The health of your plants is a direct reflection of the health of your soil. Healthy soil contains microbes. There are over 100,000 species of simple organisms that live in soil. These organisms help your plant create compounds like THC and tasty terpenes. In a way, each little bacteria acts as a little sack of nutrient fertilizer for your plant.
Believe it or not, your plants actually send signals out through their roots to attract certain microorganisms. These signals are called exudates, and they’re little sugars that bacteria like to eat. When your plant needs a certain mineral, it sends out specific exudates to attract bacteria that will provide what it needs.
When we think of soils, a pre-mixed plastic bag often comes to mind. Admittedly, it’s pretty easy to just dish out $20-$30 for a bag to start your grow. Many of these pre-mixed “super soils” are, in fact, organic and act as a terrific starting point for novice gardeners. However, building your own soil at home can be just as easy, cost-effective, and accessible as buying a pre-mixed back at the store. Creating your own super soil will also teach you a few great tips on soil science and how the component of your substrate will effect the outcome of your cannabis grow.
What Is an Organic Super Soil?
The term“super soil” has been floating around the organic cannabis community for some time now. Its origin dates back to when organic cultivation practices were just beginning to make their way into the canon of cannabis grow methodology.
Super Soil is an easy way to begin applying biodynamic growing principles to your cannabis crop. It can help you achieve a higher yield, a tastier product and an easier grow. A little extra work is required ahead of time, but once your seedlings are in the container your only job is to water and wait.
Benefits of Growing in Super Soil
Improved Potency and Yield
Commercial fertilizers and nutrients are formulated to meet specific nutrient needs of the cannabis plant: primarily nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Super Soil offers a wider range of nutrients. It includes all the trace minerals your plants need, as well as a living network of microbes and mycorrhizae (fungus filaments) that make nutrients available to plants. In a healthy ecosystem, these organisms live symbiotically around and even within the roots of plants and help transfer nutrients to the plant. In many “sterile” gardens and growing containers nutrients that are present in the soil are inaccessible to plants because they are not water soluble.
The presence of living organisms in Super Soil makes it a rich source of nutrients. As the plant grows it works with its microscopic partners to source just the right food for each stage of growth. You don’t have to worry about pH, or about changing the nutrients between vegging and flowering. Let nature do its work and watch both your yields and the potency of your buds climb.
Many growers claim that their final product simply tastes better when they grow in Super Soil. The aroma tends to be more floral, and the taste more pronounced. This could be from the complete access to minerals and vitamins which allow the plant to maximize terpene and flavonoid production.
As an added bonus, you don’t need to flush a plant grown in Super Soil. There is no danger of a chemical tang from overfeeding. After all, you’ve just been giving it plain old water throughout the whole grow!
In this eco-conscious age, it is interesting to note that most marijuana growers leave a massive carbon footprint. The standard indoor grow uses a lot of electricity plus synthetic chemical fertilizers. We’ve come a long way from the “live lightly on the Earth” hippy reputation that marijuana held for many years.
Growing in Super Soil allows you to reduce your ecological mark. Super Soil works great for growing outdoors too. Depending on your climate and local laws you may be forced to continue growing under lights with carbon filters and fans. But you can stop using nutrients and grow with a medium made of local, organic and renewable ingredients.
Super Soil Recipe
Tools You Will Need:
- A large container or tarp
- A shovel
- A rake
Soil Ingredients You Will Need:
- 8 X 30lbs bags of quality potting soil
- 5-50 lbs- WORM CASTINGS
- 5 lbs- BLOOD MEAL (12-0-0)
- 5 lbs- BAT GUANO(0-4-0)
- 2.5 lbs- BONE MEAL (3-15-0)
- 2.5 lbs- FISH BONE MEAL
- 3 cups- OYSTER SHELL
- 3 cups- KELP MEAL
- 2 cups- AZOMITE
- 1 cup- DOLOMITE
- 3/4 cup- EPSOM SALT
- 2 Tbsp- MYCORHIZAE
- After all of the inputs were rounded up, it was time to mix them altogether. There are a lot of ingredients, and mixing it all together requires a good amount of space to perform the task.
- When mixing everything together, you want to make sure that there are no clumps, and everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Once everything was mixed up, I put all of the soil in garbage cans. You want the mixture to stay out of direct sun light and be stored at 78 degrees, but that temperature fluctuations are OK as long as the storage bins aren’t in direct sun light.
- Add enough water to make sure the soil is nice and moist, but isn’t saturated with water. Be aware that most city water contains chlorine, so use river water or rain water for your plants. If you have to use city water, put it in a bucket first with a pump and some air stones and let it bubble for a day or two. The bubbling action will get rid of the chlorine, making the water suitable for use. If you use city water with chlorine in it, it will prevent the bacteria, enzymes, and other microorganisms from growing.
- After adding water, the only thing left is to let the soil sit for 6-12 weeks so the microorganisms and bacteria can grow and spread.
Using your Super Soil
- After 1-3 months of cooking, turn your soil out and mix it thoroughly. The whole mix should be a uniform color. Now you are ready to start growing!
- Never plant seeds or seedlings directly in the Super Soil.
- Fill your growing container 1/3-1/2 full with Super Soil. Fill it the rest of the way with a high quality, organic potting soil, like the one you used in your mix.
- Plant seeds or seedlings into the soil. As the plants grow their roots will reach down into the Super Soil where they will find all the nutrients they need for their entire life cycle.
- Just water and wait. Do not give the plants anything but water and light, and wait for harvest time. You will be delighted with the results.
What do the ingredients in super soil do?
- The worm castings contain a highly active biological mixture of bacteria, enzymes, plant matter, animal manure, and earthworm cocoons that help feed the ecosystem. Compost serves a similar purpose.
- Blood meal provides nitrogen to the soil. Bat guano is also high in nitrogen, but releases the nitrogen into the soil slower. Blood meal releases faster, and once it is tapering off, that’s about the time the bat guano steps up and fills the void, so to speak.
- Bone meal provides phosphorus and protein. Fish bone meal also provides phosphorus, but also calcium, and a little nitrogen.
- Crushed oyster shells provides calcium and trace minerals to the soil, and helps prevent cannabis plants that are in containers from being ‘water logged.’
- Kelp meal provides a good amount of potassium and up to 70 other vitamins and minerals that your plants need.
- Azomite provides trace minerals to the plant that stimulate plant growth by being a catalyst to help plants absorb nutrients better. The indoor garden employee called azomite ‘the teeth’ of the soil.
- Dolomite is used to help the soil’s PH match that of what the plant needs. A lot of people refer to it as limestone, but dolomite provides much more to the soil than straight limestone.
- Epsom salt helps strengthen cell walls within the plant, and also helps increase the uptake of nutrients by the plant, similar to what azomite does.
- Mycorhizae helps the roots of the plant grow in the soil better. It literally attaches to the plants roots, forms filaments, and helps the roots push farther into the soil.