Learn how to choose an outdoor grow site for cannabis and how to harden off, support, and protect the marijuana plants as they mature. Solely planting some cannabis seeds and waiting for them to grow just won't cut it (pun intended). Follow these 9 crucial tips for growing outdoors! Tips and products for increasing the yields of cannabis plants grown outdoors.
How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors
Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation.
As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.
How to choose a cannabis grow site
- Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft.
- Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze.
Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun?
- Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers.
- Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly.
Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.
- Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal.
- Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water.
Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal.
Evaluate the soil
- Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy.
- Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary.
- Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline.
- Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter.
Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality.
For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University.
Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers
- Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.
- Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built.
- If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly.
- You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.
- If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved.
- In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.
Harden off your marijuana plants
If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days.
Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish.
You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night.
Support and protect your plants
When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends.
First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following:
- Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake.
- Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.”
- Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis.
About This Article
This article is from the book:
About the book authors:
Kim Ronkin Casey has been a communications professional for more than 20 years and recently took a year-long leap into the world of cannabis as the communications manager for one of the leading dispensaries in North America. She now consults for companies in the industry on internal and external communications. Joe Kraynak is a professional writer who has contributed to numerous For Dummies books.
Top 9 Tips for Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Growing cannabis outdoors is not as simple as just throwing some seeds in the ground and hoping they grow. To ensure a good harvest, outdoor growers should do some research—analysing the local soil, preparing the site, and thinking about appropriate pest-control methods—and a great deal of maintenance.
Naturally, we all have our favourite strains, which we can’t wait to plant after the cold, tough and long winter months. Each situation is certainly unique, with the circumstances of someone living in Russia being different from those of someone living in Spain. Even so, there are enough varieties to be enjoyed in every corner of the globe.
Once you’ve chosen your favourite cannabis seeds, the first step is obviously to germinate them. It goes without saying that this must be done correctly, as otherwise the seeds will be useless. Be patient and bear in mind that some seeds may need a bit more time to sprout. For best results, follow this germination method.
The good thing about cultivating outdoors – and which makes us appreciate spring – is that, among other things, you can obtain considerable crops with a minimum of investment. And in times like these, who doesn’t want that?
Once we are clear on the conditions that we need – the right environment, the right growing spot, the outdoor growing method, and the variety that best suits our needs – we can get started.
1. Pick the right strain when growing cannabis outdoors!
It is important to choose the right strain of cannabis when growing outdoors. Depending on your location and climate, you may be limited in your choice of strain.
For example, if living in regions in the far north or south of the globe, where year-round temperatures are cool and summer growing seasons are short, you will need to choose strains that are acclimated to such conditions. Picking the right strain means curating your strain choice to suit the climate that you will be growing in.
Outdoor cannabis strains for cold temperate climates
Those who live in colder temperate climates, such as Northern and Eastern Europe, have to choose their strains accordingly. Summers are short and winter frosts are strong enough to destroy any cannabis crop. Therefore, timing and strain choice are essential.
Strains ideal for this kind of climate include Early Skunk Feminised and Jamaican Pearl. They are hardy strains with early flowering times.
Outdoor cannabis strains for warm temperate climates
Those who live in warmer temperate climates have a little bit more freedom when it comes to growing cannabis. In fact, the majority of commercial strains have been developed for growing specifically in warmer climates. Mild winters and long summers is the perfect growing condition for cannabis.
Those living in warmer climates can grow almost any strain. Both sativa dominant varieties and indica dominant varieties can be grown.
What is Veganic Growing? New Take on Organic Cannabis
2. Start your plants indoors if possible
It is advisable to germinate your seeds indoors, and allow your plants to grow in pots for at least a week or two under artificial lighting (which could be a simple household CFL light) or on a windowsill.
This will protect your seedlings from being eaten by birds or insects while they are young and tender, as well as giving them a head-start if outdoor conditions are still a little too cool.
When it’s time to expose your young plants to the outdoor world, it is advisable to go through a period of ‘hardening-off’ so that your plants gradually become accustomed to the change in environment.
At first, out your plants outside for a few hours at a time, and be sure to keep them sheltered from the elements.
