With the first rays of sunshine poking through the clouds and temperatures picking up, we’re not just excited for the summer, but also looking forward to growing weed outdoors again! In this article we’ll discuss how you can maximize your winter stash by harvesting twice!
While some of you lucky readers might live a bit further south, Spliff Seeds is based in Amsterdam and our climate is awful most of the time. On the upside, this means that our advice for growing weed outdoors will work in almost any other country! The outdoor season has a pretty clear start and finish and classically starts in the beginning of may. The end of the season is usually marked by stormy weather which starts late september or early october.
In the past we’ve already developed several early flowering strains for the specific goal of harvesting before autumn sets in, but these do not work in the first cycle of this rotation. These semi-autoflowering cannabis seeds are the closest we could get to an autoflowering sativa strain. These strains are done fast but they do not deal well with starting as early as march or april.
We found that we can easily do two good grows per year using autoflowering cannabis seeds if we start a bit early. This also means you can avoid the awful weather that usually starts right before harvest time and save yourself from some heartbreaking bud rot.
Another good reason to take this approach is that you can get away with smaller plants and still have a nice winter stash. Smaller plants attract less attention, are less work and simply leave you more space to enjoy your garden or balcony. This might also be a bit of a Dutch issue, but space is always quite limited here.
There is always an ongoing discussion about whether indoor or outdoor cannabis is better, but the truth is that they both have their benefits. Growing weed outdoors might not allow you to control the environment, limits your choice of medium and doesn’t give you the most grams per square meter, but does have a few clear advantages.
The main reason that we usually recommend new growers to start outside is the startup cost, even considering a very cheap indoor grow setup. We’ve discussed this subject before in our articles about growing with autoflowering cannabis seeds and How To Maximise Yields Growing Marijuana Outdoors. We’ll get into a bit more detail later on, but the general idea is that you can easily grow five plants for under 50 euros if you do it outside.
We like to think that growing for personal needs is not a criminal activity, but consider it a bit of civil disobedience. In our experience the authorities tend to be more forgiving to growers that don’t have thousands of euros worth of equipment that can only have one purpose.
Another problem that new growers often face is that they become overwhelmed by all the possibilities indoor grow systems have to offer. While it’s nice to be in control of every part of your grow, this also makes you responsible for all of these variables. Growing weed outdoors takes away any debate about things like temperature, humidity and grow lights because you can’t control them anyway. You can still debate what would be the best soil for cannabis or which nutrients to use, but fortunately these are less complex subjects than electronics.
Autoflowering cannabis seeds generally grow up to be harvestable plants about three months after they germinate. While many seed banks claim “seed to harvest in 8 weeks”, the 8 weeks they talk about usually reflect the flowering time. Even though autoflowering cannabis seeds will flower as soon as they can, this does not mean their flowering period starts the moment they germinate. Most autoflowering varieties require about 1-4 weeks of growth before they start flowering, this might take longer with “super autoflowering” strains.
Super autoflowering is a term that can be used to describe a high yielding autoflowering strain, these strains usually also take longer to finish. Super autoflowering cannabis seeds usually take about four months instead of three before they are ready to cut down.
We’ve already provided an in depth guide for what we consider the most practical way to grow weed outdoors using autoflowering cannabis seeds in a previous article. In short, we like to grow autoflowering varieties outdoors in 10-25L pots filled with a properly draining soil-based medium. Everyone has their own opinion about what the best soil for cannabis is, but I wouldn’t worry about this too much. We like to use light-mix or pro-mix as this is usually available at reasonable prices and saves you a lot of hassle. If this is not an option, mixing soil for marijuana can be as easy as blending slightly acidic soil (pH = 6-7) with an equal amount of perlite for optimal soil aeration.
Nutrient-wise we like to keep it simple and generally only use a simple flowering feed. The nutrients in the soil will last your plant through the vegetative phase, so there is no real need to buy veg nutrients. We recommend feeding from about week 4 or 5, depending on the strain and the size of your plants.
