By Jorge Cervantes

June is the traditional month to plant outdoor flower and vegetable gardens in North America. This is also true for cannabis. Most of the same general principles apply when planting a flower, vegetable or cannabis garden, except for one important thing—a marijuana garden must not be found by thieves, snitches or law enforcement! Choosing the correct site for a clandestine pot patch is paramount to its success. Outdoors, everything hinges on the location of the garden—including the strains you grow, the strategy you pursue and the overall risk you assume.

When visiting your guerrilla patch, always carry some sort of a prop to prove you have a reason to be in the area. If it’s fishing season, bring a valid fishing license and a fishing pole. If it’s bird-watching season, bring binoculars and a guidebook. Bring your dog so that you can say you’re taking him out for a stroll in the woods. Have a ready-made story for everything. You never know whom you’ll run into.

Always keep the amount of incriminating evidence you’re carrying to a minimum. Bring things up to the patch and don’t bring them back. Use only what you need up there. If you take digital photos of your patch, put the images on a separate disk that you can hide or destroy. Don’t take any chances.

Always take several different paths to the same marijuana patch. Leave no trails and don’t be discovered. Some growers even go so far as to put duct tape on the bottoms of their shoes so that their footprints can’t be tracked back to them.

Travel up to the patch late in the day. Most people are coming down out of the forest or countryside in the late afternoon. Going against their rhythm gives you more solitary time. You can also return under the cloak of darkness if you’re leaving with incriminating material.

You can grow plants in pots or in the ground. Plants in the ground can’t be moved easily, while potted plants can. Grow bags are the easiest containers to pack into your garden. Camouflage covers for pots are also available.

Growing small plants indoors and moving them outdoors later increases the survival rate immensely. Start small clones in deep containers that allow for strong growth. A deep root system will carry them into the next stage of growth in their new environment. Make sure all clones and seedlings have plenty of roots before transplanting. You can also remove the bottom few leaves on a transplant and plant it so the remaining bottom leaves are an inch above ground. The subterranean stem will sprout roots, and a deeper root system will supply moisture more readily.

Grow clones in small containers that are easy to transport and stack in a backpack. You’ll be amazed how well plants fare wrapped in paper inside a backpack. The key is to transplant many small clones. The clones can be a little bigger if they’re flowering.

Female clones yield smaller plants, but they’re easier to deal with and to flower than plants grown from seed. Transplanting female clones means you’ll harvest an all-female crop of buds. Seedlings have “hybrid vigor,” which means they will grow 25 percent bigger and quicker than clones, but half will be male. Feminized seedlings are also an option. They’re expensive, so each time one of them gets nicked, it’s financially painful.

Once big enough to transplant, little clones must be hardened off. They have to be tough enough to survive in a harsh outdoor climate. Spindly, weak growth and supple leaves make plants easy prey for pests and disease, not to mention the wind. Set plants outdoors for an hour the first day, two hours the second day, and by the end of seven days the plants should be outdoors eight to 12 hours a day. The gradual introduction to their new climate will make them grow faster when transplanted.