Finding a Spot
There is nothing like cultivating Cannabis Outdoors. Plenty of sun and space. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy this activity it is quite wonderful and rewarding. As Cannabis can get very large and yield extremely high outdoors, especially Sativas. Cultivating Cannabis outdoors is easier because there is no need to focus on the environment, it is ready for plants. Cannabis will grow almost anywhere, that is 32-100+ degrees F. But, needs to be hidden from wondering eyes and away from the public. We don’t want the fruits of our hard labor to get spoiled. Just be sure the plant gets plenty of sun, water, and nutrients. Being able to take a regular feeding and care for the plant without being noticed is of upmost importance when cultivating outdoors. Especially during summer and dry spells, as the need for water increases. This is the factor that makes the decision for you. Say you are fortunate enough to have or find the perfect spot outdoors, let’s continue.
A fertilizer or nutrient regimen will be needed to feed plants. Nutrients are measured in their ratio of N-P-K, Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. Different nutrients are needed during the different phases of the plant’s growth cycle. For example, More nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium is needed for the veg/growth stage to ensure healthy structure and foliage growth. More phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen will promote more bud/flowers during the fruit/flower period.
Most nutrient brands have there own packs with all the nutrients needed for the plant’s different growth cycles. The Sunleaves Bat Guano kit is great to have. Bio–Bizz is another good example. Fox Farm has a pack as well. For an extra punch in flowering use some sort of Bloom Booster. This will be a high phosphorus and potassium nutrient used to increase production of heavier blooms and flowers. Like Earth Juice Bloom Master. It is a good ideal to use a hormone supplement, as well like Super-Thrive. Super-Thrive has B-vitamins and hormones, which helps the plant break down and absorb the essential vitamins and nutrients needed. Organics provide a higher quality product; fish, bats, worms, birds, and plants. Make an Organic Tea by mixing desired nutrients with water and letting it brew or steep for a day or two. Use immediately, do not let the tea sit or get stagnant.
Watering and Feeding
Watering Cannabis outdoors can be a little tricky at first. Knowing what to look for and learning when to water will depend on the medium being used, size of plant/container, light, air circulation, humidity, and of course temperature. Keep hands on contact and pay close attention to the plants, education will find it’s way. The principle here is to let the plant suck almost all the moisture out before watering again. Trying not to water until the medium is completely dry. Pick the container up when dry, then when saturated. Learn the container’s weight, this will help tremendously. This sometimes is hard to do outdoors because of natural or bigger pots. Another excellent way of learning the mix is using your hands, carefully dig around the container to aerate the soil. While doing this you will be able to feel the moisture in the medium. If the medium is moist do not water, if the medium is dry give it water. Note if using city water a filtering system might be needed, or fill water containers and let sit for a day or two to remove chlorine and other impurities.
When Feeding the golden rule is ‘Less is More’ Use only two-thirds what the regimen calls for. Less nutrients wont hurt plants, to much can ruin them. A weaker nutrient mix can be used every watering session. When properly fed plants will thrive looking healthy, shiny, and vibrant green. The leaves will be stretching out to receive the light, and new growth will be obvious daily. Burned and blotchy leaves are a sign of over feeding, tone it down. Use only water to flush the nutrients out. If any color change occurs or the plant is patchy, droopy, or sickly looking. Diagnose problem and fix immediately. See Nutrient Deficiencies Never spray or pour nutrients on the plant’s leaves or flowers during flower period, they will not be consumable.
Above all, the most important thing to do is Flush the plant at the end of flowering phase. Outdoors or in with all mediums. Give only water the last two to three weeks before harvest. This allows the plant to get rid of any toxins it may have. Plan ahead and be sure not to skip this step. The end results speak for themselves. A much Cleaner, Tastier medicine. For more details see Flushing
A neutral PH is crucial for plants intake of nutrients and minerals. Both in the soil and water. There is not much control over this outdoors. Just be sure the medium and water you give has a neutral PH. Rain water should have a balanced PH. The PH needs to be around 6.5. Below 6.0 will cause root burn and spotty leaves, due to a trigger in calcium deficiency. Above 7.0 will trigger an iron deficiency that turns leaves yellow. Unbalanced PH can effect the plant, it’s nutrient uptake, and everything else in between. Grab a PH control kit or tester and test the PH of the soil and water. Make sure to have a neutral PH level before giving any water or nutrients to plants. See PH and Nutrient Availability Chart.
