Best tips for outdoor growing

Tips and tricks - Outdoor growingOutdoor growing has already fired the starting shot, and so here are a few tips for enjoying the season at full throttle!

Naturally, we all have our favourite variety, which we can’t wait to plant after the cold, tough and long winter months. Each situation is certainly unique, with the circumstances of someone living in Russia being different from those of someone living in Spain. Even so, there are enough varieties to be enjoyed in every corner of the globe.

Once you’ve chosen your favourite cannabis seeds, the first step is obviously to germinate them. It goes without saying that this must be done correctly, as otherwise the seeds will be useless.  Be patient and leave the seeds for 2 to 7 days in an environment with the right temperature, humidity and lack of light. Bear in mind that some seeds may need a bit more time to sprout. Your germination method is all up to you.

Shiva skunk feminized grown outdoors
Shiva skunk feminized grown outdoors

The good thing about cultivating outdoors – and which makes us appreciate spring – is that, among other things, you can obtain considerable crops with a minimum of investment. And in times like these, who doesn’t want that?

Once we are clear on the conditions that we need – the right environment, the right growing spot, the outdoor growing method, and the variety that best suits our needs – we can get started.

Outdoor growing revolves around climate

One of the most important things to keep in mind for outdoor growing is the climate. Naturally, we all have our favourite variety, which we can’t wait to plant after the long, hard winter months. It’s clear that each situation is unique, with the circumstances of someone living in Russia being different from those of someone living in Spain.  Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that outdoor cultivation – the real kind – is only suitable for a lucky few; i.e. those who live in certain areas and whose days last longer than in other places on the planet. If we concentrate on Western Europe, from the month of March onwards, the days can bring 12 long, beautiful and bright hours of sun. As the months go by, this starts increasing up to the point when in June, we can enjoy up to 16 hours of sunshine.

It goes without saying that sunny, Mediterranean climates with their long summers are incredibly good for growing any variety of cannabis outdoors. Almost all places in the southern hemisphere, as well as many places below 45ºN and almost all places below 40ºN in the northern hemisphere, have this climate. By choosing the right seeds, you will be able to enjoy delicious solid buds, dense and packed with resin.

Outdoor cannabis in temperate areas

In colder, temperate areas, growers will also find themselves restricted when it comes to choosing a variety. That said, they can achieve superior results in comparison to growers in the extreme north or the extreme south, since their temperatures and the cultivation cycle should be somewhat more favourable. In temperate and cold areas, the temperatures usually fall too low to be able to successfully complete flowering by mid to late October. Those cultivating in these areas can also consider forcing and inducing flowering so as to improve the chances of obtaining a good crop.

More resistant varieties of plant with earlier flowering are used for this type of climate, such as Early Skunk Feminised and Jamaican Pearl. These varieties of seeds have been developed specifically for outside cultivation in northern areas, and are able to grow and flower in latitudes around 50ºN, and in many cases even 60ºN.

Warm temperate (or tropical) climates are the perfect environment for the majority of cannabis varieties developed for commercial cultivation. Here, the climate is characterised by long, sunny summers and mild winters, and the seasonal variation in the length of the day provides a clear sign to plants to start flowering once daylight drops to 12 hours, at around the spring equinox. Generally speaking, in these areas, temperatures continue to be favourable for producing buds until as late as November, or even the start of December, which is why dominantly sativa varieties with a long flowering time are manageable, and also those that are dominantly indica are strong growers.

Outdoor cannabis in equatorial and tropical areas

In tropical areas near the equator, temperatures are extremely high and, together with the lack of seasonal variation in the amount of daylight, which limits the choice of varieties a grower can successfully cultivate outdoors. The closer you are to the equator, the more difficult cultivation is, as well as is successfully achieving flowering with varieties that prefer temperate climates. What they need are long days during the summer months and a clear-cut reduction in daylight to induce flowering.

Aside from the temperature and the hours of daylight, the most important environmental variable is the level of humidity and there might be major differences between places located at the same latitude, solely due to variations in rainfall. This is why it is also important to take this factor into account when it comes to cultivation.

Advantages of Outdoor Growing in Soil and in Pots

Afghani #1 in a pot outdoors
Afghani #1 in a pot outdoors

As Seshata explained in one of her articles, there are various ways of approaching outside cannabis cultivation. Certain growers prefer to simply sow the seeds or plant their seedlings directly into the ground, while others are inclined to place their plants in planters or pots. As with everything, each method has its pros and cons. Right now, to mark the coming of the good weather, let’s concentrate on the pros!

Advantages of cultivation in pots

One of the clearest advantages of growing cannabis outdoors in pots is the fact that, as a consequence, your plants can be easily transported, which provides a degree of flexibility growers planting directly into open soil simply do not enjoy. For instance, if you live in an area with an extreme climate, being able to transfer your plants to a protected place might be a major advantage. Leaving plants to the mercy of gales, hurricane winds, torrential rains, sleet and hail could prove disastrous, and the hard work performed in the preceding months could be ruined in just one night. Equally, if you grow during a time of the year when daylight hours are not the best, transferring your plants to a room with artificial light – or a dark room if the days are too long to induce flowering – could make the difference between a good crop and no crop at all.

