Soil. I know I am not the only one in the world who once thought that soil is soil, is soil. It is only after working in the cannabis industry and listening to the experienced growers that I learned that there is much more to soil. Some soil is simply poor and lacks the nutrients to properly grow plant life and other soil is rich in the minerals and nutrients needed for healthy, happy plantlife to grow. In this article, we are going to do a minor excavation into the world of soil to help differentiate between the good and bad.
One thing to know that may prove useful in your cannabis growing adventure is that the average organic growing soil is made up of around forty five percent mineral particles, five percent living and dead organisms like bacteria and fifty percent air and water. When it comes to choosing the right soil it is good to bear in mind that there are three major elements that contribute to the cannabis roots’ ability to grow and thrive – pH balance, nutrient content and the overall soil texture.
A soil’s pH is the measurement of its acid to alkaline balance. I know...this is very sciency and confusing from time to time but I assure you, knowing the basics will help you, in the long run, my lovelies. Cannabis roots and their ability to absorb nutrients are affected by the soil's pH levels. This is why it is so important to do your research to find the right brand of soil for the strain that you have chosen to grow. On average, however, most cannabis strains do well within a range of 6.0 to 6.5 on the pH scale. Another fun fact about the pH scale is every full point increase or decrease to the zero to fourteen pH scale indicates an increase in higher or lower pH tenfold.
The nutrient content of your soil is important in that, without the proper nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, your cannabis plant will fail to thrive. Soil is a magnificent, living, organic matter that needs nurturing. The love you put into your soil will be given back in the most wondrous of ways. One of these ways is by being the foundation your cannabis plant needs to allow wetter growing roots to access the nutrients they need swiftly and in maximum amounts.
Now, even though most soils have a fifty percent concentration of water and air, it is important to remember that to maximize this, dare I say, dirty feature, is to pay attention to your soil’s texture. Now, when I think of soil texture, I oddly liken it to that of snow. Here in British Columbia, there are three types of snow. One is super light and fluffy and when you walk on it, you can hear the crunch of your footsteps, the second is mostly fluffy but is slightly more wet, dulling the crunch of your footsteps, and the third is a shitty noncommittal rain/snow hybrid that feels like a thousand tiny bitch slaps when it hits. The ideal soil texture is like the second variety of snow. Not too fluffy so that the roots stay protected and not too wet so that the roots drown and die a sad death. To test your soil’s texture, pick up a handful of moist potting soil or a soil bag and gently squeeze. The soil should barely stick together and feel reminiscent of a sponge.
Another thing to remember, my lovelies; the nurturing of your solid does not stop once you have planted your cannabis. There are some things you should watch for. That’s right, just like your plant gives you warning signs that it’s not feeling too hot, your soil will do the same. One way to tell that your soil might be a touch off is if it begins to smell like ammonia or vaguely like vomit. These oh so lovely smells are attributed to anaerobic bacteria which, if you allow it, will lay waste to your crop as they make the soil inhospitable for your plant. This is one of the reasons soil texture is important, too. Anaerobic bacteria love compact soil with standing water.
Soil is not just lifeless brown sprinkles. It is a world unto itself that if we could shrink ourselves down like in The Magic School Bus, would astound us with its intense complexity. When you select your perfect soil, remember to nurture it and love it and that care will be displayed by a happy, healthy, and thriving plant!