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I’m gonna start this off by saying Canada is huge! And so is outdoor cultivation in Canada. This country has some of the best microclimate and growing conditions on Earth from coast to coast. It also has some of the harshest and most unpredictable climates imaginable. These challenges make Canada one of the best and worst places to grow cannabis outdoors. Whether it’s helping a close friend with their medical grow or doing my own patio and backyard cultivations for the last 25 years, my philosophy is more or less, “if ya got seeds and the sun’s free…”

I grew up in Atlantic Canada, which means the three Maritime Provinces — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island – and the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In other words, the provinces located along the Atlantic coast. I think this is probably the most maritime of all maritime places on the face of the Earth to grow cannabis. I was first introduced to outdoor cultivation in my early teens by my older cousin. My first germination involved a couple hundred seeds. I recall lugging dozens of trays filled with seedlings from outside in the spring sun to put under a lamp in the house. Then once they were mature enough, trekking them through the forest to their final destination, which was typically a prepared clearing in the bush. 

Throughout the growing season, we would take shifts lugging water jugs in and making sure the plants were growing vigorously. We always made sure to bring some extra dog fur to keep the deer and/or moose away, although I’m still not certain this works. This was a trick that my cousin taught me. He had deer problems while growing weed. He got a dog and once he got a dog and started bringing the dog around and the deer stopped eating his plants. Then we put dog fur around the plants and it seemed to work. He learned that from an old-timer. 

In the late summer and early fall, the chore became paying attention to when the dew would settle. You would have to  make sure you made it out to the site early enough to shake it off your plants. If you made it through the fog, the wind, the hail, and everything else Mother Nature and the neighborhood could throw at you, you would be rewarded with some of the stickiest, stoniest smoke. 

I believe some of that sticky icky, dank bud is probably still stuck to the steering wheel of a 1996 Dodge Intrepid that my grandfather owned that my cousin borrowed. When pot was illegal here, kids in rural areas would just drive to a dead-end road, or a beach, or waterfalls and hang out and smoke our weed, talk shit. Hot boxin’ in the car with the windows rolled up. If I can recall correctly, the cultivar would have been a cross between a Northern Lights and a Hawaiian sativa. Some of those gardens still flourish to this very day. 

Here, you always start your crop early so it can handle cold nights and slug attacks at the first of the season and so they will be done in time for frost. I’ve used bowls of beer planted level with the ground to help combat slugs. I’ve seen them eat hundreds of 12-inch plants to the ground in a single night. My cousin Jamie had to clear slugs by hand out of a 300-plant patch in an evening once, when all the plants were a foot tall. 

This one browned around the pistils and got botrytis due to the really wet season that year.

Almost every spot you grow in in Canada, you’re going to plant directly in the ground, and you’re pretty much going to always need a bag of lime. Find the right place down in a valley though, and the ground is naturally fertilized. There, all you would need is rain water to grow monsters. 

My first experiment when I moved to British Columbia was to grow plants suspended in trees so they would blend in with the canopy. A pulley and bucket system that I tried to do unfortunately didn’t work out, and I never really tried to do it again. I always thought that was cool though and hope to try it again one day. 

I was later taught some techniques from some good buddies of mine who are intelligent enough to plant near creeks with drip lines so they don’t have to lug water up and down mountains. I recall that harvest producing some very medicating oil. 

High-altitude grown cannabis from British Columbia definitely helped in putting BC bud on the world stage. I hadn’t really experienced plants the size of a house until I had moved to British Columbia. In 2018, Canada legalized cannabis for home cultivation, and now everyone is allowed to grow four plants at home. 

A leaf on a Canada-grown plant.

However, if you do decide to grow more than four plants, your neighbors may call the police on you. If that happens, they will come and cut them all down for you. We were fortunate enough to have their assistance at the culling stage of a pheno hunt a few years ago — I’ll leave it at that. This year, I believe I am going to pull out some old beans from the vault and start them indoors under the grow lights, using a new 27-watt sprouting bulb, and let them veg a little bit under two Curtis Mathes 205-watt Harvesters to train them just enough so they can barely fit out the door. In early spring I’ll do a little light DEP and hopefully have an early flower. (Curtis Mathes just released a 27-watt Edison-style full-spectrum sprouter bulb for seedlings and DIY herb gardens.)

Kyle Morley is founder of Peace Canna Corp., a cannabis company based in Canada. Peace Canna distributes Curtis Mathes grow lights in Canada and focuses on consulting with cannabis companies and partners in the business to improve their efficiency while focusing on environmental stewardship and producing ultra-premium cannabis. Learn more at www.cmgrowlights.com and check out recent client photos on Instagram @peacecannaco. 

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