MANY OF THE ELEMENTS THAT YOU NEED to complete your outdoor or guerrilla grow site are described in the indoor growing chapters of this book. If you skipped through Chapters 5 and 6, be sure to go back and scan through them — paying particular attention to information about germination, feeding and cloning — as they will give you ideas about what your cannabis plants need to thrive.
Many cannabis enthusiasts claim that the best cannabis they ever smoked was grown outdoors. If you live in a climate that is warm enough for tomatoes to grow outdoors, then you have the perfect climate to grow good weed outdoors. If your climate is very warm and if you have a long summer then you may be able to grow high-yielding Sativa varieties like the Australian bush, Haze and high yielding skunk hybrid strains. Although these strains have long flowering periods, they also have the ability to yield more than two pounds of bud per plant when grown to full maturity outdoors.
As an outdoor grower, you may either choose your own backyard or a guerrilla grow in the woods or a field as the site for your patch. When you have found an area that suits your needs (refer to Chapter 4), you can start to prepare your plot. Be aware that seeds planted in untreated ground will have a low germination rate. To avoid this problem, most outdoor cannabis growers begin their plants indoors, germinating seedlings indoors and growing them in plastic pots. By cutting away the base of the pots and holding the soil in place using a piece of cardboard secured with strong tape, pots can be transported to the grow patch and planted. This method offers the advantage of cloning all females for transplanting to the outdoor patch — for the ideal all-female, sinsemilla, high-yield outdoor crop.
The months of March and April are very good times to start your plants outdoors because they should mature and begin to flower by August or September — when the daylight hours start to decrease. So, you should plan to find your grow spot and start your garden by April. If you are using clones you will probably want to wait to transplant them until just before the flowering season, since clones only need to grow for a week or two before flowering. Pure Indica or Indica hybrid strains can be planted in May or June because they have shorter vegetative and flowering times than Sativa strains.
Try to remove as many weeds as possible while preparing your grow patch and don\’t leave heaps of earth around for people to notice. Carry the earth away in bags if you have to. You can then simply sow your seeds or plant your seedlings or cuttings.
If you must work with seeds outdoors, don\’t bury them too deep: 1/2-inch to 1-
inch below the soil\’s surface is fine. If you are working with seedlings or cuttings, dig small holes and place the plants and \’bottomless1 pots described above directly into the holes, removing the piece of cardboard before doing so. Ensure that the pot is completely below ground and not visible to passersby. The roots will grow down through the hole in the bottom of the pot and into the surrounding soil.
You may choose to add prefab, store-bought soil to the patch. Look for a soil with a higher IM than P and K value. Adding soil is a good idea because it the store-bought kind does not contain living masses, such as weeds. Even though you may have weeded and treated your outdoor soil patch, it could still contain seeds or spores from weeds and other plants. You\’ll most certainly have to weed your outdoor area nearly every week during the initial growth stages.
After you have sown your seeds or planted your clones, simply sprinkle them with water. That\’s all you need to do. You don\’t need to adjust the soil pH yet or feed the soil. What you\’ve done should be fine for starting seedlings or clones.
If nature does not provide water for your plants then you need to draw water and feed your plants when needed. There are a few irrigation techniques you can use to bring water to your plants however these may reveal your grow site to others. By simply digging a partial trench around your plants you can force the roots to grow in a certain direction. You can also channel running water from a stream to your plants by digging a water route. Water always runs downhill so you need to take this into consideration when investigating different schemes of irrigation. All of these irrigation methods may compromise your security and this is why %hand watering\’ is still the single best way to water your outdoor plants.
Polymer crystals have water-retaining properties and can be used in conjunction with your soil mix so that the plant has some access to water during the dry spells. Simply fill a plastic bottle with water and the crystals and allow them to expand overnight so that they absorb as much water as possible before you mix them in with your soil. Polymer crystals will retain and then release the water at a very slow rate, which is why outdoor growers like to mix polymer crystals in with their soil.
When growing outdoors you need to keep your plants healthy and free from unwanted predators that may find your top cola and leaves to be quite tasty. In the second week of vegetative growth, you may even want to spray the area with some pesticide.
If you have not yet read about soil in Chapter 5 you should do so now before reading on to understand exactly what kind of soil and nutrients your cannabis strain prefers and how to maintain the right balance throughout your grow. Frequently, an outdoor grow patch is selected because it looks like it is already sustaining some form of life such as weeds, grass, trees and bushes. This usually indicates that the soil is probably a loam type, meaning that it has some sands, silts, clays and humus in it. In some cases the soil may be missing some of these components or have a very high percentage of one of them.
Check the soil in your outdoor patch. Sift through it to determine if it is primarily a sand, silt, clay, loam or humus type. As you dig down you will find that the composition of the soil changes. Generally, the top few inches of\’surface\’soil will contain humus and some living matter. The next layer below this, the \’topsoil\’, is the one that the roots will grow down into.Try to determine whether this topsoil needs more loam. If you need more you should consider adding more soil to your grow area. If you have chosen well, your grow patch will not need additional soil supplements and by simply turning the soil you should be able to achieve very effective results.
If you want to dig your own patch go down a minimum of 1.5 feet to a maximum of 3 feet. You should be able to remove a large amount of ground\’s natural composition. Most growers would do this if there appeared to be too much clay in the topsoil. Clay on its own, as you know from reading chapter 5, is not good for cannabis roots but is good when mixed with sand, silt and humus to form a loam. If you have sand, silt and humus you can mix it with the soil you have dug up. Do this by using a shovel to break the clay in with the sand, silt and humus.
