Halloween is around the corner, and with it some of the busiest times for Cannabis growers in the Northern Hemisphere, Harvest Season! A very exciting time for anyone that grows or consumes Cannabis. Whether we are aware of it or not, our bodies, the trees, animals and even the Cannabis plant prepares to transition during the Fall Season. Cooler and darker days which means less exposure to sunlight, signal to the Annual Cannabis plant that it is time to send all of its energy into Flowering.
During the months of September to December, outdoor growers across the entire United States are preparing for harvest and are on the lookout for when the Cannabis plant reaches its peak flower ripeness. Ed Rosenthal, the “guru of ganja,” considers cannabis perfectly ripe when the trichomes turn to a milky or amber color. Trichomes are gland structures that dot the surface of the flower and produce oils containing terpenes, flavonoids and cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. Once the flowers are ready, the plant is harvested, dried to reduce water content and remove chlorophyll, trimmed and cured. A quite laborious process! Thank you farmers!
Although Cannabis is primarily grown for its flowers, every part of the plant can be used for something. After harvesting the flowers you are left with leaves, stalks, roots, and trim. Cannabis is one of the most versatile crops known to man and it continues to surprise us as we discover more and more sustainable and medicinal uses of the plant. As you can see, Halloweed isn’t so Hollow after all, in fact it is super Whole! So if you decide to give growing a try or if you are a consumer/ patient ready to learn all you can about this magnificent plant, below are a few ways the whole plant can be utilized in your home or a large scale operation.
1. The Colas is the main part of the flower, at the end of a female plant's stem and is composed of many small floral clusters. In general, the bigger, heavier, and more densely covered in trichomes a cola is, the better quality it will be. This is the part of the plant more often used for smoking and oil extractions for recreational and medicinal use.
2. Fan Leaves are the plant’s main energy gatherers. Green chlorophyll in the leaves assists in energy absorption from the sun, transforming it into vital fuel. Leaves are great when consumed while they are fresh and raw as they are considered superfoods. If ingested in a raw state, you will be able to absorb cannabinoids more optimally, so if you have a high tolerance for Cannabis or suffer from pain and inflammation, this may be a great option for you. We suggest you put the leaves in a blender with fruit to make a smoothie or add to your favorite foods and teas.
1. Trim is what is left over after the flower buds are trimmed, the leftover leaves are mainly composed of Sugar Leaves, which are small leaves that grow closer to the buds and contain high levels of trichomes. With enough of them, a bubble hash extraction can be performed to create some fairly active, solvent-free concentrates. Other ways to use trim include making cannabutter for edibles or pre-rolls.
3. The Stalk of the Cannabis plant produces extremely fibrous material. Commercial hemp farming is largely based on the fibrous quality of the plant and the oil extracted from the hemp seeds. This fibrous texture makes the Cannabis plant ideal for use in building materials such as hempcrete and textiles, rope, paper, biofuel, bioplastics and more. Alternatively, you can also use a wood chipper to break down the stalks to create mulch which can be added to your compost pile or to your garden as long as it is mixed well with living soil.
4. The Roots of the Cannabis plant have been used medicinally since 2700 BC. Brewed cannabis roots were historically used to treat pain, gonorrhea, gout and hemorrhaging during pregnancies. The best way to prepare roots for medicinal use is by boiling them for tea or to dry the roots and grind them into a powder. Using either preparation, you can then create salves by mixing the powder or liquid with oils or other solutions.
Regardless of your growing experience, it is easy to see how complex, risky and laborious the process of harvesting Cannabis is. So in this autumn season as you smoke your pipe, roll your joint, eat your edibles or put on your soft hemp sweater, remember the journey this plant has taken to get to your hands and feel a new sense of appreciation for the farmers that helped grow it!