After a week or so of increasing exposure to outdoor conditions, they will be hardy enough to be left outside full-time, either in pots, bags, or in holes dug into the soil.
3. Choose soil or pots for outdoor growing
Every grower gets to choose whether they will sow their seeds or seedlings directly into the ground or whether they will be cultivated in pots. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s focus on the pros of each growing method.
Advantages of growing in soil
- Unrestricted access to nutrients and moisture from the ground
- Plants can reach maximum height as there is no restriction on root growth
- Keeps costs low as there is no need to purchase pots
Advantages of growing in pots
- Flexibility to move plants around
- In the case of extreme weather, pots can be moved indoors
- Easier to conceal a growing operation
- Maximum control over the size and growth rate of plants
- Ensures no contamination of soil from surrounding environment
Benefits of Organic Cannabis – A How-To Guide for Growing Your Own
4. Good soil is crucial when growing cannabis outdoors
Making sure your soil is prepared correctly is perhaps the most fundamental aspect of outdoor growing.
Soil should be checked to determine pH, and if it is too low or too high then additives such as lime (to increase pH/make more alkaline) or sulphur (to decrease pH/make more acidic) must be mixed in.
Consistency of soil is also important—too much clay, and soil will be sticky and will drain poorly; too much sand, and drainage may be too rapid.
Cannabis prefers loamy soil, or soil that consists mainly of sand and silt with a lower ratio of clay (around 40%-40%-20% silt-sand-clay is a good rule of thumb).
As well as this, soil fertility is important. Does the soil support a large amount and diversity of vegetation?
If not, adding mulch or manure is a good way to invigorate soil and increase the levels of available nutrients for your plants. If soil is poor, or if you just want to go the simple and hassle-free route, you can buy commercial soil, and even grow your plants in pots—or dig them into the ground, but keep them in bags so they are not exposed to surrounding soil.
5. Pick the right spot
The ideal spot for growing cannabis outdoors will be sunny, sheltered, well-irrigated, and will have good drainage. It will also be far enough off the beaten track that little human activity occurs in the vicinity—so no popular hiking trails or logging roads, for one thing!
A forest clearing that receives a good amount of sunlight and is sheltered from wind (as well as prying eyes!) is ideal; mixed broad-leafed forest is preferable to coniferous, as soil in the vicinity of coniferous woodland is often very acidic.
If you are growing in hilly terrain, aspect is an important and often-overlooked factor. Just as a south-facing balcony is preferable for apartment growers, a south-facing hillside is ideal for outdoor grows as it maximizes hours and intensity of sunlight.
The angle at which the sun’s rays strike the surface of the planet varies from the perpendicular according to latitude; in the northern hemisphere a south-facing spot will receive more sunlight, and in the southern hemisphere, a north-facing garden is preferable for the same reasons.
If you’re at all doubting your spot (for any reason), it is perhaps better to put your plants in pots. This way, you can move your plants around as necessary until you find the optimum spot to grow your cannabis plants. If you put them in the ground too soon, you won’t have the liberty of transporting them in the case of extreme weather or sub-optimal conditions.
6. Pick the best time to grow outdoors
In most climate zones, you should be aware of changes in seasonal temperature, rainfall and hours of daylight. If you live in the temperate zones, the change in daylight hours is considerable between seasons. This acts as a cue to photoperiod-dependent cannabis varieties to either perform vegetative growth (during the long days of late spring and early summer) or commence flowering (when the hours of daylight drop in the latter half of summer).
If you attempt vegetative growth in early spring, hours of daylight may still be short enough to induce flowering, so it is best to wait until at least mid-April (northern hemisphere) or mid-October (southern hemisphere) to put out your seedlings.
If you live in particularly warm climates, you may be able to achieve more than one harvest in a year; in locations near the equator, this should definitely be achievable by taking advantage of the year-round warm temperatures and intense sunlight.
If located in a tropical region that experiences seasonal monsoons, it is best to avoid this time of year due to the increased risk of mould.
