Here’s a controversial story. You might want to ask yourself why should drying and curing your favorite flower be controversial in any way, shape or form? After all, it’s just drying and curing. Well. as many great growers as there are out there, there are just as many opinions about how to dry and cure or whether curing is important at all! And there’s almost nothing in the nethersphere that scientifically shows what actually happens when you dry and cure.
You’re growing weed for the first time and your gorgeous plant that you raised from a teeny seed is reaching maturity. She’s flowering and those flowers are getting full and ripe. You’re looking forward to enjoying the ‘fruit’ of your garden, but you can’t consume just harvested flowers. Patience. It pays. I know from experience (and reading) that a lot of people who grow their own…or even grow for others…don’t understand how important the drying and subsequent curing are. Curing. Curing is everything. Everything. Drying is fine, at least you can smoke some chlorophyll tasting weed, but after a good cure, the aromas of the plant and its terpenes are evident and the smoke is smooth. Tobacco growers found out quickly that curing the leaves was a more important a part of the process than drying. So let’s do a short dive in to harvesting, drying and curing so make great pot.
When to harvest isn’t part of this article and you can find a lot of information, a lot of it conflicting, online and in many places. There’s evidence that an earlier harvest, although the buds might get 10% heavier, makes for a better buzz than a later harvest. I don’t understand why this might be, but it could have to do with the balance of all the THCs, CBDs, THCA, THCG, etc. etc. etc. that we still don’t know much about.
You’re plant is ready to be harvested…perhaps the scariest part of this whole process. Scary because your plant that you’ve put so much time into growing is now going to stop growing. It’s going to stop everything except giving you pleasure, which is the whole point, isn’t it? Whack that plant down. Some people like to use a big pruning clipper and just grab the plant, whack it and hang it upside down to dry. That’s it. You can take the smaller stems off, but pretty much you can leave the plant as is, if you like. You don’t have to take off the big plate leaves, but you can. The idea here is to get it drying.
Remember These Two Numbers 65 & 62
While the plant is drying and curing, there are two numbers you need to remember; 65 and 62. Dry the plant at about 65 degrees in an environment that has about 62% relative humidity. The humidity can be a little less, but the idea is not to dry the plant out too fast. You’ll know it’s dry after about a week because you’ll be able to bend the stems (not the giant middle stem, but the smaller stems. They should bend and then snap or crack when the drying process is complete. Once this is done, the hardest part (for me anyway) is coming. The cure. Not the rock band, but getting the aromatics to come to the fore along with getting the chlorophyll out of the dominant flavor in the plant. You want to be able to taste the terpenes and the THC.
Making the Cure
Curing is arguably the most important part of getting your plant’s buds ready to consume. Arguable because if the plant isn’t properly dried, it can’t be properly cured. Drying is what makes your plant ready to cure. Curing is what makes your weed more potent, pleasant to smoke and smell great. Many commercial growers don’t cure properly. Curing takes time, up to an additional six weeks. And this adds to production time, which slows the time to dollars coming in the door. Some growers just don’t have the time to cure properly as the demand for flower is too high. They need to get their product into the marketplace as quickly as possible. And…there are some who don’t think that curing adds anything to their product.
How to Cure – Basics
The curing environment is essentially the same as drying at 65 degrees and 62% or so humidity. Before you put your weed in a container, you need to trim the buds and trim all the little leaves from the buds. Now your pot is starting to look like pot and the flowers are starting to look like nugs.
There are many differences between drying and curing, but there is one important difference beyond the 65 & 62 rule. Light. The buds need to be kept in the dark. The nuances are You also need a container, preferably lightproof, but a glass jar is OK as long as it’s kept in a dark place. After you’ve trimmed your flower, it’s time to Curing is harder because you have to pay attention for the first week. The reason it’s hard is because you need to open the container two or three times a day during the first few days of curing. After about 5 days, you can open it only once a day. The concept here is to not let the buds get too moist, but to age gracefully, like wine.
The End Game (for this week)
There are many great reasons to pay attention to your cure. Taste and potency are the main reasons, but there are many others. I can tell in an instant (I think) if a bud has been cured properly or cured well. Like wine in a barrel before it’s put in a bottle, curing gives your bud an extra edge of goodness.
Next week in Part 2, I’ll write about what chemical changes happen during the cure…as much as we can find out since there’s truly a dearth of information about the changes in the chemical composition of the bud as it cures. It might be a short article, given there’s so little information about it.
Ladies and Gentlemen!!! In this corner, a plant that’s been reviled for the last 100 years, but still the heavyweight champeen of the world; CANNNABISSSSSSSSSS INDICA!!! And in the other corner, the other plant that’s been reviled for the last hundred years, lighter, but more agile; CANNNABISSSSSSSSSSSSS SATIVA!!!!! It’s Indica vs. Sativa! In today’s match Sativa will go head-to-head with it’s heavyweight brother, Indica!!!
