Spring is almost upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about your next outdoor grow. This is an exciting time of the year. As the days grow longer and warmer, the outdoor garden beckons. Now is the time to plan what you will grow this spring—as well as decide on details for how you will grow it.
Most recreational and medical states now allow the home cultivation of cannabis. Research the laws in your state if you plant to grow outdoors, most legal states permit citizens to cultivate grows that are out of public view and in a secure, locked location.
If you already know how to grow cannabis, but have limited your cultivation projects to indoor gardens, you’re in for a treat if you have an appropriate outdoor grow area. For one thing, you can learn sativa cultivation on a whole new level than what’s possible indoors. Pure sativa strains—with some notable exceptions like Durban Poison—never seems to reach their full potential indoors because the plants can reach massive proportions that only the largest of grow rooms can accommodate. Combine this large size with the fact that pure sativa can take painfully long to mature, and it’s easy to understand why most indoor growers don’t attempt growing it and opt for easier indicas and hybrids instead.
Planting an outdoor crop in the spring provides exciting opportunities that indoor grows do not allow. First of all, the grow area is typically much larger. No one complains about having too much space to grow indoors—usually it’s the exact opposite. Cannabis plants grown outdoors can grow to sizes you’ve never experienced if given space to stretch out.
Celebrate the differences outdoor cultivation allows and plan to try new things to grow potent green flower in a manner unlike what’s possible in your indoor garden. You will be a better, more well-rounded cannabis cultivator as a result.
1. Change Your Mindset
Try to push standard indoor cultivation practices to the back of your mind. You will rely on some of the skills you learned indoors, while exploring all-new cultivation practices. Outdoors, you are the mercy of the element and nature. There are no digital meters, timers and controls, grow lights, fans, vents, forced-air ducts, or electric bills to worry about. It’s just you, your plants, and Mother Nature.
Define the outdoor grow area and define the number of plants you will grow. Space them far apart (several feet). Indoor plants huddle close together under grow lights to capture optimum illumination, but outdoor plants like to stretch out unrestricted by close neighboring plants, while soaking up the sun’s natural rays. Lateral growth and the development of lower flowers will occur much more than indoors.
Unless you live in an area with extreme weather or you fear your plants are vulnerable to thieves, abandon the thought of using pots. Although pots allow portability and the movement of plants in cases of emergency, they really just restrict you when growing outdoors—as well as make purely organic growing more difficult. Organic cannabis is always better than something grown with synthetic fertilizers. Many cannabis connoisseurs have the ability to detect synthetic soil additives and are quick to identify a “bottle job” when they taste it—particularly if the grower didn’t practice due diligence with an adequate flush job before harvest. Some bottle additives come very close to being purely organic, but none are 100-perecent organic. Don’t worry about buying bottled nutrients for your outdoor plants. Outdoors, you have the luxury of creating a compost pile that will make your plants truly thrive. You also may opt to use other natural soil additives (earthworm castings, bat guano, kelp meal, blood meal, etc.). Include a natural soil additive that will encourage strong flower growth during late summer and fall months.
2. Till the Soil
After defining the space for your outdoor garden, prepare an area of tilled ground in either a square or rectangular shape to keep it orderly and easy to tend. The garden site must be close to a good water source or you’ll pay the price hauling water later when the plants are thriving.
If you’re lucky to have reasonably good soil on your property, it helps dramatically when preparing your growing site. Rocky or clay-like soil is more difficult to prepare and may need supplementation with organic soil from bags or bulk delivery. Claylike soil, in particular, is a poor substrate for cannabis plants.
Either rent or invest in a rototiller to do most of the work for you when preparing the ground. Hacking away at hardened and rocky earth with a hoe is back-breaking work—not to mentioned that a rototiller will do the job much better. The cultivation quality of the soil on your land will determine if you need to supplement it with organic soil.
3. Compost Pile
Compost will be your biggest friend if you have marginal soil. As the old saying goes “fertilizer feeds the plants, but compost feeds the soil.” The good news is that compost piles are easy to create and provide a steady supply of rich, soil-enhancement material (they don’t call it “black gold” for nothing!”). Since compost consists of mostly waste material, it costs very little to create. You may be shocked at how much your plants thrive when provided with compost-rich soil and allowed to soak unfiltered natural sunlight.
