In a world where the legality of cannabis cultivation is on the rise, green-fingered growers are becoming prime targets for would-be cannabis thieves. Whether it is through jealousy or just a simple case of wanting free weed, outdoor growing projects are increasingly at risk from a pest not so easily deterred. Just like you, shady folks would love to get their hands on some top-tier bud—especially if they can get it for free and without the work. Of course, you want to do your best to protect your outdoor plants to avoid squandering all the time, money, and energy you’ve invested.
While seeds only cost $3 apiece, properly tended outdoor plants can bear 100 grams of bud or more, making the average suburban backyard four-plant grow a desirable target for thieves. And though decades of stoner comedy have suggested weed theft is inherently frivolous, the amount of money involved has brought in frightening characters.
The first rule of growing weed is: don’t talk about growing weed
It is a simple, oft-overlooked rule of cannabis growing. Even in a world where all corners of society appear to be turning to marijuana in some form, the topic is still bound to raise a few eyebrows. Although your latest project may be a likely topic of discussion on a night out, you never know who’s listening, or how far that information will travel. Your outdoor crop cannot become a target if no one knows it exists.
Make sure whenever you discuss your outdoor grow, it is with like-minded individuals who will honor and respect the level of privacy required to cultivate successfully. It is, by far, the simplest and most effective way to stop your hard-earned work from disappearing overnight.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Even if you grow cannabis in your own garden, you still don’t know who’s gonna come around to snoop at your next “friendly” neighbourhood barbecue. Not-so-well-meaning neighbours may not seem like a real threat, but more and more accounts of this happening are mounting. The good thing about growing weed in your own garden is that it’s potentially easier to keep your crop hidden than other locations.
If you grow cannabis in a corner of your garden, you can camouflage your plants by hiding them among tomatoes, flowers, and herbs. Many of these companion plants for cannabis are not just ideal for hiding your weed; they also provide added benefits such as repelling common cannabis pests like ants or aphids, improving soil composition, and even attracting the good guys such as bees and ladybugs.
The highest risk that your crops may be discovered and stolen is if you grow outdoors in public. This will require extra planning and added efforts so you can keep your grow-op stealthy and secret. Start by looking for a suitable spot off the beaten path. As a rule, the more difficult it is for you to get to your growing spot, the less likely it is someone else may find it. Outdoors, there is also a risk that animals may get to your plants, which may require extra protection in the form of chicken wire, etc. Then again, doing so could also increase the chances of your grow being discovered, so keep that in mind.
Don’t Forget The Smell
Keep in mind that in addition to making your crops invisible with companion plants and a good hiding spot, the other important thing to think about is the scent of your cannabis plants. The further away your plants are from sensitive noses, the less chance the odour will draw in unwanted individuals. Moreover, some of the companion plants mentioned above have pungent and sometimes overwhelming scents of their own, making them perfect to disguise dank smells at the end of the cannabis flowering phase.
Protect Your Plants With Cameras, Lights And Alarms
If you want to keep your weed safe, then chances are there is going to be some financial outlay. We are not talking thumbprint access points, but a few well-placed cameras and lights should do the trick. Many thieves like to act under cover of darkness, so motion-sensitive lights are a must for keeping your grow safe and sound. If you are out of the house a lot for work, then security cameras are also worth considering.
The sight of a camera is usually enough to deter cannabis thieves, and even if it isn’t, at least you will have some evidence to pass onto the police (if it’s legal to grow where you live). Security cameras are relatively cheap and may include the option to access live footage via an internet connection. That way, even when you are away from home, you can gaze lovingly at your blossoming buds.
Another way to let intruders know that they have been spotted is an alarm. A basic tripwire rigged up to a high-pitched buzzer will do the trick in most cases. For a more sophisticated (but also more expensive) option, motion detector alarms are also available.
Just be wary that these devices are easily set off by wandering animals, and your neighbours probably won’t appreciate a deafening alarm going off while you are at work.
Extra Tips For Protecting Your Plants From Thieves
No matter where you grow weed, if you’re trying to keep it away from prying eyes, stealth is key. We talked about finding places to hide your weed, the advantages of companion plants, and how you should keep odour under control. But there is something else you can do to minimise the risk for discovery: choose suitable strains that won’t be easily discovered.
Obviously, a sativa that may grow as tall as 3 metres is less than optimal if you want to keep your grow-op a secret. To minimise chances of theft, it can be a great idea to look into shorter cannabis cultivars instead. Some varieties, such as AUTO Special Skunk or AUTO White Widow, will not get taller than 60cm, which makes them better-suited for stealth. Likewise, the shorter growing time of autoflowers can also reduce the chances of discovery. This same rule applies to cannabis strains that are naturally low in odour, which can make balcony grows a significantly easier time.
A Dog Is Truly A Man’s Best Friend
If you don’t already own a dog, then you can also consider this an additional cost. If you do, it’s time for your beloved pet to earn their keep. That doesn’t mean training your trusted K9 to attack intruders on sight, but instead, just letting them roam the garden throughout the day is usually enough.
If a thief has spotted your cannabis, it won’t take them long to clock your dog. In most cases, the idea of having to contend with a defensive animal will be enough to put off any snatch and grab attempts. Dogs also double as an early warning detection system, and even from inside the house can alert you to any unwanted visitors.