These days, the whole Indica vs. Sativa feels like a wrestling match. All strains listed at our favorite dispensary as either Sativa, Indica or ‘hybrid’. What do these terms mean? Has cannabis become a victim of over breeding? Sativa or Indica are both meaningless terms. They refer to the same plant. Yes, there are visual and subtle genetic differences between the two species, but they don’t mean a lot other than the way they make you feel. Cannabis cultivators and breeders have been changing the genetics of cannabis for so long that the basis for separating indica vs. sativa have very little meaning.
What Are Strains Really?
There was a time that cannabis wasn’t divided between Indica and Sativa (or ruderalis for that matter). They were considered varieties of the same plant. Are they different plants? Since sativa or indica plants can be cross-bred, they are part of the same species, so even though they have different characteristics, both plants are from the species — officially: Cannabis Sativa.
Confused yet? Just wait! In the 1960s and 1970s, came the beginning of differentiation for breeding between Indica and Sativa.
The bricks of weed we used to get came from Mexico and then Columbia and Panama were, to the best of our knowledge, Sativa. Up in the Hindu Kush, in northern India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bhutan were Indica. In North America, our first exposure to Indica was usually through Nepalese hash types. Sometimes it came in long, dark brown ropes and was called Nepalese Finger Hash. I’m clueless as to what it really was. Nepal seemed way too far to bother bringing in a supply of hash, but apparently it wasn’t. The black market imported real hashish from Nepal or Lebanon or Morocco.
What’s Happened over the years?
Beginning in 1970s and really picking up steam in the 1980s, cannabis breeders began crossing different landrace plants. Landrace strains (the term applies for any plant or animal) are original regional strains that have been informally bred to be superior to other strains in the area. A farmer who was just taking seed from his plants for the next crop was just farming.
What have the breeders done?
Interestingly, cannabis breeding isn’t very old. Although cannabis farmers have been taking seeds from the best part of their crop and trying to make their crops better for centuries, but this isn’t cannabis breeding the way we see it now. The new wave of cannabis breeders probably started in the 1980s with roots back in the 1960s or 70s. Breeders started out with intellectual curiosity, as in; “What would happen if I crossed this plant with that plant?” It grew from there. The real question now is: What have these breeders done to the plant? What’s happened to landrace strains, the original strains of cannabis without a lot of outside genetic manipulation? Are they still truly landrace? Do they still exist in today’s commercial cannabis market?
Do we even need landrace strains? I’d say yes, unequivocally we need to keep historic landrace strains. Other crops have seedbanks to preserve their genetic heritage, but not cannabis. Given the reproductive vigor of cannabis, can we keep some of the original strains pure or as ‘pure’ as they ever were? One of the reasons that hybrid strains have been developed in the first place is that, even during the darkest days of cannabis prohibition, seeds are easy to transport around the world.
Botanical Differences – Genus and Species
The genetic composition of Indica vs. Sativa are 99.9% the same. They are essentially the same plant with subtle genetic differences that, for our purposes, make all the difference in the world. Just like apples (and we’re comparing apples to apples here;-) Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples are the same are the same genus and species, but taste completely different. Here’s a better definition than I can write as the whole genus and species thing can take you down a rabbit hole. But if you’re interested… In the world of wine, there are hybrid grapes that are crosses between vitus vinifera and vitus labrusca (think Welch’s grape juice). They might make palatable wines,
The bottom line for genus and species is that when everything else is the same, then species doesn’t matter. Other than if you crossed that Honeycrisp with the Golden Delicious, you’d come up with a different apple. How does that apply to our favorite plant? Well, these ‘hybrids’ that are all over the place are simply a cross between two species. They’re not really ‘hybrid’ per se, but they’re a completely new species. Here’s the Wikipedia article on Honeycrisp if you really want to know.
Other than species, there’s really no difference between Indica and Sativa. So what’s the big deal? The differences are subtle. Sativa is considered to have a better mental high, meaning it energizes you and gives you lots of nice thoughts (euphoria) and gives you both the mental and physical energy to get things done. Indica might give you some euphoria, but generally it just made your body feel relaxed. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those descriptions, breeders have tried to combine them. That’s why there are so many hybrids currently in the marketplace.
This is wrong, at least in part. Breeders should be focusing on either enhancing sativa or indica, rather than trying to come up with a mule…which is a cross between a horse and a donkey. Specifically a female horse and a male mule. In the wine world, hybrids abound. They’re a cross between vitus vinifra (wine grapes) and vitus labrusca (think Welch’s Grape Juice). The wines they make mostly suck. Hybrids, like seyval blanc can make decent tasting wine, but never great wine. They are neither nor; As in neither wine grapes, nor grapes that are appropriate for grape juice or grape jelly.
