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The Truth About Living Soil

The Truth About Living Soil

I hear two really popular tag-lines about growing cannabis these days: living soil and no till.

In reality, these terms are really just old forms of magic poking their head into the new cannabis industry. Living soil is a term defined by Elaine Ingram, our godmother to biological understanding of the soil. The problem is, all soul is living.

The idea of living soil is that you nurture the environment within the soil and develop an ecological or biological ecosystem. Now, on the surface it sounds great. But how do we get there, and what does it really mean to have “living” soil?

Origins of Living Soil Ingredients

First off, living soil is no more environmentally friendly than rockwool.

Ok, 3/4 of the people reading this just threw their phone across the room or started cursing my name. But just think about where all those organic ingredients come from. Just because they are natural ingredients doesn’t mean they’re superior.

Almost every specialty organic ingredient is strip mined. Somebody rolls onto a piece of land, sets up conveyors and starts digging a hole. They get all the gypsum or bat guano or whatever else out and maybe they fill the hole back up. Maybe they just walk away. Not the most environmentally friendly.

For instance, bat guano is one of the most loved organic ingredients by living soil farmers. However they don’t just sweep up the fresh bat poop on the floor of caves. They find areas around the planet where bats are living, and tear them apart top to bottom.

High-nitrogen guano is the freshest bat poop. This is the first product that is swept up off the bottom of the cave using large excavators and front-end loaders. As soon as the fresh bat guano is depleted the hard soil at the bottom of the cave begins to be dug up. This is the high phosphorus bat guano.

The same destructive process is used for fossilized kelp, humus, gypsum and lime, creating eco-damaging strip mines everywhere. Kind of uncool if you ask me.

Real “Living Soil”

If you have a real commitment to organic farming you would use just compost and other waste products such as fish emulsion, bonemeal, harvested kelp, and composted agricultural waste. Compost has minimal nutrition in it and only biological life like weeds, seeds and other bugs.

I have made literally millions of yards of compost. Compost is usually made from green waste materials or sawdust. The whole point is to add nitrogen to the carbon-based waste product.

When you balance the carbon-nitrogen ratio, your compost is ready. This means all the nitrogen and most of the beneficial phosphorus and potassium has also been eaten up in the composting process. Therefore compost is mostly cheap filler. The only benefits you get from it is biological life, yet you have to deal with the bugs, pests, weeds and the seeds.

Living Soil and Cannabis

Besides the environmental impacts, living soil doesn’t really work that well inside. Living soil is often full of bugs, part of what makes it “alive”. Once a critter is introduced into an indoor environment there’s little chance that you’ll be able to restore your grow room back to its bug-less inception.

With modern cannabis growing, pesticides and pest control are of the upmost importance. Pest control is a heavily regulated area within the cannabis community. Pest control is so highly regulated that the introduction of pests into your room is the first line of defense.

Living soil doesn’t yield indoors and in most cases living soil does not yield much at all. It mostly serves as a magical term used by magical people to complete their Bro-science degree.

I’m not telling you it doesn’t work, I’m saying it’s like a hole-in-one. You can try as hard as you can, practice your swing all day. But a hole-in-one is determined as much by luck as it is determined by your skill. Living soil is the same way; it’s expensive, it’s never the same twice, you have to work hard at mixing it, and then only randomly does it actually work well.

At this point if you’re still reading you’re either intrigued or you totally hate me. Here’s the truth. I’m a sucker for organic, and if it says organic on the label I generally buy it. I’m a 25 year vegetarian, and even lived off the grid for numerous years. I am a tree hugger and a conservationist.

But if you want to grow the highest quality cannabis indoors, the above ideas don’t mash. If you want to grow consistently and not crap after crap, living soil will not work for you.

If you want to believe your bro science or your brother-in-law or your “Master” grower friend that’s always putting you down, go for it. But look at the quality of all of your buds without excuses and you’ll see living soil a little differently.

