Outdoor Tips to Get You Started – Germination
In our previous article we discussed Types of Cannabis Plants, Seeds and Soil. In Growing Cannabis Outdoors – Part 2, we will talk about germination as this is obviously the starting point after obtaining your seeds.
GERMINATING THE SEEDS
There are a few ways you can plant your marijuana seeds. Here we will discuss the quick method of germinating them with paper towels, water, peat pellets, in the soil, as well as planting the seeds directly in the ground.
Paper Towel Method
You can kick start your seeds by placing between paper towels. I tried this method and didn’t have much luck after moving the sprouts to the pots, but this is one of the most popular methods. You will need paper towel, a plate, Ziploc baggie big enough to hold the plate, and clean water.
Wet the paper towel on the plate – it should be completely wet but not drenched. Drain any excess water.
Place the seeds on the towel and fold over so the seeds are tucked (sandwiched) inside.
Place the plate, towel and seeds inside the Ziploc baggie and seal.
Place them in a dark area with a room temperature of approximately 22 degree Celsius. Check once a day to make sure paper towel is still wet. After a couple of days, they should be sprouting and ready to transfer to your potting soil.
A disadvantage of this method is that the root hairs can get stuck to the paper towel and cause a risk of tearing off the whole root. (This has happened to me which is another reason why I don’t care for this method.)
The Water Method
Fill a glass with tap water and allow it to reach room temperature (approximately 18 degrees Celsius).
Add a couple of seeds into the water (change water every other day). After a couple of days, seeds should start to pop open and sprout a tiny root. You can place in soil any time but best to wait until the roots are about 2 to 3 millimetres long and plant with root facing down.
The disadvantage to this method is that the seedlings have to be handled and the roots are very fragile so any damage can affect plant development.
Peat Pellet Method
Peat pellets are easy to use and have a good germination rate so is ideal for the beginner because they are already optimized for germinating cannabis with a pH of 5.5. Not recommended for hydroponic setups.
Your pellets will be dry when you first purchase them so you need to get them wet but NOT soak them. Slowly pour one cup of water over them. After a few minutes they will expand.
Plant your seeds about ½ inch deep placing one seed in each pellet. You might have to use your finger to gently poke them in. Gently cover each seed with the surrounding soil. If you have a kit with a dome, you can place that over them because they love humidity. Make sure they do not dry out.
Between 2 – 8 days, your seedlings will start popping out of the pellets. Once this happens they can be placed in soil, pellet and all, and placed where they can get lighting.
Starting in Soil Method
This method requires good quality soil, small pots (peat moss recommended), clean water, and the seeds.
For this article, we will assume these are feminized seeds and will be planting one seed per pot. (If you have no idea what your seeds are, you may have to plant several and then separate them later.)
Get your soil ready. In Part 1, we showed you a video on how to make your own 100% organic soil. The soil should have a pH of approximately 6. Do not add nutrients for at least the first two weeks.
Fill each peat moss pot loosely with soil until about one-half inch from the top. Soil does not need to be packed tightly.
Water each pot thoroughly with the clean water before adding the seeds.
Once you have the soil in place, make a small hole which should be about 1.5 cm deep (you can use your finger, or a pencil). Place one seed in the hole, cover it with the soil and press lightly with fingers. That’s it! No need to fool around with it anymore. Add a little more water to each pot.
Place pots under a fluorescent lamp (best to not use a windowsill as the temperature will fluctuate). Ideal temperature of the soil is around 22 degrees Celsius. Humidity of the air is important and should be 70 – 80%.
Keep an eye on the soil as you want it to stay moist. Once your plants are 5 to 10 centimeters tall, you can move to a larger pot.
PLANTING SEEDS DIRECTLY IN THE GROUND
If you are the neat type of gardener, you will most likely want to plant your garden in an orderly fashion, ie rows or hills. The hills are good because the water will drain off and the seeds won’t be saturated in water. Regardless if you use the hills or rows, make sure the seeds have enough soil so they can stay moist.
However, if discretion is necessary, it might be best to arrange them among your other plants (tomatoes, flowers, etc.). You would be surprised at how inconspicuous they can be.
By planting directly into the soil, this will remove the worry of transplanting your seedlings which can be stressful at the best of times.
Keep in mind though that it is difficult to maintain suitable temperatures, lighting and watering. You must also wait until the final frost has passed.
