Before I read The Organic Grow Book, I’d already read at least a dozen other tomes about organic cannabis growing. None of them convinced me to start growing marijuana organically instead of hydroponically. I’ve been growing cannabis for more than 20 years, and had done organic growing marijuana outdoors and indoors. I appreciated some aspects of it, but concluded that it wasn’t as precise, controllable, or productive as hydroponics cannabis growing.
And I’ve felt rather irritated when organic cannabis advocates insisted organic buds taste and burn better than buds grown hydroponically. It prompted me to do blind taste tests at cannabis connoisseur events. The results: nobody could tell the difference between organic and hydroponics buds.
Fortunately, The Organic Grow Book offers such a compelling look at the benefits of organic growing that now I finally understand the benefits of organic agriculture…and it has little to do with bud taste and scent. Instead, the benefits are global, and personal.
Cannabis Seeds Guru Discovers Organic Growing
The Organic Grow Book is a meticulously-researched, compellingly-written 537-page book co-authored by Dutch Haze pioneer Karel Schelfhout, whose Super Sativa Seed Club was one of the first seed companies to sell cannabis seeds worldwide. The club is still selling old-school Haze and other legendary genetics today!
Decades ago, Schelfhout worked with famous Haze pioneer and marijuana seeds guru Nevile Schoenmakers in The Netherlands during the formative days of the international cannabis seeds industry. Karel was one of the first professional growers to experiment with pure hydroponics cannabis growing using rockwool, other inert root zone materials, and synthetic mineral fertilizers. So when he asserts that “chemical agriculture” should be replaced by organic gardening, it pays to listen.
This beautifully-illustrated and lyrically-written book is superior to other organic grow books in part because Karel’s poetically personal statements explain why he shifted from hydroponics to organic growing. He recalls using synthetic fertilizers and the harshest pesticides he could find, but gradually discovering that his gardening tactics and materials were bad for people and the environment.
He was troubled to learn that manufacturing of hydroponics nutrients, rockwool and other hydroponics supplies requires mining, refining and other ecologically-ruinous industrial practices. He saw mountains of used rockwool, which is more persistent than plastic as a long-term environmental pollutant that takes forever to degrade. He saw algae blooms and water pollution caused by hydroponics nutrients runoff, and was shocked by the vast amounts of electricity used for indoor grow lights, pumps and other hydroponics growing necessities.
Karel learned that large areas of the natural world are ecologically harmed by petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, genetically modified crops, and processes used to manufacture fertilizers and engage in industrial agriculture. That’s why he was relieved to observe ecologically-ethical farmers utilizing permaculture and other holistic horticulture methods to convert animal manure and household organic waste into compost, hummus, compost tea and healthy soil. These farmers grow bountiful organic crops using simple methods and materials, and don’t need industrial fertilizers, grow room equipment, and electricity to grow their crops.
Karel says soil stays fertile when you build and nurture a biodynamic web of hummus, compost, earthworms, beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other organisms and materials that create a “living soil” feedback loop. This is a self-sustaining biological “factory” that recycles, concentrates, and stores nutrients from air, land and water so crops have ample nutrition—and no added fertilizers are needed.
As an added bonus, Karel reports, fertile soil tends to be porous, easily drained, oxygenated, resistant to pests and diseases, and it’s loaded with soil biota that enhance root growth, root mass and root function.
Another benefit is that properly-made organic soil pH naturally gravitates towards the ideal sweet spot that allows roots to maximally absorb needed mineral elements. And plants are better-anchored, with more resilience and resistance to survive pathogens, pests, torrential rains, cold weather, extreme heat, drought, and other harsh conditions.
Grower Self-Sufficiency & Environmental Ethics
From an environmental perspective, growing organically provides immediate, multiple benefits. Organic growers aren’t complicit in the serious environmental harms associated with manufacturing petrochemical fertilizers. They don’t use the industrial supply chain in which fossil fuels are burned to ship petroleum-based fertilizer, nor do they use poisonous insecticides and fungicides.
What’s more, the book notes, organic farmers can be independent and self-sufficient. While hydroponics growers rely on electricity and on corporations that manufacture fertilizers and hydroponics gardening supplies, organic farmers with access to animal manure and open space in an area with sufficient rainfall grows cannabis, vegetables, fruits and other crops without relying on industrial inputs.
Due to cannabis prohibition, The Organic Grow Book doesn’t specifically mention or show cannabis, but Schelfhout and his journalist co-author Michiel Panhuysen provide clear, concise guidelines that cannabis growers can adapt for growing delicious, clean, large marijuana flowers using organic methods and materials.
