indoor organic cannabis growing tips

Organic pest control is easier than you think. There are a handful of natural pest management remedies in circulation that work wonders for controlling both indoor and outdoor gardens and don’t require the use of harmful systemic synthetics. Companion planting, the practice of pairing certain varieties of flora to naturally deter pests, is a fantastic first step for outdoor growers. Try using basil or dill in your garden for gnats, or marigolds for aphids. A quick search will land you with a ton of beneficial pairing for your garden plants; just switch out your control group plant with cannabis and you’re good to go.

Getting started with organic cannabis farming is both simple and flexible as there are many ways to incorporate these methods into your home grow. Think of organic growing more in terms of a spectrum. Since there currently aren’t any regulations in the cannabis industry as to what actually qualifies as true organic farming, many interpretations do exist. As a result, this topic can be quite polarizing for industry professionals, but for home growers it simply comes down to a matter of preference.

There are a variety of wonderful organic supplements that may be added to assist in an organic grow, many of which offer a ton of benefits to the growing process. For example, incorporating the use of aerated compost teas can greatly help you in a number of ways. Compost teas reintroduce living microorganisms to the soil, in turn facilitating beneficial processes such as fighting pathogens in the soil, converting them to nutrients, and eliminating diseases.

Feeding your organic cannabis is as easy as finding the right water to use. When growing organic, try to avoid using tap water. Municipal water supplies tend to contain fluoride and other chemicals that can and will kill beneficial bacteria in your soil (though you can always opt to pick up an organic soil amendment or supplement at your local hydroponic shop if you’re ever in a pinch).

Inoculating your soil with mycorrhizal fungi is another organic grow hack that can pack your soil with an extra punch. The symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and your plants (i.e. mycorrhizae) has the power to vastly increase both water and other nutrient intake at the roots. A sprinkle of a dry organic fertilizer containing s single-source fungi at the beginning of your grow can be the only thing you add to your soil through both the vegetative and bloom phase and your plants will thrive.

What to Feed Organic Cannabis.

In addition to water, cannabis requires a few essential nutrients such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, manganese, etc. Synthetic nutrient supplements operate on a supply-lock basis, meaning that their job is to supply a nutrient directly to a plant until the plant locks that nutrient from further absorption. In this case, the remaining excess passes through the soil with water drain off. Organic soils, on the other hand, do not require nutrient supplements because they are comprised of ingredients that inherently contain these valuable minerals and molecules. Uptake in these cases is contingent solely on the plant’s needs and doesn’t require extra attention (or money) from the grower.

Providing your cannabis with sufficient growing conditions is one of the most important steps in building a successful organic grow. This includes a proper spectrum of light, optimal temperature and humidity settings, and high ventilation and airflow. Many organic growers swear by gardening outdoors but if you’re limited to growing indoors, choosing lights with the broadest possible light spectrum and the coolest temperature output is the key. You can always offset hot lights with proper ventilation and temperature control.

There are two ways to achieve a super soil of this caliber. The first is to build it yourself by acquiring these ingredients individually and mixing them to preference. Since this can be daunting to a novice grower, pre-mixed organic soils can also meet almost any growing condition and can be found in most hydroponic retailers that provide potting soils. Pre-mixed soils are highly recommended for first time cannabis growers because in most cases, these products require very little maintenance other than the occasional watering. This is because organic soils very rarely need pH adjustments, will produce and supply nutrients to cannabis plants without the need for additives, and are fortified with beneficial microorganisms that help deter pest damage.

Right now, if you live in one of these places and you meet the qualifications to cultivate in your home, there are only a few resources where you can go to get in-person consulting on the matter. Hydroponics shops and seed/clone retailers are a start, but these businesses, driven by monetary incentives, have a habit of suggesting that new growers begin by incorporating synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and non-soil grow mediums into their grow based on the fact that they all require a purchase at their facility.

Although conducive to achieving a sale, these suggestions aren’t always aimed on what is best for you, the consumer, as well as your plants. It’s important to understand that not all retailers share this modus operandi, and many shops are beginning to offer organic solutions alongside their synthetic companions. However, what you may not know is that for a fraction of the cost of a single bottle of synthetic liquid fertilizer, you can get the same, if not better yield, flavor, and cannabinoid content in your crop at home by simply using organic farming practices.

Other biological remedies such as bacillus thuringiensis, also known as BT or Mosquito Bits, and diatomaceous earth (DE) can help do wonders as an effective foliar agent to be used against pests.

