Outdoor growing is the best. Outdoor pot by far is the strongest, since it gets more light, it's naturally more robust. No light leak problems. No dark periods that keep you out of your grow room. No electricity bills. Sunlight tends to reach more of the plant, if your growing in the direct sun. Unlike growing indoors, the bottom of the plant will be almost as developed as the top.
Outdoors, outside of a greenhouse, there are many factors that can kill your crop. Deer will try to eat them. Chipmonks and rodents too. Bugs will inhabit them, and the wind and rain can whip your little buds to pieces if they are exposed to strong storms. For this reason, indoor pot can be better than outdoor, but the best smoke I ever tasted was outdoor pot, so that tells you something; nothing beats the sun.
Put up a fence and make sure it stays up. Visit your plot at least once every two weeks, and preferably more often if water needs demand.
It's a good idea to use soil if you don't have a green house, since hydroponics will be less reliable outside in the open air, due mostly to evaporation.
Light exposure is all important when locating a site for a greenhouse or outdoor plot. A backyard grower will need to know where the sun shines for the longest period; privacy and other factors will enter in as well. Try to find an innocuous spot that gets full winter sun from mid morning to mid afternoon, at least from 10-4, preferably 8-5. This will be really asking for a lot if you live north of 30 degrees latitude since days are short in winter. Since most gardeners will not want to use the greenhouse in the middle of the winter, you can still use winter sun as an indicator of good spring and fall lighting exposures. Usually the south side of a hill gets the most sun. Also, large areas open to the sun on the north side of the property will get good southern exposures. East and West exposures can be good if they get the full morning/afternoon sun and mid-day sun as well. Some books say the plants respond better to morning-only sun, verses afternoon-only sun, so if you have to choose between the two, morning sun may be better.
Disguise your greenhouse as a tool shed, or similar structure, by using only one wall and a roof of white opaqued plastic, PVC, Filon, or glass, and using a similar colored material for the rest of the shed, or painting it white or silvery, to look like metal. Try to make it appear as if it has always been there, with plants and trees that grow around it and mask it from view while allowing sun to reach it.
Filon (corrugated fiberglass)or PVC plastic sheets can be used outside to cover young plants grown together in a garden. Buy the clear greenhouse sheets, and opaque them with white wash (made from lime) or epoxy resin tinted white or grey and painted on in a thin layer. This will pass more sun than white PVC or Filon, and still hide the plants. Epoxy resin coats will preserve the Filon for many more seasons than it would otherwise last. It will also allow you to disguise the shed as metal, if you paint the clear filon sheets with a thin layer of resin tinted light grey. Paint will work as well, but may not protect as much. Be careful to use only as much as needed, to reduce sun blockage to a minimum.
Dig a big hole, don't depend on the plant to be able to penetrate the clay and rubble unless your sure of the quality of topsoil in the area. Grassy fields would have good top soil, but your back yard may not. This alone can make the difference between an average 5' tall plant, and a 10' monster by harvest time. Growing in the ground will always beat a pot, since the plant will never become root bound in the ground. Plants grown in the ground should grow much larger, but will need more space for each plant, so plan accordingly, you can't move them once they're in!
You may want to keep outdoor plants in pots so they can be easily moved. A big hole will allow the pot to be place in it, thus reducing the height of the plant, if fence level is an issue. Many growers find pots have saved a crop that had to be moved for some unexpected reason (repairman, appraiser, fire, etc.).
It's always best to put a roof over your plants outdoors. When I was a lad, we had plants growing over the fence line in the back yard. We started to build a greenhouse roof for them, and a cop saw us hauling wood, thought we were stealing it (which we were not) and looked over the fence at us and our lovely plants. We were busted, because he saw them. If he had seen a shed roof instead, there would never have been a problem. Moral of the Story: build the roof BEFORE the plants are sticking over the fence! Or train them to stay well below it. Live and learn...
