How To Grow Marijuana Outdoors
Topics include – Introduction, benefits and disadvantages, Sunlight [9 hours a day is optimal, and not DIRECT HOT INTENSE sun if in a desert or tropical area, but plant in semi-shade,Etc!!~], the best strains for Outdoor Growing, how much yield, site selection and preparation, seed germination, watering, guerilla growing, looking for soil – drainage, not compact, etc] Planting & Watering, greenhouses, marijuana sexing for outdoors [male plants will be taller and have green or yellow sepals pollen sacks, which burst open to impregnate females and make SEEDS not smoke-able buds!] how to not get caught, how to protect from pests & wildlife, nutrients, Harvesting and curing your outdoor crop, etc!! There’s a lot to write about!
Growing medical marijuana outdoors is possible in almost any region of the world. There are several challenges to growing outdoors that are not present with indoor growing and knowing how to avoid them is crucial. Depending on the climate in your area you will need to select strains of marijuana that are well suited to your area. Be aware that growing outdoors increases your exposure to people that may want to take your plants for various reasons so you must take measures to prevent this. Animals and insects are also fond of cannabis and they too can present a challenge. Many connoisseurs prefer outdoor grown marijuana to indoor and for good reason.
The advantages to growing outdoors are MANY. There are, some disadvantages though, too. (This is just a SAMPLE)
When selecting seeds for your outdoor grow it is important to first have a feel for the climate you will be growing in. This means taking into account the average rainfall, humidity, the hours of sunlight per day, the average temperatures, and the total length of the growing season. You will also need to know how long you have before and after the summer equinox, when the days became shorter and shorter. This is important because you different strains have wildly different genetics so some will do great in your region and others will struggle. Marijuana strains native to equatorial regions are adapted to much longer growing season so trying to use these in cooler northern climates will likely result in a poor yield or a greenhouse to finish in. Some plants enjoy damp, muggy weather while others do better in drier climates. Knowing what your region can expect will give you a better idea of which strains are best suited for you. A general rule of thumb is that full Indica of Indica-dominant strains prefer cooler climates while full Sativa and Sativa-dominant strains tolerate heat better. Commercial growers place the most importance on yield, while many medical growers are only concerned with potency. Most growers want to find a middle ground that produces quality bud with a sizeable yield. You will also want to take into account your specific medical condition when selecting what strain is right for you. Depending on what your symptoms are, this can make a huge difference on what medicine will serve you best.
Cannabis strains that contain Indica genetics tend to produce a more sedative “stoned” sensation. This tends to be better for bodily ailments such as muscle spasms and tension pain. Arthritis sufferers or those with nerve damage may benefit most from Indica strains and it also has proven to better treat insomnia, anxiety, and chronic physical pain better, when compared to full Sativa strains.
These strains produce a more cerebral and energetic high than their Indica counterparts. Effects are felt more in the mind as well as the body. Sativa strains are very effective in treating nausea and for this reason have been used by Cancer and HIV/AIDS patients with success. Appetite loss is a common side-effect with many medical conditions and Sativa will provide the best results for relief. Sativa strains are also used to treat migraine headaches, depression, chronic pain and a wide range of similar symptoms.
Chronic pain suffers will benefit from both types of cannabis and many medical users prefer an Indica/Sativa hybrid. Patients can also use Sativa strains more effectively during the day when energy and mental clarity are at a premium, then switch to an Indica variety at night when relaxation and sleep are desired. Chronic pain tends to be worse for some at night, so being able to medicate with both types can be an added benefit.
There are hundreds, even thousands of outdoor strains available today but a few of the most popular and consistently proven outdoor strains are listed below.
The size of the yield depends on several factors like genetics, grow season length, hours of sunlight, rain/watering, nutrients, climate, longitude, and of course the size of your plants. Novice growers will not see the same yield as experienced growers and since the specific weather patterns of your area will differ from year to year, so will your yield.
Since you have decided to grow your medical marijuana outdoors, you may want to consider growing away from you house or property for reasons like privacy, nosy neighbors, or crop thieves. Although you are legally growing your medicine, many individuals would love to reap the rewards of your hard work so selecting a secluded site may be necessary. You will want to take into account two main factors; security and labor requirements.
