Ok, this is all assuming you live in the UK, as getting seeds is a bit of a challenge in the USA. However, here are some trusted seedbanks that I have found from searching the interwebs -
When you order these seeds, don't order huge quantities. If that gets seized at customs, your big order will be a waste of time. Instead, stagger the orders. Spend between smaller amounts over orders.
Money orders and cheques are a big no-no. Instead, use credit or debit cards. On the bill, they will only show up as an obscure company. For example, here in the UK, my company shows up as "URT1"..hardly "MASSIVE SHIPMENT OF CANNABIS SEEDS TO THIS ADDRESS".
Use a fake name when ordering, too. But don't be someone like "Stephen Hawking" or (the new) "Barack Obama"..do something like "Sam Jones" or whatever..you get the jist?
Ok, so with the problem for the Americans out of the way, let's get cracking.
Pick a decent breeder. By this I mean Greenhouse, Dutch Passion, Lowlife, Nirvana, Joint Doctor, Sensi or Serious Seeds. By spending that little bit extra, you ensure all your seeds will pop when germinating and you will get a stable plant (like, no weird branches popping out of random places and a decent smoke).
Feminized seeds are reccomended, as you know you will get bud, no matter what (as long as they flower, lol, but with this guide, they will, right?)..Greenhouse do some pretty good feminized seed deals. I got 5 for about £15. That's fine.
THIS GUIDE IS NOT FOR ANY STRAINS SUCH AS LOWRYDER OR OTHER "AUTO-FLOWERING" ONES, I WILL DO A SEPERATE THREAD FOR THOSE STRAINS
Get a strain that finishes early-ish (so no Haze strains or Sativas), go for ones such as a "Skunk" variety, or strains developed in Holland or Canada. Be sensible. Do you really think the weather in November will be like Jamaica? I don't think so.
Some that pop to mind are -
Passion #1 (also good for beginners)
AK47/AK48 (stinky! be careful of neighbours)
Lowryder (but they are not covered in this guide. I will do a seperate one for them)
Your seed is as good as your growing medium. It is possible to grow top quality MJ from your garden soil - don't get me wrong. But you have no idea what the PH of that soil is (unless you test it), and the nutrient quality of it is. By buying a soil which is grom a garden centre, you will at least know how many nutrients it contains etc.
I have always stuck with Westlands with added John Innes No. 1 for seedlings. Basically, just pick a seedling soil. Not too many nutrients to burn the poor fucker, but enough to keep it going.
For when your plant begins to show signs of being potbound (which I will cover later), or nutrient deficiency, then you may consider wanting to transplant it. For my secondary soil (after about a month of being in the seedling soil and getting the occasional nutrient topup), I will put the plant into something like Westlands with added John Innes No. 3.
This contains a lot more nutrients and is for bigger, more mature plants, therefore feeding them a lot more and sustaining them. Plus, they will grow a lot faster
The most important thing is what the soil contains. This will be displayed as N-P-K. I will describe that in the next section.
WTF is N-P-K? Well some of our scientific members may know, but to all those who dont, it's the levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in the soil (or plant food)
You will need 2 types of nutrients (apart from the growing medium, aka, the soil). When the plant is growing, you will need a fertilizer which is high in nitrogen as this is what the plant uses most when growing. Don't negect to get a fertilizer with trace elements and a bit of P and K as these are also used, but in lower amounts.
I reccomend Tomorite, as not only can you grow awesome tomatoes with it, but it's also pretty good for cannabis. You may also want to invest in Baby Bio. However, only add 1 OR 2 DROPS to your feeding mix (the fertilizer). This stuff can burn your plants to shit. Be DAMN careful with it. As I said, 1 or 2 drops is PLENTY.
