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Frequently Asked Questions about Organic Inputs

Frequently Asked Questions about Organic Inputs

Not all organic inputs are created equally, and not all organic inputs are sourced sustainably.

When it comes to cultivating organic cannabis, there is no shortage of products you can use and methods to try out. That doesn’t make it any easier to decide which products to use.

At The Real Dirt and Cultivate, we aren’t the type to judge regardless of what you choose, even if it isn’t organic. But should you choose to grow organic, here’s some common questions about organic inputs and our best answers.

Can I clean my compost tea containers with bleach?

A lot of compost tea containers are made from various plastics. If you clean them with bleach, over time it will break down the interior walls of the containers, breaking down the plastics. You can use bleach to clean but you need to immediately spray down and scrub the containers with water to remove any remnants of plastic particles or bleach that could get into your next tea.

It may not be the most efficient, but the best way to preserve you compost tea containers and keep them clean is to just user water and non-abrasive sponge. With a high pressure washer you can do just as good a job as bleach without eating away at the inner walls or having chemical residue left over.

Are perlite and vermiculite organic inputs?

Yes, but not in the same way as other organic inputs like bat guano, gypsum, lime, etc.. Perlite and vermiculite both act as additives to soil, whereas the former inputs are fertilizing components. Additionally, perlite and vermiculite have almost no nutritional value on their own, and mainly help aerate soil.

However these are also mined inputs which means they’re pulled up from the land with excavators and broken down into the little chunks you get in a bag of vermiculite or perlite.

What are the best organic inputs to use?

People will argue for their favorite products all day long, but the best organic inputs are those that are renewable and sustainable. A renewable organic input is any that is produced either as a byproduct or waste product of animal and other industries.

Some of the best renewable inputs to use include Feather Meal, Alfalfa, Chicken litter, Neem Meal, Composted Chicken “shit”, Crab Meal, Kelp, Bone Meal, Fish Emulsion, Fish Bone Meal, Fish Hydroslate, Earth Worm Castings, and Soy Protein Isolate, just to name a few.

Coco coir is also a great renewable organic input that is a byproduct of the coconut and textile industries in Asia.

Chip answered more questions about organic inputs during his seminar at Cannacon in Oklahoma City in September. To hear the full talk for free, click here and listen to The Real Dirt Podcast.

You can also subscribe and listen on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite platform to get every episode right to your library.

The Costs of Growing Organic Cannabis

The Costs of Growing Organic Cannabis

Everybody has their own personal definition of what “organic” means.

For a lot of growers, organic pertains to the nutrients you use to grow. To others, organic only means planting your plants straight into the ground and growing from there.

But what does it really mean to grow organic cannabis?

What is organic cannabis?

Contrary to what the lazy grower may wish to be true, you can’t just grow cannabis in the dirt in your backyard and call it organic. You have to feed organic too. But what can you feed cannabis that is actually organic?

An organic nutrient is anything that comes from biological life. This includes bone meal, feather meals, guanos, and the like. There’s also mined organics like gypsum, pumice and other natural resources. So just using any of those throughout your plants’ life cycle should be enough.

Not exactly.

Renewable Organic Inputs

To grow as organically as possible, you want to use organic inputs that are also renewable. The problem is that these inputs are few and far between. The reality is that a lot of organic inputs are strip mined, and cause irreversible damage to the ecosystems they impact.

Take guano for example. Bat and Seabird guano are two of the most popular organic nutrient products that growers love to use when growing organic cannabis. But have you considered how these products are obtained? Strip mining.

Surveyors look all over for bats flying in and out of caves, or bird flocking to a specific cliff face or perch. They then bring in excavators and dig in, ripping up the top layers of the cave or cliffs for the high nitrogen guano, and digging all the way down for the phosphorous and potassium-rich guano that has been sitting underneath. This displaces thousands of bats and birds, and destroys any other small life that could live in the area.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any renewable organic inputs.

While it is still up for debate among growers and suppliers alike, many would say that peat moss is renewable. The debate is due to the time is takes for peat bogs — where peat moss comes from — to redevelop. Peat moss is the result of millions of years of decomposing biological life that piles on top of itself. After it is mined, it will not replenish for a million more years. So yes, peat technically renews over time, but not fast enough for us to constantly use forever.

One of the only truly renewable organic inputs is coco coir. It is a byproduct of the coconut and textile industries in Asia. Made from the short and long fibrous hairs that aren’t used from the shell of coconuts, coco coir does no damage to any ecosystem, it doesn’t impact the livelihood of textile workers, and coconuts fall off trees every single day. Coco coir is 100% renewable, and even reusable.

