Hemp has blossomed in the mainstream market.
And everyone, really, everyone, from big-name pro-golfers to wholesome commercial farmers to my suburban hairdresser mother, wants in on the action.
So, what’s the deal with growing hemp? How is hemp different from pot? And what is this CBD everyone is talking about?
Growing Hemp at Home
There is an abundance of information out there (enough to give you a head high) with the majority of the discussion being directed to professional farmers.
But, we believe this plant is accessible medicine that belongs in backyard gardens and sunny windowsills and maybe… your home! Best of all, you can grow it yourself! No John Deere tractor or overalls or special training required. Still not sure you got a green enough thumb? The fellas at a Pot for Pot got you covered! (link)
Follow along as this guide may be invaluable to beginning your very own hemp growing journey.
What is Hemp?
“Hemp” as a name can be misleading because hemp is, first and foremost, cannabis. Hemp is actually a variation of the species Cannabis sativa.
Yes, that’s right folks, hemp is technically pot! Cue the dropped jaws and gasps!
But wait right there, like most things green, this is not black and white.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
Let’s be clear: Cannabis is a plant.
“Hemp” and “marijuana” are not really plants, but words used to broadly classify variations of the cannabis plant.
In an attempt to distance themselves from the antiquated association of your new favorite garden plant with red-eyed teenagers and incense, many well-mannered farmers will discuss how hemp has a unique biological structure.
They may tout that hemp is long, lean, and fibrous while marijuana is shorter, leafy, and displays robust flowers or buds.
This oversimplification is simply not true.
With the cultivation of any plant, selective breeding results in variations that display the most desired phenotype, or observable characteristics.
Cannabis has a long relationship with human cultivation. Perhaps the longest of any plant that humans have grown, with evidence of hemp-based agriculture going back thousands of years. This is due to the plant’s wide spectrum of applicable uses.
As a result, cannabis comes in all shapes and sizes. And you may find that it grows just like any other house plant! (link)
The hemp vs. marijuana classification comes down to one major difference: can this variation of the plant get you high (or not)?
Or, to put it more scientifically, what is the percentage of the main psychoactive cannabinoid, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, in the mature cannabis product?
This distinction was defined legally with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill that classified cannabis as “hemp” when the plant does not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC by dry weight.
This places all cannabis plants containing more than 0.3 percent of THC, by dry weight, into the “marijuana” category.
So, it could be argued that any cannabis plant is “hemp” until the plant is harvested, cured, and tested by a laboratory to determine the THC percentage.
But I thought hemp was legal (thanks, 2018 Farm Bill) and marijuana was still very much illegal?
Hemp and marijuana have different relationships with the United States government with the latter remaining a schedule 1 drug, and the former enjoying a celebrated status nationwide with endorsements by very Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Hemp may very well be the future of agriculture and America’s most prestigious plant.
You may consider it your American right (some would say duty) to grow hemp at home. We love our government while also understanding that sometimes the government can confuse itself while working out new eras in lawmaking, like making hemp legal for all.
And we are here to support you, homegrower. The experience of growing hemp is a natural and accessible undertaking-- we believe in you! This is true no matter if you find yourself growing cannabis with less than 0.3% THC content or a more variable THC content…
But what’s in a name?
We have already demonstrated that hemp and marijuana are more similar than they are different and a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet (or skunky depending on your variation). So, who’s really to say if your cannabis plant is hemp or pot?
The truth is, the labor and cost of having a single garden-grown cannabis plant tested is more work than your neighborhood law enforcement is willing to take on. Aside from the occasional nosey neighbor, the truth is, no one, especially the government, is looking in your garden.
So why not make it your own? Lush, verdant, expansive, and maybe a little experimental? Make that nosey neighbor so jealous that they turn and focus on their own garden maybe!
Growing plants is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your environment. And growing hemp is not only easy, but will give back to you. (link)
Hemp Uses and Benefits
Hemp has boundless uses— over 50,000 and counting.
Hemp is the strongest natural fiber in the world and hemp products span across multiple different categories: everyday and industrial textiles, building materials, paper, fuel, body care, food, wellness products, plastic substitutes, and more. It truly is a magical plant.
Top 8 Uses for Hemp:
- Textiles and Clothing
- Dietary supplements
- Housing materials
- Plastic replacements
Moreover, hemp demonstrates clear superiority when matched against comparable materials like cotton, flax, trees, soybeans, and petroleum.
Hemp has an unique ability to be strong, durable, and flourish in relatively small growing areas, with light to moderate needs in terms of soil quality and water consumption, and a speedy turnaround time from seed to harvest. Plus, every growth cycle it renews the soil.
The time to normalize this plant is now. If not for its everyday use and versatility, then for the greater environmental positive impact on this planet.
