GYOB: Grow Your Own Bud


Love of Cannabis and all of its wonders.

So I haven't been too active lately, and I've been sitting on this guide for way too long. Although I realize it doesn't directly relate to the goals of SOLDIERX as a whole, I know quite a few in the community who partake, and I think we all agree that there is a general interest in the topic throughout any underground culture.

There are some improvements I could make, for instance breeding information, in addition to simply more detail. Breeding, however, can be researched on its own, and with a mild understanding of Punnett Squares anyone interested will be just fine. That being said, if i do make any updates, a brief overview of breeding techniques will likely be included.

For the most part, I think I've condensed a wealth of knowledge in a relatively short guide that focuses on the most important factors. There will always be room for additional information, and since I'll probably never write the second Bible I'll just link you to the original (see References).

I had previously submitted this guide to Phrack (If any of them remember, like I said I've had this sitting around for too long) under the guise of 1130. Since then, I've made only minor edits. Why 1130? We all know 420, that's a given. In recent years with all of the inventive stoners finding more and better ways to make extracts, 710 was born (Rotate 710 and you get OIL). 1130 takes a little bit of math -- I know, shockingly difficult -- but personally, I'm a fan of it all. Plus, it's still a time of day, twice a day.

And so, as we celebrate yet another glorious combination of clock digits, I present to you the 1130 guide to GYOB:

Growing your own bud is one of the most satisfying tasks a stoner can accomplish. Sounds awesome, right? Thing is, it takes dedication a good deal of patience.
"Fuck! Seriously?" is right, but don't forget organization.
"Piss!" -- that's right! Plants eat your pee, and shit too, although not yours.

For some of you, this may be the first grow guide you've read. For others, you may be looking to brush up on your knowledge. Some of you might hope to find a thing or two you never knew before. And some of you might want to find a way to destroy your roommate's grow because you're an asshole. To that, I say "Bleach", and also "Fuck you!"

Different growers will say different things. Some swear by certain methods or fertilizers and condemn others. It's always worth your time to get advice from a more experienced grower, but be prepared to weigh their advice against logic. For example, driving a stake through the main stem of your plants doesn't really sound like a good idea. Cannabis is a monster weed and will fight to the end, so it will heal and continue growing. It's possible that the plant will produce more resinous buds due to the stress. It's also possible that the chemical makeup of the resin will change and bring out a certain type of high. But I can guarantee that the plant will take longer to grow and produce fewer or smaller buds than one grown under ideal conditions. If you're a connoisseur up for experimentation and want to see how nature reacts to the grotesque torture of a mad scientist who happens to be high out of his mind, then by all means go for it. If you want fat buds, less stress, and to see how nature returns your love, then work for nature and nurture your plants so they thrive.

Various sources provided me with this information, including experience. My best source of information, hands-down, is Jorge Cervantes, a living disciple of Cannabis. YouTube is also a great source, and I've learned much from both his and others' videos. The information in this guide is what I have decided to focus on because it's what I've found to be important in my own experiences. But by all means continue your education and learn from as many sources as you can find.

My last piece of advice before you begin your journey is to keep things simple. Plants are complicated organisms, and while rain and sunshine sounds like a simple recipe, there's a lot more to it than that. Whenever you plan your grow, keep varying factors to a minimum and try not to overwhelm yourself. A drip system with timers sounds complicated but in operation will be much easier than individually hand-watering each of your 20 plants, not to mention whatever it'll take to keep you on schedule. A closet grow with 2 plants using potting soil is cheap and simple, and it'll teach you a lot of lessons that would completely suck to learn while handling a much larger grow.

Table of Contents

0x00: General Botany++ -- basic plant knowledge and cannabis specifics
0x01: Environment -- air, temperature, and humidity
0x02: Container -- size and shape
0x03: Water -- temperature and filtering
0x04: Nutes -- plant food
0x05: Conductivity and pH -- don't burn the roots
0x06: Hydroponics -- how-to hydro
0x07: Light -- which and why
0x08: Cloning -- make 'em root
0x09: Vegging -- big 'n' bushy
0x0A: Flowering -- dense and dank
0x0B: Harvest -- chop, dry, and cure
0x0C: Extracts -- smoke, vape, and cook
0x0D: Signs and Symptoms -- oh noes, wtf mang!

