Growing amazing cannabis outdoors can be a rewarding experience. A few key components are required for a successful outdoor harvest; most importantly weather and genetics. Only genetics can you control leaving you at the mercy of Mother Nature. Anyone can grow cannabis only if you meet the specific needs. You cannot toss seeds along the ground and expect the plant to germinate, grow and product flower. Here is a simple, full proof guide that will yield you success-if Mother Nature cooperates.
You must have the right genetics when growing cannabis outdoors. If you do not have the right genetics your cannabis plants will not induce flowering at the correct time. As a result, your cannabis plants will not finish flowering. You must choose a strain that will start to induce flower around June 20th. You should see signs by July 7th or you risk your product not finishing in the Northern Hemisphere.
We offer several strains that have been breed, tested and critiqued for over 20 years. You can purchase seeds from here: Cannabis & Opium Poppy Seeds For Sale. For any strain you pick you must have some Ruderalis in the strain. Ideally the mix is around half to allow for cloning, our strains allow for cloning. The strain must auto-flower by June 20th, therefore be completed Veg. When growing cannabis outdoors, most outdoor strains should flower 6-7weeks long and finish by September. Flower times may finish by October if grown in a green house.
Preparation: Soilless Recipe
Growing cannabis outdoors takes time and organization. During the cold months of winter you should be collecting your supply’s for the big day(s) of planting. Generally, you will purchase bags of soilless medium that allows for excellent drainage as well as peat moss to lower the growing pH. A cheap and easy recipe is as follows:
- Pro Mix #4
- Cow/Goat/Sheep Manure
- Osmocote: Smart release fertilizer 10-10-10 NPK
To mix your material simply use a wheel barrel or mix over large tarp. You do not want to waste any medium because its not cheap and is a lot of work packing your grow supplies to your location. Mixing rates are as follows:
- 75% Pro Mix #4
- 15% Manure
- 10% Perlite
- 2 Table Spoons Osmocote Smart Release PER 5gallons of soilless medium.
This soilless recipes allows for excellent drainage, slightly acidic pH with a minor fertilizer bump. Your Osmocote should be applied 1 week after planting. The manure will help feed your cannabis for the first week as well as for approx 3-4 weeks thereafter. The recipe is mostly designed to be dependent on your Osmocote time release. You will need to add a ripener and bloom booster once or twice during your flower stage but that is typical for any cannabis grow.
Preparation: Container Vs Ground Growing
Growing cannabis outdoors can be by container, raised bed or ground growing. Container growing provides the most flexibility. You retain the ability to move your plants in and out of a green house or towards more light. Container growing is much easier than ground preparation which allows you to grow in any soil condition. The major draw back is the requirements for packing in all the required growing medium.
Growing cannabis outdoors has several planting options. You can plant in raised garden beds/boxes, grow bags or containers/buckets. In any case, all conditions must allow for adequate drainage. Your better of watering frequently than over watering cannabis plants. Depending on your growing environment, you may be allowed to use large grow beds which is an excellent way to grow big cannabis plants.
Grow beds allow for better day and night soil heat retention. Container growing does act as a buffer for your roots but does not allow for the stability during seasonal changes. Direct sunlight can heat your grow containers/bags and hurt your root system. Season changes can cool or freeze your roots when growing in grow containers/bags. Grow beds are ideal for root protection but offer no mobility, but still easier than amending the earth.
Tip: If your using grow bags, which are excellent, you must protect the roots from heat until the plant has developed enough foliage to cover the container/bags from the sun. One can use logs with branches and twigs/leafs to help hide the containers from law enforcement and sun rays.
Time to plant your cannabis but when?
When living in Canada you have already noticed that growing cannabis outdoors is difficult because there are many grow zones, ranging from 1-10. Most of Canada has a grow zone of 3+ making cannabis growing difficult. As a general rule of thumb, planting your crops after May long weekend is the norm. This is not a safe practice but a guideline. You must follow the weather closely. The ideal scenario is to have all your plants outside by 3rd of June.
