If you’re growing marijuana in soil, soilless mix, or outdoors, you want to start composting. I did it, for these reasons:
- I’m dissatisfied with the price and quality of commercial soils and soilless mixes.
- I want safe, organic, nutrients-rich additives for my root zone, for free.
- I want beneficial microbes in my root zone.
- I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, and have piles of marijuana leaves, stalks and stems—composting is a great way to repurpose them.
Composting is a lot easier and cheaper than you think, although it can be made into a difficult, costly process. The good news is you can make compost without using expensive compost bins or spending a lot of time on it.
Compost can be used inside your cannabis root zone and as a top dressing. It installs beneficial microbes and nutrients, especially nitrogen, and it’s free! You see explosive growth in veg phase, fatter buds, and healthier roots. Compost is an essential part of feed programs for organic marijuana, and can reduce the amount of organic or veganic fertilizers you have to buy.
To make compost, you need green food scraps, and can also use egg shells, coffee grounds, nut shells and other natural materials. You also use dried leaves, grass clippings, chemical-free brown paper towels and bags, leaves, sawdust and similar items.
These materials are sometimes arranged in layers, and there must be a proper combination of green and brown materials, as you’ll see in the embedded videos.
Composters talk about the crucial need for “carbon and greens” in the compost mix, and you have to get the ratios right or the composting process won’t work as well or at all.
Many people use compost bins or other compost makers outdoors. These have advantages, especially if they have lids, compartments, and a pour chute for finished compost. However, you don’t have to use fancy containers.
Indeed, what I’ve found works absolutely fantastic for growing marijuana is called trench composting. You can only do this if you have a yard to dig trenches in. If you do, the process is simple—take your organic kitchen waste and other organic material, along with brown material such as brown paper bags, and put it in a trench in the ground that’s deep enough for you to cover the material with 8-10 inches of soil.
If you live where rats, possums, squirrels, raccoons, dogs or other animals might smell the materials and try to dig them up, you have to dig deeper and use more cover soil.
Water the dirt-covered material every so often. If you have healthy soil biota and it’s not the dead of winter, in 1-3 months, the material will be broken down into a nutritional compost.
Many outdoor marijuana growers plant their starts directly into their compost trenches, but they modify the root zone before they do that because compost lacks the full range of nutritional elements needed for growing marijuana, tends to compress, might be too nitrogenated, and has the wrong water-holding and drainage traits for cannabis.
Thats why they add high quality regular soil to the compost trench so that the plants grow in a mix of 30% compost, 70% soil.
Outdoor marijuana plants planted in properly-adjusted compost trenches have massive roots due to the compost’s microbial life, and suck up composted nutrients to grow into massive plants.
If you don’t want to be growing marijuana directly in the trench, but want to use it as a soil amendment, you use the trench as a compost container and dig the compost out of it as it becomes ready.
Again, don’t grow marijuana in 100% compost, always mix compost with soil at a ratio of 1/3 compost, 2/3 soil.
If you want to actually have a composting container instead of doing ground composting, one of the simplest is called a “digester,” which is a container that’s placed so 1/3 of it is below ground.
The third that’s below ground has holes in it so soil microorganisms can get in and do their work. It’s useful to place digesters so they get some sun, as heat often speeds up the composting process.
Most digesters have covers, which keeps hungry animals and pesky flies away, and there are options for doing vermicomposting, which is the use of earthworms to digest and process debris so they create nutrient rich “worm castings.”
Vermicomposting can also be done indoors with a “worm bin.” You buy worms and keep them in their composting bin while feeding them small amounts of green scraps and similar materials. Worm castings are valuable, and often a foundational component of organic fertilizer products.
Indoor marijuana growers have to be careful with compost made outdoors, as it could be loaded with insects you don’t want in your grow room root zone. If you’re making vermicompost indoors, you avoid this problem, and I recently saw small compost bins designed for people who live in apartments or condos where they have limited outdoor space.
Composting is a smart way to create nutrition for your plants while also living more sustainably by repurposing yard and kitchen waste. Some of the largest, highest-yielding and greenest marijuana plants I’ve ever seen have been grown with compost in the root zone.
As an added benefit, you can make compost tea which is applied as a root feed and foliar feed. Check out the embedded video about compost tea. Indeed, when you watch all the videos, you see how easy it is to make and use compost in your marijuana growing. The benefits are guaranteed, the cost is low, and you’re making great use of materials that might have been wasted.