Did you know that you can cultivate cannabis in a variety of different growing mediums? Traditional soil – manure, peat moss or coconut fiber based – is obviously a popular option, but there’s no two growing mediums made exactly alike. Organic growing mediums are extremely customizable, versatile, and can be as expensive or cost-friendly as you like. Instead of focusing on particular products, and because growing mediums are very dependent on personal preference, we’ll review the main methodologies behind the types of growing mediums on the market today.
First, there’s the grower’s using what we’ll call “traditional organic” growing mediums. Traditional Organic is a more simple, natural approach to cultivating organic cannabis that has taken root in the many marijuana hotbeds throughout Canada (Vancouver Island, BC-interior, Ontario heartland, and the Maritime provinces). Soils and growing mediums that utilize this idea will often be based on a particular, naturally occurring soil that has shown to be very effective for natural plant growth. These growing mediums can be soils or soilless – i.e. “soil” is broken down, mixed and occurs naturally, whereas “soilless” is a combination of inputs that is formulated and mixed together by humans. Whether you take shovels-full from the dense forest floor, or you purchase a finely crafted growing medium from some organic greenthumbs, traditional organic cultivation media often depends on where you live.
For instance, on the Westcoast of British Columbia (particularly on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast), many growers use a distinct style of growing mediums known as “Sea Soil”. This mineral-rich soil is found throughout the islands of the Westcoast, and is the culmination of years of decaying plant material being enriched with the naturally occurring phyto-nutrients and minerals from the ocean air/water. It seems to good to be true, but many proponents of “Sea Soil” claim that you simply plant your seeds, water your plants and watch your cannabis flourish from all the nutrients packed into this unique growing medium. Anyone who has tried BC-bud can probably attest to this methodology of organic growing – they grow some wicked, potent weed on those islands!
Far from the traditional organic side of growing techniques, there are a vast number of people who prefer to grow hydroponically. Because there’s no growing medium to speak of in this type of cultivation, we’ll cover it in the “Fertilizers” section coming up next. Moving on from traditional organic growing mediums, there is another approach that ramps up the take on “soilless” mediums, called “Super Soil”. Despite the fact that it’s called “soil”, this kind of growing medium is certainly anything but naturally occurring; super soil is hand-crafted and formulated by people for specific crops. Typically used for high-value crops, like cannabis, this form of soilless medium can be made up of dozens of ingredients, but they’re usually comprised of some common base inputs like peat moss, coconut fiber, perlite and wormcastings of manure. The reason many growers like using super soil is because it can be tailored to suit their particular needs, but this obviously can lead to some pretty pricey figures. Still, super soil is a favorite among organic growers, and there’s always exciting and new inputs being included in these products (such as mycorrhizae, beneficial microorganisms, etc).
Lastly, but definitely not least, is the idea behind growing organically to mimic natural ecosystems comes from a simple adoption of nature, known as “biomimicry”. Biomimicry is defined as the imitation of natural elements, systems and processes found in the natural world (plants, animals, ecosystems) for the purpose of solving complex human problems. Basically, this practice has become widespread in many industries because it learns from the billions of years worth of research that plants, animals and environments have already conducted and applies the ingenuity of the natural world into optimizing what we do and how we do it.
Case in point, peat moss has become a very popular and effective input for cultivating many crops, including cannabis. Scientists and crop farmers looked at the biodiversity found in peat bogs across Canada and began including this “grower’s gold” in their cultivation regimes. Peat moss is basically broken down plant and organic materials that coalesces into a nutrient-rich, potent microorganism soup that living plants and animals can benefit from. Instead of continuing to use acidic, nutrient-deficient and sodium-high cow manure as the base, many growing medium producers have now turned to peat moss and the natural innovation of peat bogs for this very important growing input. Proponents of this style of growing are some of the most staunch supporters of organics, and their knowledge of natural ecosystems is often second-to-none. If you live in an area with abundant plant life or a particular profile of nutrients (mineral-rich clay, peat bogs, composted forest humus, etc) then try copying what you can perceive nature doing, and invest in the natural systems for your next successful crop of organic cannabis.