Starting seeds indoors v. Direct sowing

I wanted to post a quick update tonight. It has been less than a week since I started the bubble gum hemp seeds indoors. The preliminary results are in: it turns out that starting seeds indoors yielded better results. 22 seeds planted indoors on 5/19, now, on 5/24 I have 21 sprouts. About 22 planted outside on 4/22, now I have 3 plants.

Building the Soil

As I immerse myself in reading Doug Find’s book American Hemp farmer, I found that a key thing to do to insure a great hemp crop is to build the soil before planting. Surprise, surprise, I neglected to build up my soil, I naively thought by growing hemp, I would be improving my soil! I figured that hemp was a, ‘weed,’ so I didn’t expect it to have many requirements.

How to build the soil is another thing I don’t quite have the information on how to do. My garden is pretty well established as a vegetable garden. I would assume, that most of the last 50 years somebody has been gardening the plot. Four years prior to my family moving in, and the first year we lived here, the plot was not gardened. We are going on our 11th year here, so we’ve been gardening it for 10. Other than organic store bought fertilizers, and worm castings, I have not put a whole lot of energy/research into fertilizing the soil. I have practice crop rotation. I believe the gardener who grew on the plot before me, did some traditional soil amending.

Reading Doug Fine’s book, I’m learning about something called Korean Natural Farming (KNF.) if I understand correctly, this method uses local amendments rather than shipping things in from far and wide. Interesting concept. A story in the chapter related to soil building recounts a story of the author hunting around hemp fields for mushrooms. Much of our farmland is devoid of fungal life, according to the author, so the farmers brewed a compost tea-like solution from the local, scavenged mushrooms and added it to the soil. Ironically, just where we plan to grow our hemp, mushrooms have recently shown up. I’m one who can be prone to believe that the universe is sending me messages. Could it be?

Also of note, my second round of seeds planted indoors 3 days ago have begun to sprout. I must remember to update the state with my new planting report. Growing this plant is regulated and there are reports to file for each planting.

Bubblegum hemp seeds, 3 days under the grow light

In related news, yesterday, the Governor of VA signed a bill decriminalizing ‘marijuana.’ In quotes because I prefer to say ‘cannabis.’ Not that this really makes a big impact on my growing hemp, but I feel it might make it easier to transport my harvest within my state. We shall see. These plants are closely related, in case you don’t know. Many don’t really understand, the whole point of the blog is that I am learning as I write. So, if you don’t yet know, hemp is cannabis, it does not have THC worth speaking of, just trace amounts.

Perhaps by next post I will have soil amendments to report on.

Sneak Peak of American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade

Investigative journalist and best-selling author turned hemp farmer Doug Fine is one of the most important voices in the cannabis and hemp …

Sneak Peak of American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade
Re blogging another’s post about a book that is influencing me! I’m new to this blogging thing, so I hope all citations come through. This one is not my post, just one I wanted to share.

Planting: round 2

I did my Initial planting on Earth Day. I thought this was the perfect day, because the weather was beautiful! I also liked the symbolism of starting my journey of growing a plant that can restore the soil on a symbolic day. Weeks have passed and only four of my cherry hemp seeds have sprouted. I am super excited about how those four look, but I was hoping for more like 10 plants at least.

After planting day, we had a string of surprisingly cool days this year, so I was not shocked when my direct sown seeds were slow to sprout. Eventually, I reached out to my seed provider. He agreed to sell me another set of seeds half price on the condition that I would sow them indoors. Apparently, this is the preferred method, which I was unaware of. I have one small grow light in the house, so yesterday, I started 22 plugs of seeds. I had hoped to get another round of cherry, but when they arrived they were bubble gum.

The seed packaging is another thing that is surprising in my state. I have seen packaging of legal weed from Europe, Colorado, California and Pennsylvania, and these all look highly legit. Both times I ordered my seed, they came in very basic packaging. This time, They came in a Ziploc baggie with bubblegum scrawled in sharpie across the outside of the baggie.

So round two of planting, wish me luck!

Growing hemp in the suburbs

Thanks for joining me!

I am a long-time backyard gardener who lives in a suburb in zone 7. For generations, my family has lived in the suburbs and grown tomatoes, spinach,cucumbers and marigolds. Some years I honestly don’t feel like gardening, but I am programmed to do it each year. The cycle of the growing season in my yard is the cycle of my life, I can’t escape it.

I have been told that backyard gardeners can actually supplement their incomes with growing garlic, so I have thrown myself into that endeavor for many years. While I have cultivated fantastic artisan soft neck silverskin garlic by the bushel full, I have yet to cash in.

Last growing season, I heard about a new-again, formerly prohibited crop that was permitted in my state. Reading the department of agriculture’s website, the crop was consistently referred to as ‘industrial hemp.’ I am not a ‘farmer’ who sells my crop, so I thought I would not qualify for a license to grow. I nearly gave up on my thoughts of applying for a hemp growing permit, when I spoke to a favorite farmer of mine at the local farmers market. He told me that anybody who paid the $50 registration fee was likely to be approved for the permit. I went ahead and applied and was approved.

As I set out to obtain and plant my seed, I figured I’d follow up a blog or a Facebook group of people like me who were suburban backyard hemp growers. It has taken me a few months of research to determine that no wealth of knowledge in this area is being published on the internet. It seems if I want this information to be out there, I need to be one of the ones publishing it. So here it goes: my first blog. I hope to share all I learn about growing 50 ft.² of hemp in a suburban backyard.. I hope others share their stories as well. I would love to learn from others as I approach this endeavor.

So far, I have found that this book by Doug Fine is an awesome resource!

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