The Canna Dogg will teach you how to grow cannabis, the easy way. This guide will teach you how to grow your first indoor plant in a grow tent, growing in soil, using slow-release fertilizer, and an LED-light.
Nowadays, The Canna Dogg loves weed, but it actually wasn’t always like that. The Canna Dogg used to think that marijuana was literally the Devil’s Lettuce, and that weed made you instantly turn into Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Then the Canna Dogg did an unrelated science degree at university, and learned how to find, read, and understand scientific journal articles. And oh boy. Studies pretty much universally showed that the Canna Dogg was wrong, and that cannabis in the vast majority of cases did much more good than harm. So the Canna Dogg got curious, and started growing weed itself, and started experimenting with it. Fast forward some 15 years, and here we are, at the Canna Dogg’s Ultimate How To Grow Cannabis for Beginners guide…
In here, you’ll find a step by step guide on how to grow your very first batch of marijuana.
How to Grow Cannabis?
Now, the Canna Dogg doesn’t want you leaving disappointed, so there are a few caveats.
First, there are no affiliate links in this guide, and the Canna Dogg is not sponsored by any of the recommended brands here.
Second, this guide is aimed at beginners. If you already know how to diagnose a pH imbalance by simply smelling the soil, or you’re an expert on the optimal NPK ratios throughout the plant’s life cycle, this guide is probably not for you.
Third, this guide only deals with indoor cultivation. If you’re wanting to grow outside, that’s really cool, and please send some pictures, but it won’t be covered in here.
Fourth, and final. This guide comes in two parts, aptly named Part 1 and Part 2. Right now, you’re looking at Part 1, which will cover what equipment you’ll need, and what to do with it. Part 2 covers the more hands-on how to grow cannabis content, but even if you think you know what you’ll need to buy, The Canna Dogg recommends that you still start with Part 1.
With that out of the way, let’s get started teaching you step-by-step how to grow cannabis.
Grow tents come in all kinds of different sizes and shapes, but the materials used are normally quite similar. Recently, and especially since the wider spread legalization, a lot of grow tent manufacturers have popped up everywhere. The only thing is, that they don’t actually manufacture anything, they simply find a Chinese supplier, import some tents, and put their own brand on it. There’s nothing implicitly wrong with private-label businesses at all, but when it comes to something like growing equipment, the Canna Dogg recommends that you do a little bit of research before buying your first tent. The Canna Dogg knows of many a grower that thought they found the deal of a lifetime on a grow tent, only to literally have it collapsing under its own weight.
You’ll need to consider the size of the tent as well. The Canna Dogg has grown in everything from a PC case to an entire room, and anything in between, so, even though size does matter (in this case anyway), don’t worry if you don’t have the space or budget for something large. Your yield will not be higher just because you have more space, but your maximum possible yield is of course limited by the physical space you’ll be growing in. The Canna Dogg recommends that you start small, and learn how to grow cannabis with a single plant first, before you start investing in a giant grow tent.
What to buy?
The Canna Dogg recommends a UK-based grow tent manufacturer called Bud Box. If you try Googling around a bit, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a “best grow tent” site that does not have an affiliate deal with the products they’re stating are the best. Always be wary of any conflicts of interest, when you’re looking for what to buy! That being said, any tent will do just fine for your first grow. Seriously. If you have a local gardening store, why not go down there and support the local small businesses? That way you also have someone to contact, if the tent ends up not living up to your expectations.
Cannabis grow lights have come a long way in the last decade. You no longer have to even know what a ballast is to grow weed. The Canna Dogg personally prefers LED lights nowadays, so we’ll focus on those here. They’re not as expensive as they used to be, they’re more energy-efficient, and they’re much cooler than traditional grow lights.
How many watts do you need?
So, how much light do you need per cannabis plant? You will be able to grow a plant using a cheap 80W LED lamp, but you’ll also be able to grow a plant using a 600W high-quality LED lamp. So, which one should you choose? Well. It depends.
You don’t need to become an expert on all things LED to learn how to grow cannabis. The most important thing is that you’re buying a safe device. Seriously. The Canna Dogg likes to take a chilled out approach to life in general, but not to safety. Only buy lights from a trusted vendor. You don’t want your lamp catching fire because it hasn’t been manufactured properly.
