"Organically grown" refers to food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may be used in producing organically grown food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued standards for labeling organically-grown crops.
It is the same definition for “organically grown” medical marijuana. However, since the Federal Government does not recognize medical marijuana, they will not be putting any organically grown labels on any pot we grow.
Organic growing starts with your medium, in most cases soil. Outdoor cultivators can spend years grooming their fields in preparation for an organic crop. The amount of nutrients in the earth, the amount of water the soil can hold and the quality of drainage of the fields are all very important factors in an organic grow. The more varied the materials that go into this soil building, the better the end product!
Many growers use composting methods to build strong soil bases. Natural additives such as manure, decaying vegetable matter, bone meal, grass clippings, rock phosphates, worm castings and even earth worms themselves all aid in building good soil for your crops. Ideal soil will be dark and moist, carrying a sweet smell.
Using Composts see article http://medicalmarijuana.com/experts/expert/title.cfm?artID=698
Composting is a method that decomposes natural matter for use in organic gardens. Compost eventually becomes organic medium that is rich in the nutrients needed for vigorous cannabis growth.
Carbon-rich materials like dead leaves and flowers as well as nitrogen-rich "green" materials such as grass trimmings, kitchen scraps and fruit peels are great ingredients for a compost heap. Add to this some organic soil and find yourself a plot to begin your pile. The smaller the pieces (ingredients), the faster the decomposition.
It is important to work in layers, separate your materials into browns (like straw, hay, dry pine needles, dry, brown oak leaves or cornstalks) and greens (veggies, kitchen scraps, fresh lawn clippings, etc.) and start by laying down several inches of greenery. Then add a layer of good topsoil, then a layer of browns. Moisten all the layers of the pile. Keep building your pile until it is at least (3’ x 3’ x 3’) trying to keep it moist, but not soggy.
About once a week churn the pile with a shovel/fork, moving the outside to the center. You may begin to notice steam rising from the pile ( indicates that the pile is heating up from the decomposition of its materials). This is good, clean organic activity. Soon you will notice your compost pile turning into sweet, black soil that is full of earthworms. This is some of the best soil (humus) on the planet and you created it (or the microorganisms created it).
Organic marijuana is produced using methods that do not involve the use of modern synthetic inputs like synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Depending on who you talk to, “organic” means different things. To a biochemist, “organic” means anything that contains carbon. Plastic, derived from petroleum, contains carbon, therefore plastic is organic. Carbon is the mark of a living organism or of something that once was a living organism. When applied to marijuana, "organic" suggests that only natural, non-synthetic substances are involved in its production. Generally, "organic" means that the marijuana has been grown in safe and healthy soil using natural fertilizers free of synthetic pesticides or additives.
o Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control, to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. ...
o Food, feed crops, and livestock grown within an intentionally-diversified, self-sustaining agro-ecosystem. ...
o Though this term has been subject to considerable debate, in general, organic food and fibers are produced without using most pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge.
Conventional vs. organic farming
The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat do not use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weed killers, organic farmers may conduct more sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.
Here are some key differences between conventional farming and organic farming:
|Conventional Farming||Organic Farming|
|chemical fertilizer (promote plant growth)||apply natural fertilizers (manure, compost) feed the soil|
|spray insecticides to reduce pests & disease||use beneficial insects & birds, mating disruption, or traps to reduce pests/disease|
|use herbicides to manage weeds||rotate crops, till, hand weed, or mulch to manage weeds|
|give animals antibiotics, growth hormones, medications to prevent disease & spur growth||give animals organic feed & allow them access to the outdoors. use preventative measures--rotational grazing, balanced diet & clean housing to minimize disease|
Gardens with high soil quality will be:
• 25% air
• 25% water
• 40% mineral matter
• 10% organic material
• sweet smelling
• compress into a loose lump in your hand when moist
• full of earthworms and microorganisms
Several surveys and studies have attempted to examine and compare conventional and organic systems of farming. The general consensus across these surveys is that organic farming is less damaging for the following reasons:
• Organic farms do not consume or release synthetic pesticides into the environment—some of which have the potential to harm soil, water and local terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.
• Organic farms are better than conventional farms at sustaining diverse ecosystems. i.e., populations of plants and insects, as well as animals.
• When calculated per unit area, organic farms use less energy and produce less waste. e.g., waste such as packaging materials for chemicals.
