10 steps to growing your own cannabis at home
We asked expert seed geneticist Mahmoud Hanachi from Dutch Passion seed bank to give us his top tips for growing your own ganj for the first time. Here’s his advice for South Africans wanting to cultivate some cannabis for personal use:
1. Go outdoor. Skip the hassle of an indoor set up and take advantage of the South African climate. The best time of year to grow is in the summer, because more hours of light means more photosynthesis for your baby weed bush. But as long as night temperatures don’t dip below 18 degrees, you’ve got the green light.
2. Start with one pack of autoflowering seeds. As far as strains go, there are 15 autoflowering options in the Dutch Passion range alone, and all will grow happily in South Africa.
If you’re debating which seeds to go for, check out our guide to choosing the right seed for your growing conditions.
3. Buy a pot, some soil and some nutrients, ideally organic. Take care of your soil, and the soil will in turn take care of your plant.
4. You can germinate your seeds indoors before you plant them. Wet two paper towels with water, place the seeds on them with plenty space between seeds, cover them with two more wet paper towels and cover with a plate to keep them in the dark. Leave them in a warm spot and they should sprout within 2-3 days.
5. Plant your sprouts and water them often enough to keep them moist, but with good drainage. The soil and South African sun will do the rest. An autoflowering strain will usually grow from seed to maturity within three months.
6. There are two ways to tell if your flowers are ready to be harvested, by looking at the anatomy of the plant.
Firstly, look at the pistils. These are the tiny hairs on the flower or bud of the plant. They start off white or yellow, and gradually darken in colour. When 75% of the pistils have turned brownish in colour, it’s a good indicator your harvest is ready.
Secondly, you can look at the trichomes. These are the sticky resins that coat the plant and contain terpenes and cannabinoids that determine the potency of your plant. When the plant is immature, the trichomes will be clear in colour. When they turn milky, your plant is increasing in THC level. When they begin to turn from milky to amber, it’s time to harvest. You may need a magnifying glass to see this detail as trichomes are very small.
7. Your cannabis plant is all grown up and ready to be harvested! Cut the plants at the stem and trim off all the big leaves, but let the small ones remain. Hang the cuttings upside down and let them dry for a week in a room with good ventilation. The small leaves contain moisture that will prevent the plant from drying out too fast.
8. After drying, you can clean off the smaller leaves and you should be left with just your beautiful bud. At this point, you could jump right in and give it a try. But if you’re patient, the quality of your homegrown could get even better.
9. Put the dried flowers into a glass jar for two months. Every day, open the lid to let a little bit moisture escape. After two months of curing, your produce will be at its peak.
10. Enjoy the fruits of your labour of love! You can store your weed in the glass jar as you burn through your supply. Alternatively, if you’re only going to consume it after a year, you could keep it fresh in the freezer just as you’d do with vegetables.
Zootly says: Yip, growing cannabis is legal for personal consumption in South Africa, but the court has not yet defined what amounts are acceptable – so don’t go too wild with the weed plantation in your backyard!