“Oh, it’s just a Fly! Don’t let the name fool you – unlike regular black flies, whiteflies can quickly take over your grow room and damage your plants! Whiteflies are more like spider-mites, in that they have tiny sharp, needle like mouth parts. They suck the sap out of your leaves! They also leave behind a stick residue known as honeydew. (EW, Insect Poop!) This honeydew attracts sooty mold.

The life cycle of a White Fly consists of four stages:

  1. Egg
  2. Crawler
  3. Nymph
  4. Adult

Crawlers hatch from the eggs. Much like their name suggest they move around the plant for a few hours before finding a place to settle. Crawlers take 20 days to become an adult, during which time it will grow through its different nymph stages. During this entire process the Nymph will feed on your plant, sucking its sap! (And in the process producing Honeydew!) A by-product of the White Fly morphing into each further stage of its life cycle leaves behind an exo-skeleton.

Identifying An Adult?

As soon as a White Fly emerges from its last Nymph stage it will begin to secrete a wax over its entire body. They will start to feed on your plants right away. They look like tiny white flies. They are 1 to 3mm in length with tiny black bodies covered in a white wax. You may see them flying around your garden. They also like to get together on the under-side of the plants leaves.Check underneath your plants leaves for White Flies or Eggs. You can also try vigorously shaking your plant, causing the White Flies to fly around the room.

Oh No! I Have White Flies!

All hope is not lost! The sooner you catch them, the better! Before moving any further, carefully prune any heavily infested areas of the plant. Put them in a bag, tie it off, and throw it in the garbage.Then proceed to treating your plants. You have two options…To fight this like a natural, organic gardener would. Or to go all out nuclear and pull out the chemicals.

Let’s consider the natural options first.

A Natural Solution – Mix 1 Gallon of Water, 2 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil, 2 Tablespoons Soap (Not detergent. Ivory seems to work well). Spray this solution thoroughly on plants, remembering to get the bottoms of the leaves as well. Repeat every 3 days (or twice a week) until problem subsides. In addition to spraying them down, also make sure to hang some yellow stick traps. That will show those flying buggers who’s boss! A second known organic method for controlling White Flies is Lady Bugs. They will thrive and feed off the White Flies. Three additional options for natural predators include; Cales Noacki, Encarsia Formosa, Macrolophus Caliginosus.

Bringing out the Nukes (NOTE FROM KATSU – I’m not inclined to resort to the nukes – if shit’s that bad, I just throw in the towel and start from scratch)

Before trying Insecticidal Soap, a slightly less invasive option would be Garden Dust. These products can contain Pyrethrin which is known to kill White Flies. (It can also be used to control other insects).

Insecticidal Soap or Spinosad are both known to kill White Flies. Here is an “OMRI” Listed product that is vegetable safe. Keep in mind, when working with any chemicals, it is advised against spraying any chemicals on Buds close to harvest.

Remember, catch them quick, stay on top of them, and your plants will make it out alright!”

A special thanks to guest author Danny Terpintine for providing this excellent information!

White Powdery Mildew

White Powdery Mildew, WPM or PM for short, can destroy an entire crop if not caught and treated in time. Here I’ll tell you what you can do to prevent, recognize, and lastly treat this menace of growers across the world.

As a wise person once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. I could not agree with this more and in my opinion the best step to take is to make your grow room a place that PM does not want to live. The four major factors I’ve found that will put your room in danger:

  • Cool night time temperatures
  • Stagnant or non-circulating air
  • Generally wet/humid conditions
  • Heavy contact between leaves

Removing these factors will greatly reduce the chance of your plants contracting PM in the first place. Although these are what I would consider the major risk factors, there are a few other good practices in avoiding PM. One thing that can be done is asking your staff to change into a uniform or a Tyvek-type suit when entering the grow room. This will prevent any staff from accidentally carrying in mold spores or any other contaminants. Also installing a UVC light can be beneficial as it can kill airborne spores. By implementing some or all of these preventative measures you will hopefully be saving yourself a headache further down the road.

