Before you can get to the fun bits of cannabis, a lot of work has to go into the cultivation of the plant. Or, maybe you consider that the fun bit? Either way, we’re here to outline what the team at Elyon does to give you the best bud, from choosing the soil to harvesting the plants. Let’s get to (farm)work.
The first, and quite possibly the most important decision in cultivating cannabis is choosing the soil. You could just try to plop it in the ground and hope for the best. But we certainly don’t. At Elyon, we are constantly on the lookout to find the best possible soil to give our plants the nutrients they need.
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Loam
There are four main soil types: sand, silt, clay and loam. Loam is actually a mixture of the other three (approximately 40-40-20% respectively). While loam is usually considered the best natural soil type for cannabis, they all have their pros and cons and will most likely need amendments to get your plants the nutrients they need. In addition to these natural soils (soils found outside), growers have the option to plant in potting soils – premixed soil compositions crafted to fulfill all your cannabis (cultivation) needs. What are those needs?
- pH levels near 6.0
- Proper drainage
- Good water retention
- Nutrient rich
Let’s Not be Basic
Want those pHat nugs? You have to pay attention to the pH levels in the soil. The pH scale runs from zero to fourteen, measuring how acidic or basic (alkaline) something is. Substances measuring below seven are acidic and those measuring above seven are basic. Distilled water, measuring at seven, is neutral. Want some examples? Lemon juice (2) and coffee (5) are both acidic. So is milk (6.7). Blood (7.4) and baking soda (9.5) are both basic.
The optimal range for cannabis soil is 5.8 to 6.3. Why? At this range, the plant can soak up all the nutrients it needs from the soil. Anything too far outside of this range and the plant won’t be able to take in and process the nutrients. It won’t necessarily die if you stray outside this range, but it certainly won’t thrive.
Proper drainage and good water retention? This may be a bit hard to wrap your head around. But you need to consider both when choosing the right soil. When watering your plants, you don’t want the water to pool above or just below the surface – proper drainage. But you do want the soil itself to retain enough moisture – good retention. Choosing a soil with the right balance is important but you also need to take a few other factors into consideration. Many growers (like Elyon) add nutrients to their watering system. To be able to feed the plants more often, proper drainage is more important. Growers that rely predominantly on the nutrients in the soil need better water retention. Conundrum solved.
Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium are the most important mineral nutrients for cannabis soil. Nitrogen is probably the single most important, but without the right balance of all the mineral nutrients, the plant cannot thrive. Nitrogen is a part of chlorophyll and without it, the plant can’t turn sunlight into energy and simply won’t grow.
Another important aspect of the nutrient makeup is the fungi to bacteria ratio in the soil. Ideally, the ratio will be one to one but just creating a healthy soil environment where both can survive and thrive is important. They help balance out the nutrients and protect the plant’s immune system. A healthy plant leads to a healthy high.
The Dirt on Elyon
At Elyon, we take our soil seriously. We are always striving to find the best soil composition for our plants. We grow in raised beds with a potting mix principally composed of forest material, organic compost, sand, worm castings, peat moss and gypsum.
Although most of our nutrients are fed through watering, we do put down fertilizer in between each harvest to add any necessary nutrients. We conduct leaf tissue tests on a weekly basis and if any of our strains need a little extra love (Blue Dream and Green Crack have had their own case of the munchies lately) we lay down a little extra organic fertilizer.
We grow with a living soil model (basically biodynamics to any of you wine folks out there) to create the right nutritional balance and fungi to bacteria ratio. Through our watering we add a bacterial “tea” mixed with carbohydrates (usually molasses) and nutrients to increase the bacterial population and balance out the mineral nutrients in the soil. We’re also planting with mycorrhiza, a fungus added directly to the roots during transplant, that lives in a symbiotic relationship with cannabis. Don’t we all love to live in a symbiotic relationship with cannabis?
At Elyon, our goal is to get you the best buds so that you can get the most high. To do that, we start with the soil.
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