How to Grow Weed in South AfricaGianenzo Sapgnuolo
How to grow Marijuana Outdoors In Summer?
As far as hobbies go, growing cannabis is highly rewarding and exciting. However, for those growing indoors, cultivating cannabis can become a challenging and expensive investment. Growing cannabis outdoors for your first time or for anyone on a budget, can easily turn into a passion that saves you money.
Even a small outdoor grow is capable of producing good quality yields, at low costs. However knowing what to do will greatly improve your end results. In your garden, aim for a spot that receives good amounts of direct sunlight; balconies and rooftops are known to work well.
There are many factors to consider when growing outdoors and we will cover them here:
1) Why do I want to grow marijuana?
2) Growing in South Africa
3) Location, location, location
4) Cannabis genetics
5) Selecting a growing medium
7) Containers or soil?
8) Watering Cannabis In Summer
9) The Elements
Benefits of growing weed outdoors?
- Low Costs
The sun provides your ladies with all the light they need. No electricity bills for any of those extra electronics either.
Investing in quality soils, growing containers, seeds and fertilizers will only provide a higher quality crop.
- Big Yields
Outdoor ladies grow, BIG, the sky’s the limit; the only thing holding you back is managing her growth and training her.
Yields up to 600-700g per plant can be achieved on plants up to 2m tall and you can spread them out all over the garden. Indoor spaces are limited in number of plants you can fit into a tent.
- Environmentally Friendly
Indoor grows require multiple electronics, multiple lights, dehumidifiers, air-conditioners, heaters and extractor fans. All these electronic cost a pretty penny to run. Outside the sun and the wind is free!
- Fun and Relaxing
There is no arguing the huge therapeutic benefit of being outside. Feeling the dirt between your fingers and the sunshine on your face, it is enough to make anyone feel like a child again. If nothing else there is a sense of pride in smoking something you grew yourself.
1) Why do I want to grow Marijuana
Great question, and one that will influence your shopping experience. Different strains offer different benefits, there is a wealth of medicinal strains and MSA stocks it all.
Possible reasons for smoking or consuming cannabis oils:
- Benefits associated with CBD
- Stimulation of appetite
- Recreational use
Knowing exactly why you are interested in marijuana will allow you to pick the strains that work best for you.
2) Growing in South Africa
Here in South Africa the summers are perfect for the cultivation of cannabis. Across the country there will be slight differences in climates, so understanding when the weather in your area changes is important.
When do I plant my seeds?
The Spring Equinox, 22 September, marks when the day and night lengths are officially 12/12. Photoperiodic cannabis plants require more than 12 hours of daylight hours to stay in the vegetative stage.
There is no sure-fired answer to ‘when do I plant my seeds?’, it depends on your location. Personally, I will only sow my photoperiodic and autoflowering seeds when the weather warms up and the majority of the rain has passed; this is usually after the 22nd of September.
3) Location, location, location
Some people want to keep their crop out the way of their neighbors prying eyes. For this reason consider hiding cannabis plants in between trees or shrubs, camouflaged between other greenery cannabis blends in nicely. Hiding them behind fences, walls or temporary structures is also commonly seen.
Cultivating marijuana in South Africa for personal and private consumption is legal; you should feel proud growing your own.
Aim for the most direct midday sunshine as that is the most powerful and best for growth. As the season change the position of the sun does too, so make sure you catch as much light as possible.
4) Cannabis Genetics
Deciding on cannabis genetics can be a challenge. What kind of high are you looking for? Are you looking for a CBD dominant strain? Something with both CBD and THC? Are you looking for something for insomnia or pain relief? Look into exactly why you need personal cannabis, it can be used for hundreds of conditions.
Further than that, what kind of seeds are there?
MSA stocks a wide variety of strains, each offering a desired effect. Seeds are broken up into 3 categories; ‘autoflowers’, ‘photoperiodic – feminized’ and ‘photoperiodic – regular’ seeds.
Autoflowers – Feminized:
Autoflowers or ‘autos’ are always going to be females, and produce those iconic, ‘nugs’. Autos are day-neutral and will flower usually after 4 weeks of vegetative growth. There is no stopping an auto from flowering. 7-8 Weeks later you will be ready to harvest. The total grow time is close to 3 months which is significantly shorter than photoperiods. Autos are usually shorter plants and yield less than a photoperiod.
Autoflowers are sterile, females can not be pollinated by males and you can not get seeds from autoflowers for the next years grow.
Provided you have a nice sunny spot and frost is not common in your area during winter, autoflowers can be grown year-round. Being day-neutral means they do not require as much direct sunlight as photoperiods to produce good yields.
