Prepping for Your Outdoor Grow
How to Prep for Your Outdoor Grow
It may be snowy outside right now, but in just a few short weeks it will be time once again to prepare for your outdoor garden. Recent federal legislature has allowed households in Canada to legally grow up to 4 cannabis plants, with many people choosing to take advantage of their outdoor space to do so. The window for growing outdoors in Canada can be slightly limited though due to unpredictable conditions in the spring & fall, so planning ahead for when the frost finally disappears is your best bet.
In this article we’ll overview some of the considerations you’ll need to make before planting your cannabis outside, as well as the best ways to prepare for your crop.
Find a space to grow
Before making the decision to grow outdoors instead of inside you need to first consider a few things; Do I have the space to grow these plants? Will the climate support their growth? Will they be protected from harsh elements and passerby’s? Can I easily access them to care for them?
Examining your potential garden space is an important first step in determining if you could grow your plants outdoors. With enough room to fully develop their roots and stretch out, outdoor cannabis plants can grow to be quite large (sativas get very tall, whereas indicas grow thick and bushy). When you’re growing 4 or even more plants, that can amount to a lot of garden space.
Where you choose to plant will need to have access to as much direct sunlight as possible. A south facing exposure is ideal in order to receive quality midday light, which will lessen as the end of the season becomes closer. Cannabis plants need at the very least 5 hours of direct sunlight and 5 hours of indirect sunlight in order to take in water and nutrients, and essentially survive.
Plants should also be in an area where they can receive a nice light breeze throughout the day to help keep them cool and build strong branches. However, they need to be protected from potentially intense winds and other harsh weather conditions which may damage branches. Keeping them away from big open fields and close to fences or other structures is important. This is also important to consider for the matter of privacy and keeping your plants safe from curious people.
Finally, before planting you’ll want to assess how easily you can access your plants to care for them and how close of proximity they are to a water source. Cannabis plants require regular attention so you don’t want to have to struggle every time you need to get to your plants, meaning growing them in a tight corner of your yard for example might not be the best idea. You also want to have the end game in mind when planting and consider how easy it will be for you to harvest your plants from this spot.
Growing Directly In Soil vs Pots
Once you’ve picked a spot to start growing, the next thing to consider is if you can grow the plants directly in the ground or if you’ll want to place them in grow pots within your garden or outdoor space. When growing in the ground, you’ll need to assess if the existing soil (if there is any) is healthy enough to sustain your plants, and if it has enough water drainage. With unlimited space for your roots to grow in the ground you’ll have the advantage of growing bigger plants, however it may be harder to maintain soil consistency or your ability to isolate the area from pests and such. Before transplanting your cannabis measure the pH of your soil to be sure it lies within the optimal 6.0 - 7.0 range. Things such as Dolomite, or a soil acidifier can assist you in achieving the optimal pH for relatively low cost.
Deciding to grow your plants in pots can be beneficial if you are limited on space or direct sunlight. Plants may not have the room to become quite as large when grown in pots, but the isolated environment can help you to produce a higher quality bud. In a smaller, more confined space such as a planter/pot, you have more control over the medium which means it’s easier for you to create ideal growing conditions within the medium (as in pH & nutrient levels, and less risk of pests). You’ll also have the advantage of portability, making it easier to move plants into the sun and away from harsh elements, and ideal for smaller spaces like back decks.
Whether you’re growing directly in the ground, or in a pot there are plenty of great options available for potting soils and other growing mediums that are ideal for cannabis growth. You’ll want to find something that has good drainage and allows oxygen to the plants root. Some soils even come formulated for cannabis plants with the addition of extra nutrients, such as U-Cann Primal Earth Super Soil. If you enjoy keeping your garden organic, the outdoors is also a great place for the addition of soil amendments and conditioners such as compost tea, bat guano, and earthworm castings.
Decide what to grow
After you’ve decided where and how you’ll grow it, you must decide what you’ll be growing. These days there are an enormous number of strains available for growers, which is only growing bigger with the increasing popularity of breeders, so it is advisable to do some research into the type of strain you wish to grow, as well as the genetics of your source.
A few classic strains that do well outdoors, as well as with beginner growers are:
- White Widow
- Northern Lights
- Super Skunk
- Durban Poison
You can get your plants started with either seeds or clones, depending on your preferred method and what is available to you. Clones will need to be carefully transplanted into their new home outdoors when the plant stem is sturdy, and the roots are strong and growing rapidly. Read more about cloning in this blog post.
Seeds should be germinated before planting them into their new home, preferably indoors. This can take up to 7 days sometimes, so it’s best to plan to give yourself a few extra days of time. Seedlings can be started in something such as sustainable hemp growing cubes, that can be transplanted directly into the soil or pot of your new plant.
What else is needed?
All in all the basics of getting started growing outdoors can be much simpler than it’s indoor counterpart, but there are a few things to keep in mind before embarking on this endeavor. Gather all your necessary tools and supplies ahead of time so you’re not left shorthanded. This should include things such as pruning shears, plant nutrients or fertilizer, and digital pH meter. As you become more experienced you can build a more extensive toolkit to help you tune into and refine your grow, read more about that in this blog post.
Another important consideration is to educate yourself on the signs of pests. Outdoor grows are more susceptible to things such as gnats and spider mites that can take down your entire crop very quickly if you’re not careful. Remember to check on your plants regularly, know what to look out for, and have a plan in case you do discover an infestation such as insecticidal spray.
Our in-store experts can help you get set up for your outdoor grow this season with all the items on your checklist, and even recommend additional items that may be of use. Stop into our store at 376 Kingston Rd 7 days a week to speak with us, we’re here to help!
Find a space to grow. Consider:
Is there enough room to grow?
Is there enough direct sunlight?
Are the plants protected from harsh elements/in relative privacy?
What is their proximity to water, and ease of access?
Assess the space for the plant’s ability to grow directly in the ground, or in grow pots
Is the natural soil usable with good drainage?
Will you need something portable, or isolated instead?
What type of soil and/or soil amendments will you be using?
Decide what you will be growing
What strain will best suit your needs
Will you grow from seed, or clone?
How will you transplant into new grow space?
Gather everything else you will need
Do you have all the necessary gardening tools & supplies?
What nutrients will you be feeding your plants?
Have a plan for pests / pathogens!