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Oldbear's 8 Month Outdoor Grow Space In A Northern Climate

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Hi anyone. I wanted to share what I have in mind for setting up an outdoor grow space that I can run from mid-March to mid November. All thoughts and suggestions and questions welcome. :thanks:

I've been getting a lot of very useful information here:

Maine 4-Season Grow

Considerations

Frost free dates in this area are mid May to mid September. There could be an unusual frost warning.

I want / need to extend the growing period to allow photoperiod plants enough time, and to run a couple batches of autos.

Starting plants inside the house is not an option.

Early decisions

I'm going to test run this with a couple of purchased mini greenhouses. They have a hooped roof and a 4 x 4 footprint.

The contents will be garden vegetables and herbs. Cannabis is both :cheer:

I'll make 4 x 4 raised beds using spruce or cedar 2 x 10s.

I have 4 cu yds of a mixed garden soil - peatmoss and mushroom compost mix.

Looking for:

Advice on how deep to dig inside the grow boxes. I'll have about 8 inches because of the raised bed. Existing soil is a sandy loam with lots of rock. Digging wont be fun but there is good drainage under the grow boxes.

Advice on soil amendments. I plan to add sand and/or perlite to the mix to promote drainage. What else to turn it into Super Duper soil?

I have 4 water sources. Well with lots of minerals, RO from well, a lake and/or a creek flowing out of a wetlands. Any suggestions?
 

Blew Hiller

Well-Known Member
Yes, the link worked and those cold frames are pretty cool! You may not need any additional support for snow as they are pretty curved and most snow will just slide off. The rest you can just broom clear.

if you are using 10" boards and have sandy loam beneath don't worry about drainage. Any good, clean soil is a good starting point. If the soil is heavy/dense, pro-mix is a good additive to allow airspace and root growth. I would avoid adding sand. If the plants want more than ten inches deep, they'll find a way to get deeper. Are you planning on making one single bed for all the cold frames (8'x4', 12'x4, etc)? There is an advantage of having all the soil in the same plot, and 4' wide should give you easy access from both sides.

As far as soil, I make my own using vermicomposting (and I cut in abut 30% Pro-mix). Red wrigglers in a container, give them your vegetable scraps/coffee grounds and in three months they will give you worm castings, an amazing growing medium. You need to cut it with soil/pro-mix otherwise it is too nutrient dense for young plants. We scaled up our vermicomposting operation to ten (10) 20-gallon containers that we feed all summer and stop adding food around October before the temps drop. This allows the worms to process the final food and then they, but not the nutrients, die off in the cold. Worm castings do not lose much of their nutrient over the winter and will be used for our spring cannabis crop. We keep one 20-gallon worm bin in our 65F cellar over winter to seed the empty worm bins in the spring.

If you are growing in soil, any matured/composted manure is highly recommended. There are a lot of nutrients for sale out there, but good old fashioned (seasoned) manure is still the gold standard! For irrigation we use well water.

Excited to see your progress!
 

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Something to update - woohoo

The mini green houses have arrived. I put one together just for fun. Next steps:

Build the 4 x 4 wooden frames, and plant them in their final spots once its possible to dig. Early April target.

For soil, I guess I'll start with the Promix tomato on the label product. Any advice on how to improve this base would be great. The 90 page organic soil thread hurt my head. I guess it needs to cook for 60 to 90 days so I need to do this now.

The special girls will start in the raised beds, then get moved to the meadows. I think I'll make a collar from the top 8 inches of a 5 gal bucket. That should keep the grasses away from the root ball and stem. That should work for autos. Wonder if I need bigger for photoperiod plants?
 

Blew Hiller

Well-Known Member
The mini green houses have arrived. I put one together just for fun.
Photos?

Next steps: Build the 4 x 4 wooden frames, and plant them in their final spots once its possible to dig. Early April target.
First year you might be able to just set the frames on the ground and fill with soil. If the plants want to go deeper they can keep going. This might allow you to plan an earlier start...

