Simple Steps for Outdoor Growers

About the Authors

We have been outdoor growers since 1980 and have had relatively small yearly
harvests every year since 1983. We have grown Indica and Sativa strains and also
hybrids (mixing the two together). Our horticulture has taken place largely in
fields in New York and New Jersey. The goal of this paper is to allow others to
produce their own, and to reduce the amount of traded on the street.
As more individuals become divorced from having to sell and purchase fine erb,
then we as consumers will become self-sufficient and will also be able to
minimize the risk of being caught. Unfortunately, the ignorant powers that be
continue to persecute smokers for political reasons. We should take
responsibility for our habits and grow for our own consumption thereby
eliminating the “buy and sell game.” Although the trade is not known
for attracting ruthless people, it none the less is a “black market” activity
that many wish to avoid.

Some people may read this paper with the hope that they can grow acres of
reefer that will bring them riches. Unfortunately the gold rush as it pertains
to weed has come and gone. The police confiscate patches of annually through
the use of aerial infrared photography, and large plots are spotted much more
frequently than small plots. This guide is not designed to be the growers
bible, but to provide easy steps on how to cultivate small amounts of for personal consumption. There are people who know more about growing weed than
we do, but the growing literature still lacks a brief explanation of
how to produce outdoor kind bud in easy steps. Our hope is that this paper can
serve that purpose.

We want to thank the many people who helped us acquire skill in this realm
(our assumption is that they want to remain anonymous). Any error or omission is
our doing and we take full responsibility.

All rights of this publication are not reserved. Anyone may duplicate this
document in full or part. Please distribute liberally!

Table of Contents

  • Acquiring Good Seeds
  • Finding a Site
  • Making a Trail
  • The Mechanics of Growing
    • a. Preparing the Soil
    • b. Planting
    • c. Weeding
    • d. Removing Males
    • e. The Fungus
    • f. Emergency Visits
  • The Harvest
  • When to Harvest

Acquiring Good Seeds

Quality seed strains are often difficult to obtain. This is especially true
for people who hang in a predominantly straight crowd and know few people who
partake in the fine erb. The rule of thumb is if the weed gets you pretty high
then the seed is usually good to grow. Seeds coming from green bud are often
better to grow because the strain is frequently acclimated to the growing season
of northern latitudes. Jamaican and Colombian varieties can not be easily
produced in northern latitudes because the strains produce bud too late in the
season. The results of growing these varieties in most of the U.S. will be
little or no bud growth before the first frost hits. Sativa strains usually grow
taller than the indica or indica-sativa hybrids. This can be a major drawback
especially in the fall when other plants are dying off and trees are losing
leaves. Some growers have success crossing sativa varieties from southern
climates with Indica, and creating an offspring that will bud more timely.

When at parties, concerts, or other social events, keep an eye out for people
breaking up bud and discarding seeds. The best time to look for seeds is from
October to January because this is when most of the locally grown outdoor erb
hits the market. Acquiring and maintaining a quality seed stock is the most
fundamental task of a successful grower.

Finding a Site

Aside from acquiring good seed, picking a prime location to grow is probably
the most important task a grower is faced with. One of the best locations is in
areas of grasslands that have small trees and bushes interspersed. Often a
farmers field that has been out of production for ten years is ideal. Flood
plains along rivers and streams are another good location, but the risk of
losing seeds in the Spring or the harvest in the Fall due to flooding should be
considered. Growers have also been known to plant in buckets in more rocky or
mountainous terrain. This enables them to grow in areas that receive good
sunlight but have rocky, untillable soil. Digging a site in areas of dense but
short plant growth, like sticker bushes, is another suitable spot. The sticker
bushes grow high enough to prevent people from seeing through them and also
serve as a direct deterrence from people and large animals wandering into the
site.

A grower can often use animal and insect life to his advantage. Bees, tics,
green flies and the like can discourage people from wandering through fields so
areas having an abundant insect population are prime locations. The most
important criteria for an excellent growing site are good soil, available water,
sunlight, and suitable cover. Other factors are secondary.

Good soil is sometimes hard to find but without it you won’t get much of a
harvest. So, if you find a site that is perfect for all other factors but has
poor soil , you may want to consider bringing soil to the site. Soil is often
the richest in areas where grassland vegetation has existed for a series of
years. Grasslands recycle nutrients in the soil and form a thick layer of
organic matter. Grassland biospheres require very little preparation to start
growing, while other soil conditions require more work. Sandy soils often need
potting soil or top soil along with a small amount of lime to make them more
fertile. Soils with high amounts of clay need material, like peat moss, added to
break up the clay and make the soil more porous. I’m a naturalist and disagree
with some erb growing professionals who believe that planting along road sides
can be productive. The lead and other toxic chemicals found in some of these
soils is enough to discourage many vegetable growers from producing consumable
or smokable plant material. If you live in a city, and lack your own means of
transportation then use roadsides as your last resort.