Interesting enough, I have had cannabis plants survive mild frost with pretty good survival rates but very poor rates when hurt by heat. To harden your plants off you should acclimatize your cannabis plants to the outside over a few days. This can be tricky if your planting clones.
Personally, I have placed clones within there tray directly outside in the shade, with the dome lids sideways. Do this for 10 minutes and see how they react. Generally they will be just fine if each clone has enough roots. If they do not wilt or leafs curl you can leave the clones outside for 1 hour. Repeat this proccess for several days well adding a few hours.
If you have transplanted your clones into small pots or bio friendly pots simply place them outside. I personally like to VEG my outdoor cannabis plants about 1 week inside before placing outdoors.
Your cannabis plants are now planted and hopefully well hidden. Try to avoid checking your plants every day and leaving a trail. The ideal time from is a 1 week window for watering. If your lucky and have a hot spell than you may need to water 2x a week. Make sure you do not saturate the grow bags/containers during the early veg days; you want the roots to search for water. Also, with less water in the bag you protect the roots better from early frost. Another added benefit is that your allowing yourself to supplement with compost teas or very light nutrient applications. Always remember to never over water your soil with young clones, even if you have excellent drainage.
If you add to much NPK when your clones are young and in veg you will risk stunting them. Growing cannabis outdoors is very different from growing indoors under controlled light cycles. Plants growing outdoors do not require the same nutrient strengths. Think of it this way: when growing outdoors, your plants do not receive full 18/6 hours of light. They will see 6 hours of sun sometimes as well as cloudy days. Some days will be colder, slowing the plants growth.
The Osmocote Smart Time Release is designed to allow different rates of NPK to be released. Osmocote will look like round, colored small beads. Each color represent N, P or K. Each are designed to break down over a different period of time. This allows for proper fertilization of NPK ratios for your plant. Osmocote is a professional fertilization that is geared towards a 3-4 month grow cycle; making Osmocote excellent for growing cannabis. To note: Osmocote does come in various strengths such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. I personally would recommend 10-10-10 to minimize stunting your cannabis plants.
The summer solstice is important to outdoor growing. The summer solstice marks the day when days start to become shorter. With the proper cannabis genetics, your plants should show signs of flowering 14 days after the solstice. Your cannabis plant has phytohormones such as Florigen but auto-flowering plants have the ability to flower from maturity. Ideally, you will acquire a genetic strain that has both capabilities. Either way, after the summer solstice your auto flower strain will be signaled to start flower. Auto flower strains can be triggered to flower early from various other stress such as root bound, heat stress, red spectrum, low nitrogen and chilly weather.
So now you see signs of flowering which resembles with a quick growth stretch and crowning on the top of each budding zone. During this time, you want to evaluate your current situation. Is your cannabis plant flowering on time? Are all your cannabis plants flowering? Do you need to construct a quick make-shift greenhouse in the bush? Do you need to move your plants? What are all your options?
When you are growing cannabis outdoors, you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. You cannot control the sun or the rain. You cannot control when it hails and destroys your buds; in which, bud mold will be promoted. Believe me, this has happened by personal experience.
Your goal is to have a successful harvest right so pay close attention by the beginning of September. You want to inspect most of the plants if possible. Organize your production by making note which cannabis plants to trim first. Figure out what plants will be trimmed last or moved to the green house.
The ideal time to harvest is before hunting season; that said, hunting season is usually around September 7th in Northern BC. You want your plants harvested well before the bush is full of guns, campers and busy back roads. Plus you get your product to market faster.
An ideal way to harvest an outdoor cannabis crop is creating a mini work tent to put up temporary dry racks. This gives you a place to hold your buds before you transport your product home for drying/storage. You will need an area to house your trim machine if you have one. The tent will also provide a place to store your isopentyl alcohol, food etc.