0x00: General Botany++

If you've never grown before, growing cannabis can be difficult. Really though, it just depends on how much time you put in. As long as you check in on your plants 3-4 times a day, you'll begin to learn enough about them to grow some really dank buds. But to get you started, here are a few things you should know.

Plants need light, water, air, and food to grow. A lack of any one of these at best will slow its growth and at worst will cause part or all of it to die. Light is generally the most limiting factor in determining a plant's growth rate, but that assumes all other factors are maxed (but not overdone). Plants absorb water and nutrients through their roots and carbon dioxide (CO2) through their leaves. They also need a bit of oxygen that they absorb through both leaves and roots.

Chlorophyll is a chemical in their leaves that catalyzes light energy, CO2, and water to make sugars and oxygen. Chlorophyll-a is also what gives leaves their green color, while Chlorophyll-b is responsible for the yellow color of leaves.

Plants need oxygen in order to burn energy to stay alive and grow, like we do, but plants produce much more oxygen than they consume. Plants are not able to efficiently move oxygen from the leaves down to the roots, so roots must have access to some oxygen in order to stay alive. When soil dries, air fills the space in the ground, and so soil generally must dry enough so that the roots can have air to breathe.

Cannabis has two main kinds of roots. There are the taproots, which can grow very large and persist through dryness, and there are the little fuzzy feeder hairs. Feeder hairs will not survive very long without water. Since roots need air to breathe and soil must dry out enough between waterings, it is important to let soil drain well and dry just enough so that it still retains enough moisture to keep the feeder hairs alive. If they die, they must grow back before the plant can begin absorbing more nutrients. An easy way to tell if the soil is properly dry is if it is still dark in color but does not clump together as it does when wet. Allowing the top half-inch (~ 1cm) or so (up to about 2 inches or 5 cm for larger containers, or however deep to the top inch/2.5cm of roots are contained) of soil to lighten in color is a good indication that the plant may need water. Allowing the soil to become bone-dry to the point where it will not absorb water on contact is a bad idea for Cannabis. The plants will usually tolerate it, but better care allows for much more vigorous growth.

Plants require three macronutrients to survive: N-P-K, or Nitrogen (Nitrates), Phosphorus (Phosphates), and Potassium (Potash). Nitrogen is primarily responsible for the green color in vegetative matter. It is not as predominant in fruits and flowers. Phosphorus is needed for root development and is also the primary nutrient for most fruits and flowers. Potassium is used throughout the plant to provide support. In cannabis, more Potassium means stronger stems and branches that provide better support for dense buds.

0x01: Environment

Although cannabis grows in pretty much any condition (it is a weed, after all), optimal conditions produce optimal growth rates. Certain strains may be pickier than others, but generally you want to provide the following:

Relative Humidity
Cloning: 90-100%
Vegging: 50-80%
Flowering: 40-50%

Temperature should always be 68-75F (20-24C) except when supplementing with CO2. Lower temps increase humidity, and higher temps reduce humidity. Plants do drink through their leaves in addition to their roots, and they need humidity to do this. They also transpire (sweat, evaporate water to cool) through their leaves when temperatures are too high. Keep this in mind when checking your levels and diagnosing your plants. For instance, if the environment is hotter than ideal and the air is dry, a small watering in between regular waterings may be necessary to protect the roots near the topsoil and prevent the plant from going into shock. When growing outdoors, regular checkups on a hot day will help you find plants that are in need of a little extra love. If you mist your plants to cool them off, do so with nutrient-free water, target the underside of the leaves, and do not mist for an extended period of time. Mist in the air can act as a magnifier, allowing the Sun to burn the leaves. A hose with an extended misting attachment or a commercial-style pressure sprayer makes both misting close to the leaves and working quickly much easier.

Air control is very important. Whether or not you supplement with CO2 depends on your budget and space requirements. Either way, you want to see the leaves moving at all times. Proper airflow does two things: it moves the air right around the leaves so that the plant always has access to CO2, and the continuous leaf movement causes the plant to react and grow stronger stems which you need to support those massively dense buds you'll be growing soon. You can also increase airflow to combat high temperatures. Too much airflow isn't a big deal as long as the plants aren't falling over. But the higher the airflow, the more the plants transpire, and the more water they'll need.

Supplementing with CO2 is a great way to give your plants a big boost. It complicates things a bit and causes your setup to require more attention, but it can both speed up the overall cycle and also dramatically increase the size of production. CO2 supplementation only makes sense in an enclosed environment -- either a greenhouse or a sealed room or box. Exhaust vents should be placed in the ceiling, promoting hot air to escape while keeping the heavier CO2 inside. An exhaust fan can be speed-tuned, on a timer, or connected to a temperature monitor to help keep temperatures from climbing too high without losing too much CO2.

