growing cannabis in compost

Selecting soil for your cannabis plants is one of the most important decisions you make as a marijuana grower. If you’re one of the budding 21 thousand United States businesses in the industry, then determining the best soil can be a bit overwhelming. There are significant benefits of using compost for growing cannabis . We unpack the benefits of composting, both for your plants and the environment as a whole.

Home » Blog » Common Questions About Using Compost for Growing Cannabis.

Once your compost is ready to use, the amount you’ll need comes down to the nutrient levels and quality of your existing soil. For most, occasionally topping off the area around the plant is enough to boost the health of your soil and create ideal growing conditions.

Everything You Need to Know About Compost for Growing Cannabis.

A lot of variables come into play when choosing the best soil for your cannabis plants. Nutrient content, micronutrients, and pH levels all play a role in the health of your plants, but so do other factors such as whether you’re growing outdoors or indoors. Although cannabis is known for sprouting just about anywhere, marijuana users are becoming more aware of different flavors and strains and developing their own preferences. Additionally, consumers as a whole are more concerned than ever about ensuring their food and cannabis come from natural, healthy cultivation processes.

One of the most significant benefits of keeping your soil full of organic matter is that your marijuana plants will only absorb the nutrients they need. Cannabis growers should be aware that it takes months before you’ll have ready-to-use organic compost. For many, the benefits of organic soil and composting outweigh the challenge of getting started. Not only does it create healthy soil and plants, but composting is also one of the most responsible ways to dispose of your waste.

The push for natural growing processes has led to an increase in soil amendment and additive options. However, cannabis plants benefit from different nutrient levels, depending on where the plants are in their life cycle. Bottled mixes of fertilizers often combine multiple products to be fed at different amounts during different stages. Although it makes for a simple and straightforward cultivation process, it’s not as organic as using compost. Plus, the root systems of marijuana plants rapidly absorb chemical fertilizers, which can potentially harm your plants. The likelihood of this occurring with organic compost is almost zero.

Fertilizers and compost can work together, but they have different impacts on your plants. While fertilizers more directly feed the plant, compost promotes an overall high-quality environment for plant growth. If you’re just getting started, you can purchase a compost mix or make your own compost. Adding grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea bags, kelp, and other green material can encourage the production of nitrogen, which provides protein for the beneficial microorganisms in the compost. Other variables, including water retention, aeration, and fungus balance, will also impact your plants.

Unpack the benefits of composting, both for your plants and the environment as a whole, with Easy Waste Management.

Composting is a valuable process, particularly for those working to cultivate organic cannabis. Not only is it beneficial to your plants during their life cycle, but the composting process can also give back to the environment by responsibly eliminating waste. If you’re in the market for responsible treatment of your cannabis waste, consider reaching out to Easy Waste Management. We offer convenient and compliant solutions for cannabis businesses in the Los Angeles area to help you start composting your cannabis waste.

Why Should You Use Compost for Cannabis?

What are the Benefits of Using Organic Compost?

Compost differs from fertilizers. Compost is a soil amendment that enriches the soil and creates a beneficial environment for plants to grow. Fertilizers feed the plant more directly and may overload the soil with nutrients if you’re not mindful of signs of nutrient disorders.

Like produce and natural food consumers, cannabis enthusiasts want to use strains and products made from natural, healthy sources – and organic compost may just be the best choice for purely organic marijuana cultivation.

This mixture will begin to decay and decompose, breaking down and recycling organic matter into nutrient-rich compost. Check the compost pile regularly and stir it every few days, adding supplemental water when the interior of the pile begins to dry.

Here’s a rundown of the top benefits of using compost for growing cannabis:

Although you can add a wide variety of things to your compost to create an excellent organic soil amendment, there are some items you do not want to add. These undesirable materials include:

How to Use Compost.

To build your own compost pile, the first step is to establish a composting location. You want this to be in a warm area away from high-traffic areas. Compost emits an odor, so keep that in mind when establishing a composting area.

Creating your own compost can be an easy way to improve your yield and quality. However, you may encounter a few composting challenges along the way. Here are the most common problem you may face and how to tackle them:

Make sure the raw materials are organic or else you won’t reap the full benefits of composting. Also, make sure they are pesticide-free.

