Outdoor Cannabis Growing Basics by LuckyAcres
by LuckyAcres (Check out his Instagram and Youtube for more!)
Are you ready to start growing cannabis outdoors? If you’re a wannabe grower looking for a quick and basic tutorial on how to grow weed outside, this is it. Check out these plants and learn how to grow plants just like them yourself!
Plants grown outdoors can get huge if you care for them properly
Growing auto-flowering strains can help keep plants from getting so big. This is Night Queen Auto by Dutch Passion not long before harvest.
What you need to get started growing outdoors:
Here’s a complete list of supplies you need to grow plants outdoors.
Seeds (or clones)
- You need to get your plants somewhere. If you can’t get plants locally, here’s a list of online seed sources that deliver anywhere.
Root Riot Plugs
- Seedlings get germinated in RootRiot Plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!)
Container(s) – Air pots or Nursery Pots
After 20 years of being around black “nursery pots”, airpots have become my number one choice. Better root growth, better access to air, massive root terminals…. day and night to what I was accustomed to. Grow bags can retain salts and pests if not dealt with properly between grows. My access to sun changes thru the season so I must be able to move my ladies as needed.
- Fox Farm Ocean Forest soil does the job. There are better ones out there but I’m happy with the results for the price.
How to Start Growing Cannabis Outdoors
Follow these steps and you will be harvesting your plants in a few months:
1.) Find a growing location
When growing cannabis outdoors, it’s important to find a private spot with easy access to water and 6+ hours of direct sun each day.
I built my backyard for privacy long before growing cannabis outdoors so it was canna-ready, but if fence height and privacy are an issue I’d recommend growing autos or scrogging photos. Have a dog to keep away cats and rodents as much as possible. Be nice to your neighbors, and a little sharing goes a long way! Sunlight availability is my number one challenge. 2-3 hrs in the morning and 3-4 hrs in the afternoon. The more the better!
A private, secluded area with plenty of sunlight is perfect for growing cannabis. Make sure you have access to water!
2.) Set up your containers with soil
Nursery pots are straight forward. Fill with loose soil to the rim, bang the pot lightly 2-3 times on the ground, add soil up to the rim again and that’s it.
In airpots the soil has to be pushed lightly into the holes on the sides as it’s poured in but same tapping and refilling method works great afterward.
3.) Germinate your seeds and place in containers
I germinate seeds in RootRiot plugs (the extra michoryzae is nice!) I drop the seed in water(shot glass in a dark spot for a day or two usually) until the tap root pops out and is about half an inch long.
I move autos in their final pot as soon as they’ve germinated (5-gallon container(= #7 Airpot USA), though 10 gallons is better for the longer cycle strains and super autos.)
Photoperiod plants go to a 1-gallon pot first then 5 or 7-gallon then to their final pot. I use 15 or 20-gallon nursery pots for photos.
4.) Water plants regularly
Cannabis plants like when the root environment is slightly acidic. The optimal ph is 6-7 for cannabis plants grown in soil. It’s important to check the pH of your water because plants get nutrient deficiencies if it’s too high or too low. The city water where I live has a 6.5 ph so on plain-water days it comes out straight out of the hose.
If it’s a day I give nutrients, I mix nutrients then take ppm readings. Once everything looks good I ph the water. Nutrients tend to lower the ph, so on feeding days I usually have to adjust the ph up before giving it to the plants. Your experience may vary depending on the ph of your water source. Here’s a tutorial on how to test the ph of your water.
How often do you water the plants?
- Every other day to every 3 days
How often do you water seedlings?
- I make sure they stay moist until I know the root growth is sufficient to allow for the top to dry out between watering.
How often do you water bigger plants?
- Bigger plants, especially later in the summer get watered every day in between feedings, not a full round of water but enough to sustain them thru the heat. And it helps them use up whatever nutes leftovers were there…
How much water do you give at a time?
- Full pressure on the hose wand, set on shower, and I count until 3 or 5 seconds while I release water.
5.) Plant care
Make sure photoperiod plants don’t get light at night. A privacy fence or a hedge will block street lights pollution enough. No direct bright light at night is the ticket!
A young outdoor marijuana plant
Watch for bugs or nutrient deficiencies and react quickly to problems
Every day, twice a day I survey my plants, if something is spotted I make sure to treat it as soon as possible. Once a week I spray a pestic >
Do you do any plant training like LST, supercropping, topping, etc?
