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best soil mix for seeding marijuana

How to maintain/amend your cannabis super soil mix

Have you ever heard the saying, “Feed the soil, not the plants?” It’s a popular mantra within the organic gardening community, and it speaks volumes to the philosophy of building the soil food web that we mentioned in Part 1 of this series. In reality, a healthy organic substrate has everything it needs (with the exception of water) to give your plants what they require to provide abundance.

However, by maintaining your soil with proper organic additives, you can drive production even further. In Part 3 of our Super Soil series, we go over popular organic soil amendments, feeding regiments, and a few tips and tricks for maximizing abundant soil life that will help give your cannabis garden the extra boost it needs to provide you with the highest quality yields possible.

Why Amend Your Super Soil Mix?

You already have this super-charged soil, so why continue to amend it over time? After all, it should feasibly have everything your cannabis plant would need for the continuation of its growth cycle, right?

While this is technically, true, amending your soil will continue to replenish and fortify new life within, thus strengthening the ever-important soil food web. Subsequently, a healthy and more biodiverse soil food web will help maintain the proper ratios of nutrient availability for your plants, provide a stronger and more resilient defense mechanism for pests and diseases, and protect your root system from potentially inclement conditions. Maintaining and amending your soil is the single most important step that an organic cannabis cultivator can take in ensuring a flawless crop.

Below are three proven methods you can use to amend your super soil.

Mulching

Simply put, mulching is the act of spreading organic material over the topsoil in your cannabis garden. Microbes are the lifeblood of a soil food web, and they love to feed on mulch.

This process is amazingly multifaceted in benefiting your garden by providing anaerobic decomposition (which will provide food for the web), top cover protection from elements such as weeds and pests, and temperature control for the soil life to stay happy and thriving. Furthermore, mulching has an amazing ability to retain water within your soil, allowing you to water less during feeding schedules and to not worry as much about drought conditions.

You can use just about any organic material for mulch, but a few that work exceptionally well are compost, straw, wood chips, or even processed harvested cannabis branches. Maintain between 1-5 inches of fresh mulch in your cannabis garden at all times. For container growers and bed growers, leave a few extra inches between the top soil and container edge for continual mulching. Try to add an inch of new compost every month or so for maintenance.

Compost Teas

What do you do when your cannabis plants are feeling down and need an extra organic boost? Two words: compost teas! Simply put, a compost tea is a quick way to infuse new microbe food into your soil. Remember, we organic gardeners are in the business of feeding soils, not plants. A problem with a plant is often a problem with its soil.

Our super soils have a busy job. Part of that job is to take raw materials and convert them or break them down to simpler ingredients that the plants will then consume though their root system. A compost tea is like an energy drink for your cannabis root system, providing nutrients for the plants and soil life combined. Making a compost tea is relatively simple, and Part 3 of our Super Soil series provides details on how to concoct your own special brew.

Insofar as feeding regiments are concerned, there’s no simple answer. Many gardeners administer different compost tea recipes for each phase of the plant life cycle. Some choose to feed teas to their garden on a weekly basis. Compost teas are versatile in that they can be used as either a top feed and/or foliar spray. You can choose to brew a tea as a one-time use or incorporate them into your schedule. Either way you choose to administer your teas, your soil and plants will surely thank you for the hospitality.

Mycorrhizal Inoculants

Fungi are crucial in maintaining beneficial symbiotic relationships between the soil life and root zone of your cannabis plants. This relationship is so important, and so taken for granted, that without a strong bond, your plants will not be able to uptake the nutrients they need to survive. So how do we gardeners help to facilitate this bond?

One way is to inoculate root zones with mycorrhizae. These fungi are the relationship facilitators our plant roots desperately need to be able to feed themselves properly. Your soil can have a boatload of nutrients, but with no way to reach the root zone, they’re rendered useless.

Furthermore, these microscopic masterminds also help protect the roots from harmful elements while at the same time providing safe passage of water through to the plants. Needless to say, inoculating your roots with mycorrhizae will do wonders for your soil food web and cannabis plants.

Acquiring a mycorrhizal inoculant for your garden is as easy as heading to your local hydro shop or garden center. Nowadays, this stuff is ready available in many different forms (mostly powders). One way to administer your mycorrhizal inoculant is to do so upon transplanting. The only effective way to incorporate these into the soil is to administer them directly to the root zone.