The book also provides organic gardening instructions for people growing food crops and other plants. One of the book’s main points of superiority compared to other organic gardening books is it fully explains all kinds of gardening scenarios and tactics, including modified hydroponics systems, indoor growing, outdoor growing, making compost and compost tea, repairing damaged soil, using quality water, and the timing of planting and harvesting.
The Organic Grow Book has the finest, most useful drawings, charts, photographs and other visuals I’ve ever seen in a grow book. For example, most growers are familiar with photo charts showing what cannabis leaves look like when plants have specific nutrients problems. Problem is, leaf photo charts usually cause more problems than they solve, because a deficiency of one mineral element can look like deficiency of a different element, and vice versa. The designers of The Organic Grow Book instead used skillfully hand-drawn illustrations that show the progression of nutrients deficiencies from healthy leaf to deficient leaf for the essential nutrients plants count on—a far more useful visual asset than photo charts.
The main reasons cannabis growers don’t embrace organic soil growing is they don’t understand how to do it, and they’ve heard that hydroponics growing makes plants grow faster, mature earlier, be ready for harvest sooner, and produce heavier, more potent buds.
It’s true that growing in pure hydroponics systems indoors gives growers the ability to micromanage and totally control plant nutrition and all other growth factors in ways you can’t do with any other type of growing.
Sophisticated high-tech deep water culture and aeroponics systems in sealed grow rooms with the best grow lights and added ambient C02 makes cannabis grow faster and produce heavier, denser buds than any other cultivation method, but technology-dependent hydroponics grow ops require diligent monitoring, expensive equipment and an ample, constant supply of electricity. Organic gardening is far less complicated than that!
The Organic Grow Book explains that hydroponics gardeners are missing out on the benefits of having a “living” root zone. Growing in inert media such as rockwool, or in pure hydroponics such as deep water culture or aeroponics, roots are in a sterile environment filled with mineral elements provided by synthetic nutrients produced by environmentally-harmful mining, petroleum-refining and manufacturing.
Worse yet, many hydroponics nutrients brands are improperly made, so root zone pH can go wrong. An electricity outage or equipment failure can deprive plants of water, oxygen, and nutrients elements, severely injuring or killing them in just a few hours. These problems can’t happen in a properly-configured organic soil garden.
The Ultimate Practical Manual for Organic Cannabis Growing
When you read The Organic Grow Book, you’ll want to try organic marijuana growing, and the book an exceptionally practical manual giving you a step-by-step plan for organic gardening. Among many other things, the book teaches you how to…
- Select base soil and make compost that are free of pollutants, pests and diseases.
- Create “living soil” containing microorganisms, carbohydrates, and organic materials that interact with each other to become a biological factory that provides cannabis roots all the essential elements they need.
- How to procure raw materials and mix them into soil for maximum bioactivity.
- How to adapt organic growing to a variety of diverse growing systems and environments, including outdoors, indoors, and in greenhouses.
- How to select containers and pots, and prepare outdoor grow sites.
- How to germinate seeds and make clones.
- How to detect and interdict pests and diseases aboveground and below-ground using natural, safe, organic methods.
- How to use crop rotation and companion planting to enhance soil and plant health.
- How to set up and run a semi-sealed indoor grow room.
- How to boost soil fertility and use other tactics to stoke robust cannabis floral development.
- How to gauge the quality and authenticity of so-called “organic” fertilizers.
- How to adapt organic gardening to work in hydroponics systems.
Along with the charming “old Green hippies” hand-drawn illustrations, precise scientific images, instructional charts and illustrations, and beautiful photos, the authors provide us an international directory of gardening stores and gardening supply depots on several continents, and a glossary of horticultural terms. Karel and his family also make organic growing easier by making and selling the “Biotabs” assortment of organic soil amendments, fertilizers, foliar sprays and plant boosters.
The Organic Grow Book has been meticulously translated into English, German, French and Spanish, and the cool thing is that each translation retains the clarity and passion the authors intended.
Illustrator Pic Lelièvre deserves much praise for creating whimsical art to match Karel’s idyllic vision of organic farming. These cute, fun drawings are the icing on the cake: from the sturdy fold-out laminated back and front covers that contain valuable indexing information, to the heavy, resilient stock the book is printed on, The Organic Grow Book is the most classy, sophisticated, grower-friendly organic gardening manual you could ever want.
Anyone who’s already growing cannabis, vegetables, fruits, nuts or anything else and wants to embark on the organic gardening adventure is going to love this book. I personally thank Karel and Michiel for the professionalism and intellect they poured into The Organic Grow Book. This isn’t just the world’s most comprehensive and easy to use organic grow manual—it’s a work of art! Get one for yourself and for anyone interested in ecology, healthy food, and gardening!