Photoperiodic – Feminized:
Seeds classified as ‘photoperiodic – feminized’ have a double meaning. Photoperiodic marijuana plants are sensitive to changes in day length. The flowering cycle unlike autoflowers, is controlled by the amount of light your plants receive. Feminized seeds are always female.
The overall life-cycle of photoperiodic marijuana is longer than an auto, up to 6 months from seed to harvest and yields can range from 600g – 1kg per plant.
Photoperiods planted on September 1st have the chance to flip into flower before their desired size is reached. Only sow photoperiods and regulars just before or after the Spring Equinox; when the day length is more than 12 hours.
Photoperiodic – Regular:
Regular seeds have a 50/50 chance of being male. Males taint your crop and give you seeds. Creating your own genetics is a solution to this issue. Conserving genetics for the next season is an extremely fun and rewarding process which can save you money. Crossing regulars or a regular and a feminized will provide variable results; time must be taken to select only the strongest individuals for the next generations.
Daggafontein, Knuckle Genetics and Amadeadly are South African breeders that offer strains that have been in the making for generations. Old-school meets new-school, these acclimatized and boutique quality genetics are of the absolute highest quality guaranteed.
Kosher Kush BX2 (Limited) Regular – Breeders PackR450.00 Incl
Indoor genetics may slightly struggle when grown outside, in comparison to genetics that was bred for a specific outdoor climate. Indoor genetics are used to stable climate conditions where they are bred and raised over many generations to gain stable variations.
For this reason, MSA stocks many strains bred by South African breeders. Most of the OG growers cultivate outdoors or in greenhouses, these strains offer exciting results outdoors as they grow to their absolute full potential.
Watch Dean speak to Mahmoud from Dutch Passion on cannabis and breeding.
5) Selecting a Growing Medium
Different growing mediums will have different benefits and applications.
Dense composts and potting soils from garden stores have poor drainage, without the addition of rocks or sand to pots for additional drainage, these soils can cause root rot and are breeding grounds for gnats.
Coco-Coir is a sustainability sourced growing medium that is used by cannabis growers the world over.
- Coco-coir is naturally pH neutral as it decays
- Aerated substrate stimulates rapid root development
- Coco-coir holds moisture more efficiently than soil particles
Coco-coir based mediums such as the Freedom Farms range, contain low levels of organic nutrients, however, they are reinforced with organic amendments to enable plant growth for the first 4 weeks without nutrient problems.
As marijuana plants mature into the middle of the vegetative stage, plants growing exclusively in a coco-coir based substrate will require additional feedings. When moving into the flowering stages cannabis will especially need feeding with a bloom nutrient.
Organic Living Soil:
Organic gardeners will opt to mix their own substrates. Organic soils like the Orgasoilux Omega Mix, are high in slow-release amendments. Organic matter requires the soil to be teaming with microorganisms. Without these beneficial microorganisms, organic matter and the nutrients they contain are not available to the plant. The microbes primary function is to break down and convert unusable organic matter into usable nutrients.
Composting garden and kitchen waste is a natural way of converting organic waste into potent plant food to be mixed into something like coco-coir. During the process of decay, soil microbes create new soil out of the organic matter.
Orgasoilux – Living Super Soil (30L)R240.00 Incl
Cannabis plants reaching up to 2m tall require a massive amount of nutrients. The three most well-known plant nutrients are Nitrogen(N), Phosphorus(P) and Potassium(K). In addition to these three primary nutrients, plants require 10 other nutrients for healthy development.
The type of nutrients you use for your ladies is up to how you grow and the stage of your grow. Cannabis nutrients are broken up into 3 main categories; ‘Grow’, ‘Bloom’ and ‘Micro‘. Depending on the stage of growth, each type of nutrient is designed to provide a different ratio of the 13 nutrients. Nutrients are further broken into ‘Organic‘ and ‘Inorganic‘, based on the way they were created.
The use of these nutrients requires a good understanding of what they are and how they work.
Inorganic nutrients are in an activated form, they are rapidly absorbed by the roots and converted to new growth. The overuse of salt-based inorganic nutrients can cause the soil to become increasingly toxic over time. Soils saturated with salts cause organic nutrients to be unavailable and damages plant roots and leaves.
For new growers, inorganic nutrients are a great way to learn, they are powerful and inexpensive in contrast to organic nutrients.
Incorrectly mixed solutions of inorganic nutrients can cause nutrient burns on the leaves and roots. Be careful not to deviate from the brands recommended feeding schedule, the pH can fluctuate wildly if not kept in check.
These nutrients only become available when your soil is teeming with life. Beneficial soil microbes feed off organic matter and convert it into compounds that your cannabis plants can use. Organic nutrients take time to break down and are not available right away like chemical nutrients. Organic nutrients like the Biobizz range are expensive but offer you amazing results.
