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GROWING OUTDOORS Copyright 2002 by Jorge Cervantes

Tom, an American, is one of the most successful growers I have ever interviewed. His methods are extremely simple and easy. He is a smart, lazy man who pays attention to Mother Nature. Tom’s complete and simple understanding of plant growth makes him a very successful guerilla grower. These simple concepts are key to assimilating guerilla growing.

………..Wild marijuana plants are vigorous, aggressive, competitive weeds. Some varieties have a large root system which helps them survive moisture stress and poor soil. Plants spaced at least 10 feet apart will grow to a height of 3 – 5 feet in dry climates. Cannabis is a survivor. Given control of a growing area of 4 to 12 square feet, in poor soil, mature plants will grow to about 5 feet tall with a strong terminal main bud or cola. The yield is relatively heavy considering the amount of cultivation work. Add a little more effort during soil preparation and planting to grow several times more dope. Loosen the soil, amend it a little and throw in a handful of polymers*.

Cover the soil around the plant with a thick layer of natural mulch to attract condensed water and to keep soil moisture from evaporating. Just these simple measures may double the yield. *polymer crystals are small crystals that expand to about 15 times their size when moistened by water. They are added to soil to prolong time between watering.

Reasonable soil will grow a plant that is 7 – 8 feet tall with roots that spread 5 feet across and 6 feet deep. This plant will yield 2 – 10 times more marijuana than if planted in poor soil.

Polymer crystals hold water and gradually release it as the soil dries out. Polymer crystals cut watering frequency dramatically. To prepare an outdoor garden, remove the weeds in the fall, dig planting holes and prepare the soil. The soil will absorb rainfall and be well mixed the next spring. Cover each planting hole with a layer of mulch to protect it from winter rains and temperatures. This layer of mulch is very important. Do not leave soil bare all winter.

Transplant seedlings or clones in spring and grow marijuana plants as you would tomatoes. If growing in poor soil, give each plant a hole that is 4 feet deep and 4 feet in diameter and refill with your best compost/potting soil/planting mix. Break up the soil in a wide 6-foot radius, only 6 – 8 inches deep, because roots branch out. To water cheaply and effectively, cut a 3/16th hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket. Mix an inexpensive all purpose water-soluble fertilizer with 5-gallons of water in the bucket and put the hole by the stem of the plant. Growing like this, only with 4 – 6 buckets of water will last all summer. Water with one bucket every 10 days during hot weather. Watering with this regimen, the plants will grow as well as if they had lots of water.

If plants receive no water, a small bud grows on top of plant. A 5 foot tall plant may produce from 1 – 6 ounces of smokable bud. This same plant, given just a little water, will grow much better and produce more high quality smoke.

Grow a plant that takes 20 – 40 gallons of supplemental water per growing season, or grow a plant that gets an infinite amount of water and achieve very near the same weight at harvest. Why?

First the plant must use all water in the soil. The plant must get all the nutrients it needs that naturally occur in the subsoil. If you slightly increase the water and nutrient supply, you get a much stronger and robust plant. How much water is there in the soil already?

Reasonable soil has one inch of water per foot of area. There are about 30 gallons of water already in the soil in 4 x 4 x 4-feet area of reasonable soil. Look for big green stands of vegetation. Kill green vegetation in the fall and grow the garden the following spring. One of the main things to look for is an adequate water supply. Many parts of the US and different parts of the world get rainfall in the summer growing season to support a dry land crop. The rainfall you need is from ¼ to 1 inch per week. It is very important that it rains regularly during the spring and summer months. Dry fall weather is the best for harvests. Heavy rains and high humidity will cause bud mold.


Site Preparation and Soil

Preparing three sites required three different strategies. The small greenhouse needs a little bit of heat to speed growth. Easy ways to warm a greenhouse include natural heat generated by the sun and artificial heat from electricity or burning fossil fuel. To conserve the natural heat from the sun, Vansterdan lined the bottom of the greenhouse with two inches of Styrofoam. He also placed a one- inch-thick lining six inches high around the bottom perimeter of the greenhouse. He constructed the greenhouse from Filon, a corrugated, translucent fiberglass. The low-slung greenhouse looks like a small storage area because you can’t see inside. Filon transmits enough light for vegetative growth even when low levels of natural sunlight are available. To add more heat, Vansterdan used duct tape to fasten heating cable to the Styrofoam floor and covered it with a thin piece of sheet metal to transmit the heat evenly.