Industrial Hemp & What to Expect From Your Garden
Most good patriots know that even George Washington grew hemp at Mt. Vernon. Our first president established a profitable relationship with the plant because of hemp’s versatile industrial uses, mostly by making ropes, sail canvases, fishing nets, and thread for clothing.
Washington was an enterprising farmer with acres of hemp. You, dear reader, may not harvest enough fibrous material to sew your own Betsy Ross flag from your one or two backyard or kitchen window plants. Although, if your plants are really stalky, why not harvest the stalks too? If there is not enough fiber for clothing, you could use the material to make pulp for paper.
But, you most likely can expect a more than satisfactory haul of hemp seeds, rich in essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals as well as totally delicious in smoothies, salads, and on top of your morning avocado toast.
Or maybe you’re in it for a healthy harvest of CBD-rich flowers which you can smoke, vape, or use to make your own hemp oil.(link) And juicing the fresh hemp leaves is a fun and nutritious way to utilize your ‘waste’ and get a bigger health payback from your plant.
What is Hemp CBD
CBD seems to be everywhere these days— grocery store checkout lines, gas stations, pet stores, the gym, the salon… Even my ophthalmologist has asked me to clarify some of his personal CBD questions.
Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, almost all this CBD is from hemp plants.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of countless cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.
Discovered in 1940, CBD is one of the first cannabinoids to gain notoriety. CBD is present in varying percentages in every species of cannabis. It is possible to purchase CBD products from marijuana in states that have legal recreational or medical marijuana, but if you do not live in one of those 33 states, your CBD will come from hemp.
CBD occupies an elevated status currently in the mainstream marketplace because of its proven medical uses while not having psychoactive effects or dependence or abuse potential. The exciting thing is that we are still discovering cannabinoids and we are still learning how they interact with each other and with other things we add to our bodies.
Okay so CBD doesn’t get me high, why use it?
CBD is medicine!
It is a proven treatment for epilepsy, especially with specific syndromes that typically do not respond to anti-seizure medications.
For the greater population, CBD is an answer to anxiety and insomnia.
CBD is one of the best treatments for chronic pain management, as it has been shown to block, or inhibit, neuropathic and inflammatory pain responses-- both of which are difficult to treat with traditional western medicine. Many suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis have experienced relief from utilizing CBD products. (link)
Best Uses for CBD:
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep Disorders
Because we don't know the most effective therapeutic dose of CBD, it’s best to start small and tune into the feedback you receive from your body. It also may be helpful to consult your physician, especially if you are taking other medications.
CBD as a supplement is a hot topic. You may have seen CBD sodas or coffees in your neighborhood grocery store. These may have less CBD than advertised as the FDA is cracking down on CBD as a supplement. We recommend growing your own cannabis for CBD so that you can be sure of what you are consuming. (link)
Finding Hemp Seeds
Finding hemp seeds to grow your own hemp is becoming easier. But the seeds you need are not the ones packaged up in the health food aisle at the grocery store. Those are for eating and exactly like what you can grow yourself. To get viable seeds you will need to look a little harder.
Because hemp was in a legal timeout for a few decades, reliable genetics are now emerging as hemp is now legal nationwide. It is best to buy seeds from a reputable company like I Love Growing Marijuana.com (link) so that you may grow hemp with the characteristics you are looking for whether that be for hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, hemp CBD flower, or whatever hemp your heart desires.
Okay so you have your seeds and you have gathered all the hardware that comes with raising a new plant baby: nutritious soil, a watering can, some pest control, trimming scissors for harvest day, and a pot for it to grow in (or you get a kit from A Pot for Pot which cuts the guesswork for you!(link)) Now what?
Decide where you would like to start growing! Sunny windowsills, the back patio, next to the other herbs in the garden (link) or maybe you want to create a grow room in your house which will mean you would need a lighting situation. (link) But really, there is no wrong answer.
Remember, hemp is also called “weed” for a reason. This plant can grow anywhere it gets enough light and has the right food and water. It is the ultimate customizable plant companion!
In the initial stage, we recommend sprouting your seeds using a jiffy pellet (link) indoors. This is a biodegradable and protective option that allows you to be up close and personal to watch your hemp seed become a hemp seedling. For more details on starting from seed click here: (link)
Once your seedling is a hardy plant teenager, you can move it into its bigger forever home. We love our breathable fabric pots (link) but outside works too, provided that your planting space has been amended with quality soil and you are transplanting after the last chance of frost. Depending on your location, this is typically in late spring after soil temperatures have reached above 50°F
Then it’s all about sitting back, watering regularly, and watching the miracle of life before you! And in about 80 days you will be able to harvest your very own hemp at home.