How to

5 Must-Have Tools for the Cannabis Gardener

Expert Advice from Author Penny Barthel

Every household of legal age in California is permitted to grow six of their own Personal Plants, of cannabis that is. Whether it’s hemp or marijuana, this diverse plant offers something for everyone. Boost your skin care routine, spruce up your home cooking, relax with company at the end of a long week, and feel accomplished knowing you produced it all by yourself from your backyard or balcony garden. 

Growing cannabis is a lot easier than you think, and with the right tools and some simple know-how, anyone can do it! When it comes to backyard cannabis gardening Penny Barthel, author of The Cannabis Gardener, knows her stuff. Take advantage of the regulations in your home state and grow your own essential ingredient for sleep, beauty, wellness and recreation.  

Here Penny shares five must-have tools to grow cannabis in your garden.


1. Spade

The chef’s knife of the garden is the spade. Don’t be mistaken, we’re not talking about a shovel here. This is a spade and it acts more like a knife. If you have rocky soil, you’ll need a fork, but the garden spade is number one. This tool will help landscape your garden by cutting sod and shaping or edging your cannabis plant beds. Other smaller tools people find useful are a trowel, often mistaken for the spade, and a soil scoop for potting plants.  


2. Felco Pruners

Penny has had her pair of Swiss-made, Felco pruners for thirty years and absolutely swears by them. These pruners are also made for both left and right-handed people. They will come in handy when working with your cannabis plant throughout the entire lifecycle, for pruning and trimming. 


3. Gloves

You’re also going to need gloves, so grab a pair and get out there! Gloves will help protect your hands from sharp matter in the earth. They are also good for UVB protection, and they’ll safeguard you from the elements in general. Although there is something to be said for the bare-handed gardener. Nothing says ‘I’m a Goddess of the Earth’ quite like nails filled with microbial activity.  


4. Compost 

Our friend and savior! You don’t need many fancy tools, but you do need lots of compost to make your soil healthy. Penny made her own for years, but because her current yard is so small, she relies on another source for compost. What is compost? It’s literally a pile (a slightly organized pile!) of organic matter. It doesn’t need to be difficult or overly complicated, “we need to decolonize compost too because people think you have to turn it and it has to be this hot, but no, that’s industrial thinking.” 


It’s important to make your own compost to close the loop of your consumption habits and to keep organic matter from rotting in landfills. Penny does not feed or fertilize her plants; she doesn’t need to! If she wants to add some additional tilth to the soil, which are the soil properties suitable for growing plants, she uses a seaweed derivative. Seaweed can also be added to the compost pile for added micronutrients! 


5. Mulch

Penny mulches her garden and says it’s hugely important, especially for those on the West Coast where drought has ravaged the soil this year. Mulch is crucial for many reasons, such as moisture retention and habitat for microbial life. Moist, living soil is extremely fecund. If you cover it with a blanket of mulch, then the microbes will come crowd under the surface, living in greater density around the root zones of plants. 


The diverse living microbes and fungi in the soil can’t survive unless there’s heat, moisture, and a healthy substrate so they can make the food they need, which in turn feeds your plants. Sun on the soil surface creates dryness that drives microbes lower into the earth if they aren’t appropriately covered. So use some organic straw, barley mulch, aged wood chips or even mulched leaves to blanket your garden, and maintain a happy, healthy habitat for the bustling soil food web.


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Your guide

Penny Barthel
Founder of Let's Sesh and Author of The Cannabis Gardener

Penny believes that cannabis belongs in the garden. A certified cannabis horticulturist, Penny is the author of The Cannabis Gardener and teaches all things cannabis at Let’s Sesh Workshops. Penny's Bay Area kitchen and garden pursuits flow directly from her nutrition education, love of the table, and constant experimentation with her garden's bounty.

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