In this article we are going to look at some top tips for cultivating in an outdoor cannabis grow based in a more temperate climate, which we will refer to as ’northern regions’. These include large parts of Europe, America, Canada and Russia.
Once upon a time, if you lived in such regions the chances of getting a fine harvest of high yielding, fine tasting cannabis was the sort of dream that usually included a unicorn flying over the garden too! But thanks to developments in cannabis genetics, feminized cannabis seed strains (not to mention autoflowering seed strains), this is now achievable for most outdoor cannabis grow gardeners.
Growing Cannabis Strains in Northern Regions
When we talk about an outdoor cannabis grow in 'northern regions', we are typically talking about those areas that lie between the latitudes of 45° - 55°. They are characterized by climates that are basically temperate but also feature extremes - from hot periods in the Summer to a sudden cooling in the Fall (autumn) months, often accompanied by dampness.
When you buy feminized cannabis seeds, you are buying a photoperiod plant - one that will begin to flower when there is less hours of darkness compared to the hours of light. In northern regions with extended summer daylight hours, this means that most paradise Seeds strains will begin to bud at the end of August/beginning of September meaning a perilous journey to harvest through the unpredictable weather of Autumn.
As such, the outdoor cannabis grower in these regions needs to be well prepared for whatever this year's growing season will throw their way! But there are steps the outdoor grower can take to minimize the impact of northern region climate conditions on their crops.
Establish Your Base!
At Paradise Seeds we can never stress too much the importance of giving your cannabis seed / plant the best start in life. As our test field videos show, growing in the ground will produce the biggest plants, but this is not necessarily a good thing in parts of the world where mold is a common problem.
For outdoor grows in northern regions we recommend using pots as they give the grower more control over their environment. A good growing base includes high quality soil, plus mediums such as perlite and coco to provide good aeration for your soil. Simple grow tips if using pots include avoiding the use of terracotta and black pots which will absorb heat and bake the soil hard. It may seem obvious but if you want a big plant then use a big pot, and square pots are better for the development of your plant’s roots.
Think About Mold NOW!
The beast which stalks the outdoor cannabis grow in northern regions is mold or bud rot, which is a common occurrence when the temperatures start to cool dramatically in the fall and the Autumn rains come.
We suggest you consider a more radical approach to growing your outdoor plants to avoid the mold problem. Adapting the way the plant is grown – thinking horizontal rather than the traditional vertical tree – can provide advantages when it comes to the period leading up to harvest. This can be achieved through early training of your cannabis plants, using techniques such as LST or SCROG, and if you’re looking for tips, check out the Skunkworks video step by step guide.
The great advantage of growing this way is that the buds are naturally spread over a wider area. You won't get those big dense top buds... but that is exactly the point! When mold strikes it is usually these swollen, dense buds that get hit hard. By spreading the load you will end up with a plant covered in more moderate (but equally dense) nuggets. Less foliage means better airflow, which is the best defence against cannabis mold.
There is another obvious benefit of growing this way. Have you ever tried to protect a full sized cannabis tree from the rain and frost? It requires a lot of infrastructure! With a low lying cannabis plant it's easy to make yourself a mini greenhouse cover with a chicken wire cage and clear plastic sheeting. Put it over your plant with the first raindrop, take it off with the last and keep that plant dry!
Choose Your Outdoor Cannabis Grow Strain Wisely!
We are always amazed at how often this advice is ignored by the rookie outdoor cannabis grower. Paradise seeds has been breeding cannabis plants for 25 years and we have strains that are suitable for most environments - fortified with genetic traits to make the grower's life easier.
If you live in a damp climate, avoid indicas. Those big fat buds are mold magnets when the rains come. Instead go for one of our hybrid varieties - for example Wappa or Mendocino Skunk which are Indica dominant but more versatile.
Autoflowering varieties are also a way to avoid any of those nasty Autumnal elements. You can plant them in May and enjoy a harvest in July (although we would recommend holding off planting until June in order to make the most of the midsummer sun's warmth).
Taste of the Outdoor Cannabis Grow Difference!
The great thing about an outdoor cannabis grow is the final product. There are advantages to growing indoors of course, but you can’t beat a cannabis plant that grows outdoors under natural light. It comes with a very different smell, taste and even effect. While the path to harvest can sometimes be a difficult one to travel, the destination makes it very worthwhile.
Every garden is different and therefore every outdoor cannabis grower must find their own way, but we hope these tips will help. Please do share pictures of your results so you can inspire other outdoor growers in northern regions – it’s all about sharing the knowledge!