“A Pot of Soil Is Like a Battery”

Through years of cultivating medicinal cannabis in soil, I’ve gained valuable insights, albeit sometimes through the school of hard knocks. Unfortunately, some of these lessons came at the expense of compromised yields, diminished quality, and the need to cull hermied plants. Most of these issues seemed rooted in nutrient and lighting challenges.

I embarked on my journey with Biobizz during the first two runs, and those initial attempts yielded the best results by far. Hindsight now reveals that I might have gone overboard with the nutrients, but the cured flower from those harvests boasted the highest potency, yielded the most, and remained potent for the longest time in jars. I’m still enjoying some of the phenos from that inaugural run. Additionally, those first two runs seemed to show a higher tolerance for intense lighting and greater resilience to stress.

Things took a turn when I started experimenting with various additives and concoctions. I dabbled in different recipes for actively aerated compost teas (AACT), sprouted seed teas (SST), pureed fresh aloe leaves, and the list goes on.

Then came the decision to venture into the no-till “living soil” method using dry amendments, starting with BuildASoil 3.0 as a foundation. I introduced dolomite lime to stabilize soil pH, alongside various AACT recipes and SSTs. Yet, it felt like a constant struggle to balance the soil pH, leading to considerable stress for my plants due to the acidic conditions. This, in turn, affected both yield and quality.

As I diligently took note of these challenges and worked to address them, I knew logically that the excessive nutrients and acidic compounds in the soil were problematic, as confirmed by the pH levels.

One day, it all clicked. I can’t recall who said it, but someone likened a pot of soil to a battery, a notion that resonated with me. Then, I remembered an episode of The Pot Cast featuring Nspecta from CSI Humboldt, where he cautioned against showering plants with excessive nutrients and additives. I began to picture what might have accumulated in my soil pots with my weekly applications of AACT and SST. Perhaps BuildASoil 3.0, already rich in nutrients, was overkill for my specific needs.

Having connected these dots, I now envision my soil as “clean.” I aim for it to mimic the fresh, pristine topsoil found in the Pacific Northwest mountains. If I continue pouring in excessive bottled nutrients, AACTs, SSTs, and the like, my soil could resemble more of a trash can filled with crystallized sugars, toxic acidic compounds, and pest infestations.

These experiences have led me to a cultivation approach that I hope will yield the highest quality medicine. It’s something of a living soil hybrid.

Here’s my approach to creating a living soil:

I start with BuildASoil Light as the base. This product has proven successful for me, and when fully moistened in my pots, it resembles the rich topsoil found in the lush PNW forests, which I find ideal.

Next, I incorporate crushed oyster shells, a favorite amendment of @HeavyDayze, at a rate of 1 cup per cubic foot of soil, or one standard-size bag of the BuildASoil Light recipe. I fill five-gallon pots with this mixture, leaving about three inches below the rim. To ensure a thriving microorganism population, I work in one cup of BioVast into the top layer of the soil and add a handful of earthworms. Lastly, I sprinkle a cover crop seed blend from BuildASoil on top, aiming to establish a root network across each pot to foster a natural soil environment. This is only done once in the beginning.

Over the next month, I spray these pots daily with plain RO water, avoiding any unwanted water contaminants. Reverse osmosis water is my choice for its purity.

Once the cover crop has grown for a month with daily spraying, I remove everything above the pot’s rim. I cut down the remaining cover crop with scissors and layer on more soil to prevent any resurgence. My focus is solely on the root layer of the plants; I don’t want any other plants cohabiting in the five-gallon pot with my cannabis plants.

As the pot nears fullness with soil, I mix in another cup of BioVast and a generous layer of parboiled rice hulls on top. This mulch layer acts as a barrier, keeping everything within the soil. Maintaining a sterile environment is crucial in my indoor garden, and for this reason I also avoid using animal manure-based products.

In terms of nutrients, given that the BuildASoil Light recipe is nutrient-poor, I primarily rely on the Biobizz line. This is a company that I have come to trust. They have an entire list of certifications for their products, including organic certifications as well as third party verification of the ingredients and that they are free of harmful compounds.  

I typically feed the plants once a week during most of the veg phase and increase frequency as needed moving into the flower phase. I will be limiting my use of AACT and SST, only applying them strategically to maintain soil health and cleanliness. My aim is for each plant to fully utilize all nutrients and additions in the soil, avoiding any buildup or excessive decay that might upset the balance or “dysbiosis” of my “battery,” since I do not feed until runoff. These pots will continue to be used for future round with a no-till method.

This approach represents the culmination of my experiences and efforts, with the ultimate goal of producing the highest quality medicinal cannabis for my personal use. It’s a method that combines the principles of living soil with a commitment to purity and a focus on maintaining a harmonious balance within the soil, akin to treating it as a valuable and rechargeable “battery.”

This method is currently being trialed on my current run consisting of Royale with Freeze (Wyeast Farms), Pave S1’s (Raw Genetics), Meat Breath S1’s, and Stuffed Cherry Gelato (Raw Genetics). I am super stoked to see the outcome of this one. I would love to hear if anyone has tried anything similar to this, so please feel free to comment below. And check back for cultivation reviews post-harvest for the Royale with Freeze, Pave S1’s, and Stuffed Cherry Gelato. I have already done a review for the Meat Breath S1’s which can be found HERE.