This ‘how to grow marijuana’ guide is intended for entertainment and educational purposes only.
This article will act to be a full guide of how to grow marijuana outdoors. At East Coast Marijuana we have the experience of growing in some of the harshest climates in the lower 48 states. Sure, you grow huge plants in northern California, but can you do it on the east coast where sun may or may not show up, winds can reach hurricane force, flooding is common and frosts show up in May and September.
I will guide you through the whole process month by month so you will have a time table and be ready for each step as the time approaches. As I talk about a topic I will link to more information about specific things. Also, I will be describing how to grow in northeast (as far as seasons go) but these methods and strategies will work anywhere. The biggest difference is that in warmer climates you can start outdoors sooner in the year and therefore all the steps could be condensed or moved back.
October- Autumn is the time to start the search for places to grow marijuana. Use Google Earth to initially start your scouting but you will need to visit the location physically to make sure it is what you think. Also, the leaves are still on trees in early October so you can get an idea of how the vegetation will look during the summer months. Plus, in most places, hunting season has begun so there will be no one wondering why you are wondering around the woods, even if you are on someone else’s property.
For concealment purposes you want to grow in patches of 5-10 plants. From there it is up to you to decide how many patches you want to take on growing. Flag out your plots if you have to, the land will look much different next time you are there.
What kind of land are you looking for? You have two choices, highland or lowland. They both have pros and cons when it comes to floods, droughts and accessibility.
Highland will keep you out of flood water but may mean you will need to carry in water. Lowlands will be easy to water, in the east lowlands are filled with bogs, brooks and rivers. This can be a gamble and predicting the weather throughout the summer will be crucial. You spot should be remote no matter where you choose it. Find a bog created by a beaver dam or an old clear cut. If you find a clear cut with a water source you have struck gold.
January- Winter is the time to do the clearing of the land if you need to. You are less likely to run into people during winter and most water is frozen making scouting, cutting and walking easier. Remember as you scout that the sun goes from east to west and as the year progresses the sun will get lower in the sky and shine from the south. This is why so many growers know that a south facing slope is where to be. Cut vegetation so the sun will be on your crop for as long as possible, you are looking for 18 hours of sunlight in peak summer.
If you are growing from seeds, January is also the time to get those babies germinated. Once germinated you will need to sex the seedlings to makes sure you get only female plants.
If you are growing from clones you should have the clones rooted by mid-January so you have time to choose the healthiest to become mothers.
The strain you choose to grow should be determined by your geographic location as well as your skill level and expectations. You can read more about which strain to choose here.
February- You will need to grow seedlings into mothers in an indoor grow room. You will need to choose the strongest seedlings from each of your strains. These will act as the mothers for you clones. Since you want to start your outdoor grow with the strongest plants possible, it is important to have strong mothers and strong clones. Pick one or two (depending on the amount of space and resources you have) of each strain and focus your attention on growing these mothers. Mother plants will need 18-24 hours of light indoors for optimal growth.
March-April- Things are going to get really busy now, the hard work begins outdoors and the tender loving care increases indoors. You should have sexed your seedlings, weeded out the weak ones and the males and now have mothers growing. By April it will be time to take clones from your mother plants. Make sure to read up on how to clone and visualize doing it a few times before making the cut.
On the outdoor side of things it is time to start preparing your grow area. I use two methods of growing marijuana outdoors. One method includes using promix soil-less medium and actually use the promix bail as a grow bag, you can use half bails or whole bails, this method is very effective especially in swamps and bogs where you cannot dig holes. The other method is digging holes and filling them in with your grow medium. You should also amend your medium with fertilizer, soil moist and vermiculite to make the perfect grow medium. Setting up early lets your medium expand and dampen.
Read about the pros and cons of using bails versus digging holes.
The other chore that needs to be done during this time is to make fences for each of your plants. Using chicken wire with 2 inch holes you can make the perfect fence which can be folded up and packed.
Follow the instructions on how to make fences here.
Early May- Now your clones are rooted and most likely not all of them made it. Wean out the weak clones because they will be a waste of resources. Use only the healthiest clones to ensure a good outdoor crop. Replant healthy clones in rock wool cubes. Once roots show through the rock wool, replant in small soil containers. Now they should be maintained in the grow room. Use an oscillating fan on high to mimic outdoor breezes; this will help ‘harden’ them up.
May-June- In early May you have cloned your mothers and are maintaining your seedlings as you prepare to go outdoors. You have either dug holes (and filled them with grow medium) or you have lugged bails out to your grow spots. Now you need to get your clones to those spots. There are several factors that determine when you will plant your clones.