CO2 comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Tanks are clean and precise and can be controlled with a timing system. If the room is sealed and temperature isn't a problem, release enough CO2 to fill the room every 4-6 hours.

0x02: Container

Cannabis needs a proper container to provide optimal root growth. Shapewise, the best container is wider than it is tall. If growing outdoors, a raised bed of good soil does wonders. Indoors, wide pots or trays work very well. You'll need to decide if you want to grow in soil or a hydroponic medium. There are pros and cons to both. Soil with compost is ideal for outdoor organic growing -- after preparation nature helps keep the roots healthy, and with a good compost mix most of the time plain water is all that's needed. If growing in pots, soil is still a good choice, but you will definitely have to supplement the water with additional nutrients, or you can use dry fertilizers that you work into the topsoil.

Indoor growing is much different than outdoor, and growing hydroponically adds a-whole-nother set of variables. If you're lazy, you have two options: grow in soil (soil is very forgiving), or build an automated setup. An automated setup is one that takes care of watering for you, so all you need to do is regular checkups, trimming, and checking on your reservoir. I'll go into detail about different hydroponic setups later on.

0x03: Water

Yes, a whole section on water, albeit a short one. Water temperature should be a little less than air temperature, although the roots will tolerate pretty cold water. Never give your plants water that's less than 50F (10C); you'll risk shocking the roots and stunting growth for a few days.

Water should be clean of excess salts, especially chlorine and chloramines. Soil gardens will tolerate the chlorines much better than hydro, but you should really get a water filter. A carbon filter is usually fine, but if your water source is really bad you might want to consider Reverse-Osmosis. RO filters are expensive, but they also reduce the conductivity of the water to the lowest possible levels, allowing you to add more nutrients without burning the roots. Carbon filters are relatively cheap, and you could even use a regular drinking water filter.

0x04: Nutes

I do love organic; there's nothing quite like the taste of organically grown buds, but I do find that synthetic nutrients give amazing results. If you're not growing for personal use, synthetics are cheaper and can give very high yields. Either way, I'd recommend using a premade blend made by a name-brand company -- when you're starting out it's just not worth trying to play chemist, just get the kit. I use liquid nutrients for both hydro and soil, but dry feeds will work in soil and any non-recirculating hydro setup (e.g. feed and drain in coco). Liquid nutrients are designed to be instantly accessible by the plants, whereas dry feeds are usually time-release.

Here are some rough empirical NPKs:
Cloning: 1-3-4
Vegging: 3-2-4
Flowering: 1-4-5

Aside from Nitrogen, Phosphates, and Potash, plants also need micronutrients. Iron, Calcium, and Magnesium are at the top, with still many others required to proper growth. Most organic mixes will have these even though they won't specify on the bottle, but if you're growing with synthetics you will have to supplement. Molasses has Fe, Ca, and Mg, and the sugar content helps both feed microbials and rinse out the growing medium. Various Vitamin B-1 mixes will have most necessary micronutrients. Cal-Mag supplements are good too, but be aware when using in conjunction with molasses so you don't overfeed.

In general, I recommend starting with less than half of the listed usage on the nutrient containers and then increasing as you see fit. It's easier and more productive to realize that your plants' leaves are a lighter green than you would want and then to increase the Veg mix than it is to use too much fertilizer, burn your plants, and then have to start all over. If growing in soil, try starting at a quarter-strength and using it with every watering. Increase as necessary to compensate for light color and plant size.

0x05: Conductivity and pH

Soil/medium pH and water pH are measured differently, but as long as you regulate the water pH there's no reason to worry about the soil. If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting a pH/Conductivity meter; some also measure PPM (parts per million), though it's usually a conversion from conductivity (measures in milliSiemens). I don't even pay attention to the usage on the nutrient bottle anymore, and instead I fill my resevoir according to the conductivity. I find it to be much more accurate than measuring the volume of water in gallons and using measuring cups for nutrients.

