I just started growing. I came across some seeds and put them in a flowering pot with soil and keep it outside in the sun, and I water it each morning. Is this good enough? Will it grow OK? I’m not trying to grow anything special, just something for myself so I can stop spending so much money on buying it. Any thoughts are appreciated, and thank you for the years a great info! — Brandon via the mailbag at NicosNuggets@hightimes.com
Greetings, Brandon… Thanks for reading High Times and for the kind words!
It is certainly that time of year, when the weather is warming and people are thinking about easy yet effective ways to grow some head stash and save a few bucks. Growing outdoors is often a cheaper method than growing inside, as you save money on grow lamps and electricity. But there are some obstacles to overcome outdoor growing as well.
For starters, outdoor growers entering the game this late in the season (May/June) need to consider the length of available “veg” time for their plants before the shortening of daylight hours forces the plants into their flowering phase.
Depending on the grower’s preference, the vegetative growth cycle will usually last anywhere from two weeks to a few months. The longer a plant vegetates before flowering, the bigger the plant will be, as well as the size of its yield. Putting a plant outside around this time of year shouldn’t pose big problems for you, but it depends largely on your geographic location and latitude.
Cannabis plants will go into flowering once their photoperiod (light cycle) shortens to 12 hours or less. If you live in a region where there is already less than 12 hours of daylight, you might want to consider starting your plants indoors under grow lights. This will allow your plants to vegetate, growing strong and healthy, before moving them outdoors to flower. Usually a month is sufficient enough time for plants to veg before inducing the flower cycle. Your plants will continue to grow and add on 30 – 50 percent more growth during the flowering cycle.
Your biggest concern once the plants are outside will still be the amount and duration of direct sunlight that the plants receive. The garden should have southern exposure if you are in the northern hemisphere, and there should be no shading of the plants. They can handle up to 12 hours of direct sunlight during flowering, and the closer you get to this mark, the better the plants will do in terms of yield and potency.
Daily watering is a must, and if the summer daytime temperatures begin to rise over 85°F, you should do a second watering in the afternoon, if possible. It is OK to let your medium dry out over night, as that allows air to permeate the root zone where the roots breathe in oxygen and grow at night.
If you can, use a mild nutrient solution every other day, unless your medium is a compost medium or comes pre-loaded with nutrients. Find a soluble nutrient powder that dissolves readily in water, and use this about three times per week. This nutrient powder should be formulated for “Bloom,” not “Grow,” since you are in the flowering cycle at this point. The N-P-K ratio on the label should be higher in phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) than nitrogen (N), something on the level of 2-4-8. Use fresh water with no nutrients on the alternating days.
Towards the end of the flower cycle (around six weeks), the bigger leaves will start to turn yellow. This is a natural occurrence due to less nitrogen being present in the medium. Around week seven of flower, you can stop using nutrients altogether and begin flushing your garden, which is to say watering with only fresh water, twice a day.
After about seven weeks, start checking the buds with a loupe (magnifier of about 40x will do). Look at the trichomes on the buds, and see if they have begun to turn amber in color. When more than half of the trichomes have turned from milky white to amber, your buds are ready to harvest.
Depending on the strain, most plants are ready for harvest after 56 to 65 days of flowering. Sativa strains will tend to go longer, possibly 70 to 75 days, but the telltale sign will be in the trichomes.
Be sure to check out this post on harvest tips, specifically drying and curing your flowers, as these often-overlooked details are critical to the final success of your garden. After that, all that is left is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Thanks for reading everyone and remember: Grow… And help the world grow, too!