There are currently 15 states with medical cannabis home grow provisions and three states (D.C. included) where adults are allowed by state law to cultivate at home recreationally, with some of these states carrying heavier qualifications than others. This list continues to grow as more cannabis enthusiasts gain access and can try finally try out their own green thumbs.

Synthetic nutrients and pesticides both have a tendency to leave soils pretty beat up and saturated with salts and chemicals towards the end of a grow, mandating pretty serious flushing to prepare your crop for consumption. In many cases, these soils must be remixed and tilled or tossed before the next season. As organic soils are actually living entities, they do not require tilling to prepare for a new crop. By simply removing the root ball and adding a bit of dry mycorrhizal fungi to the soil, you’re ready to go for a new round. No-till gardening is emerging as a standard in most organic cannabis farming practices, not just for its obvious sustainability purposes, but for the benefit that organic soils that have been strengthened over a long period of time can offer.

For starters, an all naturally amended soil medium is perhaps the most important first step in creating a healthy sustainable grow. Building a clean and sustainable organic potting soil for cannabis is absolutely essential in creating a viable food web for the microorganisms that will ultimately help keep your plants stacked with readily available “organic” nutrients. Popular organic soil amendments include most types of compost, pumice, earthworm castings, kelp meal, perlite, bat guano, fish emulsion, peat moss, etc. Ingredients along these lines each serve a specific purpose and will help foster an environment for microorganisms to proliferate.

With organics, the primary focus is to build the best possible environment to sustain life and provide nutrient access to your plants. This focus extends beyond the soil, so it’s best to view your entire grow as a tiny ecosystem that you must maintain in order to achieve homeostasis.

How to Grow Organic Cannabis.

Before you head into your local hydroponics shop and grab that bottle of “ Barry’s Synthetic Bud Ripening Super Juice” that’s packed full of salts and chemicals for your plants, consider going organic in your next home grow. Not only will your soil absolutely love the TLC, but your colas will, too. Organic cannabis farming can be cheap, simple, and far healthier and sustainable than using manufactured chemicals and synthetic additives in your grow. Whether you choose to incorporate one or all of these organic techniques into your grow, your cannabis will not regret it and neither will you!

Controlling Pests on Organic Cannabis.

Here is a little video of our organic living soil in action:

Read along to learn about our preferences for soil, containers, seeds, and how to get started growing cannabis at home, organically!

Now that you have a soil choice in mind, what are you going to put it in?

Soil Base:

Okay, we have our soil and our bags… now on to the most important part of this post: the cannabis itself.

Provide support for the main stalk with a sturdy stake. As the plant gets larger and starts to put on bud weight, you may find the need to further support individual branches. This will depend on the strain. Some growers get crazy with their support and training systems! We start with a small stake for seedlings (shown above) and then swap it to a 5 or 6-foot tall stake as the plant matures.

Note that you do not need a greenhouse or fancy supplies to start cannabis! If you don’t have a heat mat, I suggest pre-soaking the seeds in non-chlorinated water overnight before planting. This will aid in germination. In lieu of seedling start mix and little pots, another option is to germinate the seed inside a moist root riot cube, then plant the whole cube in its final grow bag after it sprouts. If you aren’t equipped to raise seedlings indoors for several weeks, plan to start in late April to early May. Most locations will be adequately warm enough by then for the seedlings to go right outside after germination (or to sow seeds directly outside, if you wish).

See how big they can get? Those are our Maui Wowie girls. Also note the DIY dolly below the grow bags. We can easily roll them aside when we want to enjoy our patio space, and put them more in the middle when we’re not outside.

If you do grow regular seeds , see this article to learn how to determine the sex of your cannabis plants in the early pre-flower stages. You may also want to start regular seeds a few weeks earlier than you would feminized seeds, which allows for ample time to ID the ladies (or gentlemen).

Last by not least, when the time comes, here an article all about processing your cannabis: “How to Harvest, Dry, Trim, Cure, & Store Homegrown Cannabis: The Ultimate Guide” . When IS the time right to harvest? You’ll learn that here too. This guide is basically everything you need to know, from the best timing, temperature, humidity, methods, and more.

Additionally, you can make them mobile! We make rolling dollies to sit all of our cannabis grow bags on, out of 2×6’s and heavy-duty casters . See the photos below. That way, we can easily roll or rotate the large (and heavy!) plants out of our way or into better sun as needed. If you do the same, make sure you get casters that are rated for at least 50 to 80 pounds of weight per wheel, minimum. Ours are 2″ and okay for the flat patio, but 3-inch wheels probably would have made it even easier to move.