Marijuana blends and is camouflaged by many different back yard plants. Look for plants with similar leaf shapes that grow fast.

Vansterdan is an avid vegetable gardener and has been adding manure and compost to the raised beds in his backyard garden for more than 10 years. His neighbors are used to his fanatic gardening and do not suspect him of growing marijuana. Every spring he spreads three cubic yards of finished compost and manure over the garden. He adds dolomite lime to raise and stabilize the acidic pH and rototills it into the soil. Once vegetables are planted and growing well,

Vansterdan transplants hardened-off clones into the garden plot. “The soil is so rich and fertile, I don’t even need a shovel to dig a planting hole. I just open the soil with my hand, put the clone in and press soil around the root ball before watering it in” said Vansterdan with the pride of a confirmed organic gardener.

Raised Beds

The soil in cool coastal regions is heavy clay that warms slowly and drains poorly. Raised beds turn both of these detriments into compliments. Beds need to be raised 6 – 8 inches to provide the benefits of warmth and improved drainage. Using raised beds, Vansterdan plants from two weeks to a month earlier than other gardeners. If poor drainage is the only obstacle and making raised beds too difficult because of a remote garden location, smart growers loosen clay soils with a pick and shovel before cultivating in granulated gypsum to break up clay soil.


The basics of composting are simple: collect organic matter: grass clippings, chopped up branches and vegetative matter, pile it up and let it rot. The pile must be at least one yard square to hold more heat than is dissipated. “It’s easy to make compost,” said Vansterdan. “In the summer, professional gardeners cut grass and other yard debris and haul it away. I asked one of them to dump the debris at the end of my driveway. He gives me about three cubic yards a week. By the end of the summer, I have more than 40 yards of grass clippings and garden debris. I mix it with wood chips to provide carbon and air. The following year, I have 3 to 6 cubic yards of the best compost in the world!”

“I know one hard core grower that plants spring crops on top of compost piles. He piles the compost up two or three feet high, making a raised bed. Next he throws 3 or 4 inches of good dirt on top and plants foot-tall clones, aye. By the time the roots penetrate down into the compost, it has cooled down and doesn’t burn. The compost keeps the clones warm and he puts a greenhouse on top to protect the foliage. If he’s lucky and the weather cooperates, he harvests a spring crop.” said Vansterdan with a bewildered grin.

Mountain and Bog Soil.

“Most of the soil around here is full of Douglas fir needles and is very acidic. The pH is around 5, which makes plants grow slowly, aye. I look for patches where pasture grass grows. The soil is normally a little poor, lacking nutrients, so I have two strategies. The first one, I use for low lying areas. To plant in marshy, grassy areas, I cut a square yard of moist sod from the ground with a shovel, turn it over, and plant in it. This way I can transplant about 50 clones in a day. The marshy ground supplies enough water and I just add a bit of time-release fertilizer when I transplant, aye. I add another handful of flowering time-release fertilizer when I go back and check them the first week in August. Sure, the plants don’t grow as big as the ones in my back yard, but I don’t work too hard, aye.”

To plant in marshy, grassy areas, this grower cuts a square yard of moist sod from the ground with a shovel, turns the entire piece over (180 degrees) and plants in it.

Vansterdan has been planting in the mountains for 12 years in secret gardens only accessible by foot or mountain bike. He harvests about half of the clones he plants. The rest are lost to humans and other animals, insects, fungus and weather. “Growing in BC is different than growing around Toronto, aye. The weather here on the Lower Mainland is mild in the summer, with occasional rain showers. The heavy rains start in September. If your crop isn’t out of the ground by the middle of September, the buds get wet and moldy, usually gray mold (botrytis), sometimes powdery mildew starts earlier on leaves. Toronto is in the middle of the continent and a lot hotter and more humid. Plants grow faster, but still need to be out of the ground before the frost,” said Vansterdan, with a strong Canadian accent.

