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Living Soil and Organic Inputs: Understanding Your Environmental Impact

Living Soil and Organic Inputs: Understanding Your Environmental Impact

Growing organically and in living soil might not be as environmentally friendly as you think.

Every grower should aim to grow organic cannabis at least once in their lifetime. It produces a cleaner, safer product for consumption, which means there will always be a demand for it, and it will always be a money maker for growers.

But what does it really mean to grow organic cannabis? 

Organic Inputs in Cannabis

You may be hesitant to grow organic because it limits what you’re allowed to feed your plants. The reality is that there’s a plethora of different organic inputs you can use to produce quality, organic cannabis.

The real question you need to ask before you commit to the organic way of growing is how sustainable are the organic inputs you use?

Bat and seabird guano are two of the most popular organic inputs for organic cannabis cultivation. They provide great amounts of potassium and phosphorous, and even nitrogen in certain types. But here’s the catch; to get those guanos, they need to be dug up by huge excavators. They get the potassium and phosphorous rich guanos from the top layers, and dig down even further for the nitrogen rich guanos.

In other words, for guanos to be obtained they are more or less strip mined. This destroys the homes of the seabirds and bats that lived there, displacing them and restarting the cycle of guano production in that region. A lot of organic inputs are unfortunately mined from the earth, with not much in the way of renewability.

This has become somewhat of a moral dilemma in the grow community, as in order to grow organically, you need organic inputs. But certain organic inputs are not renewable or sustainable and using them is in a way condoning how they are obtained. However before you decide that organic growing just isn’t for you based on how organic inputs are obtained, there are organic inputs that are renewable, sustainable and safer for the environment.

Sustainable organic inputs

There are plenty of renewable organic inputs from feather and bone meals, to fish emulsion, earth worm castings and kelp. Which ones you choose to use are up to you, and that will take some research on which organic inputs work best.

The most organic option however is composting. You can make it yourself, turn it into a tea, and feed your plants a full serving of essential nutrients without harming any ecosystem or wildlife. But it isn’t easy.

That’s what this week’s episode of The Real Dirt is all about. At a live talk at CannaCon in Oklahoma City in August 2019, Chip shared his knowledge on organic inputs and the true environmental impacts of growing organic cannabis. Hear that full talk right now and stream this episode of The Real Dirt now.

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Autoflower Cannabis: The future of home growing featuring Chef Anna with The Pot

Autoflower Cannabis: The future of home growing featuring Chef Anna with The Pot

Chef Anna grows some of the best autoflowers in the game with a personality to match. But it’s not just Chef’s grow skills that make him so special.

What makes Chef Anna so unique is that he is, for lack of a better word, kind of crazy. Most people would never walk through a Walmart trying to convince elderly white folks they dropped a jar of ganja on the ground. But that’s exactly what Chef Anna does.

Chef has quickly become a cannabis community influencer on Instagram with his hilarious videos. These clips include handing cannabis out to random strangers at grocery stores, to hiding an ounce in the shelves and making a post on Instagram to come and find it for locals in the area.

However Chef Anna was popular well before he started making videos.

Who is Chef Anna?

The question over 50,000 Instagram followers probably want to know is, just who exactly is Chef Anna? Your guess is as good as ours!

You will always see Chef with a hat or hoodie on, and his signature polarized snowboard goggles to hide his face. While there probably are people out there who know who he is at this point, his persona is all people need to see to get hooked.

Chef’s original rise to Instagram popularity is due to his to book, #GROWLIKECHEF: a complete beginners guide to growing autoflowering marijuana at home. And if you didn’t get it from the title, Chef Anna is a chef of high quality, autoflowering cannabis.

Autoflower cannabis and growing at home

With more states allowing personal cultivation of cannabis at home, a lot of people are growing cannabis for the first time. Autoflowering cannabis is a very enticing option for these growers that want something easier to manage.

The genetics of autoflower cannabis allow for faster flowering that doesn’t require lighting changes to transition from the vegetative stage to the flower stage. With this unique characteristic, autoflower cannabis also grows smaller than your average cannabis plant. This makes it ideal for growing in small spaces, and for getting guaranteed yields.

This doesn’t mean autoflowering cannabis is just for the new guy. Chef Anna has been growing autoflower cannabis for years, and has mastered the cultivars he grows. And he’s been sharing his knowledge with the world for just as long.

This Week’s Episode

Chef Anna is on the forefront of evolving autoflower cannabis cultivation. As genetics get stronger, and yields get bigger, autoflower cannabis is becoming more and more popular. Does this mean that autoflowering cannabis is future for home growers?

