Common Mistakes of New Cannabis Growers
Cannabis is a relatively easy plant to propagate. The species has managed to thrive in most of the world’s continents without human intervention. Nonetheless, in attempting to learn cannabis cultivation, there are several pitfalls experienced by many novice growers. These mistakes generally come about with issues relating to light, water, airflow, temperature, humidity, nutrients, and PH. As such, variances in troubleshooting techniques will arise between indoor, greenhouse, and outdoor cultivation operations. To this end, indoor and greenhouse growers running into a clear majority of potential problems with environmental controls. As such, obvious portions of this brief survey, such as water and nutrients, apply to all forms of cannabis cultivation. Still, certain concepts are only applicable to indoor gardening and greenhouse growing.
The cannabis plant finds its evolutionary origins in the Steppes of Central Asia. The climate of this geography is rather telling concerning ideal growing conditions for the species. After all, thousands of years of evolution can teach one far more than any grow book. This region of Asia, which is predominantly dominated by the nation of Mongolia, reports 250 days of annual sunshine as well as dry summer weather averaging around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For the experienced cultivator, its evident that the environmental conditions of the Central Asian Steppes are ideal for cannabis growth. Because, the plant thrives in sunny and dry conditions. Looking worldwide, other famous marijuana growing climates are akin to the species’ evolutionary home in Central Asia.
Growers attempt to recreate the ideal conditions in which specific strains of cannabis thrive. They do this in efforts to push the plants to their full genetic potential. For novice gardeners, it is important to understand that all cannabis cultivators, no matter how advanced, are after this same goal. The best way to work towards this goal is by developing environmental conditions and fertigation techniques with which cannabis plants respond favorably. Moving forward, here are some common mistakes by new cannabis growers:
New Cannabis Growers: Light
Cannabis plants love light. As such, when planning a garden operation – whether it be indoor, greenhouse, or outdoor – horticultural lighting is perhaps the most essential variable for success.For grow room design, putting together a successful lighting schematic can be a challenge for the inexperienced grower. To illustrate, different types of lighting, such as HPS, MH, LED, and fluorescents (to name a few), all present unique variances in their applications. For example, an HPS light covers a different square footage of canopy. It also utilizes different levels of wattage, then an LED light.
A common mistake with newbie growers is to position their grow lights either too close, or too far, from the garden canopy. As such, hanging lights too close to foliage can easily burn leaves. Yet, placing them too far from the canopy will cause plants to stretch. Overly stretched cannabis plants wreak havoc on the small confines of indoor grows. All things considered, a careful study of the proper use of a chosen grow light can help alleviate most of these issues. Even better, a majority of this information is available online as well as on product packaging.
Greenhouse and outdoor cannabis cultivation should be positioned in a fashion that maximizes sunlight. Because, an additional two hours of direct-sunlight on a garden can have huge impacts on harvest totals. However, the world of legal cannabis growing is still in its infancy. The plant retains a negative stigma in the eyes of the mainstream. Consequently, its important for cultivators to weigh privacy and security concerns with the utilization of available sunlight. Unfortunately, a common mistake made by novice greenhouse and outdoor growers is to hide their gardens under trees and out of the sun. This act is understandable from a security perspective. However, objectively speaking, planting an outdoor cultivation operation in the shade will greatly diminish the size of a harvest.
New Cannabis Growers: Water
Water presents an extremely important, yet difficult to master, variable in cannabis cultivation practices. As such, proper watering technique is probably the most problematic factor for new cannabis growers. Indoor, greenhouse, and outdoor gardens each have different environmental constraints. These variables dictate how often cannabis plants should be watered. Moving forward, basic irrigation rules apply to all these cultivation practices.
Novice gardeners are notoriously plagued by problems with overwatering. While there are countless reasons as to why this is the case. A primary one is simply that new growers like spending time with their plants! It is all well and good to be excited about cannabis growing. But, being a skilled horticulturist requires patience and attentiveness. With this notion in mind, cannabis plants like their rootzones to dry-out between irrigation sessions. Overwatering causes countless problems with essential plant functions. This issues include nutrient uptake loss to root rot.