The second key factor in protecting your plants from Powdery Mildew is going to be identification. The earlier, the better being the most important part of identification. PM can be had to spot in its earliest manifestations so a personal recommendation is to get yourself a jeweler’s loupe or some other type of portable magnifying device in order to be able to see the Mildew much sooner than with the naked eye. Although PM is invasive, it is not particularly hard to recognize. With the eye alone, PM looks like small dots or patches of flour and should not be hard to recognize. In earlier stages the patches will simply be much fainter and under magnification look like bright white or greyish strands. These white strands should be highly distinguishable from trichomes. Once you’ve made a positive diagnosis and had a good cry, then it’s time to move onto treatment.

So you’ve established that you have Powdery Mildew. Now what? Generally there are two routes to go when ridding your grow of PM. The first being home remedies, which can be very effective for some, whereas others will choose the second route, products designed to treat PM.

Here are a few home remedies that a large number of growers swear by:

  • Milk (1:9 ratio of milk to water)
  • Baking soda (2 tablespoons per gallon of water)
  • Neem Oil (4 teaspoons per gallon of water)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (1 teaspoon of 35% H202 per gallon of water)
  • SM-90 (1:5 ratio of SM-90 to water)

If you choose to go the pesticide route here are some products that have proven to be useful:

  • Bergman’s Plant Protector
  • Lost Coast Plant Therapy
  • GrowSafe
  • Bush Doctor

Armed with this knowledge, it is my hope that you are all now a little more prepared in your grow room venture or gardening adventure. Powdery Mildew is a pest that master growers and beginners alike have to be wary of. However it is not necessarily a death sentence for your plants. I hope you found this helpful in answering any questions you may have had regarding this issue and I wish you all a happy harvest!

Thank you Billy for the lowdown on PM – as with most garden related issues an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so maintain good ventilation, watch nighttime temperatures, keep your plants well defoliated, and appropriate humidity.

Food and Weed

I’ll take a great home cooked meal over an expensive restaurant meal any day of the week. The love that a skilled home cook brings to the table and the attention to the details that matter almost always makes the dining experience amazing. Coincidentally, the same is true of the skilled home grower, throwing down fire that would put most dispensary top shelf gear to shame.

Neither the home chef nor the home grower are limited in what they choose to make and this key distinction opens up a whole world of possibilities to explore. In the 80’s I moved from California to a decidedly less green state and good weed was really hard to come by with the exception of a small grower I managed to hook up with who would drop a run of flower called “The Chrome” every couple of months. The Chrome was beautiful and some of the strongest weed I had ever had – hard green nugs coated with crystals (hence “the chrome”) with a really harsh, unflushed flavor with no real taste. This was as good as it got and people were fighting over Z’s every 2 months and they were gone in minutes.

Then I went to Amsterdam and my whole perspective changed. I spent a whole week smoking at every coffee shop in the city, with pockets stuffed with small baggies of nugs from all the different shops. This trip was repeated every year or two until the late 90’s when I finally bit the bullet and started growing my own – and then shit got next level…

Once you start growing your own, you become an immediate pot snob, especially when it comes to new genetics – seeds or clones. Stuff that would have been coveted and hidden from your freeloading smoker friends in the past was now “shit” freely given to anyone without your newly elevated definition of “top shelf”

But along with this new depth of understanding comes the passion to try new shit – the problem is that most of us have certain space and/or plant count limitations that prevent us from trying more than a pack or two at a time, and now that we are hard core pot snobs we are way too picky to use up the space for anything but the best of the best. So how do you choose?

