A rookie’s guide to growing cannabis at home, legally
As of October 17, Ontarians can grow as many as four cannabis plants per household without legal repercussions, as long as they use legally purchased seeds and don’t try to sell the fruits of their labour. But is it worth the effort? We scoured the city’s grow-op landscape for information on how it’s done, and what it costs.
The Easy Way
For those without the time or inclination to raise plants the old-fashioned way, new semi-autonomous grow boxes (which run around $3,000 a piece) promise to make cultivating weed almost as easy as microwaving a burrito.
With an exterior as svelte as the fuselage of a jet, Seedo wouldn’t look out of place in a condo kitchen. In addition to plumbing for water and nutrients, this device packs tanks of carbon dioxide to enrich the growing environment. There’s even an HD webcam, so anxious pot farmers can check on their babies from afar. Available in early 2019. Seedolab.com.
Leaf’s smooth, rounded corners hide a sophisticated hydroponic growth system, complete with a slick smartphone app that serves up step-by-step video instructions on how to perform basic maintenance tasks. The box can be connected to a home’s plumbing for fully automated water refills. Available in early 2019. Getleaf.co.
The GroBox has a sleek wood laminate exterior, and the manufacturer claims its water reservoirs are large enough to keep plants fed and happy for up to three weeks without human intervention. Cloudponics.com.
Several Toronto businesses specialize in teaching neophyte pot farmers how to grow. Here are some of them.
Every Wednesday, Grow Op Hydroponics holds a drop-in session on a different cultivation-related topic. Free. 1332 Bloor St. W., growophydroponics.com.
Homegrown Hydroponics holds four-session workshops that teach aspiring growers everything they need to know about cannabis cultivation. $200. 26 Meteor Dr., hydroponics.com.
Matt Mernagh, author of the Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook, teaches four-session cultivation workshops at Hotbox in Kensington Market. The tuition fee includes starter seeds and a 15 per cent discount on gear. $250. 206 Augusta Ave., hotboxshop.ca.
Advice From Friendly Strangers
We asked a few local grow-up suppliers for their cultivation tips. Here’s what they told us.
Katy Perry (Grow Op Hydroponics, 1332 Bloor St. W.)
Soil-free hydroponic growing can yield superior results, but beginners should stick to old-fashioned dirt. “I always grow in soil,” says Perry. “If you overwater, the roots will survive. If your pH is off, the soil will act as a buffer. But if you’re not using soil, there’s nothing protecting the roots at all.”
Alex Rea (Homegrown Hydroponics, 26 Meteor Dr.)
Normally, cannabis needs to be carefully coaxed into flowering. Neophyte growers can spare themselves aggravation by using specially bred “autoflower” seeds. “They grow really fast,” says Rea. “They start to flower about two weeks from when the seeds sprout and they’re finished in about nine weeks.”
Trevor Wilkinson (Grow it All, 165 Geary Ave.)
When setting up a home grow-op, think about lighting. The intensity and wattage of the beams will determine the size
of the harvest. “You’re only going to get so many grams per watt,” says Wilkinson. “The best combination is a 315-watt ceramic metal halide fixture in a three-by-three-foot space.”
Tools of the Trade
Every home pot farmer needs a few things to keep their plants happy. Here are the bare essentials for a safe, successful and odour-free indoor grow.
A fabric enclosure that resembles an IKEA wardrobe, with a reflective interior. It controls light, manages moisture and mitigates odour. $100 to $200.
It sucks spent air out of the grow tent, allowing fresh carbon dioxide to enter the tent’s vents and feed the garden. $75 to $140.
Fabric pots do an excellent job of retaining moisture while still allowing roots to breathe. $20 to $30 for a set of four.
It attaches to the exhaust fan and traps fragrant particles to keep your apartment from smelling like Snoop Dogg’s boudoir. $80 to $100.
Miracle-Gro isn’t going to cut it, unless you’re using your expensive grow kit to raise begonias. Look for plant food that’s specially formulated for cannabis. $20 to $40.
Ceramic metal halide lights are bright and reliable, making them a good choice for a first-time grower. LEDs can be pricier but are more energy efficient, meaning they’ll keep electricity costs down over time. From $400.
Most strains of cannabis won’t thrive without periods of darkness during each 24-hour cycle. A cheap wall timer eliminates the need to flip the light switch. $20 to $30.