Required pH will depend entirely on your medium. In pure hydro/aero setups, this is 5.6-5.8 for veg and 5.8-6.0 for flowering. In coco coir, this is a bit higher: 6.0-6.2 for veg and 6.2-6.5 for flowering. In soil, it really depends on what's in the mix, but it usually ranges in 6.5-6.8 for veg and 6.8-7.0 for flowering. Cloning should be in between the values for veg and flowering (5.8 for hydro, 6.2 for coco, and 6.8 for soil).

pH mostly affects the nutrients that are available for the roots to absorb. The lower ranges increase nitrogen uptake, and the higher ranges increase phosphates. Since nitrogen is more important for veg and phosphate for flowering, this explains why the ranges are different for each phase. If pH varies by a point or two temporarily, it's not a big deal, but too strong in either direction can cause root-burn as well as deficiencies in both macro and micronutrients.

Conductivity requirements depend on the age/size of the plant. I suggest starting with these maximums and steadily increasing for larger containers so long as no signs of problems occur:
For soil/hydro:
Cloning: 0.8/1.2 mS
Vegging: 1.6/2.0 mS (containers up to 2 gallons)
Flowering: 2.4/3.0 mS (containers up to 5 gallons)

In general, conductivity >3.0 mS can be dangerous, so above that range only increase once/week and only 0.1-0.2 mS at a time.

0x06: Hydroponics

Hydro is awesome. Plants have the ability to grow continuously and at a very rapid pace, but they need extra care, and problems with nutrients or pH often occur so quickly that by the time you realize there's a problem it's usually too late. For first-timers, I'd recommend coco coir. If you're ambitious, consider building your own aeroponic system. In general, there are two types of systems: recirculating, and drain-to-waste. I'll list each medium and give some details about which system is appropriate. For recirculating, you'll want to drain and change your reservoir at least once a week in addition to topping it off regularly, whereas if using a drain-to-waste system only topping off is necessary.

Coco coir:
Coco coir is a part of the coconut husk that by itself can take years to break down, hence its designation as a hydroponic medium. It's commonly used as bedding for worms. It's highly absorbent and expands to sometimes five times its dry volume when wet. It also holds air very well. Coco coir is nice because it's very difficult to over-water your plants with it since it holds so much air, and the shrinking in between waterings adds additional air to the medium. Drain-to-waste is best for coco because bits of the medium will also drain out, and you don't want these clogging up your pump or lines. Depending on the size of the container and plants, coco requires 1-3 feedings/day.

Rockwool is woven fibers of rock made by Grodan. Rockwool is very absorbent, and it's easy to see when it is drying up. Like coco, rockwool is very porous and holds air very well. I prefer rockwool for cloning. Ebb and flow (flood and drain, recirculating) or drain-to-waste both work well with rockwool. Fast growing plants may require up to 5-6 waterings/day depending on the size of medium. Timers come in handy here. For ebb and flow, flood for 10-15 minutes, then drain. For drain-to-waste, feed as needed, allowing 5-10% of the water feed to drain, ensuring complete saturation of the medium.

Hydroton, Perlite, or other Pebbles:
Hydroton is a manufactured expanded-clay medium. Perlite is a volcanic glass/rock, also expanded, and very porous. Both are better than filling a container with rocks/pebbles, although you could do that if you're really trying to save money. Hydroton and perlite do hold some water, but they drain very quickly and so should not be left without water for an extended period of time.
Ebb and flow or continuous drip work well here. Drain-to-waste is very inefficient since the medium retains very little water, and so very accurate timings would be needed to prevent excessive waste. If using a continuous drip, consider aerating the reservoir with an air pump to ensure roots have access to oxygen. For ebb and flow, flood at least 1-2 times per hour with no more than 15 minutes of dry time.

Aeroponic growing is sweet. There's little-to-no chance of overwatering or underwatering (unless your pump breaks) as the roots always have access to water, nutrients, and air. For this, you'll need to contruct a sprayer assembly inside a reservoir. Rubbermaid containers are cheap and work well. Cut 2" holes in the lid (or whatever size gasket you have) and fill the holes with cylindrical foam gaskets to hold the plants. Plant roots hang down freely into the reservoir. Construct the sprayer assembly using PVC piping and small 180- and 360-degree sprayers depending on placement. The assembly should be as short as possible but have at least 2-3 inches above the pump and below the sprayers at the top. Use a submersible pump, and fill the reservoir to above the pump but below the sprayers. You will need an NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) style timer for the pump. These typically operate on cycles of 1 minute on and 4 minutes off or 3 minutes on and 5 minutes off. I've seen cheap adjustable ones on Ebay. You can also make one yourself with an arduino and a relay pretty easily. Just make sure that the cycle allows for time in between sprayings to provide the roots access to air. An air pump here also works well.