Like food, great weed starts with great ingredients – the genetics. If you’ve got great genetics that went into the seeds you are thinking of growing you are more than likely to have excellent results when you grow them out (not always, but more often than not this is as a result of one of the parents being an outlier and not similar to it’s siblings). So what does this mean for you? It means that if you get a bag of weed that’s killer and it has a few seeds you may want to consider popping them. Or if your friend who has been growing for 20 years makes some seeds of his two favorite plants you may want to pay attention. Or if you’ve got nothing but fire in your garden and you end up with some seeds in your nugs… – I think you get the idea. If you want to purchase seeds, I suggest sticking with vendors that have either been around for a while or whose gear you’ve already had a chance to try – because you’re a pot snob now and you deserve the very best. I’ve paid over $1,000 for seeds that were just okay and I’ve paid $20 for seeds that were absolute FIRE. Try not to buy into the hype. If you find some breeders you like and you get tired of their shit, ask them which breeders THEY like. There’s so much to try, so many different flavors, so many different types of highs and effects – this is the greatest hobby in the world.

Thanks to everyone that tags me in pics of Katsu gear – I love seeing it – keep it coming! Stay green, stay safe, and keep those nug jars filled with sticky goodness!

How to send clones the Katsu KISS way

Today I’m going to share Katsu’s KISS method for sending clones to friends. I get cuts from people all the time and I’m often surprised how difficult they make it. Anyways, this is the fastest, easiest, cheapest, and safest way to send cuts in the mail.

  1. Take nice, healthy cuttings (dry, don’t spray them with anything)
  2. Stick them in a ziplock sandwich bag
  3. Gently press out the air and seal
  4. Label the bag
  5. Stick the baggie in something that will protect it in transit, I like DVD cases without the inserts.
  6. Send. I usually use Priority Mail. Barring extreme heat or cold, the cuts will comfortably last 5+ days and the recipient can recut the stems and root as normal.

That’s it! I have virtually 100% success using this method and I assure you there’s nothing easier or cheaper. Best of all, since it is unrooted it is technically not yet a plant 🙂

How to save and store pollen

Have you ever wanted to save pollen so you could use it to make seeds with it later? It’s not very difficult (although it becomes significantly less potent over time). I’ve saved pollen for months in a fridge and for well over a year in the freezer.

The key to storing it is to prevent any moisture from coming in contact with it. Here’s what I do:

  1. Collect your pollen on a piece of parchment paper (or another container to your liking).
  2. Add some flour to the pollen so it’s about 10:1 flour to pollen – if you live in a humid area you may want to “dry” your flour in an oven at 300 degrees for a few minutes (and let cool) before mixing. You add flour so it’s easier to apply the pollen later without wasting it (a little goes a really long way).
  3. Fold up your paper and toss it into a heavy duty freezer ziplock, add some rice to the bag (as a desiccant), and date/label the bag.
  4. Stick it in the fridge or freezer. If you think you’re going to need access to the pollen on multiple occasions separate it into smaller batches so you only need to remove a batch at a time without removing your entire container from the fridge or freezer.
  5. When you have that perfect female (or harem of ladies) that you want to knock up with your saved pollen, simply pull out the batch of pollen and use a paintbrush to paint the pistils of the buds you want to seed – remember, a little goes a long way. Most females that finish in 8 weeks are ready to be pollinated between weeks 3 and 4 (lots of white hairs), longer flowering strains may need another 2-3 weeks.

This is a great way to make seeds without pollinating your entire garden. Just make sure to do all of your “painting” away from the other ladies 🙂

If you start with great genetics, your own seeds can be as good as anything you spend top dollar on and it’s a whole new obsession you can deep dive into 🙂

“Smart” Weed, and Kyle Kushman on Super-Cropping

I’ve got a fantastic video for you from Kyle Kushman (of Strawberry Cough fame) on “Super-Cropping”. This goes through the entire process of how and when to prune so all you get are nice, fat colas that are easy to trim. Learn how to get rid of small buds and focus all of the plants energy on producing massive colas at the top of the canopy.


by Kyle Kushman

The Best Weed in The World

When I first started growing it was because I just couldn’t consistently purchase high quality weed where I lived. I had already traveled to Amsterdam many times in the 80’s and 90’s and been exposed to at least a hundred different strains of good bud. Once I started growing and I was able to consistently produce weed that was better than what I had been buying, the mission focus shifted and became more about finding the best of the best.

