Stealth Box - Watering Organic Soils
There are many ways of growing Cannabis, from soil less mediums such as coco coir or peat moss, hydroponics where there is no substrate at all and finally growing in good old fashioned living soil. There is a bit of a difference in the way you should water when using an organic soil and that’s what will be focused on here. You may be confused after having read about watering while growing in a soil less medium like coco and this is here to help you get the most out of your organic soils. Always keep your water at room temperature for use in the garden, cold water can shock plant roots and cause them to stunt.
The most important consideration when watering in an organic grow is to think about your microbes. The microscopic soil life in your living soil is really whats doing most of the work for you when it comes to feeding your plants and keeping them healthy. They balance and out compete pathogens and keep beneficial microbes in your soil, which in turn greatly improve your grows quality and makes it easy on you. This is where we encounter a major difference with hydroponic or soil less systems where water is used as a vehicle to transport salt mineral nutrients directly to the roots. In these systems, you are directly feeding the plant rather than the soil feeding the plant. If you don’t add nutrients when watering in these types of growing styles, your plants will simply die. In an organic soil, there is always nutrition and microbes working to feed your plant. You don’t need to worry about immediate needs as the soil and your plant will create a symbiotic relationship that keeps everything healthy.
In Organic soil, you want to maintain an evenly moist environment. This means you do not want your soil to be visibly wet and soggy, with an overly heavy feel to the pot. You also want to avoid it becoming dry as a bone. You will quickly develop a sense of the soils moisture needs. Often less is more. If your soil is too wet there will be decreased oxygen available to the roots and you will suffer root damage, malnutrition and stunting. If your soil becomes very dry your micro life will die off as it requires water to survive and interact with the microbial and fungal community living in your soil. Watering a small amount each day or every other day is more practical for organic growing than adding a ton of water at once and letting it runoff through your pot, this is a synthetic growing tactic that is unnecessary when using living soils.
Maintaining the correct balance of soil moisture is easy, and if you let it get too dry or too wet it is not the end of the world. If it’s too wet, stop watering for a few days and allow the soil to dry out. If you caught it early there will be no harm done. If you forget to water for a longer period of time and your soil has become very dry then you should water it slowly in stages. When soil becomes very dry it has a tendency to funnel water down the path of least resistance, this means your soil won’t become evenly moist unless you allow the water to seep in slowly. Take your time and add water in small additions until the soil absorbs the water properly.
When watering newly sowed seeds it’s best to water them very little or use a spray bottle filled with regular water. At this stage, they don’t need any extra nutrients or additives. If the soil becomes too wet and soggy during this stage seeds can rot once sprouted and damping off disease and kill a fresh seedling. Using the spray bottle is the easiest way to maintain a properly moist environment for your seedlings. You can use this method to water safely until the early vegetative or seedling stage beings.
Once the vegetative stage begins you can ramp up your watering to meet the demands of your growing plants. Pouring a tight circle of water a few inches around the central stem is a good way to encourage roots to move towards the edges of the pot. As the plant grows you can expand your spiraling technique until you hit the pots edge and are fully saturating the soil. Once you’ve reached this stage and the plant has a solid foundation you will find it will go through it’s water every two or three days and will require little top ups here and there. Every plant is different but you will become accustomed to how much water the soil needs.
During flowering, you will noticed an increased need for water. This is because the root system has fully developed and is filling your pot, the plant is pushing towards it’s final goal of making buds and using up all it’s energy. Check your soil every couple of days and water if necessary. It’s important to not get into too much of a routine that you are watering even if you don’t actually need it. Always give it an extra day if the pot feels quite heavy when you life it or the soil is still visibly saturated. Near the end of flowering, a few days out from harvest you can cease watering all together, this puts your plants in a state of shock that can cause them to ripen up and increase their resin content. Try to avoid this sort of stress mid grow however.
Hand watering allows us time to inspect the garden and form a connection with this wonderful plant. Take your time and observe your plants and their soil, it will make you a better gardener. With time you will develop a sense of the plants needs and it will become second nature. Growing organically in soil is very forgiving, some attention in the early stages of growth will pay off for you come harvest time.