You don't need to be an expert gardener to grow marijuana, but you do have to recognized that marijuana takes a lot more attention, dedication and equipment than the mustard and cress seeds children love to grow. With that in mind, here is a run-down of some key mistakes often made by novice growers – and how to avoid them.
1. Failing to understand what, exactly, they're growing
Saying marijuana is a bit like saying “food”, different strains have different specific needs, some grow higher than others, some are auto-flowering, some have better tolerance to pests. When choosing your first strain, it's best to think about your needs as a user and then research as many different strains as possible which meet your criteria, so that you can choose the easiest one to grow.
2. Buying low-quality seeds
Bluntly put, you get what you pay for. If you try to save money by buying cheap seeds, there is a much higher chance that you will end up disappointed with the results. Your seeds are your foundation material and it's worth paying for the best. In fact, if you're not willing to pay for good seeds, you'd be better just saving your money for ready-grown weed.
3. Failing to understand soil properly
Soil may all look much the same, but actually it has a whole range of different properties, including the level of acidity, also known as the pH level. Some plants can grow in just about anything while others have a preference or even a need. For soil, you're looking for a pH level of 6 to 7. You'll also want to check this from time to time and take steps to adjust it if necessary. You'll also want to check what your chosen strain requires in terms of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, both at the vegetative stage and during flowering. Fertilizer bags display an NPK value, generally very prominently, so check before you buy.
Interestingly this is one area where marijuana plants are pretty much like other plants. The easiest way to get watering right is to water when you can stick a finger into the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil and if your finger comes out dry water the plant until you see the water coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. Then stop.
5. Clumsy pruning
There are various pruning tactics growers can use to increase yield, but basically unless you know what you're doing they can damage a plant. Try them out on one or two plants and see what happens, stop if the plant shows any sign of ill-health. As you get better, you can start using them on your whole crop.