Here’s a nice and simple germination and grow technique for people who would like to casually dip their thumbs into the fun and rewarding hobby of cannabis growing.
It uses the natural light from the sun and is completely organic. If things go well, you’ll be consuming your own sun grown organic cannabis by the fall.
I was given the following advice on how to germinate one seed at a time from a seasoned grower in a small town in Spain just north of Malaga. At the time, as I was practising on my windowsill and it was a perfect solution for me.
This technique would suit someone who wishes to casually grow just one or two cannabis plants in a sunny spot (indoors or out); be it a windowsill, skylight, roof terrace, balcony, conservatory, greenhouse, or yard. So far, I’ve had 100% success with this technique. However, if you have a dud seed then not even magic will help you.
I recommend autoflowering seeds for first time growers. They flower automatically over time and don’t rely on a change in the hours of sunlight per day to induce flowering. This means that they finish quicker and produce more compact plants. All these techniques will work for regular seeds if your climate and patience supports the longer growing period.
What you will need:
- 1 zip-up sandwich bag
- 1 coco or peat pellet (they usually come in bags of ten)
- Bottled water (or if using tap water allow to sit for 24 hours to let chlorine evaporate off)
- Autoflowering cannabis seed
- Chopstick or similar
- A sunny windowsill
- Plastic pot, as big as you have room for. At least 10 litres is good to get a decent-sized plant
- High quality organic substrate from your local grow shop
- Expanded clay pellets or broken clay pots
- Semi permeable membrane if you can get it (from grow shop or garden centre – not essential)
Easy germination steps
- Put your pellet in the dish. (A small cereal bowl is good.)
- Fill the bowl halfway with water, and place pellet in. The pellet will initially float.
- Wait for 15-20 minutes until the pellet has swollen up to it’s full size.
- Gently squeeze out the excess water. The pellet should be moist but not sodden.
- Open the bag and open the base it so that it sits upright with the open end upwards. Leaving two hands to put in the pellet.
- Put the expanded pellet in the bag with the round opening at the top.
- Poke a small hole in the middle using a chopstick, pencil, or skewer. Hole should be about twice the depth of the seeds width.
- Insert the seed into the hole. Sometimes using tweezers helps to get the position right.
- Gently cover the seed with the surrounding peat/coco.
- Seal up the bag ensuring that there is as much air in the bag as possible. I tend to seal until almost closed then blow in the bag to add more air before sealing completely.
- Put in a warm spot with plenty of light.
- Check daily to make sure the pellet has not fallen over or that it has dried out. In case it has dried out, top up the water with a fine water sprayer.
Planting your seedling
First, you will see the cotyledons appear. These are small round leaves that look nothing like the traditional cannabis leaf we have in our minds. They are the first “seed leaves” that nourish the baby seedling. When you see these leaves make sure that the baby plant has plenty of light to avoid any stretching as it seeks out a light source. After a few days, you will be able to transplant the seed into a bigger pot.
Make sure your pot is thoroughly cleaned if you are recycling it to remove any mold spores or hidden beasties.
Pour in 2-3 inches (4-6 cms) of expanded clay balls for drainage. If you don’t have these, you can use stones or broken clay pots. It’s a good idea to place a semi permeable membrane over the drainage. This makes it easier to clean and recycle everything for next year. It allows the water to pass through but not the substrate and roots. You should be able to get this from your grow shop or garden centre. I never do this but always wish I had!
Use a good, organic substrate bought from your local grow shop. A light mix will already have many of the nutrients a growing cannabis plant will need. I like to mix in perlite with this to make sure that it is light and airy to allow the roots to breath. I would suggest at least one third perlite. If the mix already has perlite you may want to add less.
You can add nutrients at this point, but since the goal of this guide is to be simple for newbies so we won’t go into that right now. Just sticking to what is already in the soil and whatever organic nutrients you add during growing and blooming will be a good start. Ask your local grow shop about what organic nutrients they recommend for vegetative and flowering growth.
Put your substrate over the clay balls and semi permeable membrane, if you are using one. Fill to about 2 inches (4-5 cms) from the top. Water well so that the contents is damp and leave it for a few hours, or even a day, so that it is moist. Do this before you add the seed or seedling so you don’t disturb the fragile little plant. To know when is a good time to transplant the seedling insert your finger into the soil to see how wet it is. It should be moist but not soaking wet and definitely not bone dry.
In the top of the moist substrate in your pot, make a hole large enough to accommodate the expanded pellet holding your newly germinated seedling. Very gently remove the thin material that is wrapped around the expanded pellet. You’ll find it crumbles here so pay attention to make sure it does not fall away from the fragile roots completely. You should now be holding the pellet together gently in your hand. You can put it in the hole in your pot.
Press the soil softly around the baby cannabis seedling ,then give a small amount of water around the area when the pellet joins the substrate within the pot. Put a cloche over the seedling to act as a mini greenhouse. You can use a transparent tray, like the kind that holds strawberries or other soft fruit from the supermarket, or cut the bottom off a plastic bottle and use that.
Caring for your plant
Put the pot somewhere where it will get plenty of sun (but not direct sun until the first set of jagged cannabis leaves are established). Make sure that the temperature does not go below 50°F (10°C) during the night and not above 86°F (30°C) during the day. Ideal temperature is around 80°F (27°C). You won’t kill the plant with high or low temperature but it may slow the growth and impact final yield. You may have to move the pot around the garden to catch the most sun.
For watering don’t let the plant dry out completely but don’t overwater. Use the finger technique to see what is a comfortable moist environment for your plant. Overwatering is no doubt the number one killer of young cannabis plants by new growers. It’s better to underwater than overwater. Let the plant be your guide. When the leaves start to droop it’s time for water.
To feed, follow the instructions on the label of whatever organic solution you are going to use. Don’t overfeed or you may damage the plant, even with organic solutions, better to give less than the recommended dosage (I give half, when using these). You can always top off if you have deficiencies, which are much easier to fix than burning your plant with nutrients.
Harvesting and drying will be covered at a later date. We have plenty of time.
Good luck everyone, and happy growing!
Do you know what the Demonized seeds and Autos are missing? Well I’m going to tell you, the y chromosome which means they can Morf. At any time. Meaning they can start out female an then boom they are both male and female. Not good. Just thought I would share this with your readers. Grow Autos at your own risk if wasteing your time. Have a great day. Also when you buy seeds buy only Regular seeds. With true Genetics.
Hi Rory, Thanks for your comments. I understand where your concerns are coming from but this is meant to be a fun experiment for hobby growers to learn the lifecycle of the plant not an advocation for all to use autoflowering seeds. In my opinion, regular seeds go beyond a guide for growing your first plant. If someone were to plant one seed and it turned out to be male one could argue that they would be wasting their time more than if a feminized autoflowering seed were to hermaphrodite. Worst case would be a few seeds in a few of the buds, but they would still have something to smoke. Also, photoperiod plants tend to take longer and get bigger than would be practical for what is described above. If the plant were female but didn’t flower until the damp fall arrived and it were to get bud rot they would have wasted even more effort. The mouldy buds could potentially be dangerous if a newbie didn’t know what to look out for. Therefore, if anyone were to ask me what would be an easy plant to start with in a pot in the garden I would recommend feminized autoflowering seeds every time. You have a nice day too.