Cannabis Soil Care Tips – Your Plants Thrive With Great Soil

When growing cannabis in soil you should be concerned with soil care.  Good quality soil helps ensure optimal plant health.  Better soil usually equates to better plant quality.  Whether your soil is in containers or in a garden bed you should be paying attention to the following details:  

Feeding Soil VS Feeding Your Plant

Some growers focus solely on feeding their plants.  Fertilizer is purchased and administered at the recommended dosages & frequencies and not much additional thought goes into the feeding process.

However, there are microbes and other living organisms in the soil that play a crucial role in plant and soil health.  Microbes help break down organic materials in the soil and in turn excrete more mild usable food for the plant. Helping to feed and protect the soil microbes should be a primary concern. 

You can start caring for the microbes and other life in your soil by:

  • Feeding your plants organically.  Organic nutrients are typically mild compared to chemical fertilizers.  These mild natural nutrients will feed both the plants and soil.
  • Apply a “Compost Tea” to your soil once a week.  Compost teas are commonly used by gardeners because they are extremely beneficial to your plants but mostly the soil.  These teas can be brewed by the gardener in a bucket for 24-36 hours then applied to the soil.  These teas can also be purchased in individual packets making them easy to apply without a brewing process.

Proper Soil PH

PH in general is important when growing cannabis. Most cannabis gardeners will pay strict attention to the PH of their feeding solution but neglect the PH of their soil. 

PH is measured in a range between 0-14.

0 – Most acidic

7 – Neutral

14 – Most alkaline

Cannabis plants in soil absorb nutrition most effectively at a range of 5.9 to 6.7.  This number varies depending on the stage of the plant’s growth.

This is a simplistic overview of an acceptable PH range.  Just remember that PH effects plants, soil AND microbes.  You want to keep the PH in an acceptable range without drastically adjusting the range in either direction too quickly.

 Microbes are very sensitive to drastic swings in PH.   Drastic PH swings can kill a lot of microbes instantly.

The PH scale seems small because the numbers are in a range from 0 to 14 but to put this into perspective:

0 = Battery acid

7 = Average tap water  

9 = Olive oil

There is a big difference between PH 6.1 and 6.6 too.  If for instance you brewed some compost tea for 24 hours and  tried to adjust the PH from 7.0 down to 6.2 using high percentage phosphoric acid you would certainly kill A LOT of the microbes you just took time to create in the brewing process.

If our goal is to preserve microbe life in soil then we need to keep this in mind while adjusting PH for feedings and watering.

Save Your Soil – Reuse Every Season

If you are growing in a garden bed or direct in the ground, then this makes sense.  You are probably already keeping your soil and reusing it every grow.

If you are growing in containers outdoors, do not throw out your soil at the end of the season.  Soil does not get “used up” and become worthless at the end of a grow.  You may want to re-amend some material into the soil after each grow, but good soil is good soil!  Do not throw it out.

Keep Your Soil Covered

If you are growing outdoors, then try keeping your soil covered to protect it from the sun.  The sun can damage the soil by heating the surface which dries the soil too quickly and can also damage the microbes and other beneficial organisms on the soil surface.

Use Grass Clippings

Try covering your soil with grass clippings that can easily be collected after cutting your grass.  Covering the soil with a few inches of grass clippings will drastically reduce the temperature of the soil.

If you are growing in fabric pots or other containers, then grass clippings are extremely helpful in keeping the soil cool and moist. 

When growing in containers during the hottest part of the season, keeping the soil covered with help preserve moisture reducing the amount of watering required. 

Companion Plant

Keeping your soil covered for sun protection and moisture retention is one technique, but another option is to plant other small varieties like clover for companion planting. 

An advantage of companion planting is to add more root structure to your soil. Roots help prevent the soil from blowing away but also work with the microbes and other organisms to keep that soil web active and flourishing.  This will directly help the microbes but also indirectly help your cannabis.

Do Not Disturb Your Soil

When I first started growing, every season I would loosen up the soil, re-amend some organic matter and fertilizer too.  I thought that a loose airy soil would be beneficial…  But I was wrong.  I was growing descent plants, but I was damaging the soil life.

Now I know how important soil life is, so I do not churn up the soil every season.  Leaving the soil alone gives the microbes, organisms, worms, and beneficial bugs an opportunity to thrive. 

Simply leave the soil alone and give nature an opportunity to thrive.

I still re-amend my soil but I add ingredients to the top of my garden bed and do not mix it into the existing soil.  Nature will mix it in eventually 😊

Storing Soil During Winter

I know we just said, “Do not disturb your soil” and that is true, do not disturb if possible.  But I have a garden bed and fabric pots.  I am more aggressive with my fabric pot soil and move it around every season.  It is organic but it does get disturbed.

I consolidate all my fabric pot soil in to a single 150-gallon fabric pot at the end of the season, then plant a winter cover crop to keep the soil protected.

At the start of a new season, I take 45-gallons of soil out of the 150-gallon fabric pot and fill (3) additional 15-gallon fabric pots.

I now have 100-gallons of soil left over in the original 150-gallon fabric pot and (3) 15-gallon fabric pots.

After the summer season I add the (3) 15-gallon fabric pots back in to the 150-gallon fabric pot and re-plant a cover crop again.

Taking care of your soil is a major factor in growing great cannabis.  Paying attention to your soil can dramatically increase the health and quality of your plant.

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