After completing the four preparation steps for an organic cannabis cultivation, we will move on to the cultivation process itself. Organic cannabis cultivation can be divided into four stages: germination, vegetative stage, flowering srage, and harvesting. Here's a detailed guide for each stage:
Step 5: Germination
Germinating cannabis seeds is not always easy, especially for beginners. However, if you follow this guide closely, your germination success rate should be close to perfect. There are various methods to germinate cannabis seeds, such as soaking seeds overnight in water, using damp paper towels, direct soil planting, and more. But from our experience, these methods require skills and experience. Therefore, we recommend beginners use seedling plugs or starter cubes. These plugs are made from coconut coir or dry peat moss compressed into cubes that expand when watered. They maintain proper moisture and high humidity, creating the perfect environment for seed germination. Using seedling plugs makes the process simple, and you won't have to adjust and experiment as you would with other methods, saving you time and money.
To germinate with seedling plugs, start by soaking them in water. Prepare a small container and place the plugs you need into it. After about 10 minutes, the plugs will expand to their maximum size. Next, bury the plugs in the prepared soil, leaving the tops slightly exposed. Then, create a shallow hole about 1-2 cm deep on top of each plug and place your cannabis seeds inside. Gently cover the seeds with coconut coir or dry peat moss and avoid compressing the material over the seeds to ensure good air circulation. Finally, water the soil lightly, giving about 1 liter of water for a 20-liter pot. Water around the plug, avoiding direct watering onto it. Within 3-7 days, you should see a small seedling emerging from the plug.
Note: Cannabis seeds and young plants are prone to overwatering, so during this stage, you only need to water once right after germination. The plugs will continue to absorb moisture from the surrounding soil to maintain proper humidity for the seeds. Some growers have the habit of germinating seeds in small pots and then transplanting them into larger pots to avoid overwatering. However, we recommend using larger pots from the beginning to avoid damaging the roots when transplanting. Only water your plants once you see signs of wilting to prevent overwatering. In fact, you may not need to water your plants for the first month because organic soil retains moisture well, and the roots will continuously grow and seek water within the soil.
Step 6: Vegetative Stage
The vegetative stage is when cannabis plants receive more than 12 hours of light per day, typically around 18/6 (18 hours of light, 6 hours of darkness) in indoor setups. During this stage, plants focus on developing branches and leaves. It's also the best time for recovery from any stress or damage, making it suitable for techniques like training and pruning. The vegetative stage lasts from germination until you switch to a 12/12 light cycle, which triggers the flowering stage.
In indoor cultivation, you can choose how long you want to keep your plants in the vegetative stage, typically between 1-3 months, depending on your training techniques. Longer vegetative periods can result in larger yields, but you can also achieve high yields by cultivating multiple cycles successively instead of extending a single cycle too much. The optimal duration for the vegetative stage is usually around 1-3 months.
During the first month, you may notice slow growth, but from the second month onwards, you'll witness significant changes in plant growth with thicker stems, increased branching, and more leaves. At this point, you can start training your plants to optimize light exposure. We'll cover training techniques in another article, but beginners can let their plants grow naturally without much intervention.
Cannabis plants indeed tend to undergo rapid growth during the flowering stage, and some strains can double or even triple in size during this phase. It's essential to consider this growth potential when cultivating cannabis indoors, especially in limited spaces like grow tents.
For example, with a typical-sized grow tent (60x60x140 cm),the vegetative growth period to around 1-2 months, depending on your training techniques, or until the plant reaches a height of approximately 30 cm. Then, you can switch the light cycle to 12/12 to induce the flowering stage.
By limiting the vegetative stage, you can control the size of the plant and ensure it doesn't outgrow your grow space. Managing the height and shape of your cannabis plants is crucial for indoor cultivation, as it helps maximize light distribution and airflow, leading to healthier and more productive plants.
It's also worth noting that some cannabis strains naturally have a compact and bushy growth pattern, making them more suitable for smaller indoor spaces. Choosing the right strain for your specific grow environment is another important factor to consider when planning your cannabis cultivation.
