Chemical vs. Organic Nutrients
Choosing the right nutrients to feed your cannabis plants is a critical decision. Don't spend another cent on fertilisers until you read this blog. We'll help you make that choice between organics and synthetics and even weigh up how a mixed blend of nutes stacks up.
Which cannabis nutrients are best, is a tricky question. Unfortunately, the short answer is: it depends. However, we shall endeavour to carefully analyse the pros and the cons of both organic and chemical nutrients. Then you will be in a position to evaluate which fertilisers will work best in your grow op.
Of course, a blend of organic and chemical nutrients is possible and preferred by many indoor and outdoor growers. We can’t dial the nutes in for you, but by the end of this blog, you will have a few ideas on how to devise a customised feeding schedule for your marijuana plants.
WHAT ARE ORGANIC NUTRIENTS?
Without getting too technical or wading into the whole organic certification conundrum, in ordinary decent stoner terms, organic nutes are nutrients derived from natural sources. This means either plant or animal waste. Typically organics are slow-release nutrients.
For the soil grower, organics is the way to grow indoors or outdoors. Most cannabis-specific soils have a perfect N-P-K ratio for cannabis plants and sufficient nutes for the first 3-4 weeks. Enzymes, beneficial fungi and silica are usually the only liquid supplements the grower needs for the vegetative phase.
Most ganja farmers, even if they are sowing seeds directly in the dirt of their plantation, will amend and improve the soil in advance. Although some growers will have the time to mix liquid organic fertilisers. Many do not, especially if the crop is large.
A convenient solution is to add time-release organic nutrient pellets. Products like the Vertafort pellets are a great option for time-poor growers cropping indoors or outdoors. Poultry manure works great too. Bear in mind though that it's manure. Not to mention, another Bird Flu panic could hit the headlines any day now.
Discover that perfect super soil mix and stick with it. Experimentation with mixes and strains will be required. Once dialled in though, this is a very efficient way to crop cannabis.
ADVANTAGES OF ORGANIC NUTRIENTS
1) Low start up cost
A basic organic nutrients pack, a half dozen plastic pots and a couple of 50l bags of soil will set you back less than €100. Simple base nutes and a few stimulants are usually included in most brands box sets/bundle deals.
2) Grow the best tasting buds
Organic marijuana reportedly tastes better than hydro. Most cannabis users across the world will agree that weed grown in dirt is the best. With minimal fertilisation and care, it just has a certain special quality. This X factor is lacking in hydroponic nuggs. They just don’t taste like there is a party in your mouth, the way they should.
DISADVANTAGES OF ORGANIC NUTRIENTS
1) Beware of rip offs
All kinds of eco-friendly gunk, from simple molasses to exotic bat guano, are on the market labelled as 100% organic wonder elixirs. The best advice is to stick with the reputable brands and products with a proven track record. Research before investing too much cash. Just like other commercial organic products, a premium price is usually associated with many of the organic nutrient lines, so shop around for deals.
2) Often unsuitable for hydroponics
Organic nutrients have a horrible tendency to cause all kinds of problems when introduced to hydro systems. Blockages and clogs are common problems. A 100% organic nutrient hydro grow will be something difficult to manage and you may not get that great results. A mix of chemical and organic nutes is the best compromise for now.
WHAT ARE SYNTHETIC NUTRIENTS?
These are nutrients derived from chemical processes. Although, they are inorganic when formulated in the correct N-P-K ratios they can be devastatingly effective. Most hydroponics fertilisers are synthetic nutrients. Recently, some brands have introduced organic lines with mixed results.
Most growers, even soil growers, will use at least one or two chemical fertilisers or supplements. The majority of hydroponics cultivators swear by incremental doses of synthetic feeds starting at 10-25% dosage from the very beginning. In contrast, the mostly organic soil grower sparingly adds synthetic bloom boosters to bulk up harvest weights without compromising flavour.
Chemical fertilisers are not favoured by most outdoor cultivators these days. They work just fine, but organics is in these days. Some synthetic stimulants can be added to speed up blooming and fatten up colas but that’s as far as most go. Generally, chemicals are associated with last stand struggles to fight off a pest invasion in the cannabis garden.
BENEFITS OF SYNTHETIC NUTRIENTS
1) Huge yields for hydroponics
It really is true that huge hydroponics harvests can be cropped in about 75% of the time it takes to grow weed organically in soil. This is primarily because in a hydro set up plants roots can rapidly absorb far more of the available nutes from the oxygenated water. Plus chemical nutes are more hygienic and less problematic than risking organics in the reservoir.
2) Better bag appeal
Chemically fed buds often fill out bigger and are denser than organics. Visually, the finished product from synthetic hydro grows is very impressive and has great bag appeal.
DISADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETIC NUTRIENTS
1) Compromised flavour
Connoisseurs can always tell the difference between organics and hydroponics. Even if the grower has thoroughly flushed the marijuana and harvested with the greatest care, hydro weed tastes like hydro weed. Similarly, soil-grown cannabis tastes better and can be more easily flushed when fed organic nutes.
2) Can be difficult to dial in
If you happen to be using exclusively inorganic fertilisers, it can sometimes be difficult to keep pH and EC levels within optimal parameters. Organics are much simpler and usually require far fewer bottles of nutes to mix coming feeding time.
MIXING ORGANIC AND SYNTHETIC CANNABIS NUTRIENTS
There is nothing taboo about blending cannabis feeding with a combination of organic and inorganic nutrients. In fact, as alluded to above it is pretty commonplace in all kinds of grow ops.
Hydroponic growers add a touch of organics for flavour and soil growers’ bulk up buds with synthetic boosters all the time. Striking the right balance between organic and synthetic nutrients can deliver the heaviest harvests of the most flavoursome marijuana.
Written by: Top-Shelf Grower
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