Maybe you’ve heard the term “living soil” many times, or maybe you’ve landed here because you are wondering if a soil can really be considered “alive.” And if so, what does that mean to your indoor, organic cannabis plants? Should you opt for living soil over another growing medium? Does living soil require a lot of research, knowledge or maintenance in order to maintain a healthy and productive plant? We are here to answer all of these questions, and likely many more. Keep reading to find out all of the reasons we adore planting in living soil, and would never use another medium anywhere on our entire farm!
In living soil (and the greater practice of permaculture), we appreciate all of the interconnected and mutually beneficial life cycles thriving among our soil. As a matter of fact, we begin to view our plants as ONE of these lives that the earth is sustaining – and our crop is merely one product being produced, but we never regard just a singular aspect – everything is part of a greater dynamic. This is key in order to prevent soil nutrient depletion, as well as for pest management, and disease control.
Understanding The Composition of Living Soil
Living soil specifically involves establishing a healthy base of soil in whatever container you plan to use to create your plant’s ecosystem. This environment will eventually house many species, so choose wisely. Choosing the right container is a very important first step. Keep in mind that your plant’s roots must not ever dry out, but having excellent aeration will also help in preventing mold and root rot.
Building the Soil
The foundation should be about one-third sphagnum peat moss, one-third homemade worm castings (or a quality store-bought variety), one-quarter aeration amendment, 15% quality topsoil, then a mixture of quality soil additives, such as neem-seed and kelp meal, mineral mix, oyster shell, comfrey leaf and biochar. After adding the soil mix to your container, protect with a living mulch, like clover, or wood chips or straw. The idea is to build a biologically diverse environment, and keep it! Your soil will age, and only improve with time, as it flourishes with new life. An excellent option for purchasing pre-made soils and amendments is Build-A-Soil (affiliate link). The creation of healthy compost that is also rich in nutrients and beneficial bacteria is necessary in order to maintain the ecosystem of a living soil growing environment. Healthy compost is easy to make, and a great way to help the environment by reducing your family’s trash production. Find out all about making your own compost here.
Planting in Your Soil
After the base for your soil is built, it’s time to start growing. Plant your seeds, using the guide available here. After your first growth has sprouted, it is advisable to engage in minimal tilling in order to incorporate the nutrient-rich topsoil, plus any compost or additives.
You may want to add amendments, based upon the needs of your plant. Keep a close eye on all areas of your plant, especially as it first begins growing, as this will tell you everything about your soil. Always remember to add amendments to the SOIL. The soil is where the plant receives its nutrition – its food and water. We never want to force-feed our plants, but we mustn’t starve them either.
It’s important to pay attention to your plants and let the soil (nature) do the work for you, ideally before you have any problems. A living soil environment maintains the proper balance nature intended so that most man-made problems are never encountered, and those same synthetic chemicals are then never even considered.