Best of all, compost is 100-percent organic, and its presence in your soil will coax the most delicious flavors possible from the cannabis flower you cultivate. Some of the best material to build good compost are brush trimmings, leaves (both brown and green), organic manure, grass clippings, dry cat or dog food, non-animal table scraps like vegetables, fruits, breads, peels, rinds, cereal, coffee grounds and filters, tea leaves, and used tea bags.
Creating the compost pile is simple, but start it as early as possibly because it takes three months to create usable compost. The compost pile will require a space all its own, so plan for it when deciding where your cannabis garden will go. Just like having easy access to water, you want your plant to benefit from easy access to compost. There are a number of good online tutorials for creati9ng a good compost pile, so follow the directions and you should be up and running with a steady compost supply in a few months.
4. Outdoor Strains
Once you’ve done what’s necessary for preparing your spring cultivation location, it’s time to decide what you’ll grow in it. Once again you should abandon thoughts of what you might have enjoyed growing in your indoor garden. Now you the opportunity to grow something that may be difficult to grow indoors.
While indica strains will grow just as well outdoors as sativa strains, they are easy to grow indoors, and an outdoor grow almost seems to scream for sativa strains. Outdoors is the best location for them to fully express their full potential. Consider some pure sativas or sativa-leaning hybrids if you don’t like the sometimes-racy effects of sativa strains. We’ll also touch on a couple indica-leaning strains that grow to a respectable size outdoors.
Veteran smokers who enjoyed the old-school imports from decades past would most likely love this blast from the past. Thai seed is still available if you look hard enough for it, and it also occurs occasionally in dispensaries. Many people prefer the sweet Chocolate Thai variant. If unable to locate pure Thai, there are several strains that descended from it and contain as much as 80-percent Thai. The word “Thai” is typically in the names of these strains, and they make good alternatives to growing pure Thai.
This old classic is a top choice for many outdoor growers. It’s a hybrid, but leans to the sativa side and grows to a substantial size. It grows very well in mild, temperate climates, which includes many areas of the United States. The flavor is sweet, with a spicy quality that some people liken to pepper. Trainwreck is sativa-dominant and grows tall like sativa, although its effects are balanced thanks to the indica in its genetics.
Developed on the Central Coast of California, Haze captures the best qualities of its mostly sativa genetics to deliver outstanding sativa effects. The dash of indica used to produce it provides a faster finishing time outdoors than some pure sativas like Thai. The scent and flavor of Haze is very distinctive, with pine- and mint-like notes. The aroma and flavor are also present in most of the many Haze crosses (Lemon Haze and Super Silver Haze to mention just two), and it’s quite distinctive. Haze or one of the Haze spin-off strains will do well outdoors in warmer climates.
Created by the well-known Dutch seed company Sensi Seeds, California indica will grow a large size outdoors and produce a heavy yield. The height is more manageable than some of the other strains mentioned here, but when topped properly, lateral branch development can be robust. The effects are typical of an indica, and the flavor has a pleasing citrus presence that tastes like oranges.
This sativa-dominant strain can get quite tall outdoors, and true to its sativa-heavy genetics it can be a late finisher as well. Sour Diesel is easy to identify as part of the fuel/diesel family of strains that descend from Chemdawg. Some phenos of Sour Diesel have not only a pungent diesel aroma and flavor but a subtle lemon quality as well. The yield outdoors can be very good. “Sour D” grows best in a hot, dry environment, so you might want to opt for another strain if you live in a wet climate.
Sometimes referred to as “Original Glue” these days because of litigation matters with the company with the same name, the cannabis Gorilla Glue #4 is a classic with outstanding indica effects and yield, particularly when grown outdoors. There are a few phenos of this hybrid strain and #4 is definitely the most popular. The pungent earthy pine flavors have a touch of dank skunkiness and a relaxing quality. As the name implies, the buds can get very sticky.
Planning an outdoor grow this spring can provide a bountiful harvest and allow you to learn about cannabis on an entirely different level if you’re used to growing indoors. Plan properly now for optimum results with your outdoor garden. You will likely find yourself a proponent of outdoor cultivation and make it an annual adventure. Make this the year you discover the many benefits of outdoor cannabis growing.