Posted – July 1st, 2010
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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."


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.

Posted – July 1st, 2010
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There are about 15 elements known to be essential to plant life. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are absorbed from air and water. The remaining 12 elements are absorbed primarily from the soil, in mineral (inorganic) forms such as NO3- and K+. They constitute a natural part of soil that becomes available to the plant os organic matter decays and soil particles such as sand and clay dissolve.

Soil elements that are necessary for normal growth are called nutrients. The elements nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) are considered major nutrients. The three numbers that appear on all fertiliser packages give the available percentage of these three nutrients that the fertiliser contains; and always in the order N-P-K. For example, 10-2-0 means 10 percent N, 2 percent P (actually, 2 percent P2O5), and no K (actually, no K2O). Fertility is often measured by the amounts of major nutrients a soil contains. Relatively large amount of N-P=K are needed for lush growth.

Three other elements – calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), and magnesium (Mg) – are called secondary nutrients. Plants require less of these nutrients, and most cultivable soils contain adequate amounts for good growth.

Six remaining elements are called trace elements or micronutrients. As their name implies, they are needed in very small amounts. Commercial soils contain enough trace elements to sustain normal growth. The trace elements are also present in manures, humus, ash, and limestone.


The amount of nitrogen a soil can supply is the best indication of its fertility. Nitrogen, more than any other soil nutrient, is inextricably linked with the living ecosystem. Nitrogen is continually cycled through living systems: from soil to plants and back to the soil, primarily by the activity of soil microorganisms. Nitrogen is essential to all life. Nitrogen is a key element in the structure of amino acids, the molecules which make up proteins. These, and all other biomolecules, are synthesised by the plant. Chlorophyll, genetic material (for example, DNA), and numerous enzymes and plant hormones contain nitrogen. Hence, N is necessary for many of the plant's life processes.

Cannabis is a nitrophile, a lover of nitrogen. Given ample N, Cannabis will outgrow practically and plant. Ample nitrogen is associated with fast, lush growth, and the plant requires a steady supply of nitrogen throughout its life. Marijuana's requirements for N are highest during the vegetative growth stages.


P is a constituent of energy-transfer compounds such as NADP and ATP, and molecular complexes such as the genes. The energy compounds are necessary for photosynthesis, respiration, and synthesis of biomolecules. Cannabis takes up large amounts of P during germination and seedling stages. During flowering and seed set, Cannabis' need for phosphorous is also high.


K influences many plant processes, including photosynthesis and respiration, protein synthesis, and the uptake of nutrients. Just as with P, K uptake is highest during the earliest growth stages. K is associated with sturdy stems and resistance to disease in plants.


Ca functions as a coenzyme in the synthesis of fatty compounds and cell membranes, and is necessary for normal mitosis (replication of cells). Plants take up much more Ca than the small amount necessary for normal growth. Ca is not added to soil as a nutrient; is added to adjust the soil's chemistry or pH.


S is a constituent of certain amino acids and proteins. It is an important part of plant vitamins, such as biotin and thiamine, which are necessary for normal respiration and metabolism. (Plants synthesise all vitamins they need.) Most soils suitable for growing marijuana contain plenty of S.


Mg is involved in protein synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates. Mg is the central element in the structure of chlorophyll molecules and hence has an important role in photosynthesis. Most mineral soils and commercial soils have a good supply of Mg.

Trace Elements

The trace elements (Fe, Mn, Mb, B, Cu, Zn) are particularly important in the coenzymes and catalysts of the plant's biochemistry. Many life processes, particularly the synthesis and degradation of molecules, energy transfer, and transport of compounds within the plant, depend on trace elements. Trace elements are not used in large quantities to spur growth, but are necessary in minute amounts for normal growth. Indoor soils rarely require an addition of trace elements.

All the nutrients are needed for normal growth. However, most of them are supplied by the potting soil. Ca, S, and the trace elements rarely present any problems. For most growers, fertilising will simply require periodic watering with a complete fertiliser, one that contains N, P, and K.

Application: Fertilising

To grow to a large size, marijuana requires a steady supply of nutrients. These can be added to the soil before planting or anytime during growth. Bulk fertilisers are added while the soil is mixed, as described in section 6. These include manures, composts, humus, and concentrated fertilisers, such as rose food. Once the plants are growing, never condition or mulch indoor soils with bulk fertilisers. they promote moulds and fungi and attract other pests to the garden. Concentrated fertilisers can damage the plants if they come in direct contact with the stem or roots.

While the plants are growing, nutrients are given in solution; they are dissolved in water, and the plants are watered as usual. Soluble fertilisers can be either organic or inorganic (chemical), and come in a wide range of concentrations and proportions of nutrients. Two organic fertilisers are liquid manure (about 1.5-1.0-1.5) and fish emulsion ((Some fish emulsion may contain whale by-products.)) (about 5-1-1). Chemical fertilisers commonly may have 20-20-20 or 5-10-5, or may contain only one nutrient, such as 16-0-0.

A 10-5-5 fertiliser is 20 percent soluble nutrients and 80 percent inert ingredients. a 30-10-10 has 50 percent available nutrients and 50 percent inert ingredients. There is approximately the same amount of N in one tsp. of 30-10-10 as in three tsps. of 10-5-5.

Actually, you can almost use any fertiliser, but the nitrogen content should be proportionately high, and there should be some P and L also present. For example, a 20-20-20 would work fine, as would a 12-6-6 or a 3-4-3, but not a 2-10-10 or a 5-10-0.

How much fertiliser to use and how often to fertilise depend primarily on the fertility of the soil and the size of the container relative to the size of the plant. Small plants in large pots usually do not need to be fertilised. Even in small pots, most plants do not need to be fertilised for at least the first month.

As the plants grow, they take nutrients from the soil, and these must be replaced to maintain vigorous growth. During the vegetative stage, even plants in large pots generally require some fertilising, particularly with N.

The rate of growth of indoor plants is usually limited by the amount of light and space, once adequate nutrients are supplied. At this point, an increase in nutrients will not increase growth. Your goal is to supply the plants with their nutritional needs without overfertilising and thus toxifying the soil.

Most fertilisers are designed for home use and have instructions for fertilising houseplants. Marijuana is not a houseplant, and it requires more nutrients than houseplants. The extra nutrients that it needs may be supplied by the use of large pots and a fertile soil mixture. In many cases, you will need to fertilise only in the dosages recommended on fertiliser packages for houseplants. For instance, Rapid-Gro (23-19-17) is popular among marijuana growers; use one tablespoon per gallon of water every two weeks.

A typical program for fertilising might be to fertilise during the fifth week of growth and every two weeks thereafter until flowering. Then discontinue fertilising (or give at one-half concentration) unless the plants show a definite need for nutrients. It is better to fertilise with a more diluted solution more often than to give concentrated doses at longer intervals. (For instance, if instructions call for one tablespoon of fertiliser per gallon once a month, use one-quarter tablespoon per gallon once a week.)

Make sure that a fertiliser is completely dissolved in the water before you apply it. Put the recommended amount of fertiliser in a clear glass bottle and mix with about one cup of water. Shake vigorously and then allow it to settle. If any particles of fertiliser are not dissolved, shake again before adding the rest of the water. If you have difficulty getting all the fertiliser to dissolve, first add hot top water. If the fertiliser still does not completely dissolve, you should use another fertiliser.

Never fertilise a dry soil or dry Soilless medium. If the medium is dry, first water with about one-half quart of plain water per pot. Let the pots sit for about 15 minutes so that the water is evenly dispersed in the pot. Then fertilise as usual.