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It takes time for these relationships to build between the fungi and the root zones (4-6 weeks), so add your inoculant as early in the plant’s life cycle as possible. A little goes a long way when applying, so be sure to evenly distribute the mycorrhizae across the entire root zone, or anticipate where the roots will reach in your container and sprinkle a little bit in anticipation. This way, the roots will eventually reach the inoculate as they grow in.

Although organic super soils have been touted to be a one-stop shop for nutrient supplementation, amending in this fashion will help provide the best possible resources for your soil food web. It’s amazing to think that with the use of all-natural methods such as these, you can provide your cannabis with everything it needs to thrive.

How to Make Organic Soil for Cannabis

Cannabis is only as good as the soil it’s growing in. If you consider soil as an afterthought to your growing process, you’ll find some very noticeable problems come harvest time.

Healthy soil produces healthy plants, and as many organic soil advocates argue – a better-tasting product. Growing organically, in a well-built soil, is good for you and your buds.

What Is Organic Living Soil?

The best way to understand healthy, organic soil is to use a forest as an example. One the one hand, we have the Amazon rainforest, teeming with life, biodiversity, and a million different creatures making up a thriving ecosystem. It’s loud with insects, birds, and rich in plant life.

On the other hand, we have a monoculture plantation with a single species of tree. Less diversity means fewer insects and fewer birds. This Monsanto style plantation is prone to disease and infestation, and eerily quiet.

What sounds healthier? Like the rainforest, you want to build soil with a powerful life-force. Its got many different organic components, including bacteria, fungi, and micronutrients. You can, of course, create a basic soil mixture without all these components, but your plant will suffer. Another option would be to pick up some high-quality living soil ready to go, right out of the bag.

Plant life, including your cannabis crop, evolved in synergy with a diverse ecosystem. Who wants to grow lack-luster cannabis, when you can produce a premium crop by merely paying attention to the soil?

The 3 Fundamental Building Blocks in Organic Soils

  • Organic compost
  • Aerator
  • Organic base material

Organic compost is pretty straightforward; its decomposed plant material created as organic waste breaks down.

What is an aerator? Aerators are perlite, vermiculite, and other options which fluff up the texture. They improve drainage and improves root development.

The organic base material is the substance, the grit of your soil. Its building blocks like coco fiber or Ancient Forest natural humus.

Of course, you can build your soil from the bottom up using equal parts of each of the three building blocks. Otherwise, if you live in a region with thriving cannabis cultivation, you can likely source some local soil options – all specially formulated for growing cannabis.

But this is only the base material. You need to build an ecosystem of biodiversity to really meet the needs of your crop. Quality soil has many different parts. For example, have you read the ingredient listing for any reputable organic soil brands? Check out what’s on the back of Roots Organics soil mixture:

Coco fiber, peat moss, perlite, pumice, premium worm castings, bat guano, kelp, fishbone meal, soybean meal, feather meal, greensand, leonardite and alfalfa meal

What Are the Best Organic Soil Amendments Cannabis?

As you’ve just learned, great soil for growing cannabis is much more complicated than many beginner gardeners assume. To build healthy organic soil for cannabis, you have to understand the best soil amendments for cannabis.

Soil amendments are additions which improve the environment for the plant growing in it. Each kind of plant is going to need different amendments as a way to perfect the setting for an epic harvest.

Soil amendments improve the soil’s essential characteristics, like the texture and the pH level. As we discussed, the texture is crucial. A soil’s physical structure can make or break a harvest.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and feel the texture. Does it feel thick, sandy, or like clay? Does it feel loose, fluffy, and organic? The texture shows you the drainage and aeration properties.

Best Soil Amendments to Improve Physical Properties

  • Humus
  • Peat
  • Coco fiber

What about the pH level? Is it basic or acidic? Unless you already have an accurate reading, you’ll have to test the soil yourself using either a simple pH test kit or a digital reader. Once you have the results, you can correct if needed by adding various soil amendments.

But what is the correct organic soil pH for cannabis ? Cannabis prefers a pH level between 6 to 7.

Best Soil Amendments to Improve the pH

  • pH Level Up
  • pH Level Down

What Are the Best Organic Nutrients for Cannabis Plants?

Just like humans, all plants need nutrients to survive. Also, just like humans, plants need more than just the macronutrients. To make sure your cannabis plants thrive, you also need to provide a range of micronutrients.

