Even experienced indoor vegetable growers can face a substantial learning curve when they begin to grow cannabis. The cannabis plant has its own characteristics that are unlike those of most vegetables.
As the number of states that legalize cannabis continues to rise and growers face an increasing amount of competition, it’s more important than ever to examine its care. This article will explain the key differences between growing vegetables and cannabis in an indoor environment.
1. Irrigation. Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for nutrient deficiencies and diseases in cannabis plants. On the other hand, underwatering can deter plant growth.
The primary difference between the water needs of cannabis and those of vegetables is that the irrigation needs of cannabis change as the plant matures.
For young cannabis seedlings and clone plants, you should avoid heavy watering. Instead, the soil only needs only a light misting once every two to three days. As the plant matures, it may be wise to switch to a drip water system. A drip system provides a slow, steady supply of water to your plant.
Vegetables can vary greatly on the amount of water they require. For example, lettuces need constant access to water. Root vegetables are more like cannabis, needing more water most during their intubation stage.
Keep in mind that, as a general rule, overwatering is more dangerous to cannabis than underwatering.
2. Environment. As any gardener knows, all plants need carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis. In addition, higher levels of CO²can boost the quality and quantity of both vegetable and cannabis crops.
The levels of humidity that plants need and their transpiration (moisture lost by plants) can vary from plant to plant. Once again, the needs of the cannabis plant vary according to its life cycle. The ideal humidity for cannabis seedlings is 75%. That percentage lowers to about 55% for the flowering stage.
Another factor to consider is vapor pressure deficit, or VPD, which describes the relationship between the moisture in the air and the water at the leaf’s surface. Many crops prefer a VPD between 0.65 to 1.25 kPa. Leafy greens thrive on the lower end of the range, while fruiting and flowering plants (including tomatoes and cannabis) do better on the higher end.
Temperature needs also vary among agricultural crops. Leafy greens thrive in cooler environments, while fruiting and flowering crops prefer warmth. For indoor cannabis growing, temperatures typically should be kept between 77°F to 86°F (25℃ to 30℃) to maximize yields.
3. Lighting. Another variable for indoor plants is the amount of light they receive. Most indoor vegetable growers aim for anywhere between 14 and 20 hours of light each day, which, of course, is far more than the plants would get outside.
Cannabis growers must once again consider the stage of their plants when determining lighting needs. In the vegetative stage, the plants need 18 to 24 hours of daily light, but you can reduce it to 12 hours a day during the flowering stage.
A challenge for cannabis growers is to keep the dark hours dark. Even a small amount of light leaking into the flowering room can negatively impact the process.
4. Reproduction. You can reproduce cannabis from seed or by cloning. Successful cloning can save the grower time and money.
Cloning, the process of growing a genetic duplicate of the original plant from a cutting, is not always possible or advisable with vegetable plants. For example, leafy greens and many fruiting crops do not clone. Herbs, such as rosemary and basil, do tend to clone well, though.
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