Are you a novice cannabis cultivator looking for a guide to outdoor marijuana growing? Or maybe you’re an old pro indoors, looking to take your plants outdoors. Well, you’re in luck. High Times Cultivation Editor Nico Escondido answers all of your grow questions in his weekly Nico’s Nuggets column, and this week, he’s focusing on outdoor marijuana growing for beginners.
The Question: What Advice Do You Have For Outdoor Marijuana Growing For Beginners?
Hola Sr. Nico!
We live in South America, in the great country of Chile. You are quite popular in the southern hemisphere. As winter comes to an end here, we are finally looking forward to some outdoor gardening. We want to display a small ganja garden in our backyard. It receives total sunlight for most of the day, and we grow other fruits and vegetables during the summer as well. Any advice for our first try with marijuana? We are grateful for any tips you might provide!
— Mucho gusto, Alejandro
The Answer: Learning The Basics Of Outdoor Marijuana Growing
Thanks for reading High Times and writing into the mailbag!
The outdoor growing of marijuana has become very popular these days in both South and Central America. As the seasons change in the northern hemisphere to colder weather, they are starting to change in the south to the spring and summer seasons. We have received a lot of emails from friends south of the border asking for cultivation tips for outdoor marijuana growing.
Location & Sunlight
The primary concern for any outdoor grow operation is something directly touched upon in this question—the amount of sunlight available.
When choosing a location for a few plants, or even an entire garden plot, be sure that the area has near total sunshine throughout the day.
In the northern hemisphere, we say that outdoor gardens should have “southern exposure,” meaning that the garden is open mostly to the south, facing the sun’s archway throughout the day. Conversely, for those in the southern hemisphere, northern exposure is preferred due to the sun’s position in the sky relative to the Earth’s axis. Of course, for those cultivating plants closer to the equator, this is less of a concern, as the sun’s arc will pass directly overhead.
Water & Nutrients
Once you have selected your outdoor marijuana growing area, the next consideration will be its proximity to its caretakers. If the plants are on your property and easily accessible, you will have a lot more flexibility in terms of irrigating and feeding your garden.
Going outside (daily) to water your plants and add nutrients to your soil (on a twice-weekly basis) will not be an issue if your garden is nearby. However, if your plants are a considerable distance away, you may need to consider using a grow medium that can hold moisture for extended periods of time. In this situation you may choose to amend your soils with perlite, vermiculite or other water-absorbing additives.
For guerilla growers who need to hide their plants off-site, an irrigation system might be needed. In this case, look for plots with good sunlight that are also near a natural water source. While siphoning off water from natural sources for large gardens if often frowned upon, using natural water sources for a few plants to be hand-watered every other day should not impact the surrounding environment negatively.
Additionally, if your plants are farther away from your abode, you may choose to utilize time-release mineral pellets that dissolve over time and slowly release plant nutrients into the soil.
Of course, for gardens in your own backyard, it is better for the plants to use a mild nutrient solution made by dissolving organic nutrients in water and applying to the grow medium every third day.
Medium & Containers
It is entirely up to you whether you plant your garden directly into earth beds or utilize plant containers.
If you have chosen a specialty mixture or created a proprietary blend of mediums as your grow substrate, large container pots or bags are likely the best option. Container bags for outdoor gardens come in every size imaginable with some holding over 100 gallons of medium. These bags are made of durable fabric and usually have handles sewn on. The fabric bags are the best, as they offer much more breathability than their plastic counterparts.
Breathable containers such as these allow air to penetrate the root zone more easily, which is important for getting oxygen to the roots. While the plant itself breaths in CO2, the roots use O2 the most and do so during the nighttime (dark cycle).
It is important to remember that the larger the roots grow, the larger the plants will grow and that will equal much more yield come harvest time.
This is the distinct advantage that outdoor marijuana growing offers over indoor growing—there is no limitation on space or plant size outdoors (hopefully). Outdoor plants can achieve heights of up to 14’ tall and yield anywhere from four to eight pounds per plant depending on their final size and genetic potential.