It is difficult to give instruction for fertilising that will cover all garden situations. You want to supply the plant with its nutritive needs, but overfertilising con toxify the soil. Fertilising according to instructions for houseplants (both in frequency and concentration) should not toxify the soil. However, the plants may sometimes require more frequent or more concentrated fertilising. A good way to judge the plant's needs is not to fertilise one plant, double the fertiliser of another plant, and give the rest of the plants their normal dose. If the unfertilised plant grows more slowly, or shows symptoms of deficiencies, then probably all the plant are depending on soluble fertilisers and must be fertilised regularly. If the plants receiving the double dose grows faster than the other plants, increase the other plants' supply also. On the other hand, if there is little difference among the plants, then the soil is providing the plants with enough nutrients, and they either should not be fertilised or should be fertilised with a less-concentrated solution.

Because they are grown in a relatively small area, it is easy to overfertilise indoor plants. When plants are vigorous, look healthy, and are growing steadily, don't be anxious to fertilise, particularly if you have already fertilised several times with soluble fertilisers. Slow growth or symptoms of deficiencies clearly indicate the need for fertilising.


In an effort to do the best for their plants, some people actually do the worst. Overfertilising puts excessive amounts of nutrients in the soil, causing toxic soil conditions. Excessive amounts of one nutrient can interfere with the uptake of another nutrient, or change normal plant-soil relations. Since it takes time for a build-up to occur high concentrations of nutrients generally encourage excellent growth until the toxic level is reached.

It takes less N than other nutrients to toxify the soil; hence there is less margin for error when using N. Too much N changes the osmotic balance between plant and soil. Instead of water being drawn into the plant, water is drawn away and the plant dehydrates. The leaves feel limp even though the plant is well watered. The plant will soon die. This tips of the leaves die first and very rapidly the leaves change colour, usually to gold, but sometimes to a brown or green-grey. This change in the plants is faster, more dramatic, and more serious than for any kind of nutrient deficiency.

You can save the plants by immediately leaching the pots as soon as the condition is recognised. Place the pots outdoors or in a sink or bathtub. Discard the top inch or two of loose dirt. Run lukewarm water through the soil until a gallon of water for each two gallons of soil has passed through each pot. The leaves recover turgor in one or two days if the treatment works.

Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding ((Nitrogen fertilisers are usually NO3 (nitrate) or NO2 (nitrite), substances which are also used to preserve food. They have been shown to undergo reactions to form carcinogenic substances (nitrosamines). As with eating food treated with nitrates and nitrites (hot dogs, sandwich meats, etc.), there is a possibility that such substances might be ingested by eating or smoking foliar-fed plants.)) (spraying the leaves with fertiliser) is a good way to give the plants nutrients without building up the amount of soluble substances in the soil. After the first month, foliar feed the plants with, for example, fish emulsion or a chemical fertiliser. Use any fertiliser that states it can be used for foliar feeding even if it says "not recommended for foliar feeding houseplants." Use a fine-mist sprayer, such as a clean Windex or Fantastik bottle. Dilute the fertiliser according to directions (fish emulsion at one tablespoon per gallon) and spray both sides of the leaves. When foliar feeding, you should spray the plants with plain water the next day, to dissolve unabsorbed nutrients and clean the plants.

Foliar spraying is also a good way to treat plants suffering from nutrient deficiencies. Some nutrient deficiencies actually are caused by the soil's chemistry, rather than by the absence of the nutrient in the soil. Addition of the necessary nutrient to the soil may not cure the plants' problem, because the nutrient becomes locked in the soil, or its uptake may be limited by high concentrations of other elements present in the soil. Foliar feeding is direct, and if the plant's deficiency symptoms do not begin to clear up, then the diagnosis is probably incorrect.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Before Diagnosing

Before you assume the marijuana plant has a nutrient deficiency, make sure the problem is not due to other causes. Examine the marijuana plant leaves, and along the stem and in the soil.

Even under the best conditions, not all leaves form perfectly or remain perfectly green. Small leaves that grew on the young seedling normally die within a month or two. Under artificial lights, bottom marijuana leaves may be shielded from the light, or be too far away from the light to carry on chlorosynthesis. These leaves will gradually turn pale or yellow, and may form brown areas as they die. However, healthy large leaves should remain green at least three to four feet below the plant tops, even on those plants under small light systems. Under low light, the lower-growing shoots as well as the large leaves on the main stem are affected. Some symptoms of nutrient deficiencies begin first at the bottom of the plant, but these symptoms generally affect the lower leaves on the main stem first, and the progress to the leaves on the branches.

Although some deficiency symptoms start on the lower, older leaves, others start at the growing shoots or at the top of the marijuana plants. This difference depends on whether or not the nutrient is mobile and can move from the older leaves to the active growing shoot. Deficiency symptoms of mobile nutrients start at the bottom of the plant. Conversely, deficiency symptoms of immobile nutrients first appear on the younger leaves or growing shoots at the top of the plant. N, P, K, Mg, B, and Mb are mobile in the plant. Mn and Zn are less mobile, and Ca, S, Fe, and Cu are generally immobile.

A dry atmosphere or wet soil may cause the blade tips to turn brown. Brown leaf tips also may indicate a nutrient deficiency, but in this case, more tissue will turn brown than just the end tips.

Chlorosis and necrosis are two terms which describe symptoms of disease in plants. Chlorosis means lacking green (chlorophyll). Chlorotic marijuana leaves are pale green to yellow or white. Chlorotic leaves often show some recovery after the necessary nutrient is supplied. Necrosis means that the tissue is dead. Dead tissue can be gold, rust, brown, or grey. It is dry and crumbles when squeezed. Necrotic tissue cannot recover.

Symptoms of deficiencies of either N, P, or K have the following in common: all involve some yellowing and necrosis of the lower leaves, and all are accompanied by red/purple colour in stems and petioles. The simplest way to remedy these deficiencies is to fertilise with a complete fertiliser containing nearly equal proportions of three nutrients.


N is the most common deficiency of Cannabis indoors or out. Nitrogen deficiencies may be quite subtle, particularly outdoors, where the soil may continuously provide a small amount of nitrogen. In this case the opt of the plant will appear healthy, and the plant will grow steadily, but at a slow pace. The deficiency becomes more apparent with growth, as more and more of the lower leaves yellow and fall. The first sign is a gradual, uniform yellowing of the large, lower leaves. Once the leaf yellow, necrotic tips and areas form as the leaves dry to a gold or rust colour. In small pots, the whole plant may appear pale (or lime colour) before many bottom leaves are affected to the point that they yellow or die. Symptoms that accompany N deficiency include red stems and petioles, smaller leaves, slow growth, and a smaller, sparse profile. Usually there is a rapid yellowing and loss of the lower leaves that progresses quickly to the top of the plant unless nitrogen is soon added.

Remedy by fertilising with any soluble N fertiliser or with a complete fertiliser that is high in N. If your diagnosis is correct, some recovery should be visible in three or four days. Pale leaves will regain some colour but not increase in size. New growth will be much more vigorous and new stems and petioles will have normal green colour.

Indoors, you should expect plants to need N fertilisation a few times during growth. Once a plant shows N deficiency, you should fertilise regularly to maintain healthy and vigorous growth. Fertilise at about one-half the concentration recommended for Soilless mixtures. Increase the treatment only if the plants show symptoms again. Once the plants are flowering, you may choose not to fertilise if the plants are vigorous. They will have enough N to complete flowering and you don't want to chance toxifying the soil at this late date.


