Growing Your Own Organic Hemp At Home

by Alfred van der Heide
growing hemp at home

Hemp is a plant with magical properties, it is part of the Cannabis Sativa family and has a wide variety of uses; from its medicinal uses to its nutritional benefits and its unique ability to be an eco-friendly fiber with real-world application.

Hemp is not meant for smoking or getting high from. To be classified as hemp most legal states require the plant to have almost no THC, the chemical that causes you to feel high. Hemp is rather known for its industrious material usage.

hemp oil with bottle

With the Cannabis plant becoming legally more widely available around the world cultivating your own Hemp has never been easier. 

Most states allow cultivation of Cannabis if THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) amounts are below 0.3%, but you should always check your local laws.

With 62% of Americans supporting the legalization of Cannabis, the plant is now legal in some way or another in 46/50 States in the US. Additionally Canada’s recent nationwide legalization of weed for recreational and medicinal purposes there is reason to believe that 2019 will be the year in which Cannabis will go mainstream.

Growing Your Own Organic Hemp At Home 1
miniature homegrown hemp farm

For industrial uses, it is recommended only to grow industrial hemp (for textiles, seeds, or oils for example) if you have plots of land at least 50 acres large (20 hectares, or 0.2 square kilometers). Hemp’s profit as a crop is low compared to grains, but high compared to vegetables, with a wide profit range between $130 to $730 per acre ($32K – $180K / km^2).

Now Industrial hemp farming is not the most profitable crop to grow if you are solely after mass production and obtaining the highest profit margins, but that is not what this article is about.

If you wish to create a mini hemp farm in your home and use it to create your own hemp oils, and seeds then this article is for you.

we’ll try to summon some of the most common cannabis growing processes. Keep in mind that different seeds have different plants. It’s not the same as planting feminized hemp seeds, and regular seeds.

Growing Your Own Organic Hemp At Home 2

Reasons for growing your own organic hemp

  • Hemp does not require any pesticides to grow, saving money as well as being better for your health.
  • Hemp does not require any synthetic fertilizers.
  • It’s the perfect crop to grow organically at home due to the lack of attention required.
  • The stems and stalks of the plant can be used as a fiber to build clothes, paper, or furniture.
  • the stalks, but more importantly the seeds can be broken down, refined, and filtered to create your very own hemp oil.
  • Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds out there, they contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, useful in preventing many heart and brain illnesses, moreover, Hemp seeds contain about 7 grams of protein per tablespoon, more than double that of flax and chia seeds.
  • You can create your own hemp-based soaps, shampoo, or moisturizers, perfect for at home or to give away to friends and family.
  • furthermore, by growing your own hemp plants, you can ensure that the seeds and oils are not coated in any toxins.

 

Getting your hands on hemp seeds

Currently, if you live in the United States there are still states in which the act of buying live or viable hemp seeds meant for growing can still be against Federal Law. If you still want to buy seeds meant for germination then you have to get into contact with your States local Agricultural department.

hemp seeds

hulled hemp seeds

The reason why it is still sort of a hassle to obtain hemp seeds meant for germination is that hemp is part of the same plant as marijuana which is a common soft drug. Many believe however that marijuana has been demonized and unfairly portrayed for years in an effort to suppress its effect on many industries.

After ensuring that it is in fact legal to grow your own hemp seeds in your country, state or territory it is now time to look for a seed that has the characteristics (genetic variation) you want. The Hemp plants don’t just vary in stalk, seed, and oil amounts but also in many other characteristics mentioned below.

The Hemp seeds you generally find are not meant to be planted but rather they are meant to be consumed. This is apparent if the seed has been hulled or shelled for example, which is when the outer shell (which is a little harsh to eat but contains a lot of fiber) has been removed. 

Almost by definition hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC.

However, there are other characteristics in hemp that can be chosen from. Such as the

  • Grain yield
  • Fiber yield
  • Height
  • Planting rate
  • Flowering time
  • CBD content
  • THC content
  • Optimal grain harvest date
  • Fiber content

For reference; When purchasing hemp seeds, 1 lb of hemp seeds is equal to about 24,000 seeds. (1 kg ~= 52,800 seeds)

What can you expect?

  • Most Hemp plants have a flowering time of about 8-11 weeks.
  • They can have CBD ranges around 10-16% depending on the genetic variation.
  • Most hemp plants can grow to be 130 – 200 cm tall (4’3” – 6’6”).
  • If you are looking to plant hemp for hemp seeds you can plant about 100 – 125 plants per m2 (10 to 12 plants per ft^2). Or about 405,000 to 506,000 per acre.
  • If you are looking to plant hemp for hemp fiber you can plant double that, 250- 300 plants per m^2. (23 – 28 plants per ft^2). Or about 1,000,000 to 1,200,000 per acre.
  • An important fact to consider is that there is usually a mortality rate between 10% – 70% on planted hemp seeds.

source

Depending on whether you plant the hemp plants inside or outside the cost varies a lot.

