I used to have several sagging shelves in my grow op supplies closet stacked with bottles of hydroponics base nutrients and supplements, along with so-called organic and natural fertilizers and supplements.
One reason I had dozens of fertilizer bottles is I was competing different brands against each other in test grows so I could write about what works best for you and other marijuana growers.
Another reason is I naively believed hydroponics nutrients and fertilizer company hype about the need for all these products every season.
I spent way too much time studying manufacturer feed charts and carefully adjusting pH while monitoring parts per million and EC. I spent a huge amount of money on every new product that came out, always seeking the miraculous potion that would make my harvests worth gold.
But after years of testing every nutrients brand I could get my hands on, I hadn’t seen any significant difference in growth rate, yield, or potency between identical clone crops using different brands of fertilizer, except in cases when a brand was crap so it ruined my plants.
Then when the price of cannabis went down due to legalization and I was earning less money selling it, I decided to cut grow op costs by scaling back on the number of hydroponics nutrients and other fertilizer products I was using.
I had been so programmed by manufacturer advertising that I anticipated an acute crash in plant health, productivity and yield as I cut out all but the essentials.
What I mean by “essentials” is that I cut back to using only base nutrients, a root zone beneficial microbe product, one P-K bloom booster, and a little molasses.
I grow in soil, coco coir, rockwool, perlite, soilless mix, and deep water culture, depending on the season and what my goals are, and there are minor adjustments needed to maximize root feeding in each of those root media.
For example, soil and peat-based soilless mix tend to store nutrients elements, so I had to feed way less than the manufacturer’s feed charts recommend, and had to flush frequently. If I failed to do that, nutrients overload burns the plants and locks out certain nutrient elements.
With deep water culture and other pure hydroponics such as rockwool, it’s easy to overfeed because those systems are so efficient at transferring nutrients into roots, so I work off a reduced concentration feed program for those plants too.
When I tested so-called organic and natural fertilizers, I found they were smelly sludge that clogged my fertigation systems, fouled my root zone, and made fungus gnats very happy.
The only non-synthetic feed programs I’ve ever gotten any usefulness from are Dragonfly Earth Medicine and Biotabs.nl.
I kept seeing the same results over and over: crops grown with only base nutrients, beneficial microbes, molasses and a bloom booster performed as well if not better than crops grown with all of those extra components that hydroponics nutrients companies and organic fertilizer companies push on growers.
The reason I kept doing the testing is I didn’t want to admit I’d been brainwashed by advertising and marketing all those years, that I’d wasted at least $250 per season on bottles I didn’t need to use.
I was sure that eventually a crop test would prove that using all those extra bottles translated into way more than $250 worth of increased harvest weight and potency…but I was wrong.
The other members of the Growing Marijuana Perfectly team have done the same experiments and gotten the same results. Our formerly sagging fertilizer and hydroponic nutrients shelves are now empty. The multi-product, complicated, painstaking, time-consuming, costly fertigation programs we used to use are used no more.
It’s such a great feeling to mix a two-part base product and that’s all I feed during grow phase other than the beneficial microbes root zone product I use every two weeks.
It’s a great feeling to mix a two-part bloom base product, add a PK booster after week two of bloom, and apply the beneficial microbes root zone product every two weeks.
The feeling is wonderful for the following reasons: it only takes me a minute or two to mix the feed program, the program works perfectly, I rarely if ever have to flush, leaf tip burn indicating overfeeding has disappeared, I don’t worry about pH or ppm anymore because I follow the simple feed charts and the pH and EC are just fine, I don’t have calcium/magnesium problems, I save money and time, and I get fantastic yield per watt of tasty, sticky, potent buds.
That’s all there is to say about this topic other than you have to be sure you’re using the highest quality nutrients. I continue to look for a nutrients manufacturer that reinvented the entire genre of cannabis nutrients by doing scientific, publicly-disclosed studies on thousands of cannabis plants and figuring out the nutrients ratios, percentages, and types that push cannabis to its maximal vigor, yield and potency.
So far, I haven’t found any company that has transparently done that. The closest so far is RxGreen. They’ve done at least some cannabis research in their large, professional cannabis grow op with real plant scientists.
Their feed charts are simple, and their products work. They recommend a base plus a calcium booster in grow phase, a base plus a calcium-phosphorus-potassium booster in bloom phase, and their root zone beneficial microbes product (called Root), is the most professional and effective we’ve used. However, I don’t like their super-expensive “Axiom” foliar spray.
Be aware that as with the grow lights industry, many nutrients and fertilizer companies selling to the marijuana growing community are scammers.
Growers who embark on the same fertigation downsizing as I have first use up their existing feed program and then convert to the simpler program. Not a one of them has complained. Many have thanked us, and I hope you will too.
The good news is you don’t really need all those different bottles of vitamins, humics, cal-mag, fulvics, boosters, roosters, complex carbohydrates, fish, kelp, bud hardeners, etc.
It is true that some of those materials are useful for cannabis plants in tiny amounts, benefits are minor if at all and strain-specific, and my investment in a broad range of synthetic and natural supplements beyond the simple feed program I now use did not pay off.
To paraphrase the legendary Bob Marley from his heartbreaking “Redemption Song,” we say:
“Emancipate yourself from nutrients slavery.”