When growing away from the house, in the wild, water is the biggest determining factor, after security. Water must be close by, or close to the soil surface, or you will have to pack water in. Water is heavy and this is very hard work. Try to find an area close to a source of water if possible, and keep a bucket nearby to carry water to your plot.
A novel idea in this regard is to find high water in the mountains, at altitude, and then route it down to a lower spot close by. It is possible to create water presure in a hose this way, and route it to a drip system that feeds water to your plants continuously. Take a 5 gallon gas can, and punch small holes in it. Run a hose out of the main orifice and secure it somehow. Bury the can in a river or stream under rocks, so that it is hidden and submerged. Bury the hose coming out of it, and run it down hill to your garden area. A little engineering can save you a lot of work, and this rig can be used year after year.
Guerrilla farming refers to farming away from your own property, or in a remote location of your property where people seldom roam around. It is possible to find locations that for one reason or another are not easily accessible or are privately owned.
Try to grow off your property, on adjacent property, so that if your plot is found, it will not be traceable back to you. If it's not on your property, nobody has witnessed you there, and there is no physical evidence of your presence (footprints, fingerprints, trails, hair, etc.), then it is virtually impossible to prosecute you for it, even if the cops think they know who it belongs to.
Never admit to growing, to anyone. Your best defence is that your just passing thru the area, and noticed something you decided to take a look at, or carry a fishing pole or binoculars and claim fishing or bird watching.
Never tell anyone but a partner where the plants are located. Do not bring visitors to see them, unless it is harvest time, and the plants will be pulled the same or following day.
Make sure your plants are out of sight. Take a different route to get to them if they are not in a secure part of your property, and cover the trail to make it look as if there is no trail. Make cut backs in the trail, so that people on the main trail will tend to miss the cut-back to the grow area. Don't park on the main road, always find a place to park that will not arouse suspicion by people that pass on the road. Have a safe house in the area if you are not planting close to home. Always have a good reason for being in the area and have the necessary items to make your claim believable.
Briar and poison oak patches are perfect if you can cut through it. Poison Oak must be washed away before an allergic reaction takes place. Teknu is a special soap solution that will deactivate poison oak before it has time to create a reaction. Apply Teknu immediately after contact and take a shower 30 mins. later.
Try to plant under trees, next to bushes and keep only a few plants in any one spot. Train or top the plants to grow sideways, or do something to prevent the classic christmas tree look of most plants left to grow untrained. Tying the top down to the ground will make the plants branches grow up toward the sun, and increase yield, given a long enough growing season. Plants can be grown under trees if the sun comes in at an angle and lights the area for several hours every day. Plants should get at least 5 hours of direct sun every day, and 5 more hours of indirect light. Use shoes that you can dispose of later and cover your foot prints. Use surgical gloves and leave no fingerprints on pots and other items that might ID you to the fuzz...in case your plot is discovered by passers by.
Put up a fence, or the chipmonks, squirles and deer will nibble on your babies until there is nothing left. Green wire mesh and nylon chicken fencing net work great and can be wrapped around trees to create a strong barrier. Always check it and repair every visit you make to the garden. A barrier of fishing line, one at 18" and another at 3' will keep most deer away from your crop.
Gopher Granola is available for areas such as the N. CA mountains, where wood rats and gophers will eat your crop if given any opportunity to do so. The best fence in the world will not keep rats away from your plants! Do not use soap to keep dear away, it will attract rats! (The fat in the soap is edible for them.) Put the poison grain in a feeder than only small rodents can enter, so that birds and deer can't eat it. Set out poison early, before actual planting. The rats must eat the grain for several days before it will have any effect on them. Ultimately, you may find it's easier to grow in a greenhouse shed in your own backyard rather than try to keep the rats from eating your outdoor plot.
When growing away from the house, in the wild, water is the biggest determining factor, after security. The amount you can grow is directly proportional to the water available. If you must pack-in water, carry it in a backpack in case your seen in-route to your garden; you will appear to be merely a hiker, not a grower.
