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Hydro 101 with Deonna Marie: Outdoor Growing, Part 5

Harvest is an exciting and critical time for outdoor growers Harvest is an exciting and critical time for outdoor growers

This week brings an end to our outdoor series for beginner growers. We’re going to close with one of the most exciting times in the grow cycle – harvest time. This is when you get to see the fruits of your labor. For best results, you need to properly cut down, trim, and cure your outdoor crop. This can be a bit of a different process than what you’ve gotten used to indoors, so here are some tips.

When the time comes to harvest your crop, you will need a good pair of sheers and a sharp pair of spring-loaded scissors. Depending on the size of your grow, it may be a good idea to have some help too, but as a beginner, you’re probably not quite at that stage yet.

If the flowers feel dry to the touch it doesn't necessarily mean they are ready to be cured. Although dry on the outside, the inside may still hold a bit of moisture that needs to evaporate.

Using your sheers, cut the plant down at the base. If your plants are too big for sheers, you’ve done a great job, and this means you may need a saw or hacksaw to get your monster plants down. You can avoid a common rookie mistake by taking one plant down at a time, just in case you don't have enough time to finish trimming all your plants that day.

Next, grab your spring-loaded scissors and trim all of the excess leaf off of the flowers as closely as possible. This will give your flowers the best possible appearance.

Once you have finished trimming the plant, it is best to hang your plants upside down in a dark cool room with plenty of air movement. You have to have proper air movement to prevent mold or bud rot. Outdoor plants tend to be much larger than indoor plants so they will probably take a little longer to dry, trim and cure. That’s okay. Be patient, and you’ll be rewarded.

It's really important that you dry in a cool, dark area. If you dry your plants in sunlight or a hot environment, it will greatly degrade your final product. You will lose color and fragrance, and all your hard work goes right down the tube. Never rush the curing/drying process! This is such a crucial step, and too often I’ve seen new growers let their anxiousness get the best of them. They blaze through the process and degrade their product.

After a few days of drying, inspect the plants to see how they're drying. If the flowers feel dry to the touch it doesn't necessarily mean they are ready to be cured. Although dry on the outside, the inside may still hold a bit of moisture that needs to evaporate. The best way to know is to bend each stem to see if it makes a snapping noise. If it does, that’s when it's time to trim all the flowers or buds from the stem.

Following this step you will want to cure in glass jars for at least a week. Glass jars work best because they don't rob your flowers of their fragrant scent, nor do they ruin any of the resin glands like plastic bags do. You’ll have to burp your jars a few times a day because while the jars are closed, they will bring any excess moisture from the middle of the bud and stems to the surface of the buds. When you open the jars for a couple of hours at a time, that moisture evaporates. Repeat this process until there is no more moisture coming out of the center of the buds and they are fairly dry to the touch, but not crispy.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of curing. Properly curing is just as important as how you grow your plants, if not more so. If you don't cure properly, the high-grade plants you spent all that time growing will turn into to a low-grade final product. It feels like squandered time and opportunity, and is a total heartbreaker. So remember to take due care and practice patience during the curing process. You will be much happier in the end when you have a high-quality, high-value batch of produce to share with your friends and send into the marketplace.        

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Deonna Marie keeps it hot outdoors in every season.
Last modified on Friday, 03 August 2012 18:57

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