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Hydro 101 with Deonna Marie: Outdoor Growing, Part 2

Outdoor growing season is a welcome time to get some fresh air and sunlight for both you and your plants. Outdoor growing season is a welcome time to get some fresh air and sunlight for both you and your plants.

Last week we introduced all you new growers to the idea that you can cultivate your crop of choice outdoors. Of course, it depends on your location and the time of year, but outdoor gardening can be a lot of fun and viable a way to grow. In some cases, it can even turn out better than indoor hydroponic growing. Of course, there are trade offs either way, but a lot of growers I know enjoy getting outdoors when the season is right.

We’re already halfway through June, so if you haven't planted your outdoor garden, do so now. The best time to start your outdoor garden is late May or early June, but it’s still not too late in most places around the U.S. Besides, better to plant a little late than too early. If you plant too early, you risk your plant going into flower too soon. You don't want this because it will stunt the growth of your plants as they revert back to veg when the days become longer. This causes unwanted stress to your plants; they may become unstable or hermaphrodite. So if you’re making notes for future years, be sure to wait until the right time to plant.

One of the things to consider when you head outdoors is what medium you’re going to grow in.

If you’ve started at the right time, after a couple of months, the days will gradually get shorter and your plants will begin to go into bloom. Your bloom phase will last a couple of months with a targeted harvest time of late September to mid October. Try not to harvest early unless you absolutely have to. You deserve to be rewarded for all the hard work you have put in, so patience is key.

One of the things to consider when you head outdoors is what medium you’re going to grow in. There are many growing mediums to choose from, but most growers choose soil, enriched with all types of goodies like earthworm castings, bat guano and mycorrhizae. I prefer to use a medium called coco coir, which you might already be familiar with if you’ve been growing indoors for a while.

I’ve found I can achieve bigger yields with coco than with other mediums. Coco is the closest thing to hydroponic growing you can get without spending the extra money needed to set up a true hydroponics system. You can purchase coco in a couple different forms. Personally, I like to buy coco in a brick form because it's more economical and I like to add my own custom ratio of perlite, worm castings and bat guano. But you can also find coco in ready-to-go bags (normally 1.5 cubic feet).

Remember when using coco to feed with nutrients every watering since there really isn't any nutrition for your plant in coco unless you have added worm castings or guano. Also, you may have to water more often because coco dries out a little quicker than soil.

One note about coco is that I’ve often found that plants grown in soil seem to taste a little better than plants grown in coco. But don’t worry; you can still achieve a great tasting crop if you incorporate worm castings and guano. Another goodie that will help your crop is called Bud Candy. Not only does it add great flavor, it also increases sugar content and aroma, which makes for awesome produce come harvest time.

Okay, that’s it for another week. We’ll continue talking about outdoor growing next time, when I’ll help guide you through the outdoor growing phases – how to identify them, and how they can differ from indoor growing phases. Take care, and have fun growing out there.

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Deonna Marie keeps it hot outdoors whether it’s summer or not.
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 17:50

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