If you're heavily into organic growing, or you're just looking for a low-maintenance "just add water" way to grow some cannabis, you may have thought about growing without nutrients.
So is growing cannabis without nutrients possible?
The bad news: this may be more work than you thought.
The good news: it's totally possible!
What Nutrients are we Talking About?
The core group of nutrients necessary for a healthy marijuana plant is nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These are naturally available in the soil, but often not in the quantities necessary for this kind of cultivation, so you can't just say "no nutrients!" and stick a plant in the backyard.
That might work if you have good soil and the right strain of plant, but most growers, regardless of where they're planting, fortify the soil a few times throughout the process to ensure the cannabis always has what it needs.
So what does "no nutrients" mean?
It's impossible to grow without any nutrients—plants need to get them from somewhere.
When someone says "no nutrients," what they often mean is that they're planting in nutrient-rich soil, and then more or less leaving the plant alone.
This also tends to mean that you're trying to grow with all-natural nutrients as opposed to using commercial/artificial mixes.
The challenge is that those store-bought nutrients are usually optimized for your needs and can take a lot of guesswork out of planting.
Trying to set your plants up for success by yourself can be a little harder, but there are some basic strategies you can follow that will get you going in no time.
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Make your own Super Soil
There are a lot of recipes floating around, but the process is essentially just custom-making some very rich compost.
First, you make a base mix of compost and some good potting soils.
Second, you'll need to add some mycorrhizae fungi using something like kelp meal or humic acid.
Third, get your bacterial ecosystem off the ground using worm castings, bat guano, or both.
Fourth, add whatever other nutrients you like—dolomite lime and blood meal are popular, but the sky is the limit here.
Most recipes you'll find online produce very good buds with minimal maintenance once you've started growing.
The downside is the high initial investment.
You can't just mix together a few pounds of this stuff—this is a full-on ecosystem that will take a lot of ingredients, time (you have to let it sit for at least 30 days), and effort to mix properly.
Use Premade Soil
If you don't have the time or space to make your own super soil, you can always buy somebody else's!
You can buy super soil online from a few sites or private sellers or take a look on Craigslist to see if anyone in your area is selling off a few pounds of theirs.
These are very high quality and can get expensive.
A simpler and cheaper approach is just to get a good, natural potting mix that has the right nutrients.
While not as guaranteed to produce quality results as super soil, there are plenty of good mass-produced brands not necessarily intended for marijuana growers, but which will work fine.
Foxfarm, Roots Organic and others are popular—you can even use Miracle-Gro if you like.
But that's a little controversial in the growing community.
You can grow cannabis in these without any added ingredients, but tossing in at least some perlite and dolomite lime will help you out quite a bit.
Set yourself up for success
No matter what your soil mix is, there are a few things you can do to help out any grow.
If you've got soil you're not using for a grow, put some earthworms in it; they'll process it and make it even richer for when you want to use it.
Some people put them in the pot with the plant as well, but it's better to keep them separate.
If you've got a compost pile, you can add a bit of compost whenever you water for an all-natural, low-budget way to keep the soil rich.
You can even soak the compost in water for about ten days and use the "compost tea" on your plants to make sure the nutrients penetrate the soil.
Yes, it technically counts as adding nutrients, but it's so natural it's barely interfering.
As always, make sure the plant gets plenty of light, whether from the sun or lamps.
If you're not adding extra nutrients, this can be especially important, as the plant will need all the help it can get.
So, can you grow cannabis without nutrients?
Unless you’re lucky and your backyard soil is fertile, probably not.
You can create soil that will make it a just add water grow but even then you're preloading it with nutrients.
Have you ever tried this approach?
Or do you prefer to give calculated amounts of nutrients throughout the grow?
Have you picked out your nutrients? If not, we have a MASSIVE guide on buying nutrients that you can check out.