Can you tell me, from your experience a good way of 'curing' and 'drying'?
Once I heard a saying:
"One fool can ask more questions than a thousand wise men could ever answer".
I don't know because I'm not a wise man but I'm sure there is at least some truth in this.
But every once and a while I get a question that deserves a thorough answer, though the question itself could be simple.
The inquiry above goes in this category. In fact I was so pleased with answering this one that I decided to let the answer have it's own page, even if that means the whole logical line of the course is going to smithereens. Who ever heard of drying and curing your weed before you even grew it?
Well, I could always move the page to the back once I have the rest translated, but let's not wait for that.
Now before we continue with the answer I hope I didn't offend anyone with the saying. If I did I'm sorry, but I got one more:
"A fool who's foolish enough not to ask questions, will stay a fool for the rest of his life." Having said that let's go on with the answer I gave Mark.
In my (humble) opinion, most weed is mistreated as far as drying is concerned, while most growers don't even know the meaning of the word 'curing'.
Commercial growers take the colas from the plant and clean them before drying (uh, did I really say clean?).
This drying takes place on (wire) netting and usually will be forced by the use of extra heating. As soon as this weed is considered dry, it is sold. The reason for this behavior is the fact they are, as said, commercial growers and in a constant hurry to exchange their weed for money. Every minute counts plus they don't want to 'waste' the space or the time needed for drying and curing.
That brings up the problem of space,
as in 'room to dry your plants properly' (I'll come to curing later).
Besides time, good drying takes its space because the best way to dry weed is by hanging the whole plant upside down.
For the sake of quality I have to backtrack a little,
because curing already starts before harvest.
Experienced growers will give their plants only pure water, without nutrients,
for the last week(s) of its life.
By doing so you force the plant to use the sugars and nutrients it has collected in its leaves,
the result being yellowish leaves and sweeter smoke.
Then comes harvest-time and basically all you have to do is cut the plant as low as possible and hang it upside down to dry, use sharp scissors here like used in rose-gardens. There are two problems with drying, and sometimes they conflict.
First and most obvious is the smell, which is immense, especially for the first couple of days. There's no telling your neighbors the cat peed in the bedroom, you have to either get the smell out or keep it sealed in. Getting the smell out is quite simple, you dry the plants in the same room used for growing them and leave the exhaust-fan running (you do have a filter device there, don't you?).
Which brings us to the second problem: air-humidity, which should not be too high because of the risk of molds and should not be to low because you don't want your weed to dry too fast (you really don't want that, you know). A lot of people also consider it a problem that, obviously, you can't grow any new weed in this room while the old ones are drying because drying takes place in the absence of (direct) light.
Well, enough of the problems,
let's do some positive thinking (uh, writing) here.
Live doesn't stop after you have cut down the plant, and I do mean the plant's life here. All kinds of processes, like the transport of sugars inside the plant, still take proceed. These processes will slowly come to an end while the drying progresses, but are a main factor for the end-taste of your smoke. Now, there's the first reason why you don't want to quick-dry your weed.
The second reason is the way a plant dries.
Plants are build up from cells and, as we all know, cells contain mainly water.
Exposed to air, the (dying) plant's outer cells will dry out first but the
above-mentioned processes will contiguously transfer water from the inner cells
to the dryer outer cells, thus causing the plant to dry equally all over.
If drying takes place too fast the outer cells will form an impermeable shield around the plant, making it very hard for the inner cells to pass their water to the atmosphere. The plant appears to be dry, but as soon it is packed it will start 'sweating' and if you don't take action, mold is on it's way.
By far the best way to dry your weed is to build a
special room for it, which should not be much smaller than the room in which you grew them.
This room is completely sealed off from the rest of the world, so you keep the smell in. Temperature and humidity have to be controlled and kept within the range of 18° C and 60% (relative humidity).
In such a room the plant would be smokeable-dry in about six weeks and you can store (unclipped) plants there for years, curing it in the process.
Sadly but true, we do not live in a perfect world
and most of us neither have the space nor the resources to build such a room,
so (finally ;-) here's my advice to you.
Always give your plants pure water without any nutrients for at least the last week before harvest, you could even go as far as three weeks but this takes a lot of experience.
Cut whole plants; don't take off any of the leaves no matter what 'they' tell you, and hang them upside down in the same room you grew them in. As long as they are 'fresh' you hang them apart, i.e. don't have them touch each other, once they get dryer you could hang them close together to slow the drying process.
Keep the exhaust-fan at the lowest level possible or use a timer to switch it on for just as long as needed to keep the smell out of your house.
Should you have a 'problem' with new clones arriving too soon, at least dry your plants in the growing room for the first three days, after that you could transfer them to a bed- or bathroom for the rest of the drying-process. Most, but not all, of the smell will be gone after three days so you could ease on ventilation, but take care, after two or three days you get used to the aroma but that doesn't mean there's no smell left!
Probably you won't need as long as six weeks to dry;
most weed is clip- and smoke-dry after about three till four weeks and now there's two things you could do.
If humidity is around 60% and temperature is around 18º C, you leave them hanging there, without cleaning and touching (no lights, mind you).
Or, like most of us do, you clip (clean) all the buds and pack them airtight to keep the oxygen from doing its destructive thing.
You could use buckets with an airtight lid like used for food and sauces and such, just put as much weed in it as possible using a light pressure. For safety sake you check the next day whether or not the weed is still dry, i.e. it didn't sweat. When it's moist (soft) you leave the lid open or, better, spread the weed on a newspaper on a dry place to get the last water out. After the weed is completely dry you close the lid, pressing out as much air as possible, and place the bucket in a cool room.
A vacuum-sealing machine is also a good thing to pack weed, apart from the fact they are very expensive. Use only a light vacuum, you don't want to press the weed but just want to get the air out.
is actually a form of fermentation and takes place by itself.
Just store the weed and it will get better and better.
By curing your weed the taste of the smoke will be sweeter, and the high will be mellower, contrary to the flashy but shorter high of fresh weed.
Besides that, if you are not a commercial grower but grow your own, you need to stash to keep yourself supplied until next harvest.
Main factors for storing (dry) weed are temperature, air, and light.
A very nice place to store weed is the refrigerator,
the only problem would be humidity which is too high so pack things airtight.
You could even deep-freeze your weed and keep it for ages, but the curing would stop. (A word of warning: Leave the weed in its packing until it reaches room temperature or it dries out completely.)
To add it all up:
You don't want your weed to dry too quickly, but whatever you do, don't spray water to slow the process.
If the drying room is too dry you could simply place some buckets or bowls filled with water there to raise humidity, but again, don't spray water.
To store it, weed needs to be 'crisp-dry'; it feels hard and will easily break and crumble but you don't want it to fall apart at first touch so don't overdo things as in drying. Dry it, clip it, store it, check it, and check it again, the result is worth it.