Categories
BLOG

grow marijuana outside

How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors (2020 Guide)

Looking to grow cannabis outdoors this season? Follow our comprehensive guide for a smooth and easy experience.

A guide to growing cannabis outdoors in 2020.

  • 1. Growing cannabis indoors vs outdoors: differences
  • 2. Growing cannabis outdoors
  • 2.a. Benefits of growing outdoors
  • 2.b. Choosing location
  • 2.c. Genetics
  • 2.d. Germination
  • 2.e Maintaining the plant
  • 2.f. Preventing pests
  • 3. Outdoor Grower’s Calendar 2020
  • 3.a. Indoor germination
  • 3.b. Seedling stage / growing indoors
  • 3.c. Sowing and moving outdoors
  • 3.d. Topping and training
  • 3.e. Sexing
  • 3.f. Pruning
  • 3.g. Harvest
  • 1. Growing cannabis indoors vs outdoors: differences
  • 2. Growing cannabis outdoors
  • 2.a. Benefits of growing outdoors
  • 2.b. Choosing location
  • 2.c. Genetics
  • 2.d. Germination
  • 2.e Maintaining the plant
  • 2.f. Preventing pests
  • 3. Outdoor Grower’s Calendar 2020
  • 3.a. Indoor germination
  • 3.b. Seedling stage / growing indoors
  • 3.c. Sowing and moving outdoors
  • 3.d. Topping and training
  • 3.e. Sexing
  • 3.f. Pruning
  • 3.g. Harvest

Growing cannabis outdoors comes with many benefits. Apart from being a thoroughly enjoyable experience, it allows growers to rear bigger plants with better yields. Read on to learn how to grow cannabis outdoors.

GROWING CANNABIS INDOORS VS OUTDOORS: DIFFERENCES

Growing outdoors usually means more space to work with, plenty of sunshine, free rainwater, better ventilation, and the joy of cultivating in the elements.

However, growing outdoors also comes with a set of challenges. Plants are more vulnerable to pest insects, larger predators, heat waves, and cold snaps.

Growing indoors offers plants more shelter, and cultivators are in complete control of the growing environment. They are free to change temperature and humidity settings, and their plants are more concealed.

With that said, indoor growers usually have less space at their disposal, less potential for massive yields, and have to splash money on electricity bills to run their setup.

GROWING CANNABIS OUTDOORS

Sun. Fresh air. Soil. Growing cannabis outdoors offers a plethora of benefits for cultivators and cannabis plants alike. Everything from free resources to more time spent outside make it a worthwhile pursuit.

BENEFITS OF GROWING OUTDOORS

– Larger plants
– More space
– Free rainwater
– Sunshine (cheaper than lighting)
– No need to change light cycle
– Ventilation helps keep mould at bay
– Companion plants
– Beneficial insects
– Soil rich in native microbes
– Opportunity to practice regenerative methods

CHOOSING LOCATION

After deciding to grow outdoors, you’ll need to decide where to position your plants. Find an area that provides stable temperature, adequate sunlight, and shelter from harsh weather.

Make sure the area of your garden/position of your planting containers meets the following demands when growing in Europe in 2020:

• Temperatures never drop below 12°C
• Temperatures never exceed 30°C
6–8 hours of direct sunlight each day (south-facing location is ideal)
Shelter from torrential rain and heatwaves (e.g. temporary tarpaulin, greenhouse)

GENETICS

After selecting a location, you’ll need to choose a strain to grow. Here, you’ll need to consider your growing environment, and what kind of effect you’re looking for from your cannabis.

If you live further north and experience a shorter growing season, hardy and fast-flowering genetics such as autoflowers are a good choice. For those living further south, towering sativas that take longer to flower are a suitable option, and hybrids will thrive in these conditions.

Are you looking for a specific flavour? Research the terpene profiles of the strains you’re considering. This will give you a window into the sensory experience. Do you prefer fruity or earthy? Citrus or candy?

You can also use seed bank data to estimate the size, flowering time, and yield of a particular strain. If you can grow openly, consider a tall and highly productive strain. If you need to be more discreet, choose a smaller and more stealthy variety.

