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Learning Hard Lessons the Easy Way!

by Sirius Fourside

What’s the secret to growing the best bud? Whether there really is a secret or not doesn’t matter, because human nature compels us to try to find one! Everyone wants to know the secret thing they’re missing that will take their grow to the expert level.

The problem is that sometimes we’re looking in the wrong place for the things that will make us better growers. I’ve personally spent a lot of time and money doing exactly that, for example, paying almost $300 for a ready-to-grow system that had little-to-no chance of working for cannabis. Meanwhile, I could’ve spent half that money on a better grow light and seen vast improvement!

When I was younger, my mom used to always say, “You are absolutely insistent on learning lessons the hard way.” Although I changed my “hard-headed” behavior for the most part, some habits die hard.

If you hate learning lessons the hard way, read below for some tips that would’ve saved me hours of time, hundreds of dollars, and a lot of heartache!


Light! Light! LIGHT!
No matter what any company tells you, light is by far the biggest contributor to the potency and yields of your harvests after genetics. That’s not to say light is the only thing cannabis needs; they also need water, an array of minerals, air, proper pH, and the list goes on. However, of all the things listed, light is the only thing that will increase the quality of your buds when given in larger amounts.

Your cannabis plant can take as little as 15,000 lux (lumens per square meter), or as much as 85,000 lux for light-resistant strains (like many sativas) while flowering. 65,000 lux is a great amount of light for cannabis plants. While there is a huge range, up to 65,000 lux more is better! Being on the top end of that range means you don’t have to worry if your cannabis is getting enough light. Conversely, nutrient ratios only vary by a couple of teaspoons per gallon before your plant gets nutrient burn, and pH can only vary by a single digit without harming your plant. 

A lux meter will help you see exactly how much light your plants are getting in specific spots. This will help you get more out of your grow lights, but it’ll also show you if your plants could do with more light. If you’re looking to get bigger, more potent buds and your plants aren’t getting close to 65,000 lux, you know where to start making changes! Learn about different grow lights

Learn how to use a lux meter to measure light levels

Here's a quick guide to lux:

< 15,000 lux - sparse or "stretchy" growth - plant isn't getting enough light
15,000 - 50,000 lux - good amount of light for healthy vegetative growth
45,000 - 70,000 lux - optimal amount of light for cannabis plants in the flowering (budding) stage
70,000 - 85,000 lux - a lot of light, some strains thrive at this light level, but some plants lose their top leaves early under this light intensity, especially plants that are not resistant to heat/light (like many indicas)
> 85,000 lux - at this light intensity, you've hit the plant's "saturation point" which means your plant can't use all the light (be careful of light bleaching!)

Lesson learned: When other factors are taken care of, light makes the most difference in bud quality and yields. Also, a lux meter can pay for itself in a single harvest!


There are a few major tests of a growers patience that occur in each grow:

  1. Waiting for seeds to break the surface: Growers get afraid that they might not show up, or are just curious to see them. Either way, it’s hard to leave plants alone during this time.

  2. Waiting for signs of a plants sex: Even if you bought feminized seeds, most growers want confirmation from their plant that they have a girl. It’s like a delivery room, except it takes weeks!

  3. Waiting for the right time to harvest: You’re never hungrier than when you’re at a restaurant, you’ve placed your order, and you’re waiting for your food. Waiting for harvest time is like waiting for your food while you’re standing behind the chef...who happens to be very slow.

Being an impatient grower can cost you even more time and money than you hoped to save; trust me on that one! 

But with that being said, #3 is the real one to watch out for! Harvesting your bud early means decreased yields and drastically decreased potency! Conversely, harvesting late just means that your buds will have a stronger couch-lock effect. Even if that’s not ideal, I personally would prefer having a stronger couch-lock effect to less yields of weaker bud.

Lesson learned: Harvest time is the one point that requires a bit of patience. Never harvest early if you can help it; it’s better to harvest 2 weeks late than 1 week early.

Learn more about proper harvesting here:


It's Not Nutrients and It's Not Supplements!
Have you ever tried a expensive nutrient line because it’s supposed to make your plants grow faster?

Have you ever used a supplement that claims to make your buds bigger, more potent, and more fragrant?