When you start getting really into growing cannabis, you’ll start to learn about stuff like photosynthetic photon flux density, daily light integral, and all kinds of cool science, but for now, don’t worry about all that.
For a first time grower, assuming that you’re growing only one plant in a tent, go for a 200W+ lamp from a well-known manufacturer. There’s a lot of bad information online right now that’s designed to look like science, but is, in fact, marketing. And The Canna Dogg doesn’t like that one bit. This article on specific cannabis equipment covers that in greater detail, but in the meantime, though, Black Lights LED, and Migro Lights both have very high-quality products!
What to buy?
Any light from one of the abovementioned will do you just fine. As will anything from pretty much any of LED manufacturer. Don’t stress too much about it, just get one that doesn’t completely destroy your budget. You want your first grow to be a positive experience, not one that leaves you in debt, and you can always upgrade your lights down the line, once you’ve really mastered how to grow cannabis.
Getting the right ventilation set up from the beginning can really make or break your growing experience. The interwebs tend to overcomplicate ventilation, and even though The Canna Dogg is a sucker for thermodynamics in general, we’ll keep it pretty light on the science, and focus on the what instead of the how. You’ll need ventilation for a few things; the flow of air, temperature/humidity regulation, and smell masking.
Airflow is essential for your plants to thrive. Much like The Canna Dogg, the cannabis plant really loves it when there’s a nice breeze going. Your grow tent will have one or more openings near the ground for air intake, and one or more openings near the roof of the tent for exhausts. You can choose to either go with a passive intake (meaning no fan) or an active intake, meaning a dedicated fan just to suck air into your tent. For your first grow, go passive. Your exhaust fan will be powerful enough that it’ll suck air into the tent as well, effectively creating a mini vacuum.
The basic idea is that as you suck the cool air from the bottom of your tent, it breezes through your plant, goes up past your light, and gets sucked through an activated carbon filter (to mask the smell of the weed), and then exhausted out into your room. When air heats up, it expands. When it expands, it gets less dense that the air around it; effectively making it float atop the denser cooler air. That means that warm air goes upwards, cold air goes downwards. This works in your favour, as you don’t want your tent getting too warm. We’ll be covering all that later on when we get to the actual planting phase of learning how to grow cannabis, so don’t worry if you’re starting to panic, The Canna Dogg has you covered!
What to buy?
You’ll need a fan, some ducting, and a carbon filter. If you have the budget for it, go for either a AC Infinity Cloudline T6, with a AC Infinity Carbon Filter to match. The Canna Dogg is not sponsored by or affiliated with AC Infinity, but their products are the best on the market. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a good sale on a package deal, but otherwise, they’re quite the investment.
If not AC Infinity, then go for anything where you can control the speed of the fan. The fans that’ll keep you happiest over the course of a grow, are the ones with automatic speed control. You set the temperature and sometimes the desired humidity level as well, and the fan will do the hard work for you. The Canna Dogg fully recommends saving up for a fan with this feature, it will increase your quality of life significantly! For a carbon filter, just go with something that fits your fan. See if you can’t find a package deal that comes with ducting and mounts as well. Go for at least a 6 inch fan. If stealth is of concern, find a fan that’s branded on being silent. They’re much louder than you’d think, and even though The Canna Dogg loves the sound of white noise, ventilators really get annoying the long run.
For your first grow, grow in soil. Once you’ve successfully grown a plant in soil, you can move on to soilless, and then maybe on to aeroponics/re-circulating hydro if you feel like it. For now, all you need to concern yourself with is getting some soil. FoxFarm is generally regarded as being one of the industry-leaders when it comes to soil, but The Canna Dogg actually prefers BioBizz.
What to buy?
Specifically, The Canna Dogg recommends BioBizz’s Light Mix. We won’t go into too much detail as to why right here, but if you can’t get your hands on some Light Mix, go for FoxFarm, or any other brand really. But if the soil you buy doesn’t have any perlite in it, then you’ll need to buy and add perlite, so the total ratio should be about 30-50% perlite. Perlite helps tremendously with drainage, which is really important when growing in soil.