Deep Water Culture:
DWC is simple, easy, and efficient. It's basically an aeroponic system but with a much deeper reservoir, allowing the roots to grow down into the nutrient solution. A sprayer system similar to the aeroponic one described above can be used, or a top-drip works as well. For a top-drip, fill a pot with Hydroton or another medium, and set the pump to continuously pump feed from the reservoir underneath to the pot on top. An aerator for the nutrient solution is necessary here so that roots hanging down into the solution have access to air.

When I first read about this I was blown away. Aquaponic combines hydro with an aquarium. Basically, you have a large reservoir with a DWC setup, but additionally you have fish living inside as well. The fish and plants eat each other's waste (just like in nature!), and they both feed on fish meal which is one of the most common organic plant foods. Guppies are usually the best choice for fish since they're cheap and reproduce quickly, although any freshwater fish will work.

0x07: Light

Light is arguably the most important factor in growing. Typically it is the most limiting factor. There are many different types of lights, and each has its own benefits. Halogen lights are most common in professional grows, fluorescents are cheap and efficient, and LEDs are gaining popularity.

Here's some info on each:

Good ol' incandescents:
These provide light, they sure do, but they also provide heat. They're best used as supplemental light when you need the added heat as well, otherwise just go with a fluorescent.

Fluorescents come in many sizes, shapes, and spectrums. Spectrum is rated by color temperature in Kelvins. A 6500K light is usually recommended as it provides the closest spectrum to the Sun's white light. In general, the higher the K, the better. Fluorescents are great for all phases of growth, but they're best suited for clones, mothers, and vegetative plants when you have an HPS available for flowering. Even so, they're always great to consider as supplementals since they're so cheap and efficient.

MH Halogens are extremely effective for the vegetative phase. They work for flowering as well, but are not as effective as HPS lights. A 400-watt MH can cover a 3x3ft area, 600-watt covers 4x4', and 1000-watt covers 6x6'. In general, the more light, the better.

High-Pressure Sodium:
HPS lights are best for flowering. They have a spectrum more concentrated in the red/yellow end which is what plants tend to absorb more during the autumn season (when flowering). In every test I've ever seen, HPS lights outperform all other lights in flowering production, watt for watt (or lumen-equivalent in the case of LEDs and fluorescents). HPS lights also generate a lot of heat, so keep that in consideration.

LED lights are extremely efficient, but they're also expensive. In the long run, they're worth it, but they can take a few cycles to pay themselves off. LEDs come in combinations of red and blue (more red for flowering), and sometimes other colors are added as well. If space permits, I'd still recommend using an HPS along with LEDs for flowering, but LEDs are great for the vegetative phase.

With all lights, the inverse-square law applies, meaning if you cut the distance from light to plant in half, you quadruple the light received, and vice versa, if you double the distance you quarter the light received. Too much light can be a bad thing. Plants that are too small or do not have enough water/nutrients to use will not be able to use all the light that hits them and their leaves will burn. Also, there are areas close to the lights that are called hotspots. These are areas where reflected light is concentrated, and plants in these spots are more likely to burn since the light there is very intense. The rule-of-thumb is use your hand: if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for the plants.

0x08: Cloning

Cloning is the process of taking cuttings from a "mother" and allowing these cuttings to root into plants of their own. In addition to your mother plant, you'll need a sharp pair of snips, a humidity dome, cloning medium, filtered water, cloning gel/powder (optional), nutrients (optional but recommended), and a light that will be on 24-hours/day (a single fluorescent is sufficient). Here is a step-by-step process:

Prepare your mothers by giving them plain water (along with a flushing solution if you like, a bit of molasses works well) at least a day before cutting clones. This helps flush out excess Nitrogen so that the clones can root more quickly.

Prepare the cloning solution.
This can be plain water, but I like to add a mix of flowering nutrients (better than vegging nutrients for rooting, nitrogen is bad for cloning) and kelp and algae extracts. Balance the pH of the solution according to the medium you're using, and thoroughly soak the medium. I use rockwool. Other alternatives are Groplugs, Coco, and soil. Any growing medium can work, really. I also like to keep a pool of solution in the bottom tray of the humidity dome to help keep the humidity high as well as provide food for the plants once they root. You can even allow the medium to soak for the first 3-4 days of cloning to help speed up root growth, just be sure to drain it after that.

