Outdoor cannabis growing

Tips and products for increasing the yields of cannabis plants grown outdoors.

Common errors in the cultivation of automatic plants

Spring is getting closer, and with it, the ideal conditions for cannabis cultivation, which is why many growers are already starting to plan their outdoor grow for the season ahead, while others are planning a last indoor crop before the dreaded summer heat arrives. It’s no secret that auto-flowering cannabis seeds (also known as automatics) represent a considerable part of the varieties that can currently be found in the market, with sales increasing year upon year, thanks in large part to the excellent work done by breeders and seed banks.

Whether you grow outdoors or indoors, in this article we’re going to show you a series of tips and tricks towards successful autoflower cultivation, highlighting the typical mistakes that are usually made when growing this type of genetics and proposing alternatives that will make your grow much more efficient, with greater yields and higher quality of the final product.

Avoiding errors is rewarded with higher yields

Avoiding errors is rewarded with higher yields

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Growing cannabis in harsh climate conditions

Although cannabis performs well in many latitudes, a rigorous selection of the genetics that we’re going to grow is sometimes necessary in some places in order to harvest our plants successfully, especially outdoors. In this article we will focus on two classic, adverse climate conditions: cold and humid areas – like Northern Europe – and hot and dry climates, where the different cannabis seeds won’t develop in the same way.

Cannabis strains for humid and cold climate

While high humidity promotes a lush and healthy growth, things are different during the flowering stage, when flowers can be infected by mildew and other pathogenic agents due to the effect of cold temperatures and rains. However, it isn’t impossible to grow in these regions, and many growers from places like the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Canada or even Alaska successfully harvest their outdoor cannabis crops every year, mainly thanks to an accurate selection of the genetics grown – always looking for the most resistant strains – and of course the use of greenhouses, greenhouse heaters, etc.

Before presenting you a brief list of this type of genetics, especially suited for outdoor growing in these areas for being particularly resistant to moulds, we are going to explain a few desirable traits that might ensure the best possible results.

Cold temperatures do not allow buds to get fat

Cold temperatures do not allow buds to get fat

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Guerrilla growing cannabis

Growing cannabis outdoors, guerrilla style

Guerrilla cultivation is often the only available option for many growers to keep themselves supplied with cannabis throughout the year, especially for those who have no garden for outdoor growing and don’t have the possibility of cultivating indoors. The idea is simple, it’s a question of finding a suitable piece of land to grow on, in a forest, woods, or scrubland where plants can be left to fend for themselves until harvest time. Naturally, the plants need not be completely abandoned, they can receive some care and maintenance depending on how accessible the grow spot is, and how much the grower wishes to risk being caught red-handed while attending to them.

Although the success of the crop will depend largely on luck, with the plants being more or less left to their own devices for most of their life, a series of steps can be taken that, while not guaranteeing a successful harvest, can certainly help the plants to remain healthy throughout the season. In this way, guerrilla growers can harvest cannabis crops of a quality rivalling that of the most pampered outdoor gardens, where it’s far easier to provide the plants with all they need.In the following article we will outline the most important elements to consider for achieving a successful guerrilla harvest in the safest and easiest way possible.

Early Maroc is ideal for guerrilla growing

Early Maroc is ideal for guerrilla growing

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Growing automatic cannabis plants outdoors in Smartpots

Equipment, genetics and fertilisers employed

The following article details a grow report of autoflowering cannabis strains cultivated outdoors, mostly using Smart Pots. The purpose of this report is to examine their performance when used to grow  autoflowering varieties and note their suitability to the particular demands of this type of cultivation. Smart Pots encourage a vigorous root development that in consequence tends to lead to bigger plants and more abundant harvests.

We grew two plants of each of 2 different varieties in order to be able to perform a comparative test. The idea was to cultivate one plant of each variety in Smart Pots of 18 litres, which would be the “main subjects,” and then two more, one of each variety, in a smart pot of 12 litres and a circular rigid white plastic pot of 11 litres. So, we will be able to make a comparison between the different automatic seeds we have grown and how they perform in the different containers.

Smoke of marijuana

Smoke of marijuana

Equipment used for the crop of automatic cannabis plants

When growing automatic strains it’s not recommended to transplant, given their relatively short life-span and the resulting delay in development that this would cause. To avoid any stress on our plants and ensure a rapid growth, we are going to plant directly in the final pot. Once we have made the shopping list and bought all the necessary products, we are ready to begin growing.
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Soil Food Web Gardening

While it may be old news for organic gardeners, with writers like Elaine Ingham championing soil food web gardening since the late nineties and the more recent success of Jeff Lowenfels’ highly influential book ‘Teaming With Microbes’, this approach has recently been catching on with organic cannabis growers who are being won over by the vigorous vegetative growth, increased plant health and more importantly, many claim increased yield and terpene production in their flowers!