Don’t go for organic super soil/living soil just yet; get a grow under your belt first, and then start composting away! Similarly, if the soil is branded as having fertilizer added already, don’t buy it, you’ll be handling nutrients for the plant yourself. Well, sort of.
Plants need nutrients. Humans need food. Canna Doggs need cookies. More specifically, cannabis needs nitrogen, phosporous, and potassium to grow, commonly known as N, P, K. For those of you wondering, the K is from the neo-latin word kalium, but is nowadays just called potassium. Now, the most important part of adding NPK to your plants is the quantity, and ratio. To make matters even more complicated, the ratios the plant needs for optimal growth might change throughout its lifecycle. Bummer.
After a couple of grows, The Canna Dogg recommends that you actually do some research and learn a bit about what all that means. It’ll make you a better grower, and it’s always fun to learn new stuff! For now though, The Canna Dogg got you sorted.
The myth about slow-release fertilizers
In the cannabis community, slow-release fertilizer has pretty much always been regarded as being bad for the plants. The reason, as briefly mentioned, is that your plant needs different NPK ratios throughout its lifecycle. The Canna Dogg disagrees. Slow-release fertilizer is the best thing we’ve invented since donuts. Obviously not for hydro grows, but for the first-time or just the lazy grower, slow-release fertilizer is the way to go. If you follow this guide, using the recommended products, you will grow great weed with a slow-release fertilizer. This is a falsifiable statement, and The Canna Dogg is a Dogg of science, so if you don’t manage to grow great cannabis using this method, send The Canna Dogg an email, so this guide can be adjusted accordingly. The Canna Dogg has around some 20 grows under its belt using soil and slow-release fertilizer. It just works.
What to buy?
But, and this is a hefty but, not all slow-release fertilizer are the same. If you’re in Europe, go for Royal Queen Seeds Easy Boost Organic Nutrition (formerly known as Vertafort). You’ll just need a single pack. If you’re from the US, go for any slow-release general-purpose fertilizer (Oscmote Plus will do, but anything that says something like 20-10-20 on the package is good), or have a friend in Europe send you over some Easy Boost. Easy Boost is a surprisingly great product, and The Canna Dogg is not affiliated with, or sponsored by them. If all else fails, send the Canna Dogg an email, and we’ll sort out a way to get you some Easy Boost.
Bits and pieces
Don’t worry, friend, you’re almost there! We’ll just need to get all the little bits and pieces you always forget to buy out of the way too.
Go for a pot that’s between 2 and 5 gallons for your first grow (7-19 liters). You can absolutely grow in something smaller or bigger, but this is a good starting point. For now, just get regular square pots, with a saucer that fits, to catch excess water. The only really important thing is that it has drainage holes in the bottom. Worst case, you can always just drill some holes yourself, but you absolutely will need a way to get rid of excess water from the pot.
Any will do, it’s just there to catch water, don’t overthink it.
Get an electric one, that can measure both temperature and humidity. Just get a cheap one.
This is essential, but they’re expensive. One of the best brands is called Bluelab. If you can afford it, get their pH-pen, and get some buffer 4, buffer 7, and pH storage solution as well. The chemicals don’t have to be branded, just get the cheapest. If you can’t afford Bluelab, don’t stress, just get the best (preferably electric) meter that you can afford. You’ll be happy you did.
Literally any watering can will do.
pH + and –
Any brand, pH up and down, for regulating your water. As we’re using slow-release nutrients, you’ll want to be completely sure that your water is the right pH. Just get one bottle of each, they last forever! Don’t forget a pipette as well, as you’ll be using only drops at a time.
Stuff for tying down your plant
This is not essential, but it’s a good idea to get some plant strips. They need to have a solid rubber coating, otherwise, you’ll damage the plant when tying it down.
Stuff for hanging everything up
You’ll need a couple of bits of wire and hangers to actually mount your lamp, carbon filter, and fan. Buy more than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than setting everything up, and realising that you’re missing a single wire before you can get everything started!
Just get the cheapest pair from the place you’re buying all your equipment from.
Either buy LED glasses or make sure to turn off your LEDs before opening your tent. Seriously. The Canna Dogg always puts safety above everything else, and LED lights can seriously hurt your eyes.