Proper irrigation requires a careful balancing act. Because, it is harmful to let rootzones dry-out to the point that the leaves of the plant are “drooping.” As such, it takes some practice to understand when the best time to water might be. This notion is complicated by the fact that shifts in weather patterns (whether one is growing indoors or outdoors) effect when one should water. Cold temperatures as well as precipitation influence how and when a plant will “drink.”
There are a few ways that a newbie grower can ensure that they are properly watering their cannabis plants. For starters, the most traditional and low-tech way is to simply pick up a pot and feel its weight. In time, one will gain an understanding of what the pot should feel like when the plants require water. Also, many cannabis growers use moisture meters that can be purchased at most garden centers. These devices give fairly accurate readings of water retention levels within the rootzone of the inner-pot. Finally, for the tech-savvy grower, there are several options on the market for high-tech, individualized soil sensors that give real-time, digital readings of water levels at the rootzone.
New Cannabis Growers: Airflow, Temperature, and Humidity
In grow room design, proper airflow is essential to a successful grow. When developed correctly, it can help alleviate most issues relating to temperature and humidity. It goes without saying, indoor and greenhouse cultivators have much larger concerns with airflow than their counterparts in outdoor cannabis cultivation. Because, full-sun gardens are entirely at the mercy of mother nature. So, the best advice that can be given to outdoor cultivators regarding airflow is don’t plant a garden in a cold, shady, and damp area!
Its important to remember that cannabis plants thrive in dry climates, such as those in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and California. Nonetheless, a common mistake with newbie indoor and greenhouse growing is that airflow isn’t considered at all. Without proper air-exchange, gardens are plagued with countless problems that all stem from excesses of both heat and humidity.
The essential growth functions of cannabis plants are retarded when temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit indoors. Also, excessively humid ambient conditions in a greenhouse or grow-room will cause plants to absorb water from the air and not utilize the nutrient rich water by their rootzone. Finally, heat and humidity open the door to the proliferation of a plethora of pathogens and bugs including botrytis, powdery mildew, and spider mites. All things considered, to help avoid these problems, controlled environment growers should strive to keep humidity levels below 50%.
There are several ways to ensure proper airflow and subsequent temperature and humidity controls in a greenhouse or grow-room. For most hobbyist grows, a relatively simple and affordable intake and outtake air-exchange system will do the trick. To this end, expert gardeners recommend that the air in a grow-room or greenhouse should be entirely exchanged every 1 to 3 minutes for optimum growth and vigor. While a simple air-exchange system is generally suitable for most novice grows, certain locales and geographies also require the use of air-conditioning units or dehumidifiers.
New Cannabis Growers: PH and Nutrients
Proper fertilization and water PH techniques are vital to push cannabis plants towards their full genetic potential. Yet, newbie growers do not need to be overly concerned with the ins-and-outs of NPK ratios, micro nutrients, and living soil. As such, for novice gardeners, an obvious first-step in understanding fertigation should be made by simply following the directions and schedules of a chosen nutrient line.
The most common mistake made by novice cultivators relating to nutrients and water has to do with PH. Many new cannabis growers PH their water incorrectly. Different water sources, such as city water and well water, differ greatly in their mineral content and PH levels. Moreover, these levels can fluctuate greatly with changing seasons and water tables. This is especially ture in locales with drastic shifts in precipitation patterns, like California. As such, PH issues with newbie growers generally boil down to complacency. They often get used to certain PH readings and fail to understand the changing dynamics of water tables and different water sources. To rectify these issues, it is essential that cultivators PH their water every time they irrigate. This notion applies when using nutrient mixes as well as straight water.
Cannabis cultivation takes time to master, with this process comes the gradual development of an intuitive feel for garden essentials. Yet, while developing this knowledge base and feeling, it is recommended that newbies start with learning the basics of cannabis plant needs. For most new growers, this education is based on understanding the environmental constraints surrounding prime cultivation conditions as well as irrigation techniques. Other potential problem areas arise with such garden maintenance practices as pruning or spraying, which are worthwhile investigating independent of this survey. All things considered, with patience and attentiveness, new growers can attain a relatively strong grasp on cannabis horticulture by learning from their mistakes.
This article was originally published in the February 2019 edition of Maximum Yield Cannabis Magazine.