There are a lot of ways to grow cannabis, and depending what you are looking for as the end product of your work, you can us coco fiber or rockwool as your base and options like hydroponics, aquaponics, or aeroponics might be avenues you can explore. But for our purposes here, I am going to stick with the methods that most closely approximate what nature gave us – I’m taking about dirt – or more properly, “soil”, organic nutrients, and using techniques that allow your cannababies to live a happy, low-stress life that will reward you with gorgeous buds at the end of their cycles.
First things first: Growing cannabis is truly a simple process but is not one that rewards negligence by the grower. If you are not prepared to take a few minutes a day observing, touching, assessing, and caring for your plants, expect them to end up like any other part of your life that does not get loving attention – they will fade and wither and will never reach their full potential. (Kind of funny how anything can be a metaphor for life if you examine it closely enough, isn’t it?) At least 15 minutes of daily mindful attention to your plants is the baseline commitment necessary to ensure a bountiful harvest, so ask yourself if that is a reasonable expectation. These 15 minutes will allow you to ensure your crop is getting the necessary light and water it needs and will keep you ahead of the curve for any potential problems (pests, mold, etc.) that may develop. Almost every potential negative issue that may confront your plants is very solvable if addressed in the first few days, before it is allowed to reach a stage that is dangerous to the health of your crop.
Cannabis needs a few main nutrients in order to thrive. The truly necessary three macronutrients are grouped under the header NPK, an abbreviation of the chemical symbols for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These big three nourish cannabis with an assist from a varied group of less important micronutrients that includes calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, iron, manganese, cobalt, boron, chlorine, silicon, and copper.
The question is how to get these nutrients into your plants. Every grow shop and website from coast to coast offers bottles and bottles of products that promise to deliver the perfect combination of ingredients to make your plants happy and strong, but most of these are full of salts and chemicals that destroy the balance of your soil in the long run.
The other way to go is to create a fully organic, enriched soil that contains the proper ingredients to provide nutrition to your crop including beneficial fungal organisms that allow your plants and soil to work together in the way nature intended and to feed them together by the use of compost teas. The list of soil amendments for cannabis may include bat guano, worm castings, chicken poop, seaweed, coffee grounds, eggshells, bone meal, wood ash, mycorrhizae, fish meal, peat moss, and a variety of other potential ingredients. If creating your own recipe and mixing your own soil seems daunting, there are pre-bagged organic soils on the market. I suggest this compromise: Go with the best soil you can afford for this crop and while it does its thing, gradually acquire the knowledge and ingredients that will allow you to create an optimal soil by this time next year. Keep in mind that fully balanced organic soils can be reused and will even grow better with time while soil bombarded with salts need to be heavily flushed before harvesting and the remaining dirt is essentially useless.
Whatever path you take, friends, enjoy the process. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected].