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For a video introduction into growing cannabis go to Stoned Free for an indoor and outdoor video giving you the steps to get you on your way.
Africa. Our home. We are blessed to live where we do. Our climate and the blazing African sun has allowed the residents of our country to successfully cultivate ganja for centuries if not millennia. The species of cannabis local to our country is Cannabis Sativa, the taller growing, slower flowering variety, it provides a racy cerebral high that when grown correctly is accompanied by a full body stone.
Our local varieties are rich in THC, but also contain many other cannabinoid compounds that contribute to the uniqueness of South African herb.
Although ganja has been an inherent part of our culture for many, many years in the last century, despite the multiple uses of both the hemp and drug variety of cannabis, it was outlawed.In a manner similar to the alcohol prohibition of the early 20th century, despite the law people continued to enjoy marijuana and an underground sub-culture began to grow. As a leader in the fight against marijuana, the USA designed a propaganda campaign called "Reefer Madness", to educate the population on the so called dangers of marijuana. The ideas portrayed in these brief television clips are now days obviously so ridiculously ludacris that they are almost comical.
I hope that in 30 years we will be able to look back in a similar manner on the anti-cannabis laws of today and laugh about it over a legal spliff and cup of tea.
The current legality situation leaves open two primary options of the avid ganja smoker as to where to acquire his stash:
He can become involved in the black market and purchase ganja from friends, dedicated dealers or anybody he can find on the street, the list includes street hustlers, hard drug dealers, rasta's or even friendly aged hippies.
Or he can grow his own, which is the option we're going to focus on, here are a few primary rules before we start.
- Tell nobody, the fact remains that it is illegal and you never know who you can trust until its broken.
- Don't grow on somebody else's property without their permission, they are the one's who will ultimately face the consequences if something goes wrong.
- Find a sunny spot in your garden safe from children, neighbours and pets.
- Be prepared to dedicate a little time to your plant/s, they will reward you in the end.
If you've checked out the primary rules and think you're in the clear, its time to go ahead and get started on growing your own homegrown!
The first step to growing ones own ganja is acquiring seeds, seeds you find in good herb should grow well, or if you have a friend who grows ask him/her for a seed.
The next step is checking that the soil in your chosen spot is suitable for ganja, lots of root space is very useful so dig a deep hole if you're up to it, then refill it with some additional goodness and the original soil, taking into account that:
It should be nicely aerated and drained well, whilst still retaining enough moisture for the plant to grow healthily. Perlite or beach sand can be added to increase drainage, and if your soil is too dry cocopete is a good solution. Adding a little good potting soil never hurt anyone and provides a good way of bulking up your medium (soil).
Your soil should not be acidic or alkaline, a ph of 5-6 will keep ganja happy and thriving, dolomite lime mixed into the soil and added sparingly once a month will take care of this aspect of things. The medium should be rich in nutrients, but at the same time not too heavily composted as seedlings can be sensitive. Homemade compost, worm-castings or even a light nitrogen rich compost from your local nursery are all good examples of what to add.
Micro-elements, beneficial fungi and bacteria all also play an essential role in the more advanced aspects of growing ganja, talk to your local nursery's trained horticulturalist or grow shop about these! Once your soil is mixed, give it good water once a day for a few days before you plant, just to make sure all the elements of the mixture have combined thoroughly.
Once you have you soil ready, you need to sprout your seeds. Just pop them into the moist soil, 2-4cm down and cover them gently without compressing the soil too hard. Keep the topsoil moist until they have sprouted, cannabis seeds can take any where from a matter of hours to a few weeks to pop up, so don't give up hope too early.
If your seeds sprout, you are in for a world of fun, many find growing ganja far more addictive than smoking it! There are three major growth phases, the seedling stage, the vegetative stage and the flowering stage, with the plants requiring slightly different treatment for each phase.
During the seedling stage you will need to water them every day or two if your soil mixture is draining nice and quickly, but be careful not to overdo it as over-watering is a common problem.
As they grow larger they will begin to drink more water and dry the soil out faster, but can also survive the dry periods a lot better than seedlings so it all balances out. If you have correctly composted your soil they will not need to be fed any additional nutrients during this phase.
During the vegetative stage is when plants do most of their growing. Often the addition of a liquid/powdered plant food to one or two of the watering each week can increase growth and help avoid deficiencies. I would recommend starting with half the suggested dose, as some strains (types) of cannabis are sensitive to nutrients and burn easily, if this does not occur the strength of the solution can be increased when necessary.
The leaves will enjoy the occasional drenching, but not every time you water. Watch out for pests like aphids and spider mites, if an infestation is found organic insecticides can be applied.
The flowering stage is the most exciting!
The most important step is determining whether your plant is a female (Grows long, thin pistil hairs), the desirable option and by far more pleasant to smoke in every aspect or male (Grows round pollen sacs), much less rich in the psychoactive compounds that provide the sought after effects of cannabis as we know it. They are of little use other then for making seeds.
Males should be removed from the growing area and culled before they reach maturity; otherwise you run the risk of your crop being rife with seeds leading to a decided decrease in potency and pleasant flavors. Insecticides are not safe to use on flowering marijuana. A different feed will be required for this phase. During flowering plants need less nitrogen and more potassium and phosphorous, your local nursery or grow shop should be able to help you select the correct one. During the final 2 weeks of flowering the plant should be fed only pure water (with the addition of a little blackstrap molasses if available), flushing out any nutrients that might have built up in the plant and improving the flavor.
Make sure not to wet the buds when watering as this can lead to molds or mildews, rendering the end product unsafe to smoke. Cannabis flowers can mature anytime between 5 weeks to 4 months of flowering, on average 8-10 weeks. The basic method of judging how ready a plant is by the pistil hairs, as this phase progresses the pistils will gradually change from their initial white color to orange and eventually red, when they are 75-85% red/orange most would consider it an acceptable time to harvest.
Harvesting can be quite a laborious process, the buds need to be removed from the major stalk, the leaves must be trimmed and then the remaining flowers hung up to dry in a dark well aerated cupboard for a week or two. When it is dry and ready to smoke the stems will crack and snap rather than bend. Cannabis is best stored in airtight glass jars away from bright light where it will cure.
Curing is a process whereby the correct storage in combination with the aging of cannabis causes a break down of chlorophyll over time, leading to a smoother smoke with a more pronounced flavor. The jars will need to be aired every few days at the beginning, decreasing to once every week or two as curing progresses.
In conclusion, with effort and determination one can easily become self sufficient in ones smoking habits, and to me this seem to be a far superior option to paying over-inflated prices for the questionable product that exists in today's market. Smoking your own homegrown is a wonderful feeling indeed! Spring is coming up folks, take a walk around you garden and get planting!!!
Written by Mildestoner
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