This week I was fortunate enough to attend a day of the Dark Horse event during MJBizCon and sampled at least 20-30 different strains from top pros and amateurs. It struck me (through the fog) that the purpose of the competition (and others like it) was very similar to my own obsession to find the very best weed available.

The day after the event I had a bunch of left-over samples and I decided to go through them and give them the “Katsu Squish Test”. I am of the opinion that the easiest way to test the strength and flavor of your bud is to squish it and dab it, so that’s what I did with the samples. I randomly picked out about a half dozen of the entries, squished a small bud of each, and dabbed them (all day long). At the end of the day, I took some of the samples to a friends house (small personal grower) for him to try. While I was there, he squished a bud of one of his own strains (bag seed) and I did a dab of that.

What I realized after doing a dab from his stash was that HIS strain that HE grew tasted better and got me higher than all 6 of the strains I had tried from the event earlier in the day. I’m not trying to say that I thought my friend would have won the event, but that his shit was top shelf and that it wasn’t a fancy strain name and it didn’t come from a professional grower. This leads me to believe that the best weed in the world probably isn’t at any event, and may not even be grown commercially, but is in all likelihood just sitting in some head’s garden, like you or me.

I guess the moral is that you shouldn’t get too wrapped up in the hype and the bullshit. Pop a bunch of beans from different strains, maybe try some clones from friends, and I can almost guarantee that all of you can have weed that rivals the best of the best, with flavors and highs that are just PERFECT FOR YOU.

Stay green, stay high, and be chill this holiday season.

Katsu out…

Unofficial Glossary for New Growers

This time I’ve got the “Unofficial Glossary for New Growers” compiled by NiteTiger from ICMag. I know some of you could probably create a list like this in your sleep, but I thought it would be useful for many of you. This isn’t really “light reading” but you may want to give it a quick skim or save it for future reference. Some of you compulsive nerds like myself will read it top to bottom (like I did) – enjoy! If you have any suggestions for future topics please email me at katsubluebird@protonmail.com

Unofficial Glossary for New Growers

by NiteTiger from ICMag

A/C Hood – Air cooled hood. Air is drawn through an enclosed reflector around a high intensity bulb to remove the heat generated by the bulb.

Aero also Aeroponics – A method of growing that utilizes a hydroponic solution vaporized into an aresol solution with misters. This nutrient fog envelopes the root system of the plant, allowing for maximum of absorption of both oxygen and nutrients. As the vapor condenses, it is channeled back to a central reservoir and revaporized.

BHO – Butane Honey Oil. A method of extracting the trichomes from plant matter. Butane gas strips the trichomes from the plant matter, and collects on a dish. The butane is evaporated away, leaving a very high potency oil.

The Borg aka spider mites – Horrid little beasties that invade plants seemingly over night, and can completely destroy a crop. Referred to as the Borg in reference to the nearly unstoppable Borg characters on Star Trek, because once they’ve established, they multiply incredibly fast, and are very hard to eliminate.

Bubble also bubble bags – A method of making hash that seperates the trichomes from the plant matter using ice water and gentle agitation. The water is then filtered through bags that contain a fine mesh screen which collects the trichomes.

Calyx – The round outer portion of the plants bud.

Carbon filter – A method of deodorizing air coming from or inside a growroom, by passing the air through a layer of activated carbon that absorbs and eliminates odors.

CFL compact fluorescent light – A fluorescent light about the size of a standard incandescent light bulb that can be used in any standard light socket. Used most often for starting seeds, clones, and in micro grow applications. Note that the wattage to go by is the actual wattage, not the equivalent wattage ie, a 42 watt CFL that says equivalent to 150 watt incandescent would be counted as 42 watts, not 150.

