Non-transportable plants means that you are at the mercy of the weather and season—if thunderstorms, gales, or floods occur, your plants may well not survive them, unless you are able to construct screens or wire cages to protect your crop from the worst of the severe weather.
This ensures that your plants can achieve their full potential in terms of height, vigour and eventual yield, and also means that less maintenance is required. If conducting a ‘guerrilla grow’ in a site that is not easily accessed on a daily basis, open soil is often preferred for this reason.
When factoring in the fact that growing in pots generally necessitates the need for several transplants throughout the plant’s life into incrementally bigger pots, cost of pots alone can run into the low hundreds for a small grower, and possibly even thousands for large-scale growers.
There are various ways to approach outdoor cannabis growing. Some growers prefer to simply sow seeds or plant seedlings straight into the open ground, while others prefer containing their plants within planters or pots. Here, we take a brief look at the pros and cons of each method.
1 – The most obvious advantage of sowing seeds or planting seedlings in open soil is the fact that they have full, unrestricted access to nutrients and whatever moisture can be reached by the roots. As the roots are able to freely grow downwards, they may be able to fulfill their water requirements purely from the groundwater.
Containing your plants in pots ensures that once they have run out of space for the roots to occupy, they will cease vegetative growth.
1 – On the other hand, containing plants in pots may be undesirable for the very fact that it restricts growth, thereby reducing potential harvest and general overall health of the plant. Of course, there are some huge pots available for outdoor cultivation, but if you truly wish to maximize the potential of your large plants, restricting their access to soil is not the way to go.
Top 9 Tips for Growing Cannabis Outdoors
3 – A third advantage of growing in pots is the ability to control the uniformity and quality of the growing medium, and to fix any problems that may arise by simply transferring to a new pot with new soil.
2 – Another potential problem lies in the fact that plants are transportable in pots—it’s a definite advantage for many outdoor growers to be able to move plants indoors or into a greenhouse if necessary, but the fact that you can pick them up and carry them around also means that other, less well-intentioned people can do the same.
Plants grown from seeds are typically heartier and more vigorous than clones, as they produce a sturdier taproot that clones are not able to replicate. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Container gardens can be convenient as they can be moved around the garden to maximize sunlight or protect them from harsh conditions Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Planning your garden
Organic sources of nutrients include alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, bat guano, fish emulsion, dolomite, and earthworm castings. Each contains different ratios of nutrients that can be used for different phases of the plants’ growth cycle.
Cannabis is a hardy plant that has adapted to climates all over the world. From the cool and arid mountains of Afghanistan to the humid regions of Colombia, over time the plant has been forced to adapt its defenses against a host of problems. But cannabis is still susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Whether it is heavy winds breaking branches or excessive rain causing mold, the great outdoors presents challenges to growers that can be mitigated with sufficient planning.
Keep this info in mind as you embark on your cannabis-growing adventure. The smallest adjustments can make all the difference — planting a week earlier, a week later, watering less, watering more, etc.
For most first-time gardeners, we recommend buying a quality potting soil that will provide your plants with enough nutrients to get them through most of their growth cycle without having to add many amendments. This pre-fertilized soil—often referred to as “super-soil”—that can grow cannabis plants from start to finish without any added nutrients if used correctly.
Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s relaxing to spend some time outside, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty for a while. And there’s nothing better than smoking something you grew yourself.
These are just some examples of amendments commonly used in different types of soils. Heavily amended soils will have long lists that break down all organic nutrients they contain. Some companies create soils that offer a great structure with base nutrients, but allow you to fill in the gaps as you desire.
Some growers plant in containers on balconies or rooftops that are shielded from view, while some build heavy-gauge wire cages to keep thieves and animals at bay. Whatever you decide, think about how big you want your final plant to be—outdoor cannabis plants can grow to 10 feet tall or even more, depending on how much you let them go.
Heavy clay soils drain slowly and don’t hold oxygen well, so they will need to be heavily amended. A few weeks before you plant, dig large holes where you’ll be placing your weed plants and mix in big amounts of compost, manure, worm castings, or other decomposed organic matter. This will provide aeration and drainage, as well as nutrients for the plants.
Climate in your area
Soil has three basic consistencies, in various ratios:
Most potting soils used in gardening are loam soils. If you’ve ever worked with potting soil, you’ll know that its composition is rich and diverse, and it looks dark and hearty. Beyond texture and color, the soil should smell rich and alive.