The flavors and aromas of organic cannabis are far superior to its counterpart grown with synthetic fertilizers and chemical soil additives.

Carbon in the form of dead leaves and grasses will occur in abundance during the warmer summer and fall months—and these materials are great to add to your compost pile.

The best time to begin composting is spring, when nitrogen-rich material is in abundance, but comparatively little carbon is present.

Good sources of carbon, also called “browns,” include:

One way to obtain compost is to buy it at a garden nursery or order it online. Bagged compost can be expensive if you have a large garden, but for people not able to conveniently create their own, it’s an available option, and more affordable when bought in bulk.

In your cannabis garden, you can recreate the same magic that keeps ecosystems thriving and speed up the process in a specialized composing space where materials can decay.

The bottom “brown” layer should be well aerated (fluffy) to prevent excess moisture from developing from the layers on top.

Don’t Panic, It’s Organic.

This approach is not as purely organic as using compost as part of the cultivation method—although many growers dismiss the difference and choose to go with bottled recipes for valid reasons like simplicity and convenience.

The third, top layer should consist of soil and potting mix that doesn’t contain insecticides or synthetic fertilizers.

Tumblers are convenient to use because they retain the material well and make the turning fairly simple. The larger tumblers will create better end product more quickly, and there are a wide variety of designs available. Without a tumbler, you will need to manually turn the mixture.

If you choose to use compost for your indoor or outdoor cannabis grow, you will likely notice a difference in overall plant vigor. Following harvest and a proper cure, the flavor and even burn of the finished product will be connoisseur quality.

Organic fruits and vegetables, as well as grass-fed beef and free-range chicken are now readily available and continuing to gain popularity. These higher-quality foods not only taste better but are healthier for those who eat them compared to processed food products.

Compost is easy to use with outdoor cannabis grows by merely topping off the soil surrounding the plants. The amount you should use depends on the quality of the soil and its nutrient level. Topping the growing soil with compost in the fall will ensure a good growing environment in the spring.

When growing cannabis, many commercial and home growers decide to use organic cultivation practices for a variety of reasons. The more they grow weed, the more they want to learn about organic approaches to cannabis farming to improve their yield and bud quality. It’s only natural.

Troubleshooting Compost Issues.

An occasional topping of compost during the plant growth cycle will boost soil health and minimize the necessity of adding fertilizers on a frequent basis. Mixing compost with indoor plant soil is a great way to start your plants. Conservative topping of the soil periodically creates ideal growing conditions.

The best way to improve your bud’s quality is to use organic, compost-amended soil supplemented with organic fertilizers. Basically, avoid synthetic alternatives as fertilizers and soil amendments.

Although there are ways to compost during freezing weather, most people aren’t growing gardens at this time, and definitely aren’t growing cannabis outdoors during winter, so it’s best to focus on creating your own compost during the warmer spring, summer, and fall months.

Ideally, you’d begin with a layer of dried leaves and grass. If you only have access to green plant matter, you can shred and include newspaper in small pieces (as small as possible). As you layer your compost, you want a ratio of approximately 60 percent carbon (dry leaves, grass) to 40 percent nitrogen (green plant matter).

You can make pile foundation and base from a wide variety of materials. Wood stakes to form the sides, with a wire interior and plastic bottom is another popular option.

The process of making compost involves the breakdown and decay of organic materials, so locate the compost away from any wooden garden sheds or home structures to avoid natural degradation.

Building a compost pile and making your own is the best way to guarantee you have a regular supply of top-quality nutrients and cannabis.

In the natural world, plants and animal matter decays on the ground floor. Microbes digest this decomposing material creating a completely decomposed, rich, and dark soil that returns nutrients to the new flora.

Silica is the common cannabis industry term for potassium silicate or silicon dioxide, and is very popular among growers. It is naturally occurring in everything from clay, granite, gravel, sand, diatomaceous earth, and many other forms of rock. It is also found in some plants as well, such as horsetail! You should take care not to inhale its tiny dust particles, which can be hard on the lungs, but great on your plants!

Check out this post all about creating homemade fertilizer with aloe vera, to use as a soil drench or foliar spray.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to add anything to my plants that needs to be flushed out before we use or consume it. Therefore, we have done our homework over the last few growing seasons, and figured out much more natural, organic, and easier ways to tend to our cannabis plants. All of the methods shared below do not require flushing! Most of things we use for fertilizers are certified organic plant materials – plants feeding plants .