Transporting vegatative starts to the growing area is a most tricky aspect of growing outdoors. Usually, you will want to start plant indoors, or outside in your garden, then transport them to the grow site once they are firmly established. It may be desirable to first detect and separate males from females so that no effort of transporting/transplanting/watering males is incurred.
One suggestion is to use 3" rockwool cubes to start seedlings in, then put 20 of them in a litter pan, cover it with another pan, and transport this to the grow site. The cubes can be planted directly into soil. If spotted inroute to the grow area, burying a dead cat may be a good excuse for being in the area. Few people would demand to see the rotting corpse!
One outdoor grower we know has given up on seeds. He has several strains he likes to clone, so he starts 200 clones in his closet, then transports them outdoors in boxes to the grow site. No males, no differentiation, no weeding, no germinating seeds, no genetic uncertainties, no crops grown for seed, no transporting/transplanting/watering plants your just going to pull up later, no pollination nightmares, no wasted effort!
Use Super Soil brand in California, as this is the only known soil on the West Coast that is guaranteed to be good. Many other brands are mostly wood products and have very few nutrients, are too moist, etc. Add vermiculite, pearlite or sand to Super Soil to increase it's drainage and aeration.
Organic gardeners use their own compost prepaired from a mixture of chicken, cow or other manure and household food waste, leaves, lawn clippings, dog hair and other waste products including urine, which is high in nitrogen. Dog hair is not recommended for guerilla gardeners planting off their property where police could find it. DNA tests could prove it was YOUR dog's hair!
Use P4 water crystals in the soil to give the plants a few days worth of emergency water reserves. This substance swells up with water and holds it like a sponge, so that roots will have a reserve if harsh drought makes constant watering necessary. Go real easy on this stuff though, it tends to sink to the bottom of the pot and suffocate bottom roots (new growth roots) and stunts the plant. Use in extreme moderation, let it swell up for at least an hour before mixing with other soil.
Plant size in soil is directly related to pot size. If you want the plant to grow bigger, put it in a bigger pot. Usually, 1/2 gallon per foot of plant is sufficient. A six foot plant would require a minimum of a 3 gallon pot. Remember, square containers have more volume in a square space (like a closet).
Planting in the ground is always preferable when growing in soil. The plants can then grow to any size, unlimited by pot size.
Bat Guano, chicken manure, or worm castings can all be used to fertilize organically in soil. Manures can burn, so they should be composted with the soil first, before planting, over several weeks. Sea weed is available to provide a rich trace mineral source that breaks down slowly and constantly feeds the plants.
If growing outdoors in available soil, look around for leaves and other natural sources of nitrogen and work them into the soil, along with some dolmite lime and composted organic fertilizer. Even small amounts of plant food such as Miracle Grow can be added to soil at this time. (Organic gardeners frown upon this practice, however. Toxic wastes are produced by commercial fertilizer production.) Mulch can be made from leaves and spread out over the garden area to hold in moisture and keep down weeds near the plants.
Its interesting that pot plants really do blend in with other plants to the point that they are unidentifiable by all but the most observant. I remember a relative of the family on a visit to Texas showed me his corn in the garden and I was standing 3' away from several pot plants before I recognized them for what they were.
Plants started outdoors late in the season never get very big and never attract the least bit of attention when placed next to plants of similar or taller stature. Even tall plants grown among several trees will be almost invisible in their camouflage.
Outdoors the object is to control access to an area, and not to arouse suspicion. Tuck them here and there, never in a recognizable pattern. Space them out, and fit them in to the existing landscape such that they get full sun, but they're hidden or blend in. Fence lines and groups of several together are best. Try to find strains that seem to match the surrounding plants. Feed nitrogen to your plants if they need to be greener to blend in. Some growers even use plastic red flowers, pinned to a plant, disguising it as a flower bush.
