Yes you can!
An amazing amount of cannabis does grow without problem outside in the UK! And as we know weed that has been grown in the sun is always going to be better than weed grown using artificial lighting.
Guerilla growing (growing weed in the ‘wild’) is quite popular – costs are low and it can be done almost anywhere. The south of England is better, but plenty of fine weed has been grown outside in the north of England, Scotland and even Wales.
If you have a nice private back garden, all the better.
Strains proven to grow well in the UK are:
Passion Number One from Dutch Passion – an easy to grow indica that thrives outside in the UK. The dutch have been apparently growing this outdoors since the 1980′s – in their cold climate.
Frisian Dew also from Dutch Passion – This strain is half indica half sativa and again will thrive outside in the UK.
Purple Maroc from Female Seeds – A sativa that produces lots of resin and finishes in mid July, does well in the UK.
Plants are normally started outside in in April – although recent arctic conditions would suggest this isn’t sensible. May perhaps! You could also start plants inside, as they don’t need big lights to start with – a simple florescent light can be used to start them off.
Flowering generally begins in August or September, depending on the strain and can take several weeks at the least. Some plants will not finish until October – some strains such as Purple Maroc or autoflowering strains will finish much earlier, lessening the chances of mold affecting the buds, or hitting a frost.
Never plant seeds directly into the soil. It’s much better to grow the plant in a controlled environment for 4-8 weeks before slowly introducing them to an outdoor space by increasing their exposure by an hour or two extra each day before replanting or leaving them outside permanently.
Consider also that plants grown in pots will generally not grow as big as ones grown in the ground, so if you have to use pots consider using Smart Pots or Root Pouches I have just tested these and found them to be amazing, indoors, no reason why they wouldn’t be outdoors. They are what’s used in many big US grows. They allow for air pruning of the roots. I will never use a normal pot again after personally seeing the results of plants grown in these pots. They are known as aeration containers.
‘J Arthur Bowers Multi-Purpose Compost with added John Innes‘ is a highly recommended compost. Perlite is often added to compost to help it hold moisture.
The plants will need different types of fertilisers when they are in their different stages, flowering requires different nutrients to the initial vegetative stage. You can buy organic fertilisers for this or make your own. Bat shit (Guano) is also popular for the flowering period. Avoid chemical fertilisers. Some people even use piss. You may also want to investigate using molasses – specifically black strap molasses. I have been using Black Gold in very small amounts. Always use much smaller measures than suggested by the manufacturer. Often following manufacturers instructions leads to over feeding and burning. Do be very careful it’s an easy mistake to make. It may be better at first not to use any fertilisers as it’s so easy to cock it up – especially if you are using a soil with fertilisers already in it.
Another thing to bear in mind is that you can get a plant quite a long way on with just a fluorescent kitchen type light, then gradually introduce it outside for flowering (controlling the darkness ensuring 12 hours of total darkness each night) so this way it is possible to kind of do an indoor/outdoor grow and grow during winter. The (initial) vegetative stage is fine under a kitchen light. I did this recently with some Northern Lights and it worked fine.
Flowering requires powerful lights or the sun. This way you can grow whenever you like, but you do end up looking after the plants a lot, putting them to bed each night.
If you can’t be bothered with all that you can still start plants outdoors when it is not April. You could plant something in say August and all that would happen is that it would go straight into flower if there is enough darkness. In effect seeds planted when we have long nights (12 hours dark or more) will ‘autoflower’ and should be fine as long as they don’t get too cold. You can protect plants from the cold with cloches, cold frames, a greenhouse or by bringing them inside for cold nights. Growing out of season yields are obviously not as big as normal, but certainly can be larger than some autoflowering plants. For many people the smaller size of plants grown like this can also be an advantage. Remember you can also ‘tie down’ plants that are getting too big, or ‘top’ them to keep them under a certain height. This normally leads to higher yields.
Autoflowering plants are becoming popular in the UK, with the possibility of two grow seasons in one summer.
There is a new class of Autos known as ‘Super Autos‘. ‘Chaze‘ sounds particulaly good as an outdoor plant in the UK that may yield significantly more than your normal outdoor auto. I am testing it out at the moment. Autoflowering plants can also be topped up. You can keep an autoflower successfully under 24 hour light – many people have – so if the weather is crap you could bring an auto inside at night for more light – which would mean buying a light etc.
The water that you use to water your plants is hugely important, particularly if you are growing in pots. In the earth this tends to be less of an issue. Tap water can have a higher PH than necessary which can be damaging. You can easily test the water you use with a PH testing kit. Around 6 is good. 8 is too high. Bottled mineral water has a lower PH and is an expensive solution. Another way is to keep your water in a container that gets sunlight. Or, you can lower the PH of water using white wine vinegar in small amounts – for me I use 5ml to a 6l watering can but your water source may be different.
Since I first wrote this article, more autoflowering strains have come out, and I have discovered others which I must include:
Maxi Haze – These plants are very high yielding outdoors, up to 200g per plant. From Grassomatic, an expert Spanish company. Well worth a look.
Frisian Dew – This is Dutch Passion’s autoflowering version of their very best outdoor plant. Ideal for the UK climate.
The Ogre – A brand new autoflowering plant from the Joint Doctor which apparently yields very well. (Not sure I would follow the transplanting instructions given for it there).
Super Skunk Automatic – The classic from Sensi in autoflowering format.