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5 Growing Sins Every Beginner Makes

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5 Growing Sins Every Beginner Makes

Beginner to Seasoned, every grower makes mistakes at some point.  Maybe you’ve already made some of these, or maybe these will help you avoid aggravating or costly errors in your next cannabis grow.

Don't OVERWATER Your Plants

Even children know, plants need soil, sunshine and WATER.  That’s obviously correct, but one of the most common growing mistakes is overwatering.  This usually comes from new cannabis growers just wanting the best for their babies, but can end in tragedy.   The roots of the plant need oxygen, and too much water deprives the plant of that vital ingredient.   Hydroponic systems, like a deep water culture system, can suffer from a lack of oxygen as well. 

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Fortunately, this is one of the easiest sins to avoid or correct.  As with all things, preparation is the best method.   For soil growers, that means starting with a good soil mixture that allows for both drainage and retention of water.  In my experience, the easiest soil mixture is 50% Peat Moss/Coco Coir and 50% Vermiculite.  Straight Coco coir is a popular option also.  For Deep Water Culture growers, using a good air pump and multiple airstones is the way to go.  We suggest MULTIPLE AIRSTONES, because they can become clogged. 

Don’t forget to clean and disinfect your airstones at the end of each grow.

How to know if you’ve overwatered:

Soil:  Use the ‘1 Knuckle’ method.  Stick a finger down to your first knuckle.  If it feels dry, it’s probably time for a drink.  With potted soil plants you can tell by the weight.  Lift the plant, if it feels light, water.  

Beginners, don’t worry, you’ll learn how your plants should feel over time.

Seedlings are easy to over water, so go easy with the amount of water until they get 2 sets of leaves.

Coco Coir:  You will need to water every 1-2 days.  Don’t let coco coir dry out but you don’t want it soggy either.  The weight method works well with coco coir.

Not Enough Light

Unless you want small, whispy  buds you need lots of light!   A single lightbulb isn’t going to cut it.  Incandescent lights are useless, and putting by a window is no better.   Honestly, if you can’t get sunlight, or a grow light, you’ll probably be disappointed with your grow results.   

Yes, I know you can grow marijuana with Compact fluorescent lights.   You can even get descent quality, but you wont get any quantity.

If you want to grow buds to be proud of, you need Lumens!

The amount of lumens – a measure of light intensity –  your plant receives has a big role in growth rate, bud density, and yield.  Cannabis plants need light to grow, and plants need intense light to make big buds. Your yield is proportional to the intensity of your light source.   Meaning  more light=more bud.

You don’t have to rush out and build a greenhouse, or purchase some industrial strength grow light, though.  LED grow light technology has come a long way.  There are several good options for every budget.

Learn More About Grow Light Options.

Is It Harvest Time NOW?!

Unfortunately, there’s no turbo version of weed.  If you want to grow your own marijuana, it’s gonna take some time and patience.  Harvesting your cannabis too early will produce weak effects AND  low yields.

Most strains have a flowering time between 6-8 weeks, once you switch your light cycle to 12/12.   While some sativa dominant strains may go as long as 14 weeks in flower.    Autoflower strains are the fastest producers, and,  with huge strides in potency, have become very popular options.   They can go from seed to harvest in about 90 days.

So, how do you know when to harvest?

It’s all in the trichomes.  Get a jewelers loupe, or pocket microscope and take a close look at your buds while their still on the plant.  Look at this handy-dandy trichome chart, and try and wait for the majority to turn cloudy.

Determining the optimal harvest time is a skill, but not a hard skill to learn.


Nutrient burn, also known as overfertilizing, is a common sin among newer growers.   Identified by burnt leaf TIPS(not the entire outer edge, as that may indicate a copper or potassium deficiency).   It’s really not their fault, though,  most nutrient manufacturers provide a feeding schedule that is too strong.  I’m sure its a marketing trick to get us to use the nutes faster, but maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist.   Either way, there’s a simple solution to nute burn.

Start by using the recommended feeding schedule, but at HALF strength.  If your plants are handling that dose, you can slowly raise the amount of nutrients each week/feeding. 

As you gain more experience you’ll see the plants are speaking to you.  The condition of the leaves, stems, and buds tell you most things.

Pale or lime green leaves ALL OVER the plant indicate she’s hungry, and needs more nutes.  

Check out this chart of leaf conditions to start learning how to read your plants.

Copyright 2015, Jorge Cervantes, Illustrations by: Chris Valdes

We've Got A pHucking Problem

For me, getting the pH of my grows under control was a huge turning point in terms of quality and quantity.  In the most BASIC(pun intended) of ways, pH measures how acidic or alkaline something is.(Complete pH science lesson here)

Cannabis Plants require a specific range of pH in order to function properly.  Too high or too low of pH causes nutrient lockout.   At that point, you can pour buckets of nutrients(not suggested) into your plants but they won’t be able to uptake them through their roots.

The reason for that is, the pH affects the form, or structure, in which a nutrient molecule takes.  Some of these forms are easily absorbed by the plant’s roots, while others can not be absorbed at all.

Required pH Ranges

Soil Grows:  pH of 6-7 is optimal


Hydro, Coco, or other soilless methods: pH 5.5-6.5 is best.

Fortunately, testing and balancing pH isn’t rocket science.  There are simple pH kits you can buy online to test and help you adjust your pH.

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Growing your own cannabis at home is extremely rewarding and quite satisfying.  That said there are plenty of mistakes to make.  Hopefully, you’ll be able to avoid these 5 Sins, on your way to becoming a master grower.