Every living organism, and this includes plants, requires nutrients. Nutrients (fertilizers) for growing cannabis can be inorganic (synthetically manufactured) or they can be organic. Maybe you have heard one or the other cannabis grower talking about their organic grows. No question, there is plenty of debate going on among growers which way to grow cannabis (organic or using chemicals) would be best, yet each of the methods can have their benefits and drawbacks.

WHAT DOES “GROWING ORGANICALLY” MEAN?

Simply spoken, growing organically means growing in soil with everything that is used for your grow being derived from living things. No synthetically made compounds, such as chemical salts or inorganic pesticides are used in the growing process.

WHAT ARE ORGANIC NUTRIENTS?

Organic nutrients for marijuana are those types of nutrients that are made of or come from living “organic” sources like plants or animal waste. Some other substances, for example mineral rock dust or gypsum can also be referred to as organic fertilizers.

organic feeding chain

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OR ORGANIC NUTRIENTS FOR GROWING CANNABIS?

There are several benefits of using organic nutrients for growing. As compared to chemical fertilizers, organic nutrients are normally slower releasing which means there is less of a chance for overfeeding and nutrient burn. This can make organic nutrients safer to use, especially for those who are new to cannabis growing.

Organic nutrients have a beneficial effect on microorganisms that are living in your soil, which in turn benefit your plants’ growth.

Since organic nutrients are made from natural substances, they also tend to be renewable and ecologically sustainable.

Beneficial organics, including growth-boosting microorganisms, stay in the soil, so there is less a chance of nutrient runoff and waste.

When compared to feeding your plants with synthetic nutrients, when you grow organically it is for the most part about improving your soil and as result of it improving the growth and health of your plants. Some cannabis growers who grow organically find that doing so enhances the flavour of the final product.

Likewise, when you grow organically, your soil improves over time. Because of this, organic growing is highly attractive to outdoor growers, as it means you can reuse the same soil for many growing seasons.

Some growers also prefer growing organically as it gives them peace of mind knowing that they don’t rely on chemicals and other artificial substances, so they feel more “in tune” with nature and the environment. Plus, there are no chemicals to potentially enter your body when the cannabis is consumed.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF ORGANIC NUTRIENTS?

Growing cannabis organically doesn’t just have benefits. As with almost everything, there’s also some drawbacks.

Organic nutrients usually take longer to be absorbed by the plant. The reason for this is that an organic grow relies on microorganisms that break down nutrients and this is a process that takes some time. This can make it more difficult if you spot a nutrient deficiency, say during flowering, and want to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

Your organic grow will in large parts rely on beneficial microorganisms that live in your soil. In colder climates, these microorganisms work slower breaking down nutrients. This means that organic nutrients can act slower and not as effectively in colder temperatures. It makes organic growing less of a precise science and more of an art form, as it is harder to manage.

When compared to growing using synthetic fertilizers, where your growing medium can be pretty much sterile, organic substances in your soil can easier attract insects and pests - plus there can be an increased chance for harmful fungi or algae to appear.

Last but not least, organic nutrients are usually more expensive than synthetic (chemical) cannabis nutrients.

overfeeding plant cannabis

SYNTHETIC CANNABIS NUTRIENTS

Synthetic (chemical) nutrients contain the minerals that are important for plant growth in a form instantly available to your plants. The three most essential minerals for growth are nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K). The nitrogen comes from an artificial nitrogen fixation process that’s called Haber-Bosch process, which was invented in the first half of the 20th century. The phosphate and the potassium are extracted from minerals, with harmful impurities removed.

Commercial synthetic fertilizers are usually manufactured to contain a specific ratio of these three main minerals, designated by the N-P-K ratio, which stands for the percentage of each mineral that is in the product. Along with nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in specific ratios, other beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and others can often be found in synthetic fertilizer products as well.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SYNTHETIC CANNABIS NUTRIENTS?

Synthetic (chemical) nutrients are normally made with an exact ratio of specific nutrients. This means that the grower has more control over giving the precise amounts of nutrients that the plants require during their current growth stage. Nitrogen, for example is mostly needed in the growing phase while later on, in flowering, the cannabis plant would need less of it but needs more phosphorus for growing some big and sticky buds.

Being able to precisely add the right amount of nutrients can result in bigger yields and a higher THC content. It is worth noting that nutrient requirements can vary strain to strain and phenotype to phenotype.

Chemical nutrients are instantly available to your plants when you feed them. A rapid intake of minerals and other compounds makes it possible to impact your plants’ health immediately, say if you want to address a nutrient deficiency as fast as possible.

Last but not least, synthetic plant fertilizers are available almost anywhere, and are normally much cheaper than their organic counter-parts.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETIC NUTRIENTS?

The fact that synthetic nutrients for growing cannabis are instantly available to your plants and can, at times, also be very concentrated increases the risk for overfeeding and nutrient burn. This can make synthetic fertilizers a tad more risky for less experienced growers who, at times, have a tendency to overfeed.

Synthetic nutrients also cause salt build up over time in soil, degrading quality. With poor soil quality comes a higher chance for nutrient run-off, which results in nutrients being wasted, together with the harm this can cause to the environment. Poor soil also increases the likelihood of problems developing for your plant.

Synthetic fertilizers are also not made from renewable resources. A lot of energy must be spent on producing nitrogen and other compounds in synthetic fertilizers, and these processes take their toll on the environment.

cannabis buds

WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE: ORGANIC NUTRIENTS OR SYNTHETIC CANNABIS NUTRIENTS?

For ages, cannabis cultivars have been debating the pros and cons of their favourite growing method, but what you choose should ultimately be something that you choose by yourself and not based on someone else’s experience.

There can be many reasons you’d prefer growing the one or the other way and the best thing you can do is try it out for yourself to see what works best for you.

 

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