When it comes to having a usable, smokable, great-tasting crop, it turns out that growing cannabis is really only half the journey. After harvest, a proper dry and cure are crucial. These steps help retain terpenes and cannabinoids while diminishing chlorophyll, giving you something that tastes more like grass than, well, grass. Not to mention, the right conditions in a grow room prevent mold, so post-processing is an important time to pay careful attention.
No matter the size of your grow setup, a few truths remain: You should dry your weed in a dark room with temperatures between 60-70°F and humidity between 50-65%. A cheap hygrometer will take the mystery out of monitoring those numbers.
And the good news is that, in a small space, simple oscillating fans and small humidifiers or dehumidifiers (depending on your climate) should be plenty to nudge those numbers in the right direction should they be off by a few. Also, any spot you choose should be tidied up and mold-free.
If you’re in a small home or apartment or simply don’t want the dry and cure to take up too much room, here are some space-saving tips to help you minimize the footprint of the last phase of the growing journey.
Hang Branches Efficiently
Hanging harvested plants upside down is the gold standard for drying practices. It prevents buds from getting flattened or misshapen as they dry. Also, keeping flowers connected to branches for as long as possible helps create an even, slow dry—exactly what you’re after.
To make hanging even more efficient, forgo hanging branches directly on a line and instead place them on a hanger. Many more hangers can fit on the line than just branches alone. BAM—you’ve just exponentially increased your drying space. It’s a-OK for branches to be close together, but leave a little room to encourage airflow and prevent mold.
Minimize Building New Structures
For a neat and tidy hanging apparatus that takes no construction and requires no drilling into walls, purchase a freestanding wardrobe from any department store, online retailer, or thrift store.
They’re available in all sorts of sizes and come ready-made for hangers with nothing more than the twist of a few screws. They’re super sturdy, too, able to support the weight of freshly harvested branches—something that you should account for in your setup.
Trim Off Extra Leaves
Greatly reduce the volume of plant material by manicuring your cannabis before you hang it to dry. Getting rid of all those fan and sugar leaves results in much slender branches, which take up a lot less space.
Opt for Flat Racks
Or skip the branches altogether and just dry the buds. Trim wet and put all buds on a hanging herb-drying rack, sometimes called a “high-rise drying rack.” They are circular with layers of mesh lining (great for airflow), and can be lined with flowers.
This will let you dry just the part you’re ultimately after, skipping any excess material like sticks and stems. Racks come in varying sizes and heights, going up to eight levels tall.
There are a few things to keep in mind should you go this route. First, weed should be trimmed and bucked—snipped off its main stem and into smaller nugs—to make maximum use of space. This means the dry will happen more quickly, so be sure to check on your flowers often. You’ll want to get them into jars to cure at the right time, rather than having them dry to a crisp.
Drying flat also means the buds will get a little smooshed on one side, the side on the rack. This is purely an aesthetic concern, but one to be aware of should impressing your friends with perfectly shaped weed be your end goal.
Skip Transferring Buds Before the Cure
When branches snap and buds sound like popcorn when pressed gently, the bud is considered to be mostly dried, and it’s time for the next step: curing.
During curing, moisture continues to draw from the center of the bud toward the outside. Most people consider their cannabis to be cured after two weeks to a month. For reasons that relate more to tradition than actual need, people take all sorts of secondary steps to cure their weed after it’s dry. For example, they transfer almost-dried branches to paper bags, cardboard boxes, or plastic bins.
All of these involve a transfer, another setup, and most importantly, more room. Skip it. When your weed is dry, buck it off stems and trim it if you haven’t already, and place it directly into your curing vessels—mason jars or locking stainless-steel tubs both work great.
Seal them overnight and check on them the next day. If the flowers seem to have regained their moisture, leave the lid off all day before resealing at night. Repeat this process—known as burping—until you find them as dry as you left them the night before. Judge this by giving them a gentle squeeze.
If you’re unsure, you can also procure a digital moisture meter, available for $20 or so at any hardware store. You’ll stick the pins into the bud and a moisture reading pops up on the display. The ideal moisture for fully dried and cured cannabis is a steady 10-15%. Voilà, your cure is done, and you haven’t had to acquire any more vessels or take up any more room to make it happen.