The basics of growing cannabis outdoors
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Cultivating cannabis outdoors is all about taking advantage of natural processes to foster the growth of your plants. While in many respects we have improved upon nature with advanced cultivation technology and indoor grows, outdoor cultivation offers a number of benefits you just won't get from a basement or a warehouse.
When indoor cultivating became possible, it was done by recreating nature in a closed and sterile environment so as to allow plants to thrive using artificial light. Removal of the plant from its ecosystem and placing it indoors meant, that the very same ecosystem had to be recreated from scratch.
While the tech has come a long way and there is no arguing, that you can produce high quality cannabis indoors, there is simply no substitute for nature. Outdoor cannabis cultivation produces big plants, lots of buds, and requires far less maintenance, which is great for both newbies and veterans alike.
KNOW WHEN TO GROW
Outdoor cultivation is seasonal, meaning you're not growing plants in December. So when is the best time to pop your seeds? Climate obviously varies around the world, but all in all, you should be able to have plants down in Europe or the US by May. Some places might be a little later due to long winters, but for the most part, your plants should have no trouble starting their journey before summer hits.
Your garden will go through its natural vegetation stage before flowering in late summer or early fall. Depending on your strains, you should be ready to harvest by October or early November.
PICK THE RIGHT SEEDS
Picking the right strains is important. Not only do you want to pick strains, that have the traits you are looking for, but you need to pick strains, that will thrive in your climate.
If you live in a wet climate, you're not going to want to grow a strain, that thrives in the desert. While indoors we have the luxury of climate flexibility, outdoor cultivation is not as forgiving.
The amount of light and length of exposure are two important factors when picking a strain. If you live in an area, that has short days, find a strain, that can handle less light. If you're in a hot climate, don't go with a strain, that needs to drink water all day.
Matching your strains to what the natural environment has to offer is key. And remember to always buy your seeds from a reputable seed bank.
CHOOSE YOUR SOIL
These days you are not restricted by the dirt, that's in your backyard. If you have good soil and are ready to transplant your cannabis directly into the ground, good for you.
For most of us, the soil around us may be good for grass, but will need to be worked if you plan on growing marijuana. If you're not planning on planting directly in the ground, there are a number of soilless mediums, that have a neutral pH and can be molded to your liking.
Coco coir is by far the most popular soil substitute. Made from the husks of coconuts, coco coir has proven to be a reliable, neutral medium, that will work well in any type of pot you choose.
The kind of soil you choose will have a direct impact on the cultivation methods you employ. If you decide to plant directly in the ground, one of the biggest benefits of doing so is the fostering of beneficial microbes, including bacteria and fungus in the soil.
When a plant grows in nature, its nutrients are converted into a form more ready for absorption by a sea of microbes. This natural benefit is harder to duplicate in mediums like coco coir, which typically are used with nutrient salts.
Deciding on whether or not to plant directly in the ground comes down to how organic do you really want your weed. If utilizing natural processes to enhance the quality of your weed isn't what you are shooting for, coco coir in a breathable pot will also produce excellent results, but in a different manner.
Picking a nutrient regimen also goes back to how you want to cultivate. Your options are to use traditional nutrient salts, go organic and if you really want to go all-natural, you could try veganic cultivation.
Nutrient salts work well, but are not meant for an organic feed solution. Organic feed mixes use plant and animal waste as fertilizer. Organic cultivation is perfect for in-ground planting because it fosters those beneficial microbes, that are so important to the natural ecosystem. You could plant in-ground and use nutrient salts, however, you'd lose out on the single biggest benefit of organic cultivation, as nutrient salts and microbes don't mix.
Coco coir and nutrient salts go together like peaches and cream. Again, it truly comes down to preference on which method of cultivation you go with, as all will produce quality cannabis. Cultivating outside should be about getting back to nature and utilizing everything it has to offer, bugs and fungi included.
If you do decide to plant directly in the ground, try using nothing but a compost tea. As far as natural and organic cultivation goes, compost tea is the best and simplest solution. Compost tea contains all the nutrients you need to feed your plants and loads of natural microbes to complete the ecosystem.
BEYOND THE BASICS
Once you're up and running, you can kick back a little and let nature take it's course. Determine how frequently you need to feed your garden, watch out for pests, and spend time with your plants. After a while you'll get a feel for your plants and what they need.
You can experiment with pruning or defoliation to increase air flow, and you can play around with your nutrient mixture to see if any tweaks will push your yields. If you're feeling confident in your green thumb, you can try some more advanced cultivation techniques, like companion planting or light deprivation.