How It Works Start My Diary Login Sign Up

How To Make Super Soil For Cannabis

Created by
JoshuaHolt JoshuaHolt
Added 28 October 2020

Cannabis Super Soils

We've become so immersed in indoor growing techniques that many have forgotten the benefits of soils. Soil is still widely used for cultivation, but most of it unfortunately does not have the brilliance like that of a super soil.

Bagged soils are indeed convenient and save a lot of work, however they do not usually contain enough nutrients to sustain a cannabis plant for long. 

Making your own super soil creates a nutrient rich environment for roots that is full of beneficial microorganisms and bacteria. Cannabis grown in a proper organic soil can pay off with tastier bud and on top of that, it's better for you and the environment! It may take some preparation and patience, but we can assure you the results are worth it. This article teaches you the basics behind creating your very own super soil.

What is a Super Soil?

The issue with many of the soil nutrients on the market today is that they often contain high levels of heavy metals. These can eventually build up and contaminate the soil, potentially reducing the overall quality or yield of a harvest. With the right mix, organic soils can ensure your cannabis plants stay healthy, fertile and do not require constant maintenance like they do when grown with inorganic soils.

High Quality Soil

Super soils are a close imitation of the best soils found in nature. What makes super soil so super is the amount living microorganisms colonized within it. This is why it is commonly referred to as living soil. It contains millions of beneficial bacteria and fungi that work to feed and protect the roots, creating the ideal natural environment in which to grow. Amongst their many functions, these hard working organisms help to break down organic matter to make it readily available to the plant as food. 

This organic substrate provides all the nutrition a plant needs for the duration of its life. Store bought soil contains the some of the right ingredients to keep a cannabis plant properly fed for the first few weeks of its life, but it generally lacks organic activity and vitality.

Once the nutrients in a standard potting soil have been used, growers tend to add chemical fertilizers as and when their plants need it. Super soils provide an ecosystem that feeds and regulates itself, saving you time in the long run.

Pros and Cons of Super Soils

As usual, there are always some benefits and drawbacks to using any material. Let's discuss the pros and cons of growing cannabis with super soils.

Pros

  • Organic - The ingredients are natural, creating a more fertile environment for your cannabis plants.
  • Easy Maintenance - A well balanced super soil means you won't have to constantly be adjusting pH or adding nutrients.
  • Flavour & Aroma - Cannabis grown in nutrient rich living soils tend to have a fuller flavour that delivers a smoother smoke.
  • Does Not Need Flushing - Not using chemical fertilizers to grow means no build up of inorganic material in the soil.
  • Environmentally Friendly - Because it's organic, it isn't bad for the environment. It actually does the complete opposite.

Cannabis Grow In Super Soils

Cons

  • Takes Time To Make - Growing with super soils requires you to plan and prepare months in advance.
  • Expensive - The cost of creating a proper soil is higher than buying a pre-made mix.
  • Hard To Manage - Making soil often involves a lot of heavy lifting and can be tiring to deal with.

How To Make Super Soil For Cannabis

Making your own super soil isn't as difficult as it sounds and the mix can be prepared in many different ways. Usually, an organic soil is enriched with natural fertilizers and left to compost for a few months to allow the ingredients to break down.

Materials

Preparing Super Soil

To start with, you're going to need a decent amount of space in which to prepare your super soil. It can get fairly messy so preferably work outside as you'll save yourself some cleaning. The following materials can be used to get the process under way:

  • Large mixing container
  • Gardening fork
  • Weighing Scales
  • Containers with lids for composting
  • Organic soil
  • Fertilizers and supplements
  • Water

Tip: If you don't have any large containers for mixing in, you can also work on a plastic sheeting like a tarp.

Prepare Base Mix

The base of your super soil should be a high quality organic soil that has a pH level of 6-7. Try to opt for one on the slightly more acidic side. It helps if you can find a mix that has supplements in it to help aeration and improve drainage, such as perlite or coco coir.

Breaking up the soil in a container first with a gardening fork will serve as base for you to add other ingredients to. Add 60% of your soil first and save the remaining 40% to add to the mix later. There are plenty of options when it comes to amending your soil, which we discuss below.

Perlite/Soil Mix

Enrich The Soil

Enriching your soil can be achieved using a variety of ingredients. Some organic soils may already contain one or more of these amendments, so make sure you check the mix of the soil you purchase before adding anything. How much of each depends on the base soil quality, so bear in mind this is just an example with approximations. Just divide the amount of soil you are using by the amount of litres listed to get a rough idea but also check the label for each ingredient for further information.

