From seed to weed: What does it take for your green to grow?

Few people who are picking up veggies in the grocery store give much thought to how long it takes food to get from farm to shelf. And in the same way, while it takes just moments to purchase marijuana at a dispensary, it can take nearly seven weeks to grow a harvestable plant from seed. The first decision is choosing which strain of marijuana to grow – indica, sativa or a hybrid of the two. Indicas tend to be more relaxing, while sativas are more stimulating. Marijuana aficionados often cultivate hybrids for the specific flavor, scent and effect they’re going for. Oftentimes, seeds are then germinated in warm water and stored in a dark place for up to 72 hours, or until the root pops out. The seed is then planted in a starter pot with unfertilized soil that’s watered and well aerated. This will be the plant’s home for approximately two weeks, and it requires light, a fan to provide fresh air, and optimal temperature. The source of light is vital to a healthy plant, and it may be sunlight, if the plant is grown in a greenhouse or outdoors, or it could be an artificial source of light, like a high-pressure sodium bulb, if the plant is being grown indoors. (Although some growers add chemical fertilizer at this stage, higher-end plants are grown organically for both health reasons and for a better flavor.) Getting the dirt on pot After a couple of weeks, the plant is then transplanted to a larger pot, which is filled with peat moss and potting soil. High-quality plants include better combinations of organic soil, including worm castings and other items, as well as small amounts of fertilizer. This plant is watered and given adequate light and is kept at temperatures near 67 degrees. As soon as the plants start flowering, male plants are removed so they don’t pollinate the female plants, which would cause the female plants to produce seeds instead of buds. Then, just two to four months later, the plant is ready for harvesting. One alternative to soil that is growing in popularity is hydroponics. With hydroponics, plants are usually grown in rock wool until the seedlings sprout, and then transferred to coco coir or another planting medium. The hydroponics approach allows for faster plant growth, usually saving around two weeks, but requires a larger up-front investment, more expertise and very close attention to details. Water temperatures, nutrients and the alkalinity of the nutrient solution are monitored throughout the day, and aeroponic systems provide an ongoing mist of nutrient solution. Some growers even use grow bulbs rotating around the plants for their source of light. Hydroponics is an advanced technique for experienced growers who are skilled in changing the amount or type of nutrients for a desired outcome: vigorous growth, an increased yield and efficient growth.