Securing a grow site means keeping off the beaten path and as far away from people as possible. Do not underestimate the far-ranging travels of hunters, hikers, kids, or Law Enforcement Officials (LEO). Even though you are legally growing for your private medical needs, LEO will not sit idly by waiting to check your grow permit, your hard work will be for not. First consider the trail you are using to walk to your site. Sometimes game trails can be a good idea but since humans are much taller than the animals that use these trails you may encounter problems. Avoid breaking limbs or disturbing plant growth as you move about. Leaving footprints in sand or mud is another no-no. Some growers like to use shallow streams as highways and others will simply take a new route every time to avoid this problem. Sunlight and water are needed for proper plant growth so pick a place that has lots of both or plan on carrying lots of heavy water (8Lb / Gallon) to your site. You will need about five hours a day of direct sunlight although a few as three will suffice. South facing locations will provide more sun. For generations growers have used agricultural tracts like corn and hops to conceal their plants from prying eyes. Trees and brush will help to hide your crop and areas with briars, bees, Choosing several locations is always a good idea because one or more may become compromised by people, insects, animals, or disease and you do not want to be left with nothing. Taking advantage of the natural surroundings is the best idea and many growers choose to grow many small plants and hide them on the south side of bushes rather than growing large plants that are more difficult to conceal. In the fall trees will begin to drop their leaves so planting near pine tree can help keep plants hidden during these months. Some experienced commercial growers will tell you to expect only half of your sites to be untouched come harvest so prepare for this.
The amount of time and labor you are prepared to devote to your plants will determine what sites are potential candidates. With a creek, stream, or pond nearby you can avoid relying on rainfall and you will not get stuck carrying lots of water. The type of soil is important to consider because depending on where you live, it may mean simply light tilling, or this may require digging out large holes and transporting soil in. Choose a site that seems to support natural vegetation fairly well. Flood plains along the banks of rivers will provide excellent soil as well as most grassland areas that have some small trees; old farmland that has not been used in years can also provide rich soil. Be careful to avoid rocky areas, hard clay, or highly acidic soil but if this is all you have in your region consider using pots filled with quality soil mix and bringing it to your location. How far you have to travel to reach your sites will mean more or less work when the time comes to water or feed your plants so keep this in mind.
Sunlight is how your plant converts nutrients into growth. Indirect and Direct sunlight are not the same. Five hours of direct sunlight will produce the best overall growth. Too much sun or too little sun can produce tall, thin plants that will not yield as much. In the northern hemisphere the sun shines from the south so it’s best to face your plants south to take advantage of this. If you are growing in an area that receives little sunlight you can put aluminum foil around your plants to focus more light on them but this can attract attention as well. Morning sunlight is better than afternoon for plant growth. Knowing the path that the sun will travel during the growing months will give you a better idea of where to put your plants.
This is only scratching the surface.
Cannabis plants thrive in soil that has a pH around 6.5 and drains well . Sand, peat, or vermiculite can be added to soils that drain poorly. The level of the water table is also important. If your soil remains too wet the roots do not get oxygen and die, too low and you will find yourself having to water frequently. If either of these are problems than you will need to use pots filled with potting soil. Sandy soil often needs to be mixed with top soil or potting soil and if clay is your problem, add peat moss or vermiculite. Good soil will hold water and compact when you squeeze it but also break apart in your hand. Adding a small amount of slow-release fertilizer will help feed your plants and the same is true for organic potting soils that advertise “feeds up to 6 months.” Many growers love to add polymer crystals to soil because they expand up to 15X and hold water for a long time. Covering your soil with mulch or other plant materials will help keep moisture in. You need to be sure a hole at least 2” X 2” X 2” is filled with prepared soil and the bigger the area of soil you prepare, the bigger your plant can become.
