GROWING MARIJUANA PART 1 - GUIDELINES & EQUIPMENT

Written by Kim Smerek 

Part 1 – Guidelines & Equipment

So you'd like to try growing marijuana?  
Since October 2018,  Canadian adults 19 and older have been allowed to grow marijuana for personal use. Along with that ruling, came a few considerations to make sure growers are keeping themselves and others safe. The federal government has some tips online for growing cannabis medically, and these same tips can be applied to growing for recreational use.  
Ontario cannabis rules state that each household can have up to four recreational plants. The four plant limit is based on household, not number of people, so whether you're on your own, or there are others living in the household, only four plants are allowed. You'll want to check, if you live in a stratified property or a rental, that there are no restrictions to growing marijuana indoors before you start. Here are some of the tips the federal government provides:

"Ensure all plants are secure and that others including children can't reach them. If growing outside, consider installing a tall fence with a locking gate or alarm system to keep production areas secure. If growing inside, ensure there is enough ventilation to remove excess moisture and humidity, preventing mould build-up on plants or in the building.   Seek the help of a licensed professional if making any changes to your home's electrical system. Store cannabis in a safe location you can secure with a lock. If children are frequently in your home, ensure cannabis products are stored in childproof containers to avoid accidental ingestion. If you use chemicals such as pesticides, ensure the products are safe for use on a plant you will consume or vaporize.  Do not use solvents such as butane, benzene, methyl chloride or chlorinated hydrocarbons if you will use your plants to make an oil or butter."    

Where can I set up?  Choose your location carefully. The plants cannot be visible from a public place. The location you choose must be at your own residence, and you can't grow at more than one dwelling at a time. The provincial guidelines also stipulate that plants can't be grown in any area of a home authorized to provide child care services or operate as a community care facility.  Although there are numerous under-regulated sources of seeds and even clones for purchase online, currently the only legal sources in Canada are the licensed producers of seeds or clones authorized by Health Canada.    

Equipment

All you need to grow marijuana are space, light, growing medium, air circulation, water. That's it. It is also highly recommended to purchase a filter to deal with unwanted odours. Your neighbours will thank you!  The set-up for growing indoors can be a bit of an investment. It can start around $600 to $3,000 for a four-plant system… just remember, you can choose to implement any grade of system, from a Ferrari to a Chevrolet and everything in between.

  
Choose the Perfect Spot 

Finding the right location to place your cannabis plants is crucial. It doesn't even need to be a typical room – it can be a closet, tent, cabinet, spare room, or a corner in an unfinished basement. Although cannabis is not a demanding plant, the place you select for growing must be secluded and out of the way to reduce tampering. You must be able to control temperature, and light for the plants to grow well.

Light  

The quality of light in your grow room will be the number one environmental factor in the quality and quantity of your yield, so it's a good idea to choose the best lighting setup you can afford. There are a few different products available, so do your research on the lights that are most suited to your growing space. Here are a few to choose from:  
Fluorescent (CFL) are especially suited to small grows, and are the most affordable to start and easiest to setup. They don't get too hot, use little electricity, and are perfect for clones and seedlings. The drawbacks to using these lights are that they emit a low light output, they have a shorter lifespan, and they're not the best for flowering. They don't require any other special equipment.  
HID (High-Intensity Discharge) lighting. There are two types of HID lights: HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) or MH (Metal Halide) systems that require ballasts and reflectors along with the bulbs. They have a relatively long life and a relatively high lumen output per watt and are relatively small in size. They do produce significant amounts of heat, however, which can be a consideration in a small space. They are also electricity hogs, and will definitely raise your electrical bills. But for that extra price, they do produce consistent and excellent yields.  
LED Grow Lights  Most quality LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) emit a light that works for both veg and flowering. As well as being the most costly fixtures for a beginner grower, these are the most energy efficient lights, which will save money and energy in the long run. They barely produce any heat which cuts back on cooling costs and reduces the risk of burning pants. They could produce potentially lower yields than HIDs.

Be sure to get a light that covers your tent’s footprint and invest in a decent timer to control when your light turns on and off.

Air

Plants need fresh air to thrive, and carbon dioxide is essential to the process of photosynthesis. This means you will need a steady stream of air flowing through your grow room, easily achieved by means of an exhaust fan (with activated carbon filter to reduce heat and eliminate odours), placed near the top of the room to remove the warmer air and a filtered air inlet on the opposite side near the floor.A thermometer/hygrometer is also a must for keeping track of temperature and humidity.

Soil

A simple loose and airy soil mix in 3-5 gallon buckets are great for beginners and much more forgiving than any hydroponic system. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom of the buckets and use saucers under them to catch any overflow. You’ll need to purchase nutrients to feed to your plants as they grow and a watering can as well.  

Next... let's get growing!