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Ask Erik, RAW! - For Earlier Blooms, Fade to Black

Control the sunlight on your plants for maximum growth in a short time. Control the sunlight on your plants for maximum growth in a short time.


I want to use sunlight to grow this summer. A problem I want to avoid is harvesting at the same time as all of the other growers, which is usually mid-September where I live. I prefer to harvest earlier. Growing auto-flowering strains is an option, but they don’t yield as much and I would need to start all the plants from seed. Also, I would need much higher plant numbers, which is something else that I am trying to avoid. I realize I might be asking for miracles here but is there anything that you can suggest to help bring my crop to maturity earlier using natural sunlight?

Your secret weapon in producing big harvests early with sunlight is to incorporate a “blackout” system or method in your garden.


Choosing varieties of plants that are more responsive to shorter days will tend to bring in harvests sooner. As well, avoid excessive nitrogen levels in your soil or growing medium. High nitrogen levels will lend well to structural growth, however, they can make plants a little slower to complete their life cycle. Higher phosphorus and potassium levels will encourage faster finishes. Intermediate release granular synthetics are consistent and reliable in delivering nutrients to outdoor plants, and formulations are available for Spring, Summer and Fall.

Your secret weapon in producing big harvests early with sunlight is to incorporate a “blackout” system or method in your garden. In a nutshell, you are going to cover your plants with an opaque material that will block out sunlight to provide a consistent 12 hours of darkness and 12 hours of light whenever you decide you want your outdoor plants to flower.

On a larger scale, specialized structures ranging from metal hoops, wires or other supports, all the way to walk-in buildings with retractable roofs have been used successfully to produce short-day flowering plant harvests under long-light hours.

If you just have a few plants in your backyard that you want to harvest earlier, you might simply move your plants into a garden shed that stays dark inside.

Blacking out manually requires a lot of dedication. You have to be in the same place at the same time twice a day, without exception. This system is exactly as reliable as you are. Conversely, blackout systems can be automated, and even off the grid with simple solar installations. If you have a blackout system, it’s still going to be important to tend to your plants, as well as to inspect the system to ensure that it is functioning correctly. If you are going to need to be away at times, make sure you find someone reliable to care for your plants. Good help is hard to find, but it’s out there.

Finally, take note: a structure that breathes a bit while blocking light is essential. Otherwise, moisture that drips down onto your crop as condensation from the covering can cause rot and mold later on when dense and heavy flowers and fruits abound.

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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A demonstration of one effective way to control the sunlight your plants get.
Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 14:49

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