Chem Chemical – Nutrients that are synthetic, developed in lab settings.

Clone also Cutting – a branch or shoot of a plant that has been removed and rooted independently, producing a new plant with the exact physical characteristics of the original plant (aka mother).

Coco also coir, coco-coir – Similar to Soilless, utilizing the hairy bark of coconuts as the growing medium.

Cool tube – Air is drawn through a glass tube that surrounds a high intensity bulb to remove the heat generated by the bulb.

Cotyledons The small, round first leaves of a seedling. These leaves provide the first nutrients for the plant. As a natural course, these leaves will yellow and fall off. When the coyts start yellowing is when you begin feeding with a light nute solution.

Curing- Preparing the buds for long term storage by allowing them to age in an area that equalizes the moisture in the bud.

DWC also RDWC, MDWC – Deep Water Culture. A style of hydroponic growing that utilizes a deep reservoir of nutrient aerated by an airstone. Generally the reservoir is a five gallon bucket. The plant rests in a netpot*, filled with hydroton* or another inert media. The roots grow through the netpot into the nutrients below, allowing for very large root systems. RDWC connects the buckets in a continuous system with a pump and an additional reservoir, known as a recirculating DWC. MDWC refers to either Mediumless or Modified DWC. Mediumless refers to using a collar instead of a medium filled netpot to hold the plant in place over the nutrient solution. Modified means the basic DWC design has been modified, and will likely be explained in the post. Also known as Bubblers, bubbling buckets, and Tubblers (the use of Rubbermaid style storage tubs instead of buckets). Often used with ScrOG

E&F – Ebb and Flow. A hydroponic style of gardening that utilizes tables a shallow pan or table for the plants and medium, and a seperate resevoir of nutrient solution. Using a pump connected to a timer, the nutrient solution is pumped into the table until it fills, then allowed to drain. The “flood” of nutrients soaks the roots and medium, then ‘ebbs’ back into the resevoir, allowing the roots a chance to dry out and breathe. Often used in SoG gardens.

EC Electrical Conductivity – Measurement of the amount of nutrients in a solution. (May be expressed in multiple values (PPM, TDS, EC – consult your meters manual)

Feminized Seeds Seeds that have been created through various methods without the use of male pollen, resulting in seeds with no male DNA, resulting in all female plants. However, feminized seeds are generally seen as more prone to become hermaphrodites.

FIM or fimmed – Stands for ‘****, I missed’. Refers to attempting to cut the growth shoot of a plant so that it grows into multiple branches instead of one. The phrase comes from how easy it is to miss the tiny growth shoot.

Flushing – the process of removing nutrients from your plants. In soil this is achieved by running plain water through the soil (usually double your soil volume). In hydro, it is achieved by removing the nutrient solution and replacing it with plain water.

FMCD Full Melt Clear Dome – A way of judging the purity of a hash or other extract product based on the way it melts and bubbles when lit. Full Melt Clear Dome means the material completely melts into a bubble that is clear when it forms, showing an extremely pure sample.

Foliar Feeding Application of a nutrient solution to the leaves and above ground portions of the plant, as opposed to the roots. Foliar feeding should not be done while the plant is exposed to high intensity light, as the drops can act as magnifying glasses and burn the leaves.

GPH gallons per hour – The rating of a pumps capacity to move water. Check the pump information carefully, as the GPH falls as your distance from the pump increases.

Hermaphrodite also Hermie – A female plant that has produced male flowers, allowing self-pollenization.

HPS – High Pressure Sodium. A type of high intensity lamp used for growing plants indoors. The lamps give off an orange light, often thought to simulate late summer and fall sun. Generally used for flowering plants, but can be used during vegetative growth as well.

