Like any good n00b grower, happy to be doing it legally, even if I'm stuck with a plant count limit, I want to grow the six lushest plants I can while the sun is shining outdoors next summer.
But I don't just want the MOST bud, I want these outdoor monsters to be the BEST I can produce. I'm content to give up quantity in exchange for better quality, so that's my focus in seeking advice from the forum, as well as in the initial proposal I'm about to explain.
I plan to grow two kinds of strains outdoors. The long-flowering strains are Zamaldelica, Malawi, Golden Tiger, Bangi Haze x Ethiopian. Quicker finishers are Kali China and Lebanese.
My plan for the short flowering strains is simple: pop seeds in late March, top them at least once before they get hardened off and transplanted outdoors, but under a temporary hoop-house until frost threat is past. Supplement their light hours if needed to avoid early flowering.
My plan for the long-flowering strains is to pop seeds or start clones in late February, and veg them indoors until the weather warms, then for a time under a hoop house until I decide to kick them into flower. I plan to change to 12/12 lighting around June 15, and start hardening off the plants during the first weeks of 12/12. I'll have them in pots of soil up to that point, outside or in a greenhouse during daylight, and inside a dark tent at night.
By June 15th, I'll take the plants to their final locations in the garden, and place them in prepared soil in raised beds that will be something like 200 gallon grow bags, roughly. When I put the plants outdoors on June 15th, they will be in full flower already. They will remain in flower, as the days are getting shorter and the nights growing longer each successive day, which will keep the plants in flower, though they would not even begin to flower by themselves under natural sunlight until a month later.
By starting the plants into flower before placing them outside in July, I create an artificially sunny, warm climate: during flowering, these plants will be enjoying the best and strongest sunlight of the year: a time when most outdoor plants are still vegging.
My theory is that longer days and increased sunlight during flowering will result in better bud in the end. Admittedly, my theory doesn't have a clear grasp on the reasons why that bud might be better.
I guess that I envision the longer days and warmer temperatures as being more like the tropical areas where most of these plants originated, and that they might thrive under those conditions. Or, more simply, more light shining on the bud means more and better bud. That seems to be a truism around here, at least with regard to sunlight.
I suspect that some of you who have grown these strains in the past may have some thoughts on whether Zamaldelica, Malawi, Golden Tiger and Bangi Haze x Ethiopian might be better or worse suited for this proposed grow process. I chose them primarily because they all require long finishing times, and might not finish outdoors at my latitude and elevation, if I wait for the natural day/night lengths to trigger flowering. I'm near Denver, at 40 Degrees North, but a bit higher elevation, at 7000 feet.
Other available strains that I'd love to try, but passed over in my initial selection for the summer season outdoors, are Orient Express, Snow Moon and Erdpurt. Mostly, they got passed over because I've already started them indoors, but I also wanted to concentrate on the sativas outdoors.
This is what my garden looked like on October 14 last year, so the Malawi, Zam and GT might enjoy a similar fate to the girl under that snow, if I get a long-finishing pheno!
By an odd coincidence, I'm enjoying a pleasant buzz at the moment, compliments of that very plant.
Right after I took that photo, I cut the stem, shook off the snow, and took her inside to dry and cure. Besides cutting her earlier than I'd like (she could have used at least another week) that snow didn't deprive me of much.
But had she been a Malawi or GT, I would have been rushing to build a structure to cover her that night, because she would be nowhere near ready to harvest yet. Then she would have been subjected to two weeks of dry, chilly, cloudy, breezy weather that followed the snowfall. I'll rest easier growing those long-flowering strains by this force-flowering outdoor method, and enjoy a nice two-fer in the process: The plants enjoy more sunlight during flowering, and flowering is completed much earlier. (which means that I get to sample these wonderful-sounding strains sooner!)
AT this point, I have a couple questions for the hive-mind to ponder: First, given the strains I'm hoping to grow, is there any reason to think that Zam, GT, Malawi or BHxE would not excel with longer, warmer days during flowering? (daytime temperatures in the summer rarely get over ninety degrees.) Second, having grown these strains, do any of you have suggestions for training the plants during veg so that they have a good structure to carry the weight of the ginormous harvest I'm envisioning?
(could there be a more perfect smiley to accompany that notion?)