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Interview with Master Grower — Northern_Ent

Added 7 November 2022

Hello growers! We are back with another interview — a detailed one with @Northern_Ent — who's lucky enough to grow legal cannabis outdoors. What's more, he's licensed and loves experimenting with new strains. He's also got the skill to make his own new strains! Thank you very much, @Northern_Ent, for taking the time to be so detailed with your answers. 

We hope you love this interview and bombard him with questions if you have any. 

hash by Northern_Ent

1. Question: Hello Northern_Ent! We are very excited to conduct this interview today. Your profile tells us a lot about your skills. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Answer: Hi, and thanks for the interview. I’m trying to be an outdoor cannabis grower near the most northerly major city in Canada. I’m a Gen Xer, making a living as an Environmental Engineer in Canada.

2. Question: Why did you start cultivating cannabis?

Answer: Cost, quality, and principle.

Although the prices had fallen since legalization here in October 2018, it was too expensive for mediocre to shitty corporate weed. After a second or third bad purchase, I decided to try growing my own. 

We had recently moved to a house with a small garden and I enjoyed growing what I needed to make salsa. Garlic, onions, tomatoes, and even hot peppers are easy enough to grow here and the quality is better than what you can normally find in grocery stores. 

Trudeau’s government was elected on the promise of cannabis legalization in November 2015, and once it finally happened in October 2018, I was able to grow outdoors in my backyard.

My principle of growing outdoors came later once I found out about the carbon footprint of indoor cannabis. You likely won’t believe it at first but growing a single gram of dried indoor cannabis has about the same CO2 emissions as burning two liters (half a gallon) of gasoline, which is crazy and unsustainable. 

I love cannabis, but not at that price. The carbon footprint from my cannabis habit was like driving a huge gas guzzler around town every day, and I didn’t like that.

Outdoor weed has less than 1% of the carbon emissions from indoor weed and as a grower, you don’t feel like you’re working in a warehouse or a factory. Outdoor weed can be very high quality and flavorful with lots of terpenes and THC, and I wanted to show that. Cannabis is a plant and should be grown outdoors.

3. Question: How has cannabis helped you?

Answer: I’ve always been into cannabis strictly for recreational use, and not for ‘medical’ reasons. But there are obvious health benefits for me from cannabis including quitting alcohol. I just reached a point where I’d rather ‘have a hoot’ than have a beer or two in the evening, and that pays off long-term in cost and calories.

4. Question: Do you remember how and why you started using Growdiaries?

Answer: The summer of 2019 was the first chance to legally grow outdoors, and during my research trying to figure out what would work here, I saw a mention of Growdiaries on the Fast Buds website. 

Once I checked out Growdiaries, I realized that an online database of cannabis grows was a truly awesome idea and that the site would only get more useful with time as more diaries were added. As a Canadian, I knew that I could do this with impunity (hey, it’s legal) and that it could be helpful for people in other places that aren’t lucky enough to be this open with their grows.

We can grow four plants per household, but nobody expected anything much to happen outdoors with our short growing season. It was a pretty steep learning curve when I started researching to see if I could grow good weed outdoors this far north. Auto this, and photoperiod that — a thousand possible strains were available, but only a few were expected to work here.

Anyway, most things grow well here in Zone 4 partly because we get 17 hours of daylight at the summer solstice. Our frost-free growing season normally runs from about mid-May to mid-October with lots of sun, moderately warm temperatures, and low humidity. 

Even on days with rain, there is usually good sunshine during the summer months. I figured that it was possible to grow good cannabis outdoors here but it would be highly weather-dependent from year to year. Thus, I wanted to keep track, and Growdiaries does that perfectly.

5. Question: What do you love about Growdiaries?

Answer: It’s a great resource for growers and most of what I have learned in the last four years was done here. Growdiaries makes it easy to search for grows using various techniques like ScrOG and manifolding so it’s easy to figure out what works and how to do it. One of my favorite features is to sort harvests by grams per plant so that you can see what a strain is capable of doing.

Northern Lights by Northern_Ent

6. Question: Do you train your cannabis plants? If yes, can you describe one technique that’s easy even for beginners?

Answer: All my plants get some sort of training, be it topping, tie-down, or more recently, manifolding.

Topping is trivially easy and takes seconds, but it has to be done at the right stage of growth. Before growing cannabis, I had topped pepper plants and realized that it could increase the size and yield of the plant. It takes a bit of nerve to do it to your first cannabis plant, especially when the received wisdom is ‘don’t top autos’, but I did it the first season with no regrets.

7. Question: Are you a DIY person or do you purchase most equipment including nutrients?

Answer: Mostly DIY. We are all descended from farmers, but that was more recent with me, and paying $50 for a gallon of something trivially cheap like diluted molasses is not something I wanted to do. 

Of course, there are some fantastic nutrient programs out there that definitely work, but I wanted to figure it out for myself. At work, I’m a soil and water quality specialist dealing with contaminated sites, and part of what I love about growing at the farm is that it’s basically soil and water chemistry all the time.

8. Question: Can you describe a few things you do (DIY) that perhaps saves money?

Answer: I don’t know what a bottle of pH Down costs, but vinegar or lemon juice is way cheaper. You need a pH meter anyway as that is the most important consideration so that your plant can grow and pull nutrition from the soil. A good pH meter might seem expensive but it pays for itself on the first grow.

Blackstrap molasses is great as a nutrient source for the micro-organisms in the soil, but don’t use it in the second half of flowering. Great for growing, but not for smoking.

