I love homegrowing because it’s fun, rewarding, and empowering. I think it’s great that Californians are now able to grow 6 plants for personal use and I’m lucky to live in a county where outdoor cultivation is allowed. I’ve grown personal plants in my backyard for the last five years in the ground alongside vegetables, herbs and flowers. I usually give them some fish emulsion (a nitrogen-rich fertilizer) about once a week during the earlier stages of growth. I used to think that you need to fuss over your plants and give them lots of amendments for them to be happy but I’ve learned that they do quite well being on their own as long as they have sun, water, and good soil.

Now that we have chickens I am looking forward to not buying fish emulsion anymore and using chicken manure and compost to fertilize instead – this is a permaculture technique known as closing the loop, or sourcing all of your inputs from your own garden rather than going out and buying stuff in plastic bottles. I love this video called Marijuana: The Gateway Plant to Urban Farming that shows what’s possible in an urban backyard and illustrates how growing weed will probably inspire you to start growing all kinds of other things.

I have had some issues with tiny green caterpillars burrowing deep into the dense top buds and ruining some of my crop so I learned that preventatively applying BT (bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occuring bacteria) as a foliar spray can be helpful. I think the biggest challenge for me as a homegrower living in a small apartment is that I don’t have a proper drying space, so once it’s time to harvest I put up strings in my kitchen and hang and dry the buds for a week or two there (keeping a fan running most of the time). A cool dark place like a closet, basement, or spare room could work well. You’ll know it’s dry enough when the stems snap rather than bend and then you can clip the buds off the stalks and put them in mason jars. Trimming is optional and not really necessary.

I think the best part about growing your own is that it fills you with a sense of abundance. With 6 plants you will probably end up with way more weed than you need and therefore you will have to give some away to your friends. I like to fill up some small ziploc bags, keep them in my car, and give them to people on the street who are standing at intersections – it’s rewarding to be able to share your homegrown with a stranger who isn’t expecting it and put a smile on their face. I believe growing your own and sharing it with people in need is the best way to honor the legacy of people like Brownie Mary, who baked her own infused brownies, smuggled them into hospital wards, and distributed them to AIDS patients in the 90’s. For more detailed information I would highly recommend the books Feminist Weed Farmer by Madrone Stewart as well as Growing Weed in the Garden by Johanna Silver. Good luck!!

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