Last updated: March 28, 2020
Indoor grows are great, but they’re expensive and a big commitment, in both time and money, for someone who just wishes to test the waters with cannabis growing.
Outdoor growing can be an awesome experience for new growers, and with the proper techniques, just as rewarding as an amateur indoor grow.
Planting at the right time and in the right environment can ensure at least some kind of crop come harvest season with very little investment. To get the most out of an outdoor grow, however, there are some factors to consider before even planting the first seed.
There’s a reason Humboldt County, California, became such a cannabis farming hotspot. The weather is perfect for it.
Cannabis wants consistently mild temperatures that don’t vary too much. No colder than 55°F and no higher than 86°F. Temps too far past these limits can cause stunted growth or even death if those temperatures are sustained.
Unfortunately, growing in climates that are constantly much warmer or colder than these break-points should be avoided and an indoor operation may be the best bet.
Take note, there are hardier strains that can tolerate higher and lower extremes. These temperatures are just the average for the vast majority of cannabis plants. Certain types may withstand either cooler or warmer temperatures better.
Cannabis wants direct sunlight and a gentle breeze throughout its life. Also, if privacy may end up being a concern, somewhere concealed may not be the worst idea.
Look for an area where the midday sun can directly beam down at, with little to no blockage. If strong winds may be an issue, then a windbreak such as trees or a building should also be nearby to help slow any large gusts that can topple growing plants.
This may be a non-issue if the cannabis is planted directly into highly fertile soil. However, even a good compost should be considered to ensure they will never go hungry.
Dig a hole and put the fertilizer in it about a month before planting the seeds. This is so the ground doesn’t settle while the plant is maturing and stays as a secure place for its roots to take hold onto.
When deciding on which soil to use, generally something silty is recommended. It holds nutrients well, while still allowing for the roots to aerate as needed.
If using the natural soil of the area, test kits are available to ensure it will support the life of a cannabis plant.
Though planting directly into the soil is definitely an option, many growers opt into using a pot or bag.
The reasoning is that it allows for mobility in the case of unforeseen issues arising and if the surrounding soil isn’t great, to begin with, it allows for the plants to take root without the worry of ground contamination.
Containers can also be placed in areas that have no soil, such as balconies or rooftops, making urban outdoor gardening much more possible.
Plants grown in containers tend to be a bit smaller than outdoor plants, similar to the issues that arise indoors. Nevertheless, they are an excellent option when forces outside of the grower’s control forbid them from planting directly in the earth.
While it’s true that groundwater and rain supplement for watering somewhat, they don’t get rid of the need entirely. This is a very common mistake that gets made during the summer months with cannabis plants.
The sweltering heat mixed with their increasing size during the hotter months of the year causes large plants to need very large amounts of water.
In drier climates, every morning they should be watered until the soil is soaked, and checked again in the evening in case they have gone through that already. Underwatering for long periods can be detrimental to the plant.
If by evening they consistently seem to be using up all the water increase the amount added in the mornings or start watering them in the afternoon as well.
On the other hand, in wet climates, there may be too much water. Digging ditches around the bed can help if it’s super severe, or adding rocks, clay, sand, and any other medium that doesn’t absorb much moisture into the soil around the plant.
We don’t all have access to a greenhouse, though that would be a dream grow opportunity. Yet, protecting the plants from weather changes is needed, especially in the fall months. What can be done?
Wind and rain can be hampered via tarps and stakes. Make a sort of temporary greenhouse-lean-to that’ll help if there’s a bad storm coming. Then, when the weather lets up, store the materials for later.
As far as temperature fluctuations go, less can be done in an outdoor environment. Potted plants can be moved indoors temporarily if it’s a short cold spell.
Otherwise, a full-on greenhouse may be needed to fend off the cold weather. Consider this before planting if the surrounding climate has a tendency for cold snaps in the fall.
The good news is, DIY instructions are available online and the price of a greenhouse is much lower than it was years ago.
The biggest bane of the outdoor grower are garden pests.
Vigorous cannabis plants can fend off small amounts of bugs on their own. Healthy plants can take care of a lot of this work, but if a serious infestation is still brewing, countermeasures on the part of the grower need to be enacted.
Look for bite marks and bugs every day, and if the plant seems to be in trouble there’s a host of organic pesticides available on the market for this exact situation.
Outdoor growing is a great experience, and even experience growers tend to keep a crop outdoors from time-to-time.
Less work is needed than an indoor grow, but with the lack of environmental control comes a host of other problems that can mess with a crop.
Think things out carefully before growing, but don’t let worry get in the way.
Outdoor gardening is part of human nature, why not try it out with our favorite plant?
Featured Image: chrisbeez from Pixabay
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