Summer Success: Get Your Outdoor Cannabis Garden Ready

Summer Success: Get Your Outdoor Cannabis Garden Ready

With warmer weather slowly creeping in, many growers are looking to find ways to take advantage of the oncoming summer season. Grow tents and greenhouses can grow very high-quality flowers, but cannabis that’s grown outdoors has a little something extra that just can’t be replicated by the great indoors.

Like wine sommeliers who can taste subtle notes and flavors influenced by the climate where specific grapes are grown, cannabis growers can attest to a change in the quality of flowers grown outdoors. This touch of magic is often due to the presence of an increased terpene profile, which is developed due to the unique spread of nutrients and microbes in your soil, as well as readily available sunlight during the summer season.

Your specific ecosystem will cause a unique terpene profile to develop. Terpene development is determined not only by the nutrients in the soil, but the sun, wind, weather, and a host of other environmental factors. By growing outdoors, your flowers will have access to a surplus of sunshine, room to develop massive root systems, and the opportunity to develop buds with a flavor profile that’s completely unique to your garden.


Prepping Your Soil

Identifying Your Soil Type:

There are four main categories of soil types: Clay, Sand, Silt, and Loam. Each has different benefits and considerations when growing. Clay soils are heavy but high in nutrients; sticky when wet and easily clumped. Sandy soil is high-draining, light, and low in nutrients. Sandy soil is often on the more acidic side, as well as gritty and does not clump easily. Silt soil is light, fertile, moisture-retentive, and easily compacted. Silt has a slippery texture and does not clump easily. Loam soil, considered ‘the ideal’ soil for growing, is a perfectly balanced mixture of clay, sand, and silt. Loam offers the benefits of the other soil types, with rich nutrients and nutrient retentive properties, while balancing drainage and water retention. Almost all soils will contain a combination of Sand, Clay, and Silt, but some will contain a higher percentage of one or two main materials.

The first step in prepping your garden is to identify what your soil composition is. You can do this by digging a hole and moving the soil between your hands. Is it coarse and gritty? Silky or smooth when wet? Is it sticky and dries in thick clumps? Ideal soil will be crumbly but have some visible clumps. If you can see plant material (think leftover roots or broken-down leaves), this is a great sign that your soil is rich and ready to grow.

You can also get a general estimate of your soil’s composition using an easy field test. Take a glass jar with a wide rim (a mason jar works well). Fill it up 1/3 with soil, and the rest of the way with water (leave about 1-2 inches at the top for air). You can use a mesh sieve or a colander to filter any rocks or large debris out of the soil before adding to the jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously. You can then set the jar down and let the material settle for at least 2 hours, or overnight for the most accurate results.

Sand, being the heaviest, will settle at the bottom of the jar. Silt will then form a layer on top of the sand. Clay, being the lightest, will sit at the top layer, and will take the longest to settle. You can use the height of the total soil, and of the individual layers, to make an estimate for the percentage of each material in your soil, and you can use the USDA Soil Texture Triangle to figure out your exact soil type from there.


USDA Soil Texture Triangle.


No matter what your soil type is, all soil is good soil. Some textures may need a little support, or some added organic material to make them more ideal for your outdoor cannabis crop, but your unique soil makeup will play a huge part in the one-of-a-kind flavor profile of your end-product.


Note: If you plan on growing on soil that has been subject to heavy manufacturing, or is in a highly residential area, it would be wise to get a heavy-metal test performed on your garden soil before planting. Cannabis is a reclamation plant and has the ability to absorb heavy metals from the soil, which can then be transferred to the flower intended for consumption. This can lead to a negative impact on human health. If you know that your soil has a high heavy-metal content from a soil test you’ve performed, you may want to consider growing in containers to reduce the risk of heavy metal consumption.


Amending Your Soil:

Now that you’ve identified your soil type, it’s time to get your soil ready for planting!

Organic matter is an essential component of healthy soil, no matter your soil type, because it hosts a diverse range of beneficial bacteria and fungi that make nutrient intake possible. For soils with a higher percentage of clay or sand, additional organic matter can be essential to supporting nutrient uptake and retention, as well as promoting a balance of drainage and water retention.

Applying Activated Compost to your soil supplies rich organic matter to your soil, as well as the essential diverse microbes needed for plant and soil health. Activated Compost is also enriched with worm castings and a rock and sea mineral complex, which supply secondary and micro-nutrients that your plants may not have otherwise had access to depending on your individual soil ecosystem. For overall soil prep, Activated Compost is a great way to get ready for the season.

After your plants are in the ground, there are a few amendments that you can use to keep up with their nutrient needs, and to ensure that your plants grow strong throughout the summer months. Our All-Purpose Fertilizer is a granular 4-6-4 that is inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi. Not only will this slow-release fertilizer supply nutrients to your cannabis as it’s nutrient demands increase, but the mycorrhizal fungi can boost root strength and development, as well as promote nutrient uptake.

Our BIOACTIVE™ Liquid Biology Bundle is a powerful one-two combo that delivers diverse microbes, and fulvic and humic acids. The BIOACTIVE™ Bundle supplies a lot of benefits for summer support. Diverse microbiology not only increases nutrient uptake, but can improve plant stress tolerance, which is crucial in the hottest parts of the summer. The microbes from LiquiLife™ can also improve plant immune responses, as well as directly combat pathogens, making your crop more resistant to pests and diseases. The fulvic and humic acids in our Liquid Supercharger work directly in your soil to improve nutrient uptake through a process called chelation. These components can also benefit the overall structure of your soil, making clay and sandy soil types a little easier to work with.



Prepping Containers

Outdoor container growing follows many of the same rules as indoor growing, with the benefit of having free access to sunlight throughout the summer months. Many growers prefer container growing over soil growing when working outdoors. For one, you can still have complete control over the composition of your soil, and there’s very little question that your plants will be happy when working with soil that you trust.

Pots and containers are also easy to move indoors in the case of an extreme weather event. A freak cold spell in the Springtime, or an extreme heat wave in the dog days of summer, can both easily be avoided by tucking your plants indoors for a few days while the weather evens out. That said, cannabis plants that are grown directly in the ground have an unlimited amount of space where their roots can develop, often resulting in bigger plants with massive harvests. Container grows are somewhat limited by size, though you can always grow in a larger container.

The best part of growing in a container though, is that there’s no soil prep needed! Just fill your desired pot with your favorite soil blend, and you’re ready to grow! For a water-only outdoor grow, try our Purple Cow IndiCanja. If you’re in the cannabis community, you’ve probably heard of IndiCanja as the up-and-coming organic soil blend from Purple Cow Organics.

IndiCanja is a specially formulated living super soil that is designed to take your plants from seedling to harvest with no additional inputs needed! The diverse microbes in IndiCanja do the work of boosting nutrient uptake and supporting plant health, which are supplied by soil microbes in natural soil environments. IndiCanja is OMRI-Listed for organic use and is trusted by organic growers of all sizes for quality, safety, and consistency.

Want to learn more about getting your outdoor cannabis garden ready? Contact our team of experts for more!