Grow Cannabis: The quick start guide

So you want to grow cannabis…

Good news: Cannabis is a weed and you won’t have to work too hard to get it to grow. If you want to grow cannabis at home and live in a place where it’s legal, then pick your grow plan, and you should be off to the races.

Now, I’m going to cover some very abbreviated methods to get you started. The cultivation of cannabis is widely talked about on the Internet, and people love spouting their idea about what’s best. Like me. This article covers what I think is best for the newbie grower. Other will tell you up and down that I’m wrong or that some tweaks will make huge differences in results. They might very well be correct. I welcome comments and will update if anything turns out to be simpler or better than what I’m suggesting here.

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Acquiring cannabis to start

If you live in Colorado or California, getting a clone or seeds is fairly straight forward. There are nurseries that sell them and all that’s required is to show up, and be eligible to purchase them.

In Massachusetts… not so much. You can’t buy clones or seeds right now, buying seeds online is a federal offense, and traveling with seeds or clones is a great way to spend far too much time inside a small room at the airport with people asking you questions.

Your legal options are:

  • Find a plant in the wild, and harvest it’s seed or take a clone then hope you got a female
  • Get a friend to gift you a clone or seeds

In practice, this means legally getting a clone from a local, private grower or illegally risking orders from on-line seed banks. I recommend joining some groups, and ask around at local hydroponic stores. Check out our article on the Legality of home growing in MA.

General suggestions

My first plant

I’m going to make the following suggestions on your first grow:

  • Actively grow one plant. If you grab a clone of your plant before it flowers, you have a backup plan. Keep it in a 16 Oz cup, water regularly and stick a bad plant light on it. It will root bind, stay small, and hang out until it’s time to shine. Keep it in a chilled environment if you can.
  • Avoid auto-flowering plants. When you get good at this, they are really convenient for some people, but right now you need time to screw up and you don’t get that luxury with autoflowers.
  • Don’t cheap out. If you need to lower the costs, just grow a smaller plant with smaller lights and needs.
  • If you grow indoors, your grow light will be the most important thing to buy. Get the best you can afford. Only buy lights that you can get actual PPFD numbers on (you need over 500 μmols/m2/sec for effective flower. 750+ is better). You need to have enough light on your plant to get a good crop. Seriously. Don’t be me.

Growing your seedling


If you get seeds, you need to germinate them. The double plate method provides the simplest method:

  • Take your seeds, and tuck them in a very damp paper towel.
  • Place that between two plates with a chopstick or similar item as a spacer. Cannabis seeds need darkness, water, and air to germinate.
  • Wait a day or two until the seeds crack open and a tap root emerges. Older and crappier seed stock will take longer to germinate. Keep the towel moist during the wait.
  • Take the sprout and place it in some inert grow media (peat moss, coco coir, light soil, peat puck, etc.). Your goal is to give it a week or two with minimal nutrients to get a small root system established. We prefer peat for simplicity.
  • Wait a week for the roots to form. Make sure you keep the grow media moist during this time.
  • Cut some slits in the bottom of a 16Oz plastic cup (for drainage). Put some potting soil in the cup, Leaving enough room on top so the starting media will fit without going over the lip-line.
  • Move the starting media in the cup, and cover with potting mix
  • Illuminate the seedling with a low-powered LED/CFL/Florescent light
  • Water it with clean tap water.
  • Wait until the leaves grow larger than the width of the cup.

If these seeds are feminized, awesome. you’ve got a 99% chance of getting a female plant. If not… make sure to sex your plant. Stop, don’t be dirty.


Clones should come with a root system and ready to plant. If your buddy giving you the clone doesn’t know how to make a clone,check out our How-To on cloning through cuttings.

Choose your grow method

Decide how you want to grow:

Grow Cannabis Outside: The easiest way

If you can start to grow cannabis in April-Jun and wait for harvest in October, you will be rewarded with a laid back grow with a very good yield
Cost – $40
Time to Harvest – 28 weeks
Effort – Medium: monitor plants, fight off pests, and water every few days.
Chances of success – OK. Unfortunately lots of nature’s creatures see your plant as food

Read that article ->

Grow Cannabis Inside In Soil: The easy way to grow indoors

Start any time and keep your plants safer
Cost – ~$250
Time to Harvest – 20 weeks
Effort – Small: monitor plants and water every few days. There might be pests, but they are easy to prevent just by keeping the grow area closed off.
Chances of success – High. If you screw up, you generally just have to wait longer.

Read that article ->

Grow Cannabis Inside In Hydroponics: The fast way to grow indoors

That is a LOT of of stuff
Cost – ~$350
Time to Harvest – 16 weeks
Effort – High: pH testing, and nutrient changes are boring and require bigger chunks of time to complete
Chances of success – Medium. If you stick to the formula and don’t cut corners, this is fast and effective. However, screw ups kill plants fast.

Read that article ->

When should you harvest

{{ This section is repeated in all the other articles, so no need to come back if you read them through }}

Trichomes are the little “hairs” on the plant, and they are the best indication of how ready the plant is. Check the ones coming off the buds (not the sugar leaves). If you have an inspection microscope, you can take a peek at them on the buds to see if it’s time. You should harvest when most of the trichs have turned from clear to milky and before too many turn amber.

Look for milky trichomes and a little amber


Buds on the bottom screen and the light rack doing double duty as a drying line

There are two schools of thought on this. You can either cut the plant down, dry it, and then trim it, or pre-trim and dry. Both work acceptably. I’ve found that pre-trimming is best if humidity is high during drying. In either case, I would highly recommend a quick trim of fan leaves before you hang your plant to dry. The fan leaves and stems are not very useful after harvest and can be discarded or composted.

Chop your plant down in the largest portions your drying system will accept. You are going to want to hang the branches in a dark place with airflow and about 50% humidity. Alternatively, you can use hanging nets designed for drying to do this part. In this case, Cut the plant into handful-sized pieces to dry and spread them out on the net.

After 4-days to a week, they will be dry and you can then begin the final trim. Get yourself a good movie or some tunes, rubber gloves, comfortable scissors, and relax while you cut off every sugar leaf to the best of your ability. This is easy, but time consuming. Make sure to trim over a bin to catch it. Those leaves are covered in trichomes and therefore THC. You can make extracts from that pretty easily. Also, all the residue on your gloves and scissors is basically hash, so… feel free to dip it all in grain alcohol to extract it and do what you will with it.


The last part is to cure your crop. Now that you trimmed everything, break them in to smaller pieces and put them in sealed jars. You want smaller jars so that if a jar gets mold or goes bad, you don’t lose the whole crop.

You will let them sit in these jars for about a month. Open them once every few days to release moisture. If you’re in a dry place, you might want to had some humidification packets to the jars. They prevent the buds from getting too dry.


So that’s the basics when it comes to growing cannabis at home. There is an entire large knowlegdbase of information available when it comes to this topic and we can certainly recommend some further resources:

  • The book, The Canabis Grow Bible has been an indispensable resource for me over the years and I highly recommended it.
  • Reddit’s /r/microgrowery board is one of the best places to meet and interact with people interested in cultivating.
  • has a lot of tutorials and cultivated photo galleries that have helped many.

Got Any Questions? Ask in the comments or contact us and let’s see if we can answer your questions.


6 years ago