A close water source is also very important. A site close to the water table
would be ideal since bringing water into the site can get tiresome and also
dangerous. It can get very tiresome if you have many sites or even a few big
sites. If you choose a site much higher than the water table or grow in buckets,
you will quickly find that the amount of water needed during a dry summer will
be enormous and will give you great incentive to find a site closer to the water
table. The dangers in having to bring water to the sites are numerous. The
greatest of these would be the chance of someone spotting you, possibly a cop.
The second greatest would be the destruction of the foliage you have to walk
through to get from the water source to the site. If you have to make more than
one trip you run a big risk that a trail will become noticeable. Finding a
stable water source in the summer can be another obstacle since small streams
often dry up at this time. How often you will need to water is determined by the
weather and that could require you to make unexpected trips to the sites. Each
trip puts you at risk. Your goal is to minimize these trips.

Sunlight is less important than the previous two components but is still
essential. Plants should be in areas that receive at least five hours of direct
sunlight per day. Morning sunlight is preferable since plants tend to respond
better to it than to the afternoon sunlight. Growers who scout sites during the
winter months must be able to visualize how the landscape will be shaded by
trees, and the path the sun will take come Spring. Of course, the greater the
amount of sunlight the better, but when choosing a site sunlight is just one of
many factors that must be considered.

The last criteria has nothing to do with plant biology, but rather focuses on
minimizing the threat of unwanted attention from people wandering by. The cover
should be both tall enough to keep people from spotting it and thick enough to
discourage them from wandering too close to it. The best foliage to accomplish
this is a large patch of big sticker bushes. If that’s not available, look for
foliage that grows to a height of six to eight feet by the fall and is far
enough away from where someone might stray.

The Ability to hide plants amongst the flora in fields is an art and skill
improved upon through practice. One favorite technique is to hide plants on the
south side of bushes so that passers by will have difficulty spotting the
plant(s). Plants still get adequate light in spite of the appearance of being
crowded by the larger bush. The best hiding spot for erb is where people have
their view blocked from all sides and has the appearance of being impenetrable.
In areas where the vegetation growth is less than three feet the erb may need to
be trimmed back or tied to the ground in order to create smaller bushier plants.
Fields with small vegetation growth may have poor soil or can be dry upland
environments where the soil frequently becomes too dry so use caution. Making
erb junior blend in with the other plants in the field will minimize risk. In
order to grow plants efficiently, an outdoor grower must use the natural
landscape to his or her advantage.

Making a Trail

One of the ways to ensure success is by creating trails that are not visible
to passers by. This is easier in some places than in others. Areas having dense
undergrowth with lots of sunlight can be ideal because plant growth is so rapid
it will erase any damage to the vegetation between trips during the Spring and
Summer. If you are growing plants in areas easy to spot trails then make the
path weave back and forth so it becomes difficult for people to see a trail.
Making a hidden trail to the site(s) is important because it allows the grower
to minimize getting ripped off or worse, caught. People wander through
undeveloped areas and follow trails to nowhere all the time. Their access can be
limited through thoughtful planning of pathways and proper care in using them.
When you walk through your entrance, do everything possible not to damage any of
the foliage, especially toward the late Summer and early Fall. At this time of
the year, damaged foliage usually will not regrow and this is when the plants
need as much cover as possible. There are two things to keep in mind when making
a trail to your site(s): 1) Can you see the trail you just made, if not that’s
great, if so look for ways to cover areas that look like a trail; 2) The more
difficult it is for you to get to the site, the less likely someone else will
try.

