The spring season is getting closer and, with that in mind, every grower should be planning ahead. Below is better explained what to consider before planting outdoors and how to get the most out of your outdoor Cannabis plants, as well as other variables to consider.
By Stoney Tark
Growing Cannabis outdoors can be a lengthy process that involves months of maintenance and allowing your plants to settle in one location. You should consider that the movement of the sun in the sky will change as the seasons change. It is a good idea to know the pattern of the sun and to base your planting location where the plants will receive generous amounts both in the growing and flowering stage.
Growers who live in the countryside, for example, should be conscious of tall trees or mountains that may begin to block the sun out during sunset, in the same way, growers who live in a city should think about tall buildings that may cause shading also. Finding the ideal spot can save having to move large-sized plants around. It is always better for the plants to receive the most sun during the flowering phase, as this will be the difference-maker in how mature the buds will develop.
Which Strain Best Suits The Environment?
Related to the point above, knowing which strain to grow out should be based on a few different variables: how much sun you receive and what type of climate you live in, how much growing space you have, if you are able to grow with no worry about odor, and overall skill and experience. As tempting as it can be to grow the latest and greatest strains, you must consider how loud your plants will be and if they will attract the wrong type of attention.
If you live close by to neighbors, then growing pungent Kush varieties will only cause noise pollution and will earn a knock at the door from disgruntled neighbors or perhaps the local authorities. Have a think about how big your plants will be allowed to grow, how many plants you will have, how tall you would like them to grow, if you will be applying plant training techniques and, the most important, how much direct sun the plants will receive as they reach the end of their flowering cycle.
Making Your Organic Growing Medium
One of the best things about growing outdoors is being able to customize your own organic growing medium. Preparing your own compost teaming with beneficial microorganisms is an excellent way to provide your plants with all the beneficial helpers they need as well as regenerate the earth. A great tip is to use worm castings from a worm bin, as well as make a compost pile in advance that can break down to the perfect consistency.
The drainage and capillary action of your growing medium should also be considered ensuring that you have a fine balance of nutrient availability, with enhanced drainage and air capacity around the root zone. Adding perlite, vermiculite, coco, diatomaceous earth, hydroton, biochar, wood chips, and sawdust are great ways to create an airy mixture that can be blended with worm castings, bat guano, compost, and treated with organic compost tea to boost microbial activity and increase plant vitality.
Adding Support To The Plants Outdoors
Cannabis plants can grow huge during the spring and summer months, so adding support to your plants will help with the growth structure and overall canopy shape. Most importantly, adding support will allow the plants to produce the biggest buds possible without the concern of branches breaking or dropping down with excess weight. Plants that are not supported with a trellis net or bamboo canes can over time begin to fall to the floor.
When a branch comes into contact with the ground, it may become prone to powdery mildew or any other pathogens that thrive in low oxygenated environments. A good tip when adding bamboo canes is to always insert the cane on the outside part of the pot and away from the central root zone. This will allow you to also tie each plant individually adding the most support possible early on.
Using Light Deprivation
By allowing the plants to be covered during the months where the amount of sunlight exceeds more than 12 hours each day, you will cause plants to flower. In Southern Europe, light deprivation is possible from April until July meaning that you can produce multiple harvests alongside your plants that have been growing from seed since spring that will harvest late in the fall.
Preparing a polytunnel that can be blacked out to provide a 12/12 light cycle is an excellent way to prevent having to move large-sized plants around every day indoors or to a nearby garage or shed. Light deprivation can produce some incredible results if performed correctly and allows the grower to benefit from the hottest and longest parts of the seasons where the sun is the most intense.
Organic Remedies To Pests
There is nothing worse than checking on your plants to find they have become lunch for a slug, snail or grasshopper. Upon inspecting your plants, you may find signs of insect damage and get in panic station mode wondering how to protect your plants when you are not there. Avoid using chemicals and pesticide sprays no matter how effective they have proven, as these will only cause damage to the environment and can be very harmful to the plants and microorganisms too.
A great tip here is to invest in predatory insects that can be introduced into the garden. Their job is to keep the predator-to-prey population at a maximum and will eat their way through your pest problem. Slugs and snails do not like copper so placing copper rings around the tops of the growing medium will prevent them moving any further once they come into contact with the copper. Sundried egg shells can be broken down and placed over the tops of the growing medium also, acting like large pieces of glass shell.
Growing Automatics Too
If you have not grown automatics before, then you are missing out on another way to pull off an outdoor crop, without patiently counting the days down until later in the year. The advantage of growing autoflowering strains is that no matter what the photoperiod, they will flower and produce top-quality flowers as well as generous yields.
Growers in southern Spain can grow automatics with excellent results from March until November meaning harvests 3-4 times in a year are easily achievable. Humboldt have recently released a designer CBD line named Sovereign Fields that produces low THC and high CBD autoflowering strains. Medical users of Cannabis can now enjoy autoflowering versions of their favorite CBD varieties with a fast turn-around time from seed until harvest and very little maintenance required.
Compost Teas Are Great
The benefits of organic compost tea are often associated with the flowering stage when growing Cannabis. However, organic compost teas are extremely rich in microorganisms, which are counted in their billions. Adding an aerated compost tea to depleted farmland will rejuvenate the quality and fertility, meaning any plants that come into contact will naturally form a symbiotic relationship with the beneficial bacteria and fungi present in the tea.
When used in the growing phase, a good tip is to use Ortega or alfalfa compost teas which are high in nitrogen as well as essential trace elements. During the flowering stage, making a tea that is more P+K dominant is preferred, which is one reason why bat guano teas are popular amongst many growers. The main focus of the tea is to not only provide a nutritional element yet more to allow aerobic beneficial organisms to reproduce with dissolved oxygen and a food source such as molasses.