Adults in most provinces will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use after legalization on Oct. 17.
Grow expert Tom Ulanowski, president of Nextleaf Labs in Coquitlam, says the process isn’t too difficult and Canadians have plenty of good reasons to give it a try.
“It’s a lot cheaper than buying from a store or LP (federally licensed producer), especially if your grow is low-tech or if you choose to grow outdoors,” said Ulanowski, a chemist and former quality-assurance manager at Canna Farms.
“You have total control and know exactly what your inputs are. And gardening can be fun and therapeutic, as well.”
Once a grower has their gear and has legally acquired seeds or seedlings (the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will sell seeds in B.C.), here’s how Ulanowski recommends they put them to good use.
Fold a piece of paper towel twice into a pocket, place four seeds inside and dampen it with water. Sea
l the pocket inside a ziploc bag and put it in a warm place. After about a week, the seeds will open and plant tissue will show.
PLANT AND TRANSPLANT
Carefully take the four seeds and put them in peat pellets or small pots with damp peat-perlite mix or coco coir, about 2.5 to five centimetres deep. Set an 18-hours on light cycle, with the six hours off at night. Stalks will emerge in a week or two, and nutrients and water can be added. Vegetative growth will continue for a month or two, at which point the plants should be transplanted to larger pots. Trim away larger leaves.
FLIP AND FLOWER
Once the plants reach between 30 and 60 centimetres tall, give them a 12-hour light cycle. They’ll start flowering and reach maturity within eight to 10 weeks, depending on seed variety. Trim leaves two or three times during flowering. Once the plants mature and their trichomes (hairlike glands) turn cloudy, it’s time to harvest their buds
HARVEST, DRY AND TRIM
Cut off the larger branches and hang them upside down in a dark environment with about 50 per cent relative humidity and 20 C for a week or two. The drying process is done when smaller stems snap, not bend. Trim off leaves and remove dried buds. Put them into a mason jar with a special humidity-control pack. Keep the jar in a dark, cool place like a cupboard, opening the lid to “burp” the buds every few days. After a week or two they’re ready to consume.
Ulanowski said it’s crucial home-growers keep safety and cleanliness in mind. They should abide by dried cannabis possession limits in their province (1,000 grams at home in B.C.) and make sure their landlord or strata council allows home grows.
“Stay away from pesticides, if possible, and instead rely on sanitation, environmental controls, and beneficial insects to control pests and disease,” he said. “Be discrete for obvious reasons. For example, B.C. laws require you to hide your plant — it can’t be in public view.”
For more details about growing, Ulanowski recommends The Cannabis Grow Bible: The Definitive Guide to Growing Marijuana for Recreational and Medicinal Use.