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Cannabis: Indoor vs Outdoor Growing – Landscape SA Feature

Landscape SA Featured Article – Vol 97 | Dec 2020

 

In this, the sixth in a series of articles on cannabis published by Landscape SA, Gabriel Theron and Johann Slabber of Cilo Cybin Pharmaceutical provide their views on indoor versus outdoor growing. Theron is the CEO of the company and Slabber is the COO.

According to Theron and Slabber, there are three ways of growing cannabis: indoors, outdoors and in a greenhouse. In the first instance, the grower has full control of all aspects required to produce a consistent grade of cannabis for medical purposes.

One HEPA filter per indoor growing room ensures precise ventilation, humidity control and temperature, ensuring no cross contamination of the cannabis plants.

A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter is a type of mechanical air filter used for contamination control, and is able to remove 99% of dust, pollen, mould, bacteria and airborne particles from an environment or enclosed space.

Theron and Slabber say there are advantages and disadvantages for all types of growing methods, but advocate that indoor growing is best as everything can be ideally controlled. When growing outdoors, space is most often unlimited but environmental factors bring additional problems.

“Every time there is a change in outdoor temperature, the quality of the product is affected, and indoor growing is therefore better for the growing of good medicinal grade cannabis,” they explain.

Currently, Cilo Cybin is licenced to grow and export cannabis. By early 2021, they expect to have their licence to manufacture.

A different view

In favour of outdoor growing is Zelig Kronberg, an American grower based in California. In an article in Forbes magazine (August 2020), he said: “You can grow cannabis anywhere, but for the finest craft cannabis, a mixture of greenhouse to the sun is the path I want to follow.

We are located in the second rainiest spot in California, which adds to the health and diversity of the biome for our outdoor/greenhouse/mixed light growing technique.” Kronberg’s Spring Creek is a family owned cannabis farm located in the coastal redwood hills of Sonoma County.

He states further: “Technique is everything. Soil, health, terroir and the quality of what you feed/spray on your plants is of the utmost importance. Our water quality, isolated environment, soil diversity, inground growing technique and the Sonoma County sunshine have helped us maintain consistency and keep our production costs low.

We practice Jadam methodology, a system based on 4000 year old Korean agricultural systems that work with nature to allow for healthy plants, increased flower quality, diverse cannabinoids, colour, flavour, strength and shelf life. Since we use a living soil technique, we do not have to continuously be buying and replacing soil as we are always building soil layer by layer.”

Theron says that in the USA, there is a place for organic recreational cannabis growing, and that “where South Africa is today, California was ten years ago.”

Role of nurseries

The cannabis market is still very new in South Africa and because the growing of it is difficult and technical, nurseries will tend to stay away from it. They are not permitted to sell cannabis seeds but may eventually grow small plants. Theron says that there are so many varieties and profiles of the plant, and each strain needs its own temperature and has different flowering times. “It’s a very regulated industry and the pharmaceutical profession has set the bar very high in order to limit the number of people who might want to try and grow cannabis.”

Wayne Stewart, owner of Eckards Garden Pavilion in Bedfordview, Gauteng, says. 

He attempted to grow cannabis in pots: “With the increased demand for products in our garden centre after the change in laws around the use of cannabis, I wanted to grow it as a trial so that I knew what our customers were experiencing. As a horticulturist, I had seen it growing in the ground and looking healthy without much treatment or fertilisers, and it made me wonder what all the fuss was about”.

He decided to sow seeds in a container as “this is definitely more popular for the younger generations who do not have gardens or live in smaller spaces.”

The seeds were harvested from a healthy specimen grown in the ground, and he used a standard potting soil, discovering that they did not like a high bark content soil, and that it was necessary to flush the salt content out of the soil to get good growth.

The seeds in the regular potting mix germinated quickly but they were stunted and took their time to have a growth spurt. “Using a coco peat soil base or a ready to go 420 mix yielded better results sooner,” he explains.

Further observations he made

were that:

• container size did not determine the size of the mature plant, and the type of container made no difference. However, good drainage was essential;

• a combination of well known organic fertilisers as well as the made for purpose Feed 4 Weed range gave similar results, but the former definitely gave stronger stems and a deeper leaf colour;

• water on the foliage seemed to be a problem, and if not in full sun, the container grown cannabis was more susceptible to mildew. He also had a bout of Red Spider on the plants against the hot wall, trying to keep them dry.

Says Stewart: “In the end I decided that growing cannabis was not just a simple process and that all the gimmicks certainly add to the experience for youngsters. For me though, growing in the ground with just some compost would be the better option”.

Personal choice

Although in favour of indoor growing, Cilo Cybin believes that it’s a matter of choice as to what each person, nursery or company wants to achieve i.e recreational or medicinal growing. Theron and Slabber both feel that indoor growing is more consistent, but concede that outdoor growing “gives a nicer experience”, as indicated by Zelig Kronberg.

Text by Karyn Richards. Photos courtesy of Cilo Cybin Pharmaceutical.

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