The term ‘Soil Food Web’ was coined by Elaine Ingham and refers to the relationships between the many and diverse species of organisms found living in soil. A balanced, well functioning soil food web is vital for healthy plants – most gardeners are familiar with the physical and chemical aspects of soil science – taking care to provide the plants with the correct soil type/texture and with adequate nutrition, but are often unaware of the equally important role played by soil biology in a healthy, vibrant garden – it’s all too easy to focus on the activity and growth above ground to the exclusion of everything else, but in doing so we risk ignoring the vital interactions taking place out of sight below the ground in unbelievable numbers.


The Soil Food Web

It’s impossible to see this complex microbial world without the aid of a microscope and very difficult to imagine the scale, so to put things into perspective it’s been suggested that a handful of healthy garden soil can contain more micro organisms than the number of all the humans who have ever lived: a trillion bacteria, 10,000 protozoa, 10,000 nematodes and 25km of fungal hyphae! But what are they all doing and how do they help our plants? How can we help to keep it in balance and maximize the potential of our garden? In this article we’re going to take a quick look at these organisms and relationships to try and get an understanding of how best we can care for the biology in our soil. Continue reading

Growing marijuana in plant pots

Growing marijuana in soil is, by far, the most common type of crop throughout the world. In this post, we are interested in how to optimize our soil in a simple and fast way.

Which type of soil should we use for growing marijuana plants?

Humus for cannabis

Humus for cannabis

We recommend you to use, whenever possible, a soil specially developed for marijuana plants, which will offer much better results than any classic gardening substrate.

In fact, using a soil specially developed for the cultivation of cannabis will be an easy way to optimize the crop regarding both the structure (drainage, aeration …), PH, and nutrients (fertiliser) contained. Canna Bioterra, for example, provides excellent results.

How to enrich the soil before its use?

There are several organic fertilisers to enrich the soil before its use. This will allow you to reduce the amount of liquid fertiliser used in the crop; actually, not using any fertiliser is possible if you use large containers.

For example, you can do the following mixture:

  • 100L of soil for marijuana plants
  • 10-20L of Vermicompost (Humus), a natural complete and very balanced fertiliser.
  • 2-5L of Bio Super Mix, a mixture of organic fertilisers from Plagron, which has many nutrients, trace elements and beneficial microbial life.
  • 1 kg of bat guano, a source of phosphorus (P) and elicitors which will enhance the natural defenses of the plant (resin)
  • 1 kg of wood ash (barbecue, fireplace, etc.) source of Potassium (K) and coal for the microbial life.
  • 200 gr. of Nutrihemp, a natural fertiliser based on algae, source of Nitrogen (N) and amino acids.

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Off-season marijuana crops outdoors

A single outdoor crop per year?

Normally, when growing outdoors we only take advantage of the best period of the year, late Spring and Summer. However, in many areas is it possible to perform several outdoor crops per year, especially during Spring and Autumm. To do this, we only need a small greenhouse to stabilize the temperature of the plants. For this type of crops we can use either autoflowering seeds or cuttings from motherplants; the only disadvantage of using cuttings is that, once we place them outdoors from our indoor growing tent, they practically don’t grow and start flowering immediately regardless their size.

For this reason, we should grow our cuttings indoors a few weeks before placing them in our outdoor greenhouse. In this way, we can control the final height of our plants keeping in mind that, while our plants will start flowering as soon as we place them outdoors, they will have the typical stretch during the pre-flowering stage just like in any other type of cultivation. Protecting our plants from the cold, frost, wind and other bad weather conditions with a greenhouse is also a good idea, since our plants will have a more abundant flowering.

Spring crop in greenhouse

Spring crop in greenhouse

A single fluorescent lighting kit is enough to grow traditional seeds or cuttings for a few weeks; if we root some cuttings at the beginning of the year, we can have nicely developed plants in February, perfect for a Spring outdoor crop. Many indoor growers seize this moment to renew their motherplants, taking cuttings from them – which will be kept indoors – and placing their motherplants outdoors to achieve higher yields. Continue reading

Growing marijuana on terraces

How to grow marijuana for personal use on your balcony

Growing marijuana outdoors – and specifically on balconies – is one of the most popular systems because it takes less effort, means and care than growing cannabis indoors. Also, this way you can get a good yield with minimal investment.