Why do cannabis breeders continue to do this? Mostly, I believe, it’s because they can. Their intellectual curiosity has overcome what’s right for the cannabis plant and it’s genome. What’s happened over the last few decades is dispensaries have become hawkers of cannabis. By and large, dispensaries really don’t care what the buds are in their jars. They care about what sells. I can’t blame them because they’re retailers. The ‘hybrids’ which can be good on their own, still miss the mark on varietal purity. Is this important? Probably not in the long run, but we should take stock of what we’re actually purchasing.
Part 2: Indica vs. Sativa in Today’s Marketplace
Part 2 of the ongoing saga of Indica vs. Sativa will take stock of what the stocks around the country contain. Are they claiming indica? Or Sativa? Or “hybrid”? What’s actually being sold in the legal marketplace? That’s a question which we’d all like to know answers. Next week, we’ll look at some answers along with some revelations of cannabis vs. sativa and what it all means to us.
I’ve been working on a story about how we’re over-breeding cannabis and we’re about to lose the best things about the plant. It’s kind of sad that there are so many cultivars of cannabis and we seem to be losing our genetic way with the plant. We might be extinguishing the plants genetics through over cross breeding.
It seems to me that when I read a label in a legal state that there is “x” amount of THC, but no CBD, THCA, etc. in the plant that we’ve bred for pure THC power and not the subtlety of what the plant can do. Cannabis commerce might lead to the death of cannabis as we know it through overzealous breeding.
Here’s an article about just that (and I’m going to incorporate this into my story) about a breeder/consultant who can see what’s happening.
A very important story if you’re growing your own. Botrytis is a fungus that works great in the wine business … sometimes … but can totally ruin your cannabis harvest. There are ways to spot it and eliminate it from your plants without the use of chemicals. Read on, dear reader, read on.
[Canniseur: If you’ve decided to grow your own, you’ll need seeds. Those plants don’t grow out of thin air. Besides the strain you’re buying, there really is a lot to know about where your seeds are sourced and how they were made. Here’s a good place to start.]
When doing research on how to order cannabis seeds, there are a number of ways to go about this. Most people prefer to order the seeds online since it is relatively easy and convenient. There are countries where growing cannabis is legal and seeds can often be purchased from growshops and dispensaries. This, however, isn’t the case everywhere. One can still buy cannabis seeds online or from seed banks and have them shipped from overseas safely.
Benefits of ordering online
If you haven’t ordered cannabis seeds before, you may have some reservations about ordering online, especially if you live in a country where many cannabis-related products are frowned upon. You may wonder, is ordering online really the safest option?
We are here to reassure you that buying online is discreet and safe, even in instances where cannabis seeds may not be allowed. We have a few pointers for you to ensure you get your cannabis seeds safely.
It is important to use the following guide to safely order cannabis seeds;
Discretion starts with you – when it comes to ordering cannabis seeds, it’s important to remember that keeping this information private starts with you. Be sure to keep this information to yourself and avoid sharing this with anyone, both online and offline. Secrecy starts with you and the less people know about it, the better.
Find out the cannabis laws where you live – each country has different laws surrounding the importation or use of cannabis, so it is important to find out what the law says regarding cannabis. For instance, in the Netherlands, one is allowed to have small quantities of cannabis seeds for sale. So, it’s important to find out whether individuals are allowed to possess cannabis seeds and whether germination of the seeds is allowed. It’s important to find out all you can about the regulations in place when it comes to importing cannabis seeds in your country before taking the next steps.
Do your research and find a reputable seed company to make your purchase from – choosing the ideal source to buy seeds from isn’t as difficult as one might presume. Some of the best companies hail from the Netherlands, Canada and the UK. Amsterdam is one of the top sources for quality seeds, and there is a wide range of information available on all cannabis-related matters. Be sure to look out for a reputable seed bank with a long-standing service record.
Start small – when making your first order, don’t go crazy spending thousands of euros on seeds. Start small, and then you can increase your order and the amount you spend over time. This way, you’ll find out whether the company has the quality of seeds you’re looking for, and you will have an idea of how much time it takes to deliver the seeds. And you can be sure the company you’re ordering from is legit.
Payments are safe and discreet – when it comes to making online payments, these days it is quite safe and there are measures in place to ensure your information is secure and discrete. You can make payments via credit card or you can choose a third-party processor, which also has its advantages. It’s important to note that most seed banks receive payment without your credit card details for your discretion and customer data is destroyed after payment by the payment processor, which makes it even more discrete. Most reputable seed banks will leave out cannabis-related descriptions in your bank statement. However, if you are still worried about using your personal credit card, you have a number of options, such as use of bitcoin, bank transfers and cash where possible.
Use business details instead – If you’re not comfortable sharing your personal information, you can get a business credit card and have a business address for all your online deliveries and purchases. This lets you get your package delivered with minimum risk.