In this week’s episode of The Real Dirt Podcast, Chip talks with Chef Anna about autoflowering cannabis, how it works, and where it’s going. Plus we get a deep dive into the Instagram personality of Chef Anna; why he does the crazy things he does, changing the perception around cannabis, and more.

Roll a fat one up, sit back, relax and enjoy this episode of The Real Dirt featuring Chef Anna.

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The Problems with Planting Clones Outside

The Problems with Planting Clones Outside

More states are legalizing, and that means more people are starting to grow their own cannabis compared to any other time in modern history.

While it might seem like indoor growing is the predominant method for most cannabis cultivation today, some of the largest cannabis producers in the country grow all their cannabis outdoors. Northern California supplies more than half of the countries cannabis, and a lot of that cannabis is grown in a big field outside.

While there is a place for seeds in outdoor growing, clones allow you as the grower to select the best plant in your garden and reproduce it en masse. But an inexperienced grower that plants clones outside in late May and early June might notice a serious issue. Clones flowering right away.

Planting Clones Outside

The number one mistake to avoid when planting clones outside is planting them too early. While the perfect time to plant is hotly debated, planting in early May is usually too early. Another mistake newer growers may make is using a bigger pot like a 5 gallon so they can grow a bigger plant in the end.

However, a one gallon pot will work just fine, with a clone about one foot tall. As long as your clones are not root bound already, you’re odds are good that you won’t have too many problems. For ideal results, keeping your clones in a greenhouse until they have developed sufficiently to about 4 or 5 feet tall. Once they’re stronger and in the right place, you can plant them later in the season, after the solstice and before August 1st, and see great results.

Another option is to start them a little earlier and smaller. When your clones are about 6 inches tall, they stand a better chance of acclimating to the outdoor environment, compared to larger plants that will need more help during the transition.

Tips for Success

Jason Miller of Kiskanu Farms has been growing the Bubblegum strain for years, a notoriously difficult strain to grow well, especially outdoors. But through his own techniques, Jason grows the best Bubblegum in Northern California. His main advice is to just keep your plants happy.

“It’s difficult when you are moving your plants from a comfortable, controlled environment out into the wild. For us, we always try to make it as easy a transition as we can, moving them into a covered greenhouse to transition from high pressure lights to regular sunlight, controlling temperature and giving them time to ‘harden off’, so they are more prepared for sunlight when we move them outside.”

Moving your clones from a controlled greenhouse environment straight into the sunlight will almost always result in your plants burning due to the rapid shift in light power.

This Week on The Real Dirt

This week’s episode has full stack of expert outdoor cultivators. Jason from Kiskanu, Chris from Cultivate OKC, Brian from Yumboldt Farms and Jeff from Little Hill Cultivators all share their best techniques for planting clones outside.

From how to transition your lighting to when you should plant your clones outside for the best results, this episode will make you confident in your first grow with clones, or help you change your game up for an ever better outdoor season than last year.

Listen to the episode right here on The Real Dirt, or Subscribe and Follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to get the latest episodes straight to your phone for easy listening.

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Everything You Need to Know About Coco Coir

Everything You Need to Know About Coco Coir

It’s not the kind of coco you add to some hot water and drink. It’s the kind you put your plants in for awesome results.

Coco coir is a highly absorbent medium, and one of few mediums that is renewable. It’s also part of Growers’ High Porosity blend.

What makes coco coir so special is how it’s obtained, it’s neutral pH and the many benefits it can provide for your soil (or soilless) blend.

Coco Coir Origins

Coco coir is actually a byproduct of the coconut fiber industry. Between the outer husk and the actual coconut is a layer of fibrous threads. While the outer husk and coconut may be used for textiles and other coconut products, the coco coir is usually set aside.

This leftover byproduct is then compacted into bricks or sold loosely for use in agriculture. Compared to its more controversial counterpart peat, coco coir is completely renewable, and is viewed as the more sustainable medium.

Most coco coir is derived from Asia, particularly India and Southeast Asia. Growers single sources our coco in dehydrated bricks to prevent any contamination or mold. We’ve had the same relationship with our source for over 20 years.

Benefits of Coco Coir

One of the main benefits of coco is its unique water holding properties. Coco has a high water holding capacity, but it is also more aerated than other mediums like peat.