Another advantage of outdoor growing in pots is that you can control the growth rate and the possible final size of the plants, which could prove useful, should you have to conceal your cultivation project. This is rather important, taking into account that certain cannabis varieties – specifically, the sativas and hybrids that are primarily sativa in nature – can easily exceed two meters in height.

Moreover, growing outdoors in pots is particularly easy given that, since the plants remain small, they do not require very much substrate. Last but not least, this type of cultivation enables you to control the uniformity and the quality of the average crop, as well as to resolve problems that might emerge simply due to transferring a plant to a new pot with new substrate. You can be sure that your pots only contain what you put into them and that there has been no contamination from the soil in the surrounding area. This might also help in controlling undesired pests and bacteria even though, in an open-air environment, complete control of this aspect can prove complicated.

Autoflowering varieties are ideal for cultivating in pots, since they provide an easy crop of high-quality cannabis that can flower without requiring a change in the light cycle or the elimination of the males.  In this way, seeds such as Mother’s Finest  or the Northern Lights Automatic, both from Sensi Seeds can perform extremely well in the open air in a warm and sunny Mediterranean climate. What’s more, they quickly yield crops that are full of sweet and flavourful buds.

Advantages of cultivation in open soil

The most obvious advantage of sowing seeds or planting seedlings directly into the ground is the fact these have full unrestricted access to all the nutrients and moisture that can reach the roots. As the roots are able to grow downward freely through the soil, they can satisfy their needs for pure water from underground sources. This ensures the plants are able to fully develop in terms of height, vigour and final yield, and also means less tending is required. If you’re following a ‘guerrilla cultivation’ method at a location that’s hard to access on a daily basis, it’s usually advisable to grow your plants in open soil.

Another potential advantage offered by growing directly in the ground is the reduction in installation costs this strategy delivers. Even though, in general, buying pots isn’t going to break the bank, it’s good to keep costs low, both for smaller amateur gardeners and the most expert growers alike. When you take into account the fact that growing in pots generally requires various transplantations over the course of the plant’s life to larger and larger pots, the cost of pots alone might reach a few hundred, even for a minor grower, and possibly even thousands in the case of a large-scale operation.

Guerrilla Growing

Guerrilla growing is something else. As most of you know, this type of cultivation is carried out if, in a nutshell, you don’t want your plants to be found. For this purpose, the ‘guerrilla gardener’ will seek out locations lost in the middle of nature, thick with vegetation so not to attract prying eyes, and which provide suitable temperature, light and humidity conditions. The aim here is that nature, all by itself, is able to care for the plants without the gardener having to watch over their development much. This doesn’t mean you should plant cannabis seeds in the middle of nowhere and then only reappear after a few months have passed, but rather the better the conditions and the planning in advance are, the less you will have to worry. Given the circumstances, you are better off not being seen around there…

When to harvest outdoors

Once you’ve seen off those darn pests and your plants have developed as they should, it’s time to harvest: that unmistakable moment of glory when gardeners are finally able to see the fruits of their labour, breathe a sigh of relief and give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back.

There are various ways of harvesting cannabis, and choosing the one to follow depends on the grower’s experience and their objectives, which may be commercial.

There is no exact science for knowing the precise moment for harvesting cannabis. One of the most archaic methods, but perhaps on the most effective, simply entails the grower observing the plants periodically to see when it would be best to harvest the crop. By doing so, they will be able to ascertain whether the time has come, or if it’s better to wait a little longer.

Outdoor Jack Herer ready for harvesting
Outdoor Jack Herer ready for harvesting

However, this may be too general a method and not everyone will be able to apply it, in particular those without enough experience growing cannabis. So, if you know someone who’s planted the same variety before, don’t hesitate to ask them what you need to do.

They might provide you with invaluable information since sometimes, depending on the variety, crops must be harvested at a specific time. As such, it is also important to know what we are planting. Something that’s also worth taking into account is that, depending on the year, the harvest period might in fact fall earlier or later.

An important piece of information to take into consideration is that your beloved plant should be given neither compost nor fertilizer during the week prior to the harvest. What you should give them is plenty of water, which will enhance the flavour of your cannabis.

Practice makes perfect

As you can see, outdoor growing isn’t as easy as just throwing seeds into the ground and waiting for them to grow. In order to ensure a good crop, outdoor growers have to carry out an in-depth investigation, including an analysis of the local soil, preparing the site and thinking about suitable methods for controlling pests, before going on to provide a great deal of maintenance and care. Make sure your soil is prepared and that the spot you have chosen to cultivate your cannabis is sunny, protected, well-watered, and that it drains well.

The point and the most important thing here is that there’s something about the spring that everyone finds appealing. That great feeling and optimism surrounding everything, people are more beautiful, the sun’s shining even more if possible, and people are outside filling up our favourite parts of the city. Everything’s just easier in spring, and of course the cannabis notices this too. Just like us, its notices the good vibes, and this is why it tastes even better. For this reason and taking these basic concepts into account, the latitude of where you live and the varieties best suited to your climate, spring might be the perfect season to start out on your journey toward growing perfect cannabis.

All that is now left to be said is good luck with outdoor growing, and happy smoking!

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