Healthy soil is the foundation for producing a cannabis crop that is potent and plentiful. Adding compost, monitoring and adjusting pH, and inoculating with beneficial bacteria and fungi are all ways to take your cannabis to the next level. However, the soil you begin with is the most fundamental factor in successful plant growth. All soils are not created equal. Healthy soil is composed of quality ingredients and should be tailored to your growing needs. Are you an indoor, outdoor, or greenhouse grower? Are you starting with seeds and cuttings, or are you transplanting clones? This article will take you through what makes a healthy soil, and what each growing method requires. We’ll also talk about how to customize your soil to further enhance your growth. Soil is more than the sum of its parts. For simplicity sake, here’s how it breaks down:Healthy Soil = Organic Materials (Compost) + Minerals + Living Organisms + Air + WaterHealthy soil is a combination of organic matter, living organisms, minerals, air and water. Organic Materials (Compost)Organic materials are formed naturally through the decomposition of plant and animal matter. We usually refer to the final product as compost, in order to not confuse the starting material with what we\u2019re looking for in a soil blend. If you\u2019re curious about the science behind composting, check out Composting: the Basics and the Benefits.Quality organic materials will:allow your cannabis plant to form better roots and protect those roots from pathogensincrease beneficial bacterial populations and diversity boost cannabis plant growth by improving CO2 intake Minerals & Parent MaterialIn The Importance of pH for Cannabis Growers,\u00a0 we talked about parent material \u2013 the type of rock material from which minerals are sourced. In a natural environment, rocks hold different minerals and slowly release them to the soil. The type of plants that can grow in any area depends on these minerals and their availability. Rock is the parent material of soil, providing essential macronutrients and micronutrients as it breaks down.The two categories of minerals required for healthy plant growth are known as macronutrients and micronutrients. For a refresher, check out our posts on macronutrients and micronutrients. Organically sourced minerals are the best option for soil health, and fertilizers that are not organic or are missing micronutrients should be avoided.A complete source of minerals will:help your plants fight stressors such as light, temperature and disease decrease the time cannabis plants need to matureimprove flower yield and potency Living Organisms From worms popping out on rainy days to tiny bacteria, living organisms are critical to great soil. When we have control of our soil, it can be difficult to replicate the complicated microbial ecosystems that co-exist with plants naturally. This is why understanding bacteria-root and mycorrhizae (fungi-root) relationships is vital for growers. Diverse organisms in healthy soil will:protect your cannabis from disease and droughtspeed up growth through unlocking more nutrients from the soilimprove flower yield and quality Air and WaterOrganic material, minerals, and living organisms will naturally create a soil structure with good aeration and moisture retention. However, you must still use clean unchlorinated water, follow growing instructions, and check for sufficient drainage. This will ensure that water doesn\u2019t build up and displace the oxygen in the soil. An easy way to maintain a steady and optimal water-to-air ratio is to use BlueSky\u2019s EazyGrow System.An excess of water in soil displaces oxygen. Healthy soil has an optimal air-to-water ratio, allowing for drainage and nutrient availability.\u00a0An optimal air-to-water ratio will:improve microbial efficiency and nutrient availabilityprotect your cannabis from anaerobic pathogensprevent nutrient loss Poor Starting SoilIn contrast to the benefits stated above, a poor starting soil can be detrimental to a grower. Low-quality soils can lead to:A vicious cycle of oversensitivity to stress Nutrient lockout; when soil conditions prevent your plant from accessing the macro and micronutrients needed for healthy growthPoor-to-no yield in cannabis crop Different Soils for Different Growing ConditionsOutdoor growing conditions can be unpredictable. Healthy soil provides plants with increased resistance to stress, also allowing for optimal drainage from rain or overwatering.Now let\u2019s apply what healthy soil means to each of the three methods of cannabis growing. Outdoor Growing This style of growing is perhaps the most difficult. Armed with the right knowledge, outdoor growing can reduce costs, have a smaller environmental footprint, and allow for natural plant development. Many growers claim outdoor growing results in a broader cannabinoid profile, allowing plants to reach their full genetic potential. Indoor and greenhouse growing techniques must rely on the manipulation of light and other conditions to accelerate growth. Since the sunlight available to your plants is out of your control, the nutrients in your soil that are involved in photosynthesis need to be closely monitored. Keep an eye on the micronutrients sulphur, magnesium, and