotate your plants every couple days so they don't have to stretch and reach for the light. Seedlings that are pale and weak are light-starved. CFL lights work great too and come in many wattages and even now, varying spectrums for veg & flower growth!
Water is the highway that delivers nutrients and seedlings need a steady supply of it. Since dry air in a house or closet can draw moisture right out of soil, check your seedlings often. Poke your finger into the soil or lift the containers. A container with dry soil weighs noticeably less than one that's well watered. Also, when seedlings have matured, water from the bottom to encourage roots to 'reach for it.' Last but not least, nobody likes a cold shower, so use tepid rather than cold water!
Seedlings thrive in an average room temperature of 70 to 85 degrees during the day and dropping by about 10 degrees at night. Temps will affect the growing height of cannabis so try to maintain a steady temp at all times.
Air and Ventilation
Proper ventilation is important for a number of reasons. It helps plants 'breathe' by circulating carbon dioxide and oxygen and it prevents damping-off disease. Moving air also keeps pests at bay and it helps strengthen plant stems, getting them ready for outdoor breezes. If necessary, set up a fan. Generally a small one is all you need. Finally, if your containers are covered with plastic or other covering, remove it as soon as the seeds germinate.
Fertilizer (no junk food please!)
When seedlings have developed their leaves, also called their true leaves, this is a good time to give them small doses of plant food. Organic fertilizers such as fish and kelp emulsions, compost tea are ideal. Apply fertilizers half-strength directly to the soil or as a foliar spray.
"Cannabis plants are easy to grow. Remember, they are a weed!"
Transplanting to larger containers
Seedlings grow faster, develop better and are less prone to disease and bolting (prematurely going to seed) if they have plenty of space and good soil. When seedlings reach 2 to 3 inches tall and have developed their first set of true leaves, it's time to transplant them into larger containers. If you've ever worn a pair of shoes that were too tight, you know how a plant feels when its roots are too crowded.
Fill the new containers with pre-moistened soil. Gently squeeze the bottom of the seed starting container or poke a fork down to the bottom and lift the seedling out. Try not to disturb the roots. For soil cubes, simply separate a cube from the others. Make a hole in the new container and nestle the seedling into its new home, pressing it down a little deeper than it was before. For tomatoes, broccoli and other cabbage plants you can actually bury the stem up to the bottom of the first leaves.
Gently press more soil around the seedlings and water them gently. Follow the tips listed above, continuing to provide the right amount of light, moisture, temperature, and air.
How to transplant seedlings outside
Before planting your seedlings out in the garden, you must prepare them for life outdoors. Sheltered plants are not accustomed to wind, direct sun, cold air, and see-saw temperatures. They will have a better chance of surviving if you help them develop tougher tissues before planting them outside. (Imagine a 'couch potato' sports enthusiast from Hawaii moving to Alaska in the winter to participate in a 1,000 mile sled dog race. You get the picture).
In a few weeks, when the soil and weather has warmed sufficiently, it's time to 'harden off' your seedlings by gradually acclimating them to the great outdoor. Hardening off takes about a week. On the first day, set them outside in a shady spot, out of the wind, for a few hours. Then bring them back inside. Gradually increase their time outside to a half day, a full day, then 2 or 3 days. Give them a sun bath occasionally, too.
When your seedlings are well acclimated, the next step is to plant them outside in the garden. Wait for a foggy or overcast day, or plant them in the late afternoon. Seedlings will suffer less if they're not set out during a hot, sunny day. If you plant them while it's drizzling or just before a rain, they'll get off to a great start.
After planting out, keep an eye on the weather. You may need to protect your seedlings from wind, frost or heavy rain by covering them with berry baskets, floating row covers or plastic milk jugs, minus their bottoms. Keep the young plants moist but not soggy, until their roots take hold.
Starting your own plants from seed is not only rewarding, it's fun! What's more, plants--like dogs and cats--don't care if you have a bad hair day! So give your seedlings all they need to get them started out on the right foot.
But what if you make a mistake?
'That's how a good cannabis grower learns,' says Fungarder. 'It's not like making a mistake with the baby that the psychotherapist will trace back directly to you 20 years later. Plants don't point a finger. If they live, they don't carry grudges. if they die, unless you've killed an entire species or a rain forest, you feel only momentary guilt, which is quickly replaced by a philosophical, smug feeling: Failure is enriching your compost pile.'
FG reminds us that experience is always in the positive, in that every experience has something to teach us. Rather than throw in the trowel when something doesn't go as you expected, ask yourself, 'How do I use this experience to to my advantage? What lesson is here for me?'
Successful growers learn from mistakes and benefit from the desire to keep trying. On average the first 3 grow attempts are your learning curves. After that most people figure it out then go on to tailor their growing trends, habits from there. Happy growing!
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