Growing cannabis can be a fun and rewarding experience, and outdoor cultivation takes advantage of natural processes to foster the growth of your plants. Outdoor growing is also more cost effective to indoor cultivation. For first time growers, indoor cultivation is potentially too expensive, due to the additional equipment required to set up a grow room.
Another advantage of outdoor cultivation, is that a small garden can yield plenty of quality cannabis without a large monetary investment. All you need is access to a sunny spot in a private yard or a balcony, terrace or rooftop and you can successfully grow cannabis.
Below is a guide to assist in growing your first cannabis plant, outside…
STEP 1: Consider the climate…
It is vital you understand the climate in which you intend to grow your marijuana. Cannabis is adaptable to various conditions, however it is susceptible to extremes. Sustained temperatures above 86°F will cause your plants to stop growing, while continued temperatures below 55°F can cause damage and stunting to plants, and even death.
Heavy rain and high winds can cause physical damage to your plants and reduce yields. Excessive moisture can lead to mold and powdery mildew, particularly during the flowering stage.
In addition to understanding weather patterns, it is crucial you know how much longs the days are, to ensure your plant receives the required amount of sunlight each day. Also, understanding how the length of day changes throughout the season
STEP 2: Choose a suitable space for your garden…
Choosing a space for you outdoor garden in one of the most important decisions you have to make. Especially if your planting directly into the ground or in large immobile containers.
Your plants should receive as much direct sunlight as possible. As the season changes and autumn approaches, your plants will get less sunlight during the day, which will trigger the flowering stage.
A constant breeze is good for your plants, especially in hot climates. If however, you live in an area with a lot of strong winds, consider planting near a windbreak, such as a wall, fence or large shrubbery to provide some protection for you plants.
STEP 3: Decide on Strains
A factor to think about when deciding to grow your own marijuana which strains are compatible with your local environment.
Another thing to consider is whether you will use seeds or clones to grow your cannabis. Plants grown with seeds tend to be more hardy when compared to plants grown with clones. Also you can plant seeds directly into the ground.
The main drawback to using seeds is there’s no guarantee what sex you will end up with unless your seeds come feminized. Therefore, you could end up with a mixture of male and female plants, creating the need to determine the sex and separate the males from the females, (only females produce buds).
A lot of beginner growers start out with feminized seeds, to avoid the need to select the best phenotype, which can be a lengthy process.
STEP 4: Aquire some soil
Soil is made up of clay, sand and silt in various ratios.
You can plant directly into the ground or buy soil and put it in pots. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter and you’ll need good drainage. When planting directly into the ground, you’ll need to understand your soil composition and amend it accordingly (one month prior to beginning growing your cannabis).
STEP 5: Get some fertilizer
Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrient, mainly in the form of nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. How you choose to feed them will depend on the composition of the soil.
Commercial fertilizers aimed at home gardeners can be used if you have a good understanding of how they work and what your plants need. But a first-time grower might want to avoid these, particularly long-release granular fertilizer.
Start off with fertilizers that are inexpensive and readily available. Some of these minerals release nutrients quickly and are easily used by the plant, while others can take weeks or months to release useable nutrients. If done correctly, you can combine these products with your soil to provide enough nutrients for the entire of your plants.
STEP 6: Choose your grow container
You may need or want to grow your cannabis in containers. If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on pretty much any type of surface. If needed you can move them around throughout the day to take advantage of sunlight, or to shield them from excessive heat and/or wind. You can also use common cannabis nutrients designed for indoor growing because you will be using premixed soil. This will take much of the guesswork out of fertilizing your plants.
STEP 7: Give your plants some water
Whilst outdoor cannabis gardens have the benefit of rainfall and ground water, you will most likely still need to water your plants regularly, especially in hot summer months. Some giant plants can use up to 10 gallons of water on a daily basis in warm weather.
Growers who live in hot arid places may want to dig down and place clay soil or rocks below their planting holes to slow drainage. It’s a good idea to water your plants heavily in the morning so they have an adequate supply throughout the entire day.
If you live in a particularly rainy climate, you may need to take steps to improve drainage around your garden, as cannabis roots are susceptible to fungal diseases when they become waterlogged.
STEP 8: Protect your cannabis plant
Without the ability to control the environment as easily as you can indoors, outdoor cannabis growers have to protect their plants from storms and other weather events as well as garden pests, that could damage or even kill your plants.
Temperatures below 40°F can quickly damage most varieties of cannabis, so if you live in cold climates, try using a greenhouse or other protective enclosure.
High winds can break branches and overly stress your plants. If your garden is located in a particularly windy spot, set up a windbreak. This can be as simple as attaching plastic sheeting to garden stakes around your plants.
Rain can severely damage your crop and cause mold and mildew. You especially don’t want rain on your cannabis plants when they are flowering. It’s a good idea to store your plants in a greenhouse or even use plastic sheeting and stakes to build a temporary shelter over your plants when you know rain is on the way.
The best protection against pests is simply keep your plants healthy. Strong, vigorous cannabis plants have a natural resistance to pests that makes minor infestations easy to deal with. It’s also a good idea to keep your cannabis plants away from other flowers and vegetables, as pests can easily spread between them.
There are many organic pesticides designed for use specifically on cannabis and beneficial insects are also a great option.