One factor is if you have enough space inside to house all the growing clones, another is the weather. Some people like to wait until June 1st to plant because this ensures there is no frost. If you have the space to let clones grow indoors this isn’t a bad option. Others like to get there clones out in May. Most frosts will be done after the full moon in May but you never know. By planting in May you will have more time under the sun and the clones will get stronger faster, but they will be very exposed since vegetation is still limited in May (especially in the northeast).
Use a tote bin with cover or a modified back pack frame with shelves to carry your clones to your site. Once planted set the chicken wire fences you made around each one and stake the fence down with sticks.
The fences help keep the tender clones safe but you need to do more for the plants protection. Use a slug repellent as well as a mouse repellent because mice like to chew on the stalks of the plants. Once you add animal repellent, water your plants and head out.
Read more about repelling animals here.
Leave no trash at your site, but do leave a brown pail to gather water from the source you found during scouting. If the source has dried up you will be in trouble, those plants will need plenty of water so you may find yourself lugging it in.
Read about ways to get water when there is no source.
Two weeks from planting your clones you will need to return for the next feeding. You should notice some substantial growth but the plants will have done more to ‘harden’ up then actually grow tall.
June- July- When you return for the each two week feeding you should now start ‘pinching’ each one of your plants. Pinching will bring out ‘double tops’ and really blow up your yield. If there is no rain you will need to water your plants as needed, the more grow medium you used, the less watering you will have to do. DO NOT OVER WATER.
August- The four week and six week marks should show a huge burst in growth. You should have been pinching you plants each time you fed and watered them. Sometime in August you will start to see white hairs forming on the buds of your plants (depending on the strain). This is the time to stop pinching your plants. You should also switch to a blooming type of fertilizer to encourage budding. Keep feeding and keep watering. Bat guano is one of the best organic super bloom fertilizers, start to use less bone and blood meal and more Bat Guano. August is also the time to start staking your plants. This is an important step as the plants grow taller. The stakes will keep them from bending and breaking in the wind, but more importantly it will keep branches from snapping off under the weight of the buds the plants will produce. Stake as many branches as you can, as plants start to bud you may need to fix stakes and add more to support the weight.
September- Late September is when most strains will be harvested (depending on the region). This is a very crucial month for your plants. The urge to harvest will be very hard to control but it is important to be as patient as possible. Just like an indoor grow, you will need to examine you plants for mature trichomes. The trichomes should be very milky or even an amber color when they are ready to harvest. Buds will be very hard and dense.
Stop fertilizing two weeks before harvest.
Some strains will take you into October before they are ready for harvest. Make sure you are aware of the weather. Wet weather will induce bud rot very quickly and may ruin a harvest. If you are dealing with wet weather around harvest time you will need to decide if an early harvest is the less of two evils compared to bud rot.
This will be the most dangerous part of the operation up to this point. You will be in possession of mature marijuana and you will be on the move. Get creative, use large bags meant to carry motocross or hockey gear to harvest plants. Bring sharp shears and don’t worry too much about stuffing the bags full, the buds will be fine.
You will have two harvests, the first harvest will be all the big cola tops. As you remove your tops you will notice that the smaller buds in the undergrowth have not fully matured yet. Allow lower buds to flower until mature, this may take an extra two weeks. It will be worth it, these lower buds will dense up and add a lot of weight to you yield. You may need to force a harvest if the weather is wet and you are in danger of bud rot.
After you have harvested the tops you will start manicuring or ‘clipping’ your weed. The tops are the easiest to clip and they are even easier when they are fresh. Take your time and remove as much leaf as you can, this will make the smoke much smoother.
Read more about manicuring weed.
Once you have some manicured buds you will need to cure them. There are many methods of curing marijuana. No matter how you do it, know that it is one of the most important steps towards getting high quality bud.
Read more about curing marijuana.
Make sure you have your area and materials ready before you ever start harvesting. I use fiskars shears for clipping and clip waste material in a black plastic planter you get at the hardware store. Use contractor bags for all the leaf and keep fans on it so it doesn’t rot. You will need to turn the leaves over and over in the bags to keep them dry. Place aplastic sheet on the floor to catch all the trimmings so no evidence is left behind. Also prepare yourself for the smell, it will be overwhelming and stick to your clothes dramatically.
Once your lower buds have been harvested you are all done outside. Now clip up the last of your bud and enjoy!