Growing cannabis in soil might seem as simple as dropping a seed into the ground and waiting patiently for it to turn into a bountiful harvest of dank flowers. However, growing in soil is a science in its own right. Many growers enter this rabbit hole and find themselves in a world of microorganisms, nutrients, fungi, companion planting, and cover crops.

One large aspect of growing a cannabis crop in soil is nutrients. All soil has different properties and different nutrient and mineral profiles. Soils native to certain areas can also be augmented by growers to contain optimal nutrients for cannabis plants. Many growers highly value composting as a means of constantly cycling nutrients into the soil for their plants to thrive on. Another prime source of nutrients for plants is manure, or animal faeces, which is very rich in minerals and easy for the life forms within the soil to break down.

A NATURAL ALTERNATIVE

Manure is a natural and environmentally friendly way to put nutrients back into the soil. Many large-scale and commercial growing operations use chemical fertilisers to achieve this goal, yet this method is known to be harmful to people and the environment. Many of these products are manufactured from petroleum products and can damage the skin and respiratory system. Chemical fertilisers do indeed help plants to grow, but they don't do much for improving overall soil health in a holistic manner. They can kill off many of the beneficial microorganisms within the soil and disturb the natural pH of the soil.

Manure can be obtained from a variety of animals and is high in minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, as well as organic matter. Manure is seen as a complete fertiliser as it contains a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients that are essential for optimal plant and soil health.

Composting manure is recommended before adding it to the soil; this process helps to prevent unwanted organisms in the soil environment. Adding water to your compost pile and turning it every 2 weeks will help the pile to retain moisture and generate good amounts of heat to kill off unwanted pests.

Let's take a look at the different types of compost and the advantages of each.

CHICKEN MANURE

Chickens are incredible creatures that are capable of playing a fundamental role within permaculture gardening systems. Their manure is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Additionally, chicken manure is also light and easy to transport. Of course, keeping your own chickens will offer a good supply of manure, along with high-quality eggs and a patrol of pest-eating birds. Chicken manure takes between 6–9 months to compost, so growers will need to plan ahead when considering this option.

Chicken organic compost

RABBIT MANURE

Rabbit manure is an excellent option for growers who need nutrients fast. Rabbit manure does not need to undergo hot composting and can be added directly to the topsoil to provide nutrients to cannabis plants. Rabbit manure is absolutely loaded with nutrients and contains large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Rabbit organic compost

HORSE AND COW MANURE

Horse and cow manure contain around 1–2% nitrogen and 1–3% potassium and work to enhance the soil texture and fertility. This type of manure requires hot composting before use due to an increased likelihood of pathogens. Horse and cow manure is sometimes loaded onto garden beds and covered in straw over the winter season to decompose. One disadvantage of horse and cow manure is that it is usually more costly to transport.

Horse organic compost

PIG MANURE

Pig manure needs to be carefully sourced due to the presence of antibiotics, bacteria, and parasites from intense agricultural operations. However, pig manure sourced from healthy animals from environmentally-conscious farms is a great source of nutrients for gardens. Hot composting does a great job of preparing pig manure for the garden, and the end product is rich in phosphorus.

Pig organic compost

SHEEP MANURE

Sheep manure is another type of manure that can be used immediately without prior composting. Sheep manure outperforms cow and horse manure in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content. It's also loaded with organic matter that contributes toward attracting beneficial bacteria.

Sheep organic compost

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