Best Soil or Indeed Soil ‘less’ Mixes for Growing Cannabis
The finest quality cannabis will always be produced without chemicals in soil.
Hydroponics systems with manufactured nutritional formulations may produce much better yields, but they will never touch the quality of the very best soil-grown natural and organic cannabis. Besides the quality matter, there are plenty of factors to choose soil over hydroponics.
Soil grows are more eco friendly owing to the technique of fertilizer application; there are no reservoirs to dump down the drain or major leachate from rock wool running off into the natural environment.
Plants grown in soil tend not to generate as much odour while growing as a hydro plant, due to the plants transpiring less. This, along with the fact that there are usually no irrigation timers to breakdown, has given many a grower a much better night's snooze. How many days can a hydroponics unit keep your plants alive without electric power? A serious thing to consider if you are on a dodgy electric system like most of Spain appears to be.
What is a Soilless Mix?
When we mention soilless mixes, we are typically speaking about a peat moss based substrate with additives that vary between companies and mixes. The most well-liked European brands like Canna and Cannabium, as a rule, have sphagnum peat moss as the body of the mix, selected for its water-holding capabilities, reasonably priced cost and high "cation exchange capacity" (it's ability to hold nutrients)
Lime is included in two forms to bring up the acidic pH of peat moss and provide a base of calcium and magnesium to the crop. Hydrated lime is usually added in very small amounts to provide long-term pH adjustment.
Perlite is included in different sizes and quantities to make for a more porous mixture. Wetting agents are used to assist break up the surface pressure of the water and wet the mix more equally with irrigation. A beginner charge of fertilizer is usually put into an EC of about 1. 5 to produce enough nourishment for the first few days of development.
Some brands offer mixes achieving organic requirements with the main variance being the use of an organic wetting agent and a small amount of natural source fertilizer.
When shopping for soilless mixes, it is often best to keep to the bigger brands in this specific niche market. There are a lot of inadequate soilless mixes out for cannabis out there, many different qualities of peat on the market. Even among the big companies, the grade of the mix that is sold in many retail garden centre chains is not always the same that is sold to business greenhouses or nurseries.
The finest quality peat moss comes in long strands, which translate into more air spaces in the root zone. One of the better by-products of making top quality peat mixes is a large quantity of peat dust and microscopic peat fibres. It’s this that soilless mixes sold in garden centres are made with. The problem with this is that the small fibres compact too closely and usually do not let as much air into the root area as a higher grade would.
The most effective bet is to buy the large compacted bales of soilless mix, as these are the ones that are usually the highest quality.
Synthetic vs Organic
On the list of best things about growing medical cannabis in soil is how conducive it is to making use of healthy source nutrition. Undoubtedly it is feasible to use organics in a hydro setup, but quite a few who have tried simply find it to be too much trouble.
The organic opposed to man-made fertilizer debate has been covered many times before, both in cannabis as well as standard horticulture and farming circles. Advocates for synthetics often use the point that a plant cannot tell organically derived nutrients from their synthetically derived rivals. Although this is true, what they don't mention is that with both organic and synthetic fertilizers, you are exposing your plants too much more than what is shown on the label.
The primary problem of synthetics is in the heavy metal pollutants like cadmium, lead, arsenic, zinc, which are generally present in the ingredients. Cadmium and arsenic, for example, have been shown to cause cancer as well as other problems. Levels of these contaminants vary considerably between fertilizer brands and are also present in some amounts in organically based formulas.
When soilless mix suppliers prepare their mixes they are not aiming them at a specific plant and rarely the needs of cannabis. The pH alone is designed to give adequate conditions for a whole plethora of plants. Some plants like a low pH, some like a high pH, some like a quick-draining dryer soil, some prefer a wetter slow-draining soil. Most soilless mixes, therefore, cannot give the ideal conditions and if they did it would have been a fortunate chance.
These soils can be made to better suit the specific needs of cannabis plants. Extra dolomite lime can be added, for example, to raise the pH from the typical 5.8 into a more acceptable 6-7 range (6.5-7 seems to work best for organic nutrients, indeed our own grows are nine times out of ten run at 6.5 PH) and additional Perlite can improve the drainage and amount of air space in the soil.
Therefore we recommend brands of soil makers that work with cannabis itself, companies like Canna for example; unless you wish to make your own soil, but that is a whole other chapter!
I generally use two brands of soil if buying ready-made, In the main, the popular Canna bio range for indoors and a more cost-effective solution outdoors with 'Compo Sana' a non-imported Spanish brand which I find is nicely balanced and great value for money. I recommend that you try to find a decent balanced soil that is produced locally
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