Outdoor growing will be a lot cheaper, but you are completely at the mercy of the climate and the weather so you will have to do your research whether or not it is possible to grow hemp outdoors. If you are able to cultivate hemp in your garden, you are lucky. The startup costs associated with planting hemp outdoors is approximately $110 per square meter.

Indoor growing is much more expensive but is better controlled. The startup costs associated in getting an Indoor hemp farm started can go up all the way to $800 per square meter, although you most likely will be farming for personal use, the average cost for wholesale marijuana production was $450 per square meter. 

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Although more expensive indoor growing allows for higher quality plants as well as being able to cultivate plants year-round.

The most common cannabis growing problems are

  • Nutritients imbalances
  • Over or under watering
  • Heat stress
  • Light burn

Nutrient balances

The imbalances of the pH and nutrients can spell disaster for the cannabis grower. But, lucky for us, there’s a straightforward fix to this and give you full control.

You should know that the optimal pH for coco and hydro is between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. Soil, on the other hand, is easier and acts as a buffer up to 7.5 pH for plants. Every strain has a very sweet spot and a fertilizer preference.
Along the way, inequalities from over-fertilization and/or use of poor nutrient products can run the beginner grower into trouble. When plants present wilting and leaf discoloration and brown, burnt edges, it’s usually due to either nutrient burn or nutrient lockout. Either way, the pH is out of scale, and a flush with pure water is the first step towards solving the problem.

Using pH perfect nutrients like the Advanced Nutrients lines are a useful way to evade these kinds of problems. Alternatively, if you have already spent in pH and EC equipment, make sure to use high-quality cannabis-specific nutrients and get bottles of pH Up and pH Down too.

Over and under watering

Droopy, sickly plants with chlorosis might be aching from overwatering or underwatering. Either way, the root zone is hurting, and growth will grind to a halt. And things will get turned for the worst. The plants will continue to deteriorate, and pests and diseases will be welcome. A small number of buds will bloom, and even they will be abnormal. The majority of flowers will die or succumb to pathogens.water cans

You can really tell whether you’re over or under-doing the watering thing by sight, or by touching. We highly advise you to keep a schedule of water planning. Soggy substrates that are permanently wet are a clear sign that you’re overwatering. On the other hand, dry and not frequently watered mediums are highly underwater. They will look cracked on the top layer and feel very dry to touch.

Out of all the problems, this is the most readily corrected. It shouldn’t take you long to figure out whether you’re over-doing it or under-doing it. Just to make sure, lift the containers, and you’ll get a feel for the weight of wet plants – and dry plants.

Heat stress

It’s a really tricky business to differentiate between indoor and outdoor stress as they look very similar. The leaf edges will tell the story at first glance as they’ll appear burned and yellow-brownish.

Hemp I've found growing in the wild

Hemp I’ve found growing in the wild

For the indoor grower, you’ll just need to position the grow lamp and the environmental controls, and you’re good to go. Test with a light meter or use a tape measure so you can correctly estimate the optimal distance. A great rule is to put your hand near the canopy. If you can’t take it, the plant can’t either.

Outdoor is a little bit harder to deal with. But you can still take effective countermeasures. Shading the plants will help a lot in increasing the watering process. If you can’t find something, ordinary green gardening shade material can easily be used to build a simple screen. Use that to filter out some of the intense sunlight that is draining your plant.


Light burn

In order to understand what light burn is, you have to imagine baking under the sun for 18 hours – straight. Doesn’t feel like a good thing, right?

Cannabis plants hate prolonged exposure to intense light and heat. Light burn is probably the most common issue in the indoor cannabis plantations. It happens when the plants are exposed too close to the LED lights and they can’t really handle the stress. It’s highly important to note that light burn and heat stress really go hand in hand. When plants tend to be too close to heat, light exposure is elevated.

In order to expose the light burn easily, you can just take a look at the top of the plants. If the leaves are starting to turn yellow or brown, and some spots are appearing – you’re in for trouble. The middle veins of the leaves will always remain green, considering that the burn often occurs only from the outside and moving inwards. Light burn is really very easy to identify.

It’s crucial to check up on your plants and study the leaves that are positioned closest to the lights. Buying less intense lights for the flowering period is a great move because that’s when the plants often develop light burns. Making sure that proper temperatures and air circulation in the grow room is also a smart move. It’s not recommended to migrate the cannabis plants from indoor to outdoor environments

Where do the costs lie?

You need space

If you are growing one or two plants for personal use you could possibly store your plants in your garage or basement assuming that the temperature and light conditions are satisfactory. However, if you want to mass-produce hemp you will need to invest in a warehouse, at which point it might not make sense to grow hemp anymore, but rather marijuana with THC as it earns more.plant growing in money

If you are growing outside, then you will need to find a place with direct sunlight and possibly ensure that the plant is not visible to curious onlookers, you never know what your neighbors might think.

