If you've ever picked up a juicy bud and wondered, "What gives weed its flavour…
With a few weeks until the official start of the grow season, there’s tasks to be done!
We can assume that if you’re based in South Africa you’ll be taking advantage of the fantastic outdoor climate.
When preparing for the grow season ahead, make sure that you select seeds with good genetics! Then, select the strain that best suits your abilities. If you are a novice, choosing to grow an autoflowering strain requires little knowledge and they are hardy plants.
While they are a bit smaller, if there are any complications you’re still guaranteed to walk away with a harvestable crop.
Now that you have the perfect seeds, it’s time to focus on your growing medium.
Soil and growing medium
The importance of good soil cannot be understated. This is true for most plants. Each plant has certain requirements that need to be met along with a good quality soil. With cannabis in South Africa, there are a number of craft soil suppliers.
While these soils do retail at a premium price – they’re worth every penny.
A good cannabis soil should be light and loamy, and drains water well but still maintains an ideal level of humidity. What is a loamy soil? Well, it’s one which comprises of sand, silt, and clay. Finding the ideal mixture on your own can be tricky.
If it is your first season, it is worth your time and money investing in the right soil.
And if you are on a budget, you can adjust the soil’s consistency over time.
Once you’re happy with the soil mix, it’s time to check the pH.
pH and prepping for the grow season!
Your soil’s pH is important to the health and growth of your plant. To conduct this test you will need to purchase pH strips and some distilled water (which is pH neutral).
Take some soil from the area you’re planning on planting your cannabis in and mix into into equal parts of distilled water. Stir the mixture into a paste and let it stand for an hour or two. Then use the strip to gauge the pH of the soil.
Cannabis should be grown in slightly acidic substrate of around 5.5 and 6.5. If you need to boost the acidity of the soil you can mix in a sandy medium.
You can purchase pH readers as well if you are wanting to conduct multiple tests.
Now that you’re certain the soil is good pH-wise, take a look if there are any unwanted organisms in the soil.
Sterilisation of the soil
Depending on whether you’ve grown multiple crops in the same bed, your soil might need to be flushed of old nutrients and other elements. While you can treat the soil with a chemical compound, these can also cause harm, ridding the soil of good elements.
The best natural process is to use solarisation – or tilling the soil over to expose it to sunlight. This can take 5-6 weeks. But it’s always better to take the natural route.
For this to work, you will need to till the soil thoroughly, opening up furrows. When the soil has been ploughed, cover it with plastic sheeting to warm the soil. This warm layer will ensure that harmful bacteria are removed from the soil.
If you are growing in a pot you can always directly heat the soil by placing it into a pressure cooker.
Now that there’s nothing dangerous lurking in the soil, time to mix in some nutrients.
Natural fertilisers are great and will improve the general health of the soil. By adding worm casts to the soil you will also encourage it to breath better. You can also use bat guano or coconut fibre as natural fertilisers. Keeping the substrates natural allows for better soil health.
If you want the seeds to take full advantage of the nutrients in the soil plant the seed in a compost rich area and cover with black plastic. The seed will sprout and eliminate weeds popping up.
Are there other routes to be taken when prepping your soil for the grow season ahead?
Other grow season jobs
With any seasonal prepping you need to ensure that your plants have:
- Access to water
- Shielding from wind
- Protection from animals
- Prevention from pests
- Or are in a stable climate environment.
For water, having a tap or rain tank nearby will be very helpful. With wind and animals, building a small barrier will save you loads of headaches.
And with pests, this all down to managing the area with organic solutions.
Lastly, an investment in a greenhouse will help keep an environment stable.
Just like that you’re ready for the next grow season.