by Seshata on 29/01/2015

Top 5 reasons to grow organic cannabis


Many small-scale growers who intend to smoke their harvest themselves already grow organic cannabis; the same can be said for most medical growers in the U.S., both caregivers and dispensaries. However, commercial growers for the recreational market often don’t grow organically, due to various outdated misconceptions.



Many small-scale growers who intend to smoke their harvest themselves already grow organic cannabis; the same can be said for most medical growers in the U.S., both caregivers and dispensaries. However, commercial growers for the recreational market often don’t grow organically, due to various outdated misconceptions.

Improved yield

Preparing home-made organic “super-soil” is an ideal way to create the perfect micro-environment for your plants (© Wikimedia Commons).
Preparing home-made organic “super-soil” is an ideal way to create the perfect micro-environment for your plants (© Wikimedia Commons).

One of the primary concerns of commercial growers is the possibility of reduced yield when growing organically. However, this is not necessarily the case—and in fact, if all conditions are optimum, you may be able to achieve higher yields than if using conventional methods.

If the micro-environment is not optimum, yields may well be comparatively lower than with non-organic grows. This was certainly the case in the past; however, commercially-available organic fertilisers, growing media, and additives have improved greatly over the years, along with the understanding of how best to utilise them.

One major new innovation in organic growing is the development of “super-soil”—a growing medium that has been painstakingly tweaked in order to contain exactly what cannabis needs to grow in abundance, without the need for fertiliser. With this method, you can give your plants nothing but water and achieve incredible results.

Prepared mixes are commercially available; however, “super-soil” can be easily homemade from organic potting soil mixed with worm castings, blood meal, bone meal, guano, and various other additives. Preparing your own means you can develop the precise mix for your preferred strain; to get started, a step-by-step guide to the original recipe developed by underground growing legend Subcool can be found here.

Increased potency

Giving your cannabis plants exactly what they need, down to the very last microbe in the soil, is a fundamental part of contemporary organic growing. Like any plant, cannabis has specific and highly complex requirements to grow optimally, and matching those requirements as accurately as possible allows your plants to achieve their full potential.

Conventional nutrient systems are relatively simple in their make-up, containing just the basic nutrients required for cannabis to survive and grow. There are six essential macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium) and six essential micronutrients (manganese, boron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and iron) that are present in most nutrient mixes for cannabis.

Conversely, organic nutrient systems often contain other trace elements that can provide extra benefits to cannabis, even if they are not traditionally classed as essential. Nickel, sodium, cobalt and chlorine are all examples of nutrients that have been demonstrated to be beneficial for higher plants such as cannabis, but are often overlooked in commercial feeds. Organic growers the world over report that organically-grown cannabis is superior in effect and potency due to the complex make-up of the nutrient mixes used.

Improved flavour and aroma

Organically-grown cannabis can achieve exceptional levels of potency, aroma and flavour.
Organically-grown cannabis can achieve exceptional levels of potency, aroma and flavour.

Organically-grown cannabis is widely considered superior in flavour and aroma to conventionally-grown cannabis for similar reasons to those outlined above. As the micro-environment is optimised for vigorous, healthy growth, plants are able to produce optimum quantities of terpenes and terpenoids as well as cannabinoids themselves.

Terpenes and terpenoids are the aromatic compounds that give cannabis and many other plants their fragrance. Dozens of these compounds are present in cannabis, and are responsible for giving its strain its sweet, citrus, spicy or pine-like aroma. The more abundant these terpenes and terpenoids are, the more fragrant and flavoursome your final product will be.

Richer microbiome

Another aspect of organic cannabis cultivation that can enable improved yields, flavour and potency is the richness of the soil microbiome (“microbiome” refers to the community of microbes present in a particular environment). Organic soil mixes are complex living ecosystems in their own right, which contain an abundance of bacteria, fungi and other microscopic organisms such as nematode worms; the sterile environment found within many non-organic growing media does not support this level of complexity.

A substantial amount of research into cannabis and other important crops has demonstrated that establishing a rich soil microbiome has multiple benefits—it enables nitrogen fixing and water retention, stimulates growth and helps to prevent diseases of the roots. Making your own super-soil and leaving it to mature for around thirty days before use allows an abundance of fungi and other beneficial microorganisms to establish a niche and populate the soil.

Organic compost tea is another excellent way of culturing the beneficial bacteria required for a healthy microbiome. Compost tea involves steeping well-made compost in water and constantly running a bubbler to provide oxygen (allowing conditions inside the “brewer” to become anaerobic cause unhealthy bacteria to develop instead of the beneficial types). An in-depth guide to mixing your own organic compost tea can be found here. Using either of these two crucial techniques allows organic growers to develop a “food web” of beneficial organisms that will bring multiple benefits to the quality of the final harvest.

Lighter environmental impact

Organic compost tea is another invaluable tool for developing a rich soil microbiome.
Organic compost tea is another invaluable tool for developing a rich soil microbiome.

Of course, the least environmentally-impacting way to grow cannabis is to grow outdoors in natural sunlight, as the single greatest environmental impact of cannabis growing is electricity consumption when growing indoors. However, persistent unfavourable legislation in many countries ensures that cannabis is grown indoors, even if the local climate can support outdoor cultivation!

For ultimate green credentials, organic outdoor growing is the clear winner, but if this is not a viable option for you, at the very least care can be taken to minimise overall environmental impact indoors. Growing organically is one important way of reducing overall impact, as production of organic nutrients generally requires less processing compared to conventional nutrients (which also require substantial use of energy to produce, mostly derived from fossil fuels). Furthermore, organic pest-control techniques are often far less environmentally impacting—for example, ladybirds (or “ladybugs” in the U.S.) can be used to control spider mites, negating the need for the toxic chemical brews used in conventional growing.

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Jim Croft

I've been growing for 5 years. 3 yrs ago I started growing in dirt outside. Last summer I got tired of all the commercial nutrients cost etcetc. I found a 25lb of chicken manure for $5 I live in CO and have a medical license.
After harvest I read an article about arsenic, chicken manure,rice It appears that rice absorbes arsenic and becomes harmful if too much rice is eaten. I wonder what it does to cannabis.

19/02/2015

Bob Brown

Organic gardening has actually been around for literally more than 10,000 years. Research Terra Preta. Humans have been doing it for a VERY long time, nothing new.

Difference to modern farming practices is this: feed the soil, soil feeds the plant. It's that simple. People and corporations want to stuff a lot of huey down consumers throats so that they can take your money and most likely ruin the environment while doing so.

Using "fertilizers" is feeding the plant not the soil and is not sustainable.

Sprouted seed teas (SST's) and Aerated Compost Teas (ACT's) are ways to introduce more living organisms into the soil. Very simple. The problem with "fertilizers" is 3 fold:
1: what is the long term effect with human consumption?
2: Manufacturing of "fertilizers" is NOT sustainable.
3: Fertilizers taste like well crap the sooner the world understands and appreciates REAL organic growing methods, be it canna or food (doesn't matter - same requirements) the better off we humans will be, and so will the environment.

18/05/2015

Mile Wilson

I've been using the organic sustainable way for a few years now. My wife has always grown that way for vegetable gardens laying cuttings and plant material at the base of the plant that's living. It works. Can't do that with cannabis because of bugs, however you can use organic teas (VitalTea) and admendments that clearly work making beneficial microbes in your soil.. I realized after underperforming plants for years that soil was the key. All my harvests are maxed out now green as ever. In bloom I keep using CalMag but start using a Blackstrap Unsulfured Molasses that really works well using a 50 gallon barrel and a bubbler and small heater for aquariums. Try it organic works.

06/08/2016

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