You don’t need to be an expert to grow cannabis; nor does it require a college degree. Anyone can pop a few seeds into the ground, water them regularly, and watch their cannabis grow develop. However, one of the most important factors of growing weed is soil life. Anyone looking to increase their chances of big and beautiful buds can find all there is to know about cannabis soil life here: discover the magical world of microbes living in symbiotic harmony with cannabis plants.
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What Is Cannabis Soil Life?
When people look at the ground where cannabis and other plant species grow, they usually just see dirt. However, when you take a closer look, soil amounts to so much more than just dirt, or grains of sand and clay. Any grower worth their salt knows that the right soil for cannabis plants is a priceless asset. The soil is full of microbes: microscopically tiny organisms that make up soil life together. You can’t see them with the naked eye without using a microscope. Microbial lifeforms include viruses, bacteria, fungi, and microscopic animals.
Although we tend to look at bacteria and fungi with mild aversion, we really ought to pay them more respect. Microbes in the soil are crucial for the growth of all plant species. They engage in symbiotic relationships with our cannabis plants, in which they mutually benefit as they help each other survive. These microscopic creatures enable plants to absorb ore nutrients, exactly when they need them. In return, plants provide microbes with the food they need. Isn’t nature glorious to behold?
Plants As Nodes In Networks
When we look at our plants, we tend to perceive only the visible parts. By definition, those are the bits that stick out of the ground. Once we look below the ground, however, we encounter a whole new world. A plant’s roots connect it with a multitude of soil life organisms, and even with other plants. Through these connections, they all cooperate to increase their mutual chances of survival. In a very real sense, then, cannabis plants and soil life microbes rely on each other to thrive.
Micro-organisms help plants grow, improve uptake of nutrients, and even protect them from disease. Plants supply them with crucial chemicals in return. Growers can benefit from this symbiotic relationship, by using these networks and the hidden power of cannabis soil life.
Cannabis Soil Life In Outdoor Grows
Outdoor cannabis growers can profit enormously from promoting optimal soil life. Many growers already use additional nutrients (such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium) to keep the roots and other parts of their plants healthy. The timing and quantity of watering is another crucial aspect. Nonetheless, your plants will always profit more from all that water and fertilizer once the soil life is optimally adjusted to growing cannabis.
This is because microbes living in the dirt can help make more nutrients available to plants. Uptake of nutes can slow down if they are bound to inorganic molecules. Micro-organisms are capable of metabolising such molecules, freeing them up for your crops to absorb.
Before you start to feel guilty about all these microbial benefits, you should know that your tiny friends are getting something in return. Plants release various compounds called exudates back into the soil. Such exudates mainly consist of amino acids, sugars, and acidic organics, which are a natural source of energy and growth for microbes.
Cannabis Soil Life: Mycorrhizae
A particularly fascinating part of cannabis soil life consists of fungi, and mycorrhizae deserve special mention in this respect. These fungal lifeforms are able to connect the roots of different plants with each other, including those of cannabis. The fungal threads they produce are called mycelium. The mycelium actually serves as an extension of cannabis plants’ root systems, allowing them to greatly increase their reach and so absorb more nutrients from larger parts of the soil. In this way, the thread of the mycelium can connect entire forests, and even let them communicate using special chemicals. This led the world-famous BBC presenter Sir David Attenborough to coin this network the ‘Wood Wide Web’ in his brilliant series The Green Planet.
The true power of this fungal cooperation lies in increased reach. The mycelium can expand the reach of plant roots by a factor of 300 to 800; sometimes even more. These fungal threads are small enough to reach places where roots couldn’t grow, further increasing the nutrient uptake potential of the plants (and fungi).
Here too, mycorrhizae stand to benefit from their symbiotic relationship. Cannabis plants use their roots to send stored excess sugars (the exudates) back to the fungus. While mycorrhizae can absorb these as an energy source, their mycelium network provides our pot plants with all the extras it manages to draw in.
Underground Neighbourhood Network
Again, our beloved cannabis plants do not grow like isolated islands in some sterile sea of dirt. Soil life networks interconnect them by means of the mycelium’s mycorrhizae. A single fungus is capable of linking up multiple plants; even if they are different species. Anyone who has only cannabis plants in their garden ought to consider adding some companion plants alongside your weed grow. Having the right friendly neighbours around can promote mutual plant support, which will boost the health of the entire garden.
Even cannabis plants in pots or greenhouses will benefit from rich soil life. Sure: their confinement shuts them out from the Wood Wide Web, but a sizeable flowerpot or mortar tub filled with good substrate can host a wealth of soil life all on its own. That’s why clever outdoor growers prepare for the new outdoor cannabis season by turning last year’s plant remains into compost. Mixing this free source of soil life with potting soil and other ingredients gives cannabis plants in pots or greenhouses a nice head start by providing heaps of homemade soil life.
And speaking of the Wood Wide Web: mycorrhizae don’t just link up (weed) plants; but they hook up with each other too, forming a giant underground mycorrhizal network. This enables plants to communicate their individual needs to their neighbours over the mycelium threads. That opens up the possibility of sharing nutrients around the network. Clearly, there’s more going on underground than meets the eye!
Cannabis Soil Life For Indoor Grows
Growing cannabis indoors can also benefit hugely from proper soil life. In fact, you could argue it’s even more important here, since you’re working in an unnatural environment. The soil you use is not just free from weeds and insect: it’s also lacking vibrant natural soil life. Some growers go through a lot of trouble to sterilise their substrate. This may eliminate certain organic risks theoretically, but it comes at the cost of killing off all soil life before it has a chance to work its natural magic. That means a key component is missing – and you may be robbing your plants of some great opportunities.
In indoor settings, growers can opt to take an organic approach, too. In that case, mineral nutrients are not advisable, as these can force plants to absorb minerals they may not even need. Organic growing uses what the soil has to offer instead. Of course, you can still use organic nutrients indoors, such as BioTabs Organic Fertilizer Tabs. These supply vital nutes by a clever slow-release formula, making them a clever sustainable power source for cannabis plants. They do their job well, too, as the 2021 Grow Product of the Year Award proves!
No matter what, though, none of these nutrients can be absorbed by plants in the absence of soil life. That make sit all the more useful to add the right fungi and bacteria to your substrate. These will help turn soil nutrients into minerals that cannabis roots can use. On top of that, you’ll be promoting those vital symbiotic partnerships between cannabis plants and micro-organisms.
In fact, the sole exception here are grows based on hydroponics, where you use only water instead of adding soil. Here, all nutrients are dissolved into the circulating water supply, which eliminates any chance of soil life whatsoever. Still, hydro grows have the serious drawback of being highly sensitive to fluctuations. Even the slightest disruption can throw the entire system off balance, with potentially fatal consequences for the entire grow. This fact in itself proves why naturally balanced soil life is so helpful for cannabis growers.
Putting Cannabis Soil Life To Good Use
In any outdoor grow and in most indoor grows as well, soil life is essential, no matter the genetics you order. So whether working indoors or out; ultimately, any grower can use the power of nature by ensuring proper cannabis soil life. We keep repeating that every good grow starts and ends with the finest cannabis seeds, but anyone making clever use of natural advantages gives their plants an organic head start. Time to get growing, then, with the world’s best cannabis seeds and the rich soil life they deserve!