What are the major challenges to growing organically? Does it make sense?

1 Answer, 1 Reply
Jennifer Martin
Jennifer Martin  replied:

Hi Anonymous. This is Jennifer Martin here of MarijuanaPropagation.com. Growing organically outdoors and in greenhouses is easier than doing it indoors because you are already dealing with lots of soil and farm-like conditions. Indoor, cleanliness is key to avoid pest and pathogen problems, so having a lot of dirt around is a challenge because it harbors all sorts of lifeforms, where rockwool is much cleaner and easier to carry, dispose of, and manage. 

In a super competitive market, however, you might benefit from the market edge that organic flowers would give you. Just keep in mind that, with organic growing, you are dealing with a much more complex set of rootzone conditions; you don't just have mineral chemistry to harness- you also have soil biology, and the number of interactions that can happen is infinitely higher. 

For growers with only a modest amount of experience, organic growing is much riskier. 

Brian Gardener
Brian Gardener  replied:

Growing organically is really not very difficult, but it requires one think about the system a bit differently. The challenges are about mind set and material choice, but once those are overcome you'll find it is very much worth it. Material choice is dependent on many factors, including type of grow operation and length of grow cycle; for that we can consult directly. However, the essence of the organic growing mindset is universal and readily outlined regardless of crop really.

The mind set of an organic grower is focused on the system. By thinking how a plant naturally grows and what it needs, the organic grower will provide the necessary resources and environmental conditions that will allow the plant to thrive. Growers who start out with hydroponic feeding have to let go of the mindset that complicated plans with many different inputs and daily measurements are required to grow successfully. Rather, one needs to provide light, heat, air flow, water, a good soil (or soilless mix) and nutrients in balance to give your plants the best opportunity to grow well. 

Whether outdoors or indoors, one can grow Cannabis organically quite readily if one sets up a healthy environment. Just make sure there is

1. sufficient lighting (aound 800-1600 uEinsteins of PAR during the light cycle),

2. moderate temperatures (e.g. 70-85 F daytime and 55 to 70 nightime),

3. gentle airflow (to limit dewfall, promote transpiration, and strengthen stems),

4. sufficient water (avoiding extended periods of saturation or drought; e.g. alternatating between 45 and 85 percent water holding capacity most all of the time), 

5. growing media with high quality organic matter (e.g. a natural soil with pH 6.4 to 7.0 and 3-5% SOM, or a high quality soilless mix with a pH of 5.8 to 6.6 and mycorrhizae), and

6. balanced nutrition providing sufficient, but not excessive, macro and micronutrients in proportion to the growing needs of the plant (e.g. using a compost with slow release nitrogen) and your growing conditions.

If you provide all of those things, the ecology of the growing media and the biology of the plant will be healthy, monitoring effort can be greatly reduced, and the need for pesticides is largely eliminated (though it is a good idea to know which biocontrol and organic biopesticides are most effective on the problems that are common in your area; just in case).