Cut the clones. I've cut both small and tall clones, and the small ones work very well too. Leave at least 2" (about 5cm) of stem underneath the lowest leaves. You can trim leaves off to save space, if you want. This allows you to pack more clones inside the dome. Otherwise, I like to leave the leaves on (except for the bottom section that's inside the medium). You can place the clone directly in the medium, or you can shave and split the bottom. Splitting the bottom of the stem and shaving off the outer-layer of the bottom of the stem increases the surface area of the cambium layer, kind of like a stemcell layer. From this layer is where the roots grow. Exposing more can increase the rooting time by a few days, but often you will get much more vigorous and branched root growth. I prefer this method.

Dip the stem tip in cloning gel/powder, if you're using it (I don't, just saying), then plant the clones inside the medium, and cover the dome. If cutting many clones, I like to keep the dome partially covered (for those already planted) so they don't start wilting right away.

After they're all planted and the dome is covered, place the dome under a light that will be on 24-hours/day. Clones need very little light to root, so a single fluorescent is sufficient here, or just some ambient light that will not be shut off.

Clones can take anywhere from 5-14 days to root depending on the factors discussed above. I like to keep my clones rooting in the dome until their root masses are about a foot long, though the plants will still be short. This ensures the best chance of avoiding shock when transplanting as well as fairly explosive growth within a couple days of transplanting.

0x09: Vegging

Once clones have rooted, the vegetative phase begins. Most strains require at least 18 hours of light/day to prevent them from flowering, though some make require more, up to 24 hours/day. This is the easiest phase to grow in since the plants are vigorous and large enough to tolerate shock.

Transplant your clones into the medium of your choice, and begin feeding a mild nutrient solution. For soil gardens, plain water can be used for the first week. Increase the concentration of the nutrient solution over time to accomodate the size of the plant. Consider transplanting to a larger container after two weeks of continuous, vigorous growth.

Depending on your setup, you'll want a different target size of your veg plants. A sea of green, for instance, requires many plants next to each other so that they basically form a horizontal plane across their tops, but if you're growing in a small closet with 2-3 plants then you'll probably want them as big as they can fit.

There are different stress-techniques used to promote larger growth. Topping is one of the most common. Topping entails cutting off the newest growth of the highest node, generally without trimming much of the larger leaf matter. Topping forces the plant's vascular system to merge at this point, causing more growth nodes to be produced here at the top of the plant. Topping is a preferred method because the top buds of each branch are generally the largest, and more top nodes mean more top nugs.

Another technique used is bending. Bending entails taking the tallest branch of the plant and bending it down and to the side, usually tying it down with gardening wire or string. Bending exposes more of the lower nodes to direct light, causing them to grow larger. It also allows more buds to receive direct light, making it another preferred method by many growers.

Creasing and snapping branches are a form of "supercropping", and they combine the benefits of topping and bending. The idea is to break the inner part of a branch while keeping it attached to the plant. Lke topping, this causes a merging of the vascular system, and this section of branch later on will grow into a nice bulge. And like bending, the top nodes are pushed outward to allow more light to hit nodes underneath. It is usually best to bandage the plant after supercropping until it has completely healed since this technique may cause a good deal of damage to the plant if left unattended. It's usually best to delay flowering for a couple of weeks after supercropping to allow the plant to fully heal and build support for those super dank buds it'll be growing.

0x0A: Flowering

Once your plant has reached the desired size, it's time for flowering. Unless you're growing an autoflowering variety, the flowering cycle is typically triggered by a change in nighttime length, and most often a 12-hour day/12-hour night cycle is used. Some plants will grow considerably during the flowering phase, especially the African Sativas, so keep this in mind; you don't want to trim the plant once it's in full flower production as this causes considerable stress and can cause the female to produce some seeds.

For the first couple weeks of flowering, convert about half of your nutrient solution from the veg mix to the flower mix. Convert more of the mix to flowering as time passes. After 2-3 weeks, a pure flowering mix should be used. Once the mass of pistils have formed (pistils are the unmistakable pre-flowers that form on female plants), increase the nutrient concentration. Large, dense buds will develop, and some leaves may yellow
and drop. Toward the end of the cycle, pistils will change color (often from white to orange/brown), and from here on consider flushing with plain water. Flushing leaches leftover fertilizer from inside the plant, giving it a much smoother burn. Plants that are harvested without flushing typically will have harsh smoke, even after curing.