The Mechanics of Growing

Your cousin Louie and his friend Sam are in town from Oklahoma and they have
smoked a lot of grass and grown some in their backyards. Sam has a good rap, and
appears knowledgeable about fine erb. Taking these two gentlemen for a walk in
the fields might appear to be a good idea. Shit, they could offer some
insightful pointers. I must caution against these excursions. Even if these men
are the erb experts they appear, taking a walk with them may not be in your best
interest. They are unfamiliar with the area and may not know where to run if the
need arises. Walking with more than two people through a field can attract
attention (the greater the number of people, the greater chance of being seen).
The more people walking on a trail the larger the trail becomes and thus the
greater the chance your trail can be followed by others. Every time you visit
the site(s) you are putting the harvest and for that matter yourself at risk.
This may be a small or large risk depending on the particular place but remember
that no place is 100% safe. Unless it is an emergency situation where the buggy
fly has infested your crop, and you are bringing in a specialist to offer expert
advice, the site(s) should not be visited by strangers. Having a growing partner
is recommended regardless of his or her competence, and even then the site(s)
should only be visited to accomplish specific tasks. Trips to the site should
occur at the following times.

1. Preparing The Soil:

(early March – Mid April depending on climate)

I suggest buying 40lb. bags of organic potting soil and mixing this in with
the existing soil. This soil is not often found at your local all-purpose store
so some searching may be required. Potting soil is richer soil than commercial
top soil so it goes a little bit farther when mixed with the existing soil. Lime
may be necessary in areas with acidic soil and peat moss is a good additive for
soils with a clay type consistency. I avoid chemical fertilizers, not just
because I believe that organic farming is the best way, but also because toxic
waste is produced from the manufacture of fertilizers.

It’s also a good idea to put up a two foot high fence at this time. This will
keep small animals out and the use of dried blood and/or human hair will fend
off deer. Purchase a wire fence with small gaps, 2 inches or less between the
metal strands. Collect enough sticks in the area to provide stakes that will
support the fence about every 2 feet. Outline the site with the sticks and tie
the fence to the sticks with string or wire. Cut the fence endstrand and bend
the strands that protrude from the top of the fence out and down the outside to
discourage animals from trying to jump over it. Camouflage the fence and site
with normal ground debris as necessary before leaving.

2. Planting:

(early April – early May)

There are different ways to go about planting:

A) The seed intensive method:

This method should only be used if you have an abundance of seeds. The seed
intensive method entails planting many seeds in a small area. Its strength is
that it can limit risk. When you journey to your newly prepared site(s), the
seeds and trowels are hidden in your pockets. Plant the seeds about one half
inch deep, unless the soil contains high amounts of clay then only plant seeds
one quarter inch in the soil. If you setup small sites 3ft x 3ft square, put in
three rows with a seed every one and a half inches. If you work out the Math
this is roughly 72 seeds per site. Unfortunately, many growers, especially
beginners, do not posses this many good seeds. If a grower creates four sites
with this many seeds he or she is almost guaranteed a harvest. Yes, there will
be some crowding and this is one of the drawbacks of using many seeds in a small
area. Also, figure around 50% of the plants are going to be male so you must
return to the site to cut out the males toward the end of Summer. Once the males
are removed from the site, the females get more light and aren’t as crowded. The
seed intensive strategy tends to produce smaller plants because of crowding, but
at the same time it helps ensure a harvest every season. In the present day of
infrared photography, I believe it is important to have small sites to avoid
detection from the air. This of course means growers may have to create a series
of small plots in order to garner a year’s supply of erb. If you grow merely for
hobby, sport, or experimental purposes, than one site may suit you fine.

B) Planting small seedlings:

The strongest argument for this method of planting is that you get the
opportunity to select for planting the strongest of the seedlings you’ve
started. The strongest argument against this method is the risk of transporting
the seedlings to their intended site(s). Transporting them requires you to find
a method of concealing them, usually a box. The problem that then arises is that
the size box needed to transport many plants may make this method too risky or
totally impractical. The other concern with this method is that there is also
the risk of shocking the seedlings when you put them outside in the site where
they will be exposed to the harsh Spring weather. Before planting seedlings or
sexed females they should be put outside and closely monitored at least three
days before planting to become acclimated to the wind and change in temperature.

This method works best when you can set up a small shelter near your sites
that is enclosed but not insulated. This shelter can be as small as the site and
18 inches tall or big enough to walk in, providing you have a safe location for
such a structure. Starting seeds in this shelter gives the benefit of
acclimating seedlings to a temperature much closer to that which they will face
when they are planted in the site and it will also protect them from any late
Spring snows and/or frosts.