P deficiency is not common indoors, but may appear outdoors, particularly in dry, alkaline soils or in depleted soils, or during cool weather. Phosphorus deficiency is characterised by slow and sometimes stunted growth. Leaves overall are smaller and dark green; red colour appears in petioles and stems. The leaves may also develop red or purple colour starting on the veins of the underside of the leaf. Generally the tips of most of the leaf blades on the lower portion of the plant die before the leaves lose colour. Lower leaves slowly turn yellow before they die. Remedy with any soluble P-containing fertiliser. Affected leaves do not show much recovery, but the plant should perk up, and the symptoms do not progress.


K deficiencies sometimes show on indoor marijuana plants even when there is apparently enough supplied for normal growth. Often, potassium-deficient marijuana plants are the tallest ((Potassium is associated with apical dominance in some plant species.)) and appear to be the most vigorous. Starting on the large lower leaves, the tips of the blades brown and die. Necrotic areas or spots form on the blades, particularly along the margins. Sometimes the leaves are spattered with chlorotic tissue before necrosis develops, and the leaves look pale or yellow. Symptoms may appear on indoor plants grown in a soil rich in organic material. This may be due to high salinity (Na) of some manures or composts used in the soil. Red stems and petioles accompany potassium deficiencies. K deficiencies that could seriously affect your crop rarely occur with indoor soils. However, mild symptoms are quite common. Usually the plants grow very well except for some necrotic spotting or areas on the older leaves. (This condition is primarily and aesthetic problem, and you may choose not to fertilise. See 19.3.)

K deficiencies can be treated with any fertiliser that contains potassium. Wood ashes dissolved in water are a handy source of potassium. Recovery is slow. New growth will not have the red colour, and leaves will stop spotting after a couple of weeks. In a K-deficient soil, much of the added potassium is absorbed by the soil until a chemical balance is reached. Then additional potassium becomes readily available to the plant.


Ca deficiencies are rare and do not occur if you have added any lime compound or wood ash. But calcium is added primarily to regulate soil chemistry and pH. Make sure that you add lime to soil mixtures when adding manures, cottonseed meal, or other acidic bulk fertilisers. An excess of acidic soil additives may create magnesium or iron deficiencies, or very slow, stunted growth. Remedy by adding one teaspoon of dolomitic lime per quart of water until the plants show marked improvement. Periodically fertilise with a complete fertiliser. Foliar feeding is most beneficial until the soil's chemistry reaches a new balance.


S is plentiful in both organic and mineral soils. Liming and good aeration increases S availability. Hence S deficiencies should not occur in soils that are suitable for growing marijuana. However, sulfur deficiencies sometimes can be confused with N deficiencies and may also occur because of an excess of other nutrients in the soil solution. Sulfur-deficiency symptoms usually start at the top of the plant. There is a general yellowing of the new leaves. In pots, the whole plant may lose some green colour. Both sulfur and Mg deficiencies can be treated with the same compound, epsom salts (MgSO4). Epsom salts, or bathing salts are inexpensive and available at drug stores.


Mg deficiencies are fairly common. They frequently occur in Soilless mixtures, since many otherwise all-purpose fertilisers do not contain Mg. Magnesium deficiencies also occur in mixtures that contain very large amounts of Ca or Cl. Symptoms of Mg deficiency occur first on the lower leaves. There is chlorosis of tissue between the veins, which remain green, and starting from the tips the blades die and usually curl upward. Purple colour builds up on stems and petioles.

A plant in a pot may lose much of its colour in a matter of weeks. You may first notice Mg symptoms at the top of the plant. The leaves in the growing shoot are lime-coloured. In extreme cases, all the leaves turn practically white, with green veins. Iron deficiency looks much the same, but a sure indication of Mg deficiency is that a good portion of the leaf blades die and curl. Treat Mg symptoms with one-half teaspoon of epsom salts to each quart of water, and water as usual. The top leaves recover their green colour within four days, and all but the most damaged should recover gradually. Continue to fertilise with epsom salts as needed until the plants are flowering well. If you are using soilless mixtures, include epsom salts regularly with the complete mixture. Because Mg deficiencies may indicate interference from other nutrients, foliar-spray with Mg to check your diagnosis if the plants are not obviously recovering.


Fe deficiency rarely occurs with indoor mixtures. Iron is naturally plentiful in most soils, and is most likely to be deficient when the soil is very acid or alkaline. Under these conditions, which sometimes occur in moist eastern soil outdoors, the iron becomes insoluble. Remedies include adjusting the Ph before planting; addition of rusty water; or driving a nail into the stem. Commercial Fe preparations are also available. If the soil is acidic, use chelated iron, which is available to the plants under acidic conditions.

Symptoms of iron deficiency are usually distinct. Symptoms appear first on the new growing shoots. The leaves are chlorotic between the veins, which remain dark green and stand out as a green network. To distinguish between Mg and Fe deficiencies, check the lower leaves for symptoms. Iron symptoms are usually most prominent on the growing shoots. Mg deficiencies will also show in the lower leaves. If many of the lower leaves have been spotting or dying, the deficiency is probably Mg. Mg deficiencies are much more common than iron deficiencies in marijuana.

Other Trace Elements

The following deficiencies are quite rare. Trace elements are needed in extremely small amounts, and often enough of them are present as impurities in fertilisers and water to allow normal growth. Many houseplant fertilisers contain trace elements. Trace-element deficiencies are more often caused by an extreme pH than by inadequate quantities in the soil. If a deficiency is suspected, foliar-spray with the trace element to remedy deficiencies. Our experience has been that trace-element deficiencies rarely occur indoors. We advise you not to add trace elements to indoor soils, which usually contain large amounts of trace elements already because of the addition of organic matter and liming compounds. It is easy to create toxic conditions by adding trace elements. Manufacturers also recommend using amounts of trace elements that may be too high for indoor gardens; so use them at about one-fourth of the manufacturer's recommended dose if an addition is found to be necessary.


Mn deficiency appears as chlorotic and the necrotic spots of leaf tissue between the veins. They generally appear on the younger leaves, although spots may appear over the whole plant. Manganese deficiencies are not common. Manganese is present in many all-purpose fertilisers. Mn deficiencies may occur if large amounts of Mg are present.


B deficiency may occasionally occur in outdoor soils. The symptoms appear first at the growing shoots, which die and turn brown or grey. The shoots may appear "burned," and if the condition occurs indoors, you might think the lights have burned the plant. A sure sign of boron deficiency is that, once the growing tip dies, the lateral buds will start to grow but will also die. B deficiency can be corrected by application of boric acid, which is sold as an eyewash in any drugstore. Use one-fourth teaspoon per quart of water. Recovery occurs in a few days with healthy growth of new shoots.


Mb deficiency occurs in outdoor soils, but rarely indoors. Mb is readily available at neutral or alkaline pH. Mb is essential for nitrogen metabolism in the plant, and symptoms can be masked for a while when N fertilisers are being used. Usually there is a yellowing of the leaves at the middle of the plant. Fertilising with nitrogen may remedy some of the yellowing. However, Mb symptoms generally progress to the growing shoots and new leaves often are distorted or twisted. Mb is included in many all-purpose fertilisers.