A 2003 investigation by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs in the UK found, similar to other reports, that organic farming "can produce positive environmental benefits", but that some of the benefits were decreased or lost when comparisons are made on "the basis of unit production rather than area."
The environmental impact of pesticides as well as the impact to the health of farm workers are reasons given for purchasing organic food.
However, critics of organic farming methods believe that the increased land needed to farm organic food could potentially destroy the rainforests and wipe out many ecosystems.
Do 'organic' and 'natural' mean the same thing?
No, "natural" and "organic" are not interchangeable terms. You may see "natural" and other terms such as "all natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free" on food labels. These descriptions must be truthful, but confuse them with the term "organic." Only foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.
Organic Gardening mimics—and amplifies—natural ecosystems. Biodiversity below ground supplies nutrients to your plants while biodiversity above ground controls insect pests.
Organic gardening is really microbial gardening. For a plant to uptake any element, it must be broken down so the plant can absorb it. In soil gardening, we rely on the millions of microbes living around a plant’s rhizosphere to break organic matter down into absorbable elements. Sometimes a microbe itself breaks matter down and sometimes a by-product of a microbe is responsible. In conventional hydroponics, chemical fertilizers are used that have already been broken down in a laboratory and are ready to be absorbed by the plant’s roots. Conventional hydroponic gardening bypasses the microbial field almost completely. So how can we continue taking advantage of the speed and production of hydroponic gardens if we want to grow organically? The answer lies in brewing microbial rich teas and nutrient solutions.
By brewing microbial teas, an organic hydro-gardener can jump start the process of breaking down organic matter. Water, oxygen, raw organic source (bat guano, sea bird guano, earthworm castings, kelp meal, etc.) and time are the ingredients necessary to brew a microbial rich nutrient solution. It will help to add a source of carbohydrates to help feed the microbial population (molasses is good). It also can be beneficial to add enzyme formulas or mycorrhizae products directly to the brewing process. Take a raw organic source (worm castings because of its diverse nutrient content and high microbial population is a good source) and place some (a couple of handfuls )inside of a cotton (linen or silk) filter bag. Fill a sterilized container (five gallon bucket) with distilled water or reverse osmosis water. Chlorinated tap water will kill many of the beneficial microbes and should be avoided. Place the filter bag in the water. Using a small aquarium pump and an air stone, deliver air to the water continuously for 24 hours. When removing the filter bag squeeze it lightly (much like a tea bag after steeping). Then stir the solution to make it uniform. It is now ready to be diluted for feeding. Experimentation with dilution rates will be necessary, but a good starting point for direct root feeding is a half cup solution per gallon of water. For foliar feeding, a quarter cup per gallon of water is a good starting point.
Add organic matter --Mixing compost with natural soil amendments improves soil structure, texture and aeration -- and adds nutrients. Adding organic matter is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Get the correct pH-- Most garden vegetables, grasses, and ornamentals do best in a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8. Within this range, roots can absorb and process available nutrients.
Increasing Soil pH-- Adding limestone is probably the easiest way to increase the alkalinity of soil.
Decreasing Soil pH-- Elemental sulfur is most commonly used by organic gardeners, but it takes awhile to kick in, so be patient.
Adding compost to the soil--
• improves soil tilth (the general health of the soil)
• helps maintain a neutral pH
• helps soil to hold more water and nutrients (compost can quadruple the amount of water your soil holds)
• feeds microbes and earthworms that support plants
More and more countries are allowing the use and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Many medical organizations support the use of medical marijuana as prescribed by a doctor, such as the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. There are many places in the world where the use of medical marijuana is legal (Netherlands) and semi-legal (US - legal on the state level (some states) but illegal on a Federal level). If you have a prescription for medical marijuana but cannot find a source, and the growing of medical marijuana is legal in your country (or state), you may need to grow your own.
Is organic marijuana healthier or better for you?
Not necessarily. The term "certified organic" only means that the marijuana was raised without added chemicals and is not a measure of it being better for your body. Many factors influence the value of a crop, including plant genetics, the weather, and how ripe the cannabis was when harvested. But in theory, if the soil is richer in nutrients, so will be the marijuana it yields. There is concern that overfarmed, nutrient-depleted, pesticide soaked soil could produce less healthy marijuana. If the nutrients are not in the soil, they will not appear in the plant. Even with chemical fertilizers, it is in the farmer's best interests to have rich soil. It comes back to common sense. Healthier soil should produce a healthier fruit (bud).
