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How I Grew a Shaq-Sized Marijuana Plant at Home

It took a foray into cannabis cultivation to make this pot enthusiast realize she had been getting gouged all these years.

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Ms. Zooted, pictured here to real-life scale, next to her towering pot plant. (The actual, non-cartoon author of this piece wished to remain anonymous due to obvious privacy concerns.)

Like a lot of cannabis fans, I long ago grew to accept the considerable cost of my preferred vice. When I think about that now, I cringe. In a typical month, I was shelling out the going rate—$100 for an th ounce—every couple of weeks. My math skills are not great but those numbers are appalling when teased out annually. The awful truth: I was spending a grievous percentage of my disposable income on the weed.

So why am I cringing about this all of the sudden? Because, like many of my fellow Minnesotans, this year I decided to take advantage of the change in law that allows people like me grow their own supply

After completing my first harvest, friends, I have good news: Weed, it turns out, grows like a weed. Connoisseurs love to fetishize the complexities of their perfect strains. To be sure, those imbued with a fussy horticultural streak can certainly grow better, more potent, more aromatic weed than what sprouted in my garden this fall.

But I am proud of the fruits of my workman-like efforts, even though, it turns, out, very little effort was required.

In the past, cowering from the prospect of criminal prosecution were I to plant my garden, I dabbled with indoor cultivation. And the truth is, indoor cultivation is a pain in the ass. My last effort produced a reasonable intoxicant, but there were problems. When I tried to grow in the basement, the plants were stunted, probably because the temperatures were a bit low. 

So I moved the operation upstairs. The results were better but still not without issues. First, the plants were too leggy, which is probably a result of an insufficiently powerful grow light. I upgraded my lights, purchasing a $120 LED rig online. That helped, but even so my crop was troubled. I made a rookie error, removing the fan from the grow one hot evening when I needed it in the bedroom. This caused a mildew blight to spread and ruin one of my plants.

In the end, I did manage a decent indoor harvest. But the buds were unbelievably seedy. Thinking back, I suspect I gave the plant too much light for too long, which caused it to somehow self-pollinate. My pal and I joked about it, dubbing the strain “Mighty Hermaphrodity.”

When summer rolled around—and sweet legalization went into effect—I sprouted some of the seeds from Mighty Hermaphrodity. After tending it for a spell indoors, I planted the healthiest of the bunch in the sunniest spot in my backyard, a little fenced-in garden, shielded from prying eyes by an east-facing garage.

My approach was hands off. I didn’t fertilize and, despite the drought, I only watered a couple of times. The fruit of this lazy approach? A Shaquille O’Neal-sized monster, seven feet tall. It would have taken four adults holding hands to encircle this aromatic leviathan. Some of her arms were so heavy they broke from the weight of the flower. In the end, she yielded a whopping 19+ ounces uncured, and about 16 ounces after drying.

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Determining the correct time to harvest can be a little tricky. By using a magnifying glass or a microscope you can see the so-called “trichromes”—resinous glands that cover the plant that look like a golf ball on a tee when getting close to harvest time. You can also see things called “stigmas”—strands on the surface of flowers that turn orange when ready to harvest. When the little golf balls turn cloudy, it's time to harvest.

For the harvest I cut off the long arms that were filled with flower buds and hung them upside down for a few days. Then I trimmed the buds using a little grooming scissors. Pro tip: You should wear plastic gloves because otherwise your hands will get sticky; during trimming you'll need to scrape off the scissors occasionally with a utility knife as they get covered with resin.

The flower.Provided

I put the trimmed buds into glass jars and lightly attached the lids. Every day for a week I shook up the jars to keep the buds from sticking to the glass and let them breathe for an hour or so before replacing the lids. After a week or two of this process I declared the curing process done.

After sampling the final product I determined the project a success, with the buds producing only a few seeds and a nice aroma and effect. And looking back, I lament all the money I've blown over the years when it turns out that weed grows like a weed.

The harvest. Provided

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