If the weather coperates and Vansterdan plants early in the year, clones establish a dense root system and don’t need much water during the growing season. A heavy layer of mulch helps conserve water and combat weeds.

Hardening-off Cuttings and Seedlings

After clones have rooted in rockwool cubes for three weeks, Vansterdan transplants them into 4-inch pots full of organic soil mix. He handles root cubes carefully and waters transplants heavily so roots grow into the new soil. He leaves the cuttings under a 400- watt HP sodium lamp for two weeks before moving them outdoors to harden-off in the greenhouse. He keeps clones in trays (nursery flats) so they are easy to handle. Since there is not enough room for all of the transplanted clones in the greenhouse, Vansterdan fills the greenhouse three different times. The first crop of clones is transplanted into the soil or 3-gallon pots and set out in the back yard garden after they have hardened-off for two or three weeks. The second crop of clones is moved in to harden-off and later transplanted to the local mountain plots. The third set of clones is moved into the greenhouse and grown until they are about 18 inches tall before he prompts flowering. Vansterdan covers the greenhouse to induce flowering with 12 hours of darkness.

Transplanting to the Mountain Site

The clones he transplants to the mountain site are grown in a tall container to promote a strong deep root system. The containers Vansterdan uses to clone the plants in are 6 inches tall and 3 inches square.

“I learned this trick when I worked for the Forrest Service, aye,” explained Vansterdan, “They grow tree seedlings in tall containers so they will have a deep strong root system. The deep, dense root system makes a strong plant, aye. I won’t be able to water or give much care to these babies. A strong root system makes up for the lack of care”.

Clones in tall containers with a deep root system have the best chance of survival in remote, low maintenance gardens. A clone buried deep in ground will grow roots along the stem in a few weeks. Planting the root ball a few inches deeper makes plants easier to maintain.

Other growers transplant foot-tall clones with smaller root systems. They remove the first few sets of leaves and bury the root ball deeper in the ground, leaving only six inches of foliage above ground. The clone will grow roots along the underground stem in the next few weeks.

“I try to go back and check on the clones two or three times after I plant them. Every time I go back there I pee around the plants to scare the deer and rabbits away. I also save urine in a bottle and sprinkle it around them, because I run out,” said Vansterdan with a grin.

Seed Germination and Care

Cannabis seeds need only water, heat and air to germinate. Seeds, without light, properly watered, will germinate in 2 – 10 days, in temperatures from 70 – 90 degrees F. Germination is faster at higher temperatures but declines if temperatures climb above 90 degrees F. When the seed germinates, the outside protective shell splits and a tiny, white sprout (tap root) pops out. The seed leaves emerge from within the shell as they push upward in search of light.

One popular way to germinate seeds is placing seeds in a moist paper towel or cheesecloth, in a warm room, (70 – 90 degrees F.) and make sure they are in darkness.

Germinating seeds between moist paper towels virtually ensures success.

At germination, a seed sprouts, sets roots, grows roundish cotoleydon leaves and the first set of true leaves.

Water the cloth daily, keep it moist and let excess water drain away freely. The seed germinates in a few days. The seed contains an adequate food supply for germination and watering with a mild mix of liquid fertilizer will hasten growth. In humid climates, water with a mild bleach or fungicide solution (2 – 5 drops per gallon) to prevent fungus.

Plant seeds once the white sprout is visible. Do not expose the tender rootlet to prolonged, intense light or wind. Plant the germinated seed ¼” to ½ " deep in planting medium with the white sprout tip (the root) pointing down. Lay the seed on its side if confused about which end is up.

The second popular germination method is to sow the seed in a shallow planter (flat), peat pellet or rooting cube and keep the planting medium evenly moist. Transplant 2 – 4 weeks after the seedling emerges from the soil. Use a spoon to remove the root ball and keep it intact when transplanting.

A heat pad or heat tape under or in soil will accelerate germination without drying the soil too fast. A common problem for novices when germinating seeds is over-watering. Keep the soil uniformly moist, but not soggy. Plant seeds in a nursery flat and put them in a warm (not hot) place like on top of the refrigerator. Put a wet piece of paper on top of the soil to retain the moisture. Remove the paper as soon as seeds sprout through soil. Leaving the paper on the soil will inhibit growth. Often seeds only need one initial watering when this method is used. A shallow flat or planter with a heat pad underneath may require daily watering, while a deep, one gallon pot needs water every 2 or 3 days. When the surface is dry (¼-inch deep) it is time to water.