Organic nutrients build up over time in the soil, however, they cause no damage to it. Organic nutrients improve the quality of the soil by encouraging the natural decay of nutrients.
Most Common Soil Amendments:
- Bone Meal – High in organic, slow releasing phosphorus and calcium.
- Animal Manure (Cow, Chicken, Horse, Bat) – Extremely high in slow releasing nitrogen.
- Kelp Extracts – Improves soils texture while storing nutrients and moisture. Naturally high in growth hormones that stimulate explosive growth.
- Diatomaceous Earth – Naturally occurring source of silica. Plants grow more robust stems.
- Dolomitic Lime – Natural soil buffering properties. Slow release source of magnesium and calcium.
- Volcanic Rock Dust – Contains up to 72 minerals and trace elements. Feeds soil microbes stimulating the overall plant growth. Natural buffer to pH changes.
- Worm-casting – Natural source of beneficial soil fungus, bacteria and enzymes. Creates high quality soil from poor soils. Full spectrum grow supplement.
Contains high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which boost the growth of roots, shoots and leaves. Phosphorus is used for energy within the plant, during the vegetative stages it is needed in high amounts to build all the new plant organs. Nitrogen is used to make complex structures inside the leaves that turn light into food for your plant. Potassium is important for cell functioning, cell walls and root growth.
Rich in potassium and phosphorus, however the levels of nitrogen are significantly lowered. During the bloom stage, less nitrogen is needed to develop flowers. Low concentrations of nutrients are going into growing large fan leaves and a root system during this stage. The plant can now focus on the use of potassium and phosphorus for flowers.
The other 10 nutrients, required for a healthy plant, are used up in smaller amounts but are just as important. Products like worm-casting and worm teas are naturally high in all micronutrients required, they should be a part of any shopping list.
No matter how much NPK you give your ladies, plants deficient in these micronutrients will be dwarfed, as plant functions start to slow down.
7) Containers or Soil?
Some gardens have poor quality soils that do not drain well, are low in nutrients or are simply not in the right spot. If growing into the ground, replace poor quality soil with a high quality growing medium like Orgasoilux Mega Mix or worm castings.
Plants grown in containers can be moved around the garden to follow the sun. Containers are convenient for growing in places you can’t have a garden bed like rooftops, balconies and even window ledges.
A 22L or 30L Plantmatter fabric grow pot is the MSA gold standard for growing. In a pot this size, outdoors plants will reach a good 1m – 1.5m height. Depending on the training of the plant, and provided it is well fed, these sized pots can sustain a fairly large plant.
A 50L or 100L fabric pot or Plantmatter raised grow bed from MSA offers a huge amount of space for root development. Four medium/large plants can carefully be spaced and well trained with enough space for companion plants in-between.
Plastic or ceramic pots are known to heat up in direct sunlight, this overheating of the roots can cause severe stress for seedlings and young plants. More water is lost from the soil in a hot pot compared to a cooler pot. Once a seedling or young plant has wilted it can be hard to revive them if too much damage has been done.
The use of fabric grow bags reduces this overheating and chances of wilting, they are the MSA preferred grow container for both indoor and outdoor cultivation. Fabric grow pots offer superior drainage and air-prune your roots.
8) Watering Cannabis In Summer
Maximizing Soil Moisture:
South African summers get extremely hot and your ladies will get thirsty. A 1m tall plant can easily drink upwards of 7L of water throughout the day!
To maximise soil moisture you should be doing the following:
1) Mixing generous amounts of perlite or vermiculite into your soil,
2) The application of mulch,
3) The MSA gold standard for all growing, the Blumat automatic watering systems.
Perlite and vermiculite retain water more effectively than soil particles. The more you have in the soil the longer your ladies can last without needing more watering. They do not change or add anything to the soil other than additional moisture.
A layer of mulch applied to a bed or pot will improve the soils water retention, the suns rays do not reach the soil surface, and soil evaporation is reduced.
The unique Blumat irrigation systems are designed for the automated watering of growing containers. The system is able to automatically detect the moisture of your growing medium. Depending on the moisture level, the system starts to drip, and once the soil is at the desired moisture; the system stops dripping. You will never have to worry about over watering or under watering again, leaving your ladies for the weekend is no problem anymore.
Importance of pH
When using tap water allow it to sit for 24 hours or filter it to remove the chlorine. Chlorine buildups damage soil microbe communities. Before adding any water or nutrients to your marijuana, test the pH. The pH of your water determines whether your plants are able to absorb nutrients or not.