Zn-deficiency symptoms include chlorosis of leaf tissue between the veins. Chlorosis or white areas start at the leaf margins and tips. More definite symptoms are very small, new leaves which may also be twisted or curled radially. Zn deficiencies may occur in alkaline western soils. Galvanised nails can be buried or pushed into the stem. Commercial preparations of zinc are also available.


Cu deficiencies are rare; be careful not to confuse their symptoms with the symptoms of overfertilisation. The symptoms appear first on the younger leaves, which become necrotic at the tips and margins. Leaves will appear somewhat limp, and in extreme cases the whole plant will wilt. Treat by foliar-spraying with a commercial fungicide such as CuSO4.

Soilless Mixtures

Soilless mixtures are an alternative to using large quantities of soil. Their main advantage is complete control over the nutrients that your plants receive. Soilless mixtures are also inexpensive and easy to prepare. They have a near-neutral pH and require no pH adjustment.

Soilless mixtures are made from soil components such as vermiculite, sand, or perlite. Soilless mixtures should be blended in such a way that they hold adequate water, but also drain well and do not become soggy. A good general formula is two parts vermiculite to one part perlite. About 10 percent coarse sand or gravel can be added to give weight and stability to the pots. Instead of vermiculite, you can use Jiffy-Mix, Metro-Mix, Ortho-Mix, Pro-Mix and other commercial soilless mixtures, which are fortified with a small amount of necessary nutrients, including trace elements. You can also substitute coarse sand for perlite.


It is best to use solid containers with soilless mixtures rather than plastic bags. Grow the plants in one- to three-gallon containers. There won't be much difference in the size of the plants in one-gallon or in three-gallon sizes, but you will have to water a large plant every day in a one-gallon container. (The plants can always by transplanted to a larger container.) The pots must have drainage holes punched in the bottoms. Pot as usual, and add one tablespoon of dolomitic lime or two tablespoons of wood ash to each gallon of mixture.


Plants may have problems germinating in soilless mixtures. The top layer of mixture often dries rapidly, and sprouts may die or not germinate. Young seedlings also seem to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients (notably potassium), even though adequate amounts of nutrients are being added. Since this difficulty may retard growth, it is best to start the plants in small pots with soil. Use eight-ounce paper cups, tin cans, or quart milk containers cut in half. Mix three parts topsoil or potting soil to one part soilless mixture. Fill the starting pots and germinate as usual. When the plants are two to three weeks old, transplant to the soilless mixture. First moisten the soil, and then remove the soil as intact as possible. You might handle the transplant like making castles, by carefully sliding the moist soil out of the pot. Or you can cut away the sides of the container while you place the transplant in the soilless mixture. When watering, make sure you water around the stem to encourage roots to grow into the soilless mixture.

Peat pellets that expand are also good for starting seedling. Plant several seeds in each pellet, and place it in the soilless mixture after the sprouts appear.


Soilless mixtures can be treated with a trace-element solution. We have grown crops with no special addition of trace elements, and the plants completed their lives without showing symptoms of trace-element deficiency. In these cases there were apparently enough trace elements in the lime and the fertilisers that were used to provide the major nutrients. Many all-purpose fertilisers also contain trace elements. However, it is a good idea to treat soilless mixtures with a mild solution of trace elements before planting. Large plants can be treated a second time during the third or fourth month of growth. Do not use trace elements more often unless plants show definite trace-element deficiencies.

Iron is the only trace element that is needed in more than minute quantities. Iron can be supplied by mixing a few brads or nails into the soilless mixture.

Use any soluble fertiliser that is complete, that is, that contains some of each of the major nutrients. Choose one with a formula that is highest in N but contains a good portion of both P and K. For example, Rapid-Gro is 23-19-17 and works well for soilless mixtures.

Table 18 gives a formula that has worked well for us. The figures in it are a guide for estimating the amounts of fertiliser to use. When choosing a fertiliser by means of this chart, use N for a guide. For example, suppose the only fertiliser you can find that has good proportions of the major nutrients as a 20-15-15. Divide 5 (the figure for N in the table) by 20 (the figure for N in the fertiliser), and get the result 1/4. That is, the fertiliser if four times as concentrated in N as you need; so you would use one-fourth the amount of fertiliser shown in Table 18. For instance, during the vegetative stage, you would give the plants one-half to three-fourths of a level teaspoon of fertiliser per gallon of water each time you water.

Table 18 – Guidelines for Fertilizing Soilless Mixtures Growth Stage N P2O5 K20 Amount Seedling 5 3 4 1.5 to 2 tsp/gal Vegetative 5 2 3 2 to 3 tsp/gal Flowering 5 5 3 0.5 tp 1.5 tsp/gal It is also not necessary to fertilise in these ratios. You could use a 10-10-10 fertiliser throughout growth; you would use half the amounts listed in Table 18. The most important point is that the plant receive enough of each element, not that they receive specific proportions.

Fertilising according to volume of fertiliser is not very accurate, and also does not take into account other variables (such as variety, light, temperature, etc.) that determine the amounts of nutrients your plants can use. However, it is a simple and useful way of estimating the plant's needs. You can more accurately gauge the plants' needs by giving a sample plant twice the concentration of fertiliser, and another half the concentration. Their performance will give you an idea of whether you are using too much or too little fertiliser. Too much fertiliser is the most damaging condition; so when in doubt give the plants less rather then more. Do not continue to give the plants the recommended amounts of fertiliser if the sample plant that is receiving less nutrients is growing as well as the other plants.

Another way of monitoring the plant's growth is to grow a few plants in a standard soil mixture. This will show you whether the plants in the soilless mixture are growing as fast as they should, and will give you a reference for diagnosing deficiencies.

Besides providing N, P, K, and the trace elements, you must also give your plants secondary nutrients. Ca is added by mixing a tablespoon of lime or two tablespoons of wood ash when preparing the soilless mixture. (Calcium is usually present in water and in many fertilisers as part of the salts that contain nutrients, for example, Ca(NO3)2.) Magnesium and sulfur are both found in common epsom salts, MgSO4. Use one-eighth teaspoon of epsom salts to each teaspoon of 5 percent N. For example, if you are using a 20 percent N fertiliser, you would use half a teaspoon of MgSO4 to each teaspoon of fertiliser. (Actually, enough sulfur is often present, either as part of the soilless mixture or as part of nutrient salts to allow growth.) Magnesium can also be supplied by using dolomitic limestone.

Soilless mixtures are something between soil mixtures and water cultures (hydroponics). With hydroponics, the plants are grown in a tank of water. The fertilisers are added in solution, and the water solution is periodically circulated by a pump.

Another variation on soilless mixtures is to add a small amount of soil or humus to the soilless mixture. Some examples are:

1. 4 parts soilless mixture to 1 part soil; 2. 8 parts soilless mixture to 1 part humus; 3. 15 parts soilless mixture to 1 part limed manure. Overfertilising is less a problem with soilless mixtures then with soil, because of higher concentrations of salts are tolerable in soilless mixtures and because excess salts are easily flushed out of the mixture. A good idea is to flush each pot once after two months of growth, again after four months. Any time the plants show symptoms of overfertilisation, leach the pots immediately. Flood each pot with plain water so that it runs out the drainage holes. Continue flooding the pots until a couple of gallons of water have run through the pot. Don't fertilise for at least a week. Then fertilise with a more dilute solution that was used before. {Figure 51a. Over fertilisation. Leaves turn bright gold and die, starting at the top of the plant.}

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What are the Benefits of Aerated Compost Teas vs. Classic Teas?