GERMINATION

The first phase in your cannabis plant’s life is germination. During this process, your seed will form its first taproot and emerge into a seedling. Germination requires three specific factors: darkness, humidity, and moisture. Together, these elements will activate your seed. It just so happens that soil provides the perfect venue!

Growers in warm climates can start their plants directly in pots or garden beds outdoors. However, plants require high humidity during the seedling stage. Consider starting outdoor plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

Those in colder climates can get a head start by raising their seedlings indoors during the chilly spring. Transplant them directly into the soil or into larger outdoor containers when the weather warms up.

Before germinating your seeds, secure some high-quality soil. Organic soil provides everything your plants need to thrive: nutrients, beneficial bacteria, and synergistic fungi.

To germinate your seeds, poke a hole into the topsoil in a garden bed or pot. Place the seed in the hole and gently cover with soil. Add a little water. You’ll see the first shoot emerge within 2–7 days.

The seedling stage will last around two weeks. Provide consistent lighting, humidity levels of around 70%, and water sparingly.

MAINTAINING THE PLANT

The vegetative phase begins once the seedling stage comes to an end. During this time, your plants will focus on photosynthesising and creating energy to fuel development. Expect a flurry of large fan leaves to proliferate throughout this phase. To maintain your plants, you’ll need to consider the following:

Only water after the top 3–5cm of soil has become dry. If you don’t wait long enough, your plant can become vulnerable to root rot and other nasties.

Test your soil occasionally and make sure it stays within a pH range of 6.0–7.0—the optimal range for nutrient absorption.

PREVENTING PESTS

As one of the main challenges for outdoor growers, pests can be managed and prevented using the following tips:

Predatory insects: Introduce predatory insects such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps to protect your plants against pest species.

Companion planting: Plant basil, lemon balm, or dill to repel pest insects.

Beneficial fungi: Soil that contains mycorrhizal fungi can help capture and kill nematodes—soil microorganisms that attack cannabis roots.

Physical barriers: Erect chicken wire fences and other barriers to prevent larger animals such as deer and birds from munching on your crop.

OUTDOOR GROWER’S CALENDAR 2020

This calendar revolves around the average climate in Europe. If you live in a more extreme climate (or in a different hemisphere), it’s worth looking into the relevant growing conditions.

Also, different strains will move much faster or slower than others. Keep the individual traits of your chosen cultivar in mind.

You’ll also notice that our calendar takes the time of year and the position of the moon and sun into consideration. Many gardeners work around the moon cycle due to the way the celestial body influences movements of moisture, sap, and subtle energies.

INDOOR GERMINATION

Start germinating your seeds indoors around March 9th if you live in a cooler climate. This date falls just before the full moon and encourages larger and more aromatic buds.

The spring equinox takes place on March 20th. During this time, the sun crosses the celestial equator, marking the first day of spring. Longer days and increased sunlight mean the growing season has begun! The seed will take anywhere between 2–7 days to complete germination and enter the seedling stage.

SEEDLING STAGE / GROWING INDOORS

The seedling stage lasts around two weeks before the vegetative phase begins. Continue to raise plants indoors in colder regions until mid-April to meet temperature and light demands.

SOWING AND MOVING OUTDOORS

If you live in a warmer climate, now is the time to germinate seeds directly outside. You’ll also be able to move indoor plants outside and transplant them into soil or larger containers.

If you decide to orient your grow around the lunar cycle, aim to transplant while the descending moon enters its crescent phase.

After transplantation, plants will become established in the ground, continue vegetating, and put on some serious mass. The shift into summer will see them receive plenty of light. They’ll continue to stretch upward as the North Pole reaches its maximum tilt towards the sun.

TOPPING AND TRAINING

Once your plants settle in, growers have the option to top and train them. Doing so will increase their yields, open up their canopies, and make them easier to tame.

Measures such as low-stress training can be conducted throughout June and July into early August. After this, plants will begin edging toward the flowering phase, and additional training won’t be beneficial.