The Real Dirt 420 Events Etiquette Guide

The Real Dirt 420 Events Etiquette Guide

With 4/20 happening on a Saturday this year, it’s bound to be a good holiday. But there’s some general rules of etiquette you should follow so you don’t ruin it for others.

4/20 is a great day. It’s one of the only days out of the year where cannabis is not only tolerated by the masses, but celebrated by the cannabis community.

With 420 events happening on a Saturday this year (compared to Friday last year when most people had to work until the evening), theres bound to be more people celebrating than last year. It also means there’s a higher likelihood of something stupid happening that could easily be avoided.

Here’s a few tips for making sure you have a safe and awesome time at your 420 events.

Pick Up After Yourself

When cannabis was first legalized in Colorado, the 420 events that happened that year were massive. However, with the new legalization came a new crowd of cannabis consumers excited to celebrate the plant throughout the city of Denver.

Unfortunately with so many people getting baked across the city, at a wide range of events in both private and public spaces, there was a huge buildup of trash. Not just trash, but also litter.

The event spaces were filled with trash once the festivities were over, with very limited crew to clean it all up. This led a lot of non-celebrators blaming “stoners” for leaving a mess around the city. Suffice to say, it didn’t make the community look good.

With that said, the community has stepped it up, starting 420 events cleanup initiatives to clean up event spaces. But you can still do your part. Don’t leave your roaches all around town, throw them in a trash can.

Recycle that water bottle that you just finished. Yes, it’s annoying getting all the little handouts from businesses at these events, but you can easily so no thanks, or just throw it out instead of onto the ground.

Pace Yourself

You might be thinking that 420 is basically the holiday of smoking as much weed as possible in one day. At least, that’s what I did in college. But as it becomes more accepted in broader society, it isn’t necessary to be so excessive for the sake of celebration at this year’s 420 events.

If you’re in a legal state like Colorado, there’s a ton of events going on across Denver. If you burn through a half ounce at 10 AM, it might make it more difficult to go out later in the day. But if you’re smart and plan it out, you’ll be fine.

Stay away from anything hybrid or indica before lunch. Stick with a straight sativa if you can (even though those labels are really just a myth), until you go out. Once you’re at the Mile High Festival or wherever you decide to go, you can transition to a hybrid. You can relax and enjoy the music without feeling too bogged down at your 420 events.

You should stick with hybrids or sativas as long as you want to be active during the day, and only switch to an indica when you’re winding down for the evening. Most of all, pace yourself.

Don’t pop a bunch of edibles then chase it down with a gram joint. Treat it like alcohol, and just be responsible.

The Smoke Circle

The smoke circle is a delicate ecosystem with unspoken laws especially at 420 events with potential strangers. As long as you know the rules, you have nothing to worry about. Even if you don’t, you don’t really have anything to worry about except for the glares you might get when you put half the joint in your mouth to hit it. Which brings us to the first rule.

Don’t slobber all over whatever you’re smoking, whether it’s a pipe, joint or blunt. A good technique to try with a joint or blunt if you just happen to be a slobbery individual is to hold the joint or blunt between your middle and ring finger and cup both hands to your mouth and pull, and you can hit it without even touching it with your lips.

This can take some practice if your new, but make sure you don’t crush the joint between your fingers when you cup your hands.

Second, and probably the most well-known (and enforced) is the “puff-puff-pass” rule. This rule has been interpreted through the times to mean one of two things. When your passed the joint or blunt, you can either puff-inhale, puff-inhale, or puff-puff-inhale. In close circles, you can get away with two puff-puff-inhales, but in most cases it’s one or the other.

Though to this day, it’s still up for debate among scholars.

The main purpose of the puff-puff-pass rule is to avoid breaking the last rule in the smoke circle, which is commonly referred to as “Bogarting”. Given this unique name from a man named Humphrey Bogart, it refers to holding onto the blunt or joint longer than your turn. Whether you puff-puff-puff-pass on accident or you hold it too long while you tell a rambling story, bogarting has many forms, all of which should be avoided.