When the plant is flowering, you will need a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous as that is what the plant uses to produce the sweet, sweet buds we all like. I use Bio Bloom which is freely available on the net, and costs around £10 for a litre. It's worth it. This is all you will need when the lights go down to 12 hours or so (end of July/August/September/October time)
Also, it has been shown that Molasses are good for plants. Basically, this is like a syrupy substance. It's not expensive, but if you want to use them, get the "Black label" version. The carbohydrates and sugars in the molasses are beneficial for the buds as they are converted into the plant's sugars, which result in stickier, sweeter buds.
Start your seedlings off in small ones. Nothing too big or adventurous as the seedling can literally "drown" in soil. Plus it will give you the chance to start them off indoors and give them the head start they need (we are gonna be good growrrs, you know).
When they get a bit too big for their homes, get bigger pots. Simple. This is when you add the bigger and better soil. Repot them, it's not difficult. Even these people can do it -
Ok, Perlite can be used to aerate your roots. Be warned, it can be expensive and isn't necessary, but it can aid if you overwater your plant - which, happens quite a bit if is your first grow.
I choose to grow in my garden. Why? I know blind spots from my neighbours (obscured by trees), my parents are cool with it and I start my plants later as they are a bit smaller, so therefore have a lower profile.
Take everything into consideration.
Smell (they will stink!), Sight (from neighbours), Sun (direct sun? Shade?), where you will put them in an emergency? (shed? garage? house?)..remember, the smell!
Let's get growing!
You turn over in your bed..it's late March/early April/May and the weatherman on the radio downstairs says that Spring has officially come.
You hear the postman drop some mail through the postbox (or not, for you Yanks) and you jump out of bed. Run down to the doormat and find an envelope for you.
A grin comes across your face, as you know all too well what is in here.
Time to crack these bitches open.
The most common method to germinate seeds is the "paper towel" method. This involves soaking some kitchen/loo roll and leaving your seeds to sit between the sheets for a good 18-24 hours. When you see the little seeds have sprouts coming out of the ends of them, then you can place them into some damp soil and keep an eye on them within the first week.
However, you must remember that when using this method, you will have to touch your seeds and this can damage them. Only use this method if you are competent that you will not damage your seedlings. If not, then the following is the better option.
Get your seeds and your pre-prepared pot (Blue Peter moment) of soil with added John Innes No. 1 (and maybe some perlite, if you decided on it), and make a little hole, about 2-3cm down. Place your seed in there, cover it over and water. SOAK THAT BITCH. but remember to keep it covered. Don't pack it too much, but enough..if you get my drift.
Repeat the watering for a few days. 4 at least.
You will soon see your baby's head emerge and you will feel like a father. Trust me.
Just remember, whatever method you use. Keep them warm. I have a light system set up underneath my bed. It suffices
This was my plant at day 6.
The cruical first few days
Now I know, it's tempting to feed your plants as much as you can to get them to become "big healthy chron plants", as Shorty in Scary Movie said. However, the trick is to only feed it when it says it needs feeding. And trust me, they won't for a while.
Keep them warm and in as much sunlight as possible. If it's a shit day, improvise. Get your desk lamp set up. Just remember not to let them stretch too much, and by this, I mean get lanky. If you want, you can keep a light source close enough to your plants so that they will not "reach for the skies" and have long internodes, resulting in good, but small buds.
Keep watering when the soil is dry. You can test by "fingering" it..put your finger a few centimetres down into the soil..if it feels dry at all, then water.
It is reccomended to let your water sit for a day before, as it gets rid of any chlorine in it. So you may wish to do this. No harm if you don't though.
My plant at day 8
My plant at day 11
So..why do you start them indoors?
Because these are only babies, remember. The big bad world out there has the odd bad day, as we do. So letting them get cold/battered or whatever in the first few days isn't nice. Remember when you were a kid? Your parents probably didn't leave you outside.
Nurture thee and treat them well, and they will reward you well
Now all you have to do is give them at least 18 hours of light per day to keep them in the vegetative stage, where they will NOT flower..aka produce bud(which isnt hard really. You could invest in a timer, but summer days are usually long, so follow the sun).