Growing Tips

Growing marijuana outdoors – full guide

Have you thought about growing cannabis outdoors? If you are a new grower and want a simple guide on how to grow cannabis outdoors, you are in the ideal place.

Outdoor cultivation

With the growing movement to legalize and decriminalize cannabis in some countries, there are many people who want to grow their own marijuana. Indoor growing can certainly turn out to be something of a cool but complicated science experiment, but there is something about letting a cannabis plant flourish outdoors that can be incredibly rewarding.

Some growers do not have the amount of money or space necessary to grow indoors, that is why the option of growing outdoors becomes more attractive thanks to the free ventilation lighting that nature gives us. Similarly, growing outdoors can result in better performance than indoors, thanks to the ample space to grow and sunlight.

Something important to limit is the times of outdoor cultivation. When is the best date to plant cannabis?

Well, it depends on where you are.

As you read, two factors mainly affect: the hours of light per day and the temperature,

I am in Chile, and for the southern hemisphere, the growing season starts in September and ends between April and May, depending on the variety we are growing. In the case of the northern hemisphere, the season starts in April and ends in mid-November.

In the case of countries close to the equator, such as Colombia and Brazil, they can cultivate all year round, since their days are 12 hours all year long and they have a good climate, but it is recommended to use supplementary lights for the vegetative period.

If we start cultivating in September (Using Chile as an example), and we harvest in April or May, surely we will have very large plants. And this does not necessarily mean a good thing.

One of the factors to specify when growing cannabis is discretion, and the larger the size of the plant, the more resources it will need to stay in optimal conditions. 

Outdoor grow guide 

Growing cannabis outdoors is more like farming and less like a science experiment. Although growing outdoors can be difficult to get started, it will end up saving you time, dedication, and money compared to growing indoors. If you start growing a couple of different varieties, the act of growing and harvesting your own plants will become an easy routine to accomplish with a little maintenance needed during growth.

Now, let’s start with the basics.

What seeds to use

Well, yes, it all starts with a seed, and the best way to do it is by choosing the ones that best suit your location.

Most people believe that they need a hot, tropical climate in order to grow crops, that is not true. If you think about it, cannabis comes from the highlands of Asia, where the weather can be harsh and most of the time it’s cold. There are varieties adaptable to all environments, selection is an important process.

The cannabis plant can be female or male, but it is the females that produce the buds, the males produce pollen and are generally discarded by growers. We can group the types of seeds and classify them into three main types: Regular, Feminized and Automatic.

Regular Seeds:

They are those which can give us male or female plants, but you will not be able to know their sex until the plant is at least 2 months old.

If the plant is male, oval spheres will come out that hang downwards that contain the pollen. While in female plants they will begin to show pistils that grow upwards and that will end up forming what we call buds.

If your purpose is to breed cannabis plants to cross and produce new genetics, regular ones are ideal. On the contrary, if you want to get buds, the best thing you can do to save work is to buy feminized seeds.

Feminized Seeds:

The name itself says so, but it never hurts to clarify; these produce only female plants.

These are created by forcing a female plant to produce seeds, making it hermaphroditic, in this way when the plant reproduces, it produces seeds with XX chromosomes, that is, female chromosomes.

Feminized are usually the quintessential choice of growers, as it ensures production and performance.

Automatic Seeds:

These are a type of seed that produces plants that do not need a change in the light cycle to flourish. Instead, they start to flower once they reach a certain point of maturity, which is why they are also known as autoflowering.

These are the product of crosses with the ruderalis strain, a native plant from Russia, which has the advantage of blooming without needing the change of season. They are popular since in just 2 months they are ready to be harvested.

Something very important to clarify is that, by reducing its growth time, we also reduce production. They are ideal for growing in small spaces.

After we have talked about the types of seeds, we can go into detail and talk about varieties. The variety determines certain characteristics that the plant can develop, depending on the breeder.

When we talk about varietals, there are some known for their popularity, such as White Widow, but for growers today there are thousands of cannabis varieties to choose from, each one has its own characteristics, just as each one produces different. effects.

