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How to Grow Great Weed on a Balcony or Terrace

How to Grow Great Weed on a Balcony or Terrace

There are many reasons why you would want to use your balcony (or terrace) to grow some fine cannabis. First and foremost, the sun doesn’t send you bills at the end of each month. If it rains, you get the best quality water for free too. No need to invest in ventilation systems either, as the moving air will continuously replenish CO₂ levels.

Growing on a terrace is a great way for the novice grower to dip their feet into this highly rewarding hobby. You can even use a balcony to increase grow-op real-estate. Depending on the time of year, a terrace/balcony can be used as a veg room while your indoor room is in flowering mode. Advanced growers might also enjoy the longer seed-to-harvest cycle of a terrace, in favour of a more outdoorish grow.

No matter the case, there are some golden rules you should be aware of before you start a balcony grow. Some may seem evident to the more knowledgeable grower, while others might even surprise experienced green-thumbed guerrilla warriors.

THE BALCONY BASICS
Does your balcony receive enough direct sunlight? Terraces are usually large enough that they will have more than enough sun throughout the day, but some balconies may be on the opposite side of a building, receiving only morning light.

For that, there is a perfect solution. Autoflowers. Using photoperiod varieties in this low light situation will render you puny little plants that will not produce any significant smokable bud.

Autoflowers will perform significantly better in this situation, given that their flowering phase is not contingent on a change in photoperiod. It is also highly recommended that the novice grower use autoflowers as their level of complexity is much lower, yet achieve comparable yields to some photoperiod cultivars.

SAFETY FIRST PART 1: HIDE YOUR PLANTS
Regardless of whether you live in a cannabis-friendly or unfriendly zone, you should always treat your crop like the world’s most valuable treasure. Do you really want prying eyes overlooking your plantation?

Do your best to conceal your pants from a direct line of sight. Instead of letting your weed grow up to its full glory, perhaps it would be wise to employ some training techniques to your grow. There are many to choose from, but any of them done correctly will tame plant growth, promote side growth, and when done proficiently, potentially
increase your yields considerably. So the question is, why not train your plant?

Here are some potential options:
  • FIM – which stands for “Fuck, I Missed”, basically involves pinching the apically dominant shoots to promote the formation of several new dominant colas.
  • Supercropping – involves pinching the stem and bending it 90º, causing a lesion to occur. If done early on before flowering, this stressful lesion will turn into a big and strong knuckle, providing extra support.
  • ScrOG (Screen of Green) – employs the use of a horizontal net to bend and weave shoots through, forcing the plant to grow sideways. This maximises light penetration and controls growth.
  • SOG (Sea of Green) – is a more advanced technique that isn’t very suitable for balcony/terrace cultivation. This involves growing numerous small plants together in close proximity.
  • Mainlining – is a similar approach to ScrOG, but without the net. Only possible to do with seeds and not clones, as the latter grow asymmetrically. Pinch the apically dominant shoot to multiply the main cola into 2. Then, those 2 into 4, and so on, until you are satisfied. It will create a manifold of stems you can tie to the side of the container to promote an even canopy.
  • Topping – is similar to fimming, but instead of pinching the top growth, it involves cutting it off entirely. This stimulates the production of two new dominant colas.
  • LST (Low Stress Training) – is where you gently bend and tie branches to promote lateral growth and support optimal light exposure.

SAFETY FIRST PART 2: COVER THE SMELL OF WEED

Cannabis is renowned for its pungent smell that can travel a considerable distance. While this may only be a significant concern once flowering is in full throttle, it is nonetheless a high-risk factor. While you cannot use carbon filters or ozone generators to cover the smell, you can do the exact opposite—increase the smell coming out of your garden.

Confused?

Fill your terrace or balcony with high-fragrance herbs, plants, and flowers known as “companion plants”. Gardenias, stargazer lilies, jasmine, honeysuckle, freesia, roses—these are but a few of the pungent flower options at your disposal. Even the tomato plant emits a strong odour, and you have the benefit of eating the fruits of your labour once they’re ripe. This will increase the garden’s fun factor for sure.

USE THE RIGHT GENETICS
This is geared more toward the inexperienced grower. Some genetics (think sativa-dominant) are prone to massive vertical growth, while others (indica-dominant) become small, fat bushes. And then, there’s everything in between.

Avoid sativa landraces at all costs. You will most likely not be able to tame them. Some Haze strains grow massively too. They will also take much longer to mature.

Select strong indica-dominant varieties are a great starting point.

USE THE RIGHT POT SIZE
There is a direct correlation between pot size and plant growth potential. So a great trick is to scale down your container size slightly to restrict vertical growth. This may involve opting for a few small plants instead of a couple large plants.

The only thing to take into consideration is that some jurisdictions do not care how much weed you are growing, but instead count the number of plants. While this is profoundly illogical, be safe and consult your local laws.

PROTECT YOUR PLANTS
If a storm approaches, beware of strong winds, especially if you live on the higher floors of a building. Gale force winds can easily break stems or topple over a vase. Long periods of rain can stunt plant growth as the soil becomes supersaturated with water. Furthermore, very high humidity for too long can cause bud rot and destroy your flowers.

The same goes for peak-of-the-summer heat. Plants can drink water very fast, and cannabis is a very thirsty lady. If you go out for the weekend and forget to water your plants before, you could very well return to a bone-dry plant.

They are very resilient, but not immortal.

Always be on the lookout for pests. Growing outdoors involves regular plant inspection. The best method is prevention, and there are dozens of bug-repellent companion plants you can add to your garden that will help tremendously in keeping your crop clean from infestation:

  • Basil – repels thrips, beetles, aphids, and flies in general
  • Garlic – pest-repellent, but also a strong fungicide
  • Marigolds – preferred over weed by bugs, so planting them around your cannabis will distract them
  • Petunias – great against squash bugs, beetles, and aphids.

Do not use chemical pesticides. They are harmful to the environment and a potential risk to your health if smoked. Regular use (every other week or once a month) of neem oil and pyrethrum-based insecticide mixed with propolis will do a great job against spider mites, whiteflies, aphids, and even fungal disease.
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