C) Planting sexed females:

The advantage of planting sexed females is obvious; every plant will produce
buds. The sex of plants can be determined by growing them until they’re four
inches high, and then decreasing the amount of light they receive to eight
hours. The males are then identified and removed in one to two weeks. This
method requires being able to control the amount of light the plants receive
each day, and also requires that plants be started indoors earlier than you
would normally start (late February – early March). This method allows growers
to spread their plants across a wide area in smaller sites and also to hide
plants amongst small trees and shrubs. By spreading two dozen female plants
throughout a ten acre area in individual sites, a harvest is almost guaranteed,
providing that you remember where all the sites are. Growers are encouraged to
create a map of their sites to insure against memory loss. Just remember to
guard that map closely. Putting anything about your operations in writing puts
you at risk.

3. Weeding:

Three weeks after the plants or seeds are in the ground return to remove
weeds that are crowding out the kind erb. Three weeks after the first weeding a
second weeding should take place. A third weeding is optional, by this time the
plants should be large enough to compete with the weeds, however, if you are in
a site that has strong weeds around it you may have to cut the weeds back at
additional times throughout the year. Remember, weeding does not mean destroying
all vegetation within three feet of a plant. Weeds can help hide your crop and
protect your crop from hungry animals. Nearby vegetation can also help keep
water in the soil from evaporating in the hot sun. So don’t go overboard and be
very careful, it’s very easy to accidently injure small plants or their roots
trying to get rid of weeds.

4. Removing Males:

(If you are growing sexed females these trips can be omitted)

Male plants will begin to produce their flowers and pollen as early as mid
July for varieties acclimated to this climate. Varieties from more southern
climates, may not start until mid September. This difference depends on the
budding cycle of your variety, some plants start to bud earlier than others, so
the exact time to cut the males will vary with the strain. If you are using a
variety of different seeds it may be necessary to visit once a week from July 21
through September 15. The timely identification of a male plant is crucial to
the success of the harvest. If the weather is exceptional during the time a male
starts producing its flowers and you missed seeing the first signs during your
last visit, you could wind up with a lot of seeds and little of the fine erb. A
female can either generate a large seedless bud, a large bud with a few seeds,
or a large bud that is almost totally seeds. The first case is achieved by
removing all the male plants before any of their flowers open. The second case
occurs when a few male flowers have opened but you remove them before any more
open. The third case occurs when you miss-time the flowering of the male. This
can be devastating if you have big female plants because you could loose 90% of
the smokable erb to seed production. This last scenario may not always be bad
though. If you are short on seeds for the next growing season, it may be prudent
to let one or two males stand and fertilize a portion of the females. Good seeds
are hard to come by, so if you have a strain you like, make sure to plan ahead
and have at least a few hundred seeds for the future. The spotting of males is
one of the most difficult of things to explain to a person that’s never grown
since it really takes careful attention to how the tops of male plants look at
this stage of development. Even experienced growers will be unsure at times and
will have to wait till the next visit to be sure. When a male enters the stage
of flower development, the tips of the branches where a bud would develop will
start to grow what looks like a little bud but it will have no white hairs
coming out of it.

5. The Fungus:

Along with cops, thieves, animals, and insects, “the fungus” is another
obstacle in the path of a successful growing season. When the buds are roughly
half developed they become susceptible to a fungus or bud rot. It appears that
growing conditions for the fungus are best when temperatures are between 60 and
80 degrees and the humidity is high. The fungus is very destructive and spreads
quickly. It is a spore type of fungus that travels to other buds via the wind so
it is impossible to prevent or stop if weather conditions permit it to grow. If
things should go badly and the fungus starts to attack your plants, you must
remove it immediately or it will spread to other areas of the plant or plants.
Some growers will remove just the section of the bud that is infected whereas
other growers will remove the entire branch. Removal of the entire branch better
insures that the fungus is totally removed, and also enables the grower to
sample the crop a few weeks ahead of time. The main point in removing the fungus
is to be very careful. Since it is a spore type of fungus, the accidental
jerking of an infected bud will release some of the spores and they could fall
onto a lower bud so by the next visit, you might have to pull that bud too. Also
be careful in touching the fungus with your fingers because your fingers could
pick up the spores and then when you touch the next bud, the spores could cling
to it and start eating away at that bud.

6. Emergency Visits:

The Real Estate and Construction Industries have conspired to develop housing
near your crop and their “progress” must be monitored. A hurricane or tropical
storm with winds over 50 miles per hour has visited your area. A drought takes
place. etc. One of the drawbacks of growing outdoors is that you can not control
for interference by outside forces. Emergency visits may be necessary but don’t
go crazy every time there’s a bad storm. These plants are strong and can take
some punishment.