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The best organic nutrients help build a specialized soil profile suitable for cannabis. If you are growing tomatoes or dailies, you’ll need to create a slightly different nutrient profile. With that in mind, look for nutrients designed specifically for cannabis, and furthermore, for each stage of growth.

Nutrient labels include a ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus, and potassium or N-P-K. Cannabis prefers the following ratios depending on its stage of growth:

  • Seedling/Clone: 5-3-4
  • Vegetative: 5-2-3
  • Flowering: 5-5-3

Keep in mind different nutrient brands may vary slightly in these ratios, but should follow the same pattern.

If you want to add organic soil amendments to improve these macronutrients consider the following:

  • Nitrogen Rich Soil Amendments:worm castings, crustacean meal, Guano
  • Phosphorus Rich Soil Amendments: bone meal, chicken manure, and glacial rock dust
  • Potassium Rich Soil Amendments: Compost, seaweed meal, and wood ash.

Sound overly complicated? Start measuring your nutrient levels through run off or a slurry — check out this guide for more information.

Or, if you still want to maintain a healthy nutrient ratio without any complicated math, look for all-in-one nutrient kits . They’ve taken the guesswork out of this process and provide everything you need from seedling to harvest.

What Micronutrients Does Cannabis Need?

Many cultivators may want to ignore the micronutrients, but they form a crucial piece of the cannabis-growing puzzle. Cannabis (like all plants) require secondary or micronutrients – just like we humans need trace elements in our diet.

Micronutrients for plants include the following (listed in descending order of importance):

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese

Sound like too much? Good news! By the time you have built your soil, added the various organic amendments, and reached this stage of development – very likely your soil has most if not all of these secondary nutrients.

That said, some cultivators like to get into the nitty-gritty, including adjusting the levels of these often-ignored nutrient levels.

If this sounds like you, don’t be afraid to go ahead and work with secondary nutrient soil additives, like General Organics Calcium-Magnesium blend. With a little experimentation, you can see how adjusting these minute levels of compounds affect flower development.

What is Organic Living Soil for Cannabis?

Up to this point, we haven’t discussed the living aspect of our thriving cannabis ecosystem. Cannabis, when grown in soil, actually develops an intimate two-way relationship with this environment.

Through the cannabis roots, your plants uptakes oxygen, water, and nutrients. The roots build a complicated network of connections with the bacteria and fungi living in the soil. Focus on building a healthy bacteria and fungus population, and you make it easier for the plants to pull these essential resources from the soil.

Furthermore, if you have an eclectic microscopic community of living organisms in your soil, they can help improve the health of the plant. With the right fungus and bacteria populations, they help the plant fight off pests and diseases.

To build a thriving microscopic support system – try adding the following soil amendments:

  • Fungus additives: Kelp meal, Humic acid, Mycorrhizal inoculant
  • Bacteria additives:worm castings, bat guano

What Is the Best Organic Soil for Cannabis Seedlings (and All Stages)?

If you’ve made it this far, you have successfully created a super soil for cannabis. It’s all-natural, all organic, and going to give your plants the boost they need to produce big, beautiful harvests.

Let’s review the fundamentals of organic cannabis soil:

  1. The best organic soil for cannabis is built on equal parts of compost, aerators, and organic base material.
  2. Cannabis prefers an organic soil mixture with a pH havering between 6 and 7.
  3. Nutrient requirements for cannabis change slightly during each stage of growth. Seedlings need higher nitrogen and lower phosphorus needs (ex: 5-3-4). Your plants need higher nitrogen and even lower phosphorus and potassium in the veg stage (ex. 5-2-3). Flowering needs equal parts nitrogen and phosphorus plus lower potassium (ex. 5-5-3).
  4. For an added boost, work with trace elements like Calcium and Magnesium.
  5. Add a few bacterial and fungus inoculants to finish off a thriving cannabis ecosystem.

As you get started, work with soils, amendments, and nutrients specially designed for cannabis. As you get acquainted with using these pre-mixed kits, you’ll see their impact over your harvests. Eventually, you’ll get comfortable making custom soil mixes, playing around with inoculants, and experimenting for better, tastier yields.

Are Worm Castings the Best Fertilizer for Marijuana Growers?

In your search for the best fertilizer for marijuana, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about worm castings. Worm manure is often overlooked, but it has proven to be one of the most potent soil supplements in the marijuana industry. What exactly makes worm castings such a popular marijuana plant food? Let’s get the dirt on worm castings.

