10 easy-to-avoid errors in your first indoor grow
List of contents
- 1.- Bad calculation of the area and dates of cultivation
- 2.- Inadequate lighting and air renewal
- 3.- Bad choice of seeds
- 4.- Not using quality substrate
- 5.- Excess growth
- 6.- Excess irrigation
- 7.- Interruption of the photoperiod (light pollution)
- 8.- Curing before preventing
- 9.- Premature harvest
- 10.- Bad drying
More and more cannabis users are choosing to grow their own flowers because resorting to the black market is usually neither the most convenient nor the cheapest option. For this reason, every day more recreational and therapeutic consumers are taking the step into cannabis home growing so they can be self-sufficient and not have to rely on third parties.
However, starting indoors can be tricky if you don't know where to begin, so in this post, we're going to focus on the most common mistakes made by new growers when they first get into the exciting world of cannabis cultivation. Let's go!
1.- Bad calculation of the area and dates of cultivation
The purpose of home growing is to be self-sufficient in the cannabis we consume and to do this we must calculate how much cannabis we will need to grow in order to meet our needs. We need to make an estimate of our annual cannabis consumption and divide it between the number of harvests that we intend to carry out over the course of the year.
When we begin to cultivate, and especially if we do not have air conditioning and a bit of previous experience, it's best to start in September and finish in April, taking advantage of the low temperatures in autumn and winter. From spring, temperatures begin to be high (very high in some areas) and would require air conditioning to allow us to maintain adequate temperatures in the grow. Between autumn and winter, we could carry out 2 harvests without a problem.
Thus, depending on personal consumption, we will calculate the necessary growing space and opt for a tent with a size that is adequate for our needs, always rounding down our yield calculations, estimating a maximum of 300-350g per m2 of dried flower per crop, that is, every 3 months.
2.- Inadequate lighting and air renewal
Our grow tent must have an adequate lighting system if we want to optimise cultivation and produce good buds. It is not advisable to use energy saving light bulbs for flowering, but rather to invest in professional lighting, whether a sodium, LEC or LED system, the results always be better than CFL or energy-saving bulbs. While it is possible to flower cannabis plants with this type of lighting, the results will never be comparable to discharge lights (HPS, HM, LEC/CMH) or modern LED panels.
The air renewal system is often an afterthought, despite being just as important as lighting, possibly even more so. In a home-cultivation tent, an air extractor fan connected to an active carbon filter to prevent odours from escaping is more than enough (uninterrupted 24-hour operation is recommended), so we eliminate any smells while we renew the air inside the tent. In small spaces, we do not usually need to pull air into the growing space with another fan, because by leaving one of the vents in the tent slightly open, we can generate a passive airflow. Remember that a small fan installed inside the tent is always a good idea to remove the air around the plants.
3.- Bad choice of seeds
Once we have the tent, the lighting and the air renewal system (extractor and filter) then it's time to start thinking about seeds, an issue that has a huge influence on the success of our first crop. A typical rookie mistake is to buy the most expensive seeds available, those that are currenty in fashion or those with too long a flowering time. Clearly, if the objective is to finish the grow without major complications, then choosing a fast-flowering variety that does not demand high cultivation skills is the best option.
Once we've gained a little more experience and have a full stash, then we can choose varieties with greater difficulty of cultivation. A good option is to start with feminised seeds to ensure all the plants are females and not to grow males only to discard them, leaving empty spaces in the tent as happens when growing regular seeds.
Indica-dominant hybrids and Early or Fast Version genetics are the best places to start, with plenty of varieties to choose from.
4.- Not using quality substrate
It is vitally important to choose a professional substrate and not opt for those that we can find in dollar stores or similar shops at much cheaper prices. This is because low-end growing soils don't usually have the most appropriate substrate texture, pH or nutrients, and in most cases, they come without being sterilised. They may give good results when growing geraniums on the balcony, but when growing cannabis it is always better to use a specific substrate from an established brand if we want to avoid problems. For our first crop, a very good option is the so-called “All Mix type” substrates, as they come pre-fertilised with enough food for the first weeks of growth meaning that we don't have to worry about using additional fertilisers until flowering.
