Should You Grow Hemp In Your Backyard?
It’s a really cool idea.
I love the thought of tending my bushy CBD plants in my backyard where I can make my own CBD Products.
But here’s the thing. Hemp is still marijuana adjacent and all cultivars of the Cannabis Sativa Plant are in legal gray area, especially for regular folks.
In Pennsylvania, for 2021’s growing season, here’s what you need to grow hemp:
- A Permit: The permit is relatively inexpensive, $150 for the year. If you renew next year and everything about how PA hemp permits are done stays the same, it’ll be an even lower cost.
- Your permit will allow you to purchase hemp seeds or sprouts or clones for propagation
- Your permit will allow you to plant hemp legally and grow it, and then to harvest it as long as you follow the rules
- Your permit will require you to follow some guidelines and file various paperwork at specific points; more on this in a moment
- The ability to grow 150 plants, as that’s the minimum for this year’s permit for outdoor growing
- A clean FBI background check
- Special permission from the department of agriculture to grow hemp within 200 feet of a residential structure
- You must live at least 3 miles from a medical marijuana growing facility
- You must not live within 1,000 feet of a school
- You must be willing and able to file planting and harvest reports with the department of agriculture
- You must be willing and able to have your hemp plants tested before harvest for the presence of THC above the .3% delta-9 threshold
If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.
Most states with Industrial Hemp programs have similar regulations.
And it’s gonna stay pretty intensely regulated until Hemp is no longer taboo, until it’s more mainstream, probably even until recreational marijuana is legal nationwide.
These regulations exist to protect farmers and consumers, and are seen as necessary because the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) does regulate THC, and until relatively recently, Industrial Hemp (which is the kind you’d be allowed to grow in your backyard) was classified as a schedule 1 Drug and regulated by the DEA.
Now, only cannabis plants that have a Delta-9 THC content of higher than .3% by weight are regulated by the DEA.
But it’s actually kind of easy to grow Industrial Hemp cultivars that are bred for high-CBD content and accidentally end up with marijuana. This is why the department of agriculture has created permitting guidelines that are actively designed to exclude hobbyists and gardeners.
But no hard feelings, really. It’s just safer and more manageable for the state to oversee the burgeoning industry if it excludes non-professional growers.
If you want to scratch your itch to work with hemp plants, check the state database for hemp farms, see if you can connect with a farmer who’d let you volunteer to work with the plants or help with planting, fertilization, or harvest this coming season. I have heard it’s soothing to be around hemp plants.
Hemp is still marijuana adjacent & all cultivars of the Cannabis Sativa plant are in legal gray area. Most states with industrial hemp programs have similar regulations.
How to Grow A Hemp Garden
It seems like everywhere you look, new hemp-related articles are popping up. After the recent Farm Bill , hemp became legal to grow in (almost) every US state. With that comes an influx of farmers, jobs, and new products hitting the market every single day. Some people are skeptical, but there’s an entirely new market of people that are not only interested in hemp, but interested in growing it!
That begs the question, how difficult is it to grow hemp? Is it possible to do it at home? Today we are going to talk about how you can start your own hemp garden at home and what the process looks like.
Keep In Mind
It’s worth noting that hemp grows faster than corn but requires less water, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer which makes it a more sustainable crop. Hemp is also an annual plant, which means it completes its entire life cycle during one growing season. It grows in almost any environment and can’t stand dessert and high mountain conditions. However, you should keep in mind that hemp flourishes in warm weather in well-drained soil. If you want the best results, you should mimic these conditions or grow your hemp in an area that has that kind of climate. You also do not need to plant the seeds in a pot and transfer them to the soil; they can be planted directly into the ground. Ideally, you plant your seeds after the last frost of the year; Which you can see when that is for you HERE .
Do You Need A Permit to Grow Hemp?
Since hemp was recently made legal to grow in the United States, the legality of it is still getting worked out. You still need a special permit to grow hemp ; this requires a background check and a one time fee. If you were looking to start your own hemp garden in your backyard, your initial one time fee would be around $150. Keep in mind that if your plants are tested and contain any more than 0.3% THC and above they will be destroyed since they are legally considered cannabis.
