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growing weed in soil vs coco

Growing weed in soil vs coco

Soil or compost is one of the most popular growing mediums for marijuana plants because it is natural, easy to use, and available everywhere.

Best Growing Mediums for Marijuana

The three main types of grow mediums for marijuana plants are soil mixes, soilless mixes and hydroponics (water). Let’s do a quick breakdown of each one, along with the pros and cons for marijuana growers!

Soil or Compost

With living soil, a colony of microorganisms in the soil creates an ecosystem that mimics the best-of-the-best soil in nature. The nutrients are slowly broken down from organic sources and delivered directly to your plant roots. For some reason, plants grown in this type of root environment tend to produce very strong-smelling buds. One thing that’s really great about living soil is you usually don’t need to use any added nutrients.

Growing weed in soil vs coco

Intro to Coco Coir & Other Soilless Potting Mixes

Setup Cost – Hydroponic setups are usually more expensive to set up initially, and some types of hydroponic growing may require some DIY.

DWC – roots in nutrient reservoir that is oxygenated by bubbling air through the water. There are lots of different variations of the DWC method.

Setup Cost – Basically you just need soil and a container. Common cannabis soil mixes include Fox Farms Happy Frog and Fox Farms Ocean Forest. Any high quality organic soil mix will do in a pinch. Avoid Miracle-Gro soil or anything with “extended release” nutrients! If soil seems heavy, it can be beneficial to add 30% perlite and 10% vermiculite to aerate and loosen soil. One proven soil option is to compost your own super soil, which can be made organically and gets some of the best results of any soil. Common cannabis containers include classic plastic pots, terra cotta pots, smart pots (fabric pots) and air-pots. Standard gardening pots do best with soil that has perlite added so that there’s plenty of aeration for the cannabis roots. Smart pots and air-pots each add extra air to the root zones from the sides, so they don't require much (if any) extra aeration or perlite in soil mixes.

Faster Growth – Soilless growing mediums tend to achieve faster vegetative growth than growing in soil.

Growing plants in soil seems to be what many people try first when it comes to growing in cannabis. If you’ve grown other plants in soil and/or have maintained a soil garden, this may be the best choice for you because you will already be familiar with a lot of what you need to understand to grow cannabis in soil.

How long until harvest? All hydroponic grow styles generally achieve faster growth than growing in soil, especially when it comes to speed of vegetative growth. The fastest growth rates are achieved when roots have constant access to both nutrient water and lots of oxygen. That means that growers get the fastest cannabis growth by adding more bubbles and dissolved oxygen into their water, or exposed always-moist plant roots directly to air (like aeroponics). While vegetative growth is often faster with hydroponic setups, growing hydro does not reduce the time a plant needs in the flowering/budding stage – that’s determined mostly by genetics.

Best Hydro Methods For Growing Cannabis

Learn which ones are and aren’t suited for growing cannabis

Growing weed in soil vs coco

Coco fibre is also the term often used to refer to the general purpose grade of coco which is ideal for growing longer term crops under soilless cultivation. Worldwide coco is used for soilless crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, melons, aubergines, ornamentals, cut flowers and many others because the structure of the coco does not break down over the time frame these longer term crops are grown for. Thus high rates of root zone aeration and moisture retention are typical in both short and long term soilless crops and this results in high yields and good root health.

For an extraction test, a small sample of coco is taken from the growing media, (several samples should be taken and combined to give a representative sample). Then 100ml of these combined samples is measured out (coco should be damp but not overly saturated). The 100ml sample of coco is placed in a jar and 150ml of deionised (or RO) water is added and the mixture shaken 50 times. This is allowed to sit overnight to allow extraction of nutrient ions in to the water. The resulting mix is then re shaken and filtered to remove particles and the pH and EC can be measured.

figure 1: loose coco can be used
to fill grow bags of various sizes
to suit the plants being produced.

Different types of coco products – uses, pros and cons

These days good quality coco has proven to be a superior growth substrate for a large number of different crops, with the advantage of being from a renewable and environmentally sound resource.

figure 4: Coco is available in a range of grades from very coarse ‘orchid fibre’ seen here, to fine ‘coco dust’.

Tips and tricks when using coco

Coco substrates also had a high cation exchange capacity and retained calcium, phosphate and iron meaning these became unavailable for plant uptake until the coco had been in use for some time and had fully `conditioned’. As a result many soilless growers initially experienced problems with coco they didn’t understand. Few growers understood the degree with which the coco media was affecting the composition of the nutrient solution in the root zone and the fact that the coco provided an almost ideal physical structure for plant growth was overlooked.

figure 3: The optimum physical structure of coco means that crops are provided with high levels of oxygenation and moisture in the root zone.