Super Soil: Grow Better Buds with Less Work
Do you want to increase your yields? Reduce the number of hours you pass in the grow room tending your plants? Decrease the occurrence of pests and disease? Spend less money on nutrients? Then it’s time to consider turning off the pumps, draining your hydroponic tanks and trying a grow using super soil as your medium.
Don’t worry. Using Super Soil doesn’t mean you have to go organic, though you may choose too. Keep in mind that “organic” simply means the plants are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
Many small farmers and local CSAs (Community Sponsored Agriculture) that sell veggies to a small community are choosing to grow “biodynamically” instead of organically. Biodynamic growing is gardening in a way that is holistic. This system focuses on the health of the soil. The goal is to grow like nature does, and thus produce a better product with less labor.
Super Soil is an easy way to begin applying biodynamic growing principles to your cannabis crop. It can help you achieve a higher yield, a tastier product and an easier grow. A little extra work is required ahead of time, but once your seedlings are in the container your only job is to water and wait.
Benefits of Growing in Super Soil
- Improved Potency and Yield
- Commercial fertilizers and nutrients are formulated to meet specific nutrient needs of the cannabis plant: primarily nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Super Soil offers a wider range of nutrients. It includes all the trace minerals your plants need, as well as a living network of microbes and mycorrhizae (fungus filaments) that make nutrients available to plants. In a healthy ecosystem, these organisms live symbiotically around and even within the roots of plants and help transfer nutrients to the plant. In many “sterile” gardens and growing containers nutrients that are present in the soil are inaccessible to plants because they are not water soluble.
- The presence of living organisms in Super Soil makes it a rich source of nutrients. As the plant grows it works with its microscopic partners to source just the right food for each stage of growth. You don’t have to worry about pH, or about changing the nutrients between vegging and flowering. Let nature do its work and watch both your yields and the potency of your buds climb.
- Tastier Bud
- Many growers claim that their final product simply tastes better when they grow in Super Soil. The aroma tends to be more floral, and the taste more pronounced. This could be from the complete access to minerals and vitamins which allow the plant to maximize terpene and flavonoid production.
- As an added bonus, you don’t need to flush a plant grown in Super Soil. There is no danger of a chemical tang from overfeeding. After all, you’ve just been giving it plain old water throughout the whole grow!
- Greener Grow
- In this eco-conscious age, it is interesting to note that most marijuana growers leave a massive carbon footprint. The standard indoor grow uses a lot of electricity plus synthetic chemical fertilizers. We’ve come a long way from the “live lightly on the Earth” hippy reputation that marijuana held for many years.
- Growing in Super Soil allows you to reduce your ecological mark. Super Soil works great for growing outdoors too. Depending on your climate and local laws you may be forced to continue growing under lights with carbon filters and fans. But you can stop using nutrients and grow with a medium made of local, organic and renewable ingredients.
How to Make your Own Super Soil
Making your own Super Soil requires time and a bit of resourcefulness. Get creative. It doesn’t have to be an expensive process. I am going to describe the classic recipe for “SubCool’s Super Soil”. By the way, SubCool gave this recipe away for free, and makes no money off of it. So think kindly of him when you’re smoking those extra-large, extra-tasty buds in a few months!
This recipe makes a lot of Super Soil. If you are only growing a few plants, you can cut it down (keeping the ratios). But keep in mind that Super Soil lasts well, as long as you keep it covered and don’t let it get too wet or dry out. Treat it like a good compost. Plus, it makes a great additive to your vegetable garden too.
Tools You Will Need:
- A large container or tarp
- A shovel
- A rake
Soil Ingredients You Will Need:
- 210-280 lbs high quality potting soil
- Look for a good quality, organic and LOCAL option to reduce both cost and that environmental footprint we discussed
- Your soil mix MUST contain: mycorrhizae fungi
- Your soil mix should include some if not all of the following: coca fiber, lignite, perlite, pumice, compost, bone meal, bat guano, kelp meal, soy bean meal, alfalfa meal, yucca meal, gypsum, diatoms, worm castings
- 25-50 lbs Earthworm Castings
- Available from local nursery, online (try Amazon.com) or make your own by starting a worm compost bin.
- Up to 75 lb Perlite (Optional, only if you need extra drainage)
- 5 lbs Fish Bone Meal
- 5 lbs Blood Meal
- 4 lbs Bat Guano
- 1 cup Dolomite Lime
- ½ cup Azomite
- ¾ cup Epsom Salt
- 2 TBS Humic Acid (powdered)
Don’t panic if you can’t find all of these ingredients. Start with a good soil mix that has mycorrhizae in it. Source the worm castings (you can also find them from local organic farms). Do your best with the bone and blood meal, and the bat guano. If you can’t get the exact ratios or have to leave on out, don’t worry.
The lime is included to act as a pH buffer. The Azomite is a source of trace minerals. The Epsom salt adds magnesium. Humic acid holds nutrients in a bioavailable state for easy uptake by both microbes and plant roots.
Some people choose to add other amendments to their Super Soil mix. You could throw in sea kelp, alfalfa meal or mycorrhizal granules (use this last if you can’t find a soil mix that includes this fungus already).
Consider adding live worms to your mix. They are the pros at breaking down soil into rich plant food.
Do the best you can sourcing ingredients. Stick to local and organic whenever possible, even if that means adjusting the recipe a bit.
Once you have compiled your ingredients, it is time to “cook” them up!
Mixing and Composting: The Process
There are a lot of suggestions out there, and many articles outlining the exact order in which you should add ingredients. I am here to tell you: It doesn’t matter how you do it! What matters is that all the ingredients get thoroughly mixed.
Start out on a big tarp. It is easiest if you begin with a few bags of soil, then some amendments, then more soil. Mix as you go. Then keep mixing. Mix with your much boots. Mix with a shovel. Rake the whole mess onto another tarp and back again. Shovel it into a garbage can then dump it out and mix it up again. The point is to mix everything really well.
Once you are satisfied with your mixing, place the soil into a container. This could be several large trash cans, a compost bin or just a big pile in the middle of your tarp. Water it lightly (about 8-10 gallons for the whole thing will do).
Cover and let it cook in the sunshine for 30-60 days. It should literally “cook”, getting hot (up to 120°F) in the center of the pile. During this time your pile must stay moist, but not soggy. The heat and the microbes are breaking down all your ingredients into a super-rich, concentrated soil that will feed your plants for months to come.
Using your Super Soil
After 1-2 months of cooking, turn your soil out and mix it thoroughly. The whole mix should be a uniform color. Now you are ready to start growing!
Never plant seeds or seedlings directly in the Super Soil.
Fill your growing container 1/3-1/2 full with Super Soil. Fill it the rest of the way with a high quality, organic potting soil, like the one you used in your mix. Plant seeds or seedlings into the soil. As the plants grow their roots will reach down into the Super Soil where they will find all the nutrients they need for their entire life cycle.
Growing cannabis with Super Soil takes planning and patience. The initial sourcing of ingredients, mixing and composting is a big undertaking. But the end result is a LOT of great compost. Your plants will be healthier, richer in aromatic terpenes and flavonoids and more resistant to pests and rot. Your yields will be high, your buds will potent and all the work is done before you even start growing. If you are looking for a simple, green, just-add-water system, Super Soil is the way to go.