• Eric

How To Grow Organic Cannabis

Organic.


It's a lifestyle. It's sustainable. It's a way to connect with our planet.


But how do you get started?


Whether you're making the switch or looking to grow cannabis for the first time there's a few main sectors we need to cover.


  1. How and where are you able to grow your cannabis?

  2. Is it legal to grow cannabis where you live?

  3. What is your budget?


Now if you're looking to grow your own cannabis for the first time let's talk about equipment. If you've already been growing your own cannabis and are looking to make the switch into organics then jump ahead to part 2.


PART 1 - Getting Started


GROW SPACE

Our 4x4 Grow Tent by Secret Jardin

Let’s start by addressing the first sector. I highly recommend buying yourself a grow tent. Grow tents are a great way to get started when growing cannabis as they only require a portion of a room. There are so many grow tent companies on the market and they vary heavily when it comes to price but there are 3 main things to look at when picking a grow tent; Does it have metal or plastic poles? Do they have good zippers? Is it made with thick heavy duty fabric? These qualities will ensure that you have no light leaks which can cause your plants to hermaphrodite. These are a few but necessary qualities to look for when buying a grow tent. Do your research and find something that fits your budget and space.



GROW LIGHT

Viparspectra XS4000 Grow Light

Now, you're going to need a light to grow your plants. Picking a grow light can be

stressful as it seems there are endless options. I won't even exercise the differences between HPS (High Pressure Sodium) and LED (Light Emitting Diodes). If you're looking to make a solid investment I highly recommend going LED. You're going to save money on electricity and it's going to help keep your tent cooler. Most importantly, when buying a grow light ensure that the light has sufficient coverage for your tent. For example, a 4’x4’ grow tent needs light with 4’x4’ coverage. Finding a light with 4’x4’ coverage or 2 lights with 4’x2’ coverage will be sufficient for your space. When picking a grow light ensure you are buying from a reputable company that has a good warranty program and has their lights tested (UL Certified, or any any qualification) Most importantly, do your research and find something that fits your budget.


FANS

An oscillating fan above the canopy & 4 inch exhaust fan

It is very important to ensure that your growing space has good air movement. This can be done by buying a good oscillating fan, a few clip-on fans placed strategically or a mix of both. Ensuring there is good air circulation will help keep pests away, keep your plants strong and prevent mishaps like molding. Now, it's also important to exhaust air out of your grow room to keep consistent circulation. Buying an exhaust fan with a speed controller can be really helpful as your environment can change at any given time. The only way to know how much air will need to be exhausted from your grow room is by measuring the temperature and humidity.


TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY

This is arguably one of the most looked over things when it comes to growing cannabis. Most of us, when we first start out, are so focused on other things that we tend to think our environment can take a backseat to our other issues. Finding an ideal environment for your plants can be strain dependent but there's a good range to keep in mind.


VEG

Our AC Infinity Inline Fan Hygrometer
  • 50-70% Humidity

  • 65-80ºF


FLOWER

  • 45-60% Humidity

  • 65-80ºF


Now these ranges vary for every grower but these are the ranges I like to keep in my grow space. You can also look at the VPD (Vapor Pressure Deficit) chart to follow. Having environments that are too hot, dry or moist as well as having considerable swings in temperature (10-15+ degrees) are factors that can directly affect your plant health.


I see these few points to be the main topics to look into when looking to grow your own cannabis at home. When it comes to dialling in your grow space and providing your plants with the most efficient environment, you may need more. Whether it is a humidifier, return air, dehumidifier, ac unit etc. Everyone's grow space is different and the only way to learn what will work for you is to get started.


Any further questions or inquiries, please reach out to us via instagram or email.

(LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE)


PART 2 - GETTING STARTED GROWING ORGANIC.


Now this is where the fun begins.


Growing a plant from a seed is not an easy thing to do as it takes a degree of time and dedication. Maybe you’re making homemade soil, adding raw organic materials, growing cover crops, adding mulch and worms; all the things that create this wonderful ecosystem for your plant to thrive in. It can be intimidating but, let's simplify it.


Growing cannabis synthetically usually involves an inert media and a line of bottled nutrients, where you then feed your plants by mixing together a nutrient solution.


Growing cannabis organically involves creating a healthy soil full of organic additions and providing that soil with adequate moisture.


There's a few things we need to talk about in order for our plants to show us their true potential.


  1. Pot Size

  2. Water Source

  3. Organic Amendments


POT SIZE

Our 3x3 Grassroots Living Soil Bed

I think pot size is the most important thing to look at when choosing to grow organically. When growing using bottled nutrients you are directly feeding the roots of your plant from your water solution. When growing organically you provide your soil with the necessary ingredients, so your plant can receive the health it needs. With that being said, growing in a small pot is trickier with organics because once your root system has filled the pot, there is insufficient nutrients available to produce new and healthy growth. Now you can get away with growing in smaller pots but you will have to re-amend the top layer of your soil with organic amendments often to provide new nutrients to your plant. As well as keeping your plants a reasonable size so they don't outgrow their container. If you are looking to start a full organic setup grab 10-30 gallon pots or grab a living soil raised bed. Bigger pots will ensure that you have enough nutrients in your soil for your plant to feed off of. When looking to mimic nature getting the largest volume of soil helps create that healthy ecosystem. Whichever method you choose, weigh the pros and cons for your situation.

