The Outdoor Season Is Here! Find Out How To Get Started
Until just a few short years ago, all cannabis grew outside. Indoor cultivation emerged as a reaction to prohibition, which made it difficult to cultivate in plain sight. While indoors growing is fun and delivers a reliable yield, it requires a lot of knowledge and equipment to get things just right. That‘s where outdoors growing has the edge; you‘ve got nature working for you. For just a fraction of the cost of an indoors project, you will be rewarded with an abundant yield of finest outdoor bud.
While growing outdoors can rightly be turned into a science, it doesn‘t need to be complicated. It‘s true there‘s always something that can be improved, but after all cannabis is not called weed for no reason - given water, light and good soil, it will grow. Now, you don‘t just want it to grow; you want a thriving monster christmas tree that rewards you with the most fragrant buds. To grow your cannabis tree, there‘s a couple of things to to get right.
Chose a location with maximum sunlight
Before you think about strains, fertiliser, and soil, consider your location well. Cannabis will grow well in many climates and environments, so yes, it will grow on your balcony just fine. But then again, if you want a thriving queen, she needs a lot of direct sunlight and space to spread her wings. When selecting a site, there are a few considerations to take into account: sunlight, stealth, water access and soil quality.
Ideally, your spot maximises daylight exposure and avoids shading during the course of the day. Consider if tall buildings nearby might shade the plant during certain hours. Also, possibly you can cut back other vegetation in the area in order to stop them shading your cannabis plants. As a consequence, the ideal place is then an open field without any light obstruction.
If your location gets less than 6 hours of sunlight a day, it‘s not going to work. 6 hours is the absolute minimum, and the more the better. But if you can‘t get enough sun or stealth in your garden and you‘re considering to grow elsewhere - such as out in the woods - check our Brief Guide To Guerrilla Growing Cannabis.
Keep your grow stealthy
You definitely don‘t want your plants to be seen - by no one, if possible. Obviously, you don‘t want get a visit from the cops, but even if growing in your place is legal, stealth is still very important. Remember, everyone likes good bud, and there‘s no lack of unscrupulous thugs ready to steal you plants just before you were going to harvest them. Damn! Yes that hurts! That‘s why it‘s important to keep the girls safe.
While it‘s fantastic to see a plant grow a mile high, that might not be practical in some situations. When growing behind a fence, for example, limiting the height of your plants can be key to not getting them discovered. There‘s two ways to grow short plants; either go for a strain that naturally doesn‘t grow very tall - like White Rhino - or just top them off. While some strains are indeed better suited for growing short and bushy - namely indicas - it‘s also true that essentially any strain can be made bushy through topping and training.
Pick the right strain
Now that you‘ve found a suitable spot, it‘s time to think about the strain you‘re going to grow. In essence, you can grow most strains both indoors and outdoors, however, some strains are more suited for outdoors cultivation than others. Cannabis isn‘t called weed for no reason - it‘s a very resilient plant that adapts to many environments.
That being said, there are a couple of things to consider when choosing your strain. The most important factor is how long your summer period is. In an area with dry and sunny days well into october, growing sativa strains is no problem. However, if your summers are short and a wet autumn is approaching quickly, a sativa with a long flowering period will have a hard time finishing and might even start to develop mould.
For more information on outdoor strains, have a look at „The Best Outdoor Cannabis Seeds“
The best soil for the best plants
First class soil will make for first class buds. Soil is not often given the appropriate consideration and respect such as wondrous substrate deserves. In reality, dirt, as it is often called, is truly a miraculous micro-environment. While providing your plants with all the nutrients for vigorous growth, the bacteria and fungi that live in the soil will form an alliance with the roots of the cannabis, increasing their immunity. Healthy soil will prevent moulds and bacteria from taking over, as well as facilitate the absorption of the nutrients through the root system. The beneficial cooperation between fungus and roots is called mycorrhizae, and can be found abundantly in natural environments. If your soil lacks natural microbial life, it is possible to add in spore mixes, such as the Mycotrex and Bactrex, that will awaken your soil.
It is very rare to find a site with perfect soil. Particularly when growing in the home garden, most soil needs to be enhanced. Good soil will be dark brown and break up easily with minimal pressure. It also needs to drain well to prevent any water clogging up around the roots of your crop; for this reason, dense soils such as clay and rocky soil should be avoided. On the flip side, sandy soil should also be avoided, as this will drain too quickly.
Ideally, good soil should make any further fertilisation unnecessary. Liquid fertilisers are of course very helpful if you have to work with poor soil, or if a deficiency needs to be corrected. But it‘s simply easier and cheaper to provide a highly nutritious soil once in the beginning, and not worry about nutrients again during the season.
You can either grow in pots or straight into the soil. Pots have the advantage of being easier to move around and hide (should you ever need to...), but planting directly in soil will allow for the root system to extend much further, making for bigger plants. In both cases, it is better to create a soil mix for best results.
If you don't want to become a soil expert, it‘s of course possible to just get a compost mix from the garden center and add some liquid fertiliser here and there. It will work, your plants will certainly grow. But if you‘re determined to get the most our of your plants and create premium bud, there‘s no way around mixing up your perfect soil. To learn how to do it, read on here.
Starting from seed
The outdoors are a harsh place, even your garden is a wild terrain for a little seedling. To provide the seeds with the best opportunity for a good start in life, it is best to have them germinate indoors, shielded from the forces of nature. The idea is to increase the germination rate and avoid have small seedlings drowned by rain or crunched by a gust. Read here How to germinate cannabis seeds.
For most of temperate central Europe, the ideal timeframe to start with the germination is during the month of april. By the time May arrives, the plants are ready to go outside and harness the sun. The reason to start germination early is to make the most use of the summer light. As september approaches, the days get shorter again, colder and wetter. If your plants are not harvested by that time, they might well become mouldy.
The ideal time to transplant cannabis seedlings into your outdoor site is when they are roughly 15 cm tall, and have grown three to four internodes. This level of growth shows that the plants are well established, and will be able to deal with the transition to a new environment.
When replanting your cannabis into a pot or soil, create a hole in the center of the prepared soil, just big enough so that seedling can fit in. Carefully remove the seedling from the small pot and place it into the new hole. Ensure the top is adequately covered and that the sides of the hole are filled in. Give it a good initial watering to help it settle in.
Your seedlings should now begin to establish themselves in the site and enter the vegetative stage of growth, where they will exhibit vigorous development. It is important to continue to keep an eye on your cannabis, and ensure they remain well fed and watered.
Also, shield your plants from snails, they love to devour fresh cannabis seedlings. Nothing is more frustrating than having your plants eaten by snails, but a circle of snail control granules spread out around the base of the plant will keep them away.
These are the basics to getting an outdoor grow up and running; but it is only the beginning of the journey. As with all things, practice creates the master.