- All of it! Depending on the plant or my mood I might top one and not the other but supercropping is a constant for sure.
How to deal with caterpillars
Caterpillars are one of the most common cannabis pests for outdoor growers. They will eat leaves and may even tunnel through the middle of your buds.
There’s a worm in there, that’s what this leaf tells me… Now I must remove the whole bud.
“B.T.” is an organic and OMRI certified insecticide that kills caterpillars but won’t hurt people, bees, animals or plants. It is safe to use on your plant up until the week of harvest. Get Monterey B.T. Ready-to-Use Spray on Amazon.
Anything else major to keep an eye on?
- The tip of the leaves, if they remain green you’re good, but watch for that yellowing tip, every day! Too much food! When it happens, it’s time to flush!
6.) Harvest plants when ready
When to Harvest
Plants are getting close when most trichomes are cloudy(autos and photos). At that point, I start flushing with mad farmer detox. I chop when the first ambers show up at about 10% max. Learn more about trichomes and when to harvest.
Autoflowering plants are ready to harvest on their own schedule as determined by the breeder.
For photoperiod plants the exact timing depends on your local latitude, but are typically ready to harvest in mid to late fall. Harvest here runs from mid-September to early November for those late sativas.
How to Dry and Cure Buds
My methods remain the same for autos and photos. (Here’s an alternative guide)
- Hang for 10 days at 70F and 60% humidity
- Dry trim
- Store in brown paper bags for another 7-10 days
- Store in glass jars with a 62% humidity pack
That’s it! A quick and dirty tutorial that will get you all the way to your first outdoor cannabis harvest!
More from LuckyAcres
Check out more pictures and videos by LuckyAcres on Instagram and Youtube.
Finally, you’ve received your precious seeds. But how to germinate those lovely little seeds into a beautiful green plant?
How To Grow Cannabis Outdoors
The whole process of growing cannabis outdoors, from seed to flower, can be a very rewarding experience. There are certainly challenges to growing in the great outdoors and it is also true that cannabis is exceptionally hardy. The old saying that with water and sunshine cannabis will grow on a rock is quite true – to which anyone who has seen weed growing wild in Morocco will testify.
MASTERING THE ART OF GROWING HIGH-QUALITY ORGANIC MARIJUANA
If you want to grow world-class organic marijuana things are a bit more complicated than just lobbing a few seeds into a patch of garden and letting nature do the rest. Some loving care and attention over the months, tornadoes, floods, droughts, plagues and alien invasion aside, will ensure a fine yield of high-quality cannabis for you to enjoy. Just like homegrown vegetables, it just tastes better.
The annual life cycle of the cannabis plant starts in early spring, after the equinox, when the sun has warmed the soil and daylight begins to last longer than twelve hours. An old gardener’s folk method of finding if your soil is warm enough for spring planting is if you can sit comfortably on your soil for one minute with your bare bottom you are ready to go – although you don’t need to do this, it gives you an idea of the ideal sowing conditions.
These ideal conditions make seeds germinate that is followed immediately by rapid vegetation. The season has ended when mature unfertilized flowers are harvested, as the weather cools and the days get shorter. Depending on species and geographical location, generally during autumn and waning into winter.
SOIL AND HEALTHY ROOTS ARE THE FOUNDATIONS OF YOUR GROW
Soil will be the anchor for your plant’s healthy life. Time or money spent on good soil will provide several benefits for your plants at every stage of their growth. Healthy, bio active soil not only provides all the nutrients your cannabis plants will need for their whole life, but good soil will help control several other variables in the growth of your plants.
The following are all problems that can be largely avoided when growing in active, high-quality soil:
- Ph fluctuations
- Pest resistance
- Biological attack
- Heat stress
- Fungal problems
- Nutrient lockout
Growing in soil provides a greater margin of error across the boards when there are fluctuations in any of the factors that can affect plant growth.
If you are a keen gardener and are adding cannabis to your repertoire of plants, then you already know the importance of good soil. You have been husbanding a high-quality humus over time, and your garden is rich with composts and living organisms, it is friable to the touch, no-till and holds water well while draining satisfactorily.
A good organic soil is quite possibly the most important, but most overlooked aspect of the entire cultivation process.