Another new thing I tried this year is water-soluble wood ash. A few inches of ash in a bucket mixed with water and then pH adjusted using vinegar. This provides calcium and phosphorus and other minerals, and because it’s derived from plants, the cannabis plants seem to like it. The ash solids at the bottom of the pail go on the compost pile for next year. Dilute the extract as needed to make sure the final pH and TDS aren’t too high, and like molasses, don’t use it in the second half of flowering.

9. Question: Can you name a few growers that have inspired you here? What do you like most about their growing style?

Answer: Outdoor growing inspiration came from people like Mrs_Larimar, dalemac, and kaediodr. ButtersStotch, Hellishjam, and Njanne are also Canadian so I was inspired by their success in our climate where most people think it’s too cold for outdoor cannabis growing.

I’m also interested in making hash, and Rap_a_cap has good diaries about that.

10. Question: Is there any strain you grow in particular? Would you recommend it to beginners?

Answer: I haven’t settled on a specific strain yet, but autoflowers are the easiest outdoors and they produce more than enough for most home growers. If you have experience growing tomatoes or other vegetables any autoflower strain started at the right time should do fine. 

One trick to outdoor autos is to avoid low overnight temperatures when the plant is still a seedling so that it doesn’t become stunted. So, here in Canada that usually means waiting until late May or early June.

Cannabis plants always take longer outdoors and most autos take about 100 days or 14 weeks — not just 60-70 days as often listed by the breeders for indoors. Patience pays, and I’m always fighting the urge to harvest too early.

Panama Lime by Northern_Ent

11. Question: What are your favorite strains and why?

Answer: My favorites from this year were Hash Bud from QCS and Gorilla Gelato from Ganja Farmer. These are photoperiods that grew fast despite some cool weather and produced lots of very nice buds. Hash Bud is a cross of the Canadian indica strain God Bud that won the Cannabis Cup in 2004 and Super Hash Plant, and it’s great as a flower too.

Girl Scout Cookies will always hold a special place as it won the Fast Buds Best Outdoor Grow contest in my first year of growing cannabis.

Gorilla strains in general are good for outdoor as they are robust and can handle cool overnight temperatures. 

Peanut Butter Herijuana from Lucky13 produced excellent hard buds in only about six weeks of flowering, and PEV’s Lambsbread was surprisingly easy to grow outdoors here.

12. Question: What type of nutrients do you use to grow cannabis?

Answer: Mostly DIY nutrients to grow organically. This includes things like vinegar, blackstrap molasses, malted barley, and kelp. I started adding humic acids this year, which seemed to help a lot. 

It turns out there is a mineral called Humalite that is supposedly only mined here in Alberta. It’s almost coal but is about 70% humic acid and low in heavy metals. It is similar to Leonardite, which is the better-known HA mineral source. A big bag only costs about CAD 50 and is more than enough to last me a couple of years. I added some to the soil mix, and I also mixed some with soluble kelp extract to add to the water.

13. Question: What was the latest strain you grew?

Answer: I grow many different strains during each season at the farm because I’m researching (and breeding) to find the ones that are best suited to my location. Ideally, I’d find big yielding but fast flowering strains that work this far North (53 N latitude) without the need for light deprivation to get them to flower.

Ganja Farmer’s Skunk 2.0, and one of my own feminized 11RSS crosses (Eleven Roses Early Version from Delicious Seeds crossed with Auto Super Skunk from Original Sensible Seeds), were harvested in late October and both did great. 

Last year’s record yield was 280 g dried, but the Skunk 2.0 produced 440 g dried, and 11RSS produced 740 g. That’s 2.6 pounds from two plants forming pretty decent buds. These are two of my four domestic plants and they were in an open field that got good sun late into the fall. 

My licensed grow area is largely shaded starting in September so I need plants that finish faster like autos or fast flowering photoperiods that have been light deprived to initiate flowering.

14. Question: What was the latest strain you smoked?

Answer: I switch between the various strains I have on hand, preferably the ones I've recently smoked. If I’m looking for a sativa it might be Candyland or Lambsbread, and later in the day, it might be an indica like Hash Bud or Northern Lights. I am the designated Quality Assurance Person under my license so I joke that I’m doing QA testing.

15. Question: Any tips for readers to enjoy cannabis more? Perhaps concentrates, gummies, etc?

Answer: If you want to avoid smoking and don't mind alcohol, then a tincture is a good choice. If you can get Everclear or some other 190-proof alcohol, it would be perfect, but I suppose you could just use vodka. 

Just grind the cannabis as you would for a joint, put it in a small glass jar, and then just cover it with alcohol and stick it in the freezer for a week or so. Some might say that you need to decarboxylate the cannabis by heating it first, but that’s a pain and stinks up your kitchen. This freezer tincture works fine, so I don’t see the need to decarboxylate it first. The alcohol extracts the THC from the cannabis, and a bit of the tincture in hot water, tea, or coffee works great, or directly under your tongue for faster effect. This is also a good way to use up scraps.

Thanks for the interview, and good luck to all growers. Cheers. 




@Northern_Ent, will you be making your own hash making guide? I would be interested in reading that diary after seeing the results from your pictures here.


@Northern_Ent, freeze dryer is expensive. not something I'd like to invest in but I will have to look up his vids.


@m0use, I’m keeping that proprietary but it is all from Frenchy Cannoli who explains it in YouTube videos. Frenchy passed away last year and seems like quite a character.

Washing (I use a washing machine), drying (freeze dryer which is the big hurdle) and pressing. So it’s like doing laundry.


@m0use, same here :)


:ok_hand: :ok_hand:




A good read.