The Basic Cannabis Growing Schedule
Below you will find a step-by-step schedule for each phase of the process from planting the seed to enjoying the first smoke.
FROM PLANTIN’ SEED
TO SMOKIN’ WEED
Day 0: Soak the Seed
Whether planting indoors or outdoors, most people find improved germination rates by first soaking their seed in water for 24 hours. When the seed sinks to the bottom, it's ready for planting!
Day 1: Plant your seed
For outdoor growing, put your seed 1-2" into the soil during the planting season for your region--no later than July for the Northern Hemisphere.
When indoors, plant the seed in your 1-gallon pot, 1" into the soil
Day 3-7: Seed sprouts - Vegetative Cycle Begins
Make sure your plants are getting plenty of intense light. Generally speaking, the more light the better. Inadequate lighting results in smaller, often leggy seedlings.
If indoors, place your fluorescent bulb at least 3” from the top of plant at all times with your timer set to 15-18 hours of light per day.
Water only when soil is dry--the pot should feel noticeably lighter than after watering.
NOTE: Indoors, you can keep your plant in this vegetative cycle for as long as you like—though we don’t recommend indefinite vegging, we know folks that have kept individual plants alive for years, with occasional sun exposure, root-pruning, and a minimum of 13 hours of light on them each day.
Day 31: Vegetative cycle minimum length
This is about the earliest in the plant's lifecycle we want to 'flip to flower'. A full month (or longer) of vegetative growth will allow your plant the time it needs to build a robust root system, while nurturing an improving relationship with the microbes and mycorrhizae present in the soil.
Flowering begins automatically when the plant receives less than 12 hours of light per day--indoors or outdoors.
At this point, if growing in a 1 gallon pot, you will want transplant the herb to a 7 gallon pot. Although there are many theories on when to transplant, this is the earliest we recommend. You’ll want to add enough soil to fill your pot, but leave enough room for the roots and soil from your vegetating pot. Check out this video for a quick tutorial on transplanting.
Your plants will automatically enter their flowering stage when your garden starts receiving 12 hours of daylight per day. In the Northern Hemisphere this is typically during September, but the exact time will vary based on your climate and location.
Day 31+ : The first 2-6 weeks of the flowering cycle your plant will grow taller and 'stretch'; it's not uncommon for strains to double in height from their vegetative stage.
Generally speaking, Sativa varieties stretch taller and flower longer than Indica varieties. Keep this mind and allow for plenty of head room.
Day 36 - 42:
Plants begin to start producing flowers, pistils emerge
Day 94 - 111: The vast majority of plants are ready to harvest 8-11 weeks after pilstils emerge
We like to harvest when buds are showing at least 10% amber trichromes.
Check out our harvesting guide here.
Harvest and Bud Washing
Optional: Before beginning, gently remove all the big fan leaves off the plant.
Cut branches off the plant a few at a time in 12" (or so) lengths--this will help ensure they fit in the wash bucket. We use5-gallon Home Depot buckets and recommend them for their affordability and ease.
Wash the stalks. Click here for a short Bud Washing video tutorial!
Hang the stalks to dry in cool, dry, clean space, as free of dust and other pollutants as possible. It helps to have a little air flow, but we don't want any fans pointed directly at the hanging branches. Generally speaking, we want to keep temps below 72*F, and relative humidity below 55%, but above 45%.
Pro Tip: Using a fan to keep air softly moving in your curing room? Try using an air filter instead. They work well to keep unwanted air-born nasties--including mold, pathogens, pollens, and dust off of your beautiful buds.
5-10 Days after harvest
We want to cure on the line until the buds are dry on the outside, but not yet dry on the inside; typically 5-10 days from harvest. When the outside of the buds are completely dry to the touch, take your untrimmed branches and place them into clean paper grocery bags for continued drying and curing.
Why Paper Bags? The keys to a good cure are time, darkness, temperature, and humidity. The paper helps slow down the drying process and keep the cannabis dark, while allowing the cannabis to breathe and cure properly. Clothespins may help keep bags closed and buds clean. We store our paper bags right there in the same room we've hung the buds in for this stage.
4-7 days in Paper Bags
Check on the buds daily while in the bags, lightly shuffling the produce/bags to ensure excess moisture isn't being trapped anywhere. Usually anywhere from 4-7 days in a paper bag is all that is needed before cannabis is ready for trimming and jarring.
How do we know when it's ready? After 4-7 days in the paper bags , we'll want to start doing the “Slow Snap Test”.
Slow Snap Test: Take a bud and carefully begin bending it backwards 'against the grain' of the branch from which it grew. We know buds have dried adequately when they begin to snap cleanly off stems. We don't want super dry here--more of a bend, bend, then snap. When that happens, it's time to trim and jar.
Once you've performed the Slow Snap Test and your buds are popping off cleanly, it's time to trim!
Trimming is the process of removing undesirable parts--often those parts devoid of trichomes, from the plant. In dispensaries, it's common to find commercially-grown cannabis trimmed to the point where only bud is left, with very little (or any) sugar-leaf left intact.
Many High-Brix growers enjoy very 'lightly' manicured cannabis, finding the 'sugar leaves' to be some of the tastiest parts of the plant for consumption. In this post-prohibition age, why cut off all that good stuff?
Pro Tip: There are many methods for trimming cannabis. As long as you're gentle and not using a trimming-machine to do the work, you'll end up happy.
Put buds in jars
Now it's time to place your manicured buds in jars for long-term storage. If buds were removed too soon from their paper bags, you may have some condensation build up in the jars. Jars with moisture will need to be burped, or a host of issues (including mold and fungus) can arise. We know many folks who burp their jars, whether they can see moisture or not, for a week or so following initial jarring. The bottom line: A good cure takes time--and is well worth the wait.
1 Week after jarring:
Congratulations! If you've managed to wait this long without trying your harvest, good on you! You've made it. Your cannabis has now been properly grown, loved, washed, and cured. Prepare for jealous friends, and connoisseur-grade cannabis. Time to enjoy it!
Pro Tip: Keeping jars in a cool, dark place for storage and curing helps ensure the highest quality. The longer the buds age, the better the smoke gets. Try setting some high brix produce aside and trying it 6+ months--you won't be disappointed.