In general, sativa plants tend to be taller but the buds are less dense, they are resistant to heat but not cold and have low levels of CBD. In contrast, indica plants generally have denser buds. Although they grow smaller than sativas, they tend to be busier, cold hardy but do poorly in hot weather, and most indica-dominant strains tend to have higher CBD levels.

On the other hand, there are hybrid varieties, which usually have a combination between sativa and indica, since all modern autoflowers come from crosses between strains.

Unfortunately, even if you know the name of the strain, it is not enough to know what to expect from your plant in terms of growth and effect. There are different versions of the same variety from different breeders. So when choosing seeds, also look at the information provided by the breeder of the strain. 

On the other hand, even if we buy a package of 4 seeds, the four plants will grow and have different shades, because they are different phenotypes.

Germinate marijuana outdoors

If we have already chosen the ideal seeds for our cultivation, it is time to germinate them. There are different methods to achieve this, the first thing you have to control is temperature, humidity and darkness. Here we mention some of them:

Germinate on land:

It is the oldest method that exists and consists of only placing the seed directly in the ground. You just have to wait for it to come out.

If a high humidity is maintained, if the pot is not exposed directly to the sun or we overdo it in watering, there should be no problems with the germination process.

To do this, I usually fill the pots with the substrate and make a hole in the center about 2-3 cm deep and cover it with the substrate. Lastly, I moisten it and put the lid on the propagator to create a mini greenhouse and keep the humidity in.

Germinate in water:

It is a very effective germination method but you have to be careful that the seed rot. It is recommended to change the water every day or put a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide on it.

It consists of placing the seeds in glasses with hydrogen peroxide and placing them in a cool and dark place. In a couple of days the white glue can be seen, when they reach two centimeters in length it is time to transfer them to the pot. 

As with ground germination I try to create a greenhouse-like environment using the propagator cap, you can use what works best for you.

Germinate on napkins:

It is my favorite method because it gives us more control over the total germination process.

The first thing to do is place a napkin on a plate or tupperware. Then you put the seeds and cover them with another napkin. 

Finally, you moisten them with water without submerging the seeds, then cover it and place it in a dark and cool place. You can use plates or something similar to help create a lot of moisture.

It is ideal to check every 5 hours to verify the humidity and after two or three days they will be ready to germinate.

Regardless of the method we apply, the most important thing is that you maintain optimal humidity and a controlled temperature so that they germinate without problems. In the same way, it is advisable not to use fertilizers in the first stages of germination since the plant has not developed the roots and they can burn them.

 Planting marijuana outdoors

Once we have our seeds have germinated, we place them in the ground, making a hole 2 to 3 centimeters deep.

Personally I prefer to plant in small 500ml or 1L pots so that I can easily move the plants when needed. When they are small, avoid exposing them a lot to the sun, wind or cold or it can be a problem. If we can move the plants away from these conditions when they are small, so much the better.

Now, if the plant is directly in mother earth we will not be able to move them to our liking, so to prevent it, it is better to start in a pot until the plants are strong enough to leave it outside permanently.

It is important to wash the pots well and dry them before placing the substrate, to avoid contamination that ends up affecting our plants and causing serious problems such as Pythium.

Pythium is a parasite-like pseudo fungus that weakens the roots and stems of our plants until they are exhausted. Many species of pythium are considered pathogens in numerous plant species, including cannabis. It is very common in greenhouses, or in crops with high humidity and heat.

When to  do transplants?

To transplant our marijuana plant to its final place, either in pots or direct to mother earth, we must wait for the plant to be strong and with good root development. When the roots of the plant have wrapped much of the substrate, and more or less doubled the size of the pot, it is a good time to do so.

You can perform multiple transplants throughout the growth of the plant. You must wait for the roots to cover the entire substrate to make the most of the container you are using. In some cases I have done up to three transplants (First 500ml, then 7, 11 and 20 liters respectively).

I recommend that if you are going to perform training techniques such as Main-lining or LST, you do only one transplant. This is because as the technique involves tie downs, when using a new pot it can be very difficult to put the ties back in the same arrangement. 