Should I even grow organic cannabis?

Of course you should. The reality is that most of us are wearing clothes right now that aren’t sourced or made ethically, and we just sort of ignore it. It isn’t the best approach, and I’m sure there’s some of you out there that try to avoid supporting these companies. But the same applies to organic inputs.

If you want to grow organic cannabis, you need organic inputs. To get organic inputs, they need to be gathered through different means, whether its a renewable byproduct like coco or a strip mined inputs like guanos, phosphates and others. Sure, you could just grow in some dirt in your backyard and feed nothing but water. That is organic cannabis. But don’t expect great results.

An important ethical question growers should start considering is the importance, and difference between their end consumer’s health and the health of the environment. Organic cannabis is rising in popularity, and will most likely end up becoming a major sector of the legal industry, which means demand is going to grow. Is the consumer’s health more important than the life that is potentially destroyed in the process of obtaining those organic inputs?

The reality is you can grow cannabis with no-organic, synthetic nutrients and still have a safe to consume end product. So the decision is really up to you as a grower; is organic cannabis just a marketing tactic, or a way of life?

Need a T Break? How to Know if You Need a Tolerance Break

Need a T Break? How to Know if You Need a Tolerance Break

Is that joint just not hitting the way it used to? It might be time for a T break.

A tolerance break, or T break is self-explanatory. When you start drinking, it only takes a couple beers and you’re drunk. But after you start having a couple beers a day for a few months, you won’t get as drunk because your body will start to build up a tolerance to the effects of alcohol.

The same is true for cannabis. More or less.

When do you need a T break?

It’s completely up to you because you’re the only one who knows how cannabis effects you. If you used to get baked like a biscuit off of one joint, but now need a king size or two joints to get the same feeling, it might be time for a T break.

The other option is to consume more cannabis in general, or consume more concentrated cannabis. The only downside to this is that you will be pushing your tolerance even further. Another reason to take a tolerance break is to do just that, take a break.

Cannabis is nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact on your body. If you smoke frequently before bed, it can become difficult to fall asleep without it, and the same goes for eating. Maybe you need cannabis to eat which is fine, but using it to constantly just “enhance” your meal can make you eat more without thinking about portion control as much. Plus smoking plant matter in general isn’t great for you.

Lastly and probably one of the most stressful reasons to take a T break is because of a job. Unfortunately not all of us are lucky enough to have jobs that don’t drug test. If you get past the interview for a job and they need you to take a drug test, you better hope they give you some time.

THC can be in your system for up to a month if you are a heavy user that smokes several times a day, but can be out of your system in just a few days if your use is minimal and you take the necessary precautions before you take the test. If you just smoked yesterday and you have a drug test tomorrow, your chances aren’t great, but you can chug water and exercise to clean out your system as much as possible, plus other, less conventional methods we’ll save for another article.

How long is a tolerance break?

The beauty of a tolerance break is that it’s 100% customizable. If you just want to take a day off, you can. If you’re a daily consumer it probably won’t make a notable difference though. Most people stop use for a week or more, with some going a month or longer.

Some people who have used cannabis frequently for years may take a month T break and realize how different it is to not be under the influence so regularly. Some people may even quit cannabis all together after a tolerance break. But for a lot of people, it’s about regaining an appreciation for the plant.

Think about your early years with cannabis. The coughs, the laughs, the munchies, the being baked out of your mind. Over time those effects become just part of the experience, and expected with every toke.

Taking some time off can help you appreciate what cannabis really does for you, and in turn bring you closer to cannabis. It has so much more use than just getting high, and sometimes it takes taking a step back for a while to learn to be grateful for all cannabis can really do.

Nobody needs a tolerance break. Hell, I haven’t taken one in years. But just writing this out is making me consider taking a little break so I can regain some of my appreciation for cannabis too.

Leave a comment about your most recent T break, or shoot us a DM on Instagram or Facebook to share your story!

What Are Cannabinoids?

What Are Cannabinoids?

It is what gets you baked, heals your pain and everything in between. But what is a cannabinoid?

A cannabinoid is a chemical compound produced by the cannabis plant. These chemicals are then secreted from the plant or extracted for their psychoactive and medicinal effects.

The human body specifically has cannabinoid receptors in the brain that are designed to break down these compounds. In a way, humans were either designed, or evolved to develop these receptors. In other words, we were made to consume cannabinoids.

What is a Cannabinoid?