Note:

Gypsum contains calcium and sulfur, and helps the plant better utilize and uptake potassium, which is one of the key macronutrients that all plants depend on for life. In the “NPK” ratio for all fertilizers, the K stands for potassium. Adequate potassium availability and uptake enables plants to photosynthesize, produce energy and important enzymes during growth, and also assists with water uptake and drought resistance.

Once they’re a few weeks old and the weather is right, we transplant our seedlings outside to their final large grow bag. When they are transplanted, we sprinkle some mycorrhizae in the planting hole and on any exposed roots. Mycorrhizae enhances nutrient uptake, and disease and drought resistance. If you did have your seedlings indoors under lights for a few weeks, don’t forget to properly harden them off before moving them outside! This helps to strengthen them and prevent transplant shock.

I am here to hopefully take some of the mystery out of it for you! The methods we choose to use for growing cannabis here at home are pretty dang simple! Sure, there are some steps to follow and supplies to gather, but growing cannabis is not all that more complicated than growing high-quality organic food at home . Or at least that is how we approach it. All you need is rich healthy soil, a large container, and either cannabis seeds or started seedlings – called “clones”.

CANNABIS GROWING CONDITIONS.

As the plant grows and the root ball gets larger, it will drink water faster and therefore need more, and more often . I will write a follow up post about watering and fertilizing (which often go hand-in-hand) throughout the growing season soon.

A note about peat moss:

Sativa -dominant plants are typically more uplifting and energizing. Sativa plants also get taller, lankier, and take longer from seed to harvest. Indica -dominant strains finish a little faster, pack on fatter buds, and are generally shorter and wider plants. These make them a preferable variety for northern climates with shorter growing seasons. Indica is also known for more of a mellow, sleepy, heavy, couch-lock kind of vibe.

For a super-quick growing season and small, manageable plants, you could try autoflower cannabis types. Autoflowers are available in feminized, sativa, and indica options too.

Oyster shell flour is an excellent source of calcium for the plants, as well as phosphorus. Adequate calcium carbonate protects plants from heat stress, makes them more resistant to disease and pests, strengthens plant cell walls, and increases nutrient uptake and overall vigor. Oyster shell flour also acts as a pH buffer.

*In the recipe above, when I mention the amendment amounts “per cubic foot of soil”, I mean the total combined volume including peat moss, compost, and aeration. Also note that all of these amendments are things we also use in the garden , and last many seasons!

If possible, use dechlorinated water . It isn’t a deal-breaker, but the plant and soil microbes will definitely appreciate it. If you are on city tap water, allowing a bucket of water to sit out overnight can help the chlorine dissipate. We mostly use our captured rainwater. Another option is to use a simple hose carbon filter to remove chlorine.

Rock Dust contains micronutrients and trace minerals that are essential for a plant’s core biological processes to work at their strongest, such as nutrient uptake and photosynthesis.

It’s very important to grow your cannabis plants to a size suitable to your space and likewise to the container you choose. You will need to transplant every time your plants double to triple their size. Small cups or 4-6” pots are good for starts.

Make sure your cultivating space is sanitized and clean. There’s an inherent risk posed by pests and contaminants. A messy space invites pathogens, harmful bacteria, and mold. A good idea is to plan a bi-weekly cleaning routine and stick to it.

A hermaphrodite cannabis plant will produce flower that’s full of seeds, ruining your chances of a decent yield of smokable buds.

Induction lamps are an odd choice for indoor growers. However, some companies have recently adapted them for the cannabis industry. They can potentially represent decent value in terms of cost and efficiency.

If you don’t know how to tell a male cannabis plant from a female , we’ve got a great article on the topic.

EDITOR’S CHOICE – Homegrown CannabisCo.

This is when you can extract the male plants and eliminate them. Male plants will have what look like little clusters of bananas; these are the pollen sacs. Female plants will have sharper early-stage calyxes with white hairs (pistils). Those growing from female clones or pre-purchased feminized seeds should have no concerns about male plants.

Other mixes are “neutral,” without any nutrients present. These mixes need appropriate amounts of fertilizer right from the start. Amendments to soil ingredients include compost teas and mycorrhizae bacteria, as well as other organic compost nutrients.