Aerated compost teas are the latest in scientific organic research today. In many ways, aerated teas offer greater immediate benefits than classic compost, manure, or other homemade foliar teas. Just by applying a cheap aquarium air pump to a 5 gallon bucket of tea, you can get amazing results. (Cheap, inexpensive aquarium airstones are also recommended to be applied to the hose in the water. This produces a better distribution of smaller air bubbles to make the aerobic soil/comosting microbes breed better.) Instead of just brewing teas for quick valuable water soluble nutrients from the compost or manure, you can breed a larger population of beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi in the tea. It is the microherd in our soil, compost, and teas, that is really more important in soil development and disease control than just the soluble nutrients. Aerobic microherd populations reduce offensive smells in compost piles, the compost teas, and the soil. Aerobic microherd also break down bad poisons and pathogens into safe nutrients in hot compost piles and aerated compost teas. Diluted anaerobic compost or manure teas are great liquid fertilizers and disease controllers also. Many people prefer the anaerobic teas better because they are simpler and easier to design and apply. However, recent research has proven that the aerobic microherd populations fight diseases and bad soil and plant pathogens better and supply more power to your soil's total health and texture. Keep in mind that all types of organic and natural foliar teas are designed to complement and enhance, not replace, basic composting, green manuring, and organic mulching techinques in your garden. The soil microherd continue over months and years to eat up insoluble OM in the existing soil and the extra soil amendments and break them down into more available soluble nutrients for plants later in the year.

Technically even in un-aerated teas there is still some aerobic action taking place for several days. All fungi is aerobic. Some bacteria are totally aerobic, some bacteria are totally anaerobic, and some bacteria can act both aerobic or anerobic based on the soil or tea environment. Un-aerated teas can continue to keep alive some aerobic or aerobic/anaerobic microbes, for up to 10 days in a watery solution. After 10 days, the whole un-aerated tea will contain only anerobic microbes.

You can expect different microbial population levels in your tea based on weather, climate, temperature, seasons, etc. In the summertime you can expect your teas to brew faster and get to your optimal microbial levels faster than in cooler fall weather. Also tea odors, color, and foaminess on top of the tea, will vary based on temperatures too.

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There are several different levels of teas as well as different recipes and styles. Here is the simple steps as outlined by one of our own GardwenWeb members who is an expert on teas and compost. This is a brief description of the different strength levels of tea making as outlined by "BILL_G" :

Level 1: Put a shovel full of good compost in a 5 gallon bucket of water, wait one week, and apply to garden or lawn either full strength or up to a 1:4 water ratio. This is an excellent source of ready available soluble nutrients. NOTE: If you stir your brew daily or every other day, it helps get more oxygen to the mix for better decomposition and better aerobic microbial population growth.

Level 2 : Do same as above, but now add to the recipe a few cups of alfalfa pellets or some other cattle feed. Now you have extra nitrogen and trace elements from the bacterial foods.

Level 3: Do all above plus now add the air pump bubbler. Now you have more aerobic microbes to add to your soluble nutrients in the tea.

Level 4 : Do all the above and now add a few tblsp of molasses or other simple sugar products. Now you really maximize the aerobic microbes in the tea, which in turn produce even more extra soluble nutrients from the bacterial foods.

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Here is my suggestions also. You can add more high nitrogen foods in the tea. Remember the only main ingredients that are necessary to make a good bacterial and soluble nutrients tea are: aerobic compost and sugar products. Everything else is optional. Your teas can be as creative as you are. Let's assume a 5 gallon tea recipe for our example:

1. Add 1/2 bucket of finished hot compost. This supplies most of the beneficial aerobic microbes and soluble nutrients. Some people use slightly immature aerobic compost because it has more fresh nitrogen in it, but less microbes than finished hot compost.

2. Use 2-3 tblsp molasses, brown sugar, or corn syrup. This feeds and breeds the aerobic bacteria. Sugar products are mostly carbon which is what the microherd eat quickly. Add about 1-2 more tblsp of molasses for every 3 days of aerobic brewing to make sure the sugar is digested before touching the soil at application time, and to guarantee that the aerobic bacteria population stays strong throughout the brewing process. Molasses also contains sulfur which is a mild natural fungicide. Molasses is also a great natural deodorizer for fishy teas. For a more fungal tea don't add too much simple sugar or molasses to your aerobic teas. Use more complex sugars, starches and carbohydrates like in seaweed, rotten fruit, soy sauce, or other fungal foods.

3. Add 1-2 cans of mackerel, sardines, or other canned fish. Supplied extra NPK, fish oil for beneficial fungi, calcium from fish bones. Most commercial fish emulsions contain no fish oils and little to no aerobic bacteria. Fresh fish parts can be used, but because of offensive odors, it should composted separately with browns like sawdust first before adding to the tea brew. NOTE: For those organic gardeners who prefer vegetarian soil amendments, you can skip the fishy ingredients, it's not necessary. There is plenty of NPK in alfalfa meal and other grains that you can use.

(NOTE: If you use canned fish products, you may want to let it decompose mixed with some finished compost, good garden soil, etc. in a separate closeable container for a few days before using. Since most canned meat products contain preservatives, this will guarantee that the good microbes in the tea will not be killed off or harmed in brew making.)

4. Add 1 pack fresh seaweed. Supplies all extra trace elements. Seaweed can contain about 60 trace elements and lots of plant growth hormones. Seaweed is a beneficial fungal food source for soil microbes. Liquifying the seaweed makes it dissolve even faster.

5. Add 1-2 cups of alfalfa meal, corn meal, cattle feed, horse feed, catfish or pond fish feed. Supplies extra proteins and bacteria. Corn meal is a natural fungicide and supplies food for beneficial fungi in the soil.

6. Add rotten fruit for extra fungal foods. Add green weeds to supply extra bacterial foods to the tea.

7. Good ole garden soil is an excellent free biostimulant. Garden soil is full of beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, and other great microbes. Some people make a great microbial tea just out of soil. Forest soil is usually higher in beneficial fungi than rich garden soil.

8. Fill the rest of the container with rainwater, compost tea, or plain de-chlorinated water to almost the top of bucket. You can make good "rain water" from tap water by adding a little Tang (citrus acid) to the water mix before brewing. Urine water is also an excellent organic nitrogen source for teas (up to 45% N).

9. Some people like to add 1-2 tblsp of apple cider vinegar to add about 30 extra trace minerals and to add the little acidicity that is present in commercial fish emulsions. Many fish emulsions contain up to 5% sulfuric acid to help it preserve on the shelf and add needed sulfur to the soil. You can add extra magnesium and sulfur by adding 1-2 tblsp of Epsom salt to the tea.

10. Apply the air pump to the tea. NOTE: Some organic tea brewers prefer not to use the air pump method. You can get some extra oxygen in the tea by stirring it daily or every other day. The air pump just makes the oxygen levels in the tea happen faster than by hand, thus greatly increasing the rate of aerobic microbial growth in the tea. If you prefer to use the air pump, let it bubble and brew for at least 1-3 days. (NOTE: The 3 days limit is just a good guideline. The real test of brewing time is by your own sight and smell test, because everybody's tea is different due to the various microbial species and breeding activity that takes place during the brewing process.) The aerobic tea is ready to use when it has either an earthy or "yeasty" smell or a foamy layer on top of the tea. If not satisfied with the look or the smell of the tea, go up to a week of brewing. The extra brewing time will help the microbes digest more of the insoluble bacterial and fungal foods in the tea and make it more available for your plant's or your soil's nutritional needs.

