In the 70’s, a long time ago, growing Cannabis was different. Most people did not know what they were doing. They were doing crazy things like throwing a handful of marijuana seeds out the back door and seeing what grew. Seeds were easy to find. They popped up every now and again… usually in my joint, exploding in my face and startling me. When cleaning our “lid,” which is what we called an ounce, seeds would appear and we would save them. We would place these seeds between two wet paper towels and hope that there was germination within three days. If, by chance, a seed sprouted, it was placed in a “finger deep” hole in a popular potting soil. Later, peat pots came out and we used those. Fast forward to 2012 and seeds have gone public. No longer do they “appear.” The best and easiest way to procure them is just to buy them from the many seed banks out there. Oh, yeah, I have gotten them other ways. I used to get them from my brother, John, who would carefully mail them from the bay area. Not recommended! With these types of random seeds, you have to put them under a microscope to see if they are “speckled.” White seeds are thrown away and speckled seeds are germinated. It is much better to go with the seed banks and their “feminized” seeds.
GERMINATING AND TRANSPLANTING MARIJUANA SEEDS
The best way to germinate is still the old fashion way, between paper towels. To do this, moisten a paper towel, wring it out well, fold it into fourths, and place the seeds between the folds. Keep the towels moist! Place them under your bed and don’t forget to water them every day! When the seeds break open and a small root is exposed, transplant each to a cube of rock wool. Again, keep the seedling watered. When plant is 1″-2″ tall, insert a chopstick or other small dowel next to the plant. If plant starts to droop, tie it loosely to the chopstick using garden tape or string. When the plant is 6″ tall, plant the rock wool in a peat pot. Be sure and keep it watered. I cannot stress this enough. From here, you can take the plant outside and plant it in the ground. The plant can also be planted in a 15 gal commercial planter pot and kept under lights in your closet.
If you don’t have time for seeds, or you have bad luck with seeds, you can always use clones. Clones are baby plants, cut from the branches of a mother plant. To clone, you need an adult female plant. A lot of growers keep a mother plant around for years. This is ideal if there is a strain you particularly like. Clones, like seeds, can be purchased. I purchase mine at my dispensary. When you bring your clones home, they will probably be in a little square of rock wool (in soil) in a red beer cup. The first thing I do is remove the clone from the red cup and place it into a peat pot. From there, I put them under lights: I have a five-sided grow chamber that I use. After a month in the pod at 24 hours of light, I transplant them to my greenhouse. I then plant them in the ground, but you can use pots if you prefer: The bigger the better when it comes to pots.
“It was 1975. I was fifteen years old and attending on of my first rock concerts: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at the Cleveland stadium. My boyfriend Carlo and I were sitting in the infield, watching the show and smoking dope–the first time for me.
We were sitting close, and had our knees up, our arms wrapped around our knees. Suddenly, I realized I could not feel my legs…”
— Pot Stories for the Soul
The best way to store cannabis seeds is, logically, to create the complete opposite of the best conditions for germination. Firstly, check that your seeds are clean, dry and not cracked. Most reputable seed banks put enough time and effort into their packaging to make sure that the seeds are in perfect condition when they reach you, whether it’s basic but sturdy like Weed Seed Shop (weedseedshop.com) or sleek, sophisticated and begging to be re-purposed as a joint storage box like Sensi Seeds (sensiseeds.com). If your cannabis seeds are still in the original packaging you can leave them in it, although you may find it easier to remove them if you have limited space.
Make sure your hands are dry. Moisture is the enemy here. Place your cannabis seeds in a clean, dry Ziploc bag. If you don’t have one of these, rolling them in clingfilm is the next best thing. If you can include a food-grade desiccant sachet in with them, this will absorb any remaining traces of humidity (don’t use the ones that come with shoes).
Once your cannabis seeds are safely sealed in plastic, the next requirement is to keep them cool, and at a steady temperature. The ideal temperature for storing cannabis seeds is 5 – 6 degrees centigrade, which is slightly warmer than the body of most domestic fridges. The door of a fridge, however, is always a slightly higher temperature – parents and carers of babies may remember that baby milk should never be stored in the door of the fridge for exactly this reason. This makes it the ideal place to store cannabis seeds.
Darkness also helps keep cannabis seeds dormant. If the packaging doesn’t protect them from light, black plastic film canisters make ideal containers for small amounts, and kids’ lunchboxes for large amounts and seeds still in their packaging (Tupperware is usually transparent, but a black Transformers lunchbox is virtually lightproof). These precautions also guard your seeds against accidental bumping, squashing and leaking liquids – if your fridge unexpectedly defrosts, your seeds should be the last thing you have to worry about.
Cannabis seeds are a valuable investment. Whether you are fortunate enough to live somewhere that growing weed is legal (in which case, lucky you, and you should be totally taking advantage of this to grow as much marijuana as possible!), or you’re stockpiling weed seeds to preserve your favourite marijuana genetics for the day when your local legislation changes in favour of cannabis growing, or even if you’re one of those rare people who really is buying cannabis seeds as collector’s items – keeping your cannabis seeds safe and viable is essential. To help you get the most out of your cannabis seeds, here are some handy dos and don’ts for correctly storing cannabis seeds.
- DO – keep your cannabis seeds dry. Damp or wet seeds will begin to germinate, and even small amounts of moisture or humidity inside packaging can cause rot and mould.
- DON’T – let them get too warm. Warmth will also encourage germination, and high temperatures can damage cannabis seeds, effectively ‘cooking’ the insides.
- DO – keep them in the dark. Darkness encourages seeds to remain dormant; long exposure to light may damage and degrade the health of the seeds.
- DON’T – squash them! Pretty obvious really but make sure the shells remain intact.
- DO – keep them labelled. Cannabis seeds do tend to all look very similar; make sure your strains don’t get mixed up!
- DON’T – let them get too cold. Freezing cannabis seeds will damage at least some of them. The door of a fridge is the ideal temperature (5 – 6 degrees centigrade).
- DO – keep your hands, working area and any equipment clean and dry. Mould and fungus can grow on seeds even when they are refrigerated.
- DON’T – let pests or rodents get to your cannabis seeds. Keeping them in the fridge is a good way of ensuring this also.
- DO – make sure you buy cannabis seeds from a reputable seed bank. Seeds should arrive in the original packaging and be clean and solid.
- DON’T – pack your cannabis seeds with NON-FOOD GRADE silica gel or anything else that could be toxic.
Following these handy tips for storing cannabis seeds should keep the original germination rate (which, if you bought seeds from a reliable seed company, should be around 95%) unchanged for at least two years, and potentially as many as five! After some years, the germination rate will gradually decline. Thanks however to the naturally stubborn survival traits of cannabis, there is no deadline at which all the cannabis seeds in a batch will suddenly lose the ability to germinate. Anecdotal reports of cannabis seeds that were over 20 years old when they were germinated and still produced a 60% germination rate can be found on various cannabis forums, so with correct storage, your precious seeds will remain an investment for years to come!