One of the questions often asked by those new to growing is when is the best time to plant cannabis seeds outdoors? This is a good question because timing is everything when planting cannabis seeds, in order to maximise the growing season. The most basic answer is that it is safe to plant cannabis seeds outdoors in Spring when the risk of ground frost has disappeared.
Where the grower lives will dictate when this moment is; for growers in the northern hemisphere - typically between the latitudes of 45° - 55° - there is a distinction between northern and southern latitudes. In more northern regions, such as Holland, this means planting out in mid May when the risk of frosts has passed and the ground temperature is suitably warm. For growers in more southern zones of the northern hemisphere, around the Mediterranean region, planting out is possible in April (and possibly from mid March in the far south and in coastal areas), although early May is the safest bet.
Nevertheless, a smart outdoor grower will start planning their outdoor grow as early as March and there are some things you can do to start the process off nice and early. The following shortcuts are a guide for every grower wanting to maximize the potential of the northern hemisphere growing season.
1) Choose Your Cannabis Seeds Wisely
March is a good time to get those preparations underway and plot which cannabis seeds will be going into the garden this year and choosing the right ones will give you a great head start. Paradise Seeds has over 40 strains to choose from, so there is certainly enough choice to cover every grower’s needs – from desired strain type (sativa, indica or hybrid) to taste and effect. Another key category any outdoor cannabis grower needs to consider is the suitability of a strain for the grower’s climate and environment – whether a mold resistant variety such as Spoetnik#1 or a sun thirsty plant such as Dutch Dragon.
2) Start Your Plants off Indoors
While most outdoor growers are part of the ‘al fresco cultivators’ club and lack a complementary indoor set up, a cheap and easy way to get a head start on the outdoor growing season is to start their plants off inside. A small space – such as a cupboard - can very easily be turned into a temporary nursery for cannabis seeds and seedlings with just a simple light (and maybe a heater to keep the cold away on those potentially chilly Spring nights!). In the early days of planting, all seeds need is a light to follow, and this can be achieved with a CFL or a cheap LED light. With this set up in place, outdoor cannabis growers can germinate seeds and advance their seedlings at least a month ahead, so that the plants hit the ground healthy and ready to go!
* Bonus tip: Those chilly night time temperatures can delay cannabis seed germination times, so it is important to factor this into plans. Make sure, germination takes place in a dark place that is suitably warm enough.
3) Give Cannabis Seeds Their Own Micro Climate
The first few are crucial for a developing cannabis seed and it is important to give a cannabis plant the best start – whether in an indoor nursery or on a windowsill. Dipping night time temperatures can also affect the growth of new shoots from cannabis seeds, which are vulnerable until they become established. A simple homemade biome, using a cut off plastic bottle neck (with the top removed) will give cannabis seedlings an added layer of insulation. Check out the Top Shelf Grower’s Paradise Seeds Skunkworks episode where various common household items are transformed into effective seed/seedling containers.
4) Add Some Autos For a Bonus Early Harvest
Feminized seeds have the potential for bigger plants and more abundant harvest, but adding a couple of autos into outdoor cannabis grow plans will reward the grower with a bonus early summer harvest. While (feminized) photoperiod plants will take a few months to grow, not budding until the hours of light and darkness change at the end of Summer/early Autumn, Autoflower strains such as Pandora and Auto White Berry will be ready to cut down after just 9 – 10 weeks. Start them off inside in early to mid April, plant them out in early to mid May and they will be ready to harvest by mid to end June (benefiting from the power of the midsummer sun).
5) Prepare The Soil
Any experienced gardener will tell you how important it is to get the right grow medium for your plants and this is as true for cannabis as it is for fruits and vegetables. The month of March is a perfect time to prepare the soil so that it can ‘sit and settle’ for a couple of months allowing beneficial bacteria and fungi to develop, while giving time for pH to adjust (if changes are needed). A settled soil helps to provide a nutritious base for seedlings to tap into when they get planted out in May. Most outdoor cannabis growers have the space and resources to prepare their own soil and Paradise has a guide to the basic components needed to produce your own ideal growing soil