Making soil from several components yourself or buying a reputable quality commercial soil in bulk is another option if you are not the gardening type. A truly high-quality soil will need no fertilizers or additives for the life of your plants other than compost teas and top dressings for soil maintenance. Companion planting, mulching and throwing in a handful of worms will guarantee nitrogen fixing and soil friability, passive pest control, and water conservation.
CHOOSING YOUR PERFECT CANNABIS STRAIN FOR YOUR CLIMATE
Pot or soil. Latitude, day and season length. Recreational and or medicinal. Legal or guerrilla. Automatic or photo-period. Feminized or traditional. Mono or polyculture. Indica, sativa or hybrids. These variables you have already juggled in your decision to grow outdoor cannabis.
You already know you maybe too far north and chilly to attempt a long maturing sativa. Or your seasons are too wet and humid in general, and dense indicas can tend to rot. Perhaps the long hot days of your extended equatorial summers confuse autos that can regenerate after a brief flower period, the internal ruderalis bewildered by the seventeen perplexing hour days.
After some fascinating research, forum crawling with many truly mouth-watering bud pics an enquiring mind with literally thousands of styles of marijuana available can make a very informed decision.
It really is a kid in a candy store stuff right now on the internet. Variety truly is the spice of life when it comes to cannabis, and like many natural substances, it is a good idea to change things up to avoid building a tolerance.
It is certainly wise to grow a few species of equal strength but varying effect and have something different every day of the week. This will guarantee that different neurons are tickled by different terpenes and such avoiding strain stagnation (in our humble opinion – one plant of a few varieties is enough for a varied personal store).
MAKE SURE YOU START GERMINATING THE SEEDS IN TIME
As mentioned, the cannabis lifecycle begins in early spring, so you need to get your seeds germinating for then.
Hours of bud research have paid off, and you have selected the beauties you wish to see in full bloom in person. Whose effects you would like to appreciate, whose aroma you would like to savour. Whose growth and flower time suit where you dwell and grow.
During germination, the seed first absorbs water through its husk by imbibition – which means to imbibe or drink. The water hydrates existing enzymes and food supplies causing the seed to swell and expand. As metabolism gets stronger hydrated enzymes become active increasing energy production for the growth process. At the same time, water increases turgor pressure encouraging cell expansion.
The first indication of life will be the cracking of the seed coat and the emergence of a small white shoot called a radical. This quickly lengthens and becomes the tap root. The new tap root pushes down into the grow medium anchoring the plant in place and begins to absorb water and nutrients. Simultaneously the new stalk reaches towards the light and leaves begin to form.
The first leaves to appear are oblate, thick and rubbery and are not really leaves. They are called cotyledons and are pre-formed inside the seed. When hydrated they swell considerably and are used to split the seed husk apart and protect the first true serrated leaves as the crown is forced up and outwards through the medium.
Soon a radical transformation happens called photomorphogenesis. This light dependant process makes the plant become green and begin photosynthesis. The first true serrated leaves are exposed to the sun, and vegetation has begun.
Cannabis growing is an art rather than a linear a, b, c, system. Every action has a reaction, and you will discover what suits you over time as you become a master of the alchemical flux of marijuana magic. This starts with a choice of germination method.
Finally, you’ve received your precious seeds. But how to germinate those lovely little seeds into a beautiful green plant?
The best and easiest way to germinate cannabis seeds is as nature intended – in soil. Plant the seed about 0,5cm deep and cover lightly. Keep the soil around 20°C and ensure the environment is humid. The soil for germination doesn’t need to be nutrient rich – in fact, a high nutrient soil will overwhelm the cannabis in this fragile phase of life. The seed has everything it needs in it to get started.
Many growers like to start their plants indoors, in a pot, where conditions are easy to control. When strong enough, plants are then hardened off, before being moved permanently outdoors – it gives the plants a strong start, and makes it less likely they will succumb to the perils of outdoor growing before they are strong enough to deal with them.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPOT FOR YOUR CANNABIS PLANT
Seek out a spot that is exposed to as much sun as possible. Encourage wind and rain exposure as much as possible. Rain for growth boosts thanks to the carbon dioxide dissolved in the water. Wind because a good physical stressing makes for strong plants – a larger root base to compensate for wind stress – that produce more flowers.