5.- Excess growth
The next common mistake is to prolong plant growth too long before switching the photoperiod to flowering. We must bear in mind that, once the plants enter flowering, they will begin to stretch and, depending on the genetics, they may even grow to triple the size they were before changing the photoperiod. It is a very common mistake to watch the plants grow bigger and bigger and not pass them to flowering!
We must also bear in mind that the branches and flowers in the lower parts of the plant will not develop as well as the higher ones, so we shouldn't waste time waiting for them to grow, which is a useless waste of light without adding to the final yield. In many cases, it is best to prune these lower parts away and let the plant's energy focus on the tips.
6.- Excess irrigation
Another of the most common mistakes among most people who are new to indoor growing is overwatering. In principle, we imagine that by watering more and often our plants will grow bigger and better, but nothing is further from the truth! When we grow in soil it is necessary to let the substrate dry before watering again, unlike tomato plants that like to have a certain degree of moisture in their roots, the opposite happens to cannabis, the substrate needs to be almost dry (but never completely dry or the plant will, of course, dehydrate in a few hours) before watering the plants again.
7.- Interruption of the photoperiod (light pollution)
When we grow photoperiod seeds which, unlike automatic seeds, grow or bloom depending on the hours of darkness received, we must respect the night period of the plants, so that no light should enter the tent during the dark period under any circumstances. Sometimes growers have used the sleep period of their plants to open the tent and check the plants or carry out irrigation, pruning, tying... but after more than a month in the flowering photoperiod they do not observe any changes in the plants; light pollution is another avoidable mistake by using green light in the crop or simply working on it when the lamps are on.
Also make sure that none of the devices inside the growing space emit any type of light during the night period of the plants, as well as checking that no outside light can enter through any slit or opening (yes, zipping ourselves inside the closet with the light off is the best way to check!).
8.- Curing before preventing
According to the saying, prevention is better than cure but, unfortunately, in most cases this practice is not used in cultivation until some experience has been gained thanks to past mistakes. If we do not have the correct cultivation parameters under control - such as temperature and humidity - or we do not take the pertinent hygiene measures in the grow, pests and pathogens may appear in our grow, from fungi to aphids right up to the dreaded red spider mites. It's usually enough to apply a different preventive product once a week to keep most pests at bay, especially during growth and pre-flowering (first 2 weeks of flowering); normally, when this is not done and a plague develops, we often don't realise until the plants are flowering, a period in which the use of insecticides or fungicides is not recommended.
9.- Premature harvest
After weeks of work and with the flowering phase well advanced, we can already see our precious flowers are a good size with a dense layer of resin. A very common mistake due to eagerness or because our stash is low (it's happened to all of us!) is to harvest too early; We should wait to harvest and let the flowers explode, cutting them at the optimum point of maturation so that they fatten as much as possible and their cannabinoid and terpene content is at its maximum peak.
Harvesting ahead of time reduces crop production, the flowers won't look the way they should, and the terpenes won't be at their best. Remember that 10-15 days before the estimated cut-off date we must carry out a root wash so that our plants do not continue to absorb nutrients and so we will be able to enjoy the taste of flowers 100% free of nutrients and in all their splendour.
Flushing cannabis plants is essential to achieve the best flavour and aroma, especially in hydroponic systems. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about this technique so you can harvest your buds free from nutrients and other substances.
10.- Bad drying
It is logical that before starting the cultivation we think about where to dry our harvest, although in many cases this question is not usually asked in our first crop until the day of the chop or even hours before the harvest. Making sure we have a suitable place to dry cannabis and doing it in the right way is how a grow should be finished because drying incorrectly is a really great way to ruin months of work.
One of the best options to dry the cannabis crop is to use the same tent we grew in, taking advantage of the extraction and the carbon filter, so that we renew the air and avoid the problem of the smell of the plants while dry slowly (about 2-3 weeks) and in complete darkness. Don't be tempted by the idea of drying inside a closed tent without ventilation, in glass jars or in a tupperware or box, because without adequate ventilation we will ruin our harvest!
We hope that all those who are thinking of starting to grow indoors for self-sufficiency will find this helpful, they are very basic concepts but most beginners fall into at least one of these easily avoidable errors. Who can say this never happened to them?