Are you brand new to growing? Want a foolproof, step by step guide to take you through your first grow, day by day? Want to avoid the most common—and most costly—rookie mistakes?
If so, you’re not alone.
There are plenty of books and courses on growing marijuana. But how suitable are they for beginners? What will they give you that free sites won’t? And will they give you value beyond your first grow?
Let’s take a look at two of the big names: Bergman’s Lab vs. Ryan Riley’s Growing Elite Marijuana.
Which is the best course for new growers?
Later in the year, we may update this post with more course reviews, or publish them separately. So you don’t miss out, sign up to our weekly newsletter in the sidebar. As a bonus, we’ll send you our own free beginner’s ebook.
Marijuana growing for beginners: why take a course or buy a book?
If you’re already a confident gardener, you might be happy just getting some seeds, googling a few things and getting started.
But the rest of us will need to start from the very basics.
And with so much information out there nowadays—much of it conflicting—just working out how to get started can feel pretty overwhelming. And that’s just all the free stuff!
You need something to cut right through the noise.
A course or a book that just keeps things simple, teaches the basics and gets you through your first grow successfully would be pretty ideal.
If it then also gave you the information to go beyond the basics, to build on the fundamentals you’ve just learned and really learn how to fine tune your growing, that would be even better.
And finally, we need it to be up to date. The classic books on marijuana growing are all great on the fundamentals—but they’re way behind on some of the growing tech.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at a couple of options that meet all the criteria.
And because people learn differently and need different levels of assistance, we’ve selected two different approaches to learning.
For those who like to follow a book and make things as simple or complex as they’re comfortable with, we’ve got a more traditional grow bible option.
And for more visual learners, or those who like to follow a simple but detailed process, we’ve got a highly visual online course.
Either way, you’re going to learn the fundamentals, discover what growing variables to manipulate and how and be guided away from the most common errors that virtually everyone makes.
Neither option we’ll discuss looks cheap compared to the average hardback book. But what you invest in a good course or book, you’re likely to make back and more by shortening your learning curve and avoiding needlessly ruined grows.
And remember, the sooner you get started, the sooner you can get good at it!
Honestly, you could read around forever when it comes to marijuana growing. But there’s a lot to be said for just picking an option, following the instructions and learning from your first grow.
Bergman’s Lab: Learn to grow marijuana
Are you a visual learner?
Do you prefer to follow a course step-by-step, day-to-day?
That’s how the Bergman’s Lab course is set up.
It takes you from seed to bud with day by day photos so you can compare and adjust your progress throughout the grow.
It’s an online course, so you can access it from anywhere—and with privacy guaranteed.
And there’s a 30-day, no questions asked money back policy. So you can try the course risk-free.
But what’s in the course, you might be asking. And who’s this Robert Bergman guy?
Who is Robert Bergman?
Robert Bergman was a grower in and around Amsterdam for around 20 years. Starting with a simple, small home grow he eventually progressed to industrial scale indoor growing. Along the way, he’s encountered and dealt with pretty much every problem you could come across and tried every growing method. Two decades on and he knows how to optimize yields, bud quality or any other growing outcome you might want. And knows how to grow safely and successfully.
Author of the Marijuana Grow Bible, these days he focuses on his I Love Growing Marijuana online seeds and nutes business and on passing on his knowledge to other growers.
Which brings us onto what’s in the course and how it’s structured.
Course contents and structure
The core module of Bergman’s Lab takes you through a 90-day grow, with day by day instructions and images, covering everything you need to know for your first indoor home grow. Just get your equipment, some seeds and follow along.
If you like to follow a proven method first time around and get a solid base to build on, before you start to experiment and optimize for your own goals, then this should be ideal.
Even more so if you’re also new to growing of any kind and general horticulture fundamentals. For instance, knowledge of what environmental factors plants need, in general, and how they respond to small and larger changes to variables within that growing environment.
The core module is designed to introduce you to these factors as they apply to cannabis, specifically, and get you through a whole grow cycle successfully—all the basics you need.
And that’s all available as a standalone course for a fraction of the price of the complete course.
However, if you just go for the core module alone, you miss out on deeper modules on plant care and biology, and on all of the main environmental factors involved in a grow—knowing and understanding how to manipulate all these variables strategically and deliberately and how your plants will respond is what will take you from beginner to pro.
You’ll also miss out on an introductory module on equipment, strain selection and how marijuana grows. You can research that on sites like this, of course, but it’s handy to have all in one place.
The complete course
Knowledge of how to finely tune and manipulate your plants’ growing environment is key to developing your own growing style and getting the results you want.
It’ll help you to adapt to and get the most out of the space and budget you have available to you.
And it’ll help you optimize for the end product you need—oil or bud; smoking or edibles; bud weight, quality, density, size; maximum flavor or maximum yield, and so on.
