I hope you all have gleaned some helpful information from this grow series. We have gone over what do to set up your grow space, seeds & clones, veg stage, nutrients, flowering, harvesting, trimming, drying, and more!
But if you are sitting there with your harvest trimmed and dried, ready to smoke, WAIT!
Curing Your Bud: Why Wait?
Drying your weed after harvest is absolutely essential. If you don’t, you have wet buds that taste like grass or hay, and they will get moldy quick. Drying preserves your weed, and all of it’s compounds. So why take the extra time to cure it? And what is curing?
Curing your bud is the final process of a quality harvest, and makes a huge impact on the shelf life of your marijuana. Properly cured weed can stay potent and deliciously smoke-able even after years! HUGELY important if it is going to be stored before use. If you plan on selling it, you want it to stay fresh until it is all gone, and if it’s all for you, you want to grow enough to last between harvests. You can’t smoke it all at once! (Well, you could… It would be a spectacular waste, however!) I believe every “prepper” out there should have a large stash in their bunker, good for years.
Proper curing enhances flavor and smell. Many of the more subtle undertones become more pronounced, which is the difference between good weed and great weed. Think of it like aging a fine wine or whiskey. The longer it stays in the barrel in the perfect conditions, the more developed the character.
How To Cure Bud:
Start with Mason jars from the canning section of the grocery store, preferably tinted ones to prevent light seeping in. If you don’t have those, then wrapping the jars with brown paper bags is fine. I have even seen black construction paper glued to jars, but as long as the jars are stored in a dark place, they should be fine. UV light deteriorates your bud. A one-quart jar will hold about an ounce of bud.
You want the humidity inside the jars to be exactly 60 – 65%. This is right at the drying point where buds are dry, but not crispy, to the touch and small stems snap, but big ones still bend.
Check on your buds daily, opening the jars for 10 minutes a day to vent the humidity out. If your buds feel wet (>70% humidity), take them out and sit them on a piece of cardboard for 1 – 2 hours, gently repositioning and rotating them halfway through the time. If they are damp but not wet (65 – 70% humidity), leave them in the jars, but leave the kids off for an additional 15 – 30 minutes. If they feel dry, this is perfect, just stick with the 10 minutes, and then close them up for the day. If they are crispy, they may have dried too fast. When humidity reaches this low level, the curing process is halted. You can just live with it, or you can use a humidi-pack to add moisture back into the jar.
The purpose of the curing process is to slowly pull the moisture in the center of the buds out. The conversions that your terpenes go through during this process are what gives the best smoke, one that will burn clean, and give the most therapeutic effects.
Curing Time Frames
Curing can go from two weeks to several months. The longer you cure your buds, the longer they will last, and the better they will be. This is why any smoker worth his bong keeps his bud in sealed containers, like glass jars or plastic bins. If you don’t believe it, just take a single plant’s buds, and cure them for different amounts of time. The difference is profound.
If you want to cure for longer than two weeks, great! After your buds are staying in the perfect humidity zone for curing, after 2 – 3 weeks, you can go to just opening the jars once a week. After 8 – 10 weeks, you can just go to once a month, for a maximum cure time of about 6 months. After this, the process ceases to have any further effect.
If you have decided to cure for long term storage, then after this cure time, the best way to keep your buds preserved is air tight containers, and to store for longer than a few months, I suggest vacuum sealing them. You can store buds like this for years. The high tends to mellow slightly over time, and buds will turn light tan, but they are still good.
What Is Water Curing, And When Should I Use It?
Water curing is a quick method of curing buds, and takes a completely different approach. You would want to water cure if you have a strain with unsavory flavor, like Super-Skunk. Only trust water cured weed through a reliable source, as some might do it to hide moldy buds.
The premise of water curing is that instead of using natural processes to break down chlorophyll, nutrients, and sugars that can make your smoke harsh, you dissolve them in water. Because the oil-based cannabinoid compounds won’t dissolve in water, this leaves behind the good stuff.
The upside is a much faster cure and a SUPREMELY smooth smoke. The smoke will hardly even smell like weed! The downside is that all attempts at “bag appeal” are lost, as the weed looks lousy, loses almost all smell, and loses weight. It makes up for the weight loss with potency, though.
Simply put buds in a water-tight jar, and fill to the brim with clean, cool reverse-osmosis water. If they try to float, weigh them down. Change the water at least once a day, preferably twice a day, for about 5 days. Then remove water and dry buds to normal. Be careful if any remaining water on buds, you don’t want to cause mold! Rack dry with good airflow or lay them out and rotate regularly. The whole process takes about 10 – 12 days.
