Growing cannabis is hugely rewarding, but do you know how to protect your carefully groomed outdoor grow?
Outdoor cannabis often attracts animals and insects hungry for a meal. Between a humble seed and a bountiful harvest, there’s no end to the potential hurdles. But here’s what you’ll face, and how to protect your outdoor grow from anything.
How To Protect Your Outdoor Grow From Animals
If you’re growing outdoor cannabis, then wild animals searching for a meal are a constant threat. Between eating the plant vegetation or disturbing the root structure, they can do tremendous damage if left unchecked. Here’s how to protect your outdoor grow from animals.
Birds are a threat to outdoor cannabis grows early on. They sometimes feed on germinating seeds and can quickly destroy any growing prospects in the early stages. The best way to prevent birds from interfering is by placing netting over the crop. But if you want to remove the threat entirely, then consider germinating the seeds indoors before later transplanting outdoors.
Moles won’t eat the vegetation of a cannabis plant, but with their powerful claws and constant burrowing, they can do significant damage to the root system of a cannabis plant.
The best way to protect an outdoor grow from moles is to construct a fence around the perimeter that goes a few feet beneath the surface. Before going to any extra effort, it’s important to ensure that moles are present and responsible for any damage, with the telltale signs being the molehills that they leave in their wake.
Rabbits can be a significant threat to an outdoor cannabis grow because they feed on both the roots and the leaves. Effective deterrents for rabbits include blood meal powder or the urine of predators sprinkled around the plants.
Raccoons tend to appear in the spring and fall and thrive on insects living in the soil. With their strong front paws, they can dig effectively and upturn the soil. When they do this in close proximity to a cannabis plant, it can all but destroy the crop.
Their presence is easily detected by the presence of large sods of upturned soil. An effective deterrent is to spray castor oil-based repellents around the plant that disguises the scent of soil insects beneath.
Deer feed on a wide variety of grasses, leaves, twigs, and fruits. And while they don’t specifically target cannabis plants, they certainly won’t refuse them should they stumble across them. Deer can do tremendous damage to an exposed outdoor grow and will eat the stalks, leaves, and sometimes even the flowers too.
The best way to keep deer out is by constructing a high fence around the outdoor grow. For those who can’t afford to go to such lengths, other tactics include soaking the perimeter of the grow in urine from their natural predators, which is available to purchase in specialized stores or online.
Other Threats to Outdoor Cannabis Grows
While wild animals can wreak havoc on outdoor cannabis grows, so too can the seemingly innocuous critters of the insect kingdom. Sure, you can douse your plants in chemicals to ward off predators, but if you care about your health, then there are much better solutions. Here’s how to protect your outdoor grow from the ever-present microscopic threats.
Companion planting is a simple and effective technique to ward of any predatory invaders. It is natural, and aligned with nature’s ways. Companion planting involves surrounding your cannabis plants with other species of plants, that when grown together, can lead to a host of benefits that include the following:
- Combinations of certain plants can attract beneficial insects to help to protect others.
- Others act as repellents and help maintain a safe boundary around a cannabis plant.
- Some plants provide shade regulation and help shade smaller plants in need of sun protection.
- Companion planting can also increase soil health. Certain crops make nitrogen more available for cannabis plants, while other plants with long taproots, such as burdock, can draw nutrients up from deeper down in the soil.
- Companion planting also leads to weed suppression, where open areas of soil are deprived of light and prevent weeds from taking hold.
An outdoor grow area dominated by one crop (monoculture) isn’t what nature intended. That means that diversity is the key when companion planting. Common companion plants for cannabis include: coriander, dill, lemon balm, peppermint, and sweet basil. And what’s more, if you do it right, then many companion plants can also fill your dinner plate.
Healthy living soil should contain a host of different life forms that all act synergistically to benefit the plant. In some cases, however, the soil can be home to various pathogens and pests that are detrimental to outdoor cannabis. Sterilizing soil can help remove potential threats. By exposing the soil to high temperatures through steaming or sun exposure via solarization, you can successfully kill off many harmful pathogens.
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring siliceous sedimentary rock that crumbles into a fine white powder. It’s an effective form of pest control due to its abrasive properties, where it absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of the exoskeletons of insects. This layer acts as a barrier that prevents the loss of water vapor from the insect’s body. By damaging this layer, diatomaceous earth increases the rate of evaporation of water from insect bodies, causing them to dehydrate and die.
Diatomaceous earth is especially useful in outdoor cannabis grows. By applying it around the cannabis grow to form a natural barrier, it can help prevent ground-dwelling predator insects from proliferating in close proximity to the plants.
Should you have the climate, space, and permission to grow cannabis outdoors, it can be a cost-effective way to cultivate. The ever-present energy source that is the sun can provide immense savings when compared to indoor cannabis grows. By taking a few simple precautions to protect the grow from natural predators, you can maximize the potential of the outdoor environment and obtain handsome yields for a fraction of the cost.