How do I compost soil for growing organic marijuana?
Table of Contents
So you want to grow organic?
by SpliffyYoda (with contributions from a few other growers)
What does “organic” mean? Organic growing means growing a plant using only biologically available sources.
Unlike with chemical nutrient, in organic growing there is no “middle man” extracting just the active parts of something to be turned into an easily soluble salt.
Organic growing takes advantage of environmentally available nutrient sources and allows them to be naturally broken them down into something a plant can absorb.
This includes all organic products you could cultivate yourself through composting, vermicomposting, and even permaculture (aquaponics).
Note about veganic growing: There is organic growing and then there is veganic growing veganic growing uses zero animal byproducts and uses only plant and fungal life and natural minerals for nutrient sources.
The benefits: Growing marijuana organically offers a smoother, more tasty final product. There are no harsh chemicals used and a flush toward the end of flower isn’t even required. Organic growing can be easier then regular soil growing and is usually much simpler then hydroponics.
The cons: Growing organic is not cheap. Many products are needed to amend large quantities of soil, or to brew nutrient teas, and this can get expensive. Yet prices are comparable to buying a high-quality nutrient set for regular soil growing.
Why organics? Because you should care!
Wherever you live, where ever you are, there is no need for us to be dependent on a laboratory to help fertilize and grow amazing medicine. Nutrients made in labs contain salts which end up in our run off water, which then end up in our ecosystem.
No matter how you paint it, those inorganic salts pollute our seas and water tables.
Plus organic growing is easy!! You can grow plants that smoke smoother, taste better and look amazing!
In organic growing all of plants natural hues come out during flower, making your purples more purple, your blues more blue! Hell, with some soma strains, buds can even turn orange or completely black! This was the case when growing “Somango” and “Soma Lavender.”
What about my pH?
Don’t worry about it seriously… Don’t.
In organic growing you depend on your soil and the humates it contains to buffer your pH. If pH adjustment is necessary because you are witnessing nutrient lock out, then you may want to look into adjusting your pH organically.
Never attempt to adjust the pH until you know something is wrong!
In organic growing “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” If you do need to adjust, use an organic source for pH management. How do I adjust the pH when growing organically?
In organic growing you feed the soil (not the plant) from these microbes and micro flora. They break down these nutrients and with the help of beneficial fungi introduce it into your root/plant effectively feeding it. A healthy organic medium with a good micro herd and bennies can tolerate any nutrient solution from 4.0-8.0 pH.
As long as your nutrient solution and plain water aren’t too far out of that range, the pH will be self corrected in the root zone by the humates, microbes, beneficial fungi and your soil itself.
You’ve effectively created a butler that prechews your plants food for it and makes sure it’s the right pH. This “butler” is called mycorrhizae and it gives your plant the food it asks for in exchange for glucose.
Conclusion: You don’t have to pH at all when growing organic marijuana. The ecosystem in your organic mix should take care of everything as long as the pH range stays within 4.0-8.0.
Organic Growing: Different Methods
The simplest way to grow organically is with a super soil mix in a container.
Some growers choose to grow “fully organic” while other growers are happy with “semi-organic” growing.
The differences between organic growing and semi organic growing are simple. One approach is hands on and the other is hands off.
No matter which method you choose, in organic growing, there is no need for pH adjustment. The only pH that matters is the natural pH of your soil.
First I will share the “traditional” way of growing organic marijuana which involves mixing your own super soil, then I’ll share a “hands-off” alternative to organic growing.
Organic Gardening Method 1: Compost Your Own Super Soil
The main idea is to get a base soil and amend it with nutrients. You are trying to create to make living soil that mimics the composition of a thriving natural ecosystem, where life and death work in symbiosis.
There are many recipes for mixing soil, but the one included below has been tried-and-tested for growing marijuana, and has proven itself to produce outstanding organic buds.
Preparing your soil: There is a lot of manual labor involved but it is a labor of love!
IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe is for amending a super soil mix with 8 large bags – if you need less soil, simply divide the recipe down to what you need and recalculate the dosage of other ingredients to your needs.
What you need:
8 large bags of high quality organic potting soil with coco coir and Mycorrhizae (30 pounds each bag or
240 pounds total) – Roots Organics Soil or Sunshine Mix is ideal
*** If using an RO (reverse osmosis) system add in 1/2 cup powdered Cal/mag
Credit: Thanks to subcool, a great marijuana breeder, for this recipe.