There’s about a 50/50 chance that you’ll need it at some point during the grow. Might as well have a roll handy from the get-go.
Get some odor neutralizer. ONA gel is the best. Get their Fresh Linen scent if you can! Even with a carbon filter and plenty of ventilation, you do NOT want any scents escaping your tent!
Get a jeweler’s loupe, or something similar. You’ll want to be able to study your plant at least 20x magnification to check pistils and 60x for trichomes. Nowadays, some smartphones might have cameras that are good enough for this. You will probably stress out a bit come harvest time the first couple of grows, so The Canna Dogg recommends to go with 60x for the most stress-free harvest!
Weight or small bags
Don’t ever grow anywhere near weights or small bags. If you have some, throw them out. Hopefully it will never come to that, but getting busted with a grow is one thing. Getting busted with a grow near items used for selling it is a whole other ballgame.
Getting ready for the first grow
And now comes the fun part! Putting everything together in order to start actually growing. Before that, however, The Canna Dogg wants to briefly cover stealth. Unfortunately, some areas of the world just haven’t gotten around to legalizing just yet. If you’re living somewhere where it’s not yet legal to grow weed, then The Canna Dogg of course recommends that you don’t grow anything. That being said, for purely educational reasons, stealth is important to cover when learning how to grow cannabis for the first time. Spoiler alert: It’s way more pungent than you think!
No tell. No smell. No sell.
These are the words to live by. And it sounds really easy, but it’s actually not. Especially once your plant starts growing, you’ll want to tell and/or show everyone. But don’t. For a one plant grow, following this guide, you will not get caught. Unless you actively let yourself get caught, either by telling anyone, selling weed, or not eliminating all the pungent cannabis smells.
The Canna Dogg also recommends blackout curtains for the rooms you’ll be growing in. Even though your plant is in a tent, the tell-tale purple LED light is really a dead give-away. So get some blackout curtains, or at the very least, make sure that your curtains aren’t open when doing ANYTHING in your tent. Similarly, if you’re doing anything in your tent, close all windows and all doors first.
Also, do not break any other laws while growing. The last thing you want is blasting the stereo, and having the police come by because of a noise complaint. Just be on your best behavior while you’re growing. It’s only for three months. You can do it!
The Canna Dogg doesn’t mean to scare you. The Canna Dogg just wants you to grow plenty of beautiful lush marijuana plants, so getting caught would be less than ideal! There’s a high chance that you’ll get paranoid at some point during the grow. Just relax. If you’ve followed this guide, you most likely don’t have anything to worry about. And no, as long as you pay your power bills, no one will care that you’re suddenly using a bit more power than usual. Normally, people only get caught when they start stealing power. So don’t do that.
Setting everything up
*Canna Dogg for illustrative purposes only. Don’t let any real dogs into your tent. Hang out and play with them instead!
Follow the instructions on everything, and ensure that everything is fastened securely. It does not need to perfect. You just need to start, and learn from your mistakes.
More specifically, the only real part you can screw up is light and ventilation. If you’ve ever assembled anything like a piece of IKEA furniture, then getting the tent together will be easy enough. Well. Relatively speaking.
The Canna Dogg is no illustrator, but has made the above illustration to give you a rough idea about where the lamp goes, relative to the carbon filter that sits pretty much directly above the light, sucking out hot air via the ducting that goes into your fan, that in turn leads the air out of the tent. Near the Canna Dogg on the image is where you’d have an opening to let air into the tent, to create a constant breeze.
Getting ready for Part 2
If you’ve made it this far, then good job! Part 2 will cover everything from getting a seed all the way through the growing phases, and can be found here. Feel free to join the community over at our subreddit, as well by the way!
The most important part, however, is not to worry. A lot of growers are dissuaded by information overload, and by all the various how to grow cannabis sites, with ten different takes on which exact feeding regime is best for hydro grows. Massive stoners have been growing weed for millennia, and if they could do it (even without the interwebs) so can you. And don’t worry. Even though there’s an internet connection between us, The Canna Dogg is always right here and is always happy to help. This is, after all, the friendliest cannabis growing site in the world.