Plant Nutrition Systems
Your grow Media, Nutrients and Microbes work together as a system to feed your plants
Different feeding systems work in different ways, but every system includes Grow Media, Nutrients and Microbes in some form or another. Understanding how these components work together can help you make better decisions in your garden and take better care of your plants
Parts of the System
Media provides structure- It serves as a habitat for the roots, air, nutrients and microbes that make the system work. In some cases, the grow media also comes pre-loaded with some nutrients and microbes.
Nutrients provide the fuel- Nutrients and minerals provide food for plants so they can grow and thrive. Nutrients are the building blocks a plant uses to build new tissue.
Microbes are the catalyst- Microbes and soil biology help process nutrients and make them available to the plants. They also help to manage ph and provide a healthy environment for root growth.
There are many different styles of nutrient systems, and different systems work in different ways.
In hydroponic systems, water acts as the media and nutrients come in the form of chemical salts added by the grower. Beneficial microbes added to the water help make the nutrients available to the plant, and outcompete pathogens that can harm the plant.
In a soil grow, soil is the media. Healthy soil will will also contain a limited supply of nutrients and some beneficial microbes. The soil stores these nutrients like a battery, but as your plant grows, eventually the stored nutrition will run out. When this happens, the nutrients in the soil will need to be replenished with dry amendments or a liquid fertilizer.
Different systems work in different ways. To get the best results, It’s critical to understand the system you are working with, and to have a good plan for how you intend to use it!
Which system should YOU choose?
There are TONS of different growing systems to choose from. There is no “BEST SYSTEM” for growing cannabis. All growing styles have advantages and disadvantages.
Try to pick a system that works best for YOU! Different systems might work better or worse depending on your situation and your style of doing things. Do some research on various growing styles and find a method that is a good fit for your situation and your personality.
Heres a few growing systems that I recommend checking out.
Option 1- Living Soil – Coot/BAS recipe
Option 2- Quality Synthetic- New Mil
Option 3- Liquid Organics- Biobizz
These systems are all:
- Easy to use and “new grower” friendly
- Well supported by guides and help from the community
- Affordable and widely available in most areas
- Known for growing great quality cannabis (and even winning some awards!)
Option 1: Living Organic Soil
(Coots Mix / BuildASoil with Topdressing / No-Till)
Media- Living Organic Soil– Available from Buildasoil.com or follow the recipe and make your own. This is a tried and tested soil recipe used by lots of growers. Its based around the idea of building a balanced soil, and then allowing the plant to feed itself by drawing nutrients from the soil. With this system, we are feeding the soil and working to maintain soil balance, but we allow the plant to feed itself. The soil is the battery feeding the plant.
Nutrients- Soil and Topdressing- With this grow style the soil provides most of the nutrients, but they also need to be replenished from time to time. We accomplish this via adding dry amendments and compost to the top of the pot, aka “topdressing”. Topdressing “refills” the soil batteries to insure your plant has plenty of food in the future.
Check out the “build a flower” topdressing kit from buildasoil.com. You can also copy their recipe to make something similar at home. Compost quality matters, so get the best stuff you can find in your area! Another good product to try is Build a Bloom, which is a water soluble input that works well with this system as a flowering booster.
Microbes- Compost, Homemade Teas and Recharge- You can learn to brew your own teas, or use Recharge (or both!). This style of growing is heavily dependent on microbes breaking down nutrients so they are available to your plants. For best results, add lots of beneficial microbes to your soil, and create conditions for them to thrive.
Mulch- With this system, it’s also very important to add a layer of mulch on top of your soil. This helps protect the soil and helps the microbes break down topdresses. Keeping your soil covered and moist (but not soggy!) will help keep your microbe population healthy and thriving. There are lots of different mulching options available, straw is a good easy option that is widely available.
Notes about this system:
This method requires some prep work to make or source high quality soil. Its really easy, as long as you start with good soil in large pots. This method is based on “Organic” and “Natural” techniques. Its focused more on biology, less on chemistry compared to other methods. It really works best with bigger pots/more soil (10-15 gals or bigger). Don’t forget the mulch! This system grows great bud, and you can reuse the soil for multiple runs. This is how I run my grow.
