Table of Contents
If you want to grow marijuana plants in the outdoors, then finding a good location is the first step. Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is to choose a location which is not easily visible and which will not be discovered by random people. Staying away from roads and trails, houses and other man-made structures, hunting grounds and agricultural fields should be obvious. The less appealing and difficult to reach the site appears to be, the better it is as a growing site, as it will decrease the chances of your plantation being discovered by random passers-by or, in the worst-case scenario, the law.
In an outdoors location, you want to find a place which ideally has access to a fair amount (five hours or so) of sunlight, three hours per day being the minimum. If there is fewer light available, your plants will grow slower and your output will shrink. A tip to increase the reflection of sunlight towards the plants is putting aluminium foil around them. Lastly, direct sunlight in the morning is better than direct sunlight in the evening.
As for soil, cannabis will grow best in a kind of soil which has good drainage and an acidity rating of about 6.5. The soil should crumble easily, but pack together tightly if squeezed. If the soil at your location has bad drainage, you can add sand or vermiculite or perlite to it, and if the pH is too low, add hydrated lime about a month before planting the seeds. If the soil is too acidic, add sodium bicarbonate. Soil acidity is very important and should not be neglected.
Your plant needs water to survive, so the level of the location’s water table is of crucial importance as well. Too high a water table and the marijuana plant’s roots won’t be able to get enough oxygen. Too low a water table, and the soil will become too dry for the plant to thrive without having to water it constantly. You can grow your plants in pots if the ground is too wet at your location, and when doing so, remember that a bigger pot is always a better pot, and that, over the potting soil, it should ideally have a layer of about an inch thick to improve the drainage.
If it turns out that you have to water your plants, you may want to have a source of fresh water nearby. If there is nothing available in the vicinity, you can partially bury some large buckets which should collect rainwater for you to use. It’s best not to water in the late evening or at night because it will increase your chances of having to deal with mold. Hide your equipment at the site!
Lastly, you will need some rudimentary protection for your plants against the threat of roaming wildlife, for whom young marijuana plants are irresistible as a food source. The two main ways to do this, which are not mutually exclusive (ideally, use both methods), is, on the one hand to leave human or predator (bears, foxes, wolves) hair and/or blood near the site, and on the other to put up a fence. A fence can be made rather easily with the use of fishing line. Very small plants can be protected by putting a drinking glass over them, which will also double as a humidity tent.
Cannabis cultivation has a very long history, which has led to a plethora of varieties currently being available to the budding grower (pun intended). There are plenty of seedbanks, both offline and online, available which sell many different strains which have been selected for their potency and growing capabilities. In selecting a strain, remember to choose one which will thrive in your climate and of which the harvest will be ready before the first estimated frost of the year. If you are growing your plants on a large scale, you must also consider the expected yield, and may want to think about finishing the growing cycle in greenhouses rather than leaving them at your chosen site where they may not thrive as well as you want or expect them to.
After you have found a suitable growing location and have purchased a good amount of seeds, your growing venture can finally begin. The first step is sprouting the seeds, which can be done in two main ways.
Firstly, you can plant the seeds directly in the soil at your location of choice. In this case, you do not want to waste that good space you spent so much time finding with bad seeds, so you must select only the viable seeds that are in your possession. Good seeds are strong and free of cracks, they are greyish or brownish in color (green seeds are not mature yet) and have no deformations. Planting the seeds is quite easy. Take a pencil to the growing site and put the point about half an inch into the soil. Drop a seed into the hole and cover it (not too tightly!) with soil and, if available, water with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and diluted to about a quarter of its strength. Don’t forget to mark the place, or you might forget where you planted the seed. The next seed you plant should not be in a radius of about three square feet of the first, or both plants may experience reduced growth because of being too close together and having to compete with one another for sunlight. Your biggest enemy at this stage is the threat of the ground getting dried out, and you should use distilled water to moisten the soil whenever it feels dry. After about a week you should see the first stems appear, and after two weeks the first spiked leaves node should be visible.
The second way of sprouting your seeds is by sprouting them at your home, using paper towels. You’ll need paper towels, a flat pan and some plastic wrap. Wet about three paper towels with water and spread your seeds out on them. Put the paper towels (with the seeds) in a pan and cover with another three paper towels on the top, then wrap plastic around the whole thing. If you place the plastic-covered pan with the paper towels and seeds in it in a warm and dark place, the seeds should begin sprouting by themselves. Check every day and make sure that the towels do not dry out. White roots on the sprouts should appear and when they are about a quarter of a an inch long, it’s time to transplant the young plant to a Jiffy-pot, filled with soil gathered from the growing site (make sure the soil is the same, as transplanting them into different soil may cause so much stress on the plant as to ruin its chances of survival!). When planting the sprouts, use a pencil and stick it into the soil in your Jiffy-pot, and then plant the seedling, with the root facing downwards. Cover with some dirt (don’t press tightly!) and after about a week the stem should appear, and the spiked leaves another week after that.
In the early growth phase of the plant, no fertilizer should be necessary, but regular watering should be done whenever the ground seems dried out. In this stage your plants will be most vulnerable to wild, hungry animals, so make sure your protection is in place. Also, always be on the watch for mold. When you spot one of your plants being affected by mold, cut your losses and remove them from the site immediately, or it will spread to all your other plants as well. When removing the affected plant, be careful with it and don’t shake it as the spores are designed to spread easily.