Remember, there are few roots to absorb the water early in life and they are very delicate.

Seedling (cotyledon) leaves are the first to appear after the seed sprouts above the soil. Within a few days, the first true leaves will grow. During the seedling stage, a root system grows rapidly and green growth is slow.

The new root system is very small and requires a modest but constant supply of water. Too much water drowns roots, causing root rot or damping-off. Lack of water dries the infant root system. As the seedlings mature, some will grow faster and stronger.

Others will be weak and leggy. Vansterdan thins out weak plants the third to fifth week and transplants seedlings without any damage.

Soil Temperature

Root cubes, made from rockwool, peat or OasisTM, are convenient and encourage a strong root system. Peat pots are small compressed peat moss containers with an outside expandable wall. The flat pellets pop-up into a seedling pot when watered. Place the seed or cutting in the wet root cube and keep it evenly moist. For clones, make sure to crimp the top in around the stem so firm contact is made between the stem and the growing medium. When roots show through the sides of the cube it is time to transplant. Slit the side and remove the expandable nylon shell of peat pots before transplanting. When completed properly seedlings and clones suffer no transplant shock. Check peat pots or root cubes daily. Keep them evenly moist, but not soggy. Root cubes and peat pots contain no nutrients. Feed seedlings after the first week and clones as soon as they are rooted with ¼ to ½ strength fertilizer.

Inexpensive heat cables double root growth and are easy to use.

The seed intensive method:

Planting many seeds in a small area is also an option. In loose fertile soil, plant seeds from ¼ to ½- inch deep. Some growers set up small 3 x 3 square foot sites, planting three rows with a seed every few inches. Growers with 4 or 5 small patches are virtually guaranteed a harvest. They grow 2 to 5 small plants in various sites. Infrared photography is less effective against small patches. To make more space, growers cull out weak plants at 4 – 5 weeks and remove males as they appear. =========================

Site Selection

Big Steve is too smart to plant on his own land. He rents a country cabin and always plants on public property or other people’s property. Each year he plants in new locations. He likes to plant in low-traffic spaces among small trees and bushes.

Steve also found two different farm fields that have been out of production for a few years. He has had good crops along rivers and streams, but lost crops to floods twice in the last 10 years. When he planted along rivers, he made sure the plants were not visible from the river. Some years….

……Steve planted in buckets in rocky inaccessible terrain. He doesn’t need to prepare the soil, he just brings in grow bags and fills them with soil on the way. The plants don’t grow as big, but are seldom seen because they are growing where nobody goes or would expect them to be. Plants receive good sunlight on rocky hillsides in untillable soil. A site in dense, short bush, like sticker bushes, is another favorite spot. The sticker bushes grow high enough to prevent people from seeing through them and also serve as a deterrent from people and large animals wandering into the site.

“One of my favorite tricks is to plant where there are lots of mosquitoes,” said Steve with a snicker,

“If I can find a place with wasps, too. That’s a double whammy. I think the best site I ever found was next to a skunk’s den, around a skunk spray. I had to smear the inside of my nose with Vicks Vapor Rub to keep from smelling the skunk spray. Nobody went around there!”

“I plant deep inside patches of poison oak, poison ivy or my favorite: stinging nettles. I save seeds and broadcast them. I just cover any exposed skin with a slick rain suit and gloves to protect me. I wash the suit afterward to get rid of the oils. It’s a great way to keep lightweights away from the patch!” said Steve with a smirk, “if there’s a thief that wants my plants, it will cost them!”

Ideal “trails” are “invisible,” have dense undergrowth and lots of sunlight. Growers walk up river and creek beds to avoid detection. Rapid plant growth will erase any damage to the vegetation between trips. Some growers lightly fertilize their trail if they use it more than a few times, but are careful – wild plants are easy to overfertilize. Other growers never take the same path to their gardens and do everything possible to avoid damaging foliage. In late summer and early fall, damaged foliage usually will not regrow. Big Steve always asks himself: Can I see the trail I just made? If not, great, if so hide it! The more difficult it is for you to get to the site, the less likely someone else will try.

