Outdoor cultivators take what Mother Nature gives them and turn it into the best possible harvest. Many cannabis consumers prefer marijuana grown outdoors under the full spectrum of natural sunlight. That unique spectrum creates a greater variance of cannabinoids and terpenes than artificial lighting.
How to grow marijuana outdoors
Deciding whether to start with seeds or clones will change the timing and manner by which your plants are introduced to the outdoors.
Planning your garden
Cannabis has been cultivated outdoors for thousands of years, but before you go putting a seedling in the ground, it’s best to know how the process works and how to make the most of Mother Nature’s gifts. You should also have some idea of how to handle those unwanted gifts you’d rather return — pests and weeds.
Organic pest control is easier than you think. There are a handful of natural pest management remedies in circulation that work wonders for controlling both indoor and outdoor gardens and don’t require the use of harmful systemic synthetics. Companion planting, the practice of pairing certain varieties of flora to naturally deter pests, is a fantastic first step for outdoor growers. Try using basil or dill in your garden for gnats, or marigolds for aphids. A quick search will land you with a ton of beneficial pairing for your garden plants; just switch out your control group plant with cannabis and you’re good to go.
Inoculating your soil with mycorrhizal fungi is another organic grow hack that can pack your soil with an extra punch. The symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and your plants (i.e. mycorrhizae) has the power to vastly increase both water and other nutrient intake at the roots. A sprinkle of a dry organic fertilizer containing s single-source fungi at the beginning of your grow can be the only thing you add to your soil through both the vegetative and bloom phase and your plants will thrive.
Providing your cannabis with sufficient growing conditions is one of the most important steps in building a successful organic grow. This includes a proper spectrum of light, optimal temperature and humidity settings, and high ventilation and airflow. Many organic growers swear by gardening outdoors but if you’re limited to growing indoors, choosing lights with the broadest possible light spectrum and the coolest temperature output is the key. You can always offset hot lights with proper ventilation and temperature control.
Right now, if you live in one of these places and you meet the qualifications to cultivate in your home, there are only a few resources where you can go to get in-person consulting on the matter. Hydroponics shops and seed/clone retailers are a start, but these businesses, driven by monetary incentives, have a habit of suggesting that new growers begin by incorporating synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and non-soil grow mediums into their grow based on the fact that they all require a purchase at their facility.
What to Feed Organic Cannabis
For starters, an all naturally amended soil medium is perhaps the most important first step in creating a healthy sustainable grow. Building a clean and sustainable organic potting soil for cannabis is absolutely essential in creating a viable food web for the microorganisms that will ultimately help keep your plants stacked with readily available “organic” nutrients. Popular organic soil amendments include most types of compost, pumice, earthworm castings, kelp meal, perlite, bat guano, fish emulsion, peat moss, etc. Ingredients along these lines each serve a specific purpose and will help foster an environment for microorganisms to proliferate.
Although conducive to achieving a sale, these suggestions aren’t always aimed on what is best for you, the consumer, as well as your plants. It’s important to understand that not all retailers share this modus operandi, and many shops are beginning to offer organic solutions alongside their synthetic companions. However, what you may not know is that for a fraction of the cost of a single bottle of synthetic liquid fertilizer, you can get the same, if not better yield, flavor, and cannabinoid content in your crop at home by simply using organic farming practices.
Getting started with organic cannabis farming is both simple and flexible as there are many ways to incorporate these methods into your home grow. Think of organic growing more in terms of a spectrum. Since there currently aren’t any regulations in the cannabis industry as to what actually qualifies as true organic farming, many interpretations do exist. As a result, this topic can be quite polarizing for industry professionals, but for home growers it simply comes down to a matter of preference.
How to Grow Organic Cannabis
In addition to water, cannabis requires a few essential nutrients such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, manganese, etc. Synthetic nutrient supplements operate on a supply-lock basis, meaning that their job is to supply a nutrient directly to a plant until the plant locks that nutrient from further absorption. In this case, the remaining excess passes through the soil with water drain off. Organic soils, on the other hand, do not require nutrient supplements because they are comprised of ingredients that inherently contain these valuable minerals and molecules. Uptake in these cases is contingent solely on the plant’s needs and doesn’t require extra attention (or money) from the grower.
With organics, the primary focus is to build the best possible environment to sustain life and provide nutrient access to your plants. This focus extends beyond the soil, so it’s best to view your entire grow as a tiny ecosystem that you must maintain in order to achieve homeostasis.
Silty soil is the ideal growing medium. It’s easy to work, warms quickly, holds moisture, has good drainage, and contains a lot of nutrients. The best silty soil is dark, crumbly loam—it’s fertile and probably won’t need any amending.
Indoor grows can be wasteful, using a ton of electricity to power all those lights, fans, and other equipment. The sun and the wind are free!
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.
There are also commercially available soil blends that already contain the proper mix of these types of ingredients.
You can make this yourself by combining worm castings, bat guano, and other components with a good soil and letting it sit for a few weeks, or it can be purchased pre-made from a local nursery or grow shop.
Climate in your area
The sky’s the limit with outdoor plants—you can let them get as big and tall as you want, as long as they’re manageable. One plant can potentially yield between a half-pound and full-pound of dried weed! Growing a handful of hands for yourself is more than enough. With an indoor grow, your space is a lot more restricted.
You can plant directly into the ground, using the preexisting soil, but you’ll need to understand your soil’s composition and amend it accordingly. If you go this route, we recommend getting your soil tested, which will minimize headaches, and it’s easy and relatively inexpensive. A soil test will tell you the makeup and pH of your soil, any contaminants present, and will recommend materials and fertilizers to amend your soil.