Apply this tea full strength to get full nutrient levels per plant, or dilute it from a 1:1 down to a 1:5 water ratio to spread the beneficial microbes over a 1-acre garden area (mix 5 gallons of tea per 25 gallons of rainwater).

To reduce straining, you can place all your ingredients in a closed panty hose or laundry bag during the brewing cycle (don't use a too fine mesh bag or the beneficial fungi can't flow properly through the bag).

Here's another method to avoid straining and to maximize the amount of microbes in application: Simply turn off the air pump, stir the entire mixture real hard, and then let the mixture sit still for about 30 minutes. Scoop off the top juice straight into a watering can for application.

You can apply with a watering can, or simple cup, or in a sprinkling system. All compost teas can be used as a foliar feed or soil drench around plants. They also make great compost pile nitrogen and bacterial activators to heat up the pile for faster finished composting. Always take the remains for teas and recycle them back into your compost piles.

As stated, you can use your homemade tea as a foliar feed or as a soil drench or both. Soil drenches are best for building up the soil microbial activities and supplying lots of beneficial soluble NPK to the plant's root system and the topsoil texture. Foliar feeds are best for quick fixes of trace elements and small portions of other soluble nutrients into the plant through its leaves. Foliar feeds are also good for plant disease control. Foliar feeds work best when used with soil drenches or with lots of organic mulches around plants. You can poke holes in the soil around crop roots with your spade fork, to get more oxygen in the soil to further increase organic matter decomposition and increase microbial activity in the soil.

Aerated teas can also be used to greatly speed up the decomposition process of hot compost piles. The extra aerobic microbes in the tea will breed and cooperate with the aerobic microbes in the organic matter in the compost pile.

You should not use any liquid soaps as a spreader-sticker agent in a fertilizing/biostimulant tea like this. It can hinder or harm your aerobic microbes that you just grew in the tea. You need to use better products in your tea like liquid molasses, dry molasses powder, fish oil, or yucca extract as a spreader-sticker.

A good aerated tea is very economical. 5 gallons can be diluted to biostimulate an entire acre of garden via foliar spraying only. If you soil drench only, it takes at least 15 gallons of tea, before diluting, to cover an acre of garden soil. Also there is enough aerobic bacteria and fungi in a good 5 gallon batch of aerated tea, that is the equivalent of about 10 tons or 40 cubic yards of regular compost!

These homemade aerated compost teas are just as powerful, maybe more powerful, than any commercial natural or organic fertilizer or soil amendment on the market today. And they are a lot cheaper too! So have fun, be creative, and keep on composting!

Happy Gardening!

Posted – July 1st, 2010
under CannaLogic
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Table of Contents

Acquiring Good Outdoor Cannabis Seeds

Finding a Site

Making a Trail

The Mechanics of Growing
a. Preparing the Soil
b. Planting
c. Weeding
d. Removing Males
e. The Fungus
f. Emergency Visits

The Harvest

When to Harvest

Acquiring Good Seeds for Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation
Quality cannabis seed strains are often difficult to obtain. This is especially true for people who hang in a predominantly straight crowd and know few people who partake in the fine erb. The rule of thumb is if the weed gets you pretty high then the seed is usually good to grow. Seeds coming from green bud are often better to grow because the strain is frequently acclimated to the growing season of northern latitudes. Jamaican and Colombian varieties can not be easily produced in northern latitudes because the strains produce bud too late in the season. The results of growing these varieties in most of the U.S. will be little or no bud growth before the first frost hits. Sativa strains usually grow taller than the indica or indica-sativa hybrids. This can be a major drawback especially in the fall when other plants are dying off and trees are losing leaves. Some growers have success crossing sativa varieties from southern climates with Indica, and creating an offspring that will bud more timely.

When at parties, concerts, or other social events, keep an eye out for people breaking up bud and discarding seeds. The best time to look for seeds is from October to January because this is when most of the locally grown outdoor erb hits the market. Acquiring and maintaining a quality seed stock is the most fundamental task of a successful grower.

Finding a Site
Aside from acquiring good seed, picking a prime location to grow is probably the most important task a grower is faced with. One of the best locations is in areas of grasslands that have small trees and bushes interspersed. Often a farmers field that has been out of production for ten years is ideal. Flood plains along rivers and streams are another good location, but the risk of losing seeds in the Spring or the harvest in the Fall due to flooding should be considered. Growers have also been known to plant in buckets in more rocky or mountainous terrain. This enables them to grow in areas that receive good sunlight but have rocky, untillable soil. Digging a site in areas of dense but short plant growth, like sticker bushes, is another suitable spot. The sticker bushes grow high enough to prevent people from seeing through them and also serve as a direct deterrence from people and large animals wandering into the site.

A grower can often use animal and insect life to his advantage. Bees, tics, green flies and the like can discourage people from wandering through fields so areas having an abundant insect population are prime locations. The most important criteria for an excellent growing site are good soil, available water, sunlight, and suitable cover. Other factors are secondary.

Good soil is sometimes hard to find but without it you won't get much of a harvest. So, if you find a site that is perfect for all other factors but has poor soil , you may want to consider bringing soil to the site. Soil is often the richest in areas where grassland vegetation has existed for a series of years. Grasslands recycle nutrients in the soil and form a thick layer of organic matter. Grassland biospheres require very little preparation to start growing, while other soil conditions require more work. Sandy soils often need potting soil or top soil along with a small amount of lime to make them more fertile. Soils with high amounts of clay need material, like peat moss, added to break up the clay and make the soil more porous. I'm a naturalist and disagree with some erb growing professionals who believe that planting along road sides can be productive. The lead and other toxic chemicals found in some of these soils is enough to discourage many vegetable growers from producing consumable or smokable plant material. If you live in a city, and lack your own means of transportation then use roadsides as your last resort.

A close water source is also very important. A site close to the water table would be ideal since bringing water into the site can get tiresome and also dangerous. It can get very tiresome if you have many sites or even a few big sites. If you choose a site much higher than the water table or grow in buckets, you will quickly find that the amount of water needed during a dry summer will be enormous and will give you great incentive to find a site closer to the water table. The dangers in having to bring water to the sites are numerous. The greatest of these would be the chance of someone spotting you, possibly a cop. The second greatest would be the destruction of the foliage you have to walk through to get from the water source to the site. If you have to make more than one trip you run a big risk that a trail will become noticeable. Finding a stable water source in the summer can be another obstacle since small streams often dry up at this time. How often you will need to water is determined by the weather and that could require you to make unexpected trips to the sites. Each trip puts you at risk. Your goal is to minimize these trips.

Sunlight is less important than the previous two components but is still essential. Plants should be in areas that receive at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Morning sunlight is preferable since plants tend to respond better to it than to the afternoon sunlight. Growers who scout sites during the winter months must be able to visualize how the landscape will be shaded by trees, and the path the sun will take come Spring. Of course, the greater the amount of sunlight the better, but when choosing a site sunlight is just one of many factors that must be considered.

The last criteria has nothing to do with plant biology, but rather focuses on minimizing the threat of unwanted attention from people wandering by. The cover should be both tall enough to keep people from spotting it and thick enough to discourage them from wandering too close to it. The best foliage to accomplish this is a large patch of big sticker bushes. If that's not available, look for foliage that grows to a height of six to eight feet by the fall and is far enough away from where someone might stray.

