How to Start Growing Weed Outdoors
For those who are just learning how to grow weed, it can be a daunting task to decide exactly how and where to do it. Hollywood has a history of showing high tech facilities growing marijuana using hydroponics operations or rows of high-quality grow lights that are producing massive amounts of plants.
Hence the reason why most people are hesitant at first to consider growing marijuana for themselves, which is unfortunate because cannabis is an incredibly easy plant to produce, develop, and even breed once you learn the essentials and build some confidence in your abilities.
A fancy setup is not needed for this, as the main thing required for growing weed outdoors is that it’s done correctly and it will be just as fruitful, and to help you to get started, here we will show you everything that you need to know about growing marijuana in an outdoor garden.
Benefits of growing weed outdoors
There are advantages and disadvantages to every decision that you will ever make while growing cannabis, but these are some of the most common reasons that growers choose to cultivate outdoors:
- Minimal investment
- Nature helps to nurture your success
- The smell is out from your home
- Efficient and does not dramatically increase utility use (hydro, gas, etc.)
Choosing the right area to grow
To start, you will require an area that measures no more than 4 feet by 4 feet to ensure easy access to your marijuana plants, if needed. Typical vegetable gardens tend to be separated by rows that the grower can walk between, however, when growing marijuana, that isn’t necessary since you won’t need access to the lowest and most inner branches until harvest time. The rest of the equation comes down to location specifics, such as sun expose and access to water, which is why it is so important to familiarize yourself with the environment that cannabis plants enjoy most.
Atmosphere and cultivation requirements
1. Growing mediums
Most people think of outdoor growing as something that is done in a regular old garden, but there are some pretty fantastic hydroponics options that you can rig up yourself as well. Which one you choose should depend on your skill level and investment limit, so be sure to research each one thoroughly before making a decision between enhancing a garden or creating something more.
Cannabis plants are a tropical species that thrive in hotter temperatures, but many strains have climatized and are capable of thriving in regions all over the world. While some are able to withstand lower temperatures than others, the ideal range for growing marijuana outdoors is between 20°C - 30°C during the day with lows no less than 16°C at night. Some fluctuation is ok, but too much can cause irreversible damage.
You can’t just pick any old spot outside, as your marijuana plant will need plenty of sunlight. The ideal location should offer at least 8 hours per day.
Moisture in the earth is not necessary but it is a good indicator of the soil’s health and helps to maintain your plant in between watering. Once established you should be watering your cannabis plants at least once per day just after the sun goes down to avoid burning the leaves.
Typically, the ideal humidity range for a cannabis plant is around 30% which is impossible to significantly influence when you are growing weed outdoors, so the best that you can do is hope to live in a region that naturally offers this additional benefit.
It can take years to get familiar with the specific nutrients that your marijuana plant might want, and how to use them to influence the outcome of a crop, but you can start with a really good fertilizer or super soil that will provide a natural source of food for the entire year.
Materials needed and how to start an outdoor garden
The very first step that you will need to perform will depend on the space you are trying to convert:
If you have a pre-dug garden bed that is full of tiny mountains from last year’s veggies, or just barren with some weed growth then this part is easy. Take a measuring tape and measure out an area that is 4x4 ft. This will provide you with enough space to grow up to four marijuana plants quite comfortably. If more is needed, then it is recommended to have a separate additional garden bed for every four plants you wish to raise. Mark the area using a shovel, spray paint, or whatever you have handy so that it’s easy to distinguish from the surrounding areas.
For those who are starting from scratch, the idea is still the same, and there will just be a little more physical labor required. If there is grass present, then even the roots should be removed for the best results. Often a sidewalk edger will work perfectly to cut out a grassy area with little to no stress. The grass can then be rolled up and removed to expose the soil underneath.
Pull the weeds from the growing area and remove any remaining rocks or other possible dangers like broken glass or garbage that might interfere with the cannabis roots.
Rototilling is the most recommended way to break apart aged and solidified dirt to make a better base for your garden that will allow the roots of your marijuana plants to establish themselves with ease. If you do not have access to one, then there is always the old school alternative of using a shovel and digging the entire area up by hand. Even if the garden was tilled and planted in the year prior, one winter can harden the soil, even on the surface.
Inspect the type of soil that is present in the area. Is it nutrient-rich? If so, then you might be just fine leaving the dirt base as is, but if it isn’t, then you may want to consider removing some of the soil so that it can be replaced with a super soil that will help your cannabis to thrive. We always recommend adding additional nutrients either way, through a hearty dose of homemade soil.
