As a grower, one of the most common concerns is how to protect your outdoor cannabis grow from pests. Pests can come in all shapes and sizes and can attack different parts of the plants at different stages of growth. Protecting your plants from animals and pests is essential for successful marijuana cultivation. There are several techniques you can use to prevent pests from ruining your crop.
Grow Companion Plants
One effective method is to grow companion plants. These are plants that have pest-repellent qualities and can be introduced into your cannabis garden to combat predators. While THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, is a natural repellent, it is not always effective against all types of pests, especially during the early stages of growth. Some plants can be grown alongside marijuana to deter pests, including:
Sterilise Plant Soil
Another technique is soil sterilization. Pests and pathogens may already be present in the potting soil before you even plant your seeds. Sterilizing the soil by exposing it to high temperatures through a steam sterilization or solarization can kill off potential threats. This can be a challenging process, so you may also consider purchasing sterilized potting soil from a reputable gardening store.
Benefit from Natural Predators
Utilizing natural predators can also be helpful in controlling pests. Ladybugs are a great example of natural predators that can be introduced into your cannabis garden. Here is a list of natural predators that can help protect your outdoor cannabis grow from pests:
- Praying mantises
- Ground beetles
- Green lacewings
- Minute pirate bugs
- Big-eyed bugs
- Damsel bugs
- Assassin bugs
- Tachinid flies
- Predatory mites
Note that it is important to carefully consider the potential risks and impacts on the local ecosystem before introducing any natural predators into your cannabis grow. It is also important to remember that natural predators may not be effective against all types of pests.
Feed Your Soil
Improving the quality of the soil can also help protect your plants from pests. Providing the necessary nutrients, such as phosphorous, can strengthen the immune system of your cannabis plants and make them more resistant to stress, disease, pests, and drought.
You can add amendments to the soil mixture or introduce them as top dressings. For example, neem seed meal can provide plants with a range of macro and micronutrients, deter pests, and increase soil microbial activity. Pests that can damage marijuana plants generally do not like the smell of neem seeds, which can also control soil pathogens, fungi, and nematode populations. Other options for soil amendments include aloe vera, crustacean, crab meal, and silica.
Netting is another option for protecting your outdoor cannabis grow from pests during the early stages. Large predators may view your healthy marijuana plants as a food source, so installing netting can help prevent them from accessing the plants. You can also use netting to protect against smaller pests, such as flies and mosquitoes.
Fencing is another way to keep larger pests away from your cannabis garden. A sturdy fence can deter animals such as rabbits, deer, and rodents from entering the area and causing damage to your plants.
Using pesticides can also be an option, but it is important to be mindful of the potential risks to both the plants and the environment. Pesticides can be harmful to beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife and can also contaminate the soil and water. If you do decide to use pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and only use them as a last resort.
In summary, there are several techniques you can use to protect your outdoor cannabis grow from pests. These include growing companion plants, soil sterilization, utilizing natural predators, improving soil quality, using netting and fencing, and, as a last resort, applying pesticides. By following these tips, you can ensure that your cannabis plants are able to grow.
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