If you’ve been using Jiffy-pots for the early growth stages, the time to transplant them to your growing site is the moment when the fourth node of rudimentary spiked leaves appears. When this happens, take the Jiffy-pots to the site and place them into the soil, pot and all. The pot will be broken down in the soil. When your marijuana plants have six or seven sets of spiked leaves, it’s time to begin fertilization. Use 20-20-20 fertilizer for the best success, but other combinations may work as well. Just ensure that it contains the three nutrients.
Sexing can be done at this stage as well. Sexing means identifying the male plants and remove them so they don’t pollinate the females (which would result in seeds rather than buds at the time of harvest). What you can do to identify the males early is “force” the flowering stage on a single branch by covering a branch per plant with a black plastic bag and securing it with twist ties. The flowering stage is induced when the plant is put in a cycle of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness per day. So if you can get the branch exposed to sunlight for such a cycle, the flowering phase will come on after about three weeks of attaching and reattaching the bags every day. When this happens, males can be identified by what appear to be little balls on the branch, whereas females will have two small whit hairs coming from a young calyx. Identify the males, remove them, and your remaining plants will be 100% female! Stop the light and darkness cycles and the plants will begin growing normally again soon, reverting back to the vegetative phase.
A bad case of over fertilization
a marijuana plant
When the plants are maturing and becoming more established, the soil should only be watered when it feels dry about three inches in. If you want, you can use insecticide at this stage as well (reapply after a bout of rain). Fertilization should occur every three to four weeks, but be very careful to not use too much of it. Given enough light, the plants should grow up to two inches every day!
If you think you recognize symptoms of a deficiency, consul the Nutrient Table, and you may be able to find a cure. Test the acidity of the soil again, and confirm that it is a bit lower than it was before planting the marijuana (because of the fertilizer). If the pH is too low (below 6.2), water it with some wood ash until it is back to the ideal level (6.5).
You may want to begin applying nutrient compounds directly onto the leaves. This practice of foliar feeding can help the plant be more efficient at absorbing nutrients, as the effectiveness of its roots to do this is reduced over time. Just reduce the fertilizer strength considerably (50% is not too much). Foliar feeding should be done by lightly spraying it on the leaves in the early morning with a very fine spray bottle. Note the word “lightly”, as you do not want to drench the leaves. Don’t forget to spray the leaves with water, to get rid of old and unabsorbed nutrients, left from the feeding, and do not apply this method more than twice a week.
It’s also possible to prune the plants at this time, which will increase the amount of the plant’s branches near the bottom, as well as keeping the plant shorter, which won’t arouse as much suspicion as it would if it reaches great size. The suitability of pruning really depends on the strain you have chosen to cultivate. Some have their growth concentrated around the central stem, which increases the desirability of pruning. There are growers though who are against the practice altogether, claiming that it induces too much stress, resulting, in the worst case, in males or hermaphrodites instead of females. However, if used correctly, it can improve your yield and protect your plants from unwanted observers. Use sharp scissors which are cleaned and cut branches. Wherever you cut, two should grow, but never cut more than about six inches at a time!
As was briefly mentioned above, the flowering stage in marijuana plants is triggered when the plant is exposed to a daily period of uninterrupted darkness. The actual length may vary depending on the strain and plant, but it should be about 12 hours for most. So when the plants are exposed to an environment which has 12 hours of darkness per day, the flowering phase will begin (after a while). This is due to a certain hormone inside the plant which is extremely sensitive to light, which has as a consequence that you should be very careful when you visit your growing site at night, because even a little bit of light can trigger the plant to revert back to its vegetative stage! So do not use any light at all when visiting at night, or, better yet, come during the day instead.
During the flowering stage, fertilization should be minimal or strongly diluted. If it is used, a compound which emphasizes phosphorus would be ideal, but remember to cut it down to a quarter of the normal strength, if you decide to use it at all. If you haven’t removed the males yet, then this is the time to do so and you should keep an eye on signals of males at all times. Males must be kept away to prevent them from pollinating the females. Finally, it should be obvious but do not use insecticide when your plants are flowering, because you will taste it when consuming the fruits of your labor.
A female pot plant a few weeks
into flowering. Notice the long
When around three quarters of the white hairs of pistil have become a brownish sort of color, the time to harvest has finally arrived. Check the resin crystals on the leaves with a magnifying glass to observe their color. If they appear transparent/clear, then they’re not ready yet. But if they are amber, it’s time to get that bud from your plants. If they are brown, however, the optimal time to harvest has already passed, and the resin is declining in potency at a rapid rate.
Take backpacks to the site to carry your plants in. Cut off the branches and put them in paper bags before placing them in your backpacks. Get rid of the big leaves on the lower end because they’re not good for smoking. And, be careful not to get too excited and shake the plants too much while harvesting or you might lose a lot of the resin glands!
Take your harvest home and place them in Rubbermaid containers. Stir them about twice daily and watch for mold. You do not want mold to affect your harvest at this stage, after putting all this work into the whole growing venture, so if you spot any, take out the affected bits immediately and spread it out on a table or blanket to dry. It’s possible to destroy the mold by putting it in the microwave.
Because light has a detrimental effect on THC at this point, you should keep your drying harvest in the dark at all times (except when you’re checking for mold). About three weeks later, take out the buds and remove the leaves (if there are leaves with a lot of resin on them, you can leave them in). The last phase of drying can be done by wrapping the buds in newspaper and putting them in some warm and dry location. When the stems are brittle enough that they can easily be broken, which should take about another week, they are finally completely dry. When this happens, congratulate yourself, because you are done and have a nice batch of self-grown marijuana to smoke!