The Ability to hide plants amongst the flora in fields is an art and skill improved upon through practice. One favorite technique is to hide plants on the south side of bushes so that passers by will have difficulty spotting the plant(s). Plants still get adequate light in spite of the appearance of being crowded by the larger bush. The best hiding spot for erb is where people have their view blocked from all sides and has the appearance of being impenetrable. In areas where the vegetation growth is less than three feet the erb may need to be trimmed back or tied to the ground in order to create smaller bushier plants. Fields with small vegetation growth may have poor soil or can be dry upland environments where the soil frequently becomes too dry so use caution. Making erb junior blend in with the other plants in the field will minimize risk. In order to grow plants efficiently, an outdoor grower must use the natural landscape to his or her advantage.

Making a Trail
One of the ways to ensure success is by creating trails that are not visible to passers by. This is easier in some places than in others. Areas having dense undergrowth with lots of sunlight can be ideal because plant growth is so rapid it will erase any damage to the vegetation between trips during the Spring and Summer. If you are growing plants in areas easy to spot trails then make the path weave back and forth so it becomes difficult for people to see a trail. Making a hidden trail to the site(s) is important because it allows the grower to minimize getting ripped off or worse, caught. People wander through undeveloped areas and follow trails to nowhere all the time. Their access can be limited through thoughtful planning of pathways and proper care in using them. When you walk through your entrance, do everything possible not to damage any of the foliage, especially toward the late Summer and early Fall. At this time of the year, damaged foliage usually will not regrow and this is when the plants need as much cover as possible. There are two things to keep in mind when making a trail to your site(s): 1) Can you see the trail you just made, if not that's great, if so look for ways to cover areas that look like a trail; 2) The more difficult it is for you to get to the site, the less likely someone else will try.

The Mechanics of Growing Outdoors

Your cousin Louie and his friend Sam are in town from Oklahoma and they have smoked a lot of grass and grown some in their backyards. Sam has a good rap, and appears knowledgeable about fine erb. Taking these two gentlemen for a walk in the fields might appear to be a good idea. Shit, they could offer some insightful pointers. I must caution against these excursions. Even if these men are the erb experts they appear, taking a walk with them may not be in your best interest. They are unfamiliar with the area and may not know where to run if the need arises. Walking with more than two people through a field can attract attention (the greater the number of people, the greater chance of being seen). The more people walking on a trail the larger the trail becomes and thus the greater the chance your trail can be followed by others. Every time you visit the site(s) you are putting the harvest and for that matter yourself at risk. This may be a small or large risk depending on the particular place but remember that no place is 100% safe. Unless it is an emergency situation where the buggy fly has infested your crop, and you are bringing in a specialist to offer expert advice, the site(s) should not be visited by strangers. Having a growing partner is recommended regardless of his or her competence, and even then the site(s) should only be visited to accomplish specific tasks. Trips to the site should occur at the following times.

1. Preparing The Soil:
(early March – Mid April depending on climate)

I suggest buying 40lb. bags of organic potting soil and mixing this in with the existing soil. This soil is not often found at your local all-purpose store so some searching may be required. Potting soil is richer soil than commercial top soil so it goes a little bit farther when mixed with the existing soil. Lime may be necessary in areas with acidic soil and peat moss is a good additive for soils with a clay type consistency. I avoid chemical fertilizers, not just because I believe that organic farming is the best way, but also because toxic waste is produced from the manufacture of fertilizers.

It's also a good idea to put up a two foot high fence at this time. This will keep small animals out and the use of dried blood and/or human hair will fend off deer. Purchase a wire fence with small gaps, 2 inches or less between the metal strands. Collect enough sticks in the area to provide stakes that will support the fence about every 2 feet. Outline the site with the sticks and tie the fence to the sticks with string or wire. Cut the fence endstrand and bend the strands that protrude from the top of the fence out and down the outside to discourage animals from trying to jump over it. Camouflage the fence and site with normal ground debris as necessary before leaving.

2. Planting:
(early April – early May)

There are different ways to go about planting:

A) The seed intensive method:

This method of growing cannabis outdoors should only be used if you have an abundance of seeds. The seed intensive method entails planting many seeds in a small area. Its strength is that it can limit risk. When you journey to your newly prepared site(s), the seeds and trowels are hidden in your pockets. Plant the seeds about one half inch deep, unless the soil contains high amounts of clay then only plant seeds one quarter inch in the soil. If you setup small sites 3ft x 3ft square, put in three rows with a seed every one and a half inches. If you work out the Math this is roughly 72 seeds per site. Unfortunately, many growers, especially beginners, do not posses this many good seeds. If a grower creates four sites with this many seeds he or she is almost guaranteed a harvest. Yes, there will be some crowding and this is one of the drawbacks of using many seeds in a small area. Also, figure around 50% of the plants are going to be male so you must return to the site to cut out the males toward the end of Summer. Once the males are removed from the site, the females get more light and aren't as crowded. The seed intensive strategy tends to produce smaller plants because of crowding, but at the same time it helps ensure a harvest every season. In the present day of infrared photography, I believe it is important to have small sites to avoid detection from the air. This of course means growers may have to create a series of small plots in order to garner a year's supply of erb. If you grow merely for hobby, sport, or experimental purposes, than one site may suit you fine.

B) Planting small seedlings:

The strongest argument for this method of planting is that you get the opportunity to select for planting the strongest of the seedlings you've started. The strongest argument against this method is the risk of transporting the seedlings to their intended site(s). Transporting them requires you to find a method of concealing them, usually a box. The problem that then arises is that the size box needed to transport many plants may make this method too risky or totally impractical. The other concern with this method is that there is also the risk of shocking the seedlings when you put them outside in the site where they will be exposed to the harsh Spring weather. Before planting seedlings or sexed females they should be put outside and closely monitored at least three days before planting to become acclimated to the wind and change in temperature.

This method works best when you can set up a small shelter near your sites that is enclosed but not insulated. This shelter can be as small as the site and 18 inches tall or big enough to walk in, providing you have a safe location for such a structure. Starting seeds in this shelter gives the benefit of acclimating seedlings to a temperature much closer to that which they will face when they are planted in the site and it will also protect them from any late Spring snows and/or frosts.

C) Planting sexed females:

The advantage of planting sexed females is obvious; every plant will produce buds. The sex of plants can be determined by growing them until they're four inches high, and then decreasing the amount of light they receive to eight hours. The males are then identified and removed in one to two weeks. This method requires being able to control the amount of light the plants receive each day, and also requires that plants be started indoors earlier than you would normally start (late February – early March). This method allows growers to spread their plants across a wide area in smaller sites and also to hide plants amongst small trees and shrubs. By spreading two dozen female plants throughout a ten acre area in individual sites, a harvest is almost guaranteed, providing that you remember where all the sites are. Growers are encouraged to create a map of their sites to insure against memory loss. Just remember to guard that map closely. Putting anything about your operations in writing puts you at risk.

3. Weeding:
Three weeks after the plants or seeds are in the ground return to remove weeds that are crowding out the kind erb. Three weeks after the first weeding a second weeding should take place. A third weeding is optional, by this time the plants should be large enough to compete with the weeds, however, if you are in a site that has strong weeds around it you may have to cut the weeds back at additional times throughout the year. Remember, weeding does not mean destroying all vegetation within three feet of a plant. Weeds can help hide your crop and protect your crop from hungry animals. Nearby vegetation can also help keep water in the soil from evaporating in the hot sun. So don't go overboard and be very careful, it's very easy to accidently injure small plants or their roots trying to get rid of weeds.

