A lot of cultivators prefer growing cannabis indoors due to the increased control over the plant’s environment it allows. But outdoor plantations will always have distinct characteristics that certain growers can’t get enough of.
The first, most obvious advantage to outdoor growing is the unlimited vertical space and significant horizontal space it offers. While you can’t control the humidity in the air or whether it will be cloudy or not, you can still bring robust plants to harvest with impressive yields. The aromas and flavours of your plants will develop just as well as they would indoors, and some smokers actually prefer it. Furthermore, it’s difficult to run an organic cannabis operation indoors. Some cultivators believe that if it’s not sun-fed, it’s not organic.
Here are the most important aspects to consider when preparing to grow cannabis outdoors.
Before deciding which strain to grow, you’ll have to figure out the appropriate location for your grow operation. There are numerous factors that influence this decision.
First, you’ll have to consider the high and low temperatures. Cannabis plants shouldn’t be grown when temperatures drop below 12°C. Extreme cold can frost or stress the plant so much, it will eventually die. Similarly, temperatures over 30°C won’t be good either.
Next, you’ll need to make sure your plant is getting enough sunlight during the day. Different regions will receive different amounts of sun during different times of the year. Inform yourself about how this will affect your outdoor cannabis grow, and talk to other growers in the area if possible. Even if they’re not weed growers, local farmers will understand your conditions better than anyone.
Lastly, if possible, choose a location where you can help shelter your plants from especially harsh conditions, such as strong winds and rain. Cover your plants at night if you feel unsafe leaving them out. Furthermore, if you’re only growing a couple plants, consider using pots that you can move inside if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Of course, cropping plants inside a greenhouse will be the safest pseudo-outdoor option.
With your spot chosen, it’s now time to pick a seed. First, you’ll have to consider when harvest month will be, then backtrack to determine the proper time for germination. If you’re purchasing automatic seeds, you will be able to take advantage of the hottest summer months for both vegetation and flowering, without worrying about light cycle. For this reason among other, auto seeds are especially beneficial for beginners.
Keep in mind that harvesting after October in most areas can be an invitation for mould and excess humidity. In keeping with this, be sure to know the difference between indica and sativa, and how their growing traits differ. Indica-dominant strains will deal better with colder and harsher environments, while sativa-dominant specimens will be more appropriate for hot and humid climates. Additionally, sativa strains often take a few weeks longer to complete the flowering phase, pushing the harvest date further into the future.
GERMINATION AND SOIL
The next step is to decide whether you want to germinate your seeds using a specific method, or simply plant them in soil and wait for them to sprout. If you plant them in the soil, you’ll be able to bypass the stress of transplanting seedlings later on. For this method, try placing the seeds in water for 24 first. This will help them germinate, and let you choose the best seeds to plant if you have a limited number of containers.
Another way to germinate is to just place seeds in-between two sheets of moist paper towel. Leave them like this in a dark and warm place. After a few days, you’ll see the taproot breaking free from the seed. At this point, place your little seedling in the soil. Make a hole with a pen. Remember, if it’s too deep, the plant will have difficulty developing.
Soil is also a critical variable to consider before you sow your seeds. If you’re planning on making your own soil mix, we have a great article on the subject. But if you’re planning on buying pre-mixed soil, don’t buy the cheap stuff. It’s important you do your seed justice. If you live somewhere that cannabis cultivation is legal, ask the local grow shop if they have any soil advice. If not, try to go with a cannabis-specific soil that can be purchased online. Do some research to make sure you don’t buy the wrong product.
MAINTAINING THE PLANT
Now that everything is up and running, it’s time to make sure the rest of the process runs smoothly. There is no reason to put in the effort with all that comes before if you’re not going to take great care of plants when they’re growing. Watering will be very important. And it’s even more important to know that there is such a thing as too much water. Some growers will overwater, thinking it won’t do any harm. Take it from us, it definitely can. You should be watering your plants according to the level of moisture in the soil. Allow the soil to become dry before watering the pot more. And when you do water, drench the medium until water runs out through the holes in the bottom of the container.
If you live in a rainy climate and are growing in garden beds, be sure you’re draining your garden properly. Also, be careful with the water you give your plants. Outdoor cannabis plants prefer a pH of between 6.0–7.0, so it’s important that your water doesn’t deviate outside of this range. If your soil mix isn’t providing your plants with the full amount of nutrients they need, you can add liquid fertilisers. However, like water, overdoing it with the fertilisers will hurt you plant more, even killing it in some cases.
PREVENTING PESTS AND OTHER PROBLEMS
This is one of the main disadvantages of outdoor plantations. In an indoor operation, you can control nearly every aspect of the environment, making it much easier to keep most pests out. If you find yourself with an unsolvable problem, there are a few organic cannabis insecticides/pesticides that you can try. Just be sure that whatever product you choose, it’s safe to use on a plant that you’ll be smoking or consuming later.
Protecting your plants from large animals is easy with the help of a fence or chicken wire. But the best way to keep small, nasty creatures away is to ensure your crop is as healthy as possible. There is no simple trick to it. Check your plants daily for pests. This is the easiest way to prevent an infestation. You can also try washing your plants with a solution of water and a bit of soap. This can be a very helpful trick to keep crickets out, and you can read more about those little guys here.
Growing outdoors will make your plants subject to a wide array of uncontrollable environmental factors. You may have to deal with periods of extreme heat or drought, as well as cold. You’ll learn more and more with every challenge you face, which will ultimately make you a better grower. As long as you take care and have a genuine passion for your garden, you’re likely to succeed. Just be sure to keep a careful eye on your plants. Best of luck with your harvest!