Neither Livermore nor Golfieri were keen on the tests you can order online. “If you want to get it done, spend the money and go take the time to get your terpenes, cannabinoid profile figured out,” says Livermore. “You can find out if there are any microtoxins in the soil, or other things that are a problem. If you’re really that serious about growing, you take it to a reputable lab, for sure!”
“You can’t just grow anything, especially with the way the climate is out here.”
I wanted to know whether there were specific tips and tricks for growing here in the Bay State. So I headed to the INSA cultivation facility in Easthampton to learn more about what it takes to grow cannabis successfully in New England.
Cleanliness Is Key
If you’re planning to grow outdoors in Massachusetts—the season here lasts roughly May through November, by the way—make sure you choose the right strains. “You have to find specific ones for this region,” said Golfieri. “You can’t just grow anything, especially with the way the climate is out here. You have to find strands that are more hearty, to handle these conditions.” Kush strains are good options for beginners to consider.
Thankfully, you don’t need a cutting-edge grow center to get a good harvest at home. INSA head grower Matt Livermore and assistant head grower Frank Golfieri shared some Massachusetts-specific tips they’ve cultivated over the years.
There’s not much that compares to the sight of a majestic, outdoor cannabis plant. When it comes down to it both INSA growers stressed that indoor cultivation is easiest for new growers in Massachusetts. “You can control the environment better,” explained Golfieri. Fluctuating temperatures, long periods of cold or rain, and even unanticipated early freezes won’t matter at all to indoor plants (and more importantly, won’t impact your yield). It’s also far easier to control light conditions indoors.
All that comes with a downside, of course: added cost.
Once you have a safe place to work with your plants over the next couple months, you’re going to need to locate either seeds or clones based on a particular strain’s viability in this area’s climate. Hybrid and Indica strains tend to have shorter flowering times and typically grow well in the Northeast. The advantage to acquiring clones is that they are already rooted and already identified as female, the ones that produce cannabinoid-rich flowers. This saves a ton of time. But clones can often be weak genetically and also have the tendency to carry pests or disease depending on their origin.
Let’s talk about what it takes to get an outdoor garden going.
Lucky for us, the sun is not yet in danger of corporate cannabis takeover — so growing a few plants outside is a great way to learn about the basics of cannabis cultivation. In no time at all, one can break reliance on any outside cannabis sources, and eliminate concerns regarding hidden pesticides and other hazards associated with the commercial cannabis industry.
Registered medical marijuana patients have the same plant limits, but with one exception. Patients or their designated caregiver require a “hardship cultivation registration” from the state in order to begin growing. These waivers are granted mostly when there are no dispensaries within a reasonable distance.
Registration with the state is required even with a hardship waiver — so in the end, patients have not only been left behind in the dust of retail cannabis, it also appears they’re being punished. This is a very confusing error in the law and should be amended immediately as to reflect current times.
You first need to find a place to set up your personal garden — the most integral facet of the whole process. Unless you own your home or rent from someone who is comfortable with cannabis plants on the property, finding a safe and legal place to set up a small grow may not be an option.
Also, make sure you have a water hose that reaches the garden, because you’ll eventually be making that trip every day.