Growing your own cannabis outdoors is one of the easiest and lowest cost ways to supply your own recreational or medical cannabis. In fact, its never been as easy to be self sufficient in outdoor grown cannabis thanks to the wide range of tough, high-THC cannabis varieties that are available. As well as time-honoured feminized outdoor photoperiod varieties you can now supplement your outdoor growing with some fast and easy autoflowering varieties. These will allow you to start harvesting your home grown cannabis in early/mid summer. Your photoperiod plants are usually harvested in mid-Autumn.
Many indoor growers have never grown cannabis outdoors, many have never even considered the possibility. Yet growing cannabis outdoors is very easy indeed, there are hardly any costs (apart from the seeds) and the most challenging part of the grow is often finding the right place. Even that is easier than you think once you put your mind to it.
You have two options for outdoor cannabis growing. Photoperiod and autoflowering cannabis seeds. The most successful outdoor growers use both types of seeds. Photoperiod varieties will generally give bigger harvests, but they take around 4-6 months from seed to harvest. The two main disadvantages of photoperiod varieties are:
a. Photoperiod varieties are harvested in mid-Autumn. If the bad weather arrives before your harvest then you may lose the entire crop.
b. Photoperiod varieties often reach 2-3 metres tall and just as wide. It can be difficult hiding such large plants
Autoflowering varieties generally take around 90 days from seed to harvest when grown outdoors. Indoors they will mature faster, around 75 days, primarily due to the warmer temperatures. Outdoors an auto will typically produce smaller harvests than a photoperiod variety, but autos have become remarkably popular with outdoor growers for a couple of key reasons:
a. Autoflowering varieties can be planted at different times in Spring and Summer, allowing you to have a rolling harvest over several months. This minimises your risk, if you lose one plant it doesn’t matter too much.
b. Autos are so much easier to plant, grow and hide. They usually stay at (or below) a metre in hight. You can easily hide them behind a rose bush in the corner of your garden. On riverbanks, waste land, forests and the countryside autos hide themselves in the surrounding vegetation. Many growers will buy a pack (or two) of auto seeds and plant a couple in several different outdoor locations.
Both auto and photoperiod cannabis varieties will benefit from some preparative ground work. Serious outdoor growers have several grow locations just in case one gets discovered. The soil should be dug over, this improves aeration (oxygen) at root level and improves drainage and soil structure. Many growers will add organic fertilisers to the soil (bat guano, seaweed, fish/blood/bone meal etc). If the soil quality is low, many outdoor growers will bring a few sacks of supermarket soil to their outdoor grow location. Providing maximum sunshine for your outdoor cannabis plants is essential, so you may wish to chop down any plants, bushes or tree branches that block the sun to your grow location.
The most experienced outdoor growers will plant brambles and other thorny plants around their cannabis grow locations, these protect your plants from grazing animals such as rabbits, deer and goats. Brambles grow quickly, and will also help prevent your outdoor grow location from being accidentally discovered by dog walkers etc.
Before you put your cannabis plants outdoors, some people like to give them a few weeks indoors under artificial light, especially if your early season weather is cold and grey. Autos love to get 2-3 weeks of 24-hour indoor light before being planted outdoors. It gives them a great head start while they are young and vulnerable. The same is true for photoperiod plants.
Once you are ready to plant your cannabis seedlings outdoors remember that they will need protection from slugs and snails. Put a generous layer of slug pellets around the base of your plants, and re-apply slug pellets throughout the season if you can. You can use garden wire fencing (‘chicken wire’) around your cannabis plants, held in position with tent pegs, to further protect your cannabis plants.
You may need to visit your plants occasionally, perhaps to provide water in the middle of a dry period, or perhaps to cut back some of the surrounding vegetation if it is blocking the light to your cannabis. But apart from that your outdoor cannabis plants will pretty much grow themselves. Once you have healthy plants in a good grow location you can relax and think ahead to the likely harvest date. With a small amount of planning and preparation you can join those looking forward to a rolling harvest of autoflowering and photoperiod cannabis plants this summer and autumn. And it will cost you less than a trip to the petrol station. Get those walking boots cleaned, and good luck!