Aim to top and train your plants when the ascending moon is in its crescent phase, ideally in a water constellation.

SEXING

Before flowers appear, your plants will enter the pre-flowering phase. Use this time to sex your plants to ensure no unwanted males end up fertilising your ladies. Pre-flowers occur at the nodes—points at which each branch meets the main stem.

Female pre-flowers feature a small bulb and a protruding hair, or pistil. In contrast, male pre-flowers feature a hairless bulb. Remove any males if you’re not looking to create seeds.

PRUNING

Your plants have entered the flowering phase. As the fall equinox approaches, the days begin to get shorter, and plants get the signal to blossom. Tidy them up and make sure each bud site has an adequate amount of light exposure.

Prune your crop between mid-July and the end of August in preparation for harvest time. Snip away excess fan leaves during a descending moon in the waning phase.

HARVEST

Perhaps the most exciting time of the entire grow occurs between mid-September and mid-November. It’s time to revel in your hard work and harvest your precious flowers. The weather becomes cool, the days shorter, and winter solstice approaches.

Harvest your buds in the morning during a descending moon in the waning phase.

Learn how to grow cannabis outdoors in 2020 using these essential tips and our outdoor growing calendar. Look forward to great harvests of top-tier bud!

How to Grow Marijuana Outdoors

Growing marijuana plants outdoors is generally easier than growing them indoors because Mother Nature chips in to do some of the work. Even so, you have to lay the groundwork for a successful grow to ensure that your plants receive the nutrients they need. Here, we lead you through the process of preparing a site for outdoor cultivation.

As long as you have a sunny location in an area where you get at least eight to ten weeks of relatively sunny weather and temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you can grow cannabis outdoors. If your growing season is short, you can get a jump on things by starting your plants indoors and then transplanting your seedlings (after a brief hardening period). If you live in a warmer climate, you can simply plant your seeds outside after the threat of frost passes.

How to choose a cannabis grow site

If you decide to grow outdoors, choose your grow site carefully. Consider the following factors:

  • Compliance: Your grow site must comply with all local rules and regulations. It must be private property owned by you. In most locations, your garden must be secure with a privacy fence and plants no taller than the fence. Any gates must be locked to prevent kids from getting to the plants and to discourage theft.
  • Space: The amount of space you need depends on the number and types of plants you want to and are legally permitted to grow. Your plants will need to be spaced at least three to five feet apart, so they all get plenty of sun and breeze.

Think ahead. Will each plant have enough space when fully grown? Will plants shade other plants from the sun?

  • Soil: Cannabis can grow in a wide variety of soil types, as long as the soil has sufficient drainage. If it doesn’t, you can amend the soil or plant in containers.
  • Sunlight and darkness: Cannabis plants need at least five hours of direct sunlight plus at least five hours of indirect sun daily. They’ll reward you for more sun with a bountiful harvest. Also, don’t plant a photoperiod strain under or near a bright street lamp; otherwise, it may not flower properly.

Consider surrounding objects such as buildings and trees and how the angle of the sun changes over the course of the growing season. As a result, an area that gets full sun all day long during one part of the growing season may be shaded part or all of the day during another part of the growing season. Ideally, your grow site will get sun all day long throughout the growing season.

  • Convenient access: You’ll be tending to your plants regularly and be eager to watch them grow, so pick a location with easy access. A backyard garden may be ideal.
  • Access to water: Unless it rains every few days, you’ll need to water your plants regularly, so pick a site that has easy access to water.

Cannabis must be grown on private property, so you must own the land. Growing on public land, such as a national park or forest, is illegal.

