Varieties of home-grown cannabis, with or without the psychotropic element of THC, can add a dramatic element to your garden and add nutrients to the soil. Today, many garden centers cater to cannabis growers.
Long before it was sold openly in highly regulated stores, cannabis was used for thousands of years by cultures all over the world and has evolved differently to grow well wherever itâ€™s planted... like in your garden.
Cannabis culture in America started with an imported product. In the â€™60s and â€™70s importers sourced cannabis from all over the world, with different regions producing unique varieties with different characteristics. There was Panama Red, Acapulco Gold, Oaxacan, Afghani, Thai Stick, and many other varieties. There was amazing bud being grown worldwide.
As cannabis rules in America developed, a unique culture evolved along with the plant. The nature of this special plant led to sophisticated cultivation techniques, selective breeding and the development of hundreds of different varieties with a wide range of traits. Shipments of foreign cannabis usually contained seeds which were worthless to the average smoker, but invaluable in the development of American cannabis culture.
As the government cracked down on smugglers importing foreign cannabis, a culture of American growers began to emerge. They learned to grow only female plants and produced prized seedless â€˜sinsemillaâ€™ buds. As a dioecious annual herb, cannabis plants take just a few months to reach sexual maturity, and can produce cross-breeds or hybrids several times a year in a controlled environment. The broad gene pool of imported seeds enabled growers to hybridize cannabis to create vigorous plants well suited for domestic cultivation.
Some plants grow to over 10 feet tall in a single season, others grow just a few feet. The outdoor season starts in mid-May and finishes in October or November.
Laws against growing cannabis forced American growers to hide their gardens in remote areas, or put them inside. Indoor growing created challenges, but the nature of the plant enabled innovations in growing techniques and advances in garden technology.
Demand for stronger cannabis led to selective breeding projects that focused on heavy resin-producing plants with high concentrations of psychoactive THC.
Indoor growers selected shorter plants to fit inside smaller indoor spaces.
Cannabis is a great teacher plant, and the lengths growers had to go through for indoor cultivation creating new varieties and maximizing yield, has led to major innovations in horticulture. Today at any garden center you can buy ultra-rich soil, grow lights, hydroponic systems, and liquid fertilizers, developed to cater to cannabis growers.
Beginning in the â€™90s, medical cannabis rules enabled medical growers to freely cultivate cannabis. California has always been a great place to cultivate cannabis, but the new protections allowed for major expansion of cannabis cultivation. Many indoor growers moved their operations into greenhouses or outdoors, and produced taller, higher yielding plants and lots more cannabis. Production of cannabis protected by medical cannabis rules helped create a global demand for California cannabis.
When California legalized recreational marijuana, the market here was already established and eager to become what it is today. Cannabis breeding had resulted in countless sought-after, ultra-fragrant designer hybrids with terpene profiles made through selective breeding of the imported buds from the â€™70s. Over the years demand for California-grown cannabis has exploded and is known to smokers around the world for its quality buds. However, most recreational cannabis available in Calfornia is mass produced on a large scale and lacks the qualities that a small-scale grower tending plants with love can create.
According to state law, Californians are allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants per household. Selecting which varieties to plant is one of the most important parts of growing cannabis. Itâ€™s a fast-growing hearty plant that likes lots of sun. With good soil, plenty of water and some fertilizer, some plants can grow to over 10 feet tall in a single season while others wonâ€™t grow more than a few feet.
Outdoor cannabis season starts in mid-May, and plants are usually finished in October or November, depending on variety. Because it grows like a weed, itâ€™s a very responsive and rewarding plant to grow.
With personal cultivation finally at a place where itâ€™s culturally acceptable, small gardens of beautiful fragrant flowers will glisten in the sun all across the state and California will continue to produce some of the best home-grown buds in the world. After half a century of selective breeding, some will smell like tropical fruits, flowers, or diesel fuel. Some plants are extremely intoxicating, while others have been selectively bred to produce only CBD and wonâ€™t get you high.
Whether itâ€™s your first time planting, or youâ€™ve been growing vegetables all your life, a few cannabis plants would make a beautiful addition to your garden.
Chris Conway is a long-time Hemp advocate from Topanga. He has worked on reform campaigns, consulted farmers, and advised patients on the best ways to grow, process, and utilize hemp, CBD and cannabis. He is excited to see the expansion of the hemp industry to help heal humans and the planet. For information: (805) 680-8185.
EDITORâ€™S NOTE: The Useful Herb is an ongoing series covering the extraordinary benefits of cannabis.