Step 7: Flowering stage
Alice Seeds Purple Kush V3 - Feminized
The flowering stage is the most critical phase in the cannabis plant's life cycle and requires careful attention. Each cannabis strain has its unique flowering time, typically ranging from 8 to 12 weeks, depending on genetics. The flowering time is determined by the plant's genes, not the grower, so there's little room for adjustment once flowering begins. It's crucial to avoid any stress or issues during this stage, such as broken branches, overwatering, wilting, pests, diseases, etc.
During the initial 2-4 weeks of the flowering stage, you'll witness a remarkable growth rate. New layers of leaves continuously develop, the plant's height increases daily, and the root system rapidly expands throughout the growing medium. At this stage, cannabis plants require a significant amount of nutrients. If you're using an organic soil mix, it should already provide the necessary nutrients for the plant. However, you should ensure regular watering, as the plant's water consumption increases significantly during this period. Additionally, pay attention to adjusting the height of your grow light to maintain the appropriate distance between the light source and the plant canopy.
In the following weeks, the plant will develop its flower buds, which are the most anticipated part of the cannabis growth cycle. Initially, you'll notice white hairs, also known as pistils, emerging all over the plant, especially on the branches. The base of these white hairs is where the calyxes, the female reproductive structures, are located. Over time, the calyxes will swell and merge, forming the familiar resinous buds. These buds will gradually become denser and harder, and at the same time, the white hairs will change color and eventually disappear. This transformation is a sign that the harvest is approaching, and you should prepare for the next phase of the cultivation process.
Monitoring and providing the necessary care during the flowering stage are crucial for achieving a successful and high-quality cannabis harvest.
Step 8: Harvest
Harvesting cannabis is a critical and exciting phase in the cultivation process. While seed banks provide estimates for the flowering period, it's important to note that the exact harvest time can vary, even among plants of the same strain. To determine the ideal harvest time, you should rely on the color of the trichomes on the buds.
To use this method, you'll need a handheld magnifying glass with a magnification of 40-60x. When examining the flower buds with the magnifying glass, you'll see thousands of tiny resin glands that resemble mushroom-shaped structures. These glands store essential compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes. The color of these resin glands helps you determine the maturity of the flower buds.
Here's what to look for when examining the trichomes:
Clear trichomes (transparent or slightly milky): At this stage, the THC content is relatively low, and the buds will produce a mild, less potent effect. Harvesting at this point is not ideal.
Milky trichomes (cloudy or creamy): This is the ideal time for most growers to harvest. The buds will produce a balanced high with good potency and flavor. Many growers prefer this stage for harvesting.
Amber trichomes (yellowish or amber): If you prefer a more relaxing and sedative effect, you can wait until a significant portion of the trichomes turns amber. This indicates that THC is degrading into CBN, which has a more calming effect.
Over time, trichomes will transition from clear to cloudy and eventually to amber. To achieve your desired effect, you should harvest when the majority of the trichomes have reached the desired color. Keep in mind that individual trichomes may change color at different times, so it's essential to choose a harvest window based on the overall color of the trichomes rather than waiting for all of them to change simultaneously.
Once you've determined the appropriate harvest time, you can proceed with the harvest. This involves cutting the branches and then carefully trimming away the excess leaves. After trimming, you should hang the branches upside down in a well-ventilated, dark space to dry. During drying, it's important to monitor humidity levels. If the humidity is too high, mold can develop, and if it's too low, the buds may dry too quickly, leading to harsher smoke. Aim for a relative humidity of around 45-55% and the temperature around 18-23℃ during drying. The drying time will depend on environmental conditions, but it typically takes around 7-14 days (optimal). Proper drying is essential to prevent mold and ensure the best flavor and aroma.
You can determine the proper drying level by testing a branch on the plant. Look for the small branch, typically with a diameter of about 2-3mm, and try to bend them. If the branch snaps with a crisp, audible sound, then the buds are dry enough. If the branch doesn't snap and lacks the characteristic cracking sound, then the buds are still too moist.
Once the buds are adequately dry, you should trim them from the branches and store them in a sealed container to begin the curing process. After curing, your cannabis will be ready for consumption. Properly harvested and cured cannabis provides a smoother, more flavorful, and potent experience.
A successful cannabis cultivation journey requires patience, diligence, and a willingness to learn. Don't be discouraged by initial failures, as each one can teach you something new, and the knowledge you gain will contribute to future success!