You can get these macronutrients pre-packaged in liquid or powder form (if you’re using an un-supplemented soil mix). However, a lot of organic “super soils” already contain them in sufficient amounts.

Lastly, consider using an RO filter as excess levels of chlorine and unfiltered minerals could harm the plants. You may want to choose a distilled option or at least filter it before adding it to your soil. Mineral-laden tap water can cause unwanted build-up in the cannabis root systems, which can lead to detrimental root disease.

You must also operate within the boundaries of the law before getting started. Growing marijuana remains illegal in many U.S. states. Make sure home cultivation is allowed where you live before proceeding. Assuming you are legally able to continue, keep reading our detailed guide to growing cannabis indoors.

The drawback is they can cost 3-5 times more than a decent HID setup! If you’re serious about getting into growing and have money to spend, however, give serious consideration to LEDs. But do your homework to avoid ‘scam’ LEDs online.

[The information in this article has under no circumstances been created for – or is intended to be used for – illegal purposes. Growing/cultivating cannabis is illegal in many U.S. states. We, therefore, advise that all readers become familiar with current laws and regulations in their region before they learn how to grow cannabis indoors].

Fluorescent lights are generally much cheaper and easier to use than the other options. They represent an excellent option for propagation of young plants or those with extremely low yield expectation. And remember: watts = grams. Low wattage will not prevent you from growing potent little flowers. They also don’t require a connection to an external ventilation system. Fluorescent lights are far less powerful than the other options. However, for novice DIY growers with a single plant or two and little space, they might be your best bet.

DIY indoor growers are unable to perform a 24/7 watch over their plants. However, you can provide adequate care by setting aside a few minutes a day. Routine checks, such as ensuring things like temperature, humidity, pH, and water levels are correct, are essential.

2 – A Clean Space is One of the Most Important Things to Remember.

General potting soil doesn’t work very well. You want a high-grade horticultural potting mix, which is light and airy. Some mixes come “charged” with a small amount of nutrients to get you through the first few weeks. However, these will need regular fertilizing later.

When cultivating cannabis indoors, there are two viable options: Growing in traditional soil or a hydroponic tray. Soil is typically recommended if you’re growing indoors for the first time. It’s cheaper, more straightforward, and more forgiving than an advanced hydroponic system. Let’s take a closer look at each of the two options.

Like most living things, cannabis plants need their “rest time.” If light from a surrounding source is seeping in during dark hours, the (bud-producing) females could get confused and develop hermaphroditic characteristics.

There are some outstanding pre-filled soil kits specially designed for increased airflow. Keep these in mind when deciding what to grow your first cannabis plants in.

Light is essential for the growing process. Your plants receive direct light the majority of the time. Be direct here: eg. plants need 12 hours of continuous, uninterrupted darkness to flower and eventually produce buds.

The first step is to cut off the big water leaves, otherwise known as the fan leaves. They have minimal THC in them and are generally removed. You’ll notice a visible difference between the long, green fan leaves and the smaller sugar leaves. The latter is covered in resinous glands (trichomes).

4 – Successful Indoor Growing Requires the Following Features.

We also recommend investing in a pH meter to check on the quality of your water and soil regularly. If you’re growing in soil, try to keep the pH between 6 and 7, with the sweet spot being 6.2-6.5. If you’re growing hydroponically, 5.5 to 6.5 is an appropriate range with the sweet spot of 5.8-6.0.

There’s no doubt a bit of a learning curve involved. You’ll make your fair share of mistakes. However, trust us when we say it’s all worth it in the end.

Think about how big you ultimately want to grow your plants when deciding on pot size for their final home. I suggest one-gallon of soil for every foot tall you intend to grow them. Regardless, plants don’t like waterlogged conditions so perforate the bottom of the bucket so the water can drain as needed.

You don’t need a particularly large growing/cultivating space. A typical grow room for a small-scale grower is a small tent, cabinet, or designated area in a spare room, even an unused corner of the house is sufficient! Here are a few helpful tips to get started.

Soil is less expensive, easier, and offers a higher margin of error. However, you need to carefully select the soil you use because quality can vary enormously.

While this is true to an extent, there is such a thing as “too much water.” Overwatering your indoor cannabis plants can prove detrimental to their productivity, and potentially stunt or kill them!

As a potential first-time grower, getting started is the biggest roadblock you’ll likely face. First, you have to find the right place to cultivate and obtain the proper growing equipment. Then, you need to buy cannabis seeds and spend a lot of time checking and maintaining your crop.