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The Many Benefits Of No-Till Cannabis Farming

Every single year, the Earth loses about 23 billion tons of fertile soil. If we continue on this this path, all the good farming soil will be gone within 150 years. The only way to remedy this situation is for farmers to find a way to grow their crops while utilising techniques that build and repair the soil over time.

When it comes to cannabis farming, there are two major issues plaguing the industry: sustainability and chemical safety. A solution that would potentially solve both of these issues simultaneously does exist though—it’s known as no-till farming. No-till is a process that utilises natural systems and organic materials to create an easily sustainable environment to grow plants. With this technique, you won’t need any dangerous chemicals and it’s much more practical than many alternatives.

WHAT IS NO-TILL FARMING?

No-till farming, also referred to as direct drilling and/or zero tillage farming, is a gardening method that does not move the soil via tillage. Tillage is a mechanical means of disturbing the soil, for example digging, stirring, and overturning. During the standard tilling process, a plow digs into the ground and flips over layers of soil. The intent is to break up old soil and replenish it to prepare for the planting of seeds.

On the other hand, the no-till method —since it doesn’t disturb the soil and the microorganisms that live within it— allows the soil to be a living ecosystem that replenishes itself through a combination of good bacteria, helpful fungi, and other living organisms like insects. Both organic matter retention and water absorption are increased because nutrients are constantly being recycled throughout the soil.

BENEFITS OF NO-TILL FARMING

There are many benefits to adopting the no-till farming method, with the most notable being that it’s natural and sustainable. While traditionally tilled soil is definitely effective for growing good-quality cannabis, it upsets the natural structure and the life within the soil. No-till farming improves soil quality by enhancing soil biological activity and increasing organic matter, as well as reducing soil erosion and water evaporation.

With no-till farming, everything is handled by nature, and soil biology will be healthy and organic. And since the soil has nothing harmful added to it, it can be reused for years. This is not only cost and time-efficient, but it’s better for the Earth, and it’s much healthier to consume cannabis that’s been grown this way.

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS

One very common fear that people have is that no-till farming won’t produce the same quality cannabis as other methods, or that the yield will be much smaller—both of which are simply untrue. The most thriving biomes in nature are those that have been the least disturbed, such as the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest and Indonesia’s rainforests.

People considering no-till farming also worry about a possible increase in the pest population. However, in a truly functional, natural soil, all the lifeforms work together to create an ecological environment that flourishes. All of the mites, worms, protozoa, fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and larger animals have a symbiotic relationship and are actually beneficial for the soil in their own unique ways.

HOW TO INCORPORATE NO-TILL INTO YOUR HOME GARDEN

If you are looking to create your very own no-till garden at home, rest assured knowing that it’s both simple and inexpensive. The first thing you need to do is mix up some good-quality soil. The most standard recipe is around ⅓ worm castings (either homemade or a good-quality brand from a gardening store), ⅓ sphagnum peat moss, ¼ aeration amendment, 15% topsoil (highest quality possible), and a mixture of organic soil additives such as kelp meal, neem seed, minerals, or ground oyster shells.

Then, you store your soil mix in a container, cover with mulch to keep in the moisture, and wait. Like a fine wine, good soil improves with age as new lifeforms begin to grow throughout the mix. The longer you’re able to wait, the more biologically diverse your soil will be. Once you’re almost ready to plant, add a good-quality compost which you can also make yourself (remember, 2 parts brown waste to 1 part green). Composting is great for your garden and a wonderful way to recycle your household waste.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In short, natural is always better. While it might take a little more effort in the beginning, it’ll definitely be easier, cheaper, and more sustainable in the long-run. And you can feel good knowing that the product you’re growing is completely healthy and organic. No more worrying about harmful pesticides!

Have you tried the no-till farming method? How did it work for you? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

If you could grow a completely safe and organic cannabis garden, would you? If you're interested, delve into the beneficial world of no-till farming.

A Complete No Till Living Soil Cycle with Calendar & Feeding Schedule

A Complete No Till Living Soil Cycle with Calendar & Feeding Schedule

Alright, alright, you’ve all been asking for this since we started publishing tips and tricks on growing cannabis, so here it is a full cycle calendar for growing cannabis our no-till living soil way!

Remember, organics is very forgiving and these exact amounts don’t need to be followed perfectly. A lot of times we use the handful method.

Preparing Your Pots:

Before we begin, you should know that you will want to use 15-gallon pots or larger. Personally, we prefer 30-gallon fabric pots or beds.

Now, fill those pots with your soil and water them. You will want to water in about a gallon and a half of water into each 15-gallon pot. An easier way to look at it is to use 1 gallon of water for every 10 gallons of soil you have (this is a general “rule of thumb” and may vary).

Grower Tip: Peat Moss can be difficult to fully dampen, to help with this you can add aloe and yucca to the water. Then, simply mix and water in.

