Each year, I pop an autoflowing cannabis seed in 15 litre pot with a simple organic mix (1 third home made compost, 1 third coco and 1 third perlite) I toss in a handful of organic nutrients and watch it grow over the summer.
I taught myself the basics of cannabis growing through books, the Internet, chats with seasoned growers but most of all through experimenting and practise.
When it’s sunny I leave the plant outside in the sun, making sure that the growing medium does not completely dry out. I move the pot to follow the sun around my garden as it makes its path through the Belgian sky. When it’s cold and wet I move them into my lean to greenhouse where I have an oscillating fan to help keep the air moving.
I check the plants daily (they can survive quite well for up to a week) and spray weekly with an organic pesticide called neem oil. I stop spraying as the buds develop. I then only spray locally and in emergencies. The spraying over the summer helps to boost the plants immune system so they are usually healthy enough come flowering time to fight off diseases.
At the end of the summer to early autumn the plant, now laden with pungent buds is cut, dried and finally cured in glass jars. Autoflowering seeds allow you to crop the plants early and avoid the damp cold Autumn weather which promotes bud rot and powdery mildew.
I end up with enough great tasting dried cannabis flowers which will last me until the end of next growing season. Recently, I’ve grown on behalf of a few friends (with a signed letter from each) and we split the end results to mix things up a little. This year we shared some Autoflowering varieties of the following strains; Cheese, which produces potent, strong smelling fat buds; Blueberry (my personal favourite), which has great medicinal qualities; Mazar, which produces a heavy stone that helps you sleep (I harvested it late to get maximum heavy stone); and Northern Lights, which gives you a creative high followed by a sleep inducing mellow stone.
We rely on the fact that in Belgium it is decriminalised for one adult to grow one cannabis plant. Make sure you check your local laws for the legal limit where you live. For sure, it’s a grey area but we don’t yield a lot, no profits are made and we’re all law abiding citizens who prefer to relax through smoking cannabis rather than drinking alcohol. We don’t want put ourselves at risk or support a criminal market by buying cannabis (the history of which could be suspect) on the streets. I don’t feel we’re a menace to society and am fairly confident the pragmatic Belgian authorities will agree.
It seems that what we do is not so uncommon any more. Herbies Seeds, a popular online cannabis seed bank selling seeds “as souvenirs” has seen a huge surge in sales of autoflowering seeds in the last few years.
Autoflowering strains are very popular in Europe and are becoming more so in the US. The fact they flower automatically and do not depend on the change in light at the end of the summer means that growers can harvest early avoiding cool and humid weather conditions.
Most, if not all, major seed breeders have at least one autoflowering strain in their lineup of seeds. This means people can usually find an autoflowering version of their preferred strains to grow at home.
Autoflowering plants are short and are easy to tuck away unnoticed in the garden. They allow growers to literally come out of the cannabis closet and grow naturally under the sun. As cannabis laws relax globally I’m hoping more people will be bold enough to openly grow for personal use. It should be no more a social taboo than brewing your own beer or wine.
If you are interested in growing at home and don’t want to set up an expensive grow room may I introduce you to my book Windowsill Weed: A Home Growers Cannabis Journey (available in print or digital format) that explains how I do it.