Consider these DIY tips to make your home the perfect growing environment
Remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You’ve managed to nurture a cannabis plant or two to good health—hooray for you!—and your confidence still riding high, you are ready to make that first snip.
It’s a feat in itself, for sure, but before busting up that flower, rolling it into a joint and taking a puff of your first-ever own homegrown, there is one more crucial step to tackle: drying and curing.
Performance to date shows your green-thumb prowess, sure, but, really, there are a number of things that could go wrong—think moisture and mould, for example—so understanding this part of the process is critical.
Each Canadian household can legally grow up to four cannabis plants from licensed seeds or seedlings, and once dried, can carry up to 30 g of weed on their person in public. But to get to the point of carrying cannabis around and smoking it, it needs to be dried and cured first.
Step one: Drying
Did your Granny ever tell you a watched pot never boils? It’s best to bear that sentiment in mind when it comes to drying. It’s a time-consuming process and shouldn’t be rushed, so put on that patience hat.
The amount of time it takes to dry and cure depends on environment, technique and quantity of plants. That said, on average, the process should take about six to eight weeks, although some strains can benefit from curing for several months. It’s worth the wait, though, because properly dried and cured cannabis offers not only more robust terpene and flavour profiles, but also a better high.
The environment created for the drying and curing process needs to be near perfect. First, keep things dark, using minimal to no light and ensure that the temperature stays around 18 to 21 C—so cooler than room temperature. Terpenes will start to evaporate at around the 21 C mark, which will reduce flavour and potency. As for the humidity, it should be stable at between 50 percent and 60 percent.
There are two easy, at-home drying methods. The first is using a closet or other dark, small space. While the bathroom may seem a decent-sized area to dry flower, the shower and taps produce humidity, which isn’t good, and neither is the light.
Instead, stick to a closet. There, both the temperature and moisture—a humidifier, dehumidifier or fan can be used, as needed—can be controlled. Inside the space, use a clothes drying rack and hang the stems upside down from it. Hangers may also do the trick. Avoid lights or keep them dim, if necessary.
A different kind of brown bagging it may also help: a brown paper bag is the other simple solution for drying a small batch at home. Paper allows enough oxygen into the bag without suffocating the plant, keeping the atmosphere inside the bag a little more humid than outside. Simply place buds in the paper sack—remember that the more put in the bag, the more humid it will be—and open and close it at least once a day for 10 to 20 minutes to recycle the air and reset the humidity. Use a hygrometer, a basic and relatively cheap gadget for measuring moisture, to keep humidity right.
Step 2: Curing
After the drying process has removed the majority of the water from the cannabis, it’s time to cure it. Curing continues to remove moisture from the buds while drawing forth flavours, scents, smooth notes and other characteristics that you’ll definitely appreciate when it finally comes time to consume. So hold on… nearly there.
First, a quick test to check if the plants are also ready to go from drying to curing: to find out, bend the stems; if they break, they’re ready. All you’ll need to cure your buds are some air-tight containers—these can be glass jars, wooden boxes or metal containers—and a cool, dark, dry spot in which to store them. Avoid storage solutions like tin boxes, as their lids often aren’t tight enough to keep oxygen out.
Fill the containers with loosely packed buds and seal them for a day. When they are opened again, you may notice some of the moisture has returned to the buds. This is good and indicates the drying process has not been overdone.
Over the next week, open the jars once or twice a day to allow the buds to breathe. Keep track of how scents and appearances develop. Repeat for a minimum of two weeks or until the flower is fragrant and appropriately dry throughout.
One way to know when the time is right is to smoke or vape a little each day and take some notes. When the product starts to provide a consistent experience, your have your finished product.
Beware the mould
Mould is the biggest threat to a cannabis plant and a real nuisance for at-home growers. Even large-scale licensed producers have to be diligent with mould, as it can cause all sorts of unpleasant health problems. Mould is caused by excess humidity during the drying or curing processes and this excess moisture creates the perfect breeding ground for fungal spores. Keep mould in check by keeping the humidity in check.