Soil Preparation:

With all the pots filled, you will want to add the following to the top of your soil in each 15-gallon container:

  1. Sow 1 tablespoon per square foot of cover crop
  2. Add in ¼ – ½ cup of alfalfa meal
  3. Spread a ⅓ cup of bokashi per plant
  4. Lay 1 to 3 inches of barley straw mulch

We prefer to let all of this sit in the pots for a few days (even weeks at times). Basically, allow for the cover crop to sprout some prior to transplanting seedlings into these pots.

Before Flowering Your Cannabis Plants:

Now that you have your pots ready and plants transplanted into them, you will need to care for your cannabis plants to prepare them to go into flower. Whether you start your cannabis plants from seed or use clones, you’ll want to get your plants big enough to be flowered and strong enough to produce the scrumptiously delicious buds you’re looking to harvest too!

Grower Tip: If you have any type of height constraints, remember that the plants will stretch once put into flower. For this reason, be sure not to get the plants too large in veg, as they will end up roasting on your indoor lights or being squished against a greenhouse ceiling.

Week 1: Seedling or Rooted Cuttings

For this first week, your plants are probably pretty small, especially if you started them from seed. Either way, you will want to take care of them accordingly.

Personally, we simply add one-application of the following the first week:

  • 1 teaspoon Rootwise Mycrobe Complete per gallon of water (mixed into water)
  • 5 mL Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon of water (mixed into water)
  • Sprinkle bokashi around the plant (usually only a couple of tablespoons)

Then for the rest of the first week, just be sure your soil remains hydrated.

Light Schedule: 18 hours on and 6 hours off

Week 2: Vegetative State

At this point, it’s time to get the cannabis plants big enough to enter flower! Again, depending on your setup, be careful how large you get them in veg.

During this stage, we apply two different applications. One at the beginning of the week and another 3 to 4 days later. The applications are as follows:

  • Application #1: Combine Inputs & Foliar Spray
    • 1 teaspoon Thrive N. Aminos per gallon of water,
    • 5ml of ThermX70,
    • 1/8tsp of Recycle Sil/Grow Sil
  • Application #2: Combine Inputs & Foliar Spray
    • 1 tablespoon of neem/karanja oil,
    • 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronners soap (peppermint preferred)
    • 5ml of ThermX70 per gallon of water.
    • Note: You’ll want to ensure this is properly emulsified

Again, we add the first application once at the start of the week. Then, 3 to 4 days later, you apply application #2. This is continued up until a week before putting the plants into flower.

Light Schedule: 18 hours on and 6 hours off

Grower Tip: You can always prune the cannabis plant back some. Many do this to hold on to special strains or keep what we call “moms” around to easily grab clones from. Therefore, avoiding having to start from seed and sort the males from females every time that you want to flower out some plants.

Week 3: Vegetative State

For best results, we want to inoculate the soil with microbials every 2 weeks. The below instructions are for small amounts of soil. If you are using multiple yards of soil, you’ll want to use 10 grams of Rootwise Mycrobe complete per yard (1 heaping tablespoon).

  • 1 teaspoon Rootwise Mycrobe Complete per gallon of water (mixed into water)
  • 5 mL Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon of water (mixed into water)
  • Sprinkle bokashi around the plant (⅓ cup per 15 gallon container)
  • Add ¼ cup of Craft Blend to each 15 gallon container

Light Schedule: 18 hours on and 6 hours off

Week Before Flower: Pre-Bloom

The week prior to putting the plants into flower, you will want to alter a few things to provide the plants with an extra boost. After all, they’re about to put in a lot of work to produce those big and beautiful buds we all love so much!

So, for this week, you will want to add the following items:

  • Top dress with Malibu Compost (Of course, you could choose to use homemade compost)
  • ½ teaspoon Rootwise Bio-Phos per 15 gallons of soil (watered in)
  • Homemade alfalfa tea (water in)
  • 3-5ml Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon (watered in)
  • Foliar spray Super Phos 23 or Cal Sil

Usually, we will add a nice thick layer of compost to the top of each plant at the start of the week. Then, water in the Bio-Phos and alfalfa tea right after applying the top dress. This is also a great time to do another foliar application of neem oil as done during week 2 of veg.

Additionally, this may be a good time to remove any lower branches that will not be getting much light during flower. This will help promote larger buds and faster growth up top.

Light Schedule: 16 hours on and 8 hours off

Shop Probiotics for Your Garden

Insect Frass Fermented Extract

Liquid Alfalfa Fermented Plant Extract

Probiotic Garden Bundle

Flowering Your Cannabis Plants:

And, we made it to the flowering stage! At this point, your light schedule will change to the standard 12 hours on and 12 hours off until the plants are ripened and ready to harvest!

Weeks 1-4: Bloom Transition (a.k.a stretching phase)

During the first few weeks of flowering, your plants will stretch. Some strains stretch more than others, so hopefully, you listened and didn’t get the plants so big in veg that the buds turn to crisp against the light bulbs.

