I decided I’ll write a journal about my outdoor grow this summer. I wasn’t going to write one as I wasn’t sure my plants would make it outdoors, but they are thriving.
I live at the base of a mountain range, so every summer evening the winds blow and the temperatures drop. Daytime temps up to 104, nighttime temps in the high 50’s to low 60’s, with winds often reaching 30 mph or more. I’ve been growing indoors for the last year, my first year growing Cannabis. Indoors, you read that temps shouldn’t be out of the 80’s. There’s constant talk about PH of water and measuring PPM from runoff. Then there’s the many deficiencies to watch for. It seemed that Cannabis was a rather fragile plant. But how could that be when it’s been growing outdoors, in heat and wind, for centuries? Has it just been bred to the point where there’s no way most would survive outdoors? I really wanted to find out and I also need the much larger yield from an outdoor grow.
So, what to do? I have a long , rectangular area behind the house that gets a lot of sun and wind. About the only thing that’s managed to survive there have been Tomatoes. Could I somehow enclose a part of this area and shade it? I found a YouTube video of a guy with a conventional garden in a high wind area that had enclosed his garden with shade cloth on tensioned wire. And then I met Dustin Fraser, a longtime Humbolt grower who wrote the book Outdoor Performance Cannabis. At around $25, the book might seem pricey for its size, but it’s worth every penny.
Dustin grows where wind off the sea is channeled through narrow valleys and really picks up speed. He has winds like I have, and the growers developed ways to stake and support Cannabis plants so they will survive.
So, using the video and what I learned from Dustin, I marked off a 20x20 area and got to work. I’ll go into more detail in future posts but this is what the garden looked like in early June.
The first decision is what strain of Cannabis and when do you start? I’m at 5000 ft and we can get snow anytime up until June.
I started the plants in early April. I chose Hindu Kush from a seedbank that grew these high up in Switzerland. So, two Hindu Kush. Another strain, very similar that should do well is Afgoo, and there’s one of those. In early March I had discovered a seed in a bag of Pennywise from Western Cultured up in Washington state. She grew, and I got a clone from her to grow so I had two Pennywise. Pennywise is a high CBD plant that would show how well a highly cultured plant would do outdoors. And I also had a Critical Jack seed, so I started that one too. Six plants, and I was able to finally get them outside Memorial Day weekend.
Great looking plants and great setup. I’ve seen people use tomatoes cages as a support I personally use rabbit wire as support against the wind if your still looking for ways to deal with the wind
Do you have a picture you can share? Rabbit wire is really flexible, so I can’t visualize how it would slow down wind.
Its not so much to block the wind as it is to support the plant allowing it to move freely but supporting the branches as they get bigger around
So, you wrap your plants with chicken wire? How do you prune the growth out of the middle of the plant? And how do you get the branches through the tiny holes in the chicken wire?
My girls are wrapped with 6 inch field fencing. Each square is 6 inches and I can easily reach inside the plant to prune it, and the branches have plenty of room to grow big.
I make the cage about 2 ft wider then the plant and its not so much chicken wire but similar just bigger holes
I see, and you tie the wire to posts.? I discovered with my grow that the outer wire supports are a bit too close. I’ll be trying for about a foot and a half next year.
Yea next year I’m gonna put an outer layer of wire I didn’t this yr and I just just ziptied the cage together
So, building the garden. I marked off a 25x20 space. I dug post holes 24 inches deep, back filled them with gravel to 18 inches and cemented 4x4 posts in place.
If you do this, and you plan on using shade cloth, make very sure that your posts are lined up straight. If they aren’t straight, you’ll either have too much shade cloth or not enough. I screwed up and have one post that isn’t straight, but I managed to make the cloth fit. Here’s a picture of what I mean:
Once your posts are up, then it’s time to run 14 gauge wire top and bottom. Along this wire your shade cloth can move, like pulling back a curtain.
The wire is kept tight with wire tensioners you can buy at a farm store.
Here’s what this part looks like:
See that knob in the side of the tensioner? A 15 mm box end wrench fits on that, making it very easy to tension the wire. As time goes on, the wire will sag and you’ll want to retension the wire.
So, each side has three posts. There’s an anchor screw at one end, and a tensioner at the other end. The post in the middle gets a tarp hook so you can pull the wire(and the cloth)up so it doesn’t sag. The hook looks like this.
I picked 30 gallon fabric containers. Why 30? I wanted a big bag for big plants, but I also wanted to be able to move the full bag if I needed too. A 30 gallon bag full of dirt, especially wet dirt, is the limit that can be (barely) moved by a couple of guys. It’s really heavy!! Anything bigger, you won’t be moving it.
Into the dirt filled bags I put Tomato cages from Lowe’s. The growers using 100 or 200 gallon bags or bigger often use Texas Tomato Cages. Google for the website. I think Texas cages will be too big for 30 gallon pots.
And then, around each bag I sunk 8 ft ‘T’ posts for outer support. The outer support I start about 20 inches up from the base of the plant. That way I can easily water and prune them.
Here’s what a plant looks like with all the supports in place.
Ooops, the above plant is one I call Big Mama, and she didn’t have a cage. Here’s a Hindu Kush with a cage and outer wire:
You want to wire all four corners of the Tomato cage to the nearest T post. When you have both the inner cage wired to the T post, and outer 6 inch fence wire tied to all four T posts, the plant has a lot of support. I’ve had sustained winds of 30mph with gusts to 40 mph and there’s been no damage. These plants are NOT going to fall over!
Shade cloth, aka Privacy cloth can be bought locally or off Amazon. I had two big pieces for two of the sides. The other two sides are 85% shade pieces off Amazon.
What was very expensive was the 30% shade cloth for the top. I bought that online at shadeclothstore dot com. Obviously, a 20x25 piece of shade cloth is a big piece of cloth and has to have some sort of support to keep from sagging.
I took 3/4 inch pvc pipe and built a framework for the cloth to lay on top of. Each piece of pipe is wired to a 4 ft T post for support. The shade cloth itself is tied down to screws in the posts.
And it all looks like this:
I’ve been traveling a bit, so the thread has languished. But, the news is that now there are five plants, not six. One ‘free seed’ resulted in a plant that looked like this:
Yikes! I took a few cuttings to see if I can get a clone. And then I’ll force flower the clone for pollen. But this plant had to go.
Here’s a shot of my Afgoo plant on Aug 1. It’s grown around and through the Tomato cage and out into the outside support wire.
Just an update on the slowly ripening plants. Daytime highs in the high 80’s to low 90’s. Nighttime lows high 40’s to mid 50’s.
The Afgoo has pistils that are turning purple!