Growing ORGANIC Marijuana: DIY Style
At the time of writing, it is legal to cultivate marijuana at home in 21 states plus D.C. However, in several states, such as Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, you can only grow cannabis for medicinal reasons. It’s great news for cannabis enthusiasts who are now allowed by state law to cultivate at home for either recreational or medicinal purposes.
Despite the growth of marijuana cultivation across the United States, there are still relatively few places where you can benefit from a one-to-one consultation. You can take a trip to see seed/clone retailers or hydroponics stores. However, these organizations will likely steer you towards non-soil growing mediums, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers.
It’s like a broker recommending shares in a stock when he receives a commission from the company for doing so. These stores make the sale, but you don’t necessarily receive the best advice or products. Fortunately, there is an increasing number of retailers that follow the organic growing approach. Growing marijuana organically is something we wholeheartedly recommend at WayofLeaf.
Organic Versus Inorganic Growing
It would be remiss of us to disregard synthetic fertilizers completely. However, the fact remains that you can get better yields, higher cannabinoid content, and improved flavor by going organic. Best of all, it costs a lot less, too! People have grown marijuana naturally for thousands of years.
Growing organic cannabis was never an issue until marijuana was made illegal in the 1930s.
By the 1970s, a significant proportion of weed was grown indoors because cultivators knew they faced severe penalties if caught. Initially, it had a negative effect on potency and yield. As a result, growers used chemical fertilizers to grow cannabis. Grow spaces were confined areas susceptible to attack from pests. This meant that the use of further chemicals, in the form of pesticides, were needed.
With the change in legislation in certain states, clandestine growing is no longer required. As a consequence, it is now possible to revert to the days of organic growing. Keep reading to learn how easy and inexpensive it is to grow organic weed in the comfort of your home.
How to Grow Organic Cannabis
One of the great things about organic cannabis farming is how simple and flexible it is. The definition of ‘organic’ is a topic that continues to spark much debate. Some say that true organic farming involves plants grown from non-GMO seeds, without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
Jeff Lowenfels, a graduate from Harvard Law School, is often credited with increasing interest in growing marijuana organically. Lowenfels said that organic growth is all about a plant’s natural life cycle and the microorganisms that make up the soil food web.
A simple example of the concept is fertilizing a lawn in spring using leaves that fell in autumn and winter. The microorganisms that live in the soil play a massive role in organic gardening. They produce nutrients for your plants from waste and other compounds found in the soil. It is a natural process that removes harmful waste, and aids in feeding the plants.
Overall, we feel that there is a lack of regulation in terms of what dictates true organic farming. Technically, it is impossible to grow organically indoors since it involves growing in an enclosed system. However, unless you are an industry professional, it merely becomes a matter of preference.
We look at the pros and cons…
The Importance of High-Quality Soil
Firstly, you need an all-natural soil medium. Without high-quality organic potting soil, you can forget about achieving a successful organic grow. Everything starts with this ‘soil food web.’ As organic fertilizers are made from animal and plant waste, you need to consider soil amendments. Examples of these include perlite, fish emulsion, bat guano, earthworm castings, and compost.
Creating a super soil is not an easy task, and is something that novices may find tricky. On the plus side, you can avail of numerous ‘recipes’ online. We believe it is best to keep things simple and narrow your options down to two.
You can purchase premixed organic soils, which are great for new growers. Aside from watering, such mixes require little maintenance. Organic soils seldom need pH adjustments and can provide your marijuana plants with all the nutrients they need.
The second option is to create DIY super soil. This should be the preserve of experienced growers because it takes time, patience, and knowledge to get the right mix. The first step is to find the right base soil. High-quality organic soils usually are rather expensive. They should also contain ingredients such as those mentioned above, along with glacial rock dust, coco fiber, pumice, and soybean meal.
If you can’t find soil with enough nutrients, you must add your own. It isn’t enough to know what to add; you also must know the right ratios. This is why we recommend premixed organic soil!
Even when you have the right organic soil, it is essential to treat the whole growing environment as one ecosystem. This means keeping the right balance between soil, temperature, humidity, airflow, grow lights, and ventilation. It should be easier to achieve this delicate balance when growing outdoors.
Growing Organically Indoors
If you are an indoor grower, on the other hand, it is much trickier. Although it depends on the individual marijuana strain, most weed types fare well in temperatures of between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep humidity at around 60-65% during the vegetative stage, and lower it by 10-15% during flowering. Invest in a hygrometer and thermometer, which you can use to check humidity and temperature levels regularly.
