When I use to work in the hydro shop I met all sorts of people that were interested in growing and wanted to dip their toes into the proverbial reservoir. With the budding interest in home cultivation now that it’s legal, especially with summer here and legal distribution an utter fiasco in Ontario, I couldn’t think of a better time for someone to jump in. For those still on the fence I thought I’d go through some of the reasons different people may be motivated to grow their own. Maybe it’ll be the nudge you need to become self-reliant by growing your own this summer.
Who Should Grow?
We’ll start with the easiest one and get it out of the way; medical patients. With most patients needing larger amounts of clean and affordable medicine, sadly growing your own is the only option. While the initial cost can be daunting, it quickly pays off after a couple crops come in and you no longer need to rely on markets charging a premium for essentially a weed. The peace of mind of having a constant supply is almost as comforting as a good toke, well, maybe not almost…
Next off but along the same vein are the cannabiseurs out there. If you’re searching for the ultimate toke or niche products like sativa’s grown in a living soil with pesticide free techniques there’s nothing like growing your own and skipping the marketing/middle man. Hopefully sooner then later “farm to pipe/bong/vape” is a thing but unfortunately not now. More to the point it’s hard for any commercially traded goods to match the quality of lovingly produced homegrown. Every time a bud is passed around, split into smaller bags or generally handled you’re losing those precious trichomes we covet. Homegrown nugs that’s dried, cured and then packed away generally will have a lot more heads still attached when viewed under a scope. Learning to properly dry and cure those lovely flowers is definitely a learning curve but like everything isn’t too hard if you apply yourself and have some solid advice to rely on.
Any gardeners out there are probably feeling the allure of growing a new, exotic (at this point) plant. Whether it’s adding some to your outside beds or possibly being the push you need to start a little indoor garden so you can over winter that special pepper that flowers a bit too slowly, gardeners are always looking for an excuse to expand. I don’t need to explain the satisfaction of lovingly caring for a plant for months, tending their every need as you watch them develop and mature. Culminating in that glorious moment of carnal destruction as we harvest and devour our veggies or in this case incinerate that bud. I did want to suggest the potential of growing it as an ornamental purely for decoration, which I imagine will be a future trend when people realise the relative ease of growing them if you never intend to flower them. Keep in mind we’re talking about a literal weed, an invasive colonising plant that wants to grow anywhere. It’s when we try to flower for maximum flavour and potency that it starts getting harder.
Up until this point there’s a fairly direct and obvious relationship but let’s start thinking a bit farther outside the box. If you’re an avid DIY’er and love a good challenge then growing is right up your alley. While there’s plenty of ready made options for getting set up, there’s a long tradition of growers not only building but having to conceive and design what they need because of prohibition. Whether it’s simply like building your own tents, tables and peripherals or you dive fully in and build an entire hydro system from scratch to fit your needs and budget; the only limit is your creativity and drive. Even in an established system there’s alway room to play; trying to milk those last couple grams/watt or improving the ergonomics just a sliver more.
Is collecting hobbies a hobby for you? Over the years have you: learned to bake your own bread, developed your own film that you shot on a lo-fi camera you made, mastered brewing your own personalised beer and developed the perfect technique for that morning cuppa joe? If that’s the case this is definitely the next one you should add to the list, especially as you’d be surprised how many of those other hobbies tie in. Fermentation, photography, woodworking and programming are all easily applicable just off the top of my head but with a bit of imagination I’m sure you could add another dozen to the list.
Worried about the enviro or social impacts of that marvelous mota you’re toking? Are you vegan and worried about animal products being used in it’s production? Maybe you’re more concerned about the land use or run off and it’s impacts on local ecosystems? There’s a whole world of sustainable or vegan growing methods (often both) that will give you peace of mind knowing you’re not paying into a system that offends you. Not to mention it opens another avenue to preach about your values and lead by showing people a different way to live. Get your activism on while saving money and improving quality at the same time, what’s not to love?