Step 1: Mix everything together
Lay everything out on a tarp as evenly as you can. Lay the soil, worm castings and perlite first in even layers. Then evenly sprinkle the rest of the larger amendments across the entire surface (except for the epsom salt, sweet lime, azomite and humic acid, and beneficial bacteria, which are needed in extremely tiny amounts and will be added at the end).
You want to mix everything together thoroughly so there are no “hot spots,” and laying out the ingredients properly will make it a lot easier to mix your super soil together.
You can use anything to mix your super soil mix together thoroughly, even your feet, though a small gardening hoe works well.
Now you will add the smaller elements that are remaining (epsom salt, sweet lime, azomite and humic acid and beneficial bacteria).
You can ensure an even coverage by spreading these powders over the entire dirt pile as evenly as possible and then “kneading” with your feet or hands (or whatever you’re using).
View a video of famous organic growers Jinxproof and Mr Spliff mixing their super soil
(start at 2:58 to skip the intro and get straight to the mixing)
“We added coco coir and hydroton for additional aeration since Black Gold organic soil does not contain coco. Once soil is mixed, we transferred to garbage cans with lids or cover for 40-60 days for soil to innoculate. After 40-60 days a mold layer will have developed. Mix mold into dirt and it is ready for use.”
Step 2: Add water to mix to initiate the microbial process
The process of adding water initiates the microbial process that will break down all the organic compounds and innoculate the beneficial fungi.
After mixing your mix together it is time to put everything into a container and to water it all.
If you don’t have a good container (such as a garbage can) to hold your super mix while it cooks, you can water the mix while it’s still on the tarp, and then wrap it up.
If you do wrap your mix in your tarp, you may want to spread your mix out in a “worm” shape first, as pictured to the right, so it’s easy to wrap up.
The idea is to keep the mix both moist and relatively contained. If your super soil mix is not put in a container or wrapped up, it will dry out, which stops the whole process.
Step 3: Allow to “cook” for 30-60 days (keeping soil moist but not soggy)
The recommended “cook” time is 30-60 days you want to keep the soil moist but not soggy during this time.
Be on the look out for bugs! You just created a perfect environment for them to live.
Bonus points: if you add live worms to this mix it will help aerate your mix. Worms can even be used when you plant as they do no harm living in potted containers.
Step 4: Fill the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of your pot with this special super soil, and fill the rest with untreated soil
Now that you have your super soil mix, you fill the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of your pot with this soil mixture.
Fill the top half with just your base organic soil you bought and did not amend.
This is so you do not burn young plants or clones with too many nutrients, and creates a sort of hempy style nutrient reservoir at the bottom that causes plants to explode in growth.
Fill Bottom 1/3 to 1/2 with Super Soil Mixture
Then top off with untreated organic soil.
Step 5: Start growing!
Learn how to germinate marijuana seeds
Step 6: Maintain Organic Super Soil With Compost Teas
The best way to maintain your organic grow is to use compost teas, which continue adding “good stuff” to your soil.
When using a super soil mix like above, there is no need for additional nutrients in your compost tea! You have already added the nutrients your plants need, and the compost helps get some of the extra “good stuff” to your plants.
You want all the microbes that a compost tea has in order to keep the ecosystem in your pot thriving! It will help innoculate all the beneficial fungi in your soil and help break down the large organic materials like the bone meal and blood meal.
Organic Gardening Method 2: “Hands Off” Alternatives
Like any other growing style there are a million ways to do it.
Probably the simplest method for growing marijuana organically is to start with organic soil and pair it with a proven organic nutrient line like the GO box.
However, many growers believe that these “semi-organic” methods of growing do not get all the benefits of a “traditional” organic grow since it does not necessarily build the micro-ecosystem you would create with the soil mix above. Others swear by these “hands off” alternatives to organic growing. It’s up to you to decide what works for you!
For now that is all I have I hope this gets some traction and helps somebody!
Want more complete instructions?
Organic Marijuana Trophy Pic!
This picture is by the author of this article, SpliffyYoda.
Details from SpliffyYoga about these happy vegetating plants:
- Grow Light: 350 watts worth of CFLs
- Strain: Wonder Woman from clone – genetics are from Nirvana Seeds
- They’re in 3.5 gallon buckets with drainage holes drilled in the bottom
- Growing technique is topping mixed with LST
So you want to grow organic? Learn how to mix up your own organic super soil! Just add water and grow…