Evaluate the soil

Prior to planting in an outdoor grow site, check the soil. Quality soil has the following characteristics:

  • Loamy: Loam soil is a combination of approximately equal parts of sand and silt along with relatively little clay. It retains moisture, but it also drains well, so plants aren’t sitting in saturated soil in which they’re susceptible to root rot and other diseases. Loam soil crumbles easily in your hands. If the soil is rock hard when dry, it contains too much clay. If it doesn’t hold together at all when you squeeze it into a ball, it may be too sandy.
  • Fertile: Healthy soil also contains organic matter, such as decomposing wood and other plant matter. You can mix mulch and other amendments into the soil to increase its fertility, if necessary.
  • Slightly acidic: You can use a pH meter to test the soil’s pH, which should be in a range of 5.5 to 6.5. Anything lower is too acidic, and anything higher is too alkaline.
  • Alive: Good soil is home to many critters, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms. If you don’t see anything crawling around in your soil, it’s probably lacking in organic matter.

Take a soup can of soil from several areas around your grow site to your local nursery or university extension office to have your soil tested. Test results show pH levels; levels of key nutrients, including potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen; concentrations of organic matter; and so on. You may also receive specific recommendations on amendments needed to improve soil quality.

For a more thorough guide to evaluating outdoor soil, check out the free Willamette Valley Soil Quality Card Guide published by Oregon State University.

Decide whether to grow in-ground or in containers

When growing outside, you have the option of growing your plants in containers or in the ground. Sometimes, the choice is easy; for example, if the only place with enough sun is a concrete or wood deck, you have no choice but to grow in containers. If you do have a choice, consider the pros and cons of each option:

  • Planting in-ground is generally easier and more forgiving. With quality soil, you don’t have to worry so much about plants becoming root bound or developing root rot, and you may not have to water as frequently.
  • Containers add height which may make your plants taller than allowed by law or taller than the privacy fence you built.
  • If containers are too small, plants can get root bound, preventing them from absorbing the water and nutrients they need. In containers, plants may also be more susceptible to root rot if the plants don’t drain properly.
  • You can move containers around if the sunny locations in your space change over the course of the growing season.
  • If you have poor quality soil, you need to amend the soil prior to planting, which adds to the cost and work involved.
  • In a container, you can easily customize your soil mix to create the perfect grow medium for your plants.

Harden off your marijuana plants

If you start your plants inside (in a grow room or on a windowsill), harden them off before transplanting them to an outdoor location. Hardening off is a process in which plants gradually become acclimated to the outside environment over a period of seven to ten days.

Take your plants outside for 30 minutes or so on the first day and place them in a sheltered area where they receive indirect sunlight and perhaps a gentle breeze. Continue to increase this time by 30 minutes or so each day, gradually increasing their exposure to more direct sun. Watch your plants carefully for signs of heavy stress such as burning or wilting. Light stress is good, and it will accelerate the hardening off process, but heavy stress can kill a plant or severely impact its ability to flourish.

You should also harden off your plants against the cold. If frost is possible, keep the plants inside at night. Otherwise, gradually expose them to the cold nights. You may want to place them in a cold frame or under a box or bucket at first to provide some shelter from the cold without having to bring them inside, just be sure to uncover them the next day or they may overheat. Over the course of seven to ten days, they should be able to make it through a cool and frost-free night.

Support and protect your plants

When growing plants outside, you may need to provide them with support and protection from the elements, especially cold and frost as the summer growing season ends.

First, focus on providing your plant with structural support throughout its growth cycle especially in the flower stage. The idea is to provide your plant’s branches the support they need to grow big fat buds without becoming too heavy and breaking off from the main stalk. Bamboo stakes, along with twine or Velcro plant straps, are great and provide a variety of ways to stake your plants, such as the following:

  • Place a stake alongside the stalk, and tie the stalk to the stake.
  • Place three or four stakes around the periphery of the plant, and tie branches that need support to the stakes. You can also wrap twine around the stakes to create your own “cage.”
  • Place a row of stakes in front of or behind several plants, and then tie stakes horizontally to the vertical stakes (or weave them together) to create a trellis. You can then tie branches to the trellis.

Tomato cages are also great and readily available at any garden or hardware store. Place them over your young cannabis plants, and the plants will grow up through the cage and be well supported. Even better are Screen of Green (ScroG) kits, which provide support along with a means for scrogging.

Learn how to choose an outdoor grow site for cannabis and how to harden off, support, and protect the marijuana plants as they mature.