Hydroponics also hydro – A method of growing that does not rely on a nutritional substrate such as soil. All the nutrition that a plant would normally obtain from the soil is mixed into water in certain concentrations to allow for maximum growth. The plant gets all of the nutrients it needs to grow from the water solution.

IBL Inbred Line – A genetic line that has been stabilized through inbreeding to consistently produce plants with similar traits.

Indica – A type of cannabis that is usually associated with shorter, squatter plants with shorter flowering periods. Indicas are usually associated with a narcotic body stone.

ISO – Isopropyl alcohol. Used to extract trichomes from plant matter. The Isopopyl alcohol strips the trichomes from the plant matter, and is then evaporated away, leaving a high potency oil.

Kif also keif, keef – The collection of trichomes using a fine mesh screen to separate the trichomes from the plant matter. The buds are either stored on or lightly drawn across fine mesh screen that allows the trichomes to fall through, but not the plant matter.

KFB aka Krusty Freedom Buckets. Named after their creator, Krusty Freedom Buckets are actually an entire atmosphere, rather than just buckets. The system (classically, there have been many variations) uses vertical lighting, and double buckets in a recirculating system. The first bucket was used like a giant netpot, filled with media. Two feed lines ran on each side of the plant, constantly providing a nutrient flow over the roots. The nutes drained into the second bucket where it drained back all but two inches out to the rez. Those two inches of nute solution, where the plants roots eventually ended up, were hyper oxygenated with large air pumps. The lighting was all vertical, with a 1kw in the center, and a 600 on each wall, providing the entire plant with intense light, instead of just the top.

Krusty’s method was known to produce 3 pounds per plant.

Search: KFB, Krusty Freedom Buckets, Tree Grow

Landrace – A genetic line of plants that occurs naturally within a given region, without human influence on their characteristics.

LST Low Stress Training – A method of growing that slowly trains the plant to a specific height or shape. The training usually starts young by tying down the branches and growth shoots.

MH – Metal Halide. A type of high intensity lamp used for growing indoors. The lamps give off a whitish blue light, often though to simulate the spring and early summer sun. Generally used for vegetating plants, but can be used during flowering as well.

Neem Neem oil – A broad spectrum botanical insecticide, miticide and fungicide treatment derived from the seeds of the neem tree.

NFT – Nutrient Film Technique. A hydroponic method growing that allows a thin trickle or ‘film’ of nutrient solution to constantly pass of the roots to provide nourishment, but not so much that the roots cannot breathe.

Node The location on a plant where branches and new growth are produced. The area between nodes is referred to as internodes. Internodal spacing is often used as a cue to determine light distances.

Organic – Nutrients that are developed from naturally occurring substances.

pH – Acidity of a nutrient solution or soil.

Pheno phenotype – Certain unique characteristics of a plant that set it aside from other plants of the same genes. Plants grown from the same seed stock often show unique characteristics like smell, coloring, and flavor.

Pistil – The white hairlike growth on the plants bud.

Pollen – Produced by the male plant to produce seeds in a female. Also used to refer to kif.

PM powdery mildew – A fungus that attacks plants identifiable as a powdery film on the surface.

PPM Parts Per Million – Measurement of the amount of nutrients in a solution. (May be expressed in multiple values (PPM, TDS, EC – consult your meters manual)

Reveg Returning a plant to a vegetative state after it has begun flowering. Normally used in reference to a plant that has completed its flowering cycle and been harvested, but can also refer to a clone that was taken from a flowering mother. Generally used to preserve genetics after harvest.

R/O or RO water – Water that has been filtered of impurities by the Reverse Osmosis method.

RW rockwool – A growing medium that comes in cubes or slabs, easily identifiable by its green color.

Sativa – A type of cannabis that is usually associated with taller plants and longer flowering periods. Sativas are usually associated with an up, energetic head high.