The most important thing to take into account to get best results is the availability of a terrace with high solar exposure, i.e. a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight every day. In addition to this essential requirement, the other stuff you will need is:

  • Quality seeds, preferably indica or indica/sativa strains, as they are usually bushier and have more compact structure. Using feminized cannabis seeds or selected cuttings is also useful, for this allows us to optimize the available space and ensure that you take full advantage of the soil, pots and any other farming gear used.
  • 0.25 litre, 11 litre, 25 litre or 45 litre pots (the largest pot size is only suitable for growers who have large terraces, the rest will have to use the first three ones).
  • Quality soil, containing vermicompost, mulch, perlite and black peat or coco coir (coconut fibres). The type of soil should be similar to Biobizz Light Mix or Bioaigua Soft Mix.
  • Vermicompost (worm humus).
  • Bat guano, powder and liquid bat guano.
  • Nutrihemp (seaweed extract).
  • Neem oil, pyrethrum or any other organic insecticide such as Ain thc.
  • Propolis (a fungicide and a stimulator of plant defences).
  • Bacillus Thuringiensis.
  • Fertilizer for cannabis growth and flowering (preferably organic).
  • A small sprayer (2 litres).
  • A pH tester and pH down acid reducer.

Cultivation of cannabis on terraces step by step

This plant has just been transplanted into a bigger pot.

This plant has just been transplanted into a bigger pot.

Once you get hold of all the needed materials, you can start growing!!

The best time to start the crop on the balcony is between April and May. We prefer doing it during the first waning moon of May, since if we do it earlier, plants will probably grow too tall and exceed the capacity of the pots.

First, we need to germinate the seeds. Once we see the small roots coming out we transfer them to a 0.25 litre pot and water them. During the following days, we will water the plants as the soil dries out (use pH=6 water). Place the pots under direct sunlight and the small seedlings should spring within 5-10 days; otherwise, the plants will grow too tall and will be too weak and lanky.

After about three weeks, plants should reach 20 cm in height and three sets of true leaves should have appeared. At this time, remove the plants from their pots (when the soil is dry) and, if there is a good root structure, it will be the right time to transplant them to the 11 L pots.

Transplant to a 11 litre pot

Transplant to a 11 litre pot

In this case, make the following blend:

  • 80% of the recommended soil
  • 20% of vermicompost
  • 1/2 kg of bat guano powder
  • 250 grams of nutrihemp per 100 litres of soil

Mix it thoroughly to blend it evenly and proceed to transplant.

The first two weeks after the transplant, water the plants whenever the soil is dry with tap water, only adding the needed acid to reduce water pH to the right value.

By the third week after transplanting, you should start adding – once a week – the corresponding dose of growth fertilizer to the water. Continue reading

When and how to move marijuana plants outdoors

Is it possible to start an outdoor marijuana crop indoors?

Weather conditions in spring can sometimes be whimsical. Indeed, it seems a good idea to start growing marijuana plants indoors before making them flower outdoors. It is possible, but one must take into account some issues in particular, which we will be described in this post.

Cannabis and photoperiod

Cannabis and photoperiod

In spring, in western Europe, the hours of sun during the day (photoperiod) progressively increases every day, going from 12 hours of daily sunshine in March to about 16 hours of sunlight during the day in June. In July the days  lenght begin to decrease, which facilitates the start of flowering of marijuana plants between mid-July and mid-August, depending on both the earliness of plants and the latitude where they are grown.

To grow cannabis indoors, it is generally advisable to give marijuana plants a photoperiod of 18 hours of daily light (18/6 cycle). But what happens when we move a plant – that has already received 18 hours of daily light – outdoors in spring (before mid-June)?

1. The marijuana plant only receives between 12 and 16 hours of light per day, so this sudden decrease of the photoperiod can make the plant begin the flowering period in most cases.

2. However, as photoperiod increases progressively each day (by some minutes) until 21 June, marijuana plants will stop flowering to go back to the growing period. This natural process, called vegetative regeneration, is both very long and very stressful for the plant. Plants will then form numerous deformed and abnormal leafs before starting to grow again several weeks later.

3. In July, days begin to get shorter and plants flower again, this time definitely. This flowering after vegetative regeneration will unfortunately be poorer in both quantity and quality.

