Guerilla growing in the UK - Pick a spot

24 May 2017

Spring is in full swing. Taking some exercise out in the fresh air, away from fusty bong smoke and your digital life is one of the finest ways to restore your constitution. Sometimes you need a little incentive to get out there though, right? Well how about a wild garden of sexy outdoor buds you can call your own? That's enough incentive to unlock me from the couch!

Guerilla Growing is the art of choosing a secret spot somewhere outside to grow your plants. If you can't grow at home, or want to expand from the space you already have, it's an interesting concept to explore. Exploring is at the heart of a successful guerilla grow. Go off the beaten track, stray from the path, get lost and find your own private little oasis you can call your own. No trespassing though! Stick to public land, national parks and wasteland. 

Discretion Is A Virtue

The primary requirement for a successful wild grow site is discretion. The level of privacy can be balanced with convenience depending on the scale of your grow - it will be much easier to blend a few small plants in to the wild than trying to find a spot to accommodate fifty monsters! It's fairly obvious to plant away from known foot paths and dog walking spots, but people are adventurous and if you have easily found the spot then it means others may already visit too. For a bigger grow you will need to walk about an hour off the path to be sure of privacy. Look for signs of human activity: overhead cables, litter, footprints and tire tracks are signs telling you to look elsewhere.

Good stealth is important at all stages of the operation. The little details matter. Parking your car in the same place every week will start to get attention. When travelling to your spot it makes sense to dress like a hiker not a hippy. Likewise common sense suggests not smoking a massive stinking blunt as you walk to your site - wait until you get there and enjoy some discrete pipes instead! Pack your bag it so it doesn't go “clunk” noisily as you walk. If anyone asks, you are just on a walk or taking nature photographs for your blog. Whatever. Make something up, but have your story prepared beforehand.

If you prepare your site properly in advance it cuts down on the frequency you need to visit over the summer. Walk a slightly different route each time to avoid leaving an obvious path. Crossing mud leaves footprints for people to follow, so cover them up or smooth them over behind you. When you think you have found a great spot, get to know it. Go for a walk on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to see if there are casual walkers around.

You can really be sure how secure your spot is by using a covert motion sensitive digital camera. You can easily get Spy Cameras cheaply from Ebay which can be mounted on a tree in a spot where humans would inevitably need to pass if they were to visit your spot. Once you have found the perfect area, it makes sense to have a few more sites spread around. Thus spreading the risk. You will need to approach your grow in stages. Preparation is key to success.

Use the landscape to your advantage

In open plains or sparsely wooded scrubland you could look for a natural depression in the landscape to stash your plants, allowing for a bit of vertical growth to happen without the plant sticking up like a beacon! In woodland grows it's easier to disguise plants against the naturally bushy surroundings, but you must check regularly to ensure they don't get overgrown by more established flora.

Direct sunlight is a must if you want any decent growth. So bring a compass to ensure the proposed spot is primarily South facing. The plants really need at least six hours of direct (non-shaded) sunlight per day. If you have been vegging them under lights indoors then it is very important to get them accustomed to the outdoor climate. Harden them off by placing them outdoors for a short period every day for a week, starting at half an hour and increasing to a few hours at a time.

In the UK we have a big seasonal problem growing outdoors – just when the buds start filling out nicely around September and October, at the point they need to remain at their driest, is exactly when the rain starts tumbling down. This can lead to bud-rot, which will ruin both your crop and your day. There are some strains which cope better than others with these damp conditions, and this is where wise genetic selection pays dividends. Look for outdoor strains that are noted by the breeders for being mould resistant. Or go for auto flowering strains and time it right so they finish at the end of August or beginning of September.

You can give any strain a helping hand by using a canopy above it to keep the worst of the rain off. The ideal canopy for stealth is an overhanging tree. Just make sure the sunlight won't be blocked. You may also have to plant towards the edge of the canopy to avoid the sturdy and tightly knitted tree roots. Alternatively if the site allows it in terms of materials and stealth, you could get creative and build a tough roof from natural materials around the site like fallen branches, bracken, whatever... Cast your mind back to building dens as a kid, then make a better one – this time it mustn't fall down! 

Water and food

The summer can be very dry. So how are you going to ensure the plants have enough water to stay alive and grow lovely juicy buds? Plants need lots of heavy water during the hot spells, and carrying it to them is no fun. To save a lot of effort try to find a site where you can plant near a stream. Make your own automated watering system by hiding a length of hose buried in the stream to divert water to your site. You can improve the efficiency by securing a funnel in the end covered with some wire mesh to avoid the line becoming clogged with stones. You can weight this down in the stream and run the hose to your planting site, where you can split the hose with a manifold adaptor and slowly water a large area. Be careful you don't end up over saturating your plants if the soil is poor draining.

