While hydroponics (the use of a soilless medium) is a popular method of growing marijuana, many outdoor growers use soil as a natural and effective way of growing strong plants. Alternatively, the approach known as the living soil relies on soil that imitates an outdoor ecosystem. It has all nutrients and microorganisms required for normal plant growth.
Soil quality is the key to the success of the living soil method. It is essential for growing healthy and strong cannabis plants and ensuring the desired cannabinoids content. Research shows that soil microbiota determines nutrient supply to the plant, thus playing a crucial role in marijuana growth. Scholars explain that high-quality soil contains all essential nutrients, improves water retention, produces growth stimulants, and suppresses root diseases. But how to test marijuana soil? Check the information below if you want to know whether your soil is suitable for growing marijuana.
What Is the Perfect Soil?
Indoor growers know that the soil they purchase from the supply store is perfectly balanced and ready for use. But what if you want to plant directly in the ground in your garden? In this case, you need to determine whether the planting site is suitable for cannabis. Before conducting an outdoor cannabis soil test, you need to understand what you are looking for and what parameters to measure. So, the optimal soil has the following characteristics:
- Contains all essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Has a perfect pH for marijuana growth ranging from 6.0 (slightly acidic) to 7.0 (neutral.)
- Contains no pests and pathogens that may affect plants.
How to test your soil for growing cannabis? If you are an amateur cannabis grower, you have limited tools to measure soil quality outdoors. One of the most reliable options is to find a certified soil testing laboratory in your location. Letting experts do the work may be costly, but you will get accurate and exhaustive results. Scholars at the University of Massachusetts have created practical recommendations, so check these out if you want to learn more. Thus, you will introduce evidence-based changes to the soil to create a perfect environment for cannabis.
If you prefer to do the job yourself, you can measure the soil’s pH. Handheld pH meters are accessible and user-friendly testing equipment widely applied by cannabis growers. The most advanced gadgets can measure pH, moisture, and light. In this way, you can determine whether the soil is suitable, whether the plants need watering, and whether they receive just the right amount of light. Handheld pH meters are easy to use and do not require expert knowledge or special skills.
Testing kits are more affordable and exciting to use, especially if you enjoyed chemistry at school. All you need to do is take water and the testing solution and add these to the soil. Use the color chart to determine the characteristics of your soil.
Want to know how often to test weed soil? Check it regularly (every couple of days) because soil characteristics may change depending on the temperature, light, watering, and many other factors.
If you are lucky, tests will show that your garden is the perfect site for marijuana growing. In this way, you won’t have to worry about pH or nutrients and simply wait for the plants to produce the precious buds. However, if your tests have shown that the soil is too alkaline (pH scores 7.0 and higher), you will need to add organic matter. Purchase compost and mix it with the soil before planting your cannabis. If you live in the countryside and have access to animal manure, you can use it as an alternative to store-bought compost. The test may also show that your soil is too dry or too moist, so regulation of the water supply may be needed.
If the soil is infected with pests, eliminating them is your top priority. Organic and environmentally friendly options include the use of insects that eat pests. For example, you can purchase ladybugs and bring them to the garden. Cannabis loves company, so you can also grow them with other plants such as mint or basil. These will ward off pests and protect your yield. Adding pesticides to the soil is also possible, but these may affect the quality of your yield. A study conducted by Sullivan and colleagues showed that cannabis users might be exposed to pesticide residues as they smoke weed. This may pose a significant toxicological threat, meaning that your marijuana will turn from medicine into poison.
Soil testing is essential both before and after you plant your cannabis. Don’t feel like spending too much time on this tedious task? You can always purchase ready soil and use it outdoors to avoid the trouble of regular testing. Choose the soil produced by reliable manufacturers, as it contains everything your plant needs to grow healthy and strong.