Example Ingredients Super Soil

The following ingredients can be added to your organic soil mix:

IngredientAmount
Worm Castings1 pound per 2 litres of soil.
Bat Guano1 pound per 23 litres of soil.
Blood Meal1 pound per 19 litres of soil.
Bone Meal1 pound per 16 litres of soil.
Vegetable and Fruit Peels(optional)
Eggshells(optional)
Coffee Grindings and Tea(optional)
Epsom Salts1tsp per 8 litres of soil.
Dolomite1tsp per 5 litres of soil.
Perlite10% of the soil mix.
Coco Coir10-15% of the soil mix.
Sand2-5% of the soil mix.

Other ingredients you can look into:

  • Humic Acids
  • Azomite
  • Rock Phosphate

Food Waste Can Be Added To Compost

Try to avoid adding too many food wastes as they can turn the pH too acidic. This is why we add minerals like dolomite, which can help to stabilise the pH. These types of supplements are quite strong so be careful not to add too much. More can be added later on if it is necessary.

Add the ingredients together in the container with your soil, and mix thoroughly. Don't forget to add the remaining soil and do a final stir. Now comes the time consuming part; the composting stage.

Composting/Baking

Compost Baking

Many of the ingredients listed above make the soil quite acidic and is the reason why it's best to leave them for some months stabilise and break down into a useable state. Once you have your mixed ingredients it is best to mix them each day for a week or two until everything is properly blended together.

Once all the ingredients have blended fully together, the super soil can be distributed into different containers with lids. Maintaining moisture inside the containers helps to speed up the breaking down process and the soil won't dry out, so water it if it needs moistening. Keeping the containers closed also prevents unwanted bacteria and bugs ruining the soil. 

Pineapple Glue by MyStery21 from GrowDiaries.

Next, the containers can be left outside in a sunny area to 'bake' under the sun. This stage can range anywhere between 1 to 12 months depending on the mix. For example, if you decide to add vegetable peels, you may want to wait a few months for them to break down properly. Remember to add more water if necessary. When it's ready, give it a final stir. Voila! You now have a nutrient rich super soil to use in your garden.

Conclusion

If you have been wondering about super soils, this guide should give you a starting point. It may take some experimentation to find the perfect blend, but the sooner you get started, the sooner you will be able to see how super soils can deliver spectacular results. Just be sure to test your soil before using it so you know the mix isn't too 'hot' for your cannabis plants. 

Have you made a super soil before? If you have any recommendations, feel free to share your ideas with the GrowDiaries community in the comments section below. Happy growing :)

External References

Micro-organisms, -biomes and -networks of Earth's living soils. Microbiology Today. - Sen, Robin. (2015).

The Living Soil: Biodiversity and Functions. - Schmidt, Olaf & Bolger, Thomas & Creamer, Rachel & Brennan, Fiona & W, Dobson. (2018).

This article was updated October 2020






Comments

PirateJoe
PirateJoe

I always grow organic outside. What I like to do in the Fall after I harvest my girls, is to collect free coffee grinds from Starbucks and fill the holes with used coffee grinds, compost, and worms. Cover them up for the Winter. The worms will feast on the compost and the coffee helps them to digest their food leaving me castings. In the Spring I'll add my soil mix and starter plants.

Show all replies (1)
PirateJoe
PirateJoe

@Strenffgains,the wife says no to inside growing. It stinks up the house. I can do starters inside, but once we pass veg stage it has to go outside.

Strenffgains
Strenffgains

@PirateJoe, your second point got me. Cheap earthworms. Don't don't much cannabis growing outdoors but I do put compost I've been making through the season on some vege beds in fall and spring. Looks like your setting yourself up for a good reward next fall.

PirateJoe
PirateJoe

@Strenffgains, First of all I like to plan and have my garden ready for the next grow season. It preoccupies my mind and I need the distraction from Covid and politics. Second, the local bait shop sells worms dirt cheap when the seasons turn, and it turned hard this week, I just take advantage of it. If you have a farm supply like we do around here, you can find mushroom compost cheap too. I just save money and plan ahead, the weed is my reward.

c2_farms
c2_farms

good article but how to replace or what product to use here in europe instead of bone meal and blood meal ? havent seen products labeled like
that here in europe

JHGD420
JHGD420

@PirateJoe, Great info, thanks for sharing!

PirateJoe
PirateJoe

@mrako0420, you are not going to see those products in Europe because they are associated with mad cow disease. Blood meal and Bone meal in the ground are great for root stimulation and minerals, but in actual livestock feed has side effects. Perlite is used to retain moisture in soil and aid in aeration, you can also use ground nut shells, egg shells, and coffee. If you are concerned about acidic compost leave out citrus, do add melon rinds, and any greens. Pumpkins are big here in the States this time of year and it makes great compost and worm food. Potato peels work. I like mushroom compost because it has poultry manure, small wood shavings, and decomposed soil loaded with nitrogen.