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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
What to Feed Organic Cannabis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Controlling Pests on 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!
Whatever you do, don’t plant your clones in the ground. They’ll run rampant, and “you’ll have pounds of weed in your house,” Johnson says, recalling the trays of weed atop his kitchen table when his crop grew wild. “You don’t need the stress of plants getting out of control, growing over your fence.” If your neighbors can see them, they might complain about them, and having too many plants could get you arrested.
Cannabis cultivation laws vary widely state-by-state. Also, we can’t stress this enough: Growing cannabis is illegal in a lot of places, and the penalties — which include steep fines and prison time — can be much worse than possession, since growing can imply an intent to distribute. Black and brown folx need to be especially scrupulous about heeding these rules, since law enforcement targets us way more than white people for weed-related charges, even if we consume it at similar rates.
When the pandemic hit, many of us turned to quaint pastimes to soothe our existential dread, whether it was baking sourdough, knitting, or doing jigsaw puzzles. If you want to expand your repertoire of distraction methods with an activity that still has that quiet, homey vibe, but with a bit more of an edge, consider growing your own weed.
If you use organic soil, all you’ll really need to do is add water, Johnson says — but don’t overdo it. The number one mistake he sees new growers make is watering their plants too often. In general, “watering every day is too much. The rule is, if you pick up your plant, and the pot is heavy, then it has a enough water. If it’s light, it’s dry, then you need to water.” You could also stick your finger knuckle-deep into the soil; if it feels dry, add water.
Your cannabis will be ready to harvest at around October. You’ll know they’re ready when the buds “start to get really, really swollen and packed pretty tight,” Johnson says. But it can be hard to tell if you’re a beginner. Many growers say that if you think your plant is ready to harvest, wait two weeks, since many newbies tend to harvest too early. Or, you could share a photo of your crop on a forum and ask more experienced growers to weigh in.
Since clones come from plants that have been grown indoors, let yours chill in a shaded area for a week before exposing them to full sun, Johnson says. “The clone hasn’t tasted sun like that, and the transplant itself will be stressful.”
While you can absolutely grow cannabis indoors, outdoor cultivation is much simpler and cheaper, says Ron Johnson, author of How to Grow Organic Cannabis: A Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Marijuana Outdoors , who also runs the website The Cannabis Gardener. “The sun is free,” he tells Mic. “You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a month in electrical bills.” An outdoor garden probably won’t allow you to turn over product fast enough, but it’ll suffice if you just want to grow weed for yourself. Plus, it’s gentler on the planet.
To check if your cannabis is ready for trimming, perform a break test on each branch. If it bends so much it nearly breaks, then it’s ready, and if it breaks right away, it might be overly dry, but still totally usable. Trim off the buds and seal them inside a mason jar for curing, opening it periodically over the course of about four weeks to let moisture escape. Johnson outlines a detailed schedule on his website, including instructions on how to look for mold.
If you buy seeds from a seed bank, look for those labeled “feminized” to ensure they give rise to female plants, Johnson says. But if you’re a total newbie, he suggests buying clones, which are cuttings from a “mother” female plant, available at some dispensaries, as well as at nurseries. Not only are they easier to obtain, “they’re easier to grow. You get a clone, and you transplant it to some soil.”
Don’t go overboard, though, he warns. Start with growing three plants in five-gallon pots. This way, if one dies, you’ll still have two plants, and the pots will limit their growth. A general rule of thumb is that they’ll grow one foot for every gallon of soil. He recommends mixing your own organic soil, which he explains how to do on his website and will save you the headache of adding nutrients or pH testing. “The soil is what we call alive,” he says. “It’s always breaking things down to replenish nutrients that are missing.” But if you can’t mix your own soil, or don’t feel like it, you could buy organic Pro-Mix soil, which Johnson says many outdoor growers use.
There are different harvesting methods, but Johnson cuts the whole plant at the base and hangs it upside down with some twine in a dark room at a temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a fan for airflow — you definitely don’t want the room to be humid, which will cause mold to grow, rendering your crop unusable. It’ll probably take around a week to dry.