ScrOG – Screen of green. A method that utilizes fewer plants trained to grow along a screen to insure all budsites get equal light. Normally grown plants will generally develop one or two main colas at the top of the plant, smaller buds on the sides, and ‘popcorn*’, or very small buds on the bottom.

Scrubber aka carbon scrubber Used to control odor, carbon is packed in a porous layer between around a central core. Air is either drawn or pushed through the carbon. The micron sized pores in the carbon, combined with a slight charge, trap odor molecules, bacteria, and other particles inside the carbon. the air is literally scrubbed clean by being forced through the carbon.

Slab – one meter of grow medium, usually referencing rockwool or coco coir.

SoG – Sea of Green. A method of growing that uses several small plants as compared to fewer large ones. The plants are kept small, and encouraged to grow only one main cola. This allows more plants to be grown in the same area. The phrase comes from the impression you get from looking at a garden grown this way, ie just a sea of green buds. Also known as the plantlet method.

Soilless – A Hydroponic method that utilizes pots like a standard soil garden, which can be handwatered or utilize a standard soil irrigation system. The pots are filled with inert medium, usually a mixture of perlite and vermiculite that retains water much like soil. However, all nutrients come in the hydroponic solution, there are none stored in the medium, as in soil.

Super-cropping A method of growing where the stem hurd is lightly crushed, forcing the plant to make new pathways that can result in a higher yield.

TDS Total Dissolved Solids – Measurement of the amount of nutrients in a solution. (May be expressed in multiple values (PPM, TDS, EC – consult your meters manual)

Toppped or topping – Pruning the plant by cutting off the top to encourage lateral branching.

Trichome also trich – a structure on the skin of plant that contains the THC and other desirable cannbinoids found in marijuana.

Vermiculite An additive that helps retain water in the medium.

You still awake? Congratulations – I don’t think many made it this far. Until next time.

Peace, KB

An Introduction to Growing Cannabis in Soil

Soil is arguably one of the top factors that influences plant growth and development. A well chosen or prepared soil, or soilless growing media will alleviate many issues throughout the growing cycle. Soil is composed of: mineral solids (sand, silt, clay), water, air, organic matter and organisms (bacteria, fungi, earthworms, arthropods). Soilless growing media is composed of organic matter (peat, coco, compost) and aeration/drainage (perlite, rice hulls, sand). An ideal soil for plant production would consist of 25% water, 25-50% air, 45% mineral and 5-20% organic matter. A second description of an ideal soil would be about 30% sand, 30% silt, 30% clay and 5-10% organic matter.

The relative proportions of these components describes soil texture, or structure. Loamy soil with a granular structure is generally preferred plant production. The second important factor of soil, or soilless growing media is soil chemistry. Soil pH, indicates the amount of hydrogen ions in the soil, the more hydrogen that a soil contains the more acidic the soil is. Soil pH affects nutrient availability. The ideal pH for cannabis is 5.5 to 6.8. Generally field soils have higher pH’s and soilless growing media tends to be slightly more acidic. If the pH is too low (acidic) or high (alkaline) nutrients become unavailable, or locked out, or overabundant, leading to toxicity. Alkalinity causes some minerals, such as copper, iron and manganese to become less available. Counteract this by adding sulfur, which is converted to sulfuric acid by bacteria, or by adding nitrogenous fertilizers. Acidity inhibits growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Counteract this by adding calcium or magnesium compounds (lime). The best way to know both soil texture and chemistry is by submitting a soil sample to a lab for analysis.

The third important component of soil is the organisms living in the soil. Bacteria, fungi, earthworms and arthropods (insects and spiders) are just some of the organisms that are critical to soil health. Many important species are naturally present in soils, or may need to be introduced. Soilless growing media generally has much lower biological activity at the start of the growing cycle due to it being an engineered soil, designed for container growing.

There are many recipes for preparing your own soil, soilless growing media and enriched/super soils. A simple mix contains equal parts of peat (or coco), perlite (or rice hulls), and sand (or bark). A small amount of lime is often needed to raise the pH, but depending on the mix you may need to add sulfur. Recently, I have seen one pre-made growing mix test at 4.4 and another at 8.2, so knowing your pH is very important for ensuring healthy plant growth. Again, many recipes are online so it’s relatively easy to find one to meet your preferences. If you are interested in super soils I suggest checking out

Subcool’s Super Soil Recipe

  • 8 large bags of a high-quality organic potting soil with coco fiber and mycorrhizae (i.e., your base soil)
  • 25 to 50 lbs of organic worm castings
  • 5 lbs steamed bone meal
  • 5 lbs Bloom bat guano
  • 5 lbs blood meal
  • 3 lbs rock phosphate
  • ¾ cup Epson salts
  • ½ cup sweet lime (dolomite)
  • ½ cup azomite (trace elements)
  • 2 tbsp powdered humic acid

The type of soil you choose to grow in will depend on how you plan to fertilize the plant. If you want strict control over nutrients at each watering, you will probably choose a simple soil, so that you can add products as needed. If you want to use only water and no additional fertilizers, you should look into enriched or super soils. Build-A-Soil is a great resource for anyone interested in making their own soil.

For many individuals and growing operations preparing your own soil is not a feasible option. There are countless choices of pre-made soils and soilless growing media. Pro-Mix has long been the grower standard for those looking for a simple soil where you want to have control over feeding the plant and is widely available. Soils containing wood fiber, in order to reduce the amount of peat being used, are now available, one example is Berger BM5 Super HP. Fox Farm has a whole line of enriched soils tailored for growing cannabis, Ocean Forest and Bush Doctor Coco Loco are two examples. Roots Organics has a large number of offerings, with Formula 707 and Emerald Mountain being examples of enriched growing media. These are just several examples, with so many growing styles and preferences, there is a mix for everyone!

Low budget indoor grow setup

I’ve been growing for over 20 years indoors – at times with a large personal budget to blow on whatever gear I wanted and other times poor as dirt and needing to watch every penny. It’s great to be able to get the “top of the line” everything – even if you don’t end up with the best, you’ll probably still end up with something pretty awesome. This newsletter is going to focus on the budget setup, when you really want to have a kick-ass setup but need to do it on the cheap. I’m going to include some links to equipment that I CURRENTLY USE but there are MANY other manufacturers that also offer exceptional equipment at a low price – I don’t make any money off of this – I just wanted to share a sample setup to give you an idea of what’s possible.

Here’s what you need:

  • A grow space you can make completely dark, uninterrupted for 12 hours/day
  • A light for every 25 square feet of space (approximately)
  • An exhaust fan
  • A filter (if you need to control smell)
  • Ventilation fans
  • Grow Bags (or whatever)

Grow Space – someplace you can make completely dark for when you flower. I like grow tents. Here’s a perfectly adequate 4×4 for $100 – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071Z67JMT/

Grow Light – I’ve purchased a couple of these Chinese lights that have the same components as the HLG 550V2r. You can get these for about $250 + about $75 shipping – https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Kingbrite-Pre-wired-connected-hlg-550_62029135325.html

Exhaust Fan and filter – This is a combo that includes the fan, the filter, the ducting, AND a speed controller for the fan for $100 –


Grow Bags – Here’s a 3 gallon 10 pack for $20 – https://www.amazon.com/Gardzen-10-Pack-Gallons-Aeration-Handles/dp/B07CTC1ZV4/

That’s really all you need. After purchasing some high quality dirt and whatever nutrients you like, you’ll probably be at about $600 or so – less than half the cost of many of the lights being pushed by the LED companies. All of the links above are merely suggestions of what is possible – I don’t want anyone holding off on starting a grow because they think they need thousands of dollars – you can do it for pretty damn cheap. Everything I’ve linked above is stuff I actually use so I know it will work for you too.

Peace, KB