More Grow Hacks For Maximum Yields!
Within each article in this series, I have included tips and tricks to help grows stay healthy, and help you get the most from your plants. Here are some more. Some you have heard before but are worth repeating. Some are tricks I forgot to mention. Some are new grow ideas, including my own, that I hope you give a try!
* Don’t skimp on equipment! Temperature control, humidity, ph, nutrient ppm, light intensity, light duration, these are all vital to the success of a grow. Save some headaches and get the gadgets that will help you monitor you grow at each stage, to prevent problems before they get out of hand. If these items save ONE crop from being destroyed, they have already paid for themselves!
* Proper electrical setup is critical to your grow! A poorly wired grow can damage equipment, and potentially cause a fire. It is well worth the time and expense to learn about wiring and power draw, or better yet, find an electrician you can trust to give you a consult (I know several who have exchanged services for a percentage of the first crop.)
* A way to make buds swell in size even further… Add a teaspoon or two of blackstrap molasses to each gallon of water. Simple sugars work with the natural microbes in your soil. Sugars help buds grow thick and tasty, increasing bud weight towards the final weeks of flowering. Many commercial products that claim to do the same thing are expensive and achieve the same results by adding simple sugars. Don’t use in a hydro setup, as it can clog pumps.
* Mild stress causes your plants to increase terpenes production in the flowering stage, so LST (low-stress-training) while avoiding touching the buds can increase flavor.
* Give your plants three days of absolute darkness just before harvest, but keep the temperature stable.
* Defoliate lower leaves away from bud sites, and any blocking light and air to buds. Plants focus nutrients to buds with the best chance of pollination, and in the wild, those are the ones with the best exposure to the wind and light.
* Drop the temperature during the flowering stage. This mimics the onset of fall when marijuana plants naturally flower. 60 degrees is fine, but some strains can go down lower. In many strains, this can cause the buds to change colors (the Purps). It also keeps terpenes from evaporating.
* When trimming and drying bud, if humidity is low (<30%), leave the buds on branches, and hang upside down to dry. This will act as a wick to gradually pull moisture from the stem, preventing your buds from drying too quick. If humidity is high (>60%), trim as much leaf and stem off as possible, and increase warm air circulation, but don’t blow directly on the buds.
* If you grow in soil, try using composted super soil. It has been shown to increase the complexity of the flavor profile.
* Plants grow to their natural best with sunlight, so if you can grow with sunlight, it will benefit your buds and probably your wallet. If sunlight isn’t an option, add LED’s to your flowering stage. Growers note similar yield increases with high-quality LED’s.
* Working in a small closet, or just want enough to have your own couple ounces? Try a Space Bucket Grow!
Have Some Potent But Flavorless Bud?
Want to add flavors to your buds? Buds will absorb smells from their environment, be they good or bad. Some will add diluted flavorings to the flush at the end of flowering, others people will add fruit rinds to the curing jars to impart the right level of moisture in a dry environment. If you want to do this, I suggest using coarse salts that have been stored with the rinds instead of the rinds themselves. They will absorb the scent of the fruit, and not increase the moisture.
I personally like the flavor of bud as-is. If I want a particular flavor, I get the strain that imparts it, like Strawberry Cough, or Chocolope. However, I have read of a new method! Cut off a stem, and add a tiny plastic funnel around the opening. Tape it in place, then add a few drops of natural vanilla extract or whatever flavor you want to add. The plant will absorb it directly into its system, helping the flavor come through better. Do this in the final weeks before harvest. Be sure that any flavorings are safe.
My Own Super Stealth Grow Technique!
Virtually no space to close off to build a grow? Would even a Space Bucket be hard to hide? Need it to be totally invisible and out of the way? Try growing in a slot box! A grow style of my own design and perfected over 15 years with friends. A slotbox grow design is similar to a double-pane window but wider. Lights are placed in panels that flank the glass, with spacers to get the right distance. Use CFL’s to minimize width.
Aggressive growth training and close monitoring pay off with bud production in a space 1/5 as wide or smaller than a normal plant. Ensure intake air and exhaust air are at opposite corners, exhaust high. Use 3-tube flourescents on one or both sides of the box. The top of the box can have a single fluorescent tube, and pull off to adjust the plant as it grows.
Use Manifolding and LST to make plant go wide and flat. Water plants at the far end of the box to encourage roots to go wide horizontally. Great for stealth grows, a wall paneled with slot box grows can remove just 12 – 18 inches from a room, but have over a dozen plants, and yield well over a couple pounds. Use drywall sheets with border strip to hide panels, and the grow is invisible! Open each panel like a closet door! Advanced micro-growers only!