Providing your cannabis plants a soil-mix teeming with beneficial microbial life is the secret behind successful organic gardening.
Nature has quite the efficient soil building program.
A leaf falls down from a tree in a forest, covering the ground. Sitting there the leaf slowly starts it’s breakdown process, being decomposed by weather and microorganisms. This natural affair in-turn creates food and habitat for many different forms of micro-life, as well as adding nutrients into the soil.
Habitats of micro-life assist in the development of a healthy forest, unitedly growing as more organic matter is added as food the microbial life. This helps sustain and grow the forest without the need for manual intervention. Most plants in the world already depend on this delicate ecosystem of microorganisms in order to obtain nutrients required for growth from the soil.
Fungi and bacteria are the main agents of decomposition. In organic soil, higher rates of decomposition equals quicker breakdown of matter into usable nutrients for plants.
Bone meal, blood meal, chicken manure, and nutrient-rich compost are all examples of organic matter that are not all readily available for your plants absorption. These are slow-release fertilizers. Some of the nutrients, are released and absorbed quickly, while others must be ‘mined’ down into smaller particles in order to be absorbed by a plant. This means the fertilizer needs to be broken down further in order for it’s nutrients to become available for plant usage.
Best way to speed the process of plant-available nutrients up?
Maximize beneficial fungus and bacteria levels in the soil
Try this experiment in a local forest:
- During fair weather, find a thick pile of fallen leaves/brush matter underneath a healthy tree.
- Dig into the leaf pile until the topsoil level is reached – you should be able to see some white fungus on decomposing leaves as you get deeper.
- Pull back a little topsoil and discover the next stage of the decomposition process – with roots grasping onto decomposed matter, many roots covered with a white fungi.
This is what’s called Mycorrhizal Fungi.
Mycorrhizal fungi has a symbiotic relationship with plants. In exchange for living as a host on your cannabis roots, mycorrhizal fungi force-feeds the plant nutrients from the organic matter broken down in the soil – This is in order to create a larger habitat for the fungi to live on. A win-win situation, clearly.
Bacteria, protozoa, fungi and other micro-life are constantly breaking organic matter down in soil; essentially a soil food web. That means as you put in organic fertilizer in a correctly prepared soil, the fungi will help decompose the fertilizer, naturally, whilst creating a symbiotic feeding relationship with a plant’s roots.
In other words, by pumping up the mycorrhizal fungi levels in your soil, this will effectively help the marijuana plant in effortless nutrient uptake (provided your soil contains the sufficient nutrients).
Be prepared to witness healthier plants, quicker growth, enhanced resistance to pests and diseases, increased drought resistance, reduced transplant shock, and higher yields with correct application of mycorrhizal fungi in an organic soil growing mix.
Creating an optimal soil environment for mycorrhizal fungus to flourish is the backbone of the True Living Organics method. TLO growers do this by keeping soil mixes full of healthy microbial life: using lots of aeration and providing plenty of food for the fungi to decompose.
Don’t assume that True Living Organic practices are strictly for outdoor growing. Fungus and bacteria will still be doing it’s job indoors provided the right conditions…
Mycorrhizal fungi is extremely delicate and can be wiped out easily. Be careful not to use any salt-containing fertilizers such as most readily available chemical fertilizers. Adding salt to fungus will simply dehydrate it, similar to putting table salt on a slug.
Keeping the soil’s aerobic bacteria levels high is a key to success in True Living Organic growing method. Make sure your soil has a weath of aeration – TLO mixes generally consist of roughly 1/4 perlite. Using perlite in the soil is basically like having a bunch of artificial air pockets throughout your mix. Microbial life needs to breathe, and will flourish in air-filled environments, taking advantage of these air pockets.
Coco-coir is also a major addition, fluffy, airy and retaining 10 times its dry weight in water. Be sure to rinse the coco-coir out thoroughly: soak coco-coir in a bucket and draining out water out 2 or 3 times – being a coconut product, coco-coir more often than not contains salt.
Compost teas are extremely effective when done right, creating a type of microbial life explosion in the soil. Be sure to to aerate compost teas correctly, or you could be doing harm to integral micro-beasties instead of helping them. Read a compost tea how-to article here – http://www.finegardening.com/brewing-compost-tea
FoxFarm’s Happy Frog fertilizer comes loaded with mycorrizal fungi as well as bat guano, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, fish meal and humic acid. A safe bet for True Living Organics soils, this cocktail of fertilizers is ideal for your plants. Happy Frog fertilizer is slow-released and can be applied mixing directly into your soil, sprinkling onto your topsoil or making ‘spikes’ (probe a hole into the root-zone soil, filling with the fertilizer). Happy Frog is a genuine wonder-product for organic growers.
For information about building an optimal soil-mix maximizing mycorrhizal fungi, check out SKUNK magazine’s writer the Rev.
The Rev’s book True Living Organics: The Ultimate Guide to Growing All-Natural Marijuana Indoors is essential reading for the organic grower, and certainly not just indoor growers. The Rev explains the delicate symphony of soil microlife in an easy-to-read format suitable for readers of all levels. You will learn how to create a healthy micro-beastie friendly enviornment in your soil and the dangers you must look out for. Worm farms, organic tea mixes and soil amendments are all covered in depth. The book also contains detailed instructions on creating your own ‘TLO’ (True Living Organic) soil mix, complete with a wide variety of nutrition for plant. Part of this system focuses on pumping up the aeration of your soil in order to create a better habitat for mycorrhizal fungi. Fungi needs air to grow, and will flourish in properly aerated soil.
For those interested in the science of True Living Organics, you should pick up Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web. Written in an entertaining style, this book explains the fundamentals of microorganisms in your soil, and how they can benefit your plants. It also explains why chemical fertilizers are detrimental to soil health, injuring the microbial life of the soil food web. You will learn about the science behind why feeding your soil will in-turn feed your plant and how pumping up your microlife will increase your plants performance and nutrient availability.
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