Maybe it’s just because I’m a simple country boy at heart, but I’ve always found something incredibly rewarding about successfully growing your weed just as Mother Nature intended it: outdoors. For aspiring farmers with access to a decent outside space – sunny, sheltered, and preferably out of the sight of prying eyes – it’s an approach that really has to be considered. And while conditions can be a little more difficult to monitor than those of a carefully prepared indoor grow-room, I’d be tempted to say it’s worth it just for the honest, wholesome satisfaction of getting down and dirty and tilling the earth just as Man has done since time immemorial.
It’s not quite as easy as just flinging a few seeds down and letting nature take its course, however. Cannabis is essentially a tropical plant, and as such, any attempts to grow your crop in a colder climate – such as the UK or North America – will require a bit of extra work. In places where the good weather doesn’t really kick in until around May, it’s still a sensible idea to get your seeds going indoors, planting the seedlings outdoors only when a decent amount of light and warmth can be guaranteed. The real key to success, though, is in fooling your plants into flowering at the right time. That might sound tricky, but as luck would have it, plants are by-and-large pretty darn foolish.
Cannabis has an annual lifecycle, and will produce a harvest just once a year. As autumn approaches, daylight hours diminish, and when daylight has reduced to around 13 hours a day, the plant begins to flower. In warmer climates this isn’t a problem, but in places like the UK, where daylight hours reach 13 per day around mid-September, this leaves a window of just a few weeks for your plants to flower before temperatures drop sufficiently to kill them altogether.
The solution to the problem of seasonal shifts is simple: fake it.
In locations where the onset of winter can damage your harvest, the trick is to fool your plants into thinking that daylight hours are shrinking long before they actually are. Around early to mid-August, start inducing longer night periods for your plants. Use an opaque cover such as a tarpaulin, sheet of plastic or several layers of black bin-liners. Alternatively, if your plants are in pots or containers, simply move them into a darker area.
By shading your plants from around 9pm in the evening to 8am the following morning, you will be simulating September daylight hours a month early. Repeat this process every night for around a fortnight, and you will soon start to see flower buds forming. After this time you can discontinue the treatment and allow the buds to develop naturally, with the additional 4 or so weeks of mild weather and sunshine that you have bought them helping them to grow much faster and larger than they otherwise would have. Then, when the time comes to finally pick those buds, you can be sure of a truly bumper harvest.
Okay, so maybe messing with the seasons isn’t exactly following Mother Nature’s intentions to the letter. But I like to think that in this case, as a simple country boy in the pursuit of that perfect smoke, she’d still give me Her blessing.