THE EVOLUTION OF THE INDUSTRY
BY DJ PARSON
As the cannabis movement continues to sweep the nation and more people become familiar with its healing potential, our agricultural system is also experiencing a huge transformation. As more people become educated about the industrial food
complex that is poisoning our waterways and destroying our soils, all the more people will ask questions about where our cannabis comes from and how it’s grown.
That is one reason we’re seeing an increase in the number of growers choosing organic methods. Organic cannabis will continue to rise in popularity because the products produced under these methods are safer for the consumer, better for the environment, and produce a cleaner, better tasting product.
WHY USE SUPER SOIL?
Super Soil takes all the benefits of organic soil and concentrates them into a single amendment that eliminates the need for heavy liquid feeding while still producing huge yields of superior tasting, cleaner burning buds. Super soil also creates consistency by removing some of the guesswork and providing more reliable pH and PPMs. If done correctly, it can actually be used to do a full run from start to finish with just plain water and achieve impressive results.
SUPER SOIL + LIVING SOIL
Combine super soil techniques with living soil practices and you have the next generation of super soil. By harnessing the natural powers of select beneficial microbes from bokashi, we speed up the decomposition process and ensure that the super soil is sufficiently decomposed, which eliminates the potential of any hot spots in the media. This microbial decomposition extracts the nutrients, making them more available to the plant. Since the plant can utilize more nutrients from the super soil, less fertilizer is lost to runoff, and a greater yield is achieved. This whole process supports the select beneficial microbes and ensures they out-compete any soil pathogens, which inherently increases root health and yields.
WHEN TO USE YOUR LIVING SUPER SOIL
With this summer’s growing season almost here, outdoor gardeners should consider starting their living super soils as soon as possible. Since the process takes time to break down, it must be started at least 30 days before the transplant date. Indoor gardeners can start living super soil anytime just as long as it ages 30 days before use.
WHERE TO USE YOUR LIVING SUPER SOIL
Indoor gardeners that already use a premium potting soil can easily incorporate living super soils into their process. The same goes for outdoor gardeners using premium potting soil in raised beds or fabric pots. Outdoor gardeners that grow directly in the ground using their native soil should not use super soil, instead using alternative methods like heavy top dressing and cover cropping.
SUPER SOIL BASICS
Finding a good base mix is the first step as the success of a super soil is dependent on the quality of its base mix. I personally have always used Roots Organics, starting to use their products nearly ten years ago when Subcool recommended them in his super soil recipe. Obviously, there are a lot of premium mixes out there, but I’ll use Roots Original as the prime example because of the well-rounded balance of ingredients: perlite, coco fiber, peat moss, composted forest material, pumice, worm castings, bat guano, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, fish bone meal, kelp meal, greensand, and mycorrhizae. Once the base mix has been selected, blending up the living super soil is the next step.
MIXING YOUR LIVING SUPER SOIL
This is by far the most labor intensive part of the process, but also the most important. Thorough mixing is required when blending the materials or you may end up with uneven growth or hot-spots in the super soil that damage sensitive roots. When mixing, a clean space is required, free of plant debris and potential pests. I recommend working on a large tarp, although I’ve seen small kiddie pools used; I’ve even seen some growers rent or buy small concrete mixers.
The trick to a perfect blend is time–do not rush the mixing process! If there’s limited space, make smaller batches and more of them. I recommend premixing all the dry ingredients, leaving the worm castings separate (this can be done in bulk and stored for later batches). Once the dry nutrients are blended completely, begin to layer the materials. Start by emptying and spreading a bag of soil onto the tarp evenly. Then add some dry concentrate, some castings, and another bag of soil, continuing this layering process until all the ingredients have been added.
Once everything is layered, mix thoroughly until you feel confident that everything is blended together 100 percent. Most growers allow the blend to breakdown for 30 days in a clean trash can or rubber bin. This container should have a lid but should not seal air-tight. This keeps it safe from pests and allows the beneficial microbes to break down the “hot” materials. Before the decomposition process, moisture should be added for the microbes. Approximately one gallon of clean water is needed for the whole process, but, if you’re capable, an aerated and inoculated compost tea can be brewed and used instead of water.
HOW TO USE YOUR LIVING SUPER SOIL
Living super soil should never be used as the sole media. It is a concentrated and highly potent version of your base premium soil. Therefore, a seedling or clone should never be planted directly into it because it will burn plants and significantly slow their growth! It is designed to be used with premium base soil. Depending on how aggressive the genetics are at feeding, fill the bottom of the containers up half to one-third of the way with living super soil. Then, fill the containers the rest of the way with the base soil and plant into that. This will help avoid burning the plant’s sensitive roots by allowing them to tap into the super soil only as needed.
ORGANIC GARDEN ESSENTIAL
Living super soil is no longer a secret, the technique has traveled around the world and has helped many growers master the art of organic gardening. It might not yield what an indoor hydro garden can push out, but the impact it has on the environment is much smaller while the difference in quality is significant! Better taste, cleaner buds, and less work.
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