I've decided to start my outdoor thread now, despite not having any planting to do until April. But I figured if I start the ball rolling now, the thread will help drive the grow along when the time comes, and I can modify my plans according to suggestions/comments.
So - the growspot I've chosen was used as the site for a small test grow last year, and documented in my main grow diary thread below. It was a 'test grow' that was forced on me by my landlord selling the house, and meant me having to use the outdoors as a kind of storage area, as well as checking it out for future potential.
The site is predominately South and Southwest-facing, and on a hill long overgrown with bracken, small hawthorn and other assorted trees, and gorse. It's in a wooded valley, and is the only part of the landscape not to be covered in large trees, being probably used a long time ago for grazing, as there are many crumbled drystone walls which divide up the space. There are some red deer present, who seem to be the only occupants apart from me, though there are also deer-fans in the area who like to photograph them from long-range, so that's my main security risk until the bracken cover has returned.
It's quite a popular spot for hikers and bikers, though my grow-area is the most awkward, inacessible and relatively bland (in terms of views) chunk of the valley, so there won't be many people around - I didn't see a single person in five months last year, but I did see plenty of deer there, which suggests to me that people don't often go there, or the deer wouldn't be so relaxed.
Part of the hill is quite exposed, and steep, and offers many areas of potential planting - they will get more direct sunlight here, although also much stronger wind. The hill is steep enough to shelter plants from any cold winds from the North and East, and high enough to be out of the frost zone - all my plants were harvested in early Nov. last year with no frost damage.
Apart from the large patch, the remainder of the hill is split into separate clearings, each divided by more trees - this is one of the clearings, and it's where I grew some of my plants last year:
And at ground level, taken from the right of the tree in the centre looking North toward the gap at the top:
And this last year, sitting under the silver birch tree in the centre of the photo above, looking West (to left of photo above) - this gives a good idea of the bracken cover in high summer:
And one of my little Flos in situ:
The soil is reasonable - mostly dead bracken, which has compacted over decades, and then the old grazed soil beneath - it should be of fairly high nitrogen content, and evenly compacted. Last year it was very dry and dusty, but after six month's rain, it's swelled dramatically, and looks and smells much better. However, I'm still going to dig out holes a couple of weeks in advance and fill with my own soil mix (to be decided). This will have to be taken out in divided loads in a rucksack over several days to avoid suspicion - I don't drive, so will have to use public transport and walk, so I don't want to be visibly 'weighed down', for the obvious reasons!
Natural water exists in the form of a stream at the bottom of the hill, though it also runs alongside the main footpath, so could be tricky gathering water if people approach (which they will). It can be gathered higher up in a less busy place, but it will be reduced to a trickle in high summer, and can't be relied on if it gets really hot, so I'll be adding water-retaining crystals in all my holes. I don't want to visit too often, and so they'll have to fend for themselves most of the time.
So - the strains. This is the rough list I'm working on right now - I have no evidence that they'll all finish, but they should - or get close. Even if not, each plant will be a massive clone source for months, which is worth growing the plants for anyway. That would be impossible indoors!
I may not get to do all these, but this is what's available right now.
Flo #3 and #4 (purple and green phenos)
Grape Krush #2 (sour grape pheno)
Cocoa Kush #1 and #2
B3/N7 X Erd/PurT
Eroc X DP
JLo (Kentish Creme Jamaican X Flo)
The Funk (Skunk#1 X Flo)
Overflow (Mystery Strain X Flo)
I'm sure there's more I can do yet, but they really have to be capable of finishing outdoors in England, so ten-week strains are out - 8 weeks or less, and ideally triggering in August, not September!
The JLos are the most exciting for me, as they're another new strain in the making, and the Kentish Creme mother has already proved it's worth, indoors and outdoors with sometimes spectacular results. It's the most resinous plant I've grown, and I don't see why adding Flo to the mix will hinder it any. This gives me the opportunity to test it outdoors immediately, for hardiness and flowering times, etc. I'll be setting up a new thread for this cross in the 'Test Grows' section soon.
So at the moment I'm focusing on getting the JLo, Mikado and Leb 27 to a state that I can sex and clone them, and then get them multiplied asap, ready for planting out probably mid-April. I'm more concerned about low light levels than frost, but mid-April should give me nearly 14 hours total daylight, which should be enough to prevent flowering.
So that's about it for now - I need to think a lot and plan a lot, but try and stay away from the spot really to avoid getting a familiar face in the area. I'll start digging the holes mid-March, but in the meantime will obviously be happy to discuss any of this with anyone, so fire away...