Just Have Fun

Let’s get real now. 420 is just a simple holiday to celebrate how far we have come as a cannabis community, how much we have grown. Just look at how the industry is thriving; the boom of legal hemp and CBD, the expanding recreational and medical industries across the US with over half the country now legal in some form.

When I was a freshman in college (6 years ago) I remember saying that cannabis would be federally legal in 5 years. I’ve learned that progress is slow, and the only way to keep this industry thriving and growing is to keep the same enthusiasm we had when we were pushing for state legalization.

But more importantly, we need to appreciate how far we’ve come.

In that spirit, this weekend’s 420 events are about celebrating cannabis however you want. The connection is different for everybody, that’s what makes cannabis, and 420, so incredible. 

Refugee Squirrels Wreak Havoc on Cannabis Farmers

Refugee Squirrels Wreak Havoc on Cannabis Farmers

400,000 acres burned in California this year from wildfires. In those fires, squirrels lost their nuts.

Hundreds of thousands of refugee squirrels have made their way up north from Southern California to escape the fires, finding new homes in the many cannabis farms in the area. As funny as it sounds, it’s bad.

What these squirrels do is nothing short of murder…plant murder.

The refugee squirrels problem

While most are happy that the squirrels are safe from danger now, many aren’t so thrilled with where they have taken up. Mainly on cannabis farms.

Climbing on the plants, breaking off branches when they climb, and even chewing on the cannabis plants is making the  refugee squirrels a not-so-welcome guest in the Emerald Triangle. But this is a new problem, with no well-known solution.

This is where the problem comes in. Mites, aphids or other small critters are easy enough to deal with, every grower has to deal with them at some point. But no grower has ever really had to deal with squirrels, let alone so many.

Desperate times

Farmers in NorCal have resorted to pellet guns and small arms in so instances to eradicate the squirrels. There are still too many refugee squirrels to get rid of them all.

Compared to other small rodents growers might have to deal with, the sheer amount of squirrels sent there by the forest fires is too much for most to handle. Some have lost their entire crop to the influx of squirrels.

It’s rough in the Emerald Triangle right now. Nut-starved, weed-hungry squirrels are wreaking havoc on farmers all over, and a lot are still trying to figure out how to deal with them.

Will there be a war? Who knows. Maybe the squirrels will realize they like nugs more than nuts. Let’s hope not.

Hear more on the new episode of The Real Dirt! Part 3 of the Harvest Special addresses the squirrel issue, talks trimming and more.

The Resilience of John Newmerzhycky

The Resilience of John Newmerzhycky

What started as a questionable traffic stop turned into lengthy legal battle about forfeiture.

 

John Newmerzhycky was travelling through Iowa with his friend William Davis after playing some poker at a casino when they were pulled over by a member of the Iowa state police interdiction team. With reports concerning a red vehicle, the police officer followed John and William for ten minutes before pulling them over for failing to signal when passing another car.

 

After being pulled aside and questioned by the officer, John began to show signs of breathing rapidly and fidgeting, which increased the officer’s suspicion. After telling John he was free to go with a warning, the officer asked if there were any drugs in the car.

Without a direct response, the officer called in a K-9 unit.

John and William told the officers there were no drugs or currency in the car. This would turn out to be untrue when the officers found Davis’ $85,000 packed inside a locked briefcase. The police also found a grinder and a very small amount of cannabis, but enough to charge John with a misdemeanor. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Police Overreach

The state of Iowa confiscated the duo’s money and called California authorities where the men are originally from, leading to both of their houses being searched. Despite both John and William having medical marijuana cards, the searches led to felony charges in California.

Jump to today, and every charge has been dropped, and the original sum of money confiscated has been returned.

There was more of a reward for John and William than just money however. The case of these two men resulted in a stringent analysis of the forfeiture tactics used by Iowa police, and the eventual disbandment of the interdiction team that originally confiscated the money.

A bigger problem than John

The counter lawsuit from John and William led the state to find that Iowa police more often than not (86% of the time) pulled over drivers with out-of-state tags, showing a clear bias on behalf of the department. The two are also expected to receive additional compensation for lawyer fees, plus damages.