Marijuana plant in vegetative regeneration

Marijuana plant in vegetative regeneration

How to safely move plants outdoors?

You have two options (different options to start growing outdoors):

1. Start growing your indoor marijuana plants as usual – in a 18/6 cycle – but waiting until the end of June to move them outdoors.

2. Start growing your plants indoors while following the outdoor natural photoperiod. For example, if there are 14 hours of light per day, give your plants 14 hours of light per day as well. When the natural photoperiod increases to 14-15 hours of sunlight per day, you will have to set your timer and add 15 minutes of light per day.

This very straightforward technique will allow you to move your plants outdoors in spring!

Jorge Cervantes and outdoor marijuana

Jorge Cervantes and outdoor marijuana

Note that these tips do not concern autoflowering marijuana strains , as they are not photoperiod-sensitive; if you wish, you can start your indoor growing (ideally giving them 20 hours of light per day) and move them outdoors whenever you like, knowing that they will flower anyway after 3-4 weeks of growth.

What other precautions should be taken when moving marijuana plants outdoors?

First, you should know that the plant will take some time to accommodate to the new environment, particularly because of light change and environmental conditions. This loss of vigor in the plant can sometimes reduce or even eliminate the benefits of starting the plant indoors.

The strong sunlight, much richer in UV rays than indoor marijuana growing lamps, can be too aggressive for plants that were first grown under artificial lights. Therefore, it is not advisable to expose them directly to the sun, for they should progressively adjust to the sun; then, we should first place the plant in a shady area, and then give it more sunlight day by day.

Growing large marijuana plants outdoors

Growing large marijuana plants outdoors

Due to the lack of an acclimatization period, plants exposed directly to the sun may show signs of burn or discolouration (bleaching) in their leafs. Thus, the plant will have to produce new leafs, which will further delay its regeneration.

One last important point: while the plants are growing, phytohormones accumulate within their tissues (i.e. leafs). When days begin to get shorter, at the end of June, the level of the plant’s hormone that stimulates flowering increases gradually, day after day, at the expense of the level of growing phytohormones, which begins to decrease.






Outdoor cannabis

Outdoor cannabis

Flowering will only occur when the plant’s levels of phytohormones are adequate for flowering. This is the reason why the growing period outdoors is longer, so the plant will need more time to flower. As a consequence, this will delay the harvest time!

Therefore, starting the crop as soon as possible is not always the best option.

Some marijuana strains are well-known for their earliness, for they quickly start flowering from the time when photoperiod begins to decrease. For instance, it’s worth mentioning Early Maroc feminised seeds from Philosopher Seeds and Early Queen regular seeds from Mr Nice Seeds.

Marijuana grown in a greenhouse

Marijuana grown in a greenhouse

Growing marijuana in the ground

Growing marijuana outdoors in the ground

In-ground marijuana crop

In-ground marijuana crop

Growing cannabis outdoors in the ground is undoubtedly the easiest, cheapest and most environment-friendly way of growing marijuana, since with very limited means you can get great yields. The materials needed to grow weed this way are:

Growing marijuana step by step

When you start growing you should take into account the final size that you want for your plants. If you want the largest possible plants, the best is to start growing at mid or late March. You will get plants between 250 and 350 cm in height, depending on the strain. If you do not want them to grow that much, then you should plant them a little later.

Germinate the seeds and once the small roots can be seen, transplant them to a 9×9 cm (0.25 l) pot with moistened substrate. During the next few days water them only with tap water (pH adjusted at 6) when you see the soil dry. Place the pots under the sunlight and wait for the small seedlings to start growing, which may take 5-10 days. Throughout this process the plants should be exposed to full sun, otherwise you will get very tall and weak plants.

After approximately three weeks, your plants should be about 20 cm tall and have about three pairs of true leafs. At this point, remove the plant from the pot if it has a good rootball. You can then transplant your plants to an 11 litre pot. Prepare the soil mix containing 80% of the recommended soil + 20% of vermicompost + 1/2 kg of bat guano and 250 grams of Nutrihemp per 100 litres of soil. Mix it thoroughly and proceed to transplant.

During the first two weeks after transplanting, water your plants whenever the soil is dry, always using tap water. You only need to add the required acid to adjust the pH, lowering it at pH=6.

By the fourth week after transplanting (eighth weeks after having started growing the plants, early June) you should start sexing the plants, as they reach full sexual maturity at this moment. This should be done if you have used regular seeds, ignore this step otherwise. Continue reading