Cannabis plants have been cultivated since before anyone can remember; yet the skills and love for the art are only now set to be reintroduced to the public. With many ‘Reefer Madness’ myths being busted and banished, the ancient love and art of growing cannabis will soon be accessible to every adult in Canada. 

The initial federal proposal allows one adult per household to grow four cannabis plants. Will you become the family horticulturist? Will growing cannabis be your gateway to gardening? If so, I’d call that ‘Reefer Gladness’.

If this is your first time growing anything then be assured, there is lots of help out there and you are not alone. As cannabis gardeners come out of the closet, decades of progress achieved by their experiences will become available to the public. With the help of modern technologies we are now better equipped than ever to efficiently grow this very special plant with ease.

While four may not seem like many, with the recent removal of the one meter plant height limit (source), four plants can return a high yield. Buying cannabis promises to be as expensive under the liberal government’s onerous tax scheme as it was under prohibition. This should provide Canadians with plenty of incentive to learn to grow their own.

Seeking Guidance

Tucked into the hidden, quiet and beautiful forests of British Columbia live a culture of cannabis gardeners with decades of experience and accumulated knowledge. With most having surpassed 20 years of cultivation, a plethora of tricks, tips and techniques have been developed in relative secrecy. These growers have targeted their skills at harnessing the potential of their small, personal gardens. The growers who I have spoken with find both excitement in the process as well as fulfillment from consuming and sharing their creations.

Becoming a master grower takes time, practice and mentorship. Most Canadians, if they don’t already possess a green thumb, will view the task of growing 4 plants as too much risk for the effort. After all, waiting months for your plants to mature only to find out that one has changed sex and pollinated the others is enough to make most of us throw a fit. However the satisfaction of seeing these fast-growing plants change colour and emit heavenly scents as they mature sweetens the experience.

Master growers are often enthusiastic to share their methods and formulas with new gardeners.

Ed Rosenthal

Pioneers like Jorge Cervantes and Ed Rosenthal prepared the ground for the hundreds of websites and youtube channels that are now filled with grow knowledge. This proliferation of horticultural enthusiasm is due to the superior experience of consuming cannabis that you grew and have nurtured for generations. Your analysis of the plant throughout its life inspires refinement and micro-improvements that lead to the index of cannabis gardening books, the threads of online community forums and ultimately cannabis that is tailored to suit your preferences.

For those of us concerned with hazards related to growing four plants inside, such as mold, fire and contamination, there is reassurance in knowing that no reliable evidence has been presented to suggest this is the case. The lack of evidence became transparent during the trial of R.v.Allard. The coalition of defendants were victorious in court by establishing that cannabis is indeed safe to grow in your home. Jason Wilcox, long-time grower and spokesperson has published hundreds of videos to his youtube channel that speak at length to these issues.

Speaking with a Master

I spoke with Ryan Ruffell of Kootenay Biological soils about becoming a master cannabis gardener.

Ryan is your classic Canadian cannabis grower. Having started by throwing a fish in a hole, he has lived and learned through over 20 years of trial and error. As a legally designated grower of cannabis for medicinal purposes, he knows first hand how some people have difficulty keeping up with their plants. Medical patients often need to stay in bed for long periods of time and so need to equip themselves with whatever can give them an extra degree of ease.

Practicing organic gardening techniques, Ryan began compounding and developing super soils, installing pest controls systems  and creating nutrient rich compost teas. Like many experienced and skilled cannabis entrepreneurs, Ryan is developing these products to help beginners grow high quality flowers after legalization.

Having spent decades peeling through online forums (ex., he recognizes the slow learning curve that some have dealing with online forums if they aren’t lost in the sea of misinformation and unreliable anecdotes. Ryan has been working alongside University botanists; has 3-5 year test plots in Okanagan wineries and has partnered with the Canadian seed company Jordan Of The Islands. These independent ventures all feed into his dreams of helping humanity develop its green thumb.

By scanning the plants for visual cues you can find helpful and harmful bugs, nutrient deficiencies, molds, mildews and much more. Discovering something new that improves the health of your plants can be a thrilling experience. Learning one thing at a time, you will eventually become a “total nerd” geeking out over your plant profiles.

To watch a cannabis seedling grow into a healthy, happy mature flowering wonder, playing in the breeze, is often described reverently as a spiritual experience. Ryan hopes to reach more people who need help understanding this highly valuable and therapeutic practice.

Stay tuned to the Cannabis Digest for more from Ryan on how to make your love of cannabis into your gateway to gardening.