Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Are you ready for the outdoor season? Are you considering growing cannabis outdoors?
Planet Earth has once again spun around the sun and is ready to harness its magnificent (and free) power. Sowing season is here and as any experienced grower will tell you, preparation is key. Here we will discuss the three major pillars that constitute a successful outdoor operation.
What, where and when.
Have you decided on which strain to grow? Is this your first time or are you an experienced farmer searching for new grounds? Are you sure you’ve planned every aspect of your cycle?
We believe these general recommendations will help everyone who is thinking about growing cannabis outdoors to make better, more informed decisions. Whether you’re a new or seasoned grower, we hope these tips will help you to max out your efforts by harvesting a great yield. In order to make the most out of your time, lay out a plan on paper. Go over your potential requirements and needs using a month-by-month projection. Get yourself a calendar and make notes. As the saying goes “the devil is in the details”
Unless you live near the equator you only get one good harvest per year, so a little preparation will go a long way.
Location, location, location…
Growing cannabis outdoors is all about finding the right spot. Here are some key points when considering your location.
– Latitude and longitude
– Human activity nearby
– Type of soil and available water source
Not that other factors aren’t equally relevant, but by far the most important thing to consider is where your plants are going to live for the rest of the year.
Check your latitude and longitude. Are you in a more Sativa friendly tropical zone near the equator (+/- 30 º latitude) or in the cooler temperate zone 60º North, favoring short flowering Indicas strains? Or maybe somewhere in between where a cross would be happier? Check with your favorite seed bank and surely they’ll have seeds readily available for every scenario.
Latitude has a direct impact on photoperiod – the amount of available light per day for any given location. Ideally, your plants will appreciate direct sunlight from sunrise to sunset, so better choose a southern facing hillside if you’re in the northern hemisphere. Inversely, a northern facing hillside in the southern hemisphere is ideal in guaranteeing your plants receive the maximum daily average of direct sunlight throughout the year.
As mentioned before pure Sativas favor long vegetative and flowering times, so they won’t do any good by you the further you plant them from the equator. Indicas on the other hand love mountainsides and don’t mind higher and colder altitudes as much.
That is not to say a nice Haze strain won’t do well in Europe, or that a Kush variety will refuse to grow in southern Mexico. The point here is to make the most informed decisions for your growing season by working with nature. If you pick an indigenous landrace for your area, you’ll have thousands of years of natural selection homework done for you.
If you cross-reference your potential location for average weather data, you’ll be five steps ahead in choosing the right strain for your climate. You can predict rainfall, humidity, average temperatures, and adjust your operation accordingly.
Is there anybody out there?
Whether you’re planning on growing just a few plants or a massive field, the same principle apply. You do not want other humans near your garden. Be sure to scout the surrounding areas to pick the most inconspicuous location. Plan yourself a fictitious camping trip, where would you go? Ask the locals for existing hiking trails, research historical sites, and natural landmarks.
A neat trick is to contact adventure clubs or radical-sports companies and ask for activities in that region. Look for summer camps for kids and kid’s Scouts clubs.
Make a list of the surrounding shops that sell camping, trail, fishing and hunting equipment. Visit and talk to them, you’ll find they’re a great source for the best spots to avoid.
Chart these on a map, and you’ll have a clear view of the safest places to growing cannabis outdoors.
Type of soil and water source
Now that you have selected a few potential locations that are safe from prying eyes, the next step would be to analyze your soil and water sources. The most effective way is to photograph the surrounding plant life, identify them and research their soil requirements. You may find these are a match for Cannabis, or in fact quite the opposite. This will give you an indication of the soil’s fertility profile and water saturation levels in that zone.
If you’re not entirely sure just dig a big hole and take a sample into a regular pot. Bring it back and test for pH. Drench it and check how well it drains. Clay retains water too much, while excessively sandy soil will drain too fast. Ideally, you’re looking for a loamy style type of bed that is capable of conveniently retaining moisture while freely permitting the excess water to drain and promote a solid root growth.
Cannabis is a very thirsty plant. The ideal location is going to be where there is a known groundwater bed, stream or river. Otherwise, you’re relying solely on rainfall and deep soil, where just a few days of intense heat could have disastrous consequences.
In the right place with constant access to fresh water to the roots, they’ll love all the heat they can take.
The keys of time.
Most people reading this probably live in the Temperate Zone. This is the region that has the highest daylight-hours difference from winter to summer. Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are photosensitive species, meaning they trigger certain physiological mechanisms depending on how many hours of light they receive.
The implication of this is that timing your seedlings is important. Ancient agriculture says that right after the vernal equinox, which occurs around March 20th, is the ideal time to start planning when to sow. As the equinox happens, days start becoming longer than nights. That is not to say you should set your alarms for that date! For instance, a short flowering strain may “flip” too soon as a result of days becoming shorter right after the solstice around June 20th.
If it’s your first time you are growing cannabis outdoors, or if you’ve never grown a certain strain before, it is a good idea to get going mid to late April. Some growers are tempted to start too late thinking a stronger and faster vegetative phase will increase their potential yield – which in some cases it does – but great care must be taken not to permit a longer flowering strain to reach it’s peak maturity as autumn hits hard and relative humidity levels become dangerously high for bud rot. Timing is key, and knowing your strain well is crucial.
Do or do not. There is no try.
As a final note, there are a million other things we could discuss when it comes to growing cannabis outdoors. By far the most important advice is to not become overwhelmed and just experiment. Think about safety first but right after that commit to a plan and just stick to it. There is not a single Cannabis grower that did everything perfectly right from the get-go. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s through trial and error that we learn the best. So strap on your hiking boots and go find that special place. Come late October you’ll have grown in knowledge as much as your plants have grown in height and weight.