Determining the optimum location is another important factor that can affect the yield and quality of your plants. Cultivators in the Northern Hemisphere should attempt to place their plants in an area with southern exposure to ensure their plants are getting the most available sunlight. The opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere.
The amount of water a plant needs largely depends on its size, the size of its container, the soil type, and general environmental conditions such as the weather and the intensity of the sun. Larger plants in warmer environments tend to use more water than smaller plants in cooler weather. The amount of water needed will change throughout a plant’s life cycle.
Avoid spraying synthetic insecticides on your cannabis plants as further research is needed to determine the health effects of smoking plants treated with synthetic chemicals. Organic pesticide and insecticide solutions can be effective if used properly. If you can avoid it, it is always best to not spray anything on your plants while they are flowering.
Containers vs. in-ground
Beneficial insects, fungi, and bacteria can also be used to protect your plants from their parasitic or predatory counterparts. Jumping spiders, ladybugs, and other native, beneficial predatory insects can clear your crop of insects such as aphids and whiteflies. When sourcing beneficial insects, fungi, or bacteria, it’s important to research those which are native to your region.
In general, 5-gallon pots are a good size for small-to-medium outdoor plants, and 10-gallon pots or larger are recommended for big plants. Regardless of size, you’ll want to protect the roots of your plants from overheating during warm weather, as pots can quickly get hot in direct sunlight. This will severely limit the growth of your plants, so be sure to shade your containers when the sun is high in the sky.
Soil, at a basic level, is defined as the topmost layer of earth in which plants grow—it’s a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles. Cannabis plants thrive in soil rich with organic matter, and they need good drainage.
The best way to identify loamy soil is by touching it. How does it feel? Sandy soil should be difficult to compact while clay should compact into a tight ball that won’t crumble. When squeezed, loamy soils should form a loose ball that will hold its structure momentarily before breaking apart in large chunks.
Cannabis plants require a large amount of nutrients over their life cycle, mainly in the form of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. How much you need to add to your plants will depend on the composition of your soil.
Buying the right soil for an outdoor cannabis grow
You also want to consider privacy and security. A lot of people want to conceal their gardens from judgmental neighbors and potential thieves. Tall fences and large shrubs or trees are your best bet, unless you live in a secluded area. Also, most state laws require that you keep cannabis plants concealed from the street.
If you don’t have a suitable patch of earth to make a garden, containers can be placed on decks, patios, rooftops, and many other spots. If needed, you can move them around during the day to take advantage of the sun or to shield them from excessive heat or wind.
Roof: This can be great for sun but may have too much wind.
Types of outdoor grow spaces
Sandy soil is easy to work, drains well, and warms quickly, but it doesn’t hold nutrients well, especially in rainy environments. You’ll want to dig large holes for your plants and add compost, peat moss, or coco coir, which will help bind the soil together.
In hot climates, sandy soil should be mulched to help with water retention and to keep roots from getting too hot.
You will want to provide the proper amount of light and water to your plants, of course. A drip irrigation system can cut your water bills while improving the health of your plants. Kits are available that give you everything you need to get started. If you prefer, you can start from scratch and obtain separate components to put them all together.
Silt soils have lots of minerals and retain moisture well. Like clay, however, this type of soil can become compacted and hard in certain conditions. It can also form a crust, making it difficult for moisture and nutrients to reach plants’ roots.
The optimal ratio for loam is 20% clay, 40% silt and 40% sand. Most folks think a pH of 6.0 is best for cannabis, with a range of 5.8 to 6.3 being acceptable. With a pH close to neutral, loam is typically in that zone or close to it.
Loam is ideal for containers as well as for outdoor growing. Unfortunately, it is usually the most expensive soil to buy. But if you are interested in growing the best plants possible, it can pay big dividends in the long run.
You can also build up your own loam soil by adding organic matter to it. If you have a compost bin, you can use the compost to improve your soil. This will be a time-consuming and ongoing process but with grit and persistence will pay off in the long run.
Loam for Growing Marijuana & Other Crops
Sand is easily permeable for root growth, for instance, but it does not hold on to water or fertilizer well.
Test kits are available to measure your soil’s acidity, or you can take a sample to your friendly local extension agent. If your dirt does not have the proper acidity, soil amendments are available to lower or raise the pH level in your soil. Your local nursery, garden store or extension agent can make some suggestions.
Four basic soil types exist: sand, clay, silt, and loam. Each has its pros and cons for gardening.
Of these types, loam is by far the best soil mix for growing marijuana plants and many other types of crops. Loam is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt, bringing forth the best qualities of these disparate types of soil while minimizing their worst attributes.
Clay is just the opposite. When it’s hot and dry, clay can become hard as a rock, making it difficult for roots to penetrate. Clay drains poorly and is hard to cultivate. On the plus side, it is rich in minerals and natural nutrients.