How to spring forward into medical cannabis gardening — and recreational, too
It’s almost spring and cannabis gardening is legal across California. Proposition 64 enshrined into law your right to grow up to six plants indoors, or out, so long as you follow your local city or county’s rules.
With recreational cannabis prices up 15 to 40% due to new taxes and regulations, growing your own is now super-enticing to the budget-conscious, especially medical patients, who are already under financial stress. You can expect to save 90 percent off the retail cost of marijuana by doing it yourself.
Marijuana goes in the ground after the last freeze of Spring and is harvested before the Fall rains. But how do you even start? You can’t just go to Lowes and select marijuana seeds or starts. Yet.
Getting your hands on seeds or starter plants isn’t as daunting as a process as it sounds. Start with your favorite dispensary, but make sure to do a background check on the seeds and clones they offer. If you can’t find any info on their stock, move on. Do research on the web, you may not even need to leave town to order from a reputable nursery.
Here are the key steps to obtaining marijuana seeds and starts. First, use the below map to find a licensed adult use store near you. No medical recommendation is needed. Just bring your valid ID. (Map ProTip: use the zoom function to zoom in on your area. On a desktop computer, press and hold the ‘command’ button while scrolling up or down on the mouse to zoom in and out. On your phone, pinch and spread your fingers on the map to zoom in and out.)
- Visit the store’s website and look at their menu.
- Write down the seeds or clones you think you want.
- Research the seed brand and type of seed by Googling their name to learn more about effects and growing conditions. Leafly.com is a great strain effect resource. Seedfinder.eu often contains details on growing condition.
- Call the store ahead of time to confirm the seeds or clones are still in stock. (Online menus are often dated.)
- Go buy them. (Bring cash.)
What do seeds and starts cost?
Starts are called “clones” in the cannabis industry because they are cuttings from a mother plant and contain the exact same DNA as the mother. Clones run into about $15 per start when dealing with reputable folks. Seeds usually come in packs of 10 and can run about $100 per pack. Why so much? One seed or start can yield a marijuana tree with more than a pound of dried, cured marijuana on it, and a market value of $1,500. A $100 seed pack is a steal. Listen to our podcast episode on the bubble in seed prices.
Seeds or starts?
Starts are simpler to plant, but seeds are cleaner and more vigorous.
Starts also involve less uncertainty. Each seed you germinate is a lottery ticket, yielding either male or female plants. You want females, because unfertilized female flower buds contain cannabis’ medicinal molecules. Growers generally kill the males, as males create pollen, pollinate females, and ruin their medicinal value. By contrast, starts are always female, since they are cutting from a female “mother” plant,.
One potential downside to clones: they can contain residual pesticides from the industrial cutting process. By contrast, seeds can be as organic as you want them to be.
Don’t want a buzz? Select a “CBD” garden
You may have heard of THC, cannabis’ main active ingredient, which can cause a lift in mood, or ‘high’. But surging in popularity is the second most common active molecule in marijuana “cannabidiol”. According to a 2018 World Health Organization review, CBD is not addictive, does not cause euphoria, but can treat pain, inflammation, anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures. It’s a key target for new pharmaceutical drug development, but you can grow CBD in your back yard. Just look for, and buy, CBD-rich seeds or starts. CBD is in such demand, growing your own is a great way to ensure a cheap supply.
“There is a CBD drought throughout every legal state, not enough people are producing CBD,” said Riley Shields, nursery operations manager for the industry-leading Artifact Nursery of Laytonville, CA.
What are popular CBD types of marijuana starts and seeds?
Artifact sells the popular Colorado strain “Charlotte’s Web”. Other popular CBD varietals include AC-DC, Sour Tsunami, Harlequin, Canna-Tsu, and Ringo’s Gift. New varieties come out every week.
Leading horticulture author Ed Rosenthal of Oakland said gardeners should select genetics not only for CBD but also suitability to your space.
“CBD is only one of the factors in choosing a strain. Make sure that the variety will grow well in your garden. Strains vary in size, maturity time, light requirements, and other factors,” he said.