Think it takes a big money to start growing marijuana in a tropical paradise?
Well think again.
As a young, lazy stoner I arrived in Hawaii just as many other people have done before me, possessing but only a few dollars and coins to my name.
Through some hard work and solid connections, this fellow went from having nearly nothing to building a cabin in a Hawaiian tropical rain-forest, able to grow my own food and marijuana, gather and hunt wild flora and fauna, and enjoy life free from dealing with the daily grind that so many people have to face.
Living this way has innumerable benefits for the right person, and can be achieved with an extraordinarily low budget.
First things first, find a place to stay…
WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. It is a program that works basically as a want-ad post for farmers who are looking for work in exchange for housing and/or food supplies. Farmers post what they need (the hours of work and type of work), in exchange for what the offer (a place to stay and food arrangements, if any).
In other words… free rent.
It is up to each farm host to decide what they will offer for the work they want done. Some require a little too much work for no pay (40 hours a week for stay and food), and others offer quite an enticing opportunity if you can handle the lifestyle (16 hours a week living in a community).
Initially, I arrived at a farm with three different properties to take care of.
One was a classic house on the beach, the stereotypical Hawaii – sleeping on the beach under the stars, cleaning up coconut palm fronds, great surf right in front of you, and beautiful sunny weather. I was shown a secret lava tube cave by a resident local that goes underground, leading to a fresh water swimming hole.
The second house was located deep inside a big jungle valley. The valley is inhabited with families and farmers growing the local food crop – taro – in wetlands similar to rice patties. Swarming with bugs and falling fruit, the valley is a lush paradise chock-full of life. The delicious oranges grown down there are so juicy that if you peel their skin, the thin flesh of the fruit is not strong enough to support itself, thus collapsing in your hand.
The third farm was up the mountain (volcano actually) and in a desert rain-forest. The nature was gorgeous, but the best surprise was the friendliness of local people. One distinct memory is of a man driving his truck up to my camp – naturally I was curious, as I had never seen him before. He then comes out with a grocery bag full of small buds and leaves and gives me the whole bag as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift.
Soon after, I was then introduced to a community of growers, many who have been up mauka(mountain) Big Island since the 70’s growing marijuana multiple seasons per year. A lazy stoner saw this as a wonderful opportunity and offered help, labor and respect.
These good doings in-turn gave evolved into becoming the apprentice to one of the prominent, large-scale guerrilla growers in the area. In exchange for help with marijuana work and daily chores, field lessons were given by a grower who’d grown titanic amounts of guerrilla marijuana for decades.
In time came offered a plot of land to build a cabin and most importantly – a place to grow legal medical marijuana. If a lazy 18 year old pothead can do this, certainly plenty of others have potential to do the same.
The Poor Man’s grow
Once you have a place to stay, you’re golden. It better be with someone who is cool with you growing. This is not at all hard to find in Hawaii – you may just have to earn a little bit of trust. If not, the daring fellows can go the guerilla grow route.
Next step is to prepare for your first grow. Let’s say you’re broke. You can do a bare-bones seed in soil grow for your first crop. It will not be as good quality as if you had created an intricately planned soil mix and pumped them up with additional lighting, but it should get you bud to smoke and hopefully some dough to throw back into the grow operation.
Now you need some seeds. Getting seeds from random locals and friends in Hawaii is not usually recommended, nevertheless,for the poor man’s grow, do it. With a little social interaction, more than likely you will meet a ‘braddah’ who wants to let you try their strain pro bono. Radical genetic variation between plants is to be expected, due to over hybridized breeding, but many of these strains are adapted to the local grow season and will grow sufficiently from seed without additional lighting.
– For more on grow seasons in Hawaii read my previous post Growing Medical Marijuana in Hawaii –
Try to scrounge some money up for a bag of mixed fertilizer and some dolomite lime. Usually these WWOOF farms are in a community of fellow farmers, so go be a friendly neighbor and introduce yourself around. You should be able to find a little bit of side work to make a few dollars, save up enough at least to provide your plants and soil a little care. You’re ‘playing around’ if you’re just putting seeds in dirt with no amendments – get real.