Consider hiring help to trim as its not about fun but business at this point. If you plan on growing next year at the same location it may be best to not bring trimmers to your site but bring plants to them. Any time you move plants around it becomes an added risk.
Important notes to consider when trimming outdoor cannabis is: make sure you do not become greedy with product. Only keep the best product with zero bud rot or any signs of mold. You do not want any mold in on your dry screens with your cannabis.
Other important notes: Pay your trimmers after each day in cash. You can also reward them with product but don’t let them know; they may begin trimming for themselves. You must feed your trimmers and keep them well hydrated. Consider giving them T3 pills so they keep their energy, as well as, reduce hand/shoulder pain. Do not let your trimmers sit as they will become slow. Also, a sitting trimmer will induce more shoulder/mid back pain.
Growing cannabis outdoors requires a lot of work and dedication. Do not mess up all your hard work because you rushed your drying times. Drying outdoor weed does take a little bit of finesse. You can either make drying racks or use large hanging drying screens. The hanging dry screens are handy but hold less product. A large rack usually holds around 5lbs. The drying racks can simply be made of screen door material stabled over 2×4 construction. Make sure you leave approx 1 foot gap between rows for proper air exchange.
The trick to drying outdoor is at moderate speed. But you must not rush as your product will loose value in smell and taste. Outdoor product needs all the bag appeal it can get. The reason why your drying at a moderate speed over a slow speed is to reduce the risk of mold. Drying large amount of cannabis requires air movement and 2-3x a day you should flip your product.
Once your product is showing signs of shrinking with a bit of dryness to touch, you do not have to flip your product daily. Let your cannabis sit and dry; therefore you do not diminish the quality by damaging the THC. The ideal temperature for drying is 21degrees at 30%RH; this allows for a moderate dry speed. Your cannabis should take about 7 days to dry before sweating AKA equalizing begins.
Sweating/Equalizing your cannabis
This is very important step for any drying process but more so when growing outdoor cannabis. This step allows for the finest drying details to take place with the up most control. When you product is pretty dry to the touch, place your product in large garbage bags. Or if you have a smaller outdoor harvest place them inside your standard freezer bag. Remove as much as from your bags as possible. Allow for your cannabis to sit in the bags for about 4-6hours. Inspect your cannabis to make sure its not to wet. If you require more time sweating than continue sweating your cannabis.
If your cannabis is wet again, as I suspect it will be, place back on screen. But at this time, you must inspect your product closely every hour. You do not want to over dry your cannabis. As soon as it becomes dry but not crispy, place your product back in the bags and seal air tight. Continue this proccess until you can open your bags and your product feels dry but with a slight wet/density to the buds. Most of the stems should snap lightly. If the stems are gummy or wet your product is not ready for sale and requires more sweating/drying.
The real trick to odor, taste and bag appeal is sweating your product each day for 10-15 days. Once your product is dry and ready to smoke you start your curing proccess. Only cure for 10-15 days, anything else is just a bonus with minuscule returns. To cure your cannabis simply open your bags for 10 minutes to allow your product to breath and dry very lightly. Curing is an important step and should not be skipped. You do not want your out door weed to smell like hay or have no smell at all.
Now your product is either for sale or storage. If storage this is the time to place in your deep freezer. Make sure you remove as much air as possible from your freezer rated bags. Place all your products in freezer bags and place them inside a large garbage bag. Remove as much air from the garbage back. This will keep your cannabis fresh for about 8-12months. Once your cannabis is removed from the deep freeze it will take about 4-6hours to regain its normal presentation of smell and texture. So do not panic!
I truly hope you consider growing cannabis outside a shot. It’s amazing to see how well cannabis grows under the sun with the proper soil conditions. Remember its all about the correct genetics! A lot of seed companies rate cannabis seeds for outdoor but its so full of shit. In BC alone, we have 13 different geographical zones. Cannabis strains that grow along BC coast on lower mainland will not grow good in the central interior regions. You can purchase our genetics that DO grow well anywhere in BC, in that fact, Canada! Please click and review some options.