Let's Grow Together: Soil & Equipment
Hello home growers!
Now that you’ve selected your seeds, it’s time to get your hands dirty. We’re talking about soil. The grow medium you choose and the nutrients you add can determine the success of your cannabis plant.
Cannabis plants need the right amount of oxygen in their grow medium, a balance of water retention and drainage, as well as nutrients and a pH of approximately 6. Whether you’re relying on soil or growing hydroponically, you’ll want to consider pH, nutrients and medium textures before getting started.
If you’re growing in soil, cannabis plants like it loamy. Loam soils are a combination of sand, silt and clay soil textures and display some of the beneficial properties of each without the drawbacks.
While sandy soils have good drainage and oxygen levels, they don’t tend to retain water well which can lead to nutrients being washed away or the soil – and your budding plant – becoming too dry. Silt, on the other hand, is good for fertility and water retention but doesn’t have the drainage or loose airiness your cannabis plant craves. And while clay soils have a high pH, great water retention, and provide plants with the minerals they need, they can also be heavy and difficult to work with, and its poor drainage can lead to waterlogged roots.
Luckily, most potting soils you’ll find at your local garden centre are loamy soils identifiable by their rich, alive smell and dark, substantial appearance. They’re the ideal compromise for cannabis growth in terms of texture. This loose texture can still retain some structure, which means your plant’s roots have room to grow, access to oxygen, but still has a little bit of support. It also will prevent water from pooling on top of the soil (a bad sign).
Nutrients are also critical to cannabis cultivation. While most soils you buy will come with nutrients already in the mix, they’ll only last a few weeks. This means that you’ll likely want to top up your grow’s nutrients once it starts to produce buds. Be careful with your seedlings, though. While your seeds are still young and fragile, a low-light and low-nutrient environment gives them a gentle start.
When you’re adding nutrients later in the grow process, you can shop your local garden centre or try organic additives like compost, worm castings or even humus.
If you want to cultivate cannabis dirt free, hydroponics may be the answer for you. Growing hydroponically means you’re cultivating your plants in a water and nutrient solution. The roots maintain constant contact with water but are protected and provided structure by a grow medium like perlite, gravel, sand, clay pebbles, coco coir, perlite, rockwool… there are many mediums to choose from depending on your preference. While the hydroponic method has more front-end setup, it’ll mean less maintenance down the road, as well as less risk of your plants catching soil-borne sickness or being overrun by pests.
For the first-time grower, or even the seasoned cultivator, a growing ‘starter kit’ can give you the confidence and support you need to get you through your plant’s growth cycle, from seed to smoke.
Parkland Flower suggests keeping these items in your cultivation tool box to help your plants reach their growth potential:
- Seed tray, with cover
- Starter pots for your sprouted seedlings
- Nutrients kit
- pH balancing solution (1-up, 1-down)
- Basic thermo-hygrometer (measures temperature and humidity)
- Fluorescent lighting kit
- Trimming scissors
Determine which grow medium and types of equipment appeal to you and get ready to grow! Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll talk about the germinating and planting your cannabis seeds.