Visit the plants at night on full moons, and if your visible to neighbors, appear to be pruning a tree, mowing the lawn, or doing something in the yard that makes you invisible.
Dig a hole and put a potted plant in it. The plant's height will be reduced by at least a foot.
Some growers top the plant when it is 12" high, and grow the 2 tops horizontally along a trellis. The plant will never be over 3 feet tall, and never arouses suspicion from neighbors. This type of plant can even be grown in your yard in full view. Many stories abound of having the neighbors over for a BBQ and nobody ever noticed the nice plants over by the fence...
PLANT FOOD AND NUTRIENTS
Plant foods have 3 main ingredients that will be the mainstay of the garden, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. These 3 ingredients are usually listed on the front label of the plant food in the order of N-P-K. A 20-20-20 plant food has a Nitrogen level of 20%.
Secondary nutrients are Calcium, Sulphur and Magnesium. In trace quantities, boron, copper, molybenum, zink, iron, and manganese.
Depending on stage of growth, different nutrients are needed at different times. For rooting and germination, levels of high P nutrients with less N/K are needed. Vegetative growth needs lots of N, and human urine is one of the better sources, (mix 8 ounces to 1 gallon water), although it is not a complete fertilizer unto itself. 20-20-20 with trace elements should do it; I like Miracle Grow Patio food. Watch for calcium, magnesium, sulfur and iron levels too. These are important. One tablespoon of dolomite or hydrated lime is used per gallon of growing medium when a hydroponic medium is first brought on-line, to provide nitrogen, calcium and magnesium. Epsom salts are used to enhance magnesium and sulphur levels in solution.
Tobacco grown with potassium nitrate burns better. Plant foods with PN (P2N3) are foods such as Miracle Grow. This is an excellent fertilizer for vegetative growth, or through the flowering cycle as well. Consider however, potassium nitrate is also known as Salt Peter, and is used to make men have less sexual desire or impotent, such as in mental institutions. So if certain plants are destined for cooking, you might use Fish Emulsion or some other totally organic fertilizer on these plants, at least in the last weeks of flowering.
Most hydroponic solutions should be in the range of 150-600 parts per million in disolved solids. 300-400 ppm is optimum. It is possible to test your solution or soil with a electrical conductivity meter if your unsure of what your giving your plants.
Keep in mind most disolved solids readings are usually on the low side, and actual nutrient levels are usually higher. It is possible with passive hydroponics, to get nutrient build-up over several feedings, to the point the medium is over saturated in nutrients. Just feed straight water now and again, until you notice the plants are not as green (slightly), then resume normal feeding.
"Pumping" is when you use more waterings to make the plants grow faster. This is dangerous if you proceed in a reckless manner, due to potential over-watering problems. You must go slowly and watch the plants daily and even hourly at first to be sure your not over-watering the plants. Use weaker plant food mixtures than normal, maybe 25%, and be sure your leaching once a month and running straight water through the plants at least every other time you water. This applies mainly to plants grown in soil mediums.
Use of light strength Oxygen Plus plant food (or Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide) allows the roots to breath better and prevents problems with over-watering. Check soil to be sure there are no PH anomalies that might be due to Hydrogen Peroxide in the solution. (One experienced grower told me he would not use H2O2 (HP) due to possible PH problems. This should not be a problem if your checking PH and correcting for it in watering solutions.)
Be sure your medium has good drainage. At this point, if your watering soil based plants once a week, you can water every 3-5 days instead if you plant them in a medium with better drainage. Pearlite or lava rock will greatly increase the drainage of the medium and make watering necessary more often. This will pump the plants; they will tend to grow faster because of the enhanced oxygen to the roots. Make sure the plant medium is almost dry before watering again, as the plant grows faster this way.
