11.10.2020 | The Herb Growing Blues

Welcome back to the Red Bench – today let’s get our hands into the soil, so to speak, and talk growing!

I’ve always had the dream of growing my own herb, ever since I started smoking back in 1983. My first attempts were simply throwing seeds from baggies of pot out of my bedroom window, hoping a random plant would spring up… none ever did.

The Minneapolis Grow

I didn’t really get a chance to try my hand at growing until Tania and I moved to Minneapolis in 1987. We converted the only closet in our studio apartment into a small grow room. We bought lights, soil, nutrients, growing buckets and hauled them up the stairs to our third story apartment to set it up.

Ventilation is vital to growing good herb. We didn’t have any ventilation at all. The closet was three feet wide and about six feet deep. We planned on trying to grow eight plants – we had some seeds from some California Skunk buds that we germinated, were planted and quickly grew into sweet looking little seedlings. And then the heat and humidity set in…

We had lined our grow closet with aluminum foil, because that’s what people did back then. The aluminum foil was supposed to help reflect the light and increase the lumens in the room. It didn’t work, it just created a place for moisture to gather.

The lights we used were fluorescent grow lights – completely inadequate. The plants kept stretching to reach the light and in a couple months we had tall, spindly plants that just didn’t look like any pictures I had seen of marijuana growing. Confused, we set the lights to a flowering cycle and waited.

We didn’t have to wait long, just a week or two, until the flowers started to bloom, and burst pollen all over the place. We had grown eight male plants. Not a female in the bunch. Sadly we deconstructed our grow closet. All that work for nothing. And to add insult to failure, when we removed the aluminum foil the walls were covered in mold – gross! I spent several hours doing battle with the walls of mold before it was clean.

Okay, so it was a failure, but my dream of growing herb was not deterred. Why? Because, ideally, it seemed to me that every herb smoker should grow their own stash. It was cost effective, to say the least, and seemed good for the soul. What was more natural than growing your own cannabis, your own stash to fill your pipe?

The Long Beach Grow

With this idealist thought, I tried again in 2008 to be an indoor, urban farmer. As a medical marijuana patient, I had the legal right to grow up to six plants so I bought some clones at a dispensary and gave growing another try.

This time I read a bunch of grow books ahead of time. I was hip to the whole ventilation thing this go around and I planned to make my new grow closet well ventilated. And no aluminum foil. I converted a free-standing, cheap wardrobe a neighbor was discarding into a small grow closet. I bought a decent grow light at a hydroponics store and set about to seriously grow a few plants.

The clones I bought were G13 clones. I wanted the heavy Indica buzz of G13, a hashy plant which grows rather short, which was just what I needed for my new closet. But what I really needed was some patience. I put them to flower after just a couple months of vegetative growth, and harvested them before they really developed into their full potential. The results were disappointing but I did not despair… not one bit. I made plans for a bigger garden.

I spent a month in late spring of 2008 building a small walk-in size closet in our back bedroom.

This was a serious grow room that hid behind a huge pile of my stored paintings from the last 25 years of creating art. I grew another round of G13 and let the plants grow longer, and flower longer in a well ventilated situation.

The buds looked really nice when I harvested them. But when they had been dried and cured, they lacked any “oomph”. Totally lackluster with a mediocre high. Again I was disappointed, but not defeated. So I got more G13 clones and tried another round of growing. I changed nutrients hoping it would improve the flowers. Months passed and it was harvest time again.

Weeks after the harvest I finally sampled the cured nugs. They smelled good, had a very hashy taste and the high… practically nothing. Sure there was something going on, but nothing to write home about, as they say. I looked at the few ounces I had gained for all my efforts and couldn’t help but feel very disappointed. I’d had visions of jars filled with my own herb and I had come up very short.


My initial reaction was to blame it on my genes. I’m just a brown-thumb from a family of brown-thumbs I told myself, and anyone who I talked to about my growing experience. It is true that my family always had that yard on the block where the grass didn’t grow, but the weeds did. All our houseplants looked like patients on life-support. Growing plants just wasn’t something anyone in my family was good at.

I’ve taken a more pragmatic approach to growing the herb since then. There are so many people who grow great herb I think I’ll leave it up to them. I read an interview with Willie Nelson where he said pretty much that same thing, and the light bulb went off in my brain. I’ve got other skills, ones I’m very happy with… so what if I can’t grow herb! Not everybody has those skills or the right vibe for raising beautiful, healthy, potent plants – and I’m just one of those people it seems.

Have I purged the urge to grow from my mind? No. Someday I’ll probably try again. I’ve been thinking lately how nice it would be to grow a plant as a houseplant just to watch it grow. Maybe if I find a couple good seeds before spring I’ll give that a try.

How are your growing skills? Do you grow your own herb? Feel free to share your growing stories in the comments below. 🙂

Until tomorrow, best of health.

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November 10, 2020 3:55 pm

Hi Jon
Growing is a huge trial and error art. I learn something new about the process every season, and sometimes things just don’t go as planned. I was fortunate this year to have a couple of good strains, but I also had to destroy some plants due to diseases beyond my control. I won’t let the challenge keep me from trying even harder next Spring.
Let me know if you’d like a few good CBD strain seeds and I’d be happy to send them your way.