Though it certainly is nice to be able to visit a dispensary for the perfect strains of bud, growing your own marijuana is so much more rewarding. Not only can it save some serious cash (especially if you smoke as much as I do), but it helps settle concern regarding cultivation practices (you know exactly what fertilizers and pesticides have been used to grow the herb) and helps you gain a true appreciation for the time and effort involved in cultivating cannabis. Growing your own cannabis can also be a great way to experiment with cross-breeding, too!
But, growing your own marijuana is not the same as popping a tomato plant into the ground. In order for a cannabis crop to produce a large, high-quality harvest, it requires proper fertilization, diligent pest control, the right balance of heat and humidity, and a very precise lighting schedule. Creating the ideal environment indoors is a popular option but may require a large investment of both time and money, and growing outdoors only allows for a single harvest each year and includes the disadvantage of a potentially insecure grow area.
Greenhouses combine the benefits of both indoor and outdoor grow areas by expanding the grow season, utilizing solar power whenever possible, securing the grow area from pests and intruders and shielding the grow area from the view of passers-by. However, the strict photoperiod of many cannabis strains (except for autoflowering strains) and other crop requirements means that ganja greenhouses have to include a few important features.
Things to Remember When Growing Cannabis in a Greenhouse
- Year-round cultivation may require supplemental lighting and black-out screens: In order for cannabis to grow, it needs a precise light cycle: 16 - 18 hours of light during the veg stage and 12 hours of light (only) during the flowering cycle. Transitioning from a veg to flower light cycle happens naturally outdoors as the seasons transition to autumn but can be mimicked with the use of black-out screens (or even a tarp thrown over the enclosure at the correct time every day). Likewise, when trying to grow plants larger during the veg stage, supplemental lighting may be needed during short winter days.
- Greenhouses can get HOT: To keep your girls growing strong, it is important to keep them as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, greenhouses tend to trap heat making the plants much more susceptible to heat stress during warm summer months. This can be remedied through intake and exhaust fans to help maintain an ideal temperature of around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Off-grid solar kits can help maintain an ideal environment: The sun can (and should) be used for more than photosynthesis. To help control the cost of year-round greenhouse maintenance, off-grid solar kits can be a great investment. Use them to power ventilation and humidity controllers, supplemental lighting or just some good ol’ tunes to help keep you (and your plants) happy.
- Greenhouses are most effective when they are secure: To grow personal cannabis, the grow area should always be secured from intruders or young people which can be accomplished with the addition of a simple lock on the enclosure or surrounding fence. But greenhouses should also be secured from pests and invasive plants as well. This can be accomplished with the use of bug screens on doorways, and fabric weed barriers lining the greenhouse floor.
DIY Greenhouse for Your Cannabis Grow
You can create your own cannabis greenhouse relatively easily without having to invest a ton of money in a professionally-build enclosure. To learn the basics of creating your own DIY greenhouse, check out this video by Jorge Cervantes, self-appointed ganja guru and author of numerous cannabis cultivation reference guides.
Now that marijuana reform is spreading across the nation, more and more places have approved personal marijuana cultivation. While only Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia allow personal cultivation of recreational plants, many others allow cultivating cannabis for medical purposes. Cannabis cultivation laws vary by state so check local laws before starting your grow.
Photo credit: Brian Boucheron