Knowing how the organic farmer feeds the soil will tell you a lot about what "organic" really means. The basic belief of organic farming is that healthier soil will produce healthier plants and safer marijuana. The organic farmer believes, and rightly so, that if you avoid treating the soil with chemicals, the marijuana it produces will be better for humans, and the environment will benefit as well. The organic farmer begins by rotating the crops, a fine farming principle that was even advised in biblical days. Crop rotation keeps the soil from becoming depleted of nutrients. One type of plant will return nutrients to the soil that are needed by another crop. When the soil is richer, the underground microorganisms thrive, and earthworms and soil-dwelling bacteria feast on the rich soil. In return for a nutritious place to live, they deposit their own nutrients that are available for plants to “uptake.” Organic farmers use only natural fertilizers, such as manure and compost, and use natural methods to control insects. This means that organically grown marijuana does not contain pesticide residues and other chemicals that are harmful to human health.
Organically grown buds, if cultivated properly, should cost the grower a lot more in time and money. Because of the reasons discussed, and the costs associated with duplicating natural environments indoors, organic buds are often more expensive.
Some people think that because organic buds are usually grown outside and most likely not propagated in a hydro system, that the yields are smaller and that is why they are more expensive. This isn't entirely correct. Organically grown marijuana can yield just as much quantity per plant as synthetically fertilized crops and this can also be said about plants grown in soil versus hydroponics. These buds may include landrace strains such as Hindu Kush or Oaxacan Gold which are not as nutrient hungry because they have adapted to harsher mountain climates. Some sativa-dominant hybrids also do well in organics such as Thai-Tanic and Cannalope Haze.
Truth is, organic buds can yield the same potency or better than buds grown in a super synthetic, indoor setup. Organic buds often times offer superior taste as well, as it becomes a problem flushing out synthetic chemicals when harvest time draws near. An easy way to tell if you are smoking synthetically bolstered buds or organically grown marijuana is to look at your ash in the bottom of your pipe. If there is a resinous, black ball of goo left in there, chances are that cannabis was blasted with synthetic fertilizers and not flushed out very well. What gets left behind is the heavy metal residue. Organic ashes tend to disintegrate evenly and leave gray, flaky ash.
The closer you can keep your plants to Mother Nature's way of doing things, the better shot you will have at maximizing your plants' potential. Once the seeds have sprouted however, there are two things you cannot change: their genetics and your (good/bad) luck.
When gardening organically, there is just as much emphasis on the environment as there is on the plants. Even more specifically, the emphasis is on the growing medium. When feeding your plants organically, the key is how you feed your soil, not how you feed the plants. “Feed the soil, not the plant.” Everything that happens to your plants begins in the soil.
By mixing organic materials into your soil, you help mimic Nature's natural cycles. Adding compost aids in the natural cycles of birth, decomposition and rebirth that replenish the nutrients that your plants use.
Is hydroponically grown pot organic?
Well, technically speaking this is true. Organic growing is narrowly defined as gardening without the aid of anything synthetically produced. However, there are some states in the USA that require growing in soil as an essential factor in obtaining organic certification. There are also overlapping (contradictory) rules established by the Federal Government that allow foods grown with hydroponics to be certified as organic.
One can grow organically in a hydro system if they use organic fertilizers and keep all toxic, non-natural chemicals from seeping into the system.
“Organic marijuana” is the technique of using no pesticides, fertilizers or soil. The list of growing mediums is usually a combination of natural organic material such as manure, worm castings, bat guano, seabird guano, sea kelp, steamed bone meal, blood meal, fish, oat bran and numerous composts.
Organic cannabis grows slower than hydroponically grown marijuana. It is not pumped full of chemicals.
No other fertilizers can produce the nutrient levels and tastes. You do not have to add any growing ingredients, everything is already in the mix. Flushing your cannabis at the end of the flowering cycle is not necessary to eliminate the chemical taste because there is no chemical after taste. Those two facts reduce the work load. Organic marijuana is more resistant to disease. It is environmentally friendly and there is no danger to your health.
“There is no substitute for the complex relationship of plants and organic soil.”
It is even easier to grow organically outdoors. If you have the space, start a compost pile with leaves and kitchen scraps as well as lawn clippings (and even spent rootballs and used bubblebag scraps). Turn the pile once a week with a shovel or compost fork and you will have a rich supply of free humus (compost) (“black gold”) to mix into your outdoor soil and use as a nutritious mulch for your plants.