Due to this, you can feed your plants more often, and get bigger plants using coco-based mediums. It’s also a pH neutral medium, which lets growers manage their plants much easier, without having to account for a base-pH that needs to be adjusted. 

Coco is one of the few renewable resources used in the cannabis industry. Peat, and other soils are mined after sitting for millions of years, absorbing the nutrients of decaying life contained within. Once it is mined, it isn’t coming back for millions of more years. Coco on the other hand is a byproduct of the coconut industry, which makes it much more environmentally friendly and even reusable if managed well.

Coco Coir Cons

There aren’t too many negatives to growing in coco, but a common issue with coco is how it is sourced. A large majority of coco coir is sourced from Asia, and chemicals are sometimes used in the packing and storage process. Another issue with this sourcing is that people will get already hydrated coco delivered, instead of dehydrated coco. With higher moisture content when hydrated, you run a bigger risk of encountering problems when your coco arrives.

Luckily, Growers has had the same coco coir source for over 15 years. We get the most premium, dehydrated coco available on the market, which then goes into their High Porosity and 100% Coco Blends.

Coco is a unique medium. It’s light, but holds water, but not too long. In a way, it’s the perfect medium. On its own or in a soil blend, coco is a versatile medium that you should give a try if you haven’t already.

Get a full explanation and deep dive into everything coco in this week’s episode of The Real Dirt Podcast, featuring Darren Erasmus, CEO of Growers Soil in Colorado.

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Top Tips for Growing Hemp

Top Tips for Growing Hemp

At the time of recording for this episode, outdoor planting season is just a couple weeks away. But when it comes to growing hemp, you can’t treat it like any other row crop.

If you’re in Colorado, you may have a little extra time before your plants are ready to move outside. For most of the country however, Mother’s Day weekend is also planting time.

Hemp is a durable plant. There’s a reason it was given the nickname “weed” back in the day. It would grow almost anywhere if a seed was put in the ground. But we’re not just trying to sprout feral hemp anymore, we’re trying to grow top-tier, CBD rich hemp.

From picking between clones or seeds to the gear you need to get ahead, this week’s episode of The Real Dirt has you covered.

Plan Your Plant

Consider this: hemp and cannabis are the same thing, just slightly different species genetically. But hemp is not grown the same way as cannabis, although it can be when grown indoors.

Farming isn’t easy, and if you’re trying to grow industrial hemp on a large scale with little to no field crop experience, you’re in for trouble. With cannabis, you’re planting a few plants into their own pots on a relatively small plot of land. Hemp on the other hand can cover acres and acres, and staying on top of thousands of plants isn’t easy.

From planting too early and getting hit with the final frost in Colorado, to running out of water halfway through the season because you weren’t prepared, lack of preparation can be the end of your hemp grow before it even starts. This is why it’s essential that you check the weather regularly to ensure you don’t plant at a bad time, as well as ensuring you don’t end up running short on supplies.

It’s always better to over-prepared and have some left over than to run out and lose your plants.

Irrigation is ESSENTIAL

The bigger your field, the more water it will need. Unless you have a massive staff that ensures each plant gets watered every day, you’re going to need irrigation.

It is the more expensive option at first, but it pays itself off quick. Instead of hand watering each plant, spending hours on one task in the field, all you need is a reservoir and drip-lines connected to it. After a little education and a couple hours of set up, you’ll be able to save hundreds of hours you’d otherwise be spending watering.

Frankly, even if you have a smaller hemp grow indoors or outdoors, irrigation can still be extremely useful. One of irrigation’s biggest benefits is that it removes the risk of human error and overfeeding.

Quality of Genetics

You can do everything right and still end up with a poor quality product. If you don’t strive to find and use quality genetics, you will fall behind the competition. With the legal hemp industry still so young, it can be very difficult for farmers transitioning into the industry to know where to look for quality genetics.

As these first few seasons of growing hemp come and go, people will breed some pretty great hemp genetics. Services like the International Hemp Exchange are one of the main companies connecting breeders to buyers, but just like the cannabis industry early on, you’ll either get your genetics through your growing circles, or pay a hefty price for quality.

In This Week’s Episode

Jacob Sarabia is the head of sales for Cultivate Colorado, the largest grow store in the country, as well as an avid cannabis grower and connoisseur. He’s also gotten into growing hemp over the last year.

In this week’s episode Chip and Jacob puff on a couple joints while they talk about their experiences with hemp so far, the techniques they’ve picked up, how growing hemp is different from growing cannabis and more.

If you want some professional advice on growing hemp that stands out, listen to the episode now.

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