For a decent sized cannabis plant in the ground, a minimum of five square metres is needed per plant, or as big a pot as your space can take to provide enough root room for complete canopy and flower development.
Planting cannabis too close together forces the plants to respond by reducing side branching and increasing stretch and height. Rather than having multiple flower sites over a large bushy plant, the plant will develop one long central cola and resemble industrial hemp in structure.
Flower density is affected by planting distance as well. Well separated plants develop much thicker buds than closely placed weed and are generally less susceptible to disease and infestation as plenty of air movement is possible.
GROWING TECHNIQUES FOR GROWING CANNABIS OUTDOORS
Over the ensuing months, your cannabis will respond to regular watering and plenty of sun with vigorous growth. You will be amazed by the stretch over the full moon period or the astounding gains in volume after a summer rain. Au natural, or topping and shucking into mainlines, fimming, super cropping or low-stress training, are all grow styles proven to grow high yields of potent ganja.
During vegetation, the plant consumes nutrients through the roots and uses light, water, and carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis to grow as much as possible in several different ways.
- The plant gets taller.
- The leaves get larger and far more numerous.
- Side branching begins which gives the plant volume.
- The root system gets larger.
- The trunk and branches become thicker and stronger and in some instances become fluted or ribbed.
- Large knuckles form at branch nodes.
- The true genetics of your plants will express themselves. As in the large thin palmate leaves and overall branchy stretchiness of a sativa or the broad fat leaves, minimal branching and stoutness of an indica.
Be prepared with plenty of stakes and ties or netting and wire to provide support as the plants grow. Vegetating plants rarely break, and yours have been staked from the start and aren’t leaning, only reaching for lumens.
Providing support as the plants grow is in anticipation of heavy flower clusters in the final weeks that can make whole plants collapse or large sections of branch snap during unpleasant weather.
Being caught out during flower time, having to run around madly fudging ad hoc support to twisting branches and leaning trees can mar delicate flowers. This is difficult work late in the game and you risk damaging the plant further having to handle it so much – so plan ahead with support.
Trimming your cannabis plants is nothing to be scared of. This blog features the tips you need to get trimming down and your marijuana yield up.
Snake oil salesmen will entice you to buy growth boosters and vegetation formulas, but healthy soil to begin with and monthly organic top dressing is all plants require.
Vegetating cannabis plants, as do all plants, respond with vitality to monthly organic top dressing. There are a number of commercial products available that work equally well. Feather meals and fermented compost teas that contain active microbial life, bird and bat guanos or worm castings are all excellent sources of trace elements, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The rule, of course, is to err on the side of too little, burning and poisoning are still possible with organics.
WHAT IF YOU ENCOUNTER MOULD IN YOUR BUDS?
Something has gone awry in your little cannabis ecosystem. Don’t freak out that your weed isn’t the high definition, high rez, picture perfect weed like you see indoors.
Keep a keen eye out for moulds. Dense flower clusters can retain water that can cause botrytis or powdery mildew if there is not sufficient air flow. Tend your flowers well, remove dead and dry leaves as they can rot and moulder and spread to the buds. Remove desiccated and damaged bud material for the same reason. If you do find bud rot, remove the whole flower cluster immediately and put in a plastic bag. Try not to let any spores get on the air than can affect surrounding plants. Dispose of well or burn.
Spiders making little nests are good as they eat mites, the occasional folded over leaf where some random larvae have curled up to pupate is nothing to lose your cool about. Lady beetles are a welcome sight as are many beneficial critters drawn to your garden by its attractive vigour, and variety of species.
Plant diseases are rare in a well setup garden. Plenty of room between plants, lots of air movement, sun, sun and more sun, not too wet, all bolstered by the renowned natural resistance of cannabis to pests, fungus, and microbial attacks should have you growing trouble free.
Seek organic solutions to pre-emptive pest control as part of the regular maintenance of your plants. Caterpillars and aphids among many other critters are discouraged by regular application of neem oil for example. Preventing infestation is far more desirable than getting rid of infestation.
THE FIRST SIGNS OF THE FLOWERING STAGE
As the days start to shorten towards the equinox, noticeable changes will occur in your cannabis plants.
During the shortening days towards the equinox and the last weeks of the growing season, but before dropping below the twelve-hour photoperiod required for full flowering, cannabis will differentiate. The growth pattern of your plants begins to alter.