Seedling and Vegetative Stage
If possible start plants early, inside under a fluorescent light before taking them outdoors. Keep the light as close to the plants as possible. Two to three inches from top. When plants are big enough and ready to be moved outdoors. About six to eight inches with a few healthy leaves and nodes. Check the soil of the location plants will be. If the soil is loose and rich, proceed. If not, make a natural container by digging a three by four foot hole two feet deep, or as big as needed. Fill hole with desired medium. Put the plant or seed in medium with a healthy dose of nutrient water, saturating the medium evenly. Use the soil dug up for some type of damn to route water to the plant. If in a rocky terrain and digging is not an option, use containers with a color that blends in green, black, brown, or even camouflage. Check plants at least once, preferably twice a week and give a healthy feeding. Check the medium first, with your hand gently dig around and aerate the medium. If dry water, if still moist do not water. Top and prune as needed.
When plant starts flowering you will soon be able to tell the sex of the plant. If there are any males pull them away from the females immediately. Note the females have pistils(hairs) on the top of the calyx(node) above the leaf or branch. Males do not have hairs on top of their calyx(balls). See Plant Sexing for more details. After three or four weeks of flowering it is time to add the bloom booster. Keep feeding the nutrient regimen until two weeks from harvest. This is the time when all the magic happens. The glands will start swell and fill with resin. Only water needs to be given from now on to let the plant flush out any toxins it might have.
There are a few ways of being able to tell when cannabis is ready to harvest. By looking at the pistils, trichomes, and calyxes. All will help aide this procedure, but one is the real teller of ripeness. (Trichomes) In the third or fourth week of flowering Trichomes start growing on the leaves and flowers. These will be clear at this time. Use a 30x microscope to see this.
As the flower grows so do the trichomes, from the bottom to the top of the flowers. The pistils(hairs) will start to turn from white to reddish brown from the bottom up and the calyxes will start to swell, filling with resin. Use the microscope to keep an eye on these indicators. Harvest at peak maturity for best results and most THC content. When about 75-90% of the hairs have turned color and about 90% of the calyxes are so full of resin they look like seeds. Most importantly, when half of the trichomes are a milky white and half are an amber color. See Harvesting for THC.
Note When harvesting outdoors it is a good ideal to take plants at night to avoid any kind of complication that might appear.
A Successful Cure
Cannabis doesn’t just hang dry, of course it can. But, Cannabis Cures, it takes a little time. After coming this far there is no since getting in a hurry now. A quality cure takes at least a month or longer. Settle down, you will be able to Sample and see first hand how this three step method makes the difference.
Cut the cannabis into handling size branches and hang in a cool, dry, Dark place. While the plants hang check them every couple days, Gently feel them. In about a week or so when the bigger leaves are crispy to the touch, trim them. Just the bigger ones. These can be discarded. Leave the smaller ones around the flower for now. Notice how they drape down around the flower shading and protecting it. We’ll get them later, for now let them do their job, protect the flower. Hang the branches back up. Check and feel every couple days, when the leaves and the flower tops get dryer and feel semi crisp. Manicure, or trim all leaves from the flower. Be careful, and keep these they have many uses. Cooking, making Canna Butter, and there a few ways of Extracting the goods from them. As for the flowers, they should be dry on outside yet damp inside and still smell green. Maybe a few smaller ones are dyer, if so have a Sample.
Separate the flower from the stems and place in a paper grocery bag. Don’t fill it up, only a couple inches flower. Fold the bag down to seal it, loosely only a couple folds. Gently shake and open the bag daily to turn flowers and check their dryness. If they seem to be damp still, poke a few holes in top of bag to help them out.In about a week or so the flowers will feel drier and less dense. Now Sample
They need to go in some type of sealable glass container, Mason Jars are best and usually easy to obtain. Fill jars with fresh flower about two thirds of the way full. Seal and store back in dark. Like the paper bags, gently shake and open daily for a week. Have a Sample the flower is probably ready to be consumed. Open jars daily for another week, noticed how she just becomes her own. As the depth of the aroma changes and the flower turns white preserving it’s self. Sample now.
Cannabis will get better and better as she cures in the jar. Be patient, let her cure, and it will be rewarded in the end. Note Cured Cannabis sealed in glass will keep indefinitely.