This simple soil grow guide is intended to help the new grower.
By providing a basic time line and links to the appropriate reading to better prepare you for success.
I like to grow in soil, simple soil, using simple nutrients and growing simple plants.
A simple grow can equal success with out using many advanced techniques.
Learning to just grow the plant can be the most important part of your journey.
Before you decide to try more advanced methods.
This way when things do not go right in your grow you will have the ability fall back to the basics to save your harvest.
Now that we have covered safety lets have a look at the basic items you will need for a simple soil grow.
You are going to need a tent or other area to grow in, Grow lights, fans, pots, Timer and other accessories that are important for a successful grow.
Your tent or Grow area needs to be free of any light leaks, while being able to exhaust the hot air and draw in fresh cool air.
To insure your tent is free of light leaks cover all led lights on anything in the tent, power strips, adapters, power supplies… everything should be covered.
To check, sit inside the tent and zip it up, wait a couple minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark and see if you can see any light at all.
If you do they need to be addressed ( tape over stitching, cover ducting tubes with thick cloth or black plastic to block the light etc).
Grow lights can be Hps, Led, or what ever you decide to use.
When selecting a light it is important to look at the foot print of the light or the area it will cover in flower.
You may need to get more than one light to cover the canopy of the plants adequately.
Another thing you need to check is the watts that the light uses, you should be aiming for 30 – 50 watts per square foot.
Another good thing to look for is the manufactures recommended height above the plant.
Along with lights you will need a timer to control the light on and off timing.
Fans you will need 2 types of fans for your grow.
One is an extraction fan with carbon filter and ducting. The extraction fan will be used to pull out the hot humid air and pull in fresh cool air from your lower duct ports.
The extraction fan should hang above the lights and exhaust out of the top port of the tent.
The carbon filter is fitted on the exhaust to help conceal the smell when the plants flower.
For your air intake, you will want to use 2 pieces of the ducting in your ports at the bottom of the tent for inlet air.
I choose to cover mine with towels or black plastic to help block any light from coming thru.
You will also need a circulating fan to create a nice breeze in the tent. Keeping the leaves moving slightly helps keep the plant strong.
You will need a Hygrometer (temp/ humidity gauge) to monitor temps and humidity inside the tent.
Temps from 18c – 28c are good. I typically shoot for 24c but my tent never seems to be right there but i can usually keep it close.
Humidity should be kept between 50% – 70% in veg and 40% – 50% in flower.
soil and pots
For soil you will want to use a quality organic soil. I use Fox Farms soils when not using a homemade super soil, but get the best you can from your location.
If you would like to build your own super soil Temple Grower has been kind enough to share his.
Members of the forum can tell you more about the soils they like that are available in their area.
I use 3 pots to raise a plant. First a small 6″(15cm) pot (seedling), then I re-pot them into 10″(25cm) pot (Veg), and finally a 5 gallon bucket (flower).
Make sure the pots have good drainage holes and sit them on a saucer.
Drainage is very important for the entire grow to prevent over watering issues like root rot.
Your plants shouldn’t be sitting in runoff, it’s bad for the roots so ensure you empty the saucers of run off.
Nutrients – I use Fox Farms Trio for soil and Calmagic from General Hydroponics.
As far as the nutrients, go for a 2 or 3 part system for soil keep it simple.
Another product I like to use is black strap molasses. It feeds the micro organisms in the soil.
You will need a Ph tester of some kind, Whether it is a Ph meter or litmus strips or a chemical test like you use for swimming pools.
Always check and adjust the Ph of the water or the nutrient solution you use to 6.5 (6.3 – 6.8) Ph before giving it to your plants.
So as you can guess you will need something to move the Ph up/down to adjust it. General Hydroponics has a Ph up/down kit with a Ph test kit.
Lastly you will need measuring devices. I use measuring spoons and a syringe to measure the proper amount of nutrients.
A 30x jewelers Loupe is used to check trichome maturity.
This is all you need for now.
A note about watering
Watering this is where most new growers often make mistakes.
I will tell you how I approach watering, I use tap water and aerate it for 24 hours with aquarium pump and air stone or leave it sit out to remove chlorine before using it.
I like to keep a 5 gallon bucket aerating at all times so its always ready to go.
Before watering or feeding your plant remember to adjust the Ph of the water or feed prior to use.
For seedlings I use approximately a shot glass full of Ph’d water, at first and make a circle around the seedling.
As the seedling grows keep making the circle larger daily and using slightly more water.
By watering this way the roots will spread out looking for water.
Once the plant has 3 sets of leaves or more I will water the whole pot with about a cup of water, at this point there probably will not be any run off.
It usually takes about 2 to 3 days before they are ready for another watering.
You can tell this by picking up the pot and feeling how heavy it is, when it is half as light as a freshly watered pot it is time to water again.
After the plants are re-potted into the 10” pot and growing good I will increase the water to approximately 1qt or 1 liter looking for a slight bit of run off in the saucer.
Once the plants are in there final pots (5 gallon buckets) I use ½ gallon of water, again looking for a slight bit of run off.
Always check the pots weight prior to watering/feeding I have found that the first week or 2 in the new pot they may only need watering once every 2 to 3 days.
But soon may be needing it every day or 2.
The lighting schedule for a photo period plant in Veg can be 24/0 20/4 or 18/6
for flower it should be 12/12
For an auto flower you can use any of the veg light schedules
Now for the simple soil grow, this guide will give you the basic steps and a approximate time line so that you can prepare for what is coming next.
If you encounter any nutrient deficiencies during your grow have a look here for help figuring it out.