zinc to ensure your plants can make the most out of the sunlight. Rain is another important factor when growing outdoors. Growers should start with a strong nutrient and microbial environment, creating a soil structure that will balance moisture retention and drainage. Using healthy soil from the beginning can prevent common pitfalls that lead to failed cannabis crops. Indoor GrowingIndoor growing takes a hands-on approach. For growers looking to fine-tune their cannabis crops, this approach allows for controlled water and light conditions. These benefits must be weighed against the dangers of contamination and the increased costs in energy. In an enclosed environment, diseases can easily spread from plant to plant. Bio-inoculating your plants with beneficial microorganisms will help to prevent harmful bacteria and fungi from being able to damage your cannabis.\u00a0 Greenhouse GrowingGreenhouses trap heat within, allowing for a reduction in energy costs. In greenhouse growing, it’s important to monitor temperature and moisture to prevent stress on the plants.Greenhouse growing is a compromise that many growers love. This method reduces the expensive energy bills from indoor growing, while still allowing for fine-tuning and control. Trapping the warmth of the sun to facilitate growing saves on costs and speeds up cannabis development. However, heat can fluctuate greatly in greenhouses, causing stress on plants within.\u00a0 To protect against temperature stress, choose a soil that is pre-fertilized to contain the perfect amount of zinc. Custom Soils Infants, teens, and adults all have different caloric and nutritional needs, and plants are no different. While macro and micronutrients are required by plants throughout their development, the need for specific nutrients also changes over the growing cycle. For this reason, developing custom soils for the different stages of cannabis growth is a science and an art. Soil additives can enhance soil even more than having traditional organic materials, minerals, beneficial bacteria and fungi. You can strongly increase yield by adding materials such as worm castings, bat guano, sphagnum moss peat, or coir dust.\u00a0 Super Soil is the core of the BlueSky Organics system. It is the foundation for growing high-quality cannabis, enhanced with organic soil amendments.Healthy Soil & BlueSky OrganicsFor most growers, BlueSky Organic\u2019s Super Soil is the best option for healthy soil. Super Soil is bio-inoculated with beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae, and contains a precise nutrient and mineral formula. It is also pre-mixed with the specialized additives we talked about previously. For growers looking for tailored solutions, BlueSky will even work with you to develop a\u00a0custom soil blend.However, Super Soil is not recommended for growing from seed or fresh cuttings. In this case, a propagation medium such as EAZY Plug should be used, followed by transplanting into Super Soil. The pot and sleeve-free Eazy Grow System removes the stress of transplanting and provides the ideal air-to-water ratio for seedlings. It is available for different scales of growing and introduces optimal nutrient blends for each stage of growth. With an organic product line and easy-to-follow growing calendar, BlueSky can make your indoor, outdoor, or greenhouse grow hassle-free. ReferencesAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada. \u201cArbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and their Symbiosis with Plants\u201d.\u201cBC Agricultural Composting Handbook\u201d (1998) British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Food.Black, L. \u201cOutdoor-Grown Weed is Not Only Better for the Environment\u201d The Stranger.Compost Tea (2019). Soil Food Web Institute.Hafeez, B., Khanif, Y. M., & Saleem, M. (2013). Role of Zinc in Plant Nutrition \u2013 A Review. American Journal of Experimental Agriculture. Volume 3(2), 374-391.Hoorman, J. J. (2016). Role of Soil Bacteria. Ohio State University. Huang, M. et al. (2018) Yield effect of applying earthworm castings produced during the oilseed rape-growing season in rice-oilseed rape cropping fields to rice. Scientific Reports. Volume 8.Islam, M.K. et al. (2016) \u201cEffects of the main extraction parameters on chemical and microbial characteristics of compost tea\u201d Waste Management, 52, 62-68.Mclaughlin, S. B., & Wimmer, R. (1999). Tansley Review No. 104. Calcium physiology and terrestrial ecosystem processes. New Phytologist, Volume 142(3), 373\u2013417. doi: 10.1046\/j.1469-8137.1999.00420.x . ROrtas, I. (2012) \u201cThe effect of mycorrhizal fungal inoculation on plant yield, nutrient uptake and inoculation effectiveness under long-term field conditions\u201d Field Crops Research. 125. 35-48.Scagal, C.F. (2003) Growth and Nutrient use of Ericaceous plants Grown in Media Amended with Sphagnum Moss Peat or Coir Dust. Hort Science. Volume 38.Shaban, H. et al. (2015) \u201cAn Overview of the Benefits of Compost tea on Plant and Soil Structure\u201d Advances in Bioresearch. 6, 154-158.Grantina-levina, L. (2015) Microbiological characteristics and effect on plants of the organic fertilizer from vermicompost and bat guano. 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