4. Removing Males:
(If you are growing sexed females these trips can be omitted)

Male plants will begin to produce their flowers and pollen as early as mid July for varieties acclimated to this climate. Varieties from more southern climates, may not start until mid September. This difference depends on the budding cycle of your variety, some plants start to bud earlier than others, so the exact time to cut the males will vary with the strain. If you are using a variety of different seeds it may be necessary to visit once a week from July 21 through September 15. The timely identification of a male plant is crucial to the success of the harvest. If the weather is exceptional during the time a male starts producing its flowers and you missed seeing the first signs during your last visit, you could wind up with a lot of seeds and little of the fine erb. A female can either generate a large seedless bud, a large bud with a few seeds, or a large bud that is almost totally seeds. The first case is achieved by removing all the male plants before any of their flowers open. The second case occurs when a few male flowers have opened but you remove them before any more open. The third case occurs when you miss-time the flowering of the male. This can be devastating if you have big female plants because you could loose 90% of the smokable erb to seed production. This last scenario may not always be bad though. If you are short on seeds for the next growing season, it may be prudent to let one or two males stand and fertilize a portion of the females. Good seeds are hard to come by, so if you have a strain you like, make sure to plan ahead and have at least a few hundred seeds for the future. The spotting of males is one of the most difficult of things to explain to a person that's never grown since it really takes careful attention to how the tops of male plants look at this stage of development. Even experienced growers will be unsure at times and will have to wait till the next visit to be sure. When a male enters the stage of flower development, the tips of the branches where a bud would develop will start to grow what looks like a little bud but it will have no white hairs coming out of it.

5. The Fungus:
Along with cops, thieves, animals, and insects, "the fungus" is another obstacle in the path of a successful growing season. When the buds are roughly half developed they become susceptible to a fungus or bud rot. It appears that growing conditions for the fungus are best when temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees and the humidity is high. The fungus is very destructive and spreads quickly. It is a spore type of fungus that travels to other buds via the wind so it is impossible to prevent or stop if weather conditions permit it to grow. If things should go badly and the fungus starts to attack your plants, you must remove it immediately or it will spread to other areas of the plant or plants. Some growers will remove just the section of the bud that is infected whereas other growers will remove the entire branch. Removal of the entire branch better insures that the fungus is totally removed, and also enables the grower to sample the crop a few weeks ahead of time. The main point in removing the fungus is to be very careful. Since it is a spore type of fungus, the accidental jerking of an infected bud will release some of the spores and they could fall onto a lower bud so by the next visit, you might have to pull that bud too. Also be careful in touching the fungus with your fingers because your fingers could pick up the spores and then when you touch the next bud, the spores could cling to it and start eating away at that bud.

6. Emergency Visits:
The Real Estate and Construction Industries have conspired to develop housing near your crop and their "progress" must be monitored. A hurricane or tropical storm with winds over 50 miles per hour has visited your area. A drought takes place. etc. One of the drawbacks of growing outdoors is that you can not control for interference by outside forces. Emergency visits may be necessary but don't go crazy every time there's a bad storm. These plants are strong and can take some punishment.

The Harvest
Performed at night if possible. A nighttime run will limit the chances of someone seeing you is a good technique of how to grow cannabis outdoors. Do the most risky parts, such as carrying freshly cut erb where you could easily be spotted by a passing car, when the police jurisdiction changes shift. This can help ensure that officials do not spot you, and if a nosey nearby resident or passerby calls the police, it may take time before a car is dispatched to investigate. If harvesting at night, use flashlights sparingly so as not to attract attention, and bring extra batteries just in case(the rechargeable kind are recommended). When harvesting more than a couple of plants remember a small pocket knife because it makes the night move quicker. Unless you are planning to use the large fan leaves for cooking, remove them in the field so they don't take up a lot of space. If you have more than one variety of erb that you are harvesting bring various bags to put the different strains of buds in, and I would suggest using backpacks for travel to avoid suspicion and for easy handling.

When to Harvest

The time to harvest your outdoor cannabis cultivation depends on several factors: bud development, weather, fungus, and thieves. Some pot strains mature earlier in the fall than others, depending on the latitude of the globe where the strain originated. You will need to pull Indica varieties in late September and Columbian varieties in late October. The weather may also force you to pull early. If there is a severe freeze heading your way, you are better off not chancing that the weathermen are wrong and pull at least a majority of what you have. Another case for pulling early is if weather conditions are perfect for the fungus to run wild. This will also force you to pull early. And of course if your site has been found or is in great danger of being found, you must pull everything to avoid loosing out on what would otherwise have been a great year. For instance, if you have a site in a corn field or other temporary situation, the harvest must occur at a point in time relatively independent of weather. Also try to find out if and when hunters start to roam the fields.

One other thing to watch for is frost. Even a mild frost can damage plants so watching the weather closely in late September and throughout October is important. If your plants do get damaged by frost the erb is still harvestable so don't give up entirely if you fail to chop before the first frost. If by some freak chance there is a frost in early September and the buds are still very small you may want to allow the damage to occur and then let the buds finish maturing rather than harvesting a small quantity of premature buddage. This type of situation is an on the spot call and you must consider many factors, such as bud size, weather predictions for the following weeks, strain of weed, location of site, etc., before deciding. Indica varieties usually mature sooner than sativa varieties, and the best time to harvest varieties acclimated to the Northeast is from late September to mid October. Those varieties not acclimated to the Northeast, such as Columbian or Jamaican, are best left to late October or even mid November if the weather permits. One other thing you want to avoid is harvesting in the rain. Moisture can lead to problems in the drying process such as molds and fungi. The dryer the plants at the harvest date the better.

As mentioned before, it is important to acquire seeds from strains that can be grown at the latitude you are at, some Mexican or Colombian varieties may not develop mature buds until November and by then the weather becomes harsh. Knowing when your plants will mature is difficult for beginners or growers using new seeds for the first season.

Planning and getting to a good drying location quickly is important so the buddage is not left in bags for longer than a few hours. If the freshly harvested bud remains in bags for too long (12 hours or more), molds and fungus will begin to destroy the erb. Once you get to your drying location you need to prepare the erb for drying. This entails removing excess fan leaves and other larger leaves. However, if the drying spot has a temperature higher than 85 degrees it may be beneficial to leave a few large leaves to keep the buds from drying too quickly. Typical places to dry are attics, closets, dresser drawers, and basements. The best position for a bud to dry in is hanging upside down in a location where air can circulate all around it. If you are fortunate to have a location that you can do this in, great, otherwise use a dresser drawer or some other concealed place. If you dry the buds in dresser drawers remember not to double stack the buds or the weight of the upper layer of buds will cause a flat spot on the buds underneath. Also remember to rotate the buds every day so the erb dries uniformly and you can check for any signs of mold or fungus. If space permits and you are able to retrieve the whole plant, roots and all, you can hang them upside down by the roots, but don't expect this drying procedure to yield higher quality bud. THC does not drain from the roots down into the buds, the THC forms in the resin on the buds. The entire drying process should take place over four to six days depending on the size and variety of bud, the temperature, and the relative humidity of the drying area. If the buds are dried too quickly, the flavor of the erb will become more harsh and the THC level may not reach its potential. If the pot is dried too slowly then molds and fungi may develop and have a similar effect. With any method of drying, the process must be monitored on a day-to-day basis. Room temperature is fine for drying as long as the humidity is kept low. If drying must take place in a cool damp place then a fan and possibly a heater should be installed to compensate.