Your plants are swelling and bursting with flavor. It's time to chop them down. Follow this simple guide and you'll have quality buds for months to come.

* Well-dried and cured pot is sweet and smooth, with none of the harshness of hard-to-burn smoke.

* Resist the temptation to cut down your plants too early or rush through the harvesting process.

Harvest time can be scary for many reasons: Odor is at an all-time high, more visitors than ever are around to help with trimming, and low-life rip-off artists lurk in the shadows. Paranoia and giddy anticipation can lead to poor decisions if you're not careful. Understanding when and how to cut down your precious plants can make the difference between months of blissful puffing or lingering regret over what might have been.

There are as many harvesting theories as there are growers. I've heard stories of people using dry ice to cure their pot or waiting for a full moon to chop down their bounty. Each grower will swear to have the best methods, but the basics remain: Trimming, drying and curing are absolutely necessary steps to achieving perfect pot.

Whether your plants are growing hydroponically or in soil mix, always remember to flush them with plain nutrient-free water for at least a week before harvesting. This ensures that excess nutrients are leached out of the plants, making for a less harsh taste. Many commercial and personal-use growers ignore this vital step.