At the end of the flowering phase, the clear crystals on the buds, pistils, leaves, and stems will first turn milky-white. This is easiest to spot with a magnifier (10x or greater). After this, they begin to brown. This is when they are ready to pick. Picking later will bring out more of the Indica characteristics (more CBD/CBN), whereas picking earlier will bring out more of the Sativa characteristics (more THC). Picking too early, however, (before crystals have become milky-white) produces weak buds, and often will just give you a headache when smoked.

If after flushing the crystals do not appear to change color, feed them once more, with a full, strong solution, then continue flushing. Additional buds will likely grow, and they will be ready soon after.

0x0B: Harvest

Harvest the plants by cutting at the base, then hang them upside-down (I dare you to try hanging them right-side up....good luck with that) in a dark room to dry. A small amount of airflow is necessary, so keep a fan on low but not pointed directly at the plants. After at least one day of full darkness, you can begin trimming. Trim off all the largest leaf first, leaving the smaller, hashy leaves for manicuring later. If this trim does not have crystals/hash on it, discard it, otherwise save for extracts.

Manicuring is a bit of a longer process. You can go the quick route, and just trim the ends of the leaves sticking out like so many lazy-ass growers do, or you can properly manicure your buds, making them look better and preventing you from smoking all that leaf matter. To manicure, use a pair of floral trimmers to reach in and cut the leaves at the base of the stem. This is uaully easier when holding the buds upside down since the leaves are below the buds. It takes practice and patience to avoid clipping off whole buds, but even if you do just save them along with the other manicured buds. After the leaf is clipped off, remove excess stem. If the stems fold when you try to break them, the buds are not dry yet; place them in a brown paper bag for further drying. Once they snap, place them in glass jars for curing.

Remember to save all the trim from manicuring for making extracts. You can place the trim in a ziploc bag and put it in the freezer until you're ready to make extracts.

Check on the glass jars once a day. Open each jar, and take a whiff. You'll notice over time how the smell changes. Check out the buds. Try snapping a stem. If it folds, either put the buds back in a paper bag, or keep the jar open a bit longer. For a quick, 2-week cure, keep jars open 15-60 minutes per day depending on dryness. If buds are dry, don't leave the jar open too long, but open it briefly at least once a day to allow the air inside to exchange -- stale air prevents curing.

During the curing process, chemicals inside the buds break down, mainly those that cause harsh smoke. The longer the cure, the smoother the smoke is, but I can't say that anything longer than 8 weeks really makes a difference. Once the buds smell like they have cured, try smoking it. Continue the curing process until the smoke is smooth and clean.

0x0C: Extracts

Now here's the fun part. Personally, I like making kief, hash, and baked goods. Butane extracts are also pretty easy. I won't go into detail on those, but making a butane extractor with PVC and a lighter refill can is simple, and there are plenty of guides available online.

If you want to make butter or oil for cooking, you can use kief or hash you've already made and not worry about filtering, or you can use the trim in its entirety. If using trim, fill a pot with the amount of butter or oil you want to make. Add just enough water to the pot so that it won't splash or boil over, but otherwise more water doesn't hurt. Mix it all together, and add the trimmings. Simmer the mixture for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 24 hours -- I definitely notice a difference between 2 and 24, but I can't say where the threshold is in between. After it's done cooking, transfer the mixture through a strainer into another pot or bowl, and place this into the refrigerator. The oil or butter (along with the good stuff) will rise to the top, and the water will sit at the bottom. Since THC and the other chemicals are oil- but not water-soluble, none of it should be lost in the water. If the oil hasn't solidified at all, placing it in the freezer for a little while should do the trick (too long and the water will freeze). Scoop out the oil or butter, and use for baking, or spread on toast!

Making water hash is pretty easy. Get yourself a set of extract bags (minimum 3) including at least either a 73-ish or 90-ish micron bag. In a set of 3 the others should be around 25 microns and at least 180 microns. Place each bag, smallest first, into a bucket, and fill the bucket with ice-water. Add the trim, and mix for 15-20 minutes with a kitchen or paint mixer. Let the mixture settle for about half an hour, then remove each bag one at a time. The first will remove the trim, and others after will have hash and/or contaminants, depending on how many bags you use. If the set comes with a screen, use the screen to press the water out of each mass of hash. Scrape the hash off and set aside to dry.