You will need to germinate your seeds indoors before moving your plants outside. Do this using a sprouting box with channels in the bottom to distribute water evenly. Take your seeds or cuttings and place them into wet rockwool cubes or peat pellets, keeping them evenly moist. If you are using cuttings, or clones, be sure the stem is held tightly by the growing medium. Check daily and make sure the tops of the rockwool cubes or peat pellets are moist to the touch. After the first week you will want to feed the plants with a very weak nutrient solution, (¼) strength at most. After 10 to 14 days the roots should begin to poke through the sides. If you are using the peat pellets you now need to carefully cut away the netting from the outside of the pellets. Prepare your soil ahead of time, be sure it is light and not too compact because seedlings have weak roots and a lighter soil with more peat moss will help young roots grow faster.
PLANTING / WATERING
Once you have selected your grow sites and prepared the soil for planting, it’s time to bring in your plants. You need to give your plants enough room for the roots and branches to spread out as they get bigger and this means leaving 5 to 10 feet between each plant. Also plants that overlap will partially block sunlight to one another. Rain will keep your plant healthy but this is rarely enough to produce maximum yield. You should plan on between 20 and 40 gallons of water being consumed by each plant. Never allow the soil to become completely dry and by sticking your finger in the earth you will notice how far down until the soil is damp. This will help you gauge the amount of water your plants need at any given time. The surface soil, or the soil just under the surface (1”-2”) should be damp to the touch. If you find that you are digging 4” or more without finding moisture then you should think about watering more often. If you check the plants and the top soil is soaked that means no water is needed. In flatter regions where the water table is about the same depth at all times you can expect a fairly consistent watering schedule but if you live or are growing in an area with a lot of elevation change your water table is subject to more rapid changes depending on the weather. This means you will need to be aware of not only when it has rained, but also how many inches of rain have fallen to determine when to water. Commercial growers will often rig miles of plastic tubing to bring water from a stream or river to their crop. Smaller grows can be constantly fed by using a hose or tubing with a mesh-covered funnel-like opening placed underwater. From here you must run your line downhill to your crops. This system is gravity fed so it only works when the line collects water uphill with your plants downhill. Some growers will run a long hose and cut small holes at each plant site so that water is always dripping into each plant base. You may not need to go to such extremes as this but you can have a reservoir near your plants that catches rainwater or is filled by hand. This can be used with a drip line to water your plants slowly or to keep a smaller water source handy. 5 Gallon buckets work well with a (1/4”) hole cut in the bottom. Remember that polymer crystals can hold 15X their weight in water and by using these you will spend much less time keeping your crop healthy.
GUERILLA WEED GROWING POT
Guerilla growing medical marijuana means keeping your plants safe from the people who may or may not be looking for them.
By carefully choosing the location(s) for your plants you will decrease the chances of someone ripping off your bud or worse. Keeping your travel to and from your crop well concealed is essential for safety. Areas with lots of dense undergrowth can help with this because anything that you disturb while moving about tends to regrow quickly. In more sparse areas you will need to exercise more caution. In spring and summer the vegetation will grow back much faster than in late summer and fall so later in the season be sure to avoid destroying shrubs and trees along your trail. People wander through the woods for all sorts of reasons so never assume that your plants are 100% safe.
When you travel to your grow sites never break branches or step on vegetation. By creating a trail that weaves unnaturally you will make you intended destination less obvious. Animals, including people, will always take the path of least resistance. This usually means a straight line that does not require bending over or going through nasty terrain. This is your advantage. While selecting your grow sites be aware of the game trails that are used by local wildlife, especially deer, as they can destroy your plants as easily as people can. Anything that you bring into the woods with you must leave with you, unless you plan on burying it or hiding it extremely well. This means your water jugs, nutrients, empty soil bags, even an empty bottle of water can give away your presence and possibly the presence of your plants. It is incredibly important that you leave nothing in the woods that might have your finger prints on it. Some growers like to leave tree limbs leaning across their trails to discourage use by animals or people. You can also put thorns of logs across your trails but be sure that it appears natural and not intentionally placed. As you walk to and from your grow sites take the time to look behind you every now and then.
