After you've harvested your marijuana crop, you are very close to finally reaping your reward. Of course, you can't just immediately roll up a few buds and start toking. More work needs to be done before you can really enjoy the fruits of your labor. The harvested marijuana plants need to be dried and cured before you can really call it a job well done. If you don't properly cure your crop, you may be looking at some damaged plants or even an entire crop that becomes useless. For personal growers, it's also important to cure plants because you can preserve them and make the yield last for an entire year.
The main reason you might cure your plants after harvesting is because mold can infect one plant and spread to the entire yield. Of course, mold thrives in moist conditions and the marijuana plants will generally be rather moist right after harvest. Most growers like to hang their crop upside down to get them dry. They don't necessarily have to be hung upside down, but it is certainly much more convenient that way. This drying technique is simply called "air-drying" and is the preferred mode of desiccation. It allows the plants to maintain their flavorful tastes and pleasant aromas while also not exposing them to some harsher drying techniques.
When air-drying, it's important to not let the plants get too dry. If the leaves start to become very dry and crusty then you may have gone too far. For the best smoke, you need to make sure that the plant is just moist enough to be flexible but dry enough to not get any mold. This takes a little practice, but over time you will figure out exactly what buds give you the best taste.
Of course, air-drying isn't the only option. If you really want to fast-cure your buds, then microwaves are really the next best option. Although they have a tendency to overheat the bud, microwaves at least give you the ability to sample some of your crop right after it's been harvested. It's important to first take any seeds out of the buds to make sure that they don't explode in the microwave. You also must be aware that the irradiated heat may detract from the pleasantness or the potency of the smoke. In this way, you might be getting a sample of your crop, but it might not be the best sample you could imagine.
When curing your crop, patience is the key. If you can wait long enough for the plants to air-dry, then you'll be rewarded smooth, delicate, and potent buds that will get you high every time. Other methods for curing the plants are less effective and potentially more risky. For instance, using a conventional oven or a skillet to dry the buds takes longer and potentially reduces the potency of the THC. Whatever method you choose, it's always important to cure the buds, if only to ensure that you'll have a supply at least until the next harvest.