There are many enzymes within each of these germinated sprouts, including A-amylase and B-amylase, cellulase, cytokinins, and more! I won’t get too deep in the weeds with details here, but I’ll just say this: the enzymes produced in sprouted seed teas are going to be beneficial to your plants in one way or another. Some help break down complex nutrients into more simple ones. Others increase the plants absorption and use of those nutrients. Some enzymes help with energy conversions and reactions, leading to faster and fuller growth!

Fermented plant juices are commonly made with already kick-ass, nutrient-dense plants like comfrey, borage, stinging nettle, yarrow, mugwort, purslane, and even aloe vera. KNF emphasizes utilizing whatever is locally available. The young portions of the plants are harvested, mixed with brown sugar to feed beneficial microbes, and allowed to ferment for about a week. That concoction is then diluted and applied to plants as a soil drench or foliar spray.

The last type of tea that I want to mention here is a personal favorite of mine: compost tea. We make actively aerated compost tea from worm castings to feed our garden every couple of months – not just the cannabis! I recently published an article alllll about aerated compost tea, including step-by-step instructions and a demo video about how to make it. Check out this post to learn more! I am not going to rehash all the nitty gritty details here.

To make a 5-gallon batch of neem-kelp tea, combine ½ cup neem meal and ¼ cup kelp meal in a tea bag. With alfalfa and kelp tea, start on the light side first. For young and small plants, start with ¼ cup of alfalfa and kelp meal each . Slowly increase to 1 full cup alfalfa meal and ¼ cup kelp to use on larger, mature plants.

Sprouted seed teas (SST) are essentially what they sound like! They’re made by pre-sprouting seeds in a jar, blending them with a bit of water, and further diluting that concentrated solution in a larger amount of water. This creates a tea to feed your plants as a soil drench.

To steep your fertilizer meals of choice, you’ll need a “tea bag” to contain them in. These paint strainer sacks or nut milk bags work perfectly!

How to Feed Cannabis by Top-Dressing.

If you choose not to use malted barley on your plants, then I highly suggest using sprouted seed teas! Both provide similar benefits to compliment your other top-dressings or botanical teas.

Another popular mulch option is to use an organic cover crop seed mix. Most of the cover crops commonly used are also nitrogen-fixers, as fava beans are. They help draw in nitrogen to the soil. Lightly work the cover crop seed into the top inch of soil when you first plant your cannabis seedling. As it gets watered, cover crop will grow under the canopy of your plant. It becomes a living mulch , and also enhances your living soil food web. As it grows tall, you can “chop and drop” mulch with it. That is when you trim it and leave it in place to decompose as green mulch.

Aloe Vera & Silica.

Furthermore, you can use most all of these techniques to nourish all sorts of other plants too! As I said, we treat our cannabis much like the rest of the garden. Organically, and with love.

Ways to Feed Cannabis, Organically.

Once the meals have steeped for 24 hours, pull up the bag and wring it out. Repurpose the spent meals by adding them to your compost pile, spread in your garden bed, or around the base of a shrub or tree! Last but not least, it is time to water plants with the tea . Use it soon after you remove the tea bag. Just as with the sprouted seed teas, there isn’t really a set amount. Simply give it to them as if it were their routine water. Repeat this process up to once every week or two.

While I wouldn’t necessarily classify either as a “fertilizer” per se, aloe vera and silica both play an important role in our cannabis care routine. The use of both of these is highly recommended, not only by us – but by the majority of organic cannabis growers you’ll come across! They each offer a plethora of benefits to compliment the rest of your feeding practices.

In summary, our cannabis care routine consists of:

We honestly don’t use them for feeding cannabis all that often, but I know many people who do. On the other hand, we do give our cannabis plants routine foliar sprays – but more so with the intention of pest prevention and control instead! An article all about pest control for cannabis is coming soon.

For aloe vera, we use this freeze dried aloe vera powder – mixed at a rate of 1/8 tsp per gallon of water – for both watering and foliar sprays. We do grow and use fresh aloe too, but not enough to keep up with the demands during cannabis season! For silica, we use this product, and combine 1/2 tsp per gallon of water. Read the instructions of the products you choose, as their application rates may differ.