Order in batches – with multiple orders or when ordering different seeds, be sure to divide your order by placing small orders, ordering at different times and also using different suppliers to avoid placing all your eggs in one basket and incurring a heavy loss by making a big order with one supplier.
Use abbreviations, a nickname or initials when making your purchase – for further security measures, most people prefer to not use their full name when making an order to avoid being associated with marijuana. You can use an abbreviation or just your initials when sharing your name. Keep in mind some postmen know who lives at a certain address so it would be a good idea to use your initials on the address if you are using your home address. Alternatively, don’t ship to an address where you don’t want the address tied to you or your activities.
Make use of a post office address and use an alternate email address – a high number of seed banks can deliver to a PO box address so that you can pick it up at your own discretion to prevent you from having to sign for it at your doorstep. It’s also a good idea to create an alternative email address that does not have your name for added privacy. Never use a business email address.
Use a shipping option that doesn’t require a signature – there are options that allow you to not share a signature upon arrival of your package. Most Track and Trace parcels require a signature once your parcel arrives. While there are some disadvantages of this, it might offer more discretion. But, it will be much harder to track your parcel or even trace it in the event it gets misplaced or lost.
Give it time – since most seeds are shipped from abroad, it’s important to give it time to arrive. It could take from 7 to 12 days depending on where it comes from. In other cases, it might even take 15 days or more to arrive so it’s important to be patient and not panic if it takes slightly longer than expected. Your package will arrive in due time.
Ordering cannabis seeds online these days can be done safely and discreetly. Be sure to follow the steps above to protect yourself and ensure the highest level of discretion.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to reflect the specific views of the publication.
[Canniseur: Wherever it’s legal (or not) a whole lot of us are staying at home these days of COVID-19. Since you’re home, may as well plant your favorite plant and make some grow your own action! The quality of homegrown can frequently be way better than store bought weed too. Here’s some help and good advice on getting your garden going.]
Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re at home with a lot more time on your hands, no real travel plans in sight, some uncertainty in the air. Perhaps you’re itching to spend more time outdoors in your garden, partaking in activities that ground you in the soil, add beauty and reward you with a harvest. I can think of no better a crop to include in your garden this year than weed. Forget what you’ve ever heard about growing the plant or any of the culture surrounding it. Forget what you smoked in high school. Forget it all. In my new book, “Growing Weed in the Garden: A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation,” I treat it as what it is — a plant that grows beautifully outside.
1. Choose a site
Weed is a quick-growing summer annual. If you’ve got an existing veggie bed, put it there. If not, you want full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight a day), well-amended soil and access to water (drip is ideal). A container works fine, too. The bigger the better. Fifteen gallons is great, and drainage is a must.
2. Get a plant
Dispensaries are the only legal spot to score seeds and clones (what gardeners might otherwise call vegetative cuttings). It’s getting late in the season to start from seed. If you do, opt for an auto-flowering cultivar that ripens quicker. Don’t sweat your selection — choose based on what name or smell you like. All that information about what it will do to you? Entirely subjective.
Johanna Silver, author of “Growing Weed in the Garden,” prunes a pot plant.
Photo: Rachel Weill / Abrams
3. Grow that baby!
Plant your weed with plenty of compost and watch it grow. Water anytime the soil is dry down to about ½ inch. Some simple trellising — like a tomato cage — will help the plant support its weight as it grows and eventually forms heavy flowers. You’ll want to prune it gently, at least topping it (snipping at the terminal bud) when there’s three to five sets of leaves.
4. Watch for flowers
Forming in the armpits of the branches, small flowers start to appear sometime after summer solstice (sooner if you’ve opted for an auto-flower). Verify that all your plants are females (a successful harvest is comprised of unpollinated female flowers) by checking out the flower. If you see tiny hairs — females. Round balls — males.
5. Harvest time
Depending on the cultivar, your flowers are ready to snip in September or October. Flowers are ripe when half the stigmas (those hair-like strands sticking out from the buds) are amber and half are still white. You can also pinch the flowers. If they’re spongy, it’s best to wait. If they’re firm, it’s time. Snip branches to hang upside down. Smaller buds can be placed on a mesh screen. You can trim your weed (removing excess leaves) now or after they’re dry. Totally your preference. Experiment with both.
[Canniseur: It’s springtime and time to plant all our seeds; lettuce, peas, pot…yop. And this year, amid all the social distancing, it’s time to think about your crop that will make you happy after you’re well fed. Time to up your cannabis growing game!]
There’s a lot to consider before making the decision to create and sustain a cannabis garden. Cultivators can never know too much about growing cannabis, so being educated about the process and diligent about the health of the crop will make a world of difference.
We’ve collected some articles designed to help you prepare your home garden for spring. Happy planting!