In order to maximize the ability for nutrients to be absorbed, keep pH of water or nutrient mixes between 6.2 and 7.3. When some nutrients are added to water they can cause the pH to plummet from 6.5 to below 3! Tap water may be sitting at pH 8-9 in some areas. When your pH is not between 6.2 and 7.3 nutrients are locked out and not available to be absorbed and will burn the leaves and roots of your plants.
9) The Elements
Marijuana is a hardy and robust plant that responds well to a wide range of environmental conditions. Outdoor conditions rapidly change from day to day and location to location. Indoors conditions stay stable, from time to time that is.
Across most of South Africa, summer temperatures reach above 30°C and higher, while cannabis plants are historically very diverse in their growth form, some strains will naturally do better in the intense summer sun.
Sativa dominant strains like Durban Poison, Swazi Gold and Girl Scout Cookies are all well suited for surviving the heat. Their extremely long root systems seek out moisture from deep within the soil.
Indica dominant strains like OG Kush, Afghan and Granddaddy Purple will require more frequent watering. These strains are historically from the cooler parts of the world, where water is more available in the cooler summers and their roots do not have to grow as deep.
Some parts of the country are known for their very intense winds. Extreme wind storms can cause entire branches to snap off under the weight of buds. Supporting your ladies with stakes or surrounding them in a wire cage (wire mesh must be large enough for branches and buds!) are tried and trusted methods. When attaching plants to stakes, allow them to move flexibly in the wind.
The other solution is of course some kind of make-shift wind break or simply growing inside a greenhouse. Greenhouses are ‘semi-indoor grows’, you can even include some supplementary lighting if you so desire.
The Shift to Autumn:
Between March and April, the end of the growing season, the temperature is cooling down and moisture levels are on the rise. Pay extra close attention to late flowering plants during these times as mildew and bud rot can spread throughout your crop in a matter of days if gone unchecked.
Bud mould or ‘bud rot’ can be identified as a brown discolouration of the buds it usually spreads from inside out. The first sign of rotting buds is sugar leaves turning brown, with time the buds themselves will turn brown and mushy.
White powdery mildew is a fungus that coats the surface of the leaf. In some extreme cases, the buds can also become infected. Smoking bud infected with powdery mildew is inadvisable. If you suspect your harvest has been tainted, discard everything that has been tainted.
At the first sign of bud mould and mildew, do not panic. The careful removal of buds that are moulding and keeping a close eye on those areas around the initial infection can be enough to save your crop. Mildew is a little more challenging to handle, prevention is better than a cure in this case.
Preventative products like the Ecobuz Disease Pro contains specially selected beneficial bacteria that coat the leaves of your cannabis plant. Unlike powdery mildew, this bacteria does not harm the cannabis plant or affect the smoking quality. The bacteria compete with the mildew and stops it from spreading across your plants.
Ecobuz is a child and pet-friendly product that is 100% natural and safe to use.
The aromatic, sticky-ichy THC covered flowers and bright green leaves are an all you can eat buffet to creepy crawlies! Protecting your crop against flying, crawling and other manner of insects is challenging. Healthy plants are less likely to be attacked by these most common pests.
- Thrips – Eat the surface of the leaves, reducing photosynthesis. Visible leaf spots.
- Fungus gnats – Tiny flying pest that is attached to water logged soils. Causing huge problems.
- Leaf miners – Leaves trails on the leaves. Low risk pest, do not harm the bud.
- Caterpillars – Can cause massive damages to leaves and make their way into the bud itself to feed.
- Grasshoppers – Can cause massive damages to leaves, stripping entire plants!
While the use of organic and chemical pesticides on normal garden plants is a common solution on the internet; cannabis growers are advised to stay away from chemicals at all costs! While some organic pesticides are safe to use on marijuana, they can only be used when the plant is in the vegetative stage. Spraying flowering plants with anything, even nutrient solution sprays can cause a harsh smoking experience as the residue is left on the buds.
Best Solution – Companion Plants and EcoBuz
Nature already has a solution to our pest problems, MSA prefers the organic and eco-friendly solution to any gardening challenge.
Plant and grow companion plants near your marijuana plants in order to draw the attention away from them. These companion plants are preferred by pests, and when grown in your garden will keep pests at bay.
Companion Planter Pack – Mystic GrowsR125.00 Incl
Ecobuz Pest Pro and Larvae Pro:
The Ecobuz product range contains specially selected beneficial bacteria that coat the leaves of your weed plants. Unlike powdery mildew, these carefully selected bacteria do not harm the cannabis plant or affect the smoking quality. The bacteria creates a layer that repels insects and caterpillars naturally.
Ecobuz is a child and pet-friendly product that is 100% natural and safe to use.