If you are growing indoors, you will need a strong light

There is a large variety of LED lights you can purchase to help grow your indoor hemp plant. You will have to find a light which satisfies your requirements. When buying a light you have to keep into account that each light can only cover a certain amount of area.

If you are aiming to have just one hemp plant growing in your garage it would make sense to buy a small 2×2 feet LED light cover that will run you about $200. When using an LED light make sure you keep the LED light 45cm (18 inches) away from the top of the plant, and also make sure your LED light emits full-spectrum light, as it will ensure that your plant does not become vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies.

As a general rule, you will want to have about 550 – 600 Watts of energy per square meter (or 50 watts per square foot). Depending on your aspirations for indoor growing you might want to consider getting the right lighting, as they can be quite costly. Furthermore, usually, you can get about 10-12 hemp plants in 1 square meter (1 per square foot.) depending on the dimensions of the pots. Rule of thumb: Minimum 50 Watts per plant. (it does not matter however if it is more.)

If you will be growing more than 4 plants we recommend you go straight to 1000 Watts, since the price of a 400 or a 600 watt grow light does not justify its value. A 1000 Watt light is more common and a lot better value for your money.

Some Recommended Growlights Based on Indoor-Farm Size

up to 2 hemp plants – 100 Watts

up to 4 hemp plants – 200 Watts

up to 20 plants – 1000 Watts

 

If you do not have 45cm of space above your plant, you might want to go for fluorescent lights. When buying fluorescent lights for cultivation you will have to buy several types to give the plant the full spectrum of light. Most growers use CFL lights in combination with T5s. The nice thing about fluorescent lights is that they only need to be 5cm (2 inches) above the top of the plant.

growing hemp at home

It goes to say if you are using lighting you will go through electricity as a variable cost. Make sure you know the wattage of your lights and do not be surprised if your electricity bill has a slight bump. One tip to maximize your lights is by using reflectors, as this will reflect all the light back and around the plant.

Of course, if you are farming outdoors you can ignore all of the above, as your plants will thrive under natural sunlight.

 

Temperature and Humidity

Growing Your Own Organic Hemp At Home 3

When growing at a personal level, temperature, humidity, and ventilation shouldn’t be an issue, however, if you do notice that the lights are generating too much heat, it is wise to invest in a fan.

If you want to increase the quality of the hemp you might also wish to invest in humidifiers and ventilation systems however these will make your startup costs skyrocket, as they can run you $1000-$3000. It has to be said though if you have a window try just opening that first.

Soil

Your plant will also need some sort of medium to grow in. 

Growing Your Own Organic Hemp At Home 4

If you are growing indoors, you will need a 40 liter (10 gallons) pot for a full-sized plant, which will run you about $10.

to fill up a 40-liter pot you will need about $15 worth of soil at your local gardening store.

This makes the startup cost per plant, $25.

The soil used should be alkaline. The minimum allowed pH level is 6, however, anything between a pH level of 7 to 7.5 is best.

Nutrition

Although not completely necessary when farming at a personal level, you might want to purchase fertilizer. Your plants need a variety of mineral nutrients and non-mineral nutrients to be grown, a lack of these can result in unhealthy growth. Remember if your plant has access to the nutrients it will only make your produce (hemp seeds, hemp oil) more nutritious.

Mineral nutrients obtained from the soil:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur

Non-mineral elements derived from air and water:

  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen

A liter of fertilizer usually costs around $5-$10 with certain bottles being specialized for marijuana plants. However, if you just purchased soil, check the packaging since some soils are pre fertilized.

We recommend MiracleGro, it works great and it is overall affordable when buying a 10 lbs box.

 

Final Thoughts

Hemp is a very vigorous plant, although you can invest in the most expensive appliances to make your hemp farm ideal it often is not going to make a very big difference. Hemp plants can be used for many things. The stalks can, for example, be used as a fiber to craft things such as clothing or paper. From the stalks, however, you can also derive hemp oil.

hemp oil pipette
pipette with hemp oil

Hemp plants also contain hemp seeds, something we already covered before. Hemp seeds are a magic seed providing very high levels of protein compared to flax or chia seed, perfect for proper functioning and repair of the body. Hemp seeds also contain large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, one of the most important nutrients to prevent many forms of heart disease as well as brain-related diseases. Hemp seeds are easily incorporated into your diet as you can just sprinkle them over your favorite salad, smoothie, or sandwich.

When you cold press the seeds and stalks of the hemp plant you get hemp oil. Hemp oil can be used not only in cooking but also it goes well over a salad (has a slightly nutty, almost pinecone-y taste.)

It is also possible to create your own soaps, shampoos, and lotions with hemp oil perfect to give away as a present.

 

Looking for a great gift for someone?

Check out this Hemp sprouting bag. Simply place the seeds in the 100% hemp fiber bag, dip it in water and hang it up.

Go from seed to salad in just 3-5 days!

 

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