If there could only be one bag of fertilizer for a grow Foxfarm’s Happy Frog fertilizer would be it. Organic and filled with a complete mix of the best known natural fertilizers and supplements put into one bag. FF Happy Frog also comes packed with mycorrhizal fungi – a key to taking advantage of all the nutrients in your soil and pumping up your micro-life. Happy Frog contains many slow-to-breakdown components, keeping nutrients constantly available for your plants with correct use and application.
Dolomite lime is an essential additive for Hawaii’s acidic soils. Lime raises the pH of the soil it is added to, and a better balanced pH will make nutrients more easily available for your plant. It also contains calcium, a crucial element local soils are lacking. Seriously, there are only two amendments you really need for growing in Hawaii and this is one of them – don’t skip out on it. This mix is a super-fine powder for a quicker pH buffering effect.
Key points for the grow operation
- Your grow spot should ideally have at least 5 hours of full sun. This will be crucial as the plants are nearing harvest. If they are in the shade all day, mold and bud rot will be your plants best friends.
- Remember, the sun moves south towards the latter half of long season and north again coming into spring. Making sure your plant has good light exposure during their flowering cycle is a key component to having full-figured buds.
- Amend your soil and plant your seeds – don’t use all the fertilizer at once, it will be too much for the tender seedlings and you’ll burn them up.
- You can add more fertilizer later as your plants mature; sprinkle fertilizer onto the topsoil and lightly work it in, also making ‘spikes’ works well for plant boosts (small finger-size holes in the soil around your plant you fill up with dry fertilizer).
- Note: If you are a beginner, make sure to read up about growing marijuana whether through books or online. Take a shower for once and go to the library if you have to.
- Don’t pluck off all of your fan leaves before the plant has even started budding. These fan leaves collect energy from the sun and uses it to grow itself.
- Watch out for certain ‘gurus’ who come over, look at your plant, and try to instruct you what to do with her. Jealously is big around here – many people have told me my plants are “done” well before their due date, just wanting the competition to have inferior pot.
- Inspect your buds with a keen eye daily, multiple times per day towards the end. Mold can be surprising; blue mold (botrytis) can come in sneakily and start in the inside of the bud, developing into a devastating problem left unnoticed. Be sure to remove any mold infected buds immediately and clean the surrounding plant matter with rubbing alcohol.
Ghetto style drying for wet areas
Hawaii is a dank, humid place filled with mold spores (in most areas). Drying marijuana is a whole different game out here. Don’t think you can get away hanging your buds in a dark closet without a dehumidifier, or you’ll be like the rest of us who have all made that mistake.
some cheap solutions…..
A stove out of a propane tank by cutting out the front and top using a sawzall. Just buy some cheap chimney pipes and jimmy together a chimney cap with a piece of scrap tin. Fill in the gaps with aluminum foil.
Install this wood stove and keep your room at a lower humidity, as well as provide heat to speed up your drying process. I have dried marijuana through 2 week continuous rainstorms using my handy-dandy propane wood stove. Saved me from going crazy in that much rain as well.
If you can’t do the wood stove, what you can do is break the weed down off the stem, load them in soda-flats (pick these up at any convenience store for free) or scavenged window screen and put them in a car or truck when it is sunny – a nice warm and cozy place to dry your buds, just keep them out of the sun.
If you have a house available for drying that gets sun hitting the roof during the day, try to get up underneath the roof and see how warm it is – a lot of times it will be nice and toasty. Use some string and small nails to make a “net” able to hold your soda-flats/screens full of bud up close underneath the roof.
No car, can’t do a wood stove or a roof? Not the best solution, but better than losing your weed to mold – get a piece of scrap tin roofing up on some milk crates outside in the sun. Protect the sides from wind then put your buds underneath loaded in soda-flats/screens Feel the heat as the sun is shining, you don’t want to cook your weed now, be careful.
If you have a friend with a dry room, you might be well off throwing them some buds in exchange for using it. Just make sure they are someone you can trust, as having a room full of weed is no light matter.
Getting marijuana too dry too quick will result in their resin turning powdery and any stickyness of the buds will be lost forever. Don’t get too eager and express dry buds, be patient and you will be rewarded.
Enjoy and Invest
Time to roll up some monster fatties in celebration of freshly harvested home-grown pakalōlō!
If you want to start producing weed quicker and easier, all times of the year in Hawaii, you should really save up for a grow light set up. The LED lights recommended on the previous post, Growing Medical Marijuana in Hawaii are inexpensive, low wattage, and extremely effective.