An alternative is to use a standard plant food mixture (stronger) once every 3 waterings. The nutrients are suspended in the medium and stored in the soil for later use. The nutrients are washed out by 2 straight waterings afterward and there is no salts build up in the soil. (Does not apply to hydroponics.)
Stop all plant food 2 weeks before harvesting, so that the plants don't taste like plant food. (This applies to hydroponics as well.)
WARNING: Do not over-fertilize. It will kill your plants. Always read the instructions for the fertilizer being used. Use 1/2 strength if adding to the water for all feedings in soil or hydroponics if you are unsure of what your plants can take. Build up slowly to higher concentrations of food over time. Novice soil growers tend to over-fertilize their plants. Mineral salts build up over time to higher levels of disolved solids. Use straight water for one feeding in hydroponics if it is believed the buildup is getting too great. Leach plants in pots every month. If your plants look REALLY green, withhold food for a while to be sure they are not being over-fed.
HARVESTING AND DRYING
Harvesting is the reaping of the bounty, and is the most enjoyable time you will spend with your garden.
Plants are harvested when the flowers are ripe. Generally, ripeness is defined as when the white pistils start to turn brown, orange, etc. and start to withdraw back into the false seed pod. The seed pods swell with resins usually reserved for seed production, and we have ripe sinse buds with red and golden hairs.
It is interesting that the time of harvest controls the "high" of the buds. If harvested "early" with only a few of the pistils turned color, the buds will have a more pure THC content and will have less THC that has turned to CBD and CBN's. The lessor psychoactive substances will create the bouquet of the pot, and control the amount of stoneyness and stupidness associated with the high. A pure THC content is very cerebral, while high THC, high CBD, CBN content will make the plants more of a stupid, or hazy buzz. Buds taken later, when fully ripened will normally have these higher CBN, CBD levels and may not be what you prefer once you try different samples picked at different times. Don't listen to the experts, decide yourself based on what you come to like yourself.
Keep in mind, a bud weighs more when fully ripe. It is what most growers like to sell, but take some buds early for yourself, every week until you harvest, and decide how you like it for yourself. Grow the rest to full maturity if you plan to sell it.
Most new growers want to pick early, because they are impatient. That's OK! Just take buds from the middle of the plant or the top. Allow the rest to keep maturing. Often, the tops of the plants will be ripe first. Harvest them and let the rest of the plant continue to ripen. You will notice the lower buds getting bigger and fuzzier as they come into full maturity. With more light available to the bottom portion of the plant now, the plant yields more this way over time, than taking a single harvest.
Use a magnifier and try to see the capitated stalked trichomes (little THC crystals on the buds). If they are mostly clear, not brown, the peak of floral bouquet is near. Once they are mostly all turning brownish in color, the THC levels are dropping and the flower is past optimum potency, declining with light and wind exposure rapidly.
Don't harvest too late! It's easy to be too careful and harvest late enough potency has declined. Watch the plants and learn to spot peak floral potency.
Do not cure pot in the sun, it reduces potency. Slow cure hanging buds upside down in a ventilated space. That is all that is needed to have great sensi. Drying in a paper bag works too, and may be much more convenient. Bud tastes great when slow dried over the course of a week or two.
If your in a hurry, it's OK to dry a small amount in-between paper sheets or a paper bag in a microwave oven. Go slow and check it, don't burn it. Use the defrost power setting for a slower, better drying. It will be harsh smoking this way though.
A food dehydrator or food preserver will dry your pot in a few hours, but it will not taste the same as slow-dried. Very close though. And this will speed your harvest time (which can be nerve-wracking, with all this pot hanging around drying.)
Dry buds until the stems are brittle enough to snap, then cure them in a sealed tupperware container , burping air and turning the buds daily for two weeks.
Once experienced grower told me to dry in an uninsulated area of the house (like the garage) so that the temperature will rise and fall each night, as the plant is drying. If you treat the plant as if it were still alive, it will use some of it's chlorophyll while it is drying, and the smoke will be less harsh.