Idiot’s Guides’ ‘Growing Marijuana author Kevin Oliver explains how to get your 2017 crop started!
With relatively low maintenance, seeds are a great way to start your marijuana plants. Seedling trays, humidity domes and heating mats are available at every grow shop or nursery, as well as the garden section of large box stores.
As laws surrounding the personal cultivation of marijuana for responsible adults are adapting to the modern trend of legally growing your own, germinating seeds is a good way to begin the cultivation process.
Germination basically consists of sprouting the seeds prior to planting them. Fresh, healthy seeds are the best bet when sprouting seeds. However, depending on the quality of their storage – that being a cool, dark, dry place – some seeds can be stored for extend periods of time, almost indefinitely.
Germinating with a Wet Paper Towel
One method for sprouting seeds is the paper towel method, which consists of arranging your seeds on a wetted paper towel on a plate, with another plate placed on top of it upside down in a dome configuration in order to hold the humidity. Keep the plate in a warm place and keep the towel moist but not soaked. It is essential that the towel remains moist so that the shell softens to allow it to germinate. In a few days to a week, you should see a white tail poking out of an open shell. When the tail reaches about ¼ of an inch long it is ready to be sown into your preferred planting medium, such as: soil; coco choir; peat; or rock wool.
Older seeds may take a little more finesse to germinate if not stored optimally. One way you may choose to finesse the germination process is known as stratification. Stratification involves lightly sanding the edges of the seed to allow the shell to absorb moisture. Then, let them soak in distilled water for about 12 hours and set the seeds on a wet paper towel to germinate them as indicated in the method above. You may choose to add a small amount of a synthetic chemical, such as the kind found in the rooting compound Superthrive, to the water while the seeds soak, though purists may find adding chemicals and using the paper towel method to be a bit too unnatural.
Sowing Like Mother Nature
An all-natural method for seed germination of healthy seeds includes sowing the seeds directly into the soil, keeping the soil moist and the humidity high, at a temperature in the mid 70’s to 80 degrees to facilitate seed growth. An all-natural boost to facilitate germination of older seeds involves a solution of kelp meal and water, as kelp meal contains all-natural rooting compounds similar to those which are synthetically produced.
Some seeds become dormant if kept over extended period of time in less-than-ideal conditions. Cold stratification is a process that can sometimes work to reverse dormancy of a seed. This process is used to mimic the winter months when seeds are exposed to chilling temperatures prior to spring. Using a growing medium such as coco choir or peat, cover your seeds in a cup and place in a refrigerator for two to three months, checking occasionally to make sure that they have not begun sprouting
[GreenState cultivation columnist Kevin Oliver is the co-author of “Idiot’s Guides: Growing Marijuana” (Alpha, 2016). Oliver is also the Founder/CSO, of Washington’s Finest Cannabis (A WSLCB Licensed Marijuana Business). Oliver is on the Board of Directors for NORML, the Executive Director of WANORML/WANORML PAC — The Washington Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.]