Anyone who thinks growing weed is cool has probably never grown weed.
Whenever I came home from work complaining about having to climb our office ladder to the roof, people would say they were "jealous" and that it was "so badass."
Growing weed isn't cool. It's a huge pain in the ass. Rewarding, yes. But a pain in the ass nonetheless. It takes perseverance, strategy and patience. I feel 30 percent more prepared for a baby after taking care of the WW office grow for the past three months. Also, I now understand why hip moms who live on Sauvie Island with their kids Pumpkin and Skye like to take so many photos of carrots.
Anyway, this past week we harvested two full plants from the roof of WW world headquarters. This is an uncharacteristic success for us, given that last year's grow ended up being mulched after coming down with a brutal case of bud rot.
Here's what we learned during four months of growing a Texada Timewarp plant from seeds smuggled across the Canadian border, plus clones of BC Pinewarp, the Purps and the Big that were generously gifted by our friends at Satchel dispensary on North Interstate Avenue.
If we can do it, you can too. Just be warned that it's a hassle, and heed these modest bits of advice.
Related: Willamette Week's Office Grow Blog
Put 'em out, put 'em out…
You can't change the past. (Growing weed is full of so many life lessons.) You need to have clones in the ground on April 20, says WW's weed expert, Chris. It may sound like we've misunderstood an old cliché, but it's actually the best day to plant them, he says. We waited until late June to get our plants in the ground, and they ended up much smaller than they otherwise would. We won't know what we've yielded for a few weeks, but our expert estimates the largest plants will be about 4 ounces.
Plants need water…
I knew plants needed water, but not, like, that much water.
We put our plants on the roof. When they were just baby clones under the care of our summer intern, we could carry a watering can up the ladder and get them wet enough. But they got bigger and needed more water. At one point, I was filling up three 64-ounce growlers, putting them in a backpack and waddling up the ladder, only to get the plants merely damp in the hot August sun.
We brought our weed expert up to the roof, and he said the plants were dying.
So we bought a hose and pulled it to the roof, got a 5-gallon bucket, and we started really watering the plants. If we hadn't done so, they would have died.
If your plants are in cloth pots, here's how to tell if they need more water:
Lifting cloth pots should be extremely difficult. The heavier they are, the more water they're holding. Pretty basic stuff, but just giving 'em a lift every day is a better indicator than just feeling the soil.
If you reach into the pot and feel the roots, they should have expanded to the edges of the pot, which means they're growing strong. When you reached into our pots, all you could feel was dry dirt.
Get ready for more feedback than you want…
We decided to cut down part of one of our plants in early September. For the record—yes, we know this is early, but the threat of bud rot was rising and the rains were coming and we had the traumatic experience of not getting anything from the plants the previous year, so we clipped a few branches off knowing they could otherwise be destroyed by bud rot overnight. I had chickens when I was a kid—one night their coop caught on fire and all of my pets died. I think that's what bud rot would feel like.
We posted this on social media and were flooded with comments from know-it-alls. A user called "herbcircle" wrote, "2-3 weeks too early. There's a reason they call it 'croptober' :)."
James Wisniewski was less friendly: "Y'all don't know shit. Is Cizmar growing your plants?!?!"
Don't wait too long to cure…
After taking a few samples and stripping them of their leaves, we left them in the basement to dry. While their scent has grown alluring, after two weeks they became a little too dry. On the upside, those samples were still deemed smokable by our expert.
Be ready to move…
Cannabis plants need sunlight. The sun doesn't stay in one place. (Well, it does…but, you know.) Every morning, we tried to maximize sun exposure by pulling our plants into the light. Any stereotype of stoners being lazy totally shattered for me when I saw how much work it took to even keep five plants alive.
Keeping your plants dry is just as important as keeping them wet…
When we weren't dousing the little dudes with 5-gallon buckets of water, we were hoisting them into a small plant tent purchased from Walmart to protect them from overnight showers and morning dew. Even trimming is a push-pull of keeping plants wet and dry. You want to trim them enough to dry out, but you don't want to leave them so they dry out too long. When curing, they actually get some of their moisture back. Never have I understood Katy Perry's "Hot n Cold" on such a personal level.
Some plants might just not grow—that's OK.
One of our plants was stunted from the start. Ironically, it was a strain called the Big. Despite treating the plants exactly the same, the Big never grew taller than a foot, nor did it flower. I guess it's probably the cannabis equivalent of a guy with a really big…truck.