Swamp Growing

Three ways… to produce stealthy and productive gardens in bogs and swamps, with methods from Florida, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia
This story is about the new trend of growing pot in a type of location that has, as of yet, been out of bounds: swamps and bogs. We cannot stress enough that wetlands, bogs and swamps are very fragile environments and can be easily destroyed, with damage lasting for many years.

The following examples are from professional- minded growers who realize the danger of this; they always grow small patches, rotate their locations, and monitor their impact on the surrounding area. If you can?t keep these things in mind, or you?re too lazy to follow proper procedures, please do not attempt these methods. Whatever you choose to do, act responsibly and respect the environment.

There are millions of acres of unused swamps, wetlands, marshes and bogs in North America and they are among the least observed, traveled, and occupied places on the entire continent.

According to Webster?s Dictionary, a bog is described as ?an area having a wet, spongy, acidic substrate composed chiefly of sphagnum moss and peat, in which characteristic shrubs and herbs and sometimes trees usually grow; any of certain other wetland areas, such as a fen, having a peat substrate (peat bog); an area of soft, naturally waterlogged ground.? A swamp is ?a seasonally flooded bottomland with more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog; a lowland region saturated with water.?

Typically, marijuana cannot be grown in these place because it?s always wet and mold can be a problem, and swamps also have a tendency to flood ? or alternately, to dry out! We are going to describe how three different growers from three different places all do the same thing while facing these obstacles: grow pot and get away with it!

Example One Nova Scotia Swamps

Here the grower selected a bog not too far from his house, so he could grow a personal supply of marijuana. The tree line came right up to the bog?s edge, creating a great place to plant with a large amount of sunlight and small chance of aerial detection. This grower looked for the mucky black earth, a ?wet peat? area. He wanted a spot that would dry out a little, but not completely, during the summer dry spell.

The plants were grown on elevated structures with soil-less mix and hydroponic fertilizer. This particular soil-less mix is 1 part sphagnum peat moss, 1 part perlite, 1 part vermiculite, and 10% dolomite lime. The main part of this set up is the swamp box, or grow box.

Here?s how you make two! Take one 4×8 foot sheet of Aspenite ? available for under $20 from Home Depot ? and draw out eight 2×2-foot squares with a chalk line (figure 1). Next, use a 1-and-1/4 inch spade bit to drill a series of holes across the centre of each square. Keep six inches away from the edges of the squares, and don?t drill so many holes that you weaken the strength of the Aspenite.

Cut the panels out along the chalk lines. You will end up with eight equal sized panels with ventilation holes already drilled in each square (figure 2). Staple some window screening to the panels to cover the ventilation holes (figure 3). The screened side is the interior of your structure.

Purchase eight 6-foot long 2×2-inch posts of spruce wood. The posts will make up the inside corners of the box and provide good solid surfaces to attach the panels. Connect four Aspenite panels to four posts with drywall screws (figure 4), making a box (figure 5). The posts should be a good two feet longer than the length of the panels on both the top and bottom. Once completed, you should have two 2×2-ft. bottomless and topless boxes.

In the springtime growing season, dig a hole near the bog edge about two feet deep and two feet wide. (Put the contents of the hole just off to the side, as you?ll use it later.) Fill the hole with soil-less mix up to the surrounding ground level, place a grow box on top of the mix and push it down. The bottom posts act as anchors to keep the box upright. Fill the box with more soil-less mix up to two or four inches from the top of the panels. Pack the original contents of the ground around the outside of the box up to the ventilation holes. The next step is to wrap chicken wire around the upper posts (figure 6) to keep large pests and animals away. Optionally, you can wrap plastic around it too, making a mini green house for the chilly spring season when clones are most fragile.

Just before rooting clones, dig a small cereal bowl-sized pit in the center of the grow box. Put a couple inches of perlite in the bottom, and use the soil-less mix to pack around the clone?s roots. The plants can be covered in plastic to keep heavy rain from the damaging them, but watch for bugs taking advantage of the dry space and keep any tall grasses away as they attract creatures like snakes. To feed with this box system, use high-quality hydro-ponic fertilizers as directed for soil-less use. After a big rain you will have to feed the plants a little more, as the water will have washed some of the nutrients away from the reach of young plants? short roots. However, the nutrients will be stored deeper into the soil-less mix and will be available for later use, as the plants grow older.

