Paul Wellman

Growing Cannabis in Your Backyard

From Where to Start to When to Harvest, Here Are Seven Must-Know Steps to Planting Pot in Santa Barbara

The Central Coast’s moderate temperatures and dry conditions make it a good place to grow cannabis in your backyard or on your balcony or rooftop. Under California law, you can have six personal plants, but they must be hidden from public view. Cities can also enact their own rules; the City of Santa Barbara, for instance, allows one outdoor plant, but the rest must be inside.

Though cannabis doesn’t quite grow like weeds, it is fairly easy to master, especially if you have experience growing vegetables, particularly tomatoes. There’s an endless amount of information on how to do so on the internet. Here’s a rundown:

Where do I start? Dispensaries sell female cannabis clones, which are easier to grow than seeds. You could also cut off a piece from a friend’s cannabis plant — called a “cutting” — and dunk it in cloning solution before planting it in the ground. You can also go from seed, but be prepared to germinate before planting.

What type of soil? Go to your nearest hydroponics store (there are many now) to discuss your plans, and buy the proper soil nutrients.

When do I plant? The earlier in the year you start, the bigger the plant gets. If you start in the summer, the plant will have plenty of time to grow tall during its vegetative state. It can get as tall as six feet, but commercial growers usually keep them at about three feet tall.

How much water? Water every few days. Too much water is more likely to kill a plant than not enough.

When do I harvest? When the sunlight hours start to shrink in the fall, the plant begins to flower. About two months later, as the buds turn cloudy with resin and amber in color, it’s time to harvest.

How do I harvest? Cut the whole plant down. Hang it upside down for about 10 days. Once dried, pull off the stems and leaves, and trim the buds. It’s sort of like fileting a fish, said one longtime grower.

What about indoors? Growing a plant indoors under lights allows for more control, but it is also more expensive. Outside, the sun does most of the work for you.

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