Outdoor cannabis growing
How to protect guerilla cannabis plants from wild animals
Guerrilla cannabis growers are beset with challenges on all sides. If it’s not the worry of somebody discovering their secret grow plot, then it’s the danger of losing the crop to any of the various pests and pathogens that every cannabis grower must deal with, but often with the added complication of difficult access and infrequent visits to care for the plants. As well as this, guerilla cannabis plants are vulnerable to the actions of various wild animal pests which can ruin a crop very quickly, either by eating it, digging it up or trampling all over the plants. In this article, we will look at some techniques to keep your cannabis plants safe from these beasts.
In our previous blog articles, we’ve already dealt with the principal diseases and pests that attack cannabis plants, as well as outlining the basics of setting up a guerrilla cannabis grow. In this new post, we will help you to protect your precious plants from the various wild and domesticated animals that seem intent on undoing the grower’s hard work. These animal pests are varied and can include (but are not restricted to) small mice and rats which will eat germinating seeds and chew the plants’ stalks, moles and voles which tunnel around the roots and damage them, rabbits and hares which eat the tender leaves and stems, foxes, dogs and cats which will dig around the plants and use them as a toilet, wild boar which dig up, trample and eat plants, and finally, goats and deer, which, if hungry, can quickly devastate your crop.
What is Dry Farming?
The method of cultivation known as dry farming is one that is widely used in conventional agriculture (especially with cereals) and that has many advantages over traditional growing techniques when applied to cannabis. In fact, many people will have heard of rainfed crops, a centuries-old cultivation technique. Therefore, dry farming by definition is a crop that does not need to be watered by the farmer but instead grows with the water that nature provides, either through rainfall or from underground sources.
In the case of cannabis crops that are being cultivated in California by this method, more specifically in Humboldt County, they rely on the second option, since they are located near rivers, allowing the plants to absorb the water that accumulates below the ground. It may seem impossible to imagine that majestic cannabis plants can develop and deliver quality crops without the grower watering them, but it is a method that really works.
Outdoor cannabis harvest: tips and tricks
As many of you know, cannabis legalization in numerous countries has led to an increasing interest in home growing from many users who, in other circumstances, would have been forced to resort to the black market. Thanks to this, marijuana cultivation has gained numerous followers in recent years, as currently many people grow a few plants in their balconies, patios or gardens, in order to stock up on marijuana.
However, the effort made during half a year (or longer in some cases) can be ruined if you don’t take into account a series of parameters when harvesting your cannabis plants. Today we are showing you a few tricks to bear in mind to ensure you’ll get high-quality buds. Nobody likes to see how the flowers they have been taking care of for months get covered in fungi due to an error!
Cannabis and allelopathy
Allelopathy is a naturally occurring phenomenon by which certain biochemical compounds produced by an organism have a direct impact on the growth or development of other organisms. The action of these compounds can be either positive, promoting the development of other organisms (positive allelopathy) or negative, causing a series of harmful effects on some (or all) of the organisms that are nearby (negative allelopathy). The biochemical substances equipped with these properties are known as allelochemicals.
As many of you know, these properties have been studied in botany and agriculture for decades for different purposes. Thanks to this feature, certain plants can be used to inhibit the growth of other plant species and the reproduction of insects that could result in a plague, significantly reducing the use of insecticides. This is probably the most common and widespread use among farmers all over the world. Nevertheless, there are other lesser-known but very interesting interactions, like the fact that certain plants promote the production of terpenes in nearby plants. something that could be very appealing for the cannabis grower!
Common errors in the cultivation of automatic plants
Spring is getting closer, and with it, the ideal conditions for cannabis cultivation, which is why many growers are already starting to plan their outdoor grow for the season ahead, while others are planning a last indoor crop before the dreaded summer heat arrives. It’s no secret that auto-flowering cannabis seeds (also known as automatics) represent a considerable part of the varieties that can currently be found in the market, with sales increasing year upon year, thanks in large part to the excellent work done by breeders and seed banks.
Whether you grow outdoors or indoors, in this article we’re going to show you a series of tips and tricks towards successful autoflower cultivation, highlighting the typical mistakes that are usually made when growing this type of genetics and proposing alternatives that will make your grow much more efficient, with greater yields and higher quality of the final product.
