Whether you want to call it dirt or a growth medium, soil is a crucial component for growing marijuana. Choosing the best soil for your weed is arguably the most critical decision you’ll make when growing cannabis at home. Getting it right is likely the difference between a bountiful harvest and utter failure.
Pros & Cons of Growing Cannabis in Soil
This is a great option if you want to nurture your crop from seedling through to harvesting. This Espoma soil contains excellent nutrition for early-stage growth. You will need to begin with small pots, before transferring your growing plants later. It contains peat moss, perlite, and peat humus – not to mention a hose of nutrients that aid strong root growth.
Best for Seedlings – Espoma
Irrigation in soil is easier than with hydroponic systems, as is fertilization. With so much information gathered from thousands of years of growing, you can quickly become a soil expert as long as you read the right articles!
Then Dr. Merle Jensen came along. Jensen, a lauded plant scientist from the University of Arizona who was born and raised on a farm in Washington, is recognized worldwide as an eminent research horticulturist. Jensen’s concern in helping to find new ways to feed an ever-growing population (around nine billion estimated by 2050) made him a missionary of sorts. He has spent a good portion of his lengthy career growing vegetable crops in harsh desert climates around the world, from Mexico and Latin America to Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. His trial-and-error efforts have resulted in new ways of growing nutritious crops in sand. He took agricultural concepts and reassembled them into a form that redefined sand culture to mean growing edibles in sand dunes in arid and inhospitable parts of the world. This is concurrent with Maximum Yield’s definition that the process is “thought to be more efficient than traditional hydroponic methods because sand decreases the risk of botanical ailments such as verticilium and fusarium.”
Also, while sand in its pure state is not an ideal medium for plant culture because of an inability to retain water and nutrients, most natural sand has silt particles and some organic matter (sandy loam), making it one of the cheapest grow mediums because it can be washed easily and recharged with nutrients.
Utilizing materials at hand, the Aztecs used plant roots to lash together rushes and reeds, which they then covered with sand laden with nutrient-rich organic debris dredged up from the lake bottom. Called chinampas, these early sand-culture rafts were home to vegetable crops and flower beds whose roots pushed downward into the water for sustenance. Tied together into floating islands sometimes 200 feet long, the chinampas were often poled close to a market place where shoppers could walk up and purchase fresh produce straight from the garden.
Despite the demonstrated success of crop cultivation in a hydroponic fashion, most of the work done with soilless growing prior to the early 1900s was low-key, consisting mostly of laboratory experiments with specific plants. The standard definition of sand/gravel culture at that time came from Merriam-Webster: “Growing plants in an artificial medium using sand/gravel to support the roots and supplying mineral nutrients in an aqueous solution.”
Modern Sand Culture
“There are over 20,000 miles of desert coastline worldwide that, if made habitable, could feed millions of people,” he says. “In most cases, edibles could be seeded directly into leached beach sand and, once growing, be irrigated with constant liquid-feed solutions of commercial-grade fertilizer. Current growth of food production will not keep pace with need unless we extend it into new areas and toward that end, the day will come when the world’s deserts must be cultivated.”