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Even though organic produce is normally smaller in size than its non-organic competitors, it pretty uniformly packs a hundred times the flavor and richness into that size. The simple matter is, organic production processes are more conducive to the rich taste and smell of produce. The joys of cannabis are unparalleled, and when it comes to marijuana, things are no different: Organic processes better suit the terpenes that provide your weed with its particular rich flavors. To that end, here's how to grow organic weed that will taste, smell, look, and feel better than any alternatives.
Composting and Soil
If you want to grow organic weed, you can't have too sensitive a stomach. You can't rely on lab-processed nutrients, soil, or any such tools. If you want to make your own, you'll have to get your hands a little dirty. The large majority of organic cannabis growers use standard soil as their grow medium, although it is technically possible to use other grow mediums—specifically hydroponics—for growing organic marijuana as well. More on that later. For now, let’s talk about organic soil.
To make your own perfect base soil to grow organic weed, you first need to master the basics and chemistry of composting. Your compost should be two parts “green” material to one part “brown” material, generally speaking. Although the exact chemistry can get a little tricky, this rule of thumb will get you very close to the ideal ratio for your organic super soil. For “brown,” or carbon materials, you need to compost products like dry leaves, paper, and any wood cuttings or sawdust. For “green” or nitrogen materials, you can use fruits and vegetables (and any of their parts), eggshell, old bread, and even animal parts like feathers, hair, and fur.
Once you have your compost materials ready, its time open up your marijuana soil guide. Alternate your layers of compost type (a few inches of “brown,” a few inches of “green”). Then, you’ll just need an activator: If you have a successful pile of soil already, you can just use a small layer of that to invite the microbial life to do its work, or you can use blood or bone meal on top of your materials. You’ll have to do this three-layer process a few times over, until you have enough to grow your weed. Then, all you have to do is wait a few months for your compost to turn to rich soil.
When you grow organic weed on your own, it’s not enough to just make the soil. You also have to supplement it with any extra nutrients and fertilizer your cannabis plants will need. These, of course, have to be organic nutrients. There are a number of different recipes for the ultimate super soil mix, but a few key ingredients for any rich, organic, super soil are: bat guano (yep), sweet lime, Epsom salts, and rock phosphates. Combine these ingredients with an extra layer of bone or blood meal into your soil, and let it sit for another month or so. By this point, your soil should be absolutely teeming with the microbial life necessary for anyone who wants to grow organic weed.
Management of pH Levels
Organic growers have to pay even more attention to pH than their non-organic counterparts, because your cannabis plant relies on a very strict pH of your water and soil to be able to properly absorb the organic nutrients in your soil and fertilizer. Most growers are using soil, so your pH should be between 6.0 and 6.8. If you’re using hydroponics, however, that should be a bit lower, between 5.5 and 6.5. If you are wanting to set up an organic hydroponics system, this is particularly important. Whichever method you’re using, you should be regularly checking your pH levels (easy to do with pH strips), and adjusting as necessary. During the seedling stage of your plant’s life, you should also be spritzing your plant with pH-balanced water, twice a day.
After caring for your seedling for anywhere between one to three weeks, it’ll be ready for the vegetative phase. This means more water, more space, and way more light for your baby plant. This is also the period in which you should be carefully monitoring your plants for signs of distress, whether from nutrient deficiency or saturation, or from things like pH imbalance or light burn.
Once your plant outgrows its first pot, you’ll want to make sure it has plenty of room. You should have prepared a 3-5 gallon pot of your super soil for each plant. Importantly, during this time, you should keep your layer of fertilizer and your layer of base soil separate, with the fertilizer on the bottom of the pot, and plant your cannabis plant in the base soil only. Otherwise, you risk over-saturating your plant, which can be just as bad for it as depriving it of nutrients.
When it comes to nutrients, different soil will have different strengths and weaknesses. Part of the process of successfully growing organic cannabis is learning to recognize the signs of nutrient deficiency, and being prepared to counteract them with organic materials. There are a number of reasons why your pot leaves are turning yellow; but luckily, making your own super soil in order to grow organic weed is actually the most successful method. There are still pitfalls though. Here are the big deficiencies to look out for:
- Calcium: If your cannabis plant’s leaves are showing little brown spots that appear dry and crunchy, like dead leaves, it’s most likely a sign of a calcium deficiency. If your plants are showing signs of this, you can add limestone or gypsum to your soil (just watch the pH).
- Nitrogen: Luckily, nitrogen deficiencies can be eradicated as you perfect your super soil recipe. Yellowing and wilting leaves in the vegetative phase of your plant’s life is a sure sign that your recipe needs adjusting, and that it’s time to supplement. On the other hand, though, nitrogen saturation can also damage your plants, so watch out for excessively dark and heavy leaves, and weak stems, which may be a sign that your nitrogen levels are too high.
- Potassium: Weak, stretchy leaves indicate a potassium deficiency, which is up there with nitrogen, carbon, and calcium as one of the most important nutrients for growing your own weed.