Because not everyone is growing for the same reasons or towards the same end result. Which is something that tends to get forgotten in a lot of online forums (though some are much better than others). Many users seem to think their ways are the only ways to grow and shout down anyone who disagrees—especially newbies (Bergman’s Lab has an answer to that too, by the way, which we’ll get to shortly.)
The complete course also introduces hydroponics and outdoor growing and gives you access to various Master Classes to help you learn new methods and tricks. Plus, cheat sheets to help you master and remember everything you’ve learned.
Finally, you’ll also get some ebooks on marijuana testing, growing safely and edibles recipes.
The complete course + support
However, for an extra ten bucks, you can get the Complete Course plus access to a VIP forum and support from the Bergman’s Lab team of grow experts. Ask them any grow questions you like—and without being ridiculed for being a newb.
In addition to the extra support, you’ll also get three more ebooks, including how to make your own vape pen juice and how to start making money from your growing.
Compared to some courses out there, and for the level of content, the course fee is a fairly modest investment.
But to many of us, $147 isn’t nothing. So if you want to get an instant taste of what’s behind the paywall before you hand over your card details, you can download a FREE mini-guide: When to harvest your marijuana plants.
Ryan Riley’s Growing Elite Marijuana
Billed as the Complete Guide, this 800+ page tome distills 20+ years of growing experience into one organized, accessible, step-by-step system.
It’s not a course like Bergman’s Lab, as such—it’s a printable ebook (plus numerous extras)—but it takes a somewhat similar approach.
In other words, it’s well-illustrated, it’s very practical and you can follow a process for your first grow. It lets you master the basics—and only then gets into the deeper theory, science and advanced techniques that’ll help you tweak and optimize and develop your own personal growing style.
Bergman’s Lab is perhaps easier to follow for your first grow. It’s one step at a time, one day at a time. Just follow along with what you see, start to finish.
Whereas the Ryan Riley Guide is organized a bit differently. There are separate sections on each grow stage. You’ll need to flip from section to section, rather than following along from beginning to end.
But there is a separate quick start guide included to make that first grow much simpler. (It’s one of the bonus books.)
Each of the main sections contains step by step instructions, covers the basics, then moves onto more advanced stuff—i.e. the stuff you might want to pay more attention to after your first few growing attempts. Checklists are often included too. So you can keep things simple or get more complex as you choose.
There’s also a later section on Advanced Growing, which covers things like plant genetics, breeding your own strain, increasing bud potency and yield.
This is a grow bible you can grow into.
What are the extras?
Along with the grow bible, you’ll also get 9 bonuses—and at the moment there’s a seed deal included too.
Bonuses include ebooks on plant care, stealth growing, cannabis strains, smoking etiquette and building your own smoking devices, as well as a stoner’s cookbook and audio guides to getting started and common mistakes.
Finally, content is regularly revised, so you’ll also receive any and all updates to the grow bible and bonus books.
I don’t like ebooks. What about a hard copy?
A hard copy of the guide alone (without the extra ebooks) is available from Amazon. It’s not cheap… but if you prefer to have a reference book you can take into your grow space, it could be cheaper than buying a course—or making all the mistakes you might otherwise have made without it!
Still, it’s more expensive than the whole digital bundle (at present prices, Sept 2018). So we recommend you just print your own—or just the sections of it you most need for reference—and put the pages in a binder. (The digital version and its extras are all PDFs, rather than Kindle files.)
Summing up: The best course for new growers is…
It all depends on your learning style really.
If you’re comfortable with a big, comprehensive grow guide and won’t get bogged down trying to run before you can walk, Ryan Riley’s Growing Elite Marijuana is about as comprehensive as it gets—but set out so that you can just follow the basics first time round. It’s the kind of book that you’ll appreciate more the longer you grow.
On the other hand, if a simple, foolproof, step-by-step follow along course that takes you through every day of a full 90-day grow cycle appeals, then Bergman’s Lab is a great choice. It’s extremely visual and teaches you the basics by guiding you through your first grow, but also has deeper modules available to help you achieve mastery. You learn the ‘how’ and then you learn the ‘why’.
Finally, if money’s a little tighter, no reason you should miss out. Here are a couple of trusted book titles that always seem to come up when grow guides are discussed: Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower’s Handbook and Jorge Cervantes’ Marijuana Horticulture: The Indoor/Outdoor Medical Grower’s Bible.
Both are rightly classics. But due to their age, the info on LED lights is badly out of date / entirely absent. Otherwise, however, both are excellent guides, easy to get a hold of and deservedly popular amongst all kinds of growers.
However, if you want to start off with simplicity, take things slow, follow a proven process and gradually introduce the complexity, you’re better off with Bergman’s Lab.
We have our own beginners guide, too—but naturally it doesn’t go quite as far as a full book or course.
Do you have any recommendations of your own? Scroll down and leave them in the comments!