For soil, I guess I'll start with the Promix tomato on the label product. Any advice on how to improve this base would be great.
Red wriggler worms are easy and fit within your timeline. You could actually use Pro-Mix as your starting worm medium and just add coffee grounds (high in N and worms love it) and veggie scraps for the next two (2) months. Stop feeding them 2-3 week before you want to use it so they can finish breaking down the material. This is what I use exclusively and it is 1) organic, 2) easy, 3) loaded with goodness for plants. I don't even need to add additional notes during the grow....

The special girls will start in the raised beds, then get moved to the meadows. I think I'll make a collar from the top 8 inches of a 5 gal bucket. That should keep the grasses away from the root ball and stem. That should work for autos. Wonder if I need bigger for photoperiod plants?[/QUOTE]

Autos don't like being replanted so consider possibly starting them in 5/7-gallon fabric pots inside the frame and just moving the pots to the meadow later. For photos I would suggest at least a 10 gallon fabric pot, whereas I use 20/25 gallons (though they get heavy and I don't know how you plan on logistics).

One last consideration is starting all of these (autos and photos) in pots inside the frames....just use the insulating properties and worry about soil/digging for next year...
 

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Hey welcome. This thread has been dead lately since life's complications have messed up my original plans.

I will have some pics to take and post hopefully tomorrow. There is real progress :)
 

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Well its been an experience. Not much went well but lots of lessons learned along the way.

Tips and tricks (otherwise meaning don't do that again stoopid) Oldbear lessons learned all in good fun:

1. Totally saturate the material in the solo cup a day or so before you need it.

2. Keep good track of which seed is what. I managed to mess this up and now I have no idea what plant is what.

3. Dont forget the seeds in damp paper towel on the fridge when you leave for a week. They sprouted close to three inch long tap roots. One of 3 survived planting but my expectations are low for its yield.

4. I hardened the seedlings putting them in full sun for portions of the day. But they dry out super fast - 3 or 4 hours in hot sun can be too much.

5. I transplanted into the outside soil too soon. I'm thinking 3 nodes at least before they go into the wild. Little plants get eaten by little critters.

6. Plants in a hole filled with Promix dry out much faster than the surrounding natural soil. Factor that in the watering schedule.

7. Gardening of any kind is a beech when splitting time between two locations that are 2 hours apart. I need a watering buddy at both ends when I'm away.

8. Nurturing small plants in the wild is very tough when we are having the hottest and driest couple weeks in forever. The ladies were very happy and did a good growth spurt being watered every second day. These are not in pots so any excess gets sucked into surrounding soil. Its a sandy loam, top 6 inches is black, so lots of natural drainage. But this week they are on their own.

9. They seem to like the well water - lots of cal-mag in there. I alternate with lake water. I also had a small creek draining a wetlands but that's all dried up. I dont see any signs of deficiencies or overdoses.

10. I have not given them any nutes yet. They seem happy. Color is good. But I think its time.

Thats it for now....more to come. This pic is a sample of the meadow the ladies are sharing. Even the gorilla has a hard time finding them.

 
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Oldbear

Well-Known Member
I'm fortunate to have lots of outdoor space. My plants are nowhere near each other, and tough to see. When they get stinky people may notice, but there are skunks around from time to time so they will just think its that.

The heat, the ticks, and the deer flies eliminate anybody walking around near them. The wild turkeys and other critters walking around eliminate any noticeable 'path' through the long grasses and wildflowers. I think I'm good
 

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Thanks Blew. That one I think is a Northern Lights Auto.

I know for next time I need better soil. If I get to even 50% of your jungle ladies Ill be thrilled.
 

Oldbear

Well-Known Member
Started 3 Northern Lights autos. Just above soil and still have their helmets on. Ill post a pic or two when I have some leaves.

I've lost a few to deer, groundhogs, squirrels, and/or chipmunks on top of the drought and blazing temps. Even my dog crushed one.

Mother nature is testing my resolve and commitment. I'm going to win this battle.
 
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