​​

WATER SOURCE

Our RO Water Filter by HydroLogic

Ensuring that you have a clean and reliable water source is very important when growing cannabis, no matter the method. This is another thing that I think is overlooked by most beginner growers. Checking your city or town water report can give you an idea of the concentrations of solutes in your water. You can also use a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter if you're looking to test your own water. Ensure that your water does not have chlorine, and it's not treated through a water softener as it essentially poisons the life in your soil. The microbial life in your soil cannot continue to live and flourish if your water source is not clean. In this case, you may need to invest in a water filter or buy Distilled/RO water from a water depot. If your tap water comes out at 100ppm or lower with no chlorine or chloramine, you're in a good spot. I'm a firm believer that as an organic grower you do not need to pH your water. When growing synthetically, you need to pH your water as your water source is what's directly feeding your plants. Whatever the pH of your nutrient solution is, it will be fairly relative to the pH your plants will uptake in the soil. As an organic grower all these organic amendments in your soil actually fix and regulate the PH. Now I don't think giving your plants water with a pH of 2 or 10 is smart but that 5-8 range is probably going to be safe. A healthy water source is a huge part in growing healthy plants.


ORGANIC AMENDMENTS


This is where we can really go down the rabbit hole but, for now let's keep it simple. We've talked about how your plants are going to obtain nutrients in an organic system, now let's talk about some of these amendments. Here are the things I use in my soil.

Some Organic Amendments from Black Swallow Living Soils
  • Fish bone meal

  • Soft Rock Phosphate

  • Barley

  • Oyster shell flour

  • Gypsum

  • Biochar

  • Peat moss

  • Worm castings

  • Fish compost

  • Basalt Rock Dust

  • Kelp Meal

  • Crab Meal

  • Karanja Cake

  • Pumice

  • Rice Hulls

Now this all seems intimidating but these are a lot of the things used in organic soils.


There’s 2 choices to make...


Are you looking to mix your own soil? Or, are you looking to buy a pre-made organic soil?


Our 3x3 Grassroots Living Soil Raised Bed with Cover Crop and Barley Straw from Black Swallow Living Soils

My recommendation is to buy a pre-mixed soil to start. In Canada, I have used Black Swallow Living Soils. This is just an incredible company. Their pre-made soil mixes are balanced and packed with nutrients. In the United States, there's Build a Soil, who are arguably the most successful living soil company in cannabis today. Jeremy provides endless knowledge and is really dedicated to helping organic growers. Buying a pre mixed soil will give you an idea of how organic gardening works. Mixing your own soil is a lot more challenging, therefore if you're starting for the first time, I highly recommend buying a pre-mixed soil in order to focus on other areas and issues that a new grower or new organic grower would likely experience. To learn more about some of these organic amendments, I would look at the ingredients in your soil and do some research on them. Understand what the amendments are providing to your soil and plants. What has nitrogen? What has phosphorus? What's helping regulate your pH? These are all questions that can be answered by researching these organic products.


Now, these amendments in your soil aren't active and ready to feed your plant as soon as your soil is mixed...


When growing organically we are trying to mimic what happens in nature. Therefore we mulch our soil and grow something called a cover crop. This cover crop can be something like alfalfa sprouts, clover or barley. This is imitating grass, weeds or other crops that grow freely in our world. Soil should never be bare. Materials like wood chips, rice hulls and barley straw are what we use as a mulch layer alongside this cover crop. When this cover crop dies and lies on the top layer of your soil, it feeds nutrients back into your soil by composting or creating humus. This process is done through a carbon to nitrogen ratio which involves green material (cover crop) and brown material (barley straw). In this example the green material is the nitrogen and the brown material represents the carbon. All this protects the top layer of the soil from drying out so the soil stays active while breaking down this cover crop. Which brings me to the topic of moisture. The microbial life in your soil becomes active and thrives the best in an environment with adequate moisture. Not too dry and not too wet. Therefore checking the soil about an inch deep with your finger or even investing in a moisture meter is a smart way to ensure you have adequate moisture. The other reason it's important to keep your soil moist and keep that microbial life active is because it directly affects the availability of nutrients in your soil. Whether it's worms, bacteria or fungi, all these organic amendments in your soil need to be broken down through the “soil food web” to be in plant-available form. If your soil is too dry or too wet the microbes will not be as active resulting in less cycling of nutrients for your plants that will ultimately cause deficiencies.


Now your soil can be reused over and over again but eventually the nutrients are going to be depleted as your plants uptake them. This is where we “re-amend” our soil on the top layer with nutrients and compost in order to bring more life back into the soil. This can be done freely or be done by doing a soil test in order to see what needs to be added.


That's for another day..


This is what I find to be the basics of growing cannabis organically. There's a lot more variables but I want to keep it simple because starting to grow or switching to grow cannabis organically can be intimidating.


Now what's next for you?


RESEARCH.


Your environment. Your budget.


Things are going to vary from person to person so do intensive research and find the products that are going to work best for you.


As my last piece of advice.. Don't set any expectations for yourself. It takes time to dial in your space. Enjoy the process and if you're new…


Welcome to the Cannabis Community.


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