Choosing a Site

here are several factors to consider when deciding where to plant, including sunlight, microclimate, availability of water, and condition of the soil. But the garden's security should be your first consideration. No matter what size your garden, rip-offs and confiscation are constant threats. But these risks can be minimised by careful planning and common senses. In some countries, law-enforcement agencies take a tolerant attitude toward small gardens, and people grow Cannabis in their backyards. In other areas, police are not as enlightened and place an emphasis on cultivation busts. In either case, the larger the garden, the greater the potential danger.

In Hawaii and California, where marijuana growing has become a booming business, helicopters have been a problem for commercial growers. Aircraft outfitted with visual or infrared equipment, dogs, and finks have all been used to seek out illicit plots. Aircraft equipment is least effective on steep slopes and where the vegetation is lush and varied. Where aircraft are a problem, growers prune marijuana to obscure its distinctive shape. The plants are difficult to detect from a distance when intercropped with bamboo, sunflowers, sugar cane, soybeans, or tall weeds (see Figure 60). Commercial growers often plant several small dispersed stands or many single marijuana plants, which are more difficult to detect and serve as insurance against total loss.

But rip-offs rather than the law are more of a problem for marijuana growers. From every section of the United States, reports confirm that marijuana theft has reached epidemic proportions, and even well-hidden plant fall prey to unscrupulous people. These lowlifes often search near hippie communities and popular planting areas. Their best ally is a loose lip; so keep your garden on a "need to know" basis.

Where to Grow

Given the value of marijuana, many people think they'll grow an acre or two. But it is much harder to find spots suitable for large-scale farming than to find small garden plots. Large gardens require more planning and commitment, and usually a remote area. They may need a lot more time, energy, and investment in materials and labor-saving machinery than smaller gardens.

A small but well-cultivated garden, say, ten by ten feet, can yield over four pounds of grass each crop. By planning realistically, you'll harvest a good stash of potent grass rather than a lot of disappointment.

Moat people who grow marijuana plant it in their backyards. They hide the plants from curious neighbours and passers-by with walls, fences, arbor, or similar enclosures. Some people plant Cannabis as part of their vegetables garden, pruning the plants to make them less conspicuous.

Gardeners often use ingenious ideas to keep their gardens secret. A woman on Long Island grows over thirty large plants in containers in her drained swimming pool. Although some of the plants reach a height of 12 feet, they can't be seen over the enclosing fence.

A couple living near Nashville, Tennessee, took the roof off their three-car garage and painted the walls white to create a high-walled garden. Other growers use sheds with translucent roofs.

Guerilla Farming

Many growers feel safer planting away from their property. Should the garden be discovered, they are not in jeopardy. On the negative side, they usually lose the close contact and control that a home gardener has.

Urban gardeners use makeshift greenhouses, rooftops, vacant lots, and city dumps. Vacant lost that are overgrown with lush weeds can support a good crop, if the marijuana plants get a head start on the indigenous weeds.

Fields, forest clearings, railroad rights-of-way, stream banks, runoff and irrigation ditches, clearings beneath high-tension lines, deserted farms and quarries, overgrown fields, and abandoned houses have all been used as garden spots. In areas where hemp is a problem weed, people plant seeds from high-potency marijuana in the same fields where the weedy hemp grows. Growers harvest the plants in late July before they flower and before the fields are watched or destroyed by law enforcers.

Larger growers often look for rough, unpopulated terrain that is accessible only by plane, helicopter, four-wheel-drive vehicles, or long hikes. They avoid areas which hunters and hikers are likely to use before harvest.

Serious growers often find unusual places to start gardens. A grow in Chico, California, hacks through two hundred yards of dense underbrush and bramble to reach his clearing. In Oregon some growers maintain fields which are a gruelling eight-hour uphill hike from the nearest road. Some Florida farmers commute to their island and peninsula gardens by boats. A master gardener in Colorado lowers himself by rope to a fertile plain 50 feet below a cliff.

A farmer in Hawaii wrote, "The main concern is to grow in an undetectable place where the plants can still get enough sun. This is becoming very difficult to find and some very elaborate subterfuges have been developed. People on Maui are growing plants suspended from trees and on tree platforms! Around here some people carry small plants in buckets far out on the lava fields where there is a light shading from Ohia trees and you don't leave tracks. Also people go into the sugarcane fields, tear out some cane, and put in their plants. I am sure many other things are being done."

Light

Marijuana is a sun plant. The plants will grow in partially shaded areas, but about five hours of direct sunlight are needed for development into a lush bush. Marijuana does best when it has direct sunlight all day. If it grows at all in a heavily shaded area, it will be dwarfed and sparse – a shadow of its potential.

Try to choose a place that maximises light. Flat areas get the most sunlight, but many growers prefer to use slops and hillsides which help to hide the plants. Southern slops usually receive more sun and stronger light than eastern and western slops, which are shaded in the afternoon and morning, respectively. Northern slopes are rarely used, since they get the least sunlight and are also the coldest. Steeper slops are shaded sooner than gradual slopes, and lower areas are shaded earlier than high ones.

Sunlight at high altitudes is more intense, because of the thinner atmosphere and the usually lower pollution. The atmosphere and pollutants at lower elevations absorb and scatter some of the solar radiation.

Backyard gardeners usually compromise between the need for maximum light and the need for subterfuge. An area that gets several hours of direct sunlight and bright unobstructed daylight for the rest of the day will do well. A garden exposed to the south usually gets the strongest light and is the warmest. Overhanging vegetation should be pruned so that the plants are shaded as little as possible.

Most marijuana strains are acclimated to tropical and semitropical latitudes, where the daytime is relatively short (10 to 14 hours, depending on season), but the sunlight is quite strong. At latitudes in the United States, the sun is not as intense (although in the summer the difference is small), but the days are longer, and the plants can grow extremely fast. It is not true that intense sunlight is needed to grow great marijuana. However, a summer characterised by clear sunny weather will usually produce a larger and slightly more potent crop than if the season is cloudy and rainy.

Sunlight can be maximised by adequate spacing and orientation of the garden.

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