Growing with Super Soil can transform the way you grow marijuana.
Why choose to create your own super soil rather than buy “regular” soil from the store and use nutrients?
The term and idea of ‘Super Soil’ became widely recognized and understood when famous cannabis breeder, Subcool, release his super soil recipe in an issue of High Times back in 2009. It caught the attention of almost every hobbyist grower, if Subcool is putting out quality, top-shelf buds without nutrients, why can’t I do the same? The general idea of super soil is that it delivers everything your plant needs, at the right time, without managing pH or adding nutrients.
There are several reasons to grow with super soil. Aside from the organic benefit, you are creating an ideal root zone that mirrors some of the best natural places where marijuana grows and flourishes naturally outdoors.
When built and composted correctly, growing with super soil is as simple as water and grow – No nutrients, no chemicals, and no pH management. It saves you both time and money.
Pros of Super Soil
- Better End Product – A lot of growers say that growing with super soil gives them a better tasting and smelling end product that produces a smooth finish and excellent taste
- Indoors and Outdoors – Grow thriving marijuana plants indoors and outdoors with excellent results
- Natural – The super soil recipes found on Paramount Seed Farms include only organic ingriedints
- No Flush – No chemical salts from nutrients eliminates the extra pre-harvest task of flushing plants before harvest
- Can Be Easier – Properly water your plants and you are done. If you are using municipal water, please read: Tap Water in Hydroponics, there is some good information about water quality and proper water treatment that can be applied to how you use water with super soil.
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Cons of Super Soil
- Cost – Can be expensive to get started since you generally compost a lot of soil at once – it’s difficult to scale the organic super soil process down to smaller grows that need less soil at a time. However, if you do want small amounts, or if you don’t have time for the composting process, you can actually buy pre-made super soil from experts who specialize in growing cannabis.
- Need to Plan Ahead – Composting take 30-60 days before your soil is ready to be used by your plants, which means you have to plan ahead before each organic grow
- Mixing Soil Can Be Difficult – The amending and composting process involves some physical work (mixing the soil)
- Slightly Slower Growth than Liquid Nutrients – Although you don’t have to do anything to make super soil work for you, cannabis plants grow slightly faster in the vegetative stage when using liquid nutrients.
Don’t want to make your own Super Soil?
Building and mixing your own Super Soil may not be the best fit for your current situation, whether it be workspace, financial and the list goes on. Luckily there are a few options to still be able to leverage the benefits of super soil. Find out more below:
Buy Pre-Made Super Soil
There are a few vendors that offer pre-made ‘Super Soil’, similar to the super soil created in this article. These are a good compromise for growers who want the benefits of super soil, but may not have the means to build their own soil and go through the composting process.
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Make your own ‘Super Soil’ Recipe – Makes ~14ft3 or (20) 5-gallon pots
- Huge mixing container – kiddie pool or large tarp
- Tarp or large trash cans to hold soil while it’s “cooking”
Super Soil Ingredients – Complete ready to buy list on Amazon (affiliate link)
- 6 bags x 10-gallon Roots Organic Soil (For a total of 60 gallons or 210lbs of soil)
- 2 bags x 50L (35 lbs) Biobizz Light-Mix soil(Total of 70lbs)
- 2 bags x 30 lbs Organic Earthworm Castings (Total of 60lbs)
- 1 box 6 lbs Fish Bone Meal (3-16-0) Note: 3-15-0 or 3-18-0 can also be used
- 1 cup Dolomite Lime (“prilled” if possible)
- ½ cup Azomite (0-0-0.2)
- 1 box 5 lbs Blood Meal (12-0-0)
- 1 bag 4 lbs Happy Frog Bat Guano (0-5-0)
- ¾ cup Epsom Salt
- (Optional) Up to 25% Perlite (for extra drainage)
Below is the best way to mix all of the soil amendments together in a proper ‘layered’ process to ensure that the amendments and base soil are mixed together evenly.
Mixing & Amending Soil
Composting the Super Soil
- Days 1-7 – Mix your pile regularly (for example moving the pile to one side then the other) until your soil is a consistent color with no brightly colored spots
- Add water to mix and stir it in to initiate the microbial process. Soil be moist but not soggy while composting. The idea is to keep the mix both moist and relatively contained. If your super soil mix is not put in a container or wrapped up, it will dry out, which stops the whole process. Make sure you wrap up your soil if in a tarp, or put a top on your garbage cans (this mix takes about 4 large garbage cans). *Keep the mix in a relatively enclosed environment.
- Keep your composting mix in a sunny or warmer place and allow the super soil mix to “cook” for 30-60 days. During this process, your job is to keep the soil moist but not soggy, and otherwise keep the pile covered/enclosed to trap heat and air. The microbial processes in the soil will actually cause the composting pile to become hot to the touch – this is normal and exactly what you want! That’s part of why it’s called “cooking”. As the soil cooks, it will break down the ingredients you added into a form that your plants can easily use.
Note: Keep an eye out for bugs, ensure the mix is completely enclosed! You just created a perfect environment for bugs to live.
Bonus – If you add live worms to your Super Soil they will help aerate and loosen your mix. Worms can even be used in potted containers – they do no harm to your plants and will help maintain a healthy soil.