Another obstacle you’ll have to overcome is acquiring your hemp seeds. You’re going to want to go to someone who is reputable, but keep in mind with the recent legalization of hemp there is a high demand for seeds which put them in a shortage. It’s also a little tricky with all of the state laws that sending them over state lines can get messy quickly, make sure you read thoroughly on your local laws before acquiring any seeds.
Depending on what you were planning to do with your crop, it is important to note how much profit you can get per acre of hemp you grow. Right now, you can make anywhere from $300-$480 per acre of hemp you grow, and that number is rapidly increasing with the new legalization of it. To put in perspective, soybeans will give you roughly $570 per acre; however , there’s a lot more work, water, and tools that go into the production of soybeans that make the production costs higher.
What You’ll Need to Grow Hemp in your Garden
- Hemp seeds
- Seed Drill
- Nitrogen-rich soil
- Moisture Meter
- Two buckets
- Enclosed container
Let’s Get Started Growing Hemp!
Now that we have all the initial details and legalities out of the way let’s dive into the instructions.
- is for harvesting hemp fiber and (B) is for harvest hemp seeds.
Choose your area where you’re going to plant your hemp. It should be in a warm area with the soil being between 6-7.5 ph. You can test this by putting a ph strip in the soil.
Put the seeds 3⁄4–1 1⁄4 inches (1.9–3.2 cm) deep in the soil. You can use a seed drill attached to a lawnmower if need be (make sure to clean it after every use). It’s also worth noting that if you want hemp fibers, you should plant the seeds closer together so that they will grow up rather than growing outwards. Plant the seeds farther apart from each other if you want to harvest the seeds. This promotes the plants to be shorter and grow further out.
Now you have to water your plants accordingly. You should water them 12-15 in (30-38cm) throughout the entire growing season. Make sure it’s damp 1-2 inches deep in the soil, you can check this by putting your finger in the soil to your second knuckle.
Spread nitrogen-rich soil on top of your crops. Preferably on a dry day so the soil stays near the roots and does not stick to the plants.
Step 5 (A):
If you are harvesting your hemp for hemp fiber, then as soon as the first seeds start to develop that’s when you will begin harvesting them. Use a sickle to cut the plant as low as you possibly can.
Step 5 (B):
If you are harvesting your hemp for seeds, you have to wait roughly 16 weeks for the seeds to be fully developed. You can check to see if they are ready to be harvested by feeling the seeds, if they are hard to the touch then they are ready. Hold the top of the plant and use your sickle to cut right below the flower pods. (In the US the harvest is typically in October for your frame of reference).
Step 6 (A):
After harvesting, you’re going to throw all of your hemp plants in a pile in a well-ventilated area. This is going to start the retting process, which is letting the stalk rot a little bit so that the stalk separates from the fiber. (Note: Retting will not occur below 41 °F (5 °C) or above 104 °F (40 °C) ).
Step 6 (B):
Thresh the seeds by placing them on a tarp on a flat surface and smash them with a bat/hammer until the shells are open.
Step 7 (A):
Dry your stalks in a cool, well-ventilated area until the moisture level is that of 15% or less . You can determine this with a moisture meter.
Step 7 (B):
Winnow the seeds to remove the broken shells and extra bits. Put all the seeds in one bucket and dump the contents of the first bucket into the empty bucket that is placed on the ground. This will let the dense seeds fall into the bucket, but let the wind take away the broken shell pieces.
Step 8 (A):
Use a decorator to separate the fibers from the stalk of the hemp plant. This machine breaks the exterior of the plant so you can strip the fiber from it. You can contact your local farmers to see if you can buy/rent a machine from them.
Step 8 (B):
Keep your seeds in an enclosed container in a refrigerator from 32-40 F , so they don’t germinate and rot.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Hemp Plants?
The seed will germinate quickly and often hemp plants can reach 12 inches or more in 3-4 weeks from the date of planting. In over 60 days, you’ll see signs of male or female and may want to remove or destroy the males. In 100-120 days+, the hemp flowers and biomass will be ready for harvesting.
With that, you are ready to start your own hemp garden!
Are you looking to grow hemp plants in your garden? We've got a step by step guide for you along with hemp growing tips, information on legality, and more!