I’ve used many types of nutrients, and given dozens of different supplements to my plants in the effort to make them bigger and better. Honestly, I did it in the hopes that I would get better bud with minimal effort. But one day I switched to a basic nutrient line (General Hydroponics Flora Trio) and stopped giving using supplements and something weird happened...nothing!

The plants I grow with basic nutrients are indistinguishable from the plants I’ve grown with expensive nutrients all kinds of supplements. This actually makes sense when you consider that light and genetics are the major players in bud quality/potency.

I’m not trying to posit that supplements or high-end nutrients are inherently a rip-off. In fact, I still use a beneficial bacteria supplement to help keep root rot away. It just means that for me, the vast majority of these products aren’t justifying their prices with tangible results. 

Lesson learned: Until your plants are getting 100,000 lux, every $1 spent towards getting better lights will give you better VASTLY better returns than paying for better nutrients/supplements. General Hydroponics Flora Trio is cheap, no frills, and works like a champion!


Managing Expectations or 'They Can't All Be Wonder Woman'
A while back, I did a DWC (hydroponic) grow with 2 strains side-by-side: BlackJack and Wonder Woman. Although they both turned out well, the Wonder Woman in particular was an absolute beast! 

  • Wonder Woman has a lot of positive traits:
  • Quick flowering time
  • High Potency
  • Monster Yields
  • Insanely resilient; deals with any problem in stride
  • Easy to train

Almost sounds too good, right? So what’s the problem? You’ll see in just a second...

Next, I grew 2 different strains side-by side: Sour Diesel and 818 Headband. This time, it was the Sour Diesel stole the show. Take a look at just one of many similar sized colas:

So here’s where the problem shows up. Before I even got a chance to try any of this Sour Diesel, I compared its stats to the Wonder Woman:

  • Wonder Woman yields: 12.57oz (one plant)
  • Sour Diesel yields: 5.58oz (one plant)

The Sour Diesel yielded less than half of the Wonder Woman! 

The conditions were the same, so I assumed I must’ve just messed up somewhere. Or maybe I’m just forgetting how to grow!

After 4 weeks of curing the new buds (and beating myself up), I finally tried the Sour Diesel and immediately decided it was the best bud I had grown. Make no mistake, Wonder Woman is extremely potent and high-yielding! But this Sour Diesel blew me away in a way I had not expected. I was so happy with it that I got a vacuum sealer for my mason jars just so I could keep it in this state as long as possible. Again, I love Wonder Woman, but the Sour Diesel came to be known as ‘The Preciousssss’ in my house!

Lesson learned: A strains worth is based solely on how much YOU like it. The yields, potency, taste, smell and popularity mean nothing compared to how it works for you personally. Also, don’t get caught up on yields! If you’re happy with what you harvested, you’ve already won!


Be Nice to Yourself!
I’ve seen pictures of plants from first time growers, and I’m absolutely blown away at how well they’re doing for a first try! My first attempt ended with 2 dead plants before I ever got to the flowering stage! 

But sadly, so many of these growers beat themselves up for not having perfect plants. And while there’s nothing wrong with being critical of your work, it’s always best to keep your self-criticism in perspective.

The truth is, no one has perfect plants. If you’re hoping to have 100% pristine leaves at some point, it just isn’t going to happen. And who cares if it does? If your plant is happy, having a few leaves that don’t look pretty isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s the norm! 

If you’re thinking of beating yourself up over a mistake you’ve made, instead, ask yourself this question:

Did I enjoy the growing experience?

If you answered yes, you’ve already won! Remember, the only person you’re competing with is YOU. You’re growing medicine for yourself, so it only has to meet YOUR requirements. If you’re happy with the bud you’re harvesting, you’re already a successful grower!

Lesson learned: The only person you need to impress is YOU! If you love your buds, that’s all that matters!


  1. Light is of the utmost importance! See our page on upgrading your lights for more info:
    • A lux meter is worth its weight in gold!
  2. Patience can't be purchased, but a jeweler's loupe or a handheld microscope will definitely help you resist harvesting early! We use this digital microscope by Carson.
  3. Nutrients and supplements aren't what makes big plants. A simple nutrient line like General Hydroponics Flora Trio will last you 3+ grows!
  4. There is no best strain; what's good depends on your preference! Wonder Woman and Sour Diesel are both Superstar strains in their own right!
  5. Be nice to yourself! I bet you're doing a great job! In fact...

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