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Junkyard Grow

Season 3 Episode 10

by Amanda Mackay

One Man’s Trash …

On one of our many road trips through the breathtaking Kootenays, we stopped at a roadside diner for a quick bite to eat and were approached by a friendly guy asking about our Growing Exposed van. Once we explained what we did, his eyes lit up.

Bill, a fellow cannabis grower, kindly gave us a nug from his crop and invited us to check out his unique and unconventional set-up. We’re so glad we did.

Bill takes guerilla grows to a new level. We’re talking about a sizeable garden scattered throughout a junkyard, all grown using repurposed and recycled materials. It truly goes to show you can innovate on any budget.

“Cannabis has literally been grown in every clandestine scenario imaginable” – The Garden Sage

Waste Not, Want Not

In his search for a natural alternative to the dangerous opioids ruining his dad’s life, Bill grew cannabis on his own and eventually helped his dad improve his quality of life without the harsh side effects of pain medications.

Bill’s out-of-the-ordinary garden location makes it a stealthy haven for his cannabis gold mine. He’s growing in the back of a covered pickup truck, in a light-dep greenhouse made with an old trampoline frame and pieces of garage doors, and, of course, outdoors.

His ingenuity makes this one-of-a-kind garden stand out, like his use of reflective steel roofing to reflect light onto his garden. Bill’s scrappy spirit and down-to-earth philosophy set a shining example for the rest of the cannabis industry.

Burdensome government regulations create more cannabis waste that could instead be used for various industrial purposes, including compost or combustible fuel sources. In this throwaway society, Bill’s rough-around-the-edges garden and the close-knit team are enough to produce high-grade bud that rivals the big guys.

Light Dep à la Junkyard

On our visit to Bill’s Junkyard garden, we saw his unique light dep set-ups and marveled at their ingenuity.

  • Light deprivation: An outdoor growing technique that reduces the amount of light plants get to trigger flowering.

Some of Bill’s were placed in the back of his pickup truck, while others were covered under a DIY greenhouse frame made using a trampoline frame and parts of a garage door wired and strapped together and covered with a black tarp.

He can maintain a perpetual harvest throughout the year by triggering flowering cycles according to his schedule and maintaining a fresh and steady supply of smokable cannabis.

Overall, we were highly impressed with what Bill has done with so little, from using amended soil from nature to growing outdoors in his DIY garden set-up. 

From Soil to Oil

In the second part of our episode, we travel across the border from one cannabis heartland to another, deep into the old-growth redwood forest of Humboldt Country, California, with Royal Gold certified soil scientists Joanna and Michael. 

Standing in front of giants in the redwood forest, we take a closer look at the soil’s natural microbiology and amendments, like Royal Gold’s, that mimic the natural world. At Royal Gold, they understand how these fertile soils develop over time.

Soils go through succession, starting with poorly developed soils without much structure or organic matter. Over time, you get a wide variety of plants, starting with lower successional plants like grasses and short-lived plants that thrive in bacterial-dominated soils without fungus, which is the key for organic matter to build structures on.

As you move down the chain through succession, you get to the permanent old-growth forest with fungal-dominant soils, a popular option for cannabis growers. High fungus levels can cycle the potassium, phosphorus, and other minerals.

Royal Gold takes that by-product of the second-growth redwood harvested as part of the timber industry and composts it in a proprietary way, aging it down to build a base for fungus like the one found in the old-growth forest. 

They add bigger pieces like coconut husk chips, coconut fiber, lava rock, perlite, and more to create a wide variety of bacterial homes. Essentially, they’re trying to create a good balance of fungus and bacteria.

If you have forest and can pull a pinch of it and put it in your tea, you can inoculate your soil with endemic microbes from the forest, creating rich, living soil, too. 

Stay Tuned for New Growing Exposed Episodes

Our latest episode takes us through the most innovative junkyard garden we’ve ever seen, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. You can check out past episodes and other how-to’s on our YouTube channel and subscribe to our channel, and hit the notification bell to stay up-to-date with all our videos.

Want to learn more about the lighting used in this garden?

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