Overview – I was particularly excited about this book, as I’m always interesting in learning more about our beloved plant and it’s cultivation. Much to my reading pleasure, this book didn’t disappoint. Cannabis Cultivation is well organized, sturdy, attractive and many topics are covered extensively. Conversely, there are areas where more detail would be beneficial, and some of the updated material feels a little tacked on or repetitive. While not perfect, it contains a lot of useful information bound to be helpful to newer growers especially – though many experienced growers will likely enjoy it as well. This is the type of reference book that growers will fill with bookmarks, scribbled notes and dog-eared corners as their growing knowledge progresses. It holds it’s own with many similar reference guides and is a great value.
About the Author
Mel Thomas was one of the UK’s most notorious cultivators. Known as “Mr. Big”, he was credited with running one of the largest commercial cultivation operations ever taken down in the United Kingdom. It was while imprisoned that this book was conceived and written in his head (he was not allowed to write it while incarcerated) before being finally put to paper upon his release. His experience as a commercial cultivator is obvious throughout the publication, which is written in a common-sense style, without bogging the reader down with technical jargon or difficult to understand terminology.
Where the Book Shines
While there may be enough depth to satisfy experienced growers, the real value will be to those newer to growing or those wanting to explore new aspects of growing and growing techniques. Mr. Thomas’s book may best be thought of as a “foundation” for growing knowledge that can be built upon over time through experience. Cannabis Cultivation: A Complete Growers Guide contains enough detailed information in this updated 3rd edition to provide even the most uninformed prospective cultivators the key knowledge and confidence to grow their own herb.
One of the books strengths, is the authors inclusion of many “Do It Yourself” techniques. Useful diagrams, descriptions and methodology are found throughout the book that can be used to both save money, and increase understanding of the subject matter. Instead of constantly directing the reader to buy expensive products, fertilizers or pesticides, Mr. Thomas often breaks out many low cost ways the reader can do things for themselves.
Also valuable, is the author’s inclusion of ways a grower can protect themselves from becoming caught and legally entangled by law enforcement. Mel’s hard-learned lessons are a gift to those who wish to avoid nasty legal consequences as a result of growing cannabis. The detail and suggestions in this area will serve as “safety” guidelines for many, and are woven through the book in both dedicated chapters and, as appropriate, in regards to other cultivation topics.
Other topics that I found particularly valuable, related to medicinal marijuana uses, the history of cannabis, prohibition, and the use of cannabis in religion. The section on breeding, written in collaboration with Mr. Nice’s seed breeder Shantibaba, is also extremely well done.
Finally, this newest edition has more than 400 beautiful photos and illustrations, many of which are of modern strains, products, or grow styles and give the book an up-to-date feel. The book itself seems sturdily built, and at 349 pages is a comprehensive reference guide.
Where the Book May Fall Short For Some
While Cannabis Cultivation: A Complete Growers Guide is a wonderful resource, there are some areas it may fall a little short for some. The book goes into extensive detail on many topics, but there are some that it doesn’t. For example, the chapter “Harvesting and Drying Your Crop” seemed surprisingly lacking in depth and information. It would have been nice had he provided some more specific detail as to the proper drying and curing of cannabis, beyond basic principles and some helpful photos. The book at times seems to lean more heavily toward production growing versus growing for the connoisseur looking to maximize flavor, aroma and/or medicinal benefits.
Another minor quibble, is that some of the hydroponic cultivation tips seem to (slightly) contradict other resources on the subject, and even itself between different chapters. For example, in the chapter entitled “Hydroponic Cultivation”, the author suggests the optimum PH for hydroponic gardening to be “about 5.5”. In the “Questions and Answers” chapter, the optimal PH for hydroponics is listed as “5.2” (a range is given as well, though it’s a little different than what is cited by some other resources). While PH is less important in soil gardening, it’s critical in hydroponics, and it would have been nice to see more consistent information and detail regarding it’s management and measurement.
Additionally, while the given ideal “PPM” ranges for hydroponics provide helpful information to newer growers especially, no detail was given as to the discrepancies in this number due to different calculations in place amongst various meter manufacturers. Some cultivators may be unaware that “1000 ppm” may read differently depending on the manufacturer of the measurement device they use, and it would have been refreshing and valuable to see an explanation of this. The corresponding EC information allows for a way to further clarify the PPM range referenced, but with EC being a measurement more familiar to European growers and meters, some in the U.S. may not think to compare the two numbers. In general, much of the hydroponic information is very good as foundational knowledge, but may underwhelm some more experienced hydro growers.
Overall Recommendation (8/10)
If you are newer to growing and looking for a book to serve as a regular reference, you will find it in this book. Cannabis Cultivation: A Complete Growers Guide is an easy read, yet filled with valuable reference information. Tips on security, breeding, lighting and history are particularly well covered. If you need a good place to start or have been wanting to own a good cultivation reference book, you’ll probably really enjoy this as a reference guide. For some hydroponic growers, or certain connoisseur growers, there may be some gaps, but overall they are minor complaints. Generally easy to read, well-written and a particularly good value at $20 U.S., this updated edition will be a priceless resource to many.
Book Review by: XLR8 – 420 Magazine Staff Writer