Week 1
  • 1 teaspoon Thrive N. Aminos per gallon (foliar spray)
  • ¼ teaspoon Big 6 Micros per gallon (water in)
  • 2-3 mL Yucca per gallon (water in)
  • 1 tablespoon Freeze Dried Coconut Water per gallon (water in)
  • Sprinkle bokashi around the plant, as done in previous weeks.
  • 1 oz per gallon alfalfa ferment (watered in)
Week 2
  • ½ teaspoon Rootwise Bio-Phos per 15 gallons of soil (water in)
  • 3-5 ml Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon (water in)
  • ½ tsp per gallon of BuildABloom (water in)
  • 2-3ml per gallon of yucca (water in)
Week 3
  • Homemade alfalfa tea (water in)
  • ¼ teaspoon Big 6 Micros per gallon (water in)
  • Foliar spray Thrive. N Aminos, Grow Sil/Recycle Sil and ThermX70.
Week 4 – Flower
  • ¼ cup per 15 gallon container Craft Blend
  • ⅓ cup per 15 gallon container of Kashi Blend
  • 3-5 ml Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon (water in)
  • ½ teaspoon Rootwise Bio-Phos per 15 gallons of soil (water in)
  • ½ tsp per gallon BuildABloom (water in)

Light Schedule: 12 hours on and 12 hours off

Weeks 5-7: Flowering

While the plants stretch, you will begin to see the first hairs and buds starting to form on the plants. At this point, you may enter your grow room and do a little happy dance at the sheer beauty of these ladies.

On week 5, you will want to begin applying a one-time application of the following to your pots each week:

  • 2-3 mL Rootwise Enzyme Elixir per gallon (water in)
  • ⅛ teaspoon Rootwise Bio-Phos per 15 gallons of soil (water in)
  • ½ – 1teaspoon BuildABloom per gallon (water in)
  • ¼ teaspoon Big 6 Micros per gallon (water in)
  • 2-3 mL Yucca per gallon(water in)
  • 1 teaspoon Freeze Dried Coconut Water per gallon (water in)
  • 1 oz per gallon alfalfa ferment

Again, you will only add the above amounts once a week during this time and stop this schedule after week 8 is complete.

Light Schedule: 12 hours on and 12 hours off

Weeks 8+: Ripening

You should have an idea on the overall flowering time of the cultivars you are growing. Some finish at 8 weeks, if this is the case, you may want to cut out the week 7 feeding. Most of the cultivars we grow flower 65-70 days. We like to feed only water the final 3 weeks. You’ll need to use some judgment on when is the best time to harvest. Smell the flowers, look at them carefully each day. Are the calyx’s swollen? Are most of the hairs dark? Are the trichomes cloudy? You should be able to tell when they cease focusing on their buds and are ready to be harvested.

At this time, you will simply water the plants each day, or as needed. Continue this until the plants are ready for harvesting. If desired, you can add the freeze-dried coconut water once a week, but it is not totally necessary.

Light Schedule: 12 hours on and 12 hours off

Harvest & Curing

When it comes time to harvest your cannabis plants, you will want to be sure that you do it the right way! If you decide that you just can’t wait for it to dry, we promise, you will be sadly disappointed as rapidly drying cannabis negatively impacts the terpenes and overall quality of the finished buds.

We strongly recommend that you follow the below instructions when harvesting and curing your cannabis.

Finding a place to cure your plants

First, find an area where it can remain dark for the duration of the curing process. You will be hanging your cannabis plants in this space. In addition to a dark space, it should remain around 60 degrees Fahrenheit with roughly 60% humidity in the room. Moreover, there should be moving air in the room. If there’s not, it could cause mold or rotting in your cannabis plants to occur.

The timeframe for curing your plants

Now that you have your curing area all set up, you will want to let your plants dry over a two week period. By doing so, you can preserve many of those tasty terpenes, which otherwise would be lost by a rapid dry. With the environment setup mentioned above, you should be well on your way to the perfect drying environment.

Remember, don’t cut away only some of the fan leaves at this stage. You can wait until the cannabis is fully cured to cut most of this away. Just let it hang out in its natural form, using a clothes hanger works well for this.

After the plants have dried, you will want to cut the branches from the stalk and place in a container/tub or brown paper bag. You will trim the plant from these containers. Once done trimming, place the buds into a glass jar, like a Mason Jar. Every few days, you will likely need to let air out of the jar. This is also known as, burping the jar. You will do this until the moisture you desire is reached.

Depending on where you live, you may find your buds remain moist for a very long time. However, if you live in a less humid climate like we do, you may find it slightly more difficult to get your cannabis not to dry out rapidly. Therefore, some may need to burp their jars more often than others, take note of how humid the climate you are in is and decide.

If you want a quick cheat sheet, simply download this PDF calendar here.

Remember, there’s definitely not just “one way” to do this by any means. And, you too may find that you prefer slight variations of this method as you make your journey growing cannabis in this way.

Alright, have fun and be sure to tag us in your grows @growing_organic – we love seeing what everyone is up to!

Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Alright, alright, you’ve all been asking for this since we started publishing tips and tricks on growing cannabis, so here it is a full cycle calendar for growing cannabis our no till living soil way!