Growers who think ahead bring any supplies they need – lengths of PVC pipe, gasoline-powered pumps, water tanks, soil, etc. – early in the spring before underbrush has matured and hide the supplies until needed. Sheltering also protects lightweight plastic from ultraviolet light damage.

Good soil can be in short supply on remote hillsides and is often the richest where grassland vegetation is found. Grasslands recycle nutrients in the soil and form rich fertile topsoil. (See “Soil” in Appendix).

“I order bricks of coconut fiber from out in California. Those bricks are great. They are compact and easy to carry. When I break them up and add water they expand to several times their size,” said Steve, showing me how he loads them into his backpack.

A nearby water source makes a grower’s life easier and safer. Growers trample foliage and risk being spotted when hauling water. The more trips, the more noticeable the trail. Look for a summertime water source that does not dry up. Water consumption is determined by the weather. Dry land crops are possible if it rains once every one to four weeks.

Growers flower summer crops by covering small greenhouses to give plants 12 hours of darkness daily. Crops are ripe in 8-12 weeks. Sunlight is less important yet essential. Five hours of direct midday sunlight per day is necessary for acceptable growth, the more the better. Growers who scout sites during winter months visualize how trees will shade the landscape and the higher path the sun will make in the spring and summer.

Flowering females stand out like a neon sign if surrounding foliage dies back before harvest.

If you can have exclusive access to your marijuana patch by boat, you can cut potential traffic substantially.


The police find hundreds of thousands of cannabis plants annually with aerial surveillance and infrared photography. Large plots are easier to spot than small gardens.

Many communities receive federal funds to eradicate marijuana crops. Some police departments sell the property they confiscate and buy new high tech surveillance equipment, firearms, vehicles and other toys to seek out and destroy marijuana and grower’s lives. Marijuana laws in many states are extremely severe. Law enforcement officials lie, cheat and steal to achieve their means. Do not trust them under any circumstances.

“Report a marijuana grower” programs with a cash reward are common in the USA. Six armed and dangerous narcs came to search my home on the word of a snitch. The narcs would not tell me who squealed on me or why, or if the weasel even existed. If anyone knows or even suspects you are growing marijuana, they have tremendous authority over you. A vindictive enemy can also turn you in with no evidence, even if you are not growing! Growers avoid jealous lovers, family members or malicious “friends”. One of the saddest cases I saw was a daughter that extorted money from her father. The father grew marijuana to ease the pain of his glaucoma. His daughter threatened to have him arrested if he did not sell some of the crop to pay her off. When selecting a site, remember there might be hunters (archers, black powder, rifle and shotgun) as well as mushroom and marijuana hunters or other passers by. Check all the regulations if hunting is popular in your area. The patch will have to be hidden from other wilderness users. There also might be dirt bikers or four wheel vehicles lurking.

Site Preparation

Security is the number one concern in site preparation. Well concealed gardens are harvested, detected plants are not. Prepare growing sites up to 6 months before planting. For best results, let your amended soil sit for at least a month before planting. If the site is on an incline, planting holes must be terraced into the hillside. Make sure the terrace is large enough to catch any runoff water. Make extra gulleys to catch runoff water and channel it to the growing plant. Make a dish around the planting hole to retain water. In heavy brush, clear a few patches so plants get enough sunlight and plant 3-6 plants in each location. When preparing the soil, I cut back all roots from competing plants and till the planting holes 2 – 3 feet square. Soil along a riverbank is almost always fertile sandy loam. Hide the potential garden from river traffic as well as hikers and fishermen. More sunlight is available near the tops of the trees in dense forest. Ingenious growers use deer/elk hunting stands to grow in trees. They set up a pulley system to lift a large container and potting soil up to sit on the plant stand. Install an irrigation hose from the bottom of the tree directly to the plant. The grower passes by weekly with water and manual or battery operated pump to lift water to the plant high in the tree.

A partner is necessary to work on the ground while the other person works in the tree. Smart growers use a safety line and belt and do not spend more than 4 hours off the ground in one day. Accidents happen to tired climbers.

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.