This case represents a national trend, and an overarching problem where authoritative figures use their power to confiscate private property with no justification. This places the burden of proof on the defendant to get their own property back. John came out on top of his case, while many other are still stuck in the courts fighting for what is theirs.

Hear John’s full story when he sits down with Chip on The Real Dirt Podcast!

The Real Dirt on Cannabis Strains

The Real Dirt on Cannabis Strains

It is a highly debated fact whether or not music can help cannabis strains’ growth.

 

It is undeniable, whether it’s classical, hip hop or death metal, certain strains just like certain music. Maybe it’s just their personalities, the result of flowering teen angst, or some unique terpene profiles. Either way, these strains like to jam out to their favorite tunes.

Check out some of the cannabis strains we have extensively researched to discover their unique musical tastes. Maybe you’ll be as surprised as us with some of them.

Blue Dream

Somewhere over the Rainbow by Iz Kamakawiwoʻole

We suspect the song helps to promote Blue Dream’s uplifting and light-headed effects that Iz was definitely feeling when he wrote this song. Bluebirds, dreams, flying…The song might as well be called Blue Dream.

This sativa hybrid will have you up and about on 420 while you drift somewhere over the rainbow.

 

OG Kush

O.G. by Ice T

There’s imitators and then there’s the OGs. The original gangsters that made their own unique sound that ended up paying out big. OG Kush is a classic strain that will never be outdone, only imitated. You can usually see most of the OG varietals bumping in the back corner of the room while they talk about how strains were way better “back in the day”.

While it may be hard to find true OG Kush these days, at least we have its favorite jam to connect us.

Do-si-Dos

The Fiddlestix Dosido

It’s rare that a strain loves a song so much it actually requests to be named after it. Do-Si-Dos is the exception. You can taste the sense of irony in this strain, as you most certainly won’t be up dancing all about after a joint of this stuff. Just Do-Si-Don’t hurt yourself if you try (it’s 420, we’re all a little spacey).

Ironically this strain will most likely lock you into the couch instead of get you up dancing, but you can dance in your head while your nugs dance to the Fiddlestix on your table. Yes, you’re starting to trip a little.

Sour Diesel

Semi-charmed Life by Third Eye Blind

Sour Diesel has always lived a semi-charmed kind of life. It burst onto the scene in the 90s and quickly became a favorite, which led to its hybridization and cross-breeding. After a consultation with the band, Third Eye Blind agreed to be the sole music provider for Sour Diesel. So even though it has gotten split up into god knows how many hybrids, it’s still living the good life. Though it might be regretting signing Third Eye Blind right now.

This gassy bud will help you see the greener side of things, and you’ll start see the charm in the song. Just prepare to have it stuck in your head for the next week.

Cookies

Bad and Boujee by Migos

There’s something about mentioning the strain’s name repeatedly that helps build rapport and plant confidence. Blasting Bad and Boujee at full volume for at least 3 hours a day has shown to make Cookie strains much more resinous, as well as arrogant and flashy.

It’s been through plenty of controversy, from lawsuits with the Girl Scouts to shooting it out with competitors, but Cookies ain’t no strain to f*** with.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze by Jimmy Hendrix

Purple haze was one of those cannabis strains lost in the world. Unknown, unpopular, and songless. That is until Jimmy Hendrix gave it a puff. The two then entered into a mutual business agreement where Jimmy would promote the strain through his music, and Purple Haze would listen exclusively to Jimmy Hendrix. Their relationship had its ups and downs, and the strain officially settled on Purple Haze after Hendrix’s death. 

While you’re sitting back as the purple smoke billows up and hazes, you may notice yourself kissing the sky. In fact, you’re body is unconsciously gasping for air because you’ve been in the hotbox too long. TAKE A BREAK!

 

Happy 4/20 from The Real Dirt Podcast! We hope you liked our take on some of cannabis’ favorite songs, but we’d love to hear you’re strain’s favorite tune! Share it with us on Instagram or Facebook @therealdirtpodcast!

 

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