The problem with digging up a patch is keeping it looking natural. If you are using vermiculite, perlite or other colorful soil-less substrates, be sure to keep them well below the surface. A good sprinkling of a coconut-based grow medium over the surface makes your patch look more like part of the surroundings. Coconut fibers also add nutrients to your soil. If you mix coconut fibers in with the soil you will also provide the roots with additional room to breathe and grow. Coconut substrates are very popular with outdoor growers and can be obtained from grow shops.
The next section focuses on the specific challenges that outdoor growers face in caring for their plants from the beginning of the vegetative growth stage to the end of flowering.
The best way to weed is by hand. Don\’t attempt to add weed killer to your grow area unless you know a great deal about the weed killer you\’re using and how it reacts with cannabis. Some weed killers claim they\’ll protect your plant and only kill the surrounding weeds, yet are not very agreeable to marijuana plants. If you want to test weed killers then it\’s suggested that you create a small patch with one clone to see how the clone reacts to the weed killer. Also, remember that people could be ingesting or inhaling this cannabis so use a food plant friendly weed killer. To begin with, we recommend that you do your weeding by hand.
When you\’ve weeded a grow area, your plant will grow much better without having to compete for nutrients and light. Generally, you\’ll have to weed the patch every week for the first 2 to 3 weeks and then once every month throughout the plants\’grow cycle. Some grow areas may be weed-free in March but, come June, the area may seem like it hasn\’t been weeded at all because of the speed of weed growth. Whenever you visit your plants make sure you pull up a few weeds to keep them under control.
If you feef your area is very dense with weeds you may want to consider a ground cover. A ground cover is placed on the ground and cut to allow the marijuana plants to grow through it. Covers can be anything from plastic garbage bags to sheets of paper. Of course, this is not conducive to stealth growing, but it does keep the weeds from receiving light.
Most growers who wish to clear a large area for a bigger grow do so the year before. Around autumn growers can clear the area of any leaves, branches and dead matter with much more ease than in springtime or summer when weeds and new plant growth can get in the way or hide potentially good growing areas.
There is absolutely no reason why anyone should ever fell a tree in order to grow an outdoors plot of cannabis plants, unless the tree is already dead.
This is nature\’s job, most of the time. If you find that your crop is experiencing a warm spell or drought during the summer you may wish to carry some water to your grow area. If you have to trek over long distances then it\’s recommended you fill a backpack with plastic bottles of water Some garden growers use sprinkler systems during dry spells. This is great but can attract unwanted attention to your patch.
How much water your plants need depends on the size of the plants. Larger plants can require a minimum of a gallon of water per day. Natural loam soil is able to hold water for anywhere from four to six weeks before becoming extremely dry under the sun. Deep pockets of water may be held underground. The best way to judge whether your plants need water or not is through a simple visual inspection. If they\’re wilting badly, they need water. If you want to ensure that your plants have a constant water source then factor this into your choice of outdoor location and use water-retaining polymer crystals.
If you want to check for an underground water source, simply dig a small hole about a foot deep next to your grow patch taking care not to hit any major roots. Put your hand down inside the hole. Does it feel dry or is it cool and moist? If it\’s cool and moist then the soil has stored some water below the surface that your plants can drink without any problems.
Nutrients can be added to the soil at any time during the plants\’ life cycle. Switching to a P feed during the flowering weeks will help promote bud growth. Outdoor soil treatment is much like indoor soil treatment, except for the weeding.
If you have good sunlight and enough water then your plants will grow throughout the full cycle quite well. At the end of the flowering season you\’ll be ready to harvest your plant and reap your bounty
The more you experiment, the more tricks you\’ll invent for yourself to get the most out of your yields. Some of the best cannabis growers use very exotic and original methods. A number of people have even tried outdoor hydroponics to get their plants to grow bigger and better.
Depending on the soil\’s composition it should retain a certain amount of air between watering. The presence of too much air can necessitate vair pruning\’. If you dig a trench around an outdoor plant, the roots will not grow into the trench. Instead they will sense that there is too much air and not enough nutrients or water to continue their development in this area of the medium.That is why roots do not grow above the surface of the soil, nor do they grow out of the bottom of your pots and onto the work surface or floor.10b Air pruning by creating trenches around your plant will eventually cause the roots to grow in the direction of your choice and can be used by outdoor growers who wish to guide their plants towards a natural source of water or nutrients.
Outdoor Flowering and the Photoperiod
Towards the end of summer the photoperiod will naturally change outdoors. The cannabis plant automatically controls its own flowering by calculating the alteration in the number of hours of daylight and the uninterrupted darkness at night.
The plant hormone phytochrome is responsible for regulating when flowering should commence. Normally, in summer there is more daylight than darkness. As the year progresses, there is gradually less daylight and more darkness. Phytochrome reacts to this change and reaches a critical level, which triggers flowering in the plant. However the plant must be mature enough for flowering to begin. If the plant is not mature enough, the photoperiod will have no effect on the plants flowering capabilities.
The photoperiod differs slightly from strain to strain because of the uneven amounts of light and darkness available at different latitudes around the world. Some plants only need eight hours of darkness to trigger flowering and others need more, but most mature plants will be begin flowering when the photoperiod changes to 12/12. Do not confuse the latitude you are growing in with the plant\’s own natural photoperiod. The plant\’s natural photoperiod regime is genetic and is part of its lineage.The seed bank you acquire your plants from should indicate if their strain requires special adjustments to the photoperiod, especially if it is an outdoor strain. All mature cannabis plants will eventually flower when the photoperiod changes.
The bottom line for outdoor growers it to estimate when the photoperiod naturally changes so that they do not miss the start of the flowering period due to late outdoor cultivation. It is far better to let a plant vegetate longer than to flower late. If you are behind schedule you may find that the weather is no longer suitable for cannabis cultivation. Early spring is always the time when growers should be thinking about planting their outdoor crop.