Add the super soil combination to the soil in a concentration that is safe for the marijuana plants. If you aren’t sure, then check out our helpful instructions that come with our homemade super soil recipe.
It’s now time to plant your seedlings or clones so that at least 1 inch of the base is beneath the dirt, and firmly press them around to ensure they are solid and avoid movement with watering.
Super soil recipe
Now you will need to prepare a super soil recipe that is equipped with all the essential nutrient’s marijuana plants need to flourish. Here is one of the most tried and true super soil recipes for cannabis that is certain to give you excellent results. You will need to combine the ingredients 6 weeks in advance of needing them as they require a period of settling to allow the good biological systems to evolve. This mixture will produce enough soil to cover roughly 4-5 square feet of cannabis garden.
- 4 bags of nutrient-dense
- vegetable safe garden soil (1.5 cubic feet each)
- 1 pound of bone meal (fish)
- 15 pounds of worm castings
- 2 ½ pounds of bat guano
- 2 ½ pounds of blood meal
- 1 pound of bone meal
- 1 cup of oyster shells
- 1 cup of kelp meal
- 1.5 cups of alfalfa meal
- ¼ cup of Epsom salt
- ½ cup of dolomite lime
- 1 cup of Azomite
- 1 tablespoon of humic acid (powder)
Combine all the ingredients inside of large buckets or containers and allow the mixture to sit for 6 full weeks.
Once your super soil has had time to rest and activate, it can be added by the shovel full into the tilled dirt. It will mix in with the surrounding areas and add an efficient boost to any cannabis that is grown in it for the next year.
When to start growing weed outdoors
The final part of this process is growing marijuana, which is deciding exactly when to plant in your prepared garden. When you produce cannabis indoors, the time of year doesn’t matter, since the lights, temperatures, and humidity are all well controlled. The problem is that a marijuana plant requires relatively strict amounts of light to cycle through the growing process at a pace that allows it to reach its fullest potential in size and potency.
Some cannabis strains can grow quite quickly and don’t have to be planted at the beginning of the season, but for the rest starting as early as possible but not so soon where frost will kill them, this is the key to a successful harvest. Ideally, you will want the temperatures outdoors to remain above 55° F at night and require 12 full hours of sunlight during the first stages of growth.
The ideal time to harvest is both a personal decision and one that heavily depends on the maturity of the plant and the time remaining in your region’s growing season. Some areas must have everything pulled from the earth by late October, while others are able to keep going right until the end of January. The biggest factor to consider is frost, which can damage an entire crop in one night, so always be sure to harvest before the first frost hits, no matter what month it is.
How to mask the smell of growing weed outdoors
The best way to mask the smell of growing marijuana plants that are outside is to surround them with other species that produce strong, more appealing scents. Lavender, fruit trees, roses, mint, and eucalyptus are all effective at minimizing the smell of cannabis. If none of those is enough or you simply don’t have the room, then you might want to consider a greenhouse to seal in any traveling scents.
Outdoor vs indoor growing
Which one is better will depend on who you ask, but both come with significant pros and cons that should be considered:
- Energy efficient
- Lower maintenance
- Keeps smell outside
- A high risk of bugs, pests, and mother nature
- Expensive to start and maintain
- Less risk of bugs or disease
- Ultimate climate control
- Increased risk to the building structure
Tips and tricks
Though these guidelines are a perfect starting point for those who are just learning how to grow weed outdoors, there are other things to look out for that might not be so apparent to beginners:
Cannabis plants have the fascinating ability to remove toxic substance from the earth they are grown in. This is great except for the fact that they are then stored in the marijuana flowers that you’ll want to consume safely. As such, never produce marijuana plants in an area that has had a chemical spill of any kind, or it will eventually find its way into your product.
Another critical component to growing these plants is lighting, and we don’t just mean the amount of sunlight you receive in a day. If there is anything blocking the sun from efficiently reaching the marijuana plants, it can massively stunt their growth and your overall harvest. Try to keep cannabis gardens away from trees or other large planets that might cast a shadow over them.
The last tip is to water the garden plots very well. Almost to the point of flooding, the night before planting. This will help to soften the soil allowing for the perfect soft bed for seedlings to establish a root system. It will also help to release the essential nutrients in the super soil that was added earlier, which will provide a hearty boost to your cannabis crop.