Seeding Cannabis

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SEED Initiatives is the first U.S. government program to fund equity-centered community investment grants from local cannabis tax revenue. Knowing how to care for your cannabis plants at each of the four distinctive stages of their life cycle will provide a healthy, productive garden. Marijuana Seedlings Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable

SEED Initiatives

SEED Initiatives is the first U.S. government program to fund equity-centered community investment grants from local cannabis tax revenue.

The New Vision

Social Equity & Education Development (SEED) Initiatives is supported by an ongoing $1 million in cannabis tax revenue allocation and a vehicle for single-source monitoring, measuring, and reporting on the city’s cannabis tax revenue.

Portland City Council’s decision to allocate ongoing funding to the SEED Initiatives is one small step toward rectifying past racially-biased cannabis policies and disparate cannabis-related arrests. This commitment has the potential to begin to repair the lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences past cannabis prohibition has had on Black and brown communities.

The History

In November 2016, Portland voters approved Ballot Measure 26-180 to impose a 3% local tax on adult-use cannabis retail sales. Since then, over $14 million in cannabis tax revenue has been allocated across various City of Portland bureaus to support street infrastructure improvements; DUII training; drug rehabilitation; criminal justice, expungement and re-entry services; and small business owners from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

For more detailed information about the history of Portland’s local cannabis tax, please review these additional resources:

    , prepared by City Budget Office (2020) , prepared by the Cannabis Program (2019)

SEED Grant Fund

In alignment with the Ballot Measure 26-180 passed in 2016, the SEED Grant Fund prioritizes Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and women led/owned small business initiatives and/or projects, programs or services that support economic and educational development of Black and brown communities, which were most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

The SEED Grant Fund supports nonprofit and for-profit entities of any size, including community-based organizations, individuals, firms, teams or consultants. Newly-formed groups or initiatives with fiscal sponsorship from a nonprofit entity are also eligible. Multi-entity collaborations, coalitions and/or consortium efforts are encouraged to apply.

The SEED Grant Fund distributes funding across a range of projects, programs and services within the following designated priority areas, but are not limited to:

  • Education development
  • Entrepreneurship and economic development
  • Social justice

In the 5 cycles of the grant program, the SEED Grant Fund (formerly Cannabis Social Equity Grant) has awarded $4,379,415 through 42 grants.

From Seed to Harvest: The Life Cycle of Cannabis

Knowing how to care for your cannabis plants at each of the four distinctive stages of their life cycle will provide a solid baseline of knowledge and healthy, productive gardens.

It can take four to eight months to grow a cannabis plant. During this time, it goes through four distinct stages: germination, seedling, vegetative, and flowering. It is essential for cannabis growers to understand each stage in the life cycle so they can properly care for their plants. Each phase requires different nutrients, hours of light, and type of light. There are also different tasks that can help make each stage more successful.

Germination Stage

It all begins with a seed. If stored in cool, dark conditions, a cannabis seed can remain viable for years. The best seeds are hard and dry and will be light to dark brown in color. Underdeveloped seeds tend to be soft and either white or green. It’s very unlikely these seeds will germinate.

The seed lies dormant until it is exposed to warmth and moisture. You can germinate your seeds by planting them in a moistened seedling starter mix, covered with plastic and placed on a heat mat. It is important to use a seed-starting mix instead of potting soil.

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There is enough nutrition in a seed to feed a sprout for about two to three weeks. Any additional fertilizer can burn your plants at this tender age. Once planted, a seed can take five to 10 days to sprout.

Once your seeds have sprouted, the two seedling leaves will be the first to appear. Place a fluorescent grow light about two inches from the top of your plants for 18 hours per day. You don’t need a powerful light for them in the beginning. When the true leaves appear, your little plants can officially be considered a seedling.

Seedling Stage

The seedling stage of a cannabis plant can last three to six weeks.
The seedling stage of cannabis plant lasts three to six weeks, depending on environmental factors and the strain you’re growing.

During this time, your seedlings are focusing their energy on growing roots and foliage. Because the roots are so small, be careful not to overfeed or overwater. Use a fertilizer high in nitrogen and be sure to dilute it so you don’t harm your plants.

Fluorescent lights still work well at this point. Set your timer so the lights are on for 18 hours and off for six.

Seedlings are susceptible to pests and disease at this age, so this is a good time to apply a preventative neem oil treatment. It’s much easier to prevent spider mites and powdery mildew than to treat them while your plants are so young. If they do get infested or infected at this age, the stress on your plants will likely produce a smaller harvest down the line.

Vegetative Stage

The vegetative stage of a cannabis plant can last one to four months.
After a few weeks as seedlings, your cannabis plants will outgrow their starter pots and start demanding more food and light. The roots and foliage grow rapidly during this stage, which allows the plant to take in more nutrients and carbon dioxide. Don’t be surprised if your plant shoots up two inches in one day!

If you don’t already know, this is when you’ll be able to identify whether you are growing an indica or sativa. Indicas tend to be short and bushy, while sativas are lanky with less foliage.

You will also be able to identify the sex of your plants. About four weeks into the veg cycle, pre-flowers start to appear. By six weeks in, you should be able to determine whether those new buds are male or female. Most growers remove the males from their garden, so they don’t pollinate the females and cause seeds to form.

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When growing indoors, the vegetative stage can last one to four months, or even indefinitely in the case of mother plants. You control the length of this phase by the number of hours of light you give your plants. As long as they receive 18 hours, they will remain in this stage.

During the vegetative stage, you’ll need to trade in your fluorescent lights for a metal halide or powerful LED. This blue light mimics the light in spring and sends the message to grow roots and foliage to prepare for the flowers.