That’s a good question, and one that still a ton of answers yet to be found. We’ve already established that a cannabinoid is a chemical compound. That means THC and CBD are both cannabinoids.

But there are many more cannabinoids, like CBG, CBN, CBC, and CBL just to name a few.

So far, over 113 different cannabinoids have been isolated from the cannabis plant. It starts to make you wonder if it’s really just THC and CBD making cannabis so special. But what is really special, is how our brains and bodies were design to interact with cannabis and cannabinoids in a very specific way.

Cannabinoid Receptors

Prior to the 1980s, it was thought that cannabis just interacted with cell membranes throughout the body to produce its psychoactive effects. In the 80s the first cannabinoid receptor was discovered, putting that theory to rest. And it isn’t just us humans.

Cannabinoid receptors have been found in many mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. In the field of science, cannabinoid receptors are still relatively new, and so as of now there are two known types of receptors. But there is already evidence that there are likely more.

CB1 receptors (Cannabiniod Receptor 1) are mostly in the brain. Now if there hasn’t been enough already, here comes some more science jargon. The CB1 receptors are found primarily in the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus. These receptors are also found in the cerebellum, as well as both male and female reproductive systems.

CB2 receptors are mostly found in the immune system, with the greatest density in the spleen. These receptors are thought to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic effects gained from cannabis.

All of the different cannabinoid compounds in cannabis interact with these receptors in different ways to produce what is called the Entourage Effect.

The Entourage Effect

There is a growing theory that all of the cannabinoids in cannabis are what are responsible for the different effects we get from different cannabis cultivars. This is known as the Entourage Effect.

This theory implies that THC alone isn’t what gets you high, but the combination of THC with CBD, CBG, CBN and other cannabinoids. People who have consumed isolated THC have noted the difference in effect compared to consuming whole flower. This why many people now prefer “whole plant extracts” that use the entire plant as opposed to just a couple extracted cannabinoids like THC distillate.

It will still be some time before we truly know what every cannabinoid does within our bodies. This is in part due to the federal laws holding back scientific studies that could dive into each compound individually to discover its effects.

It is on the state’s shoulders for now to research cannabis for its different cannabinoid properties, and for us as consumers to decide which strains give us the best effect, and in today’s industry that may not always include a high THC potency. We still have a lot to learn about cannabinoids and how our bodies interact with cannabis, but it is pretty safe to say that humans and cannabis were literally a match made in heaven.

Stay tuned for Pt 2 of What are Cannabinoids? We’ll dive into phyto and endo cannabinoids, and what the difference is between the two.

What is Green Greed?

What is Green Greed?

Green greed! It has plagued the cannabis industry for years. But today it doesn’t mean what it used to.

In our current legal cannabis industry, I have run across so many contractors and vendors that attempt to charge cannabis people more money than their “normal “clients. Maybe this is because they were overcharged for a not-so-great sack years ago. Maybe they’re just greedy.

I’ve been quoted $6,000 for a $1,000 job. I’ve been quoted $3,800 for a $900 job. Now, the joke is on both of those assholes because they didn’t get my money. But for someone not as skilled as me in construction and operating a business, you might get taken advantage of by some dubious contractors.

Here are signs that you might be dealing with a green greedy asshole.

Signs of Green Greed

1. If you tell a contractor you’re in the cannabis business and they clap their hands and say, “You guys must make really good money”…
2. Or they put on a greedy smile and say, “This is going to be expensive, but you can afford it”…
3. They tell you that working with cannabis businesses is too risky, and that they have to charge more to account for the risk.

The reality is that these people are probably all just jealous. We all choose our own lines of work, and they chose theirs. Remember, we’ll only work with them if we get fair rates and quality work.

Countering Green Greed

If you are in the cannabis industry and you get the slightest psychic vibe that you’re getting a high quote from a contractor, immediately tell them, “No, that’s too much, I can’t afford that.

Immediately asked them for a discount when they give you their quote. Upon meeting these contractors, call out other green greed that you have already had to deal with to show them you won’t be tricked into overpaying. Demand that you get the best price and the best service.

The cannabis industry makes a lot of money, but the people who try to take advantage from the outside don’t know where all that money actually goes. Operating costs, testing, licensing. There isn’t that much left over. Make that clear too.

It started as growers in the private market’s green greed driving up prices in tough times. Now that it’s legal, everybody can try and take a cut. Which is why it’s so important to be mindful as a cannabis business owner.