Ventilation is important: the screen-covered holes in the grow box will help prevent the buildup of fertilizers and keep the soil-less mix from becoming too saturated in the spring. In the early growing season, the wet earth is far too moist to plant in, but by using the grow boxes with ventilation holes the soil-less mix can be kept from holding too much water. You are, in effect, planting in an elevated grow bed.

Most of the air roots (short roots) of the plant will be inside the grow box. The nutrient up-take roots and the taproot (main root) will be further down in the soil-less mix, in the permanent damp area where it was very wet in the spring. These roots will soon be feeding from the nutrients that leeched down from the top every time you fertilized. By summer the bog area may start to dry up a bit, and water will travel up into the grow box via the roots, helping to keep the soil-less mix just moist enough without extra watering.

Example Two British Columbia

This ?tube system? was developed in the Gulf Islands of the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia (Vancouver) and Vancouver Island. On these islands the soil is very rocky and not very fertile. As a result, growers needed to figure out a way to grow in the plentiful swamp areas available. Here?s how it?s done.

Look for an area near a flowing water source, but not too close to saturated areas to avoid the seasonal flooding. Once you find a good location hang 30% black shade cloth (available at any garden shop) from the trees if there is any fear of helicopter detection. Chop out the ground vegetation, cut the plant matter up a little, and spread it around. It will decompose into the muck and firm up the bog a bit. (This can only be done one season at a time in any one place, so the area can recover after you have grown there.)

Next, obtain hog wire fencing. This is a special fence about five feet high with small holes at the bottom and larger holes at the top. Cut the top two feet off (with the larger holes), and with the remaining part make a circular tube with a diameter of about two, or two and a half feet. Embed the fence cylinder six inches down into the swamp and secure it in shape with pliers and tie wire. Take heavy-duty black polyethylene sheeting (available at most hardware stores) and line the insides of the tube. Fold some extra over the top of the wire from the inside to the exterior, to help secure it in place. Leave the bottom and top uncovered; you?re only lining the perimeter.

Fill the tube with about two-thirds of a 3.8 cubic foot bale of peat moss, which has great capillary action and holds water well. This will make up most of your growing medium. It?s really up to you as to what you use as your nutrients. Island growers favor organics, so they use things like blood and bone meal, fresh seaweed, sunflower seed hulls, composted chicken or turkey manure, bat guano, kelp meal, compost, and pretty much anything else natural that they can get their hands on. They water with organic teas every couple of weeks as well. You can use chemical fertilizers, but they must be designed for Hydroponic systems (check out www.discount-hydro.com). In all cases, chemical fertilizers will not be your optimum choice for delivering nutrients to the plants, as this adversely affects the quality of the bud ? and more importantly, destroys the fragile environment if it escapes from the plant up-take area. Organic nutrients are truly the way to go!

You can also add perlite or vermiculite to prevent buildup and toxicity. This mix, measuring 3.5 to 5.5 on the pH scale, is quite acidic, just like the swamp water. You will need to add lime to raise the pH level to at least 6.2 to 6.5, and that will take about five to ten pounds of the stuff. Mix it thoroughly with your medium so it is totally even in concentration. You should end up with a cylindrical planter full of nutrient-filled growing medium.

The concept is based on the fact that small roots derive most of the nutrients from the contents of the tube container, while a taproot is sent down into the swamp to supply the plant with unlimited water. The result is an extremely large plant! Once it starts to grow you can reattach the top two feet of the hog wire to the tube and pull the lower branches out through the lower holes. This keeps it upright, and also causes the lower branches to get enough light to produce similar sized buds as the top. The result will yield up to (or more than) a pound per plant, making the work well worthwhile! These Gulf Island swamp growers had 12 plants yielding just over ten pounds.