Growing cannabis in harsh climate conditions
Although cannabis performs well in many latitudes, a rigorous selection of the genetics that we’re going to grow is sometimes necessary in some places in order to harvest our plants successfully, especially outdoors. In this article we will focus on two classic, adverse climate conditions: cold and humid areas – like Northern Europe – and hot and dry climates, where the different cannabis seeds won’t develop in the same way.
Cannabis strains for humid and cold climate
While high humidity promotes a lush and healthy growth, things are different during the flowering stage, when flowers can be infected by mildew and other pathogenic agents due to the effect of cold temperatures and rains. However, it isn’t impossible to grow in these regions, and many growers from places like the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Canada or even Alaska successfully harvest their outdoor cannabis crops every year, mainly thanks to an accurate selection of the genetics grown – always looking for the most resistant strains – and of course the use of greenhouses, greenhouse heaters, etc.
Before presenting you a brief list of this type of genetics, especially suited for outdoor growing in these areas for being particularly resistant to moulds, we are going to explain a few desirable traits that might ensure the best possible results.
Guerrilla growing cannabis
Growing cannabis outdoors, guerrilla style
Guerrilla cultivation is often the only available option for many growers to keep themselves supplied with cannabis throughout the year, especially for those who have no garden for outdoor growing and don’t have the possibility of cultivating indoors. The idea is simple, it’s a question of finding a suitable piece of land to grow on, in a forest, woods, or scrubland where plants can be left to fend for themselves until harvest time. Naturally, the plants need not be completely abandoned, they can receive some care and maintenance depending on how accessible the grow spot is, and how much the grower wishes to risk being caught red-handed while attending to them.
Although the success of the crop will depend largely on luck, with the plants being more or less left to their own devices for most of their life, a series of steps can be taken that, while not guaranteeing a successful harvest, can certainly help the plants to remain healthy throughout the season. In this way, guerrilla growers can harvest cannabis crops of a quality rivalling that of the most pampered outdoor gardens, where it’s far easier to provide the plants with all they need.In the following article we will outline the most important elements to consider for achieving a successful guerrilla harvest in the safest and easiest way possible.
Growing automatic cannabis plants outdoors in Smartpots
Equipment, genetics and fertilisers employed
The following article details a grow report of autoflowering cannabis strains cultivated outdoors, mostly using Smart Pots. The purpose of this report is to examine their performance when used to grow auto-flowering varieties and note their suitability to the particular demands of this type of cultivation. Smart Pots encourage vigorous root development that in consequence tends to lead to bigger plants and more abundant harvests.
We grew two plants of each of 2 different varieties in order to be able to perform a comparative test. The idea was to cultivate one plant of each variety in Smart Pots of 18 litres, which would be the “main subjects,” and then two more, one of each variety, in a smart pot of 12 litres and a circular rigid white plastic pot of 11 litres. So, we will be able to make a comparison between the different automatic seeds we have grown and how they perform in the different containers.
Soil Food Web Gardening
While it may be old news for organic gardeners, with writers like Elaine Ingham championing soil food web gardening since the late nineties and the more recent success of Jeff Lowenfels’ highly influential book ‘Teaming With Microbes’, this approach has recently been catching on with organic cannabis growers who are being won over by the vigorous vegetative growth, increased plant health and more importantly, many claim increased yield and terpene production in their flowers!
The term ‘Soil Food Web’ was coined by Elaine Ingham and refers to the relationships between the many and diverse species of organisms found living in soil. A balanced, well functioning soil food web is vital for healthy plants – most gardeners are familiar with the physical and chemical aspects of soil science – taking care to provide the plants with the correct soil type/texture and with adequate nutrition, but are often unaware of the equally important role played by soil biology in a healthy, vibrant garden – it’s all too easy to focus on the activity and growth above ground to the exclusion of everything else, but in doing so we risk ignoring the vital interactions taking place out of sight below the ground in unbelievable numbers.
Growing marijuana in plant pots
Growing marijuana in soil is, by far, the most common type of crop throughout the world. In this post, we are interested in how to optimize our soil in a simple and fast way.