Even easier than water hash is what I like to call white-trash hash. What comes out is really kief, but you can press the kief into hash if you want. Procure a large container, like a storage bin for a shelf. One with fairly high walls is good so it captures as much of the mess as possible. Take your 73-micron bag, and put your trim inside. Fill the rest of the bag with broken-up dry ice. Tie the bag off (hold it closed), and shake into the container until all the glorious beauty falls out. You may want to split into multiple sessions, the first being more pure and second-grade after that, but I usually just shake until it looks like it's all out. What you end up with in the bag is a green, sloppy mush that you can go ahead and discard. The bin, however, is now full of wonderful kief. Smoke it now, or save it for later. Press a chunk into hash between your palms, or put some in a baggie in your shoe and walk on it until it turns into hash.

0x0D: Signs and Symptoms

I've saved the worst for last. Here are different signs and symptoms of various problems you may encounter:

Perfect: The sign of perfection is perky plants, solid to deep-green colored (but not too dark). Leaves point upward at a 40-60 degree angle and toward the light. Daily growth is visible. Pistils are perky but not crooked or dry at the ends.

Over-watering: leaves will curl downward, with the middle section being the highest, kind of like it's trying to be an umbrella. Wait as long as possible before watering again, and make sure to provide at least a mild nutrient solution especially if straight water was used at the previous watering.

Under-watering: Can be similar to heat stress when it occurs frequently, but otherwise the leaves will lose perkiness and wilt, lying beside the stem and pointing downward. Pistils first show signs with crooked ends, and soon after they shrivel and change color. Make sure to fully soak the container after this occurs, the best way being a slow flow of water rather than gushing out of a watering can.

Heat-stress: Leaves fold up and inward, especially at the edges. Fix by moving the light further away or reducing the temperature. Supplement with extra air flow and a small extra watering straight water is usually best for this to prevent nutrient burn when coupled with heat stress).

Nitrogen deficiency:
Leaves yellow to light-green. Treat by increasing concentration of veg mix.

Nitrogen toxicity:
Leaves very dark green, later start burning. Treat by reducing the concentration of veg mix.

Phosphorus toxicity:
Leaves dark green (purple tint sometimes) and wilt, curling downward. Treat by reducing the concentration of flowering mix.

Various toxicities, deficiencies, pH burn:
Chlorosis (dying plant matter) on various parts of leaves. Different styles signifiy different problems, but overall consider what changes have been made recently. Check pH of nutrient solution. Fix by flushing medium with a mild nutrient solution at proper pH. Avoid using supplements, just use a basic nutrient mix for the current phase. Treat a suspected deficiency with only a slight increase in what you think is needed. More often than not micronutrient dificiencies are only present when using synthetic nutrients and only when not using any other supplements. Mild deficiencies are not likely to show visible symptoms.

Many different bugs will want to eat your plants. Some of the most annoying are aphids and spider mites. Insecticidal soap works well with aphids, and neem oil works extremely well with spider mites. For aphids, spray on site. Most soaps take care of them well. Also consider removing infected plant matter. For mites, spray thoroughly and afterward remove leaves with noticeable spots since these 90%+ of the time have eggs. Neem will kill the mites but not the eggs. Spray again 2-3 days later and again a week after the first. Afterward, inspect daily and spray as needed.
Grasshoppers eat the leaves. Sorry Mr. Grasshopper, but you gotta die. Pick them off and get rid of them however you choose. Caterpillars eat everything, especially the buds. Inspect dying bud matter for caterpillars, and remove those found. Spray with a Bt solution -- it's a bacteria that when eaten causes the caterpillars to stop eating. These methods are all organic (or available as organic). Use synthetic pesticides only in severe cases, and only before buds begin forming. Both the insecticidal soap and neem oil can be washed and rinsed off with regular soap at harvest if necessary.

Mold sucks. Bud mold is highly infective and destructive. Bud mold is characterized by grey/black along the stem and spreads quickly. Remove entire affected plants immediately. Place in quarantine until sure of the diagnosis, then destroy any infected plants.
Powdery mildew is annoying but treatable. It is easy to spot -- visible white spots with a powdery look on top of leaves. Treat by spraying with a baking soda solution and increasing air flow. Decrease humidity for up to a week after symptoms disappear if possible.

0xFF - Fin
That concludes this guide. I hope you've enjoyed reading it, and I hope you're now ready to grow some super ultra dank megabuds.