Next time you’re talking to a contractor and you hear a number that sounds a little high, don’t be afraid to call it out. As long as people get away with taking advantage of new cannabis businesses, they’ll keep taking advantage. Be cautious, be mindful and always get a second quote.

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Do’s and Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

A listener had some questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones. So let’s dive in.

A recent episode of The Real Dirt Podcast went in depth about the best techniques for planting outdoor cannabis clones. Some listeners have never had any issues transitioning their clones outside, but others are doing it for the first time this season.

While the main focus of the episode is about preventing early flowering in clones, a listener from Oklahoma who is new to growing wanted to know why early flowering is such a bad thing in the first place, and some other questions about planting outdoor cannabis clones.

Outdoor Cannabis Clones and Early Flowering

A lot of new growers might plant some clones outside, come back a couple weeks later to find them already flowering, and think they struck gold. If you could grow a cannabis plant in half the time and still have it produce flowers, why wouldn’t you? But that’s not really how it works.

Here’s how it usually goes: You take the plant out in May. Two weeks later you notice those pretty flowers. Two weeks after that, you get small buds. But then the plant stalls for two weeks to a month and begins to grow weird shaped leaves out of the buds. The plant then reverts back to vegetative growth.

At this point however, it’s already the middle of July, so your plant only has two or three more weeks before it goes into flower again under the natural light of the sun. In the end, you end up with less cannabis that doesn’t look as good.

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your clones thrive outside, but there’s also plenty of things to avoid.

The Do’s of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Know your clones – Certain clones just don’t perform well outdoors. If they come from a strain that was bred indoors and is mostly cultivated indoors, you’re more likely to encounter problems. Before you just buy an exotic strain clone from your local nursery, do some research into its growth patterns and traits, so you can be sure to avoid strains more prone to problems.

Know your light cycles – Different areas of the United States have short and longer light cycles throughout the year. You can easily look up the light cycles of where you live to determine when you should plant your outdoor cannabis clones. In Oklahoma for example, May 1 has 13 and a half hours of daylight. By June 1, there is 14 hours and 23 min of daylight. Then by June 21, the longest day of the year, Oklahoma gets over 14 and half hours of sunlight. Most clones will want to flower at this point, which you don’t want.

Keep some backups – It’s always good to keep some backup clones on hand that you don’t plant outside right away. Especially if it is your first time growing outdoor cannabis clones, start with planting half to two-thirds of your clones outdoors after ensuring they aren’t prone to problems. Should they flower early by chance, you’ll at least have some plants you can salvage and continue to grow.

Transition your clones – Use a shade cloth or a greenhouse to acclimate your plants to the sun. As they adjust to natural light you can wane them off of supplemental lights until they are ready to transplant. If you want to keep it as simple as possible, you can keep your plants under tree cover and shade and then move them out into the sun when they are ready. With this method you most likely won’t have any supplemental lighting.

Keep an eye on them Clones are extremely sensitive to transplants, and it’s common for outdoor cannabis clones to have issues when they are transplanted from a controlled indoor or greenhouse environment to an outdoor bed or pot. You need to check on your clones regularly to ensure none of them are suffering from transplant shock or other problems.

Seems simple enough, but there’s some things you need to avoid to increase your outdoor cannabis clones’ chances.

The Don’ts of Outdoor Cannabis Clones

Don’t put them out too early – Unless you are using supplemental lighting outdoors, you need to keep your clones in a greenhouse where you can control their light schedule to help them adjust to natural light over time. When the longest days in late May and early June only have 13-14 hours of light, your clones will begin flowering if not adjusted.

Don’t let your clones become root bound – The last thing you want is for your clones to become comfortable in their nursery pots, with roots wrapped around its base, only to strain those roots when you transplant them. If you transplant outdoors before your clones have rooted, it will be easier for them to adjust and root into their new medium.

Don’t stress your clones out – Clones are already delicate. They are raised in a controlled environment, with a specific temperature, humidity and lighting. If you’re keeping your clones at a steady temperature 72-74 degrees Fahrenheit indoors, you don’t want to transplant them on a 95 degree day. While it is important to keep your keep your clones wet for the first few days after transplanting, you don’t want to stress them by overwatering either.

This list of do’s and don’ts might seem long, but making sure your outdoor cannabis clones don’t flower early isn’t difficult to avoid. You can simply keep them in an indoor or greenhouse environment and slowly adjust the lights, so when you put them outside around solstice when the day is around 15 hours, your plants will be adjusted, and will transition to flower more naturally.

 

Listen to the original episode all about planting outdoor cannabis clones and let us know if you have any questions we didn’t answer!

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