Ontario gardeners bring in their 1st harvest of legal backyard cannabis

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Along with planting bulbs and clearing out dying annuals, some Ontario gardeners have a new fall tradition: harvesting their cannabis plants.

"Now is the most exciting time of growing at home," said Katy Perry, who owns a hydroponic supply store in Toronto.

"Your plant is finally ready to be chopped down, dried, cured and consumed."

Last week, Canada marked one year since legalization, making this the first time.

Katy Perry teaches a weekly class in Toronto how to grow cannabis outside, helping her determine (Kate McGillivray / CBC)

Toronto's Richard Freeman had never grown cannabis before he decided to take the plunge mid-summer in his backyard.

An experienced gardener, he placed two cannabis plants in his herb and focused on giving them the basics: decent soil, water, and light.

"CBC Toronto by email, adding that he plans to harvest right before the year's first frost."

"I didn't do too much research into growing cannabis specifically," Freeman said.

"I think it's good to remember these little guys are just plants."

Balconies, rooftops, gardens

As in many provinces, people in Ontario are legally allowed to grow four plants per residence, started online.

How many people grew up cannabis at home this year, Perry.

"We saw a huge amount of people participating in home gardens, on their balconies or on their rooftops," she said.

The OCS told CBC Toronto they sold about 7,500 packets of four seeds since the online store opened.

Kat Milevic, who works with Perry at Her Store

"Outdoor plants can get bigger," she said. "But you can run into a lot more issues."

Over the summer, Milevic did battle with powdery mildew on hers, but ultimately beat it back with products from her store.

Now, she's babying her plants through the final phase of their development before her harvest.

Kat Milevic grew this cannabis plant on the balcony of her highrise building. (Submitted by Kate Milevic)

Back to class

To help new cannabis gardeners reap maximum rewards, classes have sprung up the country to teach people

Perry, who teaches a weekly outdoor cultivation class, says new growers often struggle with too late and with powdery mildew Milevic deal with – to result of southern Ontario

Matt Soltys, who also teaches cannabis cultivating classes in his home of Guelph, Ont., Has plenty of advice for first time harvesters.

Matt Soltys with his plants in his Guelph backyard at the beginning of the summer. He says it's good for growing, with lots of heat and enough rain. (Rob Krbavac / CBC News)

"He told CBC Toronto." "It's a time of year when they can easily proliferate."

He said, "to know when the right time to harvest is, gardeners can also get" really particular "and use a magnifying glass to look at the trichomes."

"(You can) monitor how they turn from clear to fit to judge where the plant's at."

Said Soltys said, "When the time is right, plants can be hung upside down, or can be trimmed and laid down on screens to dry," The cannabis is then transferred to jars and bags for the final curing stage.

"Just generally, people find it pretty exciting and empowering to provide their own needs," said Soltys.

"There's a huge culture around getting people skills like that, like canning and dehydrating and growing food and processing and preserving. I think this kind of fits into that too."

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