Calgary

The Grow Project: Growing a no-budget pot plant

CBC radio show director Tracy Fuller sets out to grow a pot plant on the Grow Project.

Follow along as the Homestretch sets out to produce cannabis from scratch

The goal of the Grow Project: Producing a cannabis plant this summer. (Associated Press)

Cannabis is not only legal to possess and consume now, but also to grow.

So the question might be, for those who like homegrown adventure, how green is your thumb?

Homestretch director Tracy Fuller — a newbie at this — has determined that the summer of 2019 will be the story of how she grew her first pot plant.

Over the coming weeks, CBC will report on Tracy's progress, as she goes from seeds to (hopefully) cannabis, on a minimal budget.

"We are playing the everyman here," Fuller said to host Doug Dirks on Wednesday, on the first installment of the Grow Project. "We are going to try to grow a pot plant from seed without investing thousands of dollars in gear, like lights and tents and what have you.

"Anything we need, we are going to try and fashion in a cost-effective manner," she said. "But of course we're going to get some expert help along the way to hopefully help ourselves and help anyone who might be interested in doing the same thing at home.

"The goal, of course, is to cultivate a healthy plant that flowers before fall or by the fall or something like that."

Homestretch director Tracy Fuller has undertaken an interesting summer project. (CBC)

First stop: Visiting the Queen of Bud in Sunalta, to buy seeds, which has proven to be no small task since cannabis was legalized last October.

"If you want to walk in and have the in-store experience, you can call up just one of many of the cannabis stores in Calgary. Ask if they have seeds in stock. But like all cannabis availability these days, demand is usually higher than supply, and that's the case for the Province of Alberta's store of seeds, actually," Fuller said.

Fuller was able to order four from the Queen of Bud, and went to pick them up. She paid $74.55 for four seeds — the maximum number of seeds a residence can grow, no matter how many people live there.

Beau Gaebel, from the Queen of Buds, holds a pack of cannabis seeds that The Homestretch is trying to turn into cannabis plants. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

Fuller chose a packet of Tweed's Baker Street seeds, which are grown in Smith Falls, Ont. — where, interestingly, the former Hershey's Chocolate plant has been transformed into a cannabis growing facility.

Queen of Bud manager Beau Gaebel explained the nuances of the type of cannabis that Fuller bought.

"So these are the Baker Street seeds from Tweed. Baker Street has just been renamed from the Hindu Kush. So it is a Kush strain, very indica dominant. So you get a very heavy body high from it," Gaebel said.

"All different strains, they have different plant yields, different sizes, different colours. This one would be a very dark, purplish [and] a very potent smelling flower once it's grown."

Fuller translated Gaebel's cannibese.

"First, Hindu Kush. This is the name of the marijuana strain which is based on the mountain range in Pakistan and Afghanistan where the plant was originally discovered," she said.

"The original Hindu Kush plant was pure indica, which is one of the two strains of cannabis," she added.

"The other is sativa," she said. 

"Indica strains of marijuana are usually thought of as the physically relaxing or sedating kind of stuff people use to relax before bed or to chill out while watching a movie.

"The plant itself, an indica plant, is usually shorter than the sativa plant, with broad leaves and shorter flowering cycles. And since it's a mountain plant, it often grows well in colder climates like right here in Calgary."

And no, Baker Street was not an edible reference — at least she didn't think so.

"As best I can determine," she said, "it's named after the street that Sherlock Holmes lives on." (As well as a 1970s hit single by Gerry Rafferty).

Tweed's Baker Street cannabis seed packet. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

The seeds, Fuller admitted, didn't look like much, particularly considering they cost $75.

"They look a lot like peppercorns. They're dark brown and they're about 5 millimetres in diameter," she said.

They also represent the first hurdle to growing a pot plant: getting them to germinate.

Step 1, it turned out, is to soak the seeds in a glass of water for no longer than 16 hours, which should have brought out tap roots.

If there are no tap roots after 16 hours, the general rule is to put the seeds in a damp paper towel and then a Ziploc bag, then place the seeds in the darkest, warmest corner in the house, pinning the bag on a wall, or something, with the tap roots pointing down, to let gravity bring out the tap roots.

Fuller started with just two seeds, because they're expensive and she's new at growing pot plants.

"I don't want to risk wrecking all of our chances on this first go this morning," she said.

Two cannabis seeds to be named later (by Homestretch listeners) are part of the Grow Project, a summer undertaking devoted to growing pot. (Tracy Fuller/CBC)

Fuller reported that no tap roots had emerged after a day, but she remained hopeful some would, in time for the next installment of the Grow Project.

Last thing: "We need some names for these seeds," she said.

If you have a suggestion for names, send your ideas via Twitter @CBCHomestretch


With files from The Homestretch.

About the Author

Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: stephen.hunt@cbc.ca

With files from Tracy Fuller

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