Cannabis 101: Importance of Soil to Plants If you’re a cannabis grower, you know how important healthy soil is for plant growth. It’s the home for seeds and developing roots and the base for the plant’s stem, branches, and flowers.
Most importantly, it’s the source of water and nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned grower, it’s never too late to read up on the importance of soil for a healthy garden. Here, we’ll break down the most frequently asked questions about garden soil, so you can improve your yields.
Why Is Soil Important to Plant Growth?
Healthy soils are vital to our existence. Soil provides a home for plants to grow in, by supporting their roots and storing nutrients. Soil filters and purifies our water and protects our landscapes from natural disasters such as flooding, drought, or fire.
Soil is the largest store of carbon, helping regulate climate. For healthy plant growth, the large biodiversity of living organisms in healthy soils improves the uptake of water and nutrients, breaks down organic matter, and improves soil fertility. Essentially, healthy soil supports plant growth.
What Is a Good Soil Structure?
Soil structure refers to the order of solids and pore spaces in the soil. Organic matter and mineral ions bunch together, leaving gaps, or pore spaces, between the aggregates. A healthy soil structure provides proper drainage and air circulation and plenty of room for root growth.
Usually, good soil consists of the following:
- 50% solids
- 25% air
- 25% water
Soil composition varies by soil type.
Soil Consistency and Texture
A successful cannabis garden starts with proper soil consistency. Sandy soil is loose and easy to move around but can’t hold nutrients and moisture properly. Heavy clay soil is too compacted, making it difficult for air or water to reach the plant roots.
What’s the best soil for cannabis? Loamy soil texture has the right balance of mineral particles such as sandy soils, silt, and clay soil. Loam contains about 40% sand, 40% silt, and 20% clay. Essentially, it provides proper drainage and improves its water holding capacity.
Plant nutrients are found in soil or can be added as fertilizers. Nutrients are absorbed through the roots. Plants require large amounts of macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the main nutrients.
- Nitrogen: Nitrogen, found in fish meal, bone meal, and manure, promotes vegetative growth but can slow down flowering in high concentrations.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus, found in bone meal, is essential for a healthy root system and proper flowering.
- Potassium: Potassium, found in potash, is vital to increase a plant’s resistance to disease and drought and promotes flowering.
We recommend getting your soil tested to determine if your soil has a nutrient deficiency, so you can amend your medium to grow healthy plants.
What Is a Soil Test?
A soil test is a simple and affordable way to gauge the structure and chemical composition of your soil. Soil tests determine the level of organic matter, nutrients, and pH. Testing your soil can tell you how you can amend your soil for a healthy crop. A soil test can be performed at least every few years during mid to late spring or early fall to determine its quality.
Testing soil is particularly important because having soil outside the optimal pH zone means your nutrients will not be available for uptake. If your pH is too high or low, the plant nutrients will not be properly absorbed. Soil pH that is out of balance means you’re wasting more time and money and missing out on essential minerals.
Adding Compost to Your Soil
Adding quality organic matter to your soil can rehabilitate soil that has nutrient deficiencies. Healthy soil supplies nutrients to your plant. Here is why adding compost to your soils is important:
- Lets water flow through more effectively
- Improves air and moisture retention
- Provides home for beneficial insects and soil microbes
- Allows bacteria to break down organic matter, releasing more nutrients for plants
- Healthy soils protect plants from disease
Compost can be purchased or made from organic material you have at home. Homemade compost can be made from green matter such as grass clipping, manure, kitchen scraps, and brown matter such as wood chips, sawdust, or dry leaves.
Making your own compost is easy. You just need to keep your compost pile damp but not completely soaked and turn the material regularly to allow the decomposed organic matter to break down and turn into garden-ready compost.
Importance of Crop Rotation
In any garden, switching up your crops every year helps reduce the risk of disease. If you grow the same plant in the same area year after year, the harmful pathogens can build up over time because you are providing them with their optimal food source
For outdoor gardens, crop rotation can promote a diverse ecosystem in the soil. For instance, after planting cannabis, growers can grow crops like peas, dandelion, clovers, lentils, and buckwheat to add nitrogen back into the soil.
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