Tools for Outdoor Growers
Unlike an indoor grow space, growing outdoors requires nothing but access to the sun, so all the tools we cover are optional to adjust the outdoor environment to better suit the plant.
Adjusting the Environment
Since there is no way to change the weather, any major environmental adjustments will require the plants to be enclosed for the grow to be effective. However, before needing to enclose your plants, there are a few simple but less-effective ways to slightly adjust a plant’s environment. Placing your plant under the shade in hot environments, covering your plant with a frost blanket and using thick insulated clay pots in cold environments, blowing air on to your plants with a fan to combat high humidity, and misting the leaves of your plants with water to combat low humidity all help to offset slight variances in the environment.
Starting with the cheapest option, we have a basic plastic enclosure that can be homemade with something as simple as a few plastic pipes and a clear plastic polyethylene sheet. For those who do not want to build one from scratch, premade plastic enclosures are also cheap to buy in all shapes and sizes as well, making these a good option for a few plants for one or two grow seasons. For something sturdier than plastic, there are a ton of options to choose from and these will vary wildly in prices based on the size, features, and materials used to make them, but for the price and quality, a polycarbonate panel greenhouse is our favorite choice for multi-year use. No matter what you choose, just make sure the greenhouse is at least 6 feet tall, as outdoor plants can easily naturally grow that high with a typical spring-to-summer vegetative stage.
Once the plants are enclosed, a lot of tools become effective in controlling the environment. The first tool every enclosure needs is a humidity and temperature reader, and be sure to buy one that is rated for outdoor use. To ward off heating issues, a shade cloth on top of the greenhouse (which comes in different percentages to control how much light you want to let through) and an exhaust fan installed at the top of the enclosure are the simplest options, followed by evaporative coolers and portable air conditioning units for more extreme heating issues. For combating the cold, insulating the greenhouse with bubble wrap is good enough to keep the plants nice and warm, although portable heaters can also be used against the extreme cold if needed. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help with any humidity issues, and since the enclosure blocks out the outside wind, be sure to get a fan blowing on the plants to keep them healthy and strong.
Other than fluctuations in the environment, the biggest risk with growing outdoors is a constant exposure to bugs. While indoors, this is easy to control, outdoors, there is always a risk of some harmful pest making your plant its home. So, preventative measures should always be taken when working with an outdoor garden. The most common way to do this is to have a bi-weekly organic spray rotation to prevent any harmful bugs from nesting on the plants, and what you use will depend on what type of bugs you normally have in your area. Another option to consider, for those who can check on the plants more often, is to surround each plant with an insect netting. For those who want the most natural and organic option, keeping beneficial bugs such as ladybugs, lacewings, and praying mantises around your grow space is a great natural way to lower the undesirable pest population, and these live pest eaters are easily obtained through local nurseries or online.
Unlike lighting for indoors, which needs to be very intense for the cannabis plants to grow, outdoor lighting typically has a different purpose, which is to extend the sunlight hours of the day to keep a plant in the vegetative stage when growing off season. For supplemental lighting, if your goal is to extend the lighting for an hour or two, then just about anything will work in tricking the plant; a flashlight, a table lamp, or even a small book light will do the trick. Of course, if you want the plant to get a more intensive light during the night, you can always install a full sized grow light outside as well. Just keep in mind that a light of that intensity, if not enclosed and reflected, will be visible for a long distance.
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