To do a transplant, I recommend preparing the new substrate by watering it the day before to moisten and activate it. Next, I look for a location with the least amount of natural light to avoid damaging the roots as they are photosensitive.

Finally, the best way to transplant is to wait until the substrate is dry and the pot is light, in this way we avoid that when we remove the substrate from the pot, pieces of substrate with roots fall and damage our plants.

Irrigation outdoors

Watering is a critical factor in proper plant growth, so you don’t want to give too little or overdo it. About 100-300 ml of water will be enough in the first days.

In the growth stage, the roots go in search of the food that is in the earth, and this they achieve through the water. If the soil is very dry, the root will try to go to other areas with the presence of humidity, therefore, it forces itself to grow.

To know when to water you can take the weight of your pots and if it has half the weight it had when it was wet, it is the perfect time to water. It is a technique that I like to use as it gives me greater coverage of how much moisture is in the substrate

When it comes to watering, the way I like to do it is to water slowly, first moisten the surface of the substrate without puddling and turn it into a kind of sponge so that it absorbs the water in a better way and that it does not escape from the sides. .

We can observe through the leaves and the state of the plant if we are watering a lot or a little. When it is due to lack of water, they look decayed, withered and the leaves turn yellowish. When there is excess water, they look decayed but due to the weight generated by the humidity in the plant, unlike the first case, the leaves can be seen to be healthy and of good color.

Nutrients: how to feed our plants 

The nutrients begin to be incorporated from the third week or when the plants reach a height between 10 and 15 cm. I recommend using a small amount at the beginning and gradually increasing as the plant grows. Each fertilizer producer has an application table for their products.

Normally the fertilizers for vegetation and flowering start at 2 ml per liter and increase to 4 or 5 ml per liter at the end of flowering.

In the vegetative stage the plant will need high nitrogen fertilizers. In the same way in the flowering stage but in less quantity, we will also have to add fertilizers that provide phosphorus and potassium, elements necessary for a good formation of flowers. 

It is important to control the pH and Electroconductivity levels when providing nutrients to our cannabis plants.

Fluctuations in pH influence the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. In certain ranges the plant will be able to absorb them easily and outside of them it will have more difficulties, appearing deficiency problems. A very acidic or basic pH can affect the growth of the plant, its metabolism, and even make it more prone to pests and diseases.

The electrical conductivity (EC) of a solution is an estimate of the concentration of dissolved salts in it, and allows evaluating its ability to conduct electrical current.

Through the roots, plants feed on the salts they find in the soil. Therefore, by measuring the EC of the substrate and the irrigation water we will be able to know how much food they have available or how much we will be giving it.

It should be clarified that when measuring EC we are making a general estimate of the amount of dissolved salts. However, that does not mean that the various elements are in the required quantity. 

How to avoid pests outdoors

The presence of some insects such as the well-known ladybug (Or chinita as we say here in Chile), is positive, since they feed on insects that negatively affect our plants and are in charge of naturally controlling pests. 

To avoid pests,  I use organic preventive products , such as  Potassium Soap with Neem Oil  and  Diatomaceous Earth .

But in addition, it is important to  maintain the cleanliness of the plants and remove excess dust from the leaves to help keep pests away from our plants, or prevent them from spreading quickly. 

Pests spread under certain conditions. For example, if there is little humidity and a lot of heat, the spider mite, which is one of the most frequent and harmful pests in cannabis crops, could spread quickly. 

Outdoors we cannot control the climate, but we can water and feed them well to improve the health and strength of the plant against pathogens.

Pruning outdoors

Depending on various factors such as strain, lighting, nutrients or others, plants can grow a lot or very little. We can control this growth through pruning directed according to what we want to achieve. Here I mention some of the best known:

FIM pruning:

FIM pruning or fiming is a pruning method that consists of pricking or cutting a young cannabis plant to create 4 tails instead of one. The FIM or Fiming is used to define the technique but it is actually an acronym for “Fuck, I Missed!”, Which refers to a topping that did not go as planned.