If you haven’t already, transplant your cannabis into larger pots and start feeding them more. As they grow, be mindful you will need to increase the PPM of your nutrient solution and transplant them into larger pots as needed.

At this age, your plants need high levels of nitrogen and modest amounts of phosphorus and potassium. Silicon is also beneficial at this stage because it helps to build strength in the stalk and stems, which you’ll need to support those big buds that will soon grow.

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As your plants grow taller and fill out, you’ll need to start pruning and training them. This focuses their energy on growing large colas, opens up the plant so light can reach all the leaves, and prevents fungal diseases by increasing air flow.

The general rule of thumb is to flip the lights to 12/12 and trigger the bloom cycle when your plants are about one third of the size you want them to be at harvest.

Flowering Stage

The flowering stage lasts six to 10 weeks, depending on the strain you’re growing.
You imitate autumn in your garden when you reduce the light to 12 hours on and 12 hours off, and switch to a red high-pressure sodium bulb. This triggers your cannabis plants to start blooming so they can procreate before they die at the end of the season.

The flowering stage lasts six to 10 weeks, depending on the strain you’re growing. During this time, dense buds covered in a sweet-smelling, sticky resin will form on your plants. This resin is where the THC and terpenes are, and so growers do whatever they can to grow the stickiest colas possible.

Your fertilizing schedule will change during this stage. Start feeding your plants minimal amounts of nitrogen, moderate amounts of potassium, and high amounts of phosphorus. This is the time to add bloom boosters and sugars to your regimen.

Be on the lookout for nutrient deficiencies or toxicities during this phase. Brown leaf tips can signal nutrient burn, while yellowing leaves may indicate a nutrient deficiency. It is normal, however, for the lower leaves to turn yellow towards the end of the flowering cycle, when your plants feed on themselves for more efficient nutrition.

Keep feeding your plants until about 10 days before harvest, and then stop fertilizing and flush your crop. This clears your plants of excess nutrients and is crucial to making sure your end product is smooth instead of harsh.

As your buds grow large and dense, environmental conditions and poor air flow can cause bud rot. If you don’t catch it in time, you can lose all of your plants. Keep a close eye on your buds as harvest time approaches. Inspect your buds often and harvest immediately if you see signs of rot. If you catch it early, you can cut the rot out of your buds and salvage most of your crop. You’ll know your cannabis is ready to harvest when the pistils, or the hairs, turn the color of rust and the resin changes from clear to a milky white.

If you understand the life cycle of cannabis, you’ll be able to care for your plants the right way in each stage of their life and anticipate problems before they occur. You’ll be a better grower and have top shelf smoke to prove it.

Marijuana Seedlings

Now that your marijuana seeds have sprouted, what’s next? How do you care for your little baby marijuana seedlings? Your germinated seeds must be placed in a more suitable growing medium if you have started them in paper towels, rock wool or peat pellets.

Seedling containers

  1. Small planters utilize your space better
  2. Small planters grouped together are the most efficient way to use your grow light source
  3. A small container keeps the roots together and is easier to feed and water.

Planting your marijuana seedlings

Place garden soil in your container up to about 1” from the top. Pack l ightly . Make a hole with a pencil, eraser-side down about ½” deep and put in your germinated seeds, root side down and cover with soil. If your seedlings are already in a seed-starter of some sort, simply bury them in the dirt and cover with ¼ to ½” of soil. Water until the soil is damp, not soaking. It is not necessary, but some marijuana growers like to give the young plants some support. Long wooden kitchen matches (minus the head) work well.

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Watering and feeding your seedlings

During this phase, feeding or the adding of nutrients or fertilizer will not be necessary unless you have chosen a soilless mix. Watering should be done perhaps twice per day with a misting bottle for the first few days. How often you water will depend greatly on temperature and humidity. Once the marijuana root is better established, you can slowly cut back to watering every 2-3 days. If you are not sure, you can test by placing your finger into the soil. If it feels dry, then add water. It is important to note that the number one cause of early crop failure is overwatering. Wilting or drooping leaves on your plants are a sign that your plant is thirsty. Plants will revive quickly from such dehydration. While many gardeners use tap or well water, the more sophisticated growers use reverse osmosis, filtered or bottled water and adjust the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of the water. If you are using municipal tap water, fill a bucket or a reserve reservoir and let it sit for several days. This allows most of the chlorine present in the water to evaporate. DO NOT water directly on the plant. They are very delicate at this stage and the stem and roots are easily damaged. Water around the seedlings a few inches base of the plant. It is best to water your plants first thing in the morning for best uptake.

Marijuana seedlings lights

Marijuana seedlings require very little light and can be grown under CFLs (spiral compact fluorescents), tube fluorescents, LEDs and the blue light from Metal Halides (MH). Stay away from incandescent lights as they put off too much heat and too little light. The higher the Wattage your light source, the further away it should be from your seedlings unless you are using LED grow lights with good ones running nearly cold. Too far away and the plants will stretch towards the light making them weak and spindly. Too close and the bright light and heat may damage them, except with LEDs. Let us say you are using fluorescents or LED grow lights. It would be fine to place the light a foot above your plants to start and give the seedlings a chance to ‘harden up’. If they react favorably, you may lower the light a little bit each day until the lights are maybe 4” above your plants. Blue light dominant LEDs and full spectrum LED grow lights offer an excellent start, lower electricity costs and very little if any heat. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights are generally not used for seedlings as they do not require the amount of light that HPS puts out, and more importantly, HPS is deficient in blue light. Blue light is what plants use to point them towards the light source. This is called phototropism. Have fun and good luck growing out your marijuana seedlings!

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