- Mix one last time before you start growing!
Complete Guide to Growing with Super Soil
Now that you have your super soil composted and ready to use, it’s time to get started! Luckily for you this section is pretty short because there’s not much that you need to do other than water your plants!
What type of water to use?
When growing cannabis with composted super soil, you want to use a clean source of water. You don’t want to use distilled water, as it can mess with the soil ecosystem, but most sources of water should be okay as long as the pH isn’t very high or low. If the pH of the water is far outside the 6-7 range, it can disrupt your soil cycle. So if you have very hard water or the pH is off, you either need to use a different source of water just be on the lookout for nutrient deficiencies. If you run into nutrient deficiencies with super soil it often means you need to correct the pH when you water.
What You Will Need
- A place to grow (indoors, outdoors, your basement, grow tent, patio, etc.)
- Grow light for indoor growing – Spot with direct sunlight outdoors
- Your Super Soil – You need 1 pound for every 1 gallon of pot size. (ex: for a 3-gallon pot, you would use 3 pounds of KindSoil)
- An equal amount of coco coir potting mix (or regular soil) such as Pro-Mix or Fox Farms Coco Loco
- Solo cups for seedlings (optional)
1) Choose the container
We prefer smart pots (fabric pots). Plants grow faster in fabric pots than traditional hard-side containers because roots thrive on oxygen and they let air in from the sides. The air from the sides also prevents the roots from “choking” themselves or wrapping around the edges of the pot, so a plant grown in a smart pot won’t get rootbound! Another key difference is they dry out faster than traditional pots. With this in mind, you may be watering more often as the plants get bigger than you would with traditional pots, to prevent this select a larger size e.g. if you grow in a traditional 5-gallon pot, choose a 7 or 10-gallon fabric pot.
2) Fill the bottom 1/3 of your container with Super Soil – the rest with your chosen base potting mix
A general rule of thumb is that you need about 1 pound of Super Soil for every 1 gallon of container size, e.g. for a 5 gallon pot, you would use 5 pounds of Super Soil, then fill the rest with your base potting mix.
The base potting mix is at the top of the container so you do not burn young plants or clones with high levels of nutrients. However, once their roots reach the super soil, your plants will be mature enough to use the readily available nutrients without worrying about nutrient burn and the stress.
If young plants do get a little nutrient burn, they will grow out of it. Don’t stress as long as your plants are growing fast and healthy and do not show signs of nutrient burn for an extended period of time.
3) Add Your Seeds or Clones
Everything is set up, right?
Awesome! Time to put your seeds or clones into their new homes! But where to get seeds?
Start your seedlings in your base potting mix in solo cups. After your clones show roots, start them in red solo cups in your base potting mix.
Once seedlings have shown their second set of true leaves, we transplant into a 1-gallon pot or bag. For clones, once then have shown new growth for 5 days we transplant directly into our final pot that contains our Super Soil at the bottom.
Once our seedlings are plants, roughly 10 inches tall, we transplant into our final Super Soil pot.
*Note – When your transplant is completely up to you. There are many variables i.e. strain, veg time, grow space, preference, etc. So always do what you are most comfortable with. This is simply a baseline and how we chose to manage our garden.
4) Watering your Plants
How to water plants when growing in Super Soil:
- Provide just enough water to wet the medium, try to stop just before you get much runoff
- Wait until the entire top 1 inch of soil feels dry before watering again
- When in doubt, water plants less! It’s extremely easy to overwater plants in super soil.
- Growing in super soil, your plants will grow best if you avoid getting runoff. The runoff will carry away some of the nutrients in the soil, and since you’re not adding any extra, you want to conserve the nutrients you do have.
- Make sure roots stay warm and keep them from sitting directly on the ground. This is important for the colony of organisms at the roots to thrive, and cannabis also tends to grow better with warm (but not hot) roots
- Maintain the pH for the best results, and especially if you notice any nutrient deficiencies or other problems. Mitigate pH by checking the pH of the water you are using to feed the plants. If you do need to make an adjustment to pH, the best way to organically correct your pH is dolomite lime, use the large chunks to help correct pH problems. Get a Soil pH Tester.
Example watering schedule for plants in 5-gallon fabric pots (bottom 1/3 Super Soil and top 2/3 base potting mix):
1/2 gallon per plant every 3 days
You may need to give more at a time or more often as plants get bigger. If you ever get any significant runoff out the bottom, it means you should be giving less water at time.
When growing cannabis outdoors, plants will naturally start flowering in the fall. When growing cannabis indoors, you will need to switch grow lights onto a new light schedule to start making buds.
For indoor growers, once your plant is half the final desired height, it’s time to initiate flowering by putting your lights on a 12/12 schedule so they’re getting 12 hours of light, and 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness every day. At that point, they’ll start making buds, and you’re just waiting until harvest time!
For the most part, growing with super soil is as simple as just adding water. When first considering whether or not to grow with super soil, ask yourself this…do I want to grow exceptionally high quality, top-shelf buds, or do I want to strictly grow for the highest yield possible? If you focussing on quality and not quantity, growing with super soil is an excellent option to produce amazing top-shelf buds!