Growing cannabis in areas of serious drought without using too much water requires some infrastructure you wouldn’t normally think of for a garden. Here are some great tips to minimize water losses due to high winds and to make sure your precious product in the trichomes doesn’t get eroded off your buds.
Prevailing or gusty winds can seriously, and unnecessarily, increase the water demand in an outdoor cannabis garden. Some varieties of cannabis have evolved for growth in the humid environments of South East Asia, and gardeners need to take special precautions when growing them in drought or desert conditions. Not only will high-wind speeds increase water losses through evapotranspiration, but these winds can also carry dust that erodes the waxy surface of the leaves, leading to stress and even quicker water losses. You also don’t want any wind erosion on your flowering plants, remember that the precious essential oils form in trichomes on the outer surface; make sure to protect them!
Not everyone has the luxury of natural wind barriers like tall trees or hedges, so you may have to make your own.
If you live in an area with a lot of palm trees, you can make your own wind barrier. Buy some agricultural fencing, and place it rolled out on the ground. Compress the fronds like a fan and weave them in and out of the fence openings. After you’ve created a suitable length of fence, you can fasten it to fence posts using U-shaped nails. During the off-season, simply pull out the nails, roll up the fence and store it in a dry location. Instead of palm fronds, you can use almost any other forest by-product than you can weave into the agricultural fence, get creative.
If you don’t want to make your own, agricultural suppliers make products for this exact purpose; it’s called shade cloth.
Depending on the strength of the wind your garden experiences, you may want more or less transparent cloth. Places with low wind may want to invest in 30 percent shade cloth, which only blocks (you guessed it!) 30 percent of the incident light. Areas with high wind may invest in something up to as much as 90 percent. Many cannabis gardens may already be fenced off to keep out rippers, but unless the fence is within 10 or 20 feet of your plants, it won’t do much good to stop erosion from the wind.
Completely stopping the wind may put your structure and your garden’s health at risk. Unless you invest in posts sunk into concrete, you risk having your structure blown right over by a strong gust of wind. In addition, stagnant air can house pests like whiteflies or mildew. To allow some air passage for a wind barrier in a very gusty area, use 90 percent shade cloth and cut some holes in it. The DIY fence made from palm fronds should let enough wind pass so as to not get blown down, but be careful.
If your garden gets high amounts of dust blowing in the wind, you may even want to cover the top of the garden with the most translucent shade cloth you can find to let light pass without too much dust.
When constructing a wind barrier, make it easy to dismantle for the off-season. This will lengthen the life of your barrier by not having it subject to the elements when it’s not in use. Place the barrier posts into pipe sleeves buried in the ground. Fasten them with removable pins for durability, and simply remove the pins and lift out of the sleeve (just a PVC pipe wider than the metal support pipe) for disassembly. Fix the shade cloth to the structure with reusable fasteners, and fold it up neatly for next season.
If the wind in your area comes from any direction other than the north, you may want to invest in a completely transparent wind barrier so that it doesn’t negatively impact yields or cause irregular growth!
If 30 percent shade cloth doesn’t block enough wind, use a transparent material like corrugated Plexiglas. Cut a few circular holes in it at regular intervals to allow enough wind to go through so as to not damage its structural integrity. In areas with a lot of dust, you may want to regularly wash off the Plexiglas with a damp mop, don’t waste water by carelessly hosing it down!
Use these tips to handle erosion and water loss from winds. The California drought has long since reached epic and disastrous proportions; gardeners and farmers need to take every precaution to make sure they don’t waste precious water and only use as much as needed.
Don’t miss our previous Grow Hack: How Ladybugs Can Help Your Indoor Garden