- Stash Under the Stars
By The Cannabis Creator
Last issue, the story was told of the Snohomish County Cannabis Creators
(SCCC), a Seattle area cannabis creators co-op and virtual cannabis preserve.
The SCCC was conceived by a small group of people in 1990 in reaction to
“Operation Green Merchant”, a federally choreographed bust of many growers
and grow supply shops around the US.
??? Although that story focussed
only on indoor cultivation techniques, SCCC growers are a diverse bunch,
and it was only natural that outdoor cultivation would also be attempted.
Some people lack an indoor facility, or aren’t keen on the idea of being
directly connected to their crop for one reason or another. However, these
people were in for a few surprises after becoming accustomed to the comfortable,
easily manipulated and forgiving indoor growing environment.
??? Anyone could guess that outdoor
growing would be physically more of a challenge for a prospective cultivator
than indoor growing, but it turns out that northerly areas hold additional
problems that growers located in more temperate climates may never face.
In this article I will discuss these unique obstacles, along with other
important considerations and techniques of the successful outdoor cannabis
Choosing a Location
???? Outdoor cannabis
creation is certainly more of a challenge than indoor cultivation for a
number of reasons. First of all, it is a lot easier to decide whether you
will grow in your basement or an extra bedroom than it is to find a suitable
outdoor plot. Also, since outdoor plots are generally more likely to be
discovered, whether stumbled upon by the hapless hiker or hunter, or rooted
out by law enforcement or the ever-present rip-offs, it is a good idea
to try to find several plots instead of just one. Already, you are in for
a substantial chore, and the growing has not yet even begun.
??? Many well prepared outdoor
growers will scout out locations a year in advance, the summer before the
actual growing will take place. This gives them time to become familiar
with the areas, consider various planting options and experiment with camouflage,
and also gives them time to dig holes and prepare the soil, all well in
advance of the arrival of the plants and at a more leisurely pace, better
suited to the lifestyle of most ganjaphiles. The task of doing all of this
in a few weeks or months just prior to the actual growing season can be
daunting to say the least.
Private or Public Land?
??? Questions of private
or public land, accessability, traffic (both land and air), soil conditions,
access to water and sun exposure are a few of the things one should consider
when seeking a suitable location.
Private land generally offers easier and
more discrete accessibility, but increases the chance of someone being
held responsible in the event of trouble. Using public land means that
if anything goes wrong the chances of you being caught are near zero, but
there is no practical way to keep an eye on things while you are away,
and nothing to stop someone from discovering your secret garden.
??? Traffic considerations
include such variables as campers, hunters, or hikers, who could observe
unusual and suspicious activity such as someone carrying jugs of water
through the woods, or actually sniff out or stumble across your prize plants.
Air traffic should also be considered, especially if you are near an airport,
definitely if it caters to small aircraft.
??? Soil conditions vary
greatly, but good soil should be slightly acidic to neutral in ph (6.5-7.0),
well drained, have some organic content, and shouldn’t contain too much
clay or sand. Heavier soils can be (and likely should be) enhanced with
soil conditioners such as peat moss, perlite and vermiculite.
??? Perlite and vermiculite
are especially outdoor grower friendly because they are extremely lightweight
and easy to carry. Dolomite lime or wood ash can be added to increase acidity
but should be used sparingly. Polymers (also known as watering crystals)
can be added to dry soils to increase water retention, but should also
be used sparingly.
??? Water is naturally
a very important element to the successful outdoor garden. A little consideration
of this fact in the beginning can go a long way towards saving you a lot
of very strenuous work later on. A nearby spring or stream could turn out
to be your single best asset. Consider that it is much easier to carry
water downhill than up. If water must be driven in, plastic gas cans make
great carrying containers and will arouse little suspicion in your car
or truck. Of course, you would have to buy new ones just for this purpose.
??? As far as sun exposure,
a good plot should have a minimum of four hours of direct sun per day.
Six or eight hours will be much better. South facing hillsides are ideal.
Pests & Problems
??? Once you have done all
of the above and decided on your favourite spots, mother nature then offers
up her own array of potential hazards such as slugs, mold, deer, storms
and inclement weather (which can be as much of a deterrent to the grower
as the growing).
??? Slugs seem to particularly
love ingesting cannabis, yet although it may be easy to sympathize with
them, they can end up being a problem that must be dealt with. Not only
will they munch lots of holes in the leaves of your plants, but the areas
that they slither across become extremely susceptible to mold. This includes
the stems, which if attacked by mold will quickly cause entire branches
??? Snail bait should definitely
not be used since it is quite toxic and ends up soaking into the soil where
the plants are growing. A very effective and environmentally friendly alternative
is beer traps. Apparently not only do slugs love cannabis, they love beer
too. (Never knew that you had so much in common, eh?)
