For most people Valentine’s Day brings to mind love and an obsession with exchanging candy, gifts and bodily fluids.Valentine’s Day also marks something I am very passionate about, the beginning of the outdoor growing season. For those of us with advanced greenhouses or indoor gardens, that is the time to get those clones rooted and ready to go. They say the early bird gets the worm, those who started growing in mid February will also be growing some monster cannabis plants. For those without the indoor gardens, starting around Easter still allows enough of time to grow some very large plants.
The first step is selecting the kind of plants you want to grow. Personally I prefer the sativa dominant hybrids that will finish by mid October and stack on some heavy yields. My goal each year is to average about five pounds per plant. If you start early, don’t make mistakes, and grow the correct strains, this should be an achievable goal. After seeing Big Sluggers outdoor garden finish with monster yields, I think Blue Dream is a pretty safe bet. Obviously there are many other great strains for outdoor gardens as well.
Quantity and Space
Decide how many plants you want to grow in your outdoor garden. This decision should be based on the time and energy you have to put into the project, the space you have available, and local regulations for growing marijuana. In my opinion this decision should not be based on how much medicine you actually need. Even advanced growers can have a bad year due to unforeseen events. Don’t assume a high yield.
If you want to grow monsters, make sure your garden will allow each plant at least a 10 foot by 10 foot area to grow in. Personally I think a 15 foot by 15 foot area is better. While they may not fill the space completely, the side branches will be exposed to much more light if they are not being shaded by the plants next to them. This will allow to buds to fill in completely on the sides and should help the plant mature at a more even rate. Plus, a little more space to work in is never a bad thing.
Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to grow monster plants. You must enjoy the work or it will never get done. As for local regulations, assuming you live in an area where growing medical or recreational marijuana is legal to some extent, don’t be afraid to call the sheriffs department and ask about the guidelines in your area. Sometime these can also be found on the Sheriffs Departments web page.
Once you know how many plants you want to grow, start at least twice as many as you need. As they grow and begin to fill up your grow room or greenhouse, select the strongest plants and discard most of the others. It’s always wise to keep an extra few plants around until after you transplant, just in case a few don’t respond well.
Get those seeds or clones planted in high quality sterile planting mix or a coca fiber and perlite mix like Ready Grow. When starting indoors, DO NOT fill your pots with soil from outdoors. While your garden may have great soil, it contains many pests that will quickly invade your grow room or greenhouse once brought into a warm predator free environment. Outside they are kept in check, indoors they are a disaster. Use clean 1 gallon plastic pots. Most nurseries have these for about ¢.50 each. If you are planning to use recycled pots, wash them well and dip them in a bleach and water mixture to sterilize them. As you are adding soil to the pots, mix in a healthy dose of beneficial mycorrhizae. Once the plants grow a bit larger you will be transplanting into five or ten gallon pots and adding additional mycorrhizae. Do not start with the larger pots. Starting with one gallon pots will allow you to fit more plants in a smaller area. This means you won’t need to fire as many lights at first which will save money. One gallon pots also mean that less humidity will be introduced into your garden area when you water.
The goal is to have your plants already quite large and planted in the ground by around mid April. This means you have as much as two months to get them as large as you possibly can in pots before transplanting into the ground. Often this means planting in the ground before the last frost of the year. If this is the case, you may need to build an inexpensive makeshift greenhouse for each plant. Simply pound four posts in the ground creating a 4’x4’x4’ square. Wrap the four stakes from the ground up with a roll of pallet wrap. At night you can cover them with clear plastic pallet covers. Make sure you uncover the plants during the day so the moisture can escape, CO2 can get in, and so they don’t get too warm on the sunny days. Don’t forget to provide supplemental light so your clones don’t start flowering early. Be aware of high water tables in the early spring. If the hole you dig has water at the bottom, plant in mounds, smart pots or planter boxes so the roots are not in standing water.
When starting in greenhouses, use heating pads or cables under the pots to help keep the root area warm. Also make sure to supplement with artificial light to extend the day to about 18 hours and help produce growth on the rainy days.
To Do List
- Select a few strain you want to grow
- Acquire twice as many healthy clones as you will need
- Transplant each clone into a 1 gallon plastic nursery cans filled with sterile potting soil and mycorrhiza
- Place the plants under either fluorescent, high pressure sodium, or metal halide grow lights for 18 hours per day, or supplement outdoor light to lengthen the day to 18 hours.
- Water as needed and feed with a light dose of high nitrogen plant food like NPK 30-10-10.
Starting Outdoor Cannabis Plants Early,