Example Three Florida Wetlands

In Florida, there are several marijuanagrowing obstacles. Due to high humidity, hurricanes, flooding, and terrible soil, growing outdoor pot can be very difficult. It seems that every cannabis plant put into the ground dies soon after.

These guys sent us a DVD showing how they went about growing successfully in the Florida swamps for many years ? until a neighbor ratted them out to the police for another grow! But the swamp set-up was never caught, even though the police used a helicopter to try and find it. Now, because these growers are faced with house arrest and cannot enjoy what they have been doing for so many years, they wanted to show others how to follow their example.

This swamp method is to grow the plants outdoors hydroponically on top of raised platforms. The materials used to construct the actual platform are 2×4 inch pieces of wood, a few sheets of marine plywood, and many nails. These platforms are about a meter (39 inches) off the ground, three meters (10 feet) wide and five meters (15 feet) long. The platform is a pillared stage on top of the swampland, anchored with posts fitted in the earth. Posts also extend above the platform surface, and beams are added to support 30% black shade cloth (available at garden supply stores), which helps conceal the plants from aerial view. Other beams and posts were used to secure the structure base to the land, but as this platform will be bearing hundreds of kilograms of weight on top for months on end it will likely stay solidly in place. This raised garden also has to withstand winds, rains, a rising water table, and must be able to keep the animals away!

The platform was coated with insecticide (organic) to make it more difficult for bugs to settle. A wire fence went up on all vulnerable sides to keep the curious animals out, with one section that could be opened for bringing in materials and making visits. By eliminating the natural complications in your growing zone you maintain control over the plants? environment.

The plants were grown in one or two gallon containers with soil-less mixture and hydroponic fertilizers. Buckets are arranged in rows on the surface of the structure. Water was drawn from the swamp either by hand or a small pump ? but remember, swamp water is very acidic so it needs to be pH balanced.

To hide the structure so it couldn?t be seen amongst the foliage, army camouflage netting (found in most Surplus stores) was attached along the sides. As mentioned earlier, the shade cloth was draped over the platform surface?s support beams for security from aerial view. Shade cloth can also be helpful in protecting from the hot sun, pounding rain, strong winds, or even frost. Using shade cloth also gives you the option of budding the plants early by subtracting the amount of light the plants receive each day, by doubling over the material (60% coverage) or tripling it (90% coverage). In case you?re wondering, 30% shade cloth in the blazing Florida sun still leaves more than enough sunlight for the plants to use! And these plants flourished on the platform structure, hidden from view and safe from intruders.

As you can see, there are some similarities in the various ways people are growing in the swamps of the world, and there are some differences. Research swamps and bogs in your area, so you can try out these interesting techniques!

Outdoor Growing Karma Clue
By Boyscout

Too often I have seen old grow set-ups in the wilderness where the operation was ten tears old and there was still crap everywhere. We need to clean up for a number of reasons. The environment needs to be taken care of and if you?re leaving wire, rotting structures, old motors, buckets, plastic poly, or whatever other non-natural stuff everywhere, it is extremely unsafe and disrespectful ? particularly from a culture that regards itself as having a close relationship to nature and having respect for plants.

Try not to use anything that could potentially alter the eco-system, as these things could destroy the very environment that is supporting your operation. Before you go into a place I recommend that you research the swamp and find out as much as possible about it. If you were to start planting in an extremely delicate area, who knows the damage you could do! Most wetlands have had at least one study done on them; you should be able to find papers on the Internet easily enough.

And as with all types of growing, it is never a good idea to always grow in one spot; try to rotate your location every season. It is convenient to abandon the grow area after harvest, but go back one last time at the end of the season to clean up. It?s thanking Mother Nature for her generosity to you. And besides, if someone stumbles across your abandoned setup it?s possible they could get the authorities looking around the area. What do you think will happen if they find a fingerprint on your old tubs or plastic? That would be embarrassing, wouldn?t it?

Behave professionally at all times, guard your secrets, have a good cover story for being wherever you are, and leave no traces of your adventure. Respect your environment, plan well, and you will harvest the finest fruits of the earth!