Replacing the striving, stretching symmetry of vegetation with growth that begins to zig-zag and compress with less distance between nodes. The tips at the ends of branches will turn upwards creating nooks and crannies where flower formations will be cradled. Individual branches become distinguishable from the generic canopy of green.
Quick on the heels of differentiation, proper flowering begins.
Flower clusters start to form, and the compressed zig-zag structure begins to stretch, sometimes another fifty percent of the plant’s height. Brand new calyxes form in the supporting intersections of leaves and zig-zagged stalks. Turgid and already resinous pistils extend from each calyx giving the cluster the look of a tiny anenome.
The puffballs of calyxes extend along their own delicate prong, making more room for more clusters to form. Bud specific leaves start to emerge that are different to sugar leaves. They are smaller, thicker, look felty are very ridged and covered in trichomes, eventually becoming mostly submerged by the flower clusters as they swell.
Each calyx node along the protrusion will produce more calyx clusters which stack in a pattern similar to cereals like wheat or barley. Each with trichome covered twin pistils these fresh calyx florets stack one atop the other until peak fluorescence is reached. This is often when great cannabis pics are taken. The gnurled and knobbly flower clusters have a halo of pistils reaching for pollen that will never come.
During the flowering phase, we can see our precious little buds develop into mighty flowers. Enter, and learn the best practices during this phase.
This is where the fun stuff really begins. Cannabis in the raw of nature would have been well fertilized by now and thoroughly on the way to producing mature seeds. The lack of male pollen tricks the cannabis plant into producing more flowers than would be possible in a mixed sex crop in the wild. After peak blooming has been reached, the plant continues to mature, and resins are produced in copious amounts.
Using your choice of magnifying apparatus, a loupe or kiddies microscope for example, you can check the swelling of the resin bearing trichomes. The calyxes themselves also swell substantially, undergoing a false pregnancy, filling the unfertilized seed chamber with oils.
GETTING READY TO HARVEST YOUR PLANTS
Carpeted in trichomes that continue to swell the pistils begin to shrivel and change colour, their pollen gathering days well and truly past. Tones and shades that cover the spectrum can appear. Russet, lavender, deep brown or even hints of blue or silver, as many colours as there are strains of marijuana.
The maturing process will also see your plants morph in colours as the season comes to a close. Sugar leaves begin to mimic deciduous forests in colours and flower clusters are swollen and very firm to the touch. The bouquet of your plants will be in overdrive right now. Complex fragrances easily distinguishable from species to species are enticing and hint at the flavours to come.
In these last weeks, the trichomes and their resin sacks begin to change colour in waves all over the plant. Usually starting with the oldest growth first.
Trichomes initially become milky rather than clear; then milky becomes a deepening amber. Ideally, you will be harvesting when the dusting of trichome colours is half white and half amber. This guarantees a peak THC content, too much longer and the THC begins to turn into other less desirable cannabinoids.
It is time to grab your favourite scissors or snips and harvest the results of your hard work.
CUTTING YOUR PLANTS
Sometime in early October for indicas and some weeks later for sativas, the trichome colours, and fragrant bouquets have inferred that it is time for harvest.
Stand back just once more and admire your handiwork before having at them.
While the plant is still standing start by removing all the leaves that have an easily accessible stalk to snip. Sugar leaves especially. This is also easily enough done with your fingernails. When done your plants will be stalks and flowers with only difficult to access leaves attached.
You have scraped your trimmers and fingers many, many times and are the proud owner of a lovely ball of dark resinous charas hashish. Consume now as you consider the next stage. If you are new to cannabis growing you will be needing a break, being amazed at how much work trimming really is.
Now break the plant down. There are no rules simply consider your drying method. Hanging a complete plant or individual long branches and detail trimming when dry. Detail trimming wet flowers and drying on screens or in a humidity controlled cupboard. Each quite valid and when done correctly provide great quality dried flowers.
Anyone who grows marijuana knows the feeling: You may get a good amount of bud at harvest time, but as you are cutting your plant you.
As a side note, trim can be used to make cannabis-infused foods – although it doesn’t have as much cannabinoid content as flowers, it still has some. Check out our recipe section to put it to good use!
Six weeks later you will be enjoying perfectly dried and cured examples of your horticultural skills. Enjoy!
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