If you can pick out an obvious trail from the surrounding forest than it is likely someone else can too. To avoid this take the long way to your grow sites rather than walking directly from point A to point B. By taking a different route each time you can also help prevent the signs of a freshly used path that leads to your plants. Sometime you will find a stand of shrubs or brush that is tall enough to conceal 4’ – 6’ plants. Use this to your advantage and carefully place your young plants inside so they cannot be seen very well. Some plants more closely resemble the shape and color of marijuana plants and these will be good camouflage as well. Many outdoor growers choose to tie off the tops of their plants to avoid the classic Christmas tree shape which can be a dead giveaway.
When you are traveling to and from your grow sites make sure you have a well-planned excuse ready if you happen to be stopped. By carrying a dog leash in your pocket you can claim to be looking for a lost pet. Another tactic is to have binoculars around your neck and this can also be a useful tool for site selection early in the season. Areas rich with briars and poison ivy, oak, or sumac will also deter many casual hikers from visiting your plants by accident.
GARDEN / GREENHOUSE GROWING
Growing in a garden or greenhouse may be the best option for your medical marijuana grow. Greenhouses take advantage of natural sunlight and also help keep pests out of your plants. Growing inside a greenhouse will also keep your plants warner than the surrounding environment which means you will have a longer growing season. A greenhouse can be perfect for starting plants or finishing your plants as well. The plastic layer of a greenhouse lets sunlight come in but does not let heat get out and this creates higher humidity for your crop, benefitting growth rates. Another advantage of using a greenhouse is that it can conceal your medical plants from nosy neighbors or potential thieves that want to take advantage of your hard work.
Garden growing has the advantage of giving you more control over your plants without having to travel through the woods to visit your grow sites. If you choose to grow in your garden, you will be able to blend your cannabis plants in with the rest of your plants so they do not attract as much attention. A garden provides the perfect cover for many smaller growers. By putting your medical cannabis in the center of your garden people will not think twice about what you are really growing. Since your garden will likely already contain well-tilled quality soil this means significantly less work compared to selecting an outdoor location and preparing the soil. Your garden also gives you an excuse to spend hours each week monitoring and taking care of your plants where growing in the woods means having to hide your actions as best you can. If you are set on growing medical cannabis in your garden you may want to invest in a 6’ – 8’ tall privacy fence to keep attention away as well.
Your medical cannabis crop will consist of male and female plants. The male plants must all be removed or they will pollenate the female plants and your harvest will be very low in THC and full of seeds. The male plants are generally taller and thinner than the females which tend to be denser as well as shorter. Male cannabis plants will first be identified by the small sacs that hang from the main stem, where branches connect at points called internodes. At these internodes female plants will show small white hairs sticking up. As time passes the male plants will produce small green or yellow flowers that open in an attempt to pollenate the females. You will want to remove all male before this happens to produce the best quality bud. If you do want some seeds from your crop it is possible to take pollen from the male plants and carefully sprinkle it on some of the female flowers so you are not ruining your entire crop.
A major concern for growing outdoors is pests. Deer can destroy your crop in one night. Small rodents like chipmunks also have a taste for cannabis. Many species of bugs will want to get into your plants and that can result in disaster.
One option is to put a fence around each plant using chicken wire. A 6’ – 8’ section can be made into a circle to surround each plant and keep animals out. You can also use longer sections to fence off larger areas to grow inside of. Fishing line can be strung up at 18” intervals between trees or stakes to keep these larger pests out. Human hair and urine work well in most areas and the hair of known predators like foxes can be used also. Insects that want to feed on your plants can be kept at bay by spraying neem oil onto all parts of the plants. If you see the trails of mucus left by slugs or snails you will want to take copper wire and place it around the base of each plant to deter these pests. You can also use a container of beer buried in the ground with just the top exposed at ground level as this will attract these pests in for a drink where they will drown. Some growers recommend hot pepper powder as a deterrent for pests.