Outdoors, the bigger your container - the better. Loose organic mixes and plenty of sunshine encourage roots to grow at tremendous rates, leading to huge plants that yield well over a pound-per-plant. Dig your own hole, deep and wide and fill it with a variety of organic materials for a custom “seasoned” spot you can re-use year after year by simply replenishing the mix. Liquid seaweed and liquid fish as well as compost and guano teas combined with a healthy regimen of organic additives will keep plants happily thriving in the sun.
Organic Pest Control
There are beneficial insects to combat every “bad bug” and dozens of natural sprays that are effective in non-toxic ways to eliminate the pests that damage plants. Many can be made in your kitchen. Chemical bombs and synthetic pesticides have no place in any cannabis garden. Predator mites and ladybugs are simple to acquire through the mail.
Reliable Companies Selling Organic Products
Foxfarm, Advanced Nutrients, General Hydroponics, Canna, Age Old, Earth Juice, Biobizz, Botanicare, Guano-Gro, Maxicrop, Higrocorp, Humboldt Nutrients, Organics Alive, Safer, Technaflora, Atami, Bio Nova, Vita Grow, Alaska, Hydrodynamics, Budswel, Nor Cal Organics, Sanctuary, etc.
Pouring salts and chemicals onto a dead medium and then down the drain does unnecessary damage to your local environment, polluting rivers, lakes and oceans. One look at some of the results of chemical agribusiness runoff, such as the Salton Sea in Southern California, and you can see why nonorganic nutrients are never advisable: rotting fish carcasses float on the salty foam of a dead sea, and the whole area reeks with a foul stench that clearly screams “man-made.” This is not the woodsy, earthy smell of natural decay prevalent in a compost pile, it is the awful smell of early demise caused by overuse of chemicals.
Cannabis growers should feel an obligation to use a healthy, living soil to produce truly medicinal quality marijuana.
A good mix:
3 parts Canadian sphagnum peat mix, coco coir, or good organic compost
1 part large chunky perlite
1 part worm castings
1/2 cup greensand
1/2 cup of dolomite lime
1/3 cup of Peruvian seabird guano
1/4 cup Epsom salts
Mix it all together and soak it all down for at least a day or two before you plan to use it to get all the contents blended up and oxygenated. It should be wet throughout but not over-saturated.
The first few waterings should be done with plain water as the fresh planting mix is fairly “hot” (nutrient-rich). From then on, use compost teas and diluted liquid seaweed throughout growth and add some high-phosphorus bat guano tea during flowering. No need to flush towards the end, simply use milder tea (with sorghum molasses added) for the last two weeks of flowering. Some natural yellowing will occur on fan leaves, this is a good thing, as nitrogen is leaching out of the plant’s cells.
Making Organic Teas
Five (5) gallon buckets are perfect for brewing custom teas for each stage of plant growth. Early on, a compost tea is perfect for both watering and foliar spraying. Fill a cotton bag with your chosen ingredients, which can include compost, guanos from both seabirds and bats and a little bit of molasses to feed the microorganisms. Fill the bucket with water and use an air pump and air stone bubblers to oxygenate the water for a few hours (this helps remove chlorine and other potential pollutants). Dunk the cotton bag into the water and steep for two days while stirring occasionally and allowing the air stones to bubble throughout the process to keep everything aerobic (oxygenated).
You can feed this tea directly to the plant roots. You can also spray the leaves for added benefit to the plant. Teas sprayed on the leaves suppress disease. Use the tea immediately. It is most effective for an hour or so after you make it up.
Videos on organic growing:
1. United States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Marketing Service. The National Organic Standards. Retrieved from http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/FullText.pdf on March 18, 2007.
2. 2011 Organic Trade Association
3. ^ http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/organicgrowth.asp
4. ^ http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080101/how-hard-could-it-be-the-four-pillars-of-organic-growth.html
5. ^ http://moneyterms.co.uk/organic_growth/
6. There is a worldwide system of certification for growers who want to convert their farms to certified organic production. Certification requires a grower to have his farm inspected by a certification agency in his area. Some of the things that are required are as follows:
• Three years of growing without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
• Use of OMRI Listed fertilizers.
• Use of natural products such as compost, manures and compost teas.
• Use of synthetic or chemically altered crop production products is prohibited.