I’ll end on the most esoteric end of the spectrum, the spiritualists out there. For those saying a blessing over their bowls and soaring the astrals planes in their free time; there’s nothing as sublime as that first taste of something you grew and had a personal connection with. The first crop I grew indoors wasn’t anything special and was objectively mediocre at best as I chose Purple Star to grow in a snap decision as the seeds I wanted (Afghan #1) were out of stock. Regardless I still remember that first bowl fondly, sitting in a circle on the floor with some of my closer friends (as a true hippy in my formative years I didn’t have chairs, choosing instead a thick persian rug and pillows) and feeling that calm, mellow high wash over us. With the easy availability of quality genetics and abundant help (although sometimes confusing) it’s not hard to do much better then my sad but beautiful beginning.
Who Shouldn’t Grow?
So at this point I’ve been a pretty solid fanboy and have painted a pretty rosy picture. It’d be a disservice if we didn’t talk about the flip side though. Realistically there’s a lot of people that shouldn’t grow and it’s not a smart investment. There was always a lot of people that’d return a month or two after buying all their gear asking about refunds, usually the same people that didn’t want to invest in reading a book before investing a thousand plus in gear. So, assuming you fit one of the earlier categories which is why you’re still reading, let’s go over some of the reasons why you may not want to jump in without more consideration.
Dirty grow rooms produce dirty bud. If you’re a student renting a room and the place has infrequent (if any) cleaning then it may not be a good fit. Unless you’re willing to maintain a clean environment then it’s a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t have to be antiseptic or lab level sterilisation but a clean home is a basic foundation to build from.
Going hand in hand with that are people who struggle with being disciplined and maintaining a schedule. Depending on how the grow is set up there will be a greater or lesser commitment needed to maintain it. If you aren’t there regularly enough to meet those needs you’re going to have problems and your plants aren’t going to be happy. Unhappy plants don’t produce much, if anything. Again, you don’t need to be tied to your grow like a ball and chain but think of it like a pet; they do best with regular care and attention.
As a beginner you’ll have a very hard time if you aren’t motivated for whatever reason. Despite all the support and help available out there, the gardens success or failure usually comes down to the gardeners motivation and dedication to it. You don’t need to be there every hour checking on things but the more you’re reading, the more you’re considering different peoples opinions (always keep in mind it’s usually more opinion than fact), the more you’re actively learning; the more your plants will repay that quality of life in kind (buds) come harvest.
The biggest recipe for disaster comes when the motivation is purely greed. That’s when a lot of corners are cut, short cuts are attempted and people throw money down a bottomless pit until they give up in frustration. Especially now with the market in a massive transition, assuming we follow what’s happened in States which have legalised; those profits are going to dry up fairly quick and this is a bad time to try to get into the game. While there are short term gains, if you aren’t already on the board and making moves, chances are you’re going to have a hard time getting in now. At this point learning to grow is more about self empowerment and breaking free of having to support either a legal/illegal market that’s charging a premium based on the lingering effects of prohibition. Until the price and quality are reflected fairly by true market value based on supply and demand; growing your own is the only way to achieve both.
So, in summary, if you’re the stereotypical “stoner” evoked in all the negative propaganda then growing isn’t for you. I won’t deny that there are a lot of them out there but the majority of successful growers I know don’t fit that profile at all. They’re incredibly passionate, spending hours after working normal jobs taking care of their gardens. They struggle with learning to balance the needs of their gardens on top of the needs of the family/friends/work. They’re driven to put the extra hours in come harvest time to get things trimmed and jarred based on the flowers needs, regardless of any chaos in their peripheral life. They have to be thinking weeks, if not months, in the future to keep the rooms full and productive. They defer any gratification they get from popping those seed for months, waiting patiently for it to be ready to harvest. If you expect it to be as simple as tossing money at it and ignoring it until you harvest those imaginary giant buds glistening with crystal, you’re probably better off spending that money finding a good supply. If on the other hand you have more realistic expectations going in, take the time to do some research and look into the available options, chances are it’ll not only be a satisfying experience but it’ll also improve your quality of life. Well, at least the quality of your Pot Star life…
Jacques Fortin