By Castulo Zane

Medicinal marijuana is legal in many areas provided you acquire the correct permits. Growing medicinal marijuana outdoors can be a good tactic. There are several challenges of course. One is watering.

Medicinal marijuana needs water. If you grow it in a confined space you'll be amazed at how much water it can handle with good drainage.

Marijuana doesn't like a constantly wet or soaked environment. It likes good drainage. In fact, it does well in hot climates where drought can be a challenge. Still, a steady supply of water is the best way to go.

If you grow close to your house this isn't a problem. You can drag your hose to the plants. It may be outdoors, but a steady supply of water is convenient.

What happens if your area faces watering restrictions, though? Then you can't just let the water run. You have to prepare like any other outdoor farmer.

The best solution is a combination of things. Being situated close to a water source helps. Having a storage system helps. Having soil that holds water helps.

Using hoses, ditches or carrying water means you need a water source to be in the near vicinity. The water source probably has to be uphill from the garden. We're talking about walking distance, or the combined length of a few hoses. In other words, perhaps an few hundred feet.

Carrying water is hard. It's very heavy. It also take sup lots of space. You want to be close to your water source if you have to pack it. Remember - the less time you spend packing the less chance you'll be discovered.

A hose based supply system should run downhill. If you try to go uphill you'll need pumps. Pumps mean gas and noise unless you use rechargeable batteries. That's an option but requires ingenuity. Hoses must be hidden or else they'll lead right to the garden, and that means plant theft.

Irrigation troughs can work, but that's a lot of digging, and the landscape may not cooperate. They are hard to hide. They also run counter to the natural contours of the land.

Another challenge is delivery. You want water delivered on a regular basis. You don't want the plants watered only when you can get there. Also, you don't want to be chained to the plants. If you get sick, want to go somewhere, or need to stay away you want to be certain that the plants will get water and survive.

Two solutions offer themselves to the guerrilla gardener. Containers that store water and release it slowly is one. The other is improving the soil so that it holds water longer.

Storage requires something to hold a lot of water. You want something that will hold lots of water and yet be low profile. There are a few options.

You can use five gallon plastic buckets, like paint buckets. They are easy to fine and easy to conceal. You can fill them at the water source and carry them to the garden, or hide them around the garden and fill them with a hose.

Plastic 55 gallon drums are now quite common, and you can even use the older metal ones. They are heavier, but may be advantageous. For example, big drums are harder to hide, but old rusty metal drums may be regarded as trash and ignored. Your watering system could be hidden in plain sight!

Hoses work best to fill these drums. You can also devise a self watering system with plumbing fixtures and soaker hoses. If you do this you'll have to disguise the whole system or at least the self watering part of it.

55 gallon drums with wide open tops will also capture rainfall. This will help by reducing how much water you have to carry to the site. It won;t solve everything, but every little bit helps.

One cool trick is the old water bed mattress. If there is space they are very low profile (they lay flat on the ground, after all). They have a large capacity. They can also be filled from a creek with a hose, and the hose can then be reversed and used to water the garden slowly.

Water retention is the last tactic. This will retain water and moisture, and while passive has been used for millennia by farmers. There are also man-made compounds that can be added to the soil.

A hillside garden will drain quickly. If you terrace it you can retain moisture. Lots of mulch on top of the ground around your plants will slow evaporation. A circular trench around the base of the plant will keep water from draining away too quickly. You can also dig pools to retain runoff.

Hydrogels, or water retention crystals are now available. They swell up when soaked and hold water, slowly releasing it back into the soil. They are made of polymeracrilides or else of starch, and while their effectiveness is debated I think that they work. When I've used them they certainly swelled up when wetted down. I'm sure they'd help plants endure dry times.

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