Selecting quality nutrients for your outdoor plants is essential for producing quality buds. Nutrients are available in organic or chemical form. Organic means they are derived from a living organism like fallen tree leaves or cow manure. Chemical nutrients are manufactured in labs and contain the same periodic elements. Plant nutrients are further divided into two main categories known as micro and macro. There are six macro nutrients that you must supply your crop in order to have success. The first three: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K); make up the primary nutrients. These are the three elements needed most for growing anything and they represent the number system used on all fertilizers and nutrients, known as the NPK ratio (e.g. 20-20-20). The secondary nutrients are calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). These nutrients are equally as important but are needed in smaller quantities than the primary macro nutrients. The seven micro nutrients are also essential for healthy plant growth but are required in only trace amounts. The micronutrients are boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn). By selecting a comprehensive base nutrient with a ratio around (1.0-1.5-1.0), you will be providing all the necessary macro and micro elements to your plants. This will be something that is fed to your crop for the duration of the growth cycle.
There are two phases to growing marijuana; the first is the vegetative cycle in which plants grow roots and foliage while putting on size. The second is the flowering phase that produces the buds that will become your medicine. Different levels of nutrients are needed during these cycles in order to achieve the best results. In the vegetative state, cannabis plants need more (N) and (P); and in their flowering-stage (P) and (K) are demanded in higher quantities. The exact levels and the timing of the nutrient feeding schedule is one of the most heavily debated topics in the marijuana growing community worldwide. Ten different growers will tell you ten different feeding schedules. Due to the huge variety of marijuana strains and the diverse genetics associated with them, you can safely say that no two plants will be exactly alike in terms of precisely what they need to achieve the best results. Some organic nutrients are listed below:
Alfalfa Pellets (3-1-2
Bird guano (10-3-1 variable)
Cow manure (2-0-0 variable)
Horse manure (5-2.5-6 variable)
Soybean meal (6-1.5-2)
Worm castings (1-0-0)
Insect manure (4-3-2)
Fish emulsion (5-2-2 liquid)
Cottonseed meal (6-2-2)
Corn Gluten (6-0-0)
Bone meal (2-11-0)
Blood meal (12-0-0)
When your buds have flowered for 6 weeks or more they will be getting ready to harvest. The length of the flowering period depends on many factors so you will need to identify the signs for harvest. When about ¾ of the white pistil hairs have brown or red in color this is a good indication your crop is nearing completion. Use a magnifying glass or preferably a 10X/30X jeweler’s loupe to carefully look at the resin crystals and the calyxes along the main stem. These will begin as clear in color and turn to amber as the bud matures. If the crystals are turning brown then you have waited too long and the potency is declining. Harvest your crop when the majority of the crystals are amber in color. Cut the branches off your plants and place them in brown paper bags to be carried off for drying. Some larger growers will cut and hang the branches at the grow site, and then come back in a few days. The larger leaves can be removed now or later on but these are not suitable for smoking. After you have cut the branches from your plants hang them upside down to dry in a place that is cool, dry, and dark. Clothes hangers or lengths of string work fine for this. To cure your harvest make sure the buds are completely dry and place them in Rubbermaid containers of tupperware. Open these once a day and rotate the buds carefully. Repeat this process for a week or two and your harvest will be ready for long-term storage.
MARIJUANA NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY
|Larger leaves turning yellow – smaller leaves still green.||Nitrogen deficiency, add nitrate of soda or organic fertilizer.|
|Older leaves will curl at edges, turn dark, possibly with a purple cast.||Phosphorous deficiency – add commercial phosphate.|
|Mature leaves develop a yellowish cast to least venial areas.||Magnesium deficiency – add commercial fertilizer with a magnesium content.|
|Mature leaves turn yellow and then become spotted with edge areas turning dark gray.||Potassium deficiency – add muriate of potash.|
|Cracked stems, no healthy support tissue.||Boron deficiency – add any plant food containing boron.|
|Small wrinkled leaves with yellowish vein systems.||Zinc deficiency – add commercial plant food containing zinc.|
|Young leaves become deformed, possibly yellowing.||Molybdenum deficiency – use any plant food with a bit of molybdenum in it.|
Until next time,
Keep it GREEN, keep it LOVING and full of LIGHT.