Johnson notes that the outdoor grow season lasts from around April to October, meaning if you plant seeds now, they’d still yield flower, but not much. Since it’s late in the season, he suggests buying a large clone, which will have more branches and therefore yield more flower.
Cannabis plants can be either male or female. Female plants yield the plump flowers, a.k.a., “buds,” that we know and love, brimming with psychoactive compounds like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, which gets you high), Modern Farmer explains. Male plants yield much smaller flowers, which people typically don’t consume. In other words, if you want to actually indulge in your crop, you’ll want female plants.
Do your homework and read up on the laws in your state. Some states prohibit growing cannabis, while others, like my home state of California, permits anyone over age 21 to grow cannabis, but only up to a certain number of plants. NORML has a pretty in-depth guide to the laws in each state. Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont, and Maine also allow cultivation, but again, the specifics depend on the state. Definitely clarify what your rights are before you start the glorious path to at-home bud gardening.
Before you get started.
That said, when your plants are fully flowering, you might find yourself watering them daily, based on these indicators. When you do water them, keep going until you see water running off the soil, to ensure the water reaches all of the soil in the pot.
Once you’ve cured your cannabis, sprinkle some bud in a bowl, or whatever your preferred method of imbibing might be, and savor your hard-earned crop.
Examples of chemically-derived non-organic nutrients are Miracle-Gro, Peter’s and the popular General Hydroponics Flora Series three-part formula. These nutrients will grow plants with nice-looking, sizable flowers. But without implementing a long flush, these buds will burn like charcoal, with a black ash that continuously needs to be relit. I’ve smoked plenty of decent chemically-grown pot (and grown it in the past). But the same strains, grown organically, always win out in the final analysis.
The best cannabis cultivators always seek new ways to improve the quality of the flowers they produce. Some will still debate that there isn’t a difference between marijuana grown with chemicals and flowers grown organically. But savvy connoisseurs and well-informed patients prefer naturally produced pot. That’s why we’ve provided this handy step-by-step guide on how to grow organic weed.
An organic product can broadly be described as any product that’s derived from a recently living organism. To grow organic weed means that your growing medium and plant foods result from natural sources. Not from synthetic salt compounds conjured up in a lab. Organic particles are capable of decay or are sometimes the product of decay, unlike the concentrated chemical formulas designed to grow commercial crops cheaply.
Pouring salts and chemicals onto a dead medium and then down the drain does unnecessary damage to your local environment. It pollutes rivers, lakes and oceans.
Take one look at some of the results of chemical agribusiness runoff, such as the Salton Sea in Southern California. You’ll see why nonorganic nutrients are never advisable. Rotting fish carcasses float on the salty foam of a dead sea, and the whole area reeks of a foul stench that’s clearly man-made. This isn’t the woodsy, earthy smell of natural decay prevalent in a compost pile; it’s the acrid odor of an early demise caused by overuse of toxic chemicals.
What Does “Organic” Mean?
In a natural setting, plants, dead animals and animal waste all collect over time on the forest floor. They decay with the help of bugs, bacteria, worms and fungus to provide nourishment in the topsoil layer that is vital to plant growth. This process, referred to as the “soil food web,” is how recently living organisms feed their future selves and complete the cycle of life and death. Roots thrive, aided by mycorrhizal fungi that help break down nutrients for easy accessibility and uptake. This top humic layer of soil is teeming with beneficial microbes and bacteria. This is what we try to re-create when we grow organic weed.
Cannabis growers should feel an obligation to use a healthy, living soil to produce truly medicinal and connoisseur-quality pot. Now, most nutrient companies provide organic alternatives that won’t clog drippers or stink up reservoirs, so even hydro growers can take advantage of more natural plant foods. Medicinal users who want to grow organic weed should especially take note of organic methods. There’s no longer any legitimate reason to use chemical formulas.