Harvesting Happiness

The Roots of Cannabis

The cannabis industry is rife with competing theories on the right way to grow the best plants. This year has been a learning opportunity for everyone on the farm. At Shadowbox Farms, our knowledge trickles down from Wayne Becker, our Director of Horticulture. Wayne is a Fulbright scholar and brings decades of experience from the agricultural industry. With this series, we hope to “dig in” to what craft cannabis looks like at each level of the process. In this blog post, we’ll focus on what we grow our plants in.

Growing in Pots

We currently grow our plants in pots for better cultural control. What does that mean, better “cultural control”? To clarify, one advantage of growing outdoors in pots is the ability to control the growth rate and eventual size of the plants. Containing the plants in pots means that vegetative growth will stop once the plant has run out of space for the roots to occupy.

And would you believe it if I told you that the mix inside our pots actually contains zero soil? It’s true! You might be surprised to learn that what we generally think of as soil (the earth under our feet) is made mostly of rock. Actual soil is weathered rock—clay, silt, sand—combined with decayed organic material, which can support plant growth. When plants die and are decomposed by earthworms and fungi, what’s left behind is an organic material called humus. (When humans simulate this process the result is compost.) A potting medium made mostly of organic material with little sand or clay is called peat.

At Shadowbox Farms, we use a combination of materials:

  • Peat moss and coco fiber promote root growth
  • Pumice provides aeration
  • Calcium carbonate corrects pH
  • Mycorrhizae, or beneficial fungi, encourage roots to forage for nutrients  

This combination of materials makes an ideal potting mix for us because:

  • It drains well;
  • It re-wets easily;
  • It has suitable pH (between 5.0 and 6.5);
  • It is free of pests;
  • And it is able to be stored for short periods without significant changes to physical or chemical properties.

How do you grow your plants? Do you use a custom potting mix or an off-the-shelf product like coco fiber? Leave a comment below!