??? Beer traps are made
simply by cutting cans of cheap beer in half, and setting the bottom half
of the can, filled partway with the beer, near the base of each plant.
The slugs will climb right in and drink themselves to death. Sometimes,
a few of them will opt for a little herb before they drink, so keep a close
eye out for molding stems in any case, and use a dilute solution of baking
soda dissolved in water and applied with a spray bottle to combat any mold.
Do not attempt to use this remedy on any part of the plant except for the
stems, however. Doing so will simply result in more severe damage to the
??? Molding buds are generally
caused by too much rain late in the season, and there is little that you
can do to prevent this, other than selecting a mold resistant variety to
grow in the firstplace.
??? If you do find a moldy
spot in a cola, (often indicated by the sudden death of an otherwise healthy
leaf protruding from an otherwise healthy bud) remove the infected portion
of the bud, being careful to get every bit of the mold, even if this means
destroying a quantity of healthy tissue.
??? Keep a close eye on
the problem area after that, and if there is a recurrence it is probably
time to harvest, even if the buds are not fully mature. Mold can spread
very quickly so be wary.
??? Deer can be dealt with
by fencing in your plot with chicken wire, but in most cases this can be
very impractical. Another idea that seems to work well is to use Irish
spring deodorant soap. You could possibly use any strong smelling deodorant
soap, but when I heard about this idea the person specifically said Irish
Spring, and I’ve never tried any other kind.
??? Deer have a sensitive
sense of smell and are offended by the strong odour. By cutting off strips
of Irish Spring with a pocketknife and spreading them around the area you
will cause the deer to look elsewhere for a meal. Remember to use a generous
amount of soap and to regularly add more, as the soap will dissolve in
the rain and weather.
Over 40? North
??? Going through all of
this effort to select and prepare suitable plots, and then dealing with
mother natures creatures and weather, is common for growers in all parts
of North America. However, for growers living in areas above forty degrees
North latitude, there are still more important things to be aware of before
you can expect a bountiful harvest.
??? Cannabis is what is
called a “photoperiod determinate plant”. What this means is that it has
the ability to measure the length of the night in its environment. As experienced
indoor growers know, the average amount of darkness needed each night to
induce flowering in most vanities is around twelve hours.
??? In the spring and early
summer in these more extreme northerly areas, the nights can be as short
as eight hours or even less. In Washington, they will not reach twelve
hours until mid September. The freeze then comes by the end of October,
proceeded by heavy rains. What this means is that the further North you
find yourself, the more you will find environmental conditions that cause
the plants to start flowering later, yet at the same time mandate that
they must finish sooner.
??? The trick is to find
an acclimatized “early” variety which will start flowering with less than
twelve hours of darkness, and yet will also still produce high quality
flowers. Not long ago finding such a strain was a near impossible task,
especially in the northwest US, because virtually all of the common strains
were bred exclusively indoors, where the light cycles are easily manipulated.
??? These indoor strains
often had no resistance to things like molding and cold weather, all too
common elements in the rainy northwest. Only a very few people in the area,
those who had maintained a consistent outdoors breeding program for many
years, possessed the seeds of success, and all others were left to fend
Extending the Season
???? By planting only
at low altitudes you can extend your season slightly since higher altitudes
will freeze first, and if these spots happen to be near bodies of salt
water you may be able to add another few days or a week due to the salt
content in the air. Late planting can also help plants ripen sooner, since
smaller plants will generally finish more quickly, as evidenced in the
“sea of green” growing method.
??? Of course, that was
then, and things are quite different these days. With the advent of Marc
Emery direct seed sales and the many other brave seed merchants that have
sprung up recently, people can no longer say that obtaining a suitable
outdoor variety is much of a problem. By starting out with a strain of
cannabis that was bred outdoors in a latitude similar to that where you
are growing, you will avoid the disappointment of reaching the end of the
season and having a crop of plants that have only begun to flower.
Get out there!
??? These are only a sample
of the adventures that await the potential outdoor cannabis creator, but
with commitment, fortitude, careful planning and determination, anyone
should be able to overcome the obstacles and end up with a harvest that
will well compensate your efforts not only in your mind, but also in that
of those fortunate enough to call themselves your friends. So get out there,
and may the ganja goddess smile down upon you.
For More Info
For a free copy of “The Home Cannabis
Creator” send a stamped, self-addressed 9″ x 12″ (letter size) manila envelope
to: Hemp: #4320 196th St SW, B-132 Lynnwood, Washington, USA 98036-6754