The Harvest

Performed at night if possible. A nighttime run will limit the chances of
someone seeing you. Do the most risky parts, such as carrying freshly cut erb
where you could easily be spotted by a passing car, when the police jurisdiction
changes shift. This can help ensure that officials do not spot you, and if a
nosey nearby resident or passerby calls the police, it may take time before a
car is dispatched to investigate. If harvesting at night, use flashlights
sparingly so as not to attract attention, and bring extra batteries just in
case(the rechargeable kind are recommended). When harvesting more than a couple
of plants remember a small pocket knife because it makes the night move quicker.
Unless you are planning to use the large fan leaves for cooking, remove them in
the field so they don’t take up a lot of space. If you have more than one
variety of erb that you are harvesting bring various bags to put the different
strains of buds in, and I would suggest using backpacks for travel to avoid
suspicion and for easy handling.

When to Harvest

The time to harvest depends on several factors: bud development, weather,
fungus, and thieves. Some strains mature earlier in the fall than others,
depending on the latitude of the globe where the strain originated. You will
need to pull Indica varieties in late September and Columbian varieties in late
October. The weather may also force you to pull early. If there is a severe
freeze heading your way, you are better off not chancing that the weathermen are
wrong and pull at least a majority of what you have. Another case for pulling
early is if weather conditions are perfect for the fungus to run wild. This will
also force you to pull early. And of course if your site has been found or is in
great danger of being found, you must pull everything to avoid loosing out on
what would otherwise have been a great year. For instance, if you have a site in
a corn field or other temporary situation, the harvest must occur at a point in
time relatively independent of weather. Also try to find out if and when hunters
start to roam the fields.

One other thing to watch for is frost. Even a mild frost can damage plants so
watching the weather closely in late September and throughout October is
important. If your plants do get damaged by frost the erb is still harvestable
so don’t give up entirely if you fail to chop before the first frost. If by some
freak chance there is a frost in early September and the buds are still very
small you may want to allow the damage to occur and then let the buds finish
maturing rather than harvesting a small quantity of premature buddage. This type
of situation is an on the spot call and you must consider many factors, such as
bud size, weather predictions for the following weeks, strain of weed, location
of site, etc., before deciding. Indica varieties usually mature sooner than
sativa varieties, and the best time to harvest varieties acclimated to the
Northeast is from late September to mid October. Those varieties not acclimated
to the Northeast, such as Columbian or Jamaican, are best left to late October
or even mid November if the weather permits. One other thing you want to avoid
is harvesting in the rain. Moisture can lead to problems in the drying process
such as molds and fungi. The dryer the plants at the harvest date the better.

As mentioned before, it is important to acquire seeds from strains that can
be grown at the latitude you are at, some Mexican or Colombian varieties may not
develop mature buds until November and by then the weather becomes harsh.
Knowing when your plants will mature is difficult for beginners or growers using
new seeds for the first season.

Planning and getting to a good drying location quickly is important so the
buddage is not left in bags for longer than a few hours. If the freshly
harvested bud remains in bags for too long (12 hours or more), molds and fungus
will begin to destroy the erb. Once you get to your drying location you need to
prepare the erb for drying. This entails removing excess fan leaves and other
larger leaves. However, if the drying spot has a temperature higher than 85
degrees it may be beneficial to leave a few large leaves to keep the buds from
drying too quickly. Typical places to dry are attics, closets, dresser drawers,
and basements. The best position for a bud to dry in is hanging upside down in a
location where air can circulate all around it. If you are fortunate to have a
location that you can do this in, great, otherwise use a dresser drawer or some
other concealed place. If you dry the buds in dresser drawers remember not to
double stack the buds or the weight of the upper layer of buds will cause a flat
spot on the buds underneath. Also remember to rotate the buds every day so the
erb dries uniformly and you can check for any signs of mold or fungus. If space
permits and you are able to retrieve the whole plant, roots and all, you can
hang them upside down by the roots, but don’t expect this drying procedure to
yield higher quality bud. THC does not drain from the roots down into the buds,
the THC forms in the resin on the buds. The entire drying process should take
place over four to six days depending on the size and variety of bud, the
temperature, and the relative humidity of the drying area. If the buds are dried
too quickly, the flavor of the erb will become more harsh and the THC level may
not reach its potential. If the is dried too slowly then molds and fungi may
develop and have a similar effect. With any method of drying, the process must
be monitored on a day-to-day basis. Room temperature is fine for drying as long
as the humidity is kept low. If drying must take place in a cool damp place then
a fan and possibly a heater should be installed to compensate.

OUTDOOR CULTIVATION GUIDE

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