Holes should be approximately 20 inches deep and 20 inches in diameter to accommodate each plant and approximately 4-5 feet apart. Once the hole is dug, fill it with nutrients (organic soil), mixing it with the soil that was removed. Then make a hole about 1.5 cm deep (you can use your finger or a pencil). Place one seed in the hole, cover it with the soil. That’s it! No need to fool around with it anymore. Give it a good watering.
Depending on the climate, more water may be needed as time goes by.
Growing outdoors will present some challenges such as the following:
- The Right Climate
Extreme temperatures can be harmful – too hot (above 30 degrees Celsius) can cause plants to stop growing while below 12 degrees Celsius can cause stunting or severe damage. Excessive wind and rain can affect yield or cause mold.
The amount of daylight is another important factor. If you are someone who has a ‘green thumb’ then you will have an idea already of how much sunlight you have in your area. If not, it might be wise to do some research and find out. Plants should have a minimum of 5 hours direct sunlight with an additional 5 hours of indirect.
- Location Location Location
Ensure that your plants are in the best place possible free from anything that might block the sunlight. Having as much sun as possible will make for happy productive plants.
Is privacy a concern? If so, you might want to give consideration as to how visible they will be. Remember, they can grow well beyond 8 feet so you might want to think about fencing or tall trees as a way to hide them.
- Male or Female
Unless you started out with feminized seeds, you will have no idea what sex your plants are so you will have to separate the males from the females (by removing the males). As a beginner, you might want to take the guesswork out and start with feminized seeds.
- The Right Soil
The right soil is important. Refer back to Part 1 for the various types of soils and which are the best for your cannabis plants. Rich soil with good drainage is ideal.
- Fertilizer – do you need it?
The three most important nutrients for your plant’s success are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Look for inexpensive fertilizers; talk with some experts. Look for natural and organic fertilizers.
Don’t have the space but still want to take advantage of the outdoors? Maybe you have a spot on your deck, patio or rooftop. The advantage to containers is moving them around to get the most sunlight or protection from weather elements such as high winds or heavy rain. The larger the container, the larger the plant as a rule – a 10 gallon would be a good size container.
- How Much Water
While sunlight is extremely important, so too is watering. If you live in a very hot climate, daily watering could be needed. If you are in a rainy area and getting lots of water, then drainage could become an issue. What type of water are you using? If it is tap water, does it contain a lot of minerals or chlorine?
- Pest Control
Inspect your plants often to ensure they are strong and healthy. Organic pesticides are available and specifically designed for cannabis.
As you can see, growing outdoors presents its challenges but it can also be very rewarding.
· SEED SPROUTING KIT
Give your seedlings the best start! The Super Sprouter Premium Heated Propagation Kit w/ T5 Light will make your life easier especially if you plan to grow a lot of plants. Around $75 US, it is well worth the cost.
Features of the Super Sprouter include:
- Ultra clear vented dome and built in light track channels
- Fluorescent grow light
- Double thick tray with no holes – 10 x 20 inch
- Heat mat
Benefits of the Super Sprouter include:
- Faster growing and stronger roots
- Inserts provide safe support
- Plug trays provide quick and easy seed starting
- Includes booklet with expert advice to start your seedlings
Note: You can use this kit to sprout any seeds such as flowers or vegetables.
- PURCHASING FEMINIZED SEEDS
Note: If you are interested in purchasing feminized seeds, here are the two links that we mentioned in Part 1:
I Love Growing Marijuana (based in the US)
Growers Choice Seeds (based in Canada)
Note: It is wise to check the legalities of purchasing cannabis seeds in your own country or region before you order.
Whew! We sure covered a lot of information. You have several ways to germinate your seeds. Some points to remember:
- Minimal handling – handle your marijuana seeds/seedlings as little as possible.
- Temperature control – the ideal temperature is around 22 degrees Celsius (seeds don’t need light to germinate, they need heat).
- Moisture is important – it is needed so the seed can expand and pop through its shell.
- Plant feminized seeds if possible.
And have fun!!
Now that you know the various ways to germinate your seeds, in our next article we will discuss transplanting your little babies and lighting.
Now you know the various ways to germinate your seeds. For the sake of our next article, we will talk about how to care for your plants which includes numerous factors such as lighting, transplanting and lighting.