As with trying anything new, there are lessons that you can only learn through the experience. But for many other aspects of an acquired skill, you can save a lot of time, money, and hardship by learning from the mistakes and experiences of others. When it comes to cannabis, just because it grows like a weed doesn’t mean you will be a master grower overnight. To help steer you on the course to greatness, here is a list of 9 common rookie grow mistakes, and how to avoid them.
1. Talking about it
Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead
They joy of growing your own knows no bounds, but to keep it from turning into a nightmare, just keep your mouth shut. You would be surprised at the number of first-time growers who get busted before they ever taste the fruits of their labor.
The number one reason is because they just have to tell someone about it. Then that person tells someone, and so on. At some point, the wrong person will overhear and that will be the end of that. If you absolutely have to share, go to Whisper for goodness sakes.
2. Lack of preparation
Most first time growers can tend to start off as a hobby, but the time you put into preparing for your grow is work, plain and simple. Organic growers put months into their compost before ever planting a seed. Setting up a grow room takes time to do it right. Electrical wiring, hydroponics, ventilation, these things can’t be a last-minute addition.
Do your homework, make a prep list and a schedule. Give yourself plenty of time. Gather information on every aspect of your grow before you start.
Like a doomsday prepper, you need to be prepared for every stage of your grow and ten steps ahead before ever starting if you want it to run smoothly. Key aspects of planning include proper nutrients on hand, pest control measures on standby, checking light and odor security, and setting up a separate drying and curing area. Better to be over prepared than underprepared.
3. Weak or poorly suited genes
Often, a first-timer decides to grow with bag seed and sets up a small grow area, only to be overwhelmed with a bush that grows too large to fit, or underwhelmed with a weak and puny plant. Investing in the right strain to grow the first time will go a long way to ensuring success. Growing a super smelly strain is a bad idea until your odor control skills are stronger.
Another mistake is spending too much money on a strain that is temperamental just because it will produce an amazing smoke. A better investment is getting a hardy strain that is disease & mold resistant, tolerable of humidity & nutrient fluctuations, and general new grower mistakes. Don’t worry about growing the perfect smoke until you can grow a decent plant from start to finish confidently.
4. Soil and nutrients
The general concept of growing marijuana is simple. Put the seed in dirt, add water and nutrients, give it light and grow. But the reality is a good deal more complex. The dirt from you back yard may have too much clay or too much sand. If it locks in too much water, roots can drown. If it drains water too fast, roots will die of thirst.
On the subject of nutrients, not just anything will work. Take the time to learn about macro- and micronutrients and the balance that best works for cannabis. Of critical importance is the N-P-K ratio of any nutrients you buy (N-Nitrogen, P-phosphorus, K-Potassium).
A plant’s needs change as it goes into flowering. When you realize that not only are different levels important, but the source of the nutrients, the medium you grow in, and the strain, you will soon be grateful for the hours you spent reading up on it beforehand.
5. pH affects everything
Soil pH balance is critical to ensuring your plant grows healthy and strong. Cannabis needs a soil ph of 6-7 to flourish, which is slightly acidic. In hydroponics setups, it is closer to 5.5-6. Most commercial potting soils are far more alkaline. Using this will stunt growth, or even kill your plant by locking out nutrients.
Many nutrient deficiencies can be remedied with pH correction, rather than overloading on what they already can’t take up. Check the pH of everything you give your plant: soil, nutrients, and water. A small change can mean a big difference.
6. Overfeeding nutrients
Overeating is bad for our bodies, and the same goes for your herb. Store bought nutrients come with a feeding schedule, but that schedule is for plants that are completely different from cannabis. Too little is better than too much.
Start off at one-quarter of what the dosage states, and generally, you don’t want to go higher than half strength until you have several grows under your belt and can recognize nutrient needs instinctively.
7. Getting root bound
For your first grow, chances are your plant will be in a container. As it grows, it needs more room, and repotting in a larger container is vital. Roots grow much faster than the plant above ground when it is young, and if the roots start to wrap around the bottom of the container, then you are waiting too long.
A general guideline is that until the plant is 2 feet tall, it needs a container that is at least twice as wide and deep as it is tall. This will give it plenty of room to grow, and to drain excess moisture.
Speaking of excess moisture, overwatering is an extremely common mistake. Too much water in the soil will deprive roots of oxygen, potentially drowning them if left unchecked. Watering too frequently, or too often is the main reason.
A good habit to get into is to water slowly, allowing it to absorb. Make sure the container is draining water out the bottom, as this is how you rid the plant of accumulated salts. Water with a consistently measured amount, rather than just soaking the soil. Check the soil by pressing a finger into the dirt. If it isn’t dry at least at least an inch down, then wait.
Every grower wants to maximize their yield, and one of the ways they do this is pruning and training their plants. But for inexperienced growers, the temptation to clip off leaves can get out of hand. It is safer just to leave it alone, or only start off with minimal interference. A small harvest is better than none at all, so tread lightly.
Knowing what a plant can handle and what it can’t takes time. Start off just making sure you can keep it alive all the way to harvest.
What grow mistakes have you made? How did you fix it? Let’s learn from each other. Share your lessons learned with us and each other on social media or in the comments below.