Using Worm Castings to Grow Marijuana

Earthworm castings are “growing” in popularity in the marijuana community (you see what I did there?). With weed being legalized either for recreational or medicinal use in many states, marijuana farms are sprouting up everywhere.

One of the biggest challenges they face is trying to identify the perfect marijuana plant food. While it’s often been overlooked, because it’s somewhat difficult to find, worm castings are proving to be the ideal soil supplement for marijuana growers.

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Many growers have found that it shortens the germination cycle for new plants, increases yield on their crop overall, and does it all while protecting the plants from disease. As if that wasn’t enough, worm castings are also chemical-free. This makes it an especially attractive option for organic growers, specifically.

You should also read our post on best soil for marijuana.

Faster Growth and Higher Yield

The legalization of marijuana has shown just how much of a booming business that marijuana cultivation can be. With it being one of the most profitable cash crops on the market, a lot of farmers are giving it a second look.

The fertilizer that you choose can have a major impact on the bottom line for marijuana farmers. Ultimately, you want to grow more marijuana and you want to do it faster. By maximizing production, you can create more product and do it more profitably.

An Ohio State University study found that worm castings have a substantial effect on the yield of crops. They found that increased yield was due to plant growth regulators produced by microorganisms within the castings. In short, the castings have billions of tiny, healthy bacteria within them that contribute to the rapid germination and growth of plants.

In addition to the beneficial microbes, the USDA says that worm castings are “several times higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium than topsoil.” The nutrients in all-natural worm castings are substantial and they provide the perfect mix that marijuana plants need.

The bottom line is that worm castings mixed in with your soil will pay big dividends when it comes to harvesting marijuana.

Protects Marijuana Plants Naturally

Worm castings have the ability to protect your marijuana plants from both diseases and pests without the use of harmful chemicals. This study from Cornell University found that earthworm castings can stop many common plant diseases.

According to the study, castings “can colonize a seed’s surface and protect it from infection by releasing a substance that interferes with the chemical signaling between the host and the pathogen.” These pathogens are a common issue for many greenhouse growers when attempting to grow marijuana and other plants indoors.

Worm castings help form a protective barrier at the microbial level, that will keep your plants growing even if they’re exposed to potentially harmful diseases.

In addition to protecting against disease, castings also help keep pests at bay. Microbes in worm castings naturally stimulate the production of chitinase, which breaks down the exoskeletons of many insects.

This provides a natural and safe form of pesticide without all the synthetic chemicals. You can save money on pesticide, while at the same time keeping your plants healthy for consumption.

A Little Goes a Long Way

When being cost-conscious, you don’t want to spend to much on fertilizer or soil supplement. If you’re in need of a cost-effective solution, worm castings are the way to go. While you really can’t use too much, you don’t have to overdo it either.

If you have a large agricultural, landscaping, lawn care or gardening business, buying worm castings in bulk is more cost-effective and convenient for you.

At Simple Grow, we guarantee a high-quality product every time and we can have your order delivered right at your doorstep. Contact us now so we can give you a free custom quote.

Many growers use a mix of 25% earthworm castings to 75% soil. That’s typically enough to make a big difference for the plants. In some cases, growers make an earthworm castings tea by soaking the castings in water and then spraying the plants with the mixture. This allows you to get even more bang for your buck and help your marijuana plants throughout the growth cycle.

Another nice thing about worm castings is that you really can’t screw it up. If you put too much in the soil, it’s not going to burn the plants. It’s totally safe to handle and it won’t have any negative affect on the plants if you accidentally put too much in.

In fact, you could grow marijuana plants directly in worm castings if you wanted to, although it’s probably not the most cost-effective route to do it on a large scale. If you try worm castings on your marijuana plants, you can tweak the mix to get just the right formula. The good news is that it’ll work well, regardless of what you do.

Choosing the Right Worm Castings Product

With as awesome as worm castings are, you might think that you’ll be fine no matter which one you buy. While worm castings are great in general, not all brands are created equally. What are some things that you should look for when buying the best fertilizer for marijuana?

  • Percentage of purity
  • High-quality food source for the worms
  • Controlled process that ensures quality castings
  • Guaranteed results
  • Trusted brand

Simple Grow Soil Builder is the highest-quality worm casting product on the market. We offer various size bags of worm castings to cover whatever size planting area you have. Needing more than 1 ton? Click here for a free bulk quote!