Th`k: The Therapeutic Benefits of Growing Cannabis and Tips to Get Started
Looking for a new hobby that can improve your mood and alleviate stress? Consider growing cannabis. The benefits of cultivating a green thumb are not just anecdotal - they have been demonstrated on a biological level. One meta-analysis of 22 studies found that gardening, particularly in outdoor natural environments, is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, increased self-esteem, and improved cognitive function1. Gardening also has a restorative effect on the endocrine system: one study found that gardening has a restorative effect on the endocrine system, as participants showed decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol after gardening2. For people with mental health challenges, gardening interventions can increase feelings of self-esteem and accomplishment while reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression3. And, if you’re looking to stay active and connected in your golden years, sharing the joy of growing dope may be the ticket. Community gardening programs have been found to improve the quality of life among older adults by facilitating social connections and increasing outdoor activity4.
Whether you enjoy growing cooperatively or sharing your harvest with friends, the benefits of cultivating a green thumb extend beyond the plant itself. Here are some tried-and-true tips from our team to get started with your first grow.
- Decide on the Location: Outdoor growing is generally cheaper, as it uses natural sunlight and doesn't require an investment in special equipment. However, outdoor plants may be more susceptible to pests and mold. Indoor growing provides better control over the environment, but you’ll need special lighting for best results (we recommend Mars Hydro LED). A 2x4 or 4x4 grow tent is a good option, as it provides enough space to grow a few plants at any time of the year.
- Choose Plant Type: The two main types of cannabis plants are autoflowering and photoperiod. Autoflowering plants are easier to grow as they do not require a specific light cycle to flower, and they are generally more hardy and quicker to harvest. However, autoflowering plants may produce smaller yields and are not available in as many varieties. Photoperiod plants require a specific light cycle to flower (usually 12 hours of darkness per day) and take longer to grow. On the upside, they tend to produce larger yields and are available in more varieties.
- Pots and Soil: Fabric pots are a good choice as they allow for better aeration and drainage, which helps prevent root rot. We recommend using 3 or 5-gallon fabric pots depending on the size of your plant. For soil, we recommend a blend of 1/3 perlite, 1/3 compost, such as worm castings, and 1/3 quality soil such as Happy Frog, Ocean Forest, or Coast of Maine.
- Nutrient Requirements: We recommend organic nutrients specifically formulated for cannabis. During the vegetative stage, your plants will require more nitrogen to promote healthy foliage growth. During the flowering stage, your plants will require more phosphorus and potassium to encourage bud growth and density. You can also make a compost “tea” to perk up your plants. Remember that it’s better to underfeed than overfeed. Signs of overfeeding include:
- Dark green, shiny leaves with bluish tint
- Burnt-looking, brown leaf tips
- Curling or clawing of leaves (may also indicate overwatering)
- Seeds: We recommend ordering seeds from reputable online sources such as Mephisto Genetics, Humbolt seeds, or Seedsman. These sources offer a wide range of cannabis strains and provide detailed information about each one.
Whether you enjoy cannabis for medicinal purposes or just love gardening, the therapeutic benefits of cultivating a green thumb are undeniable. Have any suggestions or tips you’d like to share? Send us your own recommendations to email@example.com. We’d love to hear them!
- Soga, M., Gaston, K. J., & Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Journal of Health Psychology, 22(1), 9-20.
- van den Berg, A. E., Custers, M. H., & Gardiner, J. D. (2018). Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress. Journal of Health Psychology, 23(6), 762-771.
- Glover, T. D., Parry, D. C., Shinew, K. J., & Alikhani, P. (2019). Gardening intervention for mental health: A qualitative review. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 26(7-8), 195-207. doi:10.1111/jpm.12539
- Choe, M. A., Casken, J., & Kang, S. J. (2019). Community gardening: A parsimonious path to individual, community, and environmental resilience. Journal of Community Psychology, 47(5), 1165-1179.