Gardening: Cannabis in 7 steps

[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.

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.

– This article originally appeared in the San Franciso Chronicle.

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