Use temperature control and ventilation to keep everything balanced. With non-organic systems such as hydroponics, maintaining the right nutrient levels is a burden. You’ll be pleased to know that it isn’t the case with organic cannabis.
What Should You Feed Your Organic Cannabis?
Hydroponics mainly involves deciding which nutrients to use, with an emphasis on finding the right ratio. On the other hand, using the right water is essential when growing organic cannabis. We advise you to steer clear of tap water. Many municipal supplies are laden with chemicals, such as fluoride, that kill ‘good’ bacteria in the soil.
According to a NDRC report, approximately 77 million Americans are served by water systems that report violations of the 2015 Safe Drinking Act. It is safe to say that this water is also not suitable for plants. For the record, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania had the most offenses.
Experts recommend investing in a reverse osmosis (RO) system. A RO system purifies water, making it safe for you and your marijuana plants to drink. RO systems remove pollutants such as fluoride, sulfates, bacteria, pesticides, and much more from the water.
Aside from clean water, organic supplements can make a massive difference in the growing process. Aerated compost teas are excellent because they reintroduce living microorganisms to your soil. As a result, processes such as fighting pathogens, and turning them into nutrients, take place.
Mycorrhizal fungi can be added to soil because they boost nutrient and water intake at the roots of your organic plants. You can add a small sprinkling of these beneficial fungi to the soil at the beginning of the vegetative stage. This can help you achieve a more favorable result.
Marijuana requires Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K), throughout the growing process. As a rule of thumb, plants need more nitrogen during the vegetative stage and more phosphorus during flowering. It is also a good idea not to add nutrients two weeks before harvesting to avoid a nasty fertilizer taste. Don’t forget secondary nutrients such as calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Carbon dioxide is also essential.
When you add synthetic supplements, you must remember that they work on a ‘supply-lock’ basis. What this means is that they continue providing nutrients until the plant stops allowing them. The excess passes through the soil and drains off with water. With organic soils, you don’t need additional supplements because your plants already have everything they need.
Some of the best fertilizers a…
Organic Cannabis – Pest Control
We strongly urge you to refrain from using synthetic insecticides because you can ruin the taste of the crop. Also, inhaling these chemicals is very bad for your health. Unnatural pesticides damage the soil. If it is saturated with chemicals near harvest time, you face a desperate race against time to ‘flush’ the soil. If you don’t, then the crop is unusable.
Such soils also need to be tilled, tossed, or remixed if they are to be used next season. With organic soils, you are dealing with a living entity, which means no tilling, etc. is required. Just remove the root ball, add some mycorrhizal fungi, and the soil is ready to be used again!
As for dealing with pests, you have the option of creating homemade remedies. Sprays made with neem oil, in particular, are incredibly adept at killing pests and discouraging others. Other usable mixtures include garlic, coriander, and cinnamon. Bacillus thuringiensis, better known as BT, and diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, also work wonderfully against pests.
Companion planting is another great way to deal with pests. These are plants known for their ability to repel certain pests naturally. For example, marigolds are effective at dealing with aphids, while gnats hate basil and dill. Perform a quick search online, and you’ll find that there is a companion plant for almost every common pest.
Final Thoughts on Growing Organic Marijuana
Don’t succumb to the temptation of using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. You probably think it is the ‘easier’ option, but it isn’t. Growing cannabis organically is easier than you think. It is also cheaper and ensures your soil isn’t filled with salt and chemicals. If there is too much salt or chemicals in your soil, they can cause a nutrient lockout. The result is nutrient deficiencies, lower yields, less potent buds, and cannabis that doesn’t taste right.
When you go organic, your soil will love the extra care and attention it receives.
It makes no sense to continue using synthetic ingredients when you can grow organic marijuana instead. Throughout history, cannabis was grown naturally, and as you can see from this guide, you don’t need that much expertise.
The explosion in marijuana growing in the United States means there is ample information available regarding growing organically. There is also a lot of information which lets you know the necessary tools and ingredients that you’ll need. In the end, you get better tasting cannabis that’s likely to be more potent and save money in the bargain. What’s not to like?
Don’t succumb to the temptation of using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Here are more tips and tricks to growing organic cannabis
How to Grow Organic Cannabis at Home
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.
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.
How to Grow Organic Cannabis
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What to Feed Organic Cannabis
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).
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.
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.
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.
Controlling Pests on Organic Cannabis
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.
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.
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!
Organic farming practices for growing cannabis can result in better yield, flavor, and quality. Learn more about growing your own organic cannabis.