April is usually the first month of decent weather in the Netherlands, and will be the earliest time where the hours of light per day and ambient temperature allow for growing weed outdoors.
While the vegetative phase of these plants might not be great, they’ll be in full flowering mode once it starts getting sunny. May is probably the most variable month of the outdoor season and can be beautifully sunny or cold and wet. This can definitely affect your yields, but the almost guaranteed great weather in June will make sure you’ll have a decent crop.
In practical terms this means we’ll usually start germinating seeds during the last week of march, so that our autoflowering seedlings are ready to be planted outside in the first days of april. If it’s still really cold outside you can choose to start your seedlings inside in a windowsill for the first week or two. Your autoflowering plants should be ready for harvest towards the end of June. Most Dutch outdoor growers aren’t quite used to warm and dry weather after they harvest, so be careful and don’t over-dry your buds!
At the tail end of this first autoflowering round you should start preparing for round two. It is advisable to have a bit of overlap between grows as starting earlier means avoiding bad weather later on.
The second grow cycle of the summer should start somewhere at the end of june. If you have the space you should start germinating your autoflowering cannabis seeds before your first crop finishes, this way you can plant your brand new seedlings as you harvest your finished plants. This might mean you have to plant them in starter plugs or smaller pots before your first crop is done. While we usually avoid transplanting autoflowering cannabis plants, it does not affect the plants much if you make sure not to let them get root bound.
Your second crop should be done about three months from when you start them, so usually you’ll be harvesting by the end of september or early october. This should give you plenty of time before autumn weather sets in.
We usually use our fastest autoflowering cannabis seeds in the second round to ensure we don’t have to harvest early. All of our autoflowering cannabis seeds go from seed to harvest in three months or less, but some are slightly faster. When starting in the middle of the summer, we usually recommend our quickest strains: AK Automatic and Medical Kush Automatic.
This second round also works very well with our semi-autoflowering varieties Gold Rush Outdoor, Fast Bud Outdoor or Sweet ‘n Sour Outdoor. These extremely fast-flowering sativa strains are the closest thing to an autoflowering sativa that is currently on the market. They are done fast but they do not deal well with starting as early as march or april.
Most autoflowering varieties will give you a yield of around 20-30 grams per plant when grown in this fashion. Small scale outdoor grows like this won’t yield you pounds of cannabis, but both harvests together will go a long way. If you follow this guide and plant 5 autoflowering cannabis seeds at a time, you’ll be able to smoke almost a gram per day until the next outdoor season starts.
One of the downsides of outdoor growing is not really having a designated spot to dry your harvest. Seeing as you won’t have a grow tent with a carbon filter, you’ll probably stink up your house for a week or two. A small tent and an exhaust fan with a carbon filter might be worth the investment if you’re worried about the neighbours. Be careful about drying cannabis as well as curing it properly before putting it into “long term storage”.
I’ve heard a bunch of negative things about autoflowering cannabis seeds which usually consist of them not being effective in terms of electricity and not as potent as photoperiod strains. While this might be true, these are mostly concerns for commercial indoor growers. A short, light-independent life cycle is simply very practical for growing weed outdoors.
The potency issue is usually not an issue at all for people that grow for personal use. As long as the smell, taste and effect is on point, most home growers won’t care much about small differences in THC content. Animosity towards autoflowering cannabis seeds might also stem from prior bad experiences, but we assure you the industry has come a long way in the last 10 years. It’s true that the original Lowryder from the early 2000’s didn’t contain much THC, but modern strains like our White Widow Automatic and Spliff Cheese Automatic are much stronger.
We wrote this article to emphasize the benefits of autoflowering cannabis seeds for outdoor growers and share our experience. Autoflowering cannabis seeds can be a lot of fun so we hope we gave you some good ideas! In any case, good luck growing weed outdoors this summer!