This technique is an easy way for growers to increase the yield of the plant, while making it more manageable in limited spaces. Increases lateral growth and increases the yield of the grow space.

This technique requires making a wound to the plant, so the ideal is to wait until the plant has 4-5 knots to make the cut or puncture. Remember that as in all cuts, you have to do it in the first weeks of the vegetative stage and never in flowering.

Apical pruning:

Topping is a plant training technique that involves cutting off the “top” of a main tail, thus creating two secondary tails. This technique allows you to create more tails from the same node, making the most of the light your plant receives, achieving better performance.

This technique typically causes the plant to “fill out” more into a bush rather than grow taller like a pine tree, something we indoor growers appreciate.

All training techniques are designed to help growers achieve a desired plant shape and performance without changing other aspects of growth. Cannabis is a plant that does not grow naturally in a way that makes the most of indoor grow lights; a lot of light is wasted when we grow indoors without applying training.

This pruning requires following a few simple steps, here you can find them.

In case we do not want very large plants, traditional pruning manages to guide the plant to where we need it. But it is always recommended that any type of pruning be done during the vegetative period, when the plant is strong and avoid doing it in flowering.

Prevent pruning the largest leaves indiscriminately, this is known as defoliation. There is an idea among growers that larger leaves do not let light pass downward, which is partly true, but leaves are panels that trap the energy needed to grow branches and buds. So don’t overdo it by cutting off a lot of large leaves.

Some growers cut several large leaves in the flowering stage, near the end of the plant’s life cycle. I personally am very careful with this and cut those that impede the greatest passage of light, but without exceeding myself. 

Harvest outdoors

If you want to know when is the ideal time to harvest, you have to pay attention to the trichomes. 

Trichomes are mushroom-shaped resin glands that grow on leaves and the flower itself. At first they are totally colorless, and their appearance indicates that the plant is already approaching the end of its cycle, but is not yet ready to be harvested.

Then they turn whitish, like milk, it is at that moment that the plant is telling us that it is at the highest point, that is, it has a greater euphoria and energy. For sedative effects, associated with medicinal uses, it is recommended to harvest when more than 50% of the trichomes are amber in color.

For those who cannot see the trichomes well, the stigmas or “hairs” can indicate an approach to the last periods of our plants. You can use a magnifying glass to appreciate them better, it is good that there is stock in our store.

Remember that when they are white we should not harvest. We can notice that the plant is reaching the highest point of maturity when between 25% and 85% is brown.

Depending on the effect we are looking for, we can choose between harvesting the plant before or after. It is recommended to consider which strain is being grown when choosing the harvest date.

Tips from us for outdoor cultivation

When growing outdoors you have to take into account certain factors, which can be considered advantages or disadvantages depending on where you live and what type of crop you hope to have. Here are some recommendations.

  • Consider the dates when cultivating, the earlier you start, the more the plants will grow and that can bring complications. The outdoor growing area should be discreet.
  • The crop will be at the mercy of mother nature, so it is always better to prevent rains, pests and other external agents that affect your plants.
  • I always recommend growing a variety of plants when it comes to growing cannabis outdoors, some plants such as rosemary, peppermint, tobacco, among others can help you keep pests away from your plants and thus keep them healthy.
  • You should take the necessary time before starting the cultivation to investigate and learn about your environment. It is important to choose a cannabis strain compatible with your local climate
  • You can grow the whole year if you want, but to have a positive performance you must meet the necessary conditions for the plant to develop, such as lighting and climate.
  • It is very important to emphasize that cleaning in the growing area is what will prevent pests, and even diseases in our plants. We must keep the area free of dust to avoid the spread of pests such as spider mites.

Spring arrives and with it the desire to learn more and more about cultivation and results. Everyone has their own way of doing it, we meet people who talk to their plants, put music on them and respect them as living beings.

As you can see, there is a whole world when we talk about growing cannabis, it is not only about growing to consume, but about understanding that we are capable of satisfying our needs, having the flowers in our hands and knowing that it is a cultivated flower No pesticides, no toxic fertilizers, no adulterations. This is also responsible consumption.

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