Or you can post a pic of the plant along with information about your grow. the more info the better we can help
Germinating the seeds
set lights at 36″ or higher if using Leds. (use light manufacture recommendations)
Seedlings will require light as soon as they emerge from the soil.
Seedlings do not need intense light.
Set timer for lights at 18hrs on and 6 hours off.
Soak your seeds for 24 hrs in Ph 6.5-6.8 aerated tap water.
Then you can place them between moist folded paper towels placed in a zip lock bag or between 2 plates if you like until you see a tap root .
Next place seeds into your soil in a small 6 inch or 15cm pot, tap root down and moisten the area around the seed only.
Keep the area moist with Ph 6.3 – 6.8 aerated water until they pop out of the soil.
Remember when watering the seedlings start with a small circle around them and every time you water, make the circle a little larger so the roots will spread out.
Be careful not to over water them use about a shot glass worth until it has about 3 nodes. You will not be using any nutrients yet.
Lights should be 28-36″ ( use light manufactures recommendations)
As the seedling starts to grow it will develop the first true leaves. (single finger)
Then the next will be 3 finger then 5 finger or more.
Start lowering the light by a couple inches if the seedling seems to be stretching towards the light.
The new leaves should be close to the originals (node spacing) maybe 1/2 to 1″ higher but with High power Leds they should be fine with the light around 28-36”.
I consider them in veg as soon as the plant has 5 nodes.
Once the plants have 5 nodes, top them to the 3rd node.
After the second week the plant should be slightly wider than the pot its time to re-pot them into the 10″(25cm) pot.
Continue watering with 6.5 – 6.8 Ph aerated water.
At this point the soil should still be providing the necessary nutrients.
1 week after re-potting them you can start feeding them with veg nutrients at 1/4 strength + cal mag 1/4 strength, look at your feed schedule for what ever week you are in (most likely week 3).
You will feed one time and water the next time, Alternating.
2 weeks after re-potting increase to 1/2 strength veg nutrients + 1/2 strength cal mag and continue watering every other time.
Continue 1/2 strength nutrients according to your schedule.
The veg grow process usually takes 4 weeks but you can go longer if you desire.
It is now time to re-pot into our final pot ( 5 gallon bucket)
Set lights to 12 hours on 12 hours off and position them 18-24″ above the plants. (use manufacture recommendation)
If the seeds you chose to grow were regulars and not feminized you will start looking for signs of sex after 1 week – 2 weeks.
Over the next 2 weeks lower them gradually to 12 – 18”.
It is important to watch for signs of heat and light stress. (leaves curling or becoming crisp)
A good rule of thumb is if you place your hand under the light at canopy height it should be comfortable not hot.
The plants flowering stretch will do most or all of this automatically for you most likely maybe even make you raise the light some to keep the 12” – 18″.
Remember to watch for any sign that your plants are suffering from heat stress like curling or crispy leaves. If needed raise the light a couple inches.
Keep following the nutrient schedule at 1/2 strength nutrients +calmag for the week of flower you are in.
Make sure you are looking at the beginning week of flowering. Some schedules say week 1 flower some may just call it week 5 or 6.
After the second week of flower, the stretch should slow down greatly or even stop completely.
Now is the time to lollipop the plant but not before this time. ( lolly popping the plant consists of removing all growth from the bottom 1/3 of the plant)
Timing is important here to control the final size of the plant.
The defoliation or lollipop is done because the lights can only penetrate so far before they lose there intensity and anything below this will not turn out to be quality.
so we remove the leaves and small bud sites from the lower 1/3 of the plant so it will utilize its resources on the part that will grow quality buds.
Sounds odd but what is removed from below will be gained up top, that’s good!
Weeks 2,3 and 4 of flowering, increase the cal mag to full strength in your nutrients solution and keep the other nutrients at 1/2 strength.
This is the time that your plant will become cal mag needy lol.
Weeks 5 and 6 of flowering, feed 1/2 strength nutrients and you can return to 1/2 strength calmag
The last 2 weeks, usually weeks 7 and 8 of flowering (if you are growing a 8 week strain) just give them Ph 6.5 water.
This is to reduce the nutrients in the soil and the plant for a better tasting and cleaner burning smoke.
They should start yellowing and fading at this time (Fall colors)
Harvesting depends on the flowering time of the strain.
You should see the trichomes turning mostly cloudy around week 7 on an 8 week strain but you should start looking at them from week 6.
Using the jewelers loupe you can watch them go from clear to cloudy then some amber.
Depending on how much amber you like will decide on when you harvest.
I like about 10% amber or less. (more head high) But many people like it more amber (couch lock)
Once you have reached the desired ripeness its time to chop the plant down and hang it to dry.
This can be done by cutting the whole plant and hanging it.
Or cutting off a branch and removing all the bigger fan leaves and hanging them from a clothes hanger or something. (You can get a couple branches on each clothes hanger)
your drying area should be around 60-70F and 50 -60% Rh
What ever method you use you want to dry them until the small branches snap right at the bud and does not just bend first.
At this point it is time to remove the buds from the branches and place them in the jars or plastic container to cure.
Try not to over pack the jars as you still need air to get to your buds in the jar.
Once in the curing container you will want to open it up (Burping the Jar) and let it sit for around 15 – 30 minutes at least once a day for about a week.
If your harvested buds still feel real wet after a day in the jar you can lay them out to dry some more
This helps remove the moisture that was still in the bud and makes the smoke easier to smoke and taste better too.
The first week you can open the jars up every day after this once a week will be fine.
The longer the cure the better as the smoke gets less harsh and sometimes gets stronger.
I hope this timeline makes sense to you. This is the way it works for me but some deviation may be needed.
So use it as a basic benchmark guide. This is what you should be seeing at these times or at least this is my next step.