It's ideal if you can find a good spot where you are able to plant directly on the riverbank itself, close to the edge. The soil will have moisture in it all summer long. For best results it is worth digging out the planting site and clearing any large stones that will inevitably be buried in the ground. This will allow root development to proceed unhindered.

Depending on the quality of your site's soil it may be a good idea to enhance the natural earth with some high-grade potting mix from the grow shop. Feeding your plants over the summer can be achieved with some slow release fertilizer granules. When you start seeing buds it would be worth adding something slow-release with a high PK. Bat Guano is good too.

It is absolutely essential to prepare the site thoroughly first; the plants should be the last things to arrive. When it's time to bring your little plants to the site they can be put individually in 2L plastic bottles that have been cut in half and taped back up. These are tough and easy to carry in a backpack. You could even consider vegging your plants in the bottom half of a large recycled plastic bottle (after drilling holes for drainage first).

Keep the top half of the bottle for later, then when your green beasties are around six inches tall simply tape the top half of the bottle over the plant to protect it en route to the site, also minimizing root disturbance. Or grow them in coco pots then just plant direct in the ground. It makes sense to plant on the south side of natural bushes if possible, for added camouflage in case your plot gets seen from afar.

Avoiding the munchies

Non-human pests can totally destroy your crop, so plan ahead! When planting out your babies they are very vulnerable from rabbits. You will need to create little cages from fine mesh chicken wire to circle the plants. Make them approximately 24 inches high X 10 inches wide, as you should bury the wire 6 inches down in the soil for stability. The bigger the cage the better – while balancing your budget and also discretion at the site.

Don't underestimate just how yummy wild birds find your plants – I learned this lesson the hard way when I was planting out some small seedlings many years ago. There were a whole load of little birds sitting really close around me in the trees, watching intently, much closer than normal. “How cute they are not scared of me” I thought, turning away from my plot. I moved about 15 feet away from the site to get some supplies from my bag, turned around and within a few seconds the flock had taken the opportunity to drop down and peck my little babies to bits! Several of my plants were decimated.

Although I was pretty angry, I was also impressed at their nerve, organization and love for the herb! Lesson learned. Birds can be kept away fairly discretely with some dark green lightweight plastic bird mesh over the top of your cages. By the time your plants get more than about a foot tall and have grown through the cage, birds don't usually trouble them anymore. Perhaps the taste changes or they just get too woody to be appealing to anything other than stoners. Oh, and Deer... Once you have protected your seedlings don't start slacking – your plants are still not safe.

Deer love to chow down on delicious buds. A friend of mine told me about a time he approached his site just before harvest and saw a deer chewing on his main central cola! The beast had chosen the pick of the buds too, they certainly seem to appreciate top-shelf material. You need to boost up your security. It will probably be impractical and inadvisable to fence off the entire area, as a large sturdy fence will inevitably draw attention from the air. An alternative is to make an invisible fence from fishing wire around the site. Run a few lines at various heights from about 2 ft through to 5 foot. The theory is that casually grazing deer would walk into the “invisible” line, feel the unexpected resistance and get spooked, thus leaving your crop alone.

This is not going to stop a deer running through the line, but it should dissuade the casual muncher. Note: fishing line is not strong enough to hurt or ensnare a deer if it gets caught up – no crop is worth the bad karma of injuring a woodland creature - Bad juju. Bugs however, deserve harsh treatment. Check carefully under the leaves every time you visit and exterminate with extreme prejudice. Check with your Grow Shop, or the information in Soft Secrets for what products to use against different pests. If growing in fairly wild woodland there may be an opportunity to drag lots of fallen branches around the site to create a large physical barrier around the plants, like a natural fence. This can work well and also assist in camouflaging your site.

Encircle the plot with large debris and leave yourself a moveable branch as a door. In the wild, animals use scents to detect the presence of predators. So smells are another way to keep critters at bay. You can get lion shit pellets from a garden centre and drop them around the site, or if you can face it then bring some dog turds with you up and scatter them around. When visiting the site you can take a crap nearby and piss on a tree – mark your spot with smells from higher up the food chain and claim your territory in the wild! Guerilla growing is certainly a challenge, but ultimately a really fun and satisfying thing to do. The hardest part can be choosing the site. Good luck going guerilla!

Text: Baron Wasteland