For more info:
Option 2: Coco + New Mil
(Coco Fiber with High Quality Synthetic Nutrients)
Media- Coco- Coco is a grow media made from coconut fiber. Its mostly inert and doesn’t contain much nutrition, so most of our plant’s food will come from bottled nutrients with this system. I recommend Plagron, Royal Gold and Gorilla Boost brands for coco. I also recommend mixing about 10% worm castings into your coco. This helps add some extra microbes to your media which can help improve plant health and bud flavor. Adding some microbe rich worm castings also helps with pH buffering, which can aid in preventing pH issues later in the grow.
Nutrients- New Mil Nutrients– I recommend following the “Secret Sauce” formula developed by Jerin and others. This is a great quality synthetic nutrient line, and it comes with great instructions and support from the community. Lots of people in the DGC use this system and grow great bud with it. Jerin is our DGC friend who works for New Mil and Plagron (and he also grows great bud!) He’s great about answering questions and providing support. They’ve developed an excellent feeding chart with great directions:
Microbes- Recharge, Mammoth P, Worm castings- With a synthetic nutrient based system, microbe products like Recharge and Mammoth P can help make the nutrients more available to your plant and stimulate faster growth. Microbes can also provide a little bit of a pH and nutrient buffer, which can help with managing your pH and feeding. I highly recommend adding 10% worm castings to your coco as I mentioned above. This is one of the easiest steps you can take that will both make your grow easier AND improve your bud quality.
Notes about this system:
This style of growing is focused more on chemistry, but biology still plays a very important role. This system is a little more complicated than the other two I’m recommending, but it has a great feeding chart and excellent support from Jerin and the DGC community. Stick to the chart and follow the directions! pH will likely be more of a factor with this style of growing. Using a pH meter to adjusts your nutrient pH to between 5.8-6.5 is important with this system. Microbes can help make pH more stable and easier to manage, but I would still keep an eye on your input pH when using this system.
For more info:
Option 3: Bio Bizz
(Soil + Organic Liquid Fertilizer)
Media- Bagged soil- For this system, we are using a bagged soil mix from the garden/hydro store. With this system soil quality matters, but we are also using liquid food too. Most bagged soils sold at the grow store are medium quality. They aren’t as good as the BuildASoil recipe, or other top quality mixes, but they will work great when paired with an additional liquid fertilizer. There are lots of decent bagged soils that will work great when used with a supplemental liquid food.
If you can find them, I recommend BioBizz’s bagged soils. They have a good all purpose mix called “All mix” and a lighter more basic recipe called “Light Mix”. Their feeding chart includes great info for using either of these mixes (or even coco). If you can’t find BioBizz soils in your area, I also like Roots Organic Original blend, and Vital Earth’s potting soil, which are usually pretty easy to find. (With those mixes or most other bagged soils, I would follow the “All Mix” feeding chart).
(use the Store Locator feature to find a store in your area!)
Nutrients- BioBizz Liquid Fertilizers- When you first start off, your soil will have enough nutrients in it to last a few weeks. After a few weeks, that stored nutrition will start to run out, and we will switch to using liquid food from BioBizz. How long the nutrients in your soil will last depends on what soil blend you start with. The BioBizz mixes can be fed sooner, but other potting soils might be fine for a month or more without supplemental feeding. (Watch your plants for signs of slowing down or getting hungry.)
BioBizz makes great quality organic liquid nutrients. The system grows great tasting bud and is also really simple and easy to follow. They have a feeding chart with different options depending on what media you choose.
I recommend checking out the BioBizz “Try Pack” kits. The BioBizz Indoor Try Pack comes with the three essential bottles you need to get started with the BioBizz system. Comes with enough to feed a few small plants all the way through harvest. Picking up some of their fish mix product is a good idea too.
They also have the Stimulant Try Pack which has their three optional add-ons if you want to try their stimulant products. These are great products and worth giving a shot in your grow.
Microbes- Recharge! – Recharge works great with this system. The microbes will help buffer pH, improve plant health and make nutrients more plant available. Other microbe inputs like Mammoth P and compost teas are a great idea too. Starting with soil also helps make sure we start with some beneficial microbes in our media.
Recharge is a great “all purpose” microbe superpack. Mammoth P is a microbe product designed to boost phosphorus availability and improve flowering performance.
Notes about this system:
I like the BioBizz system because it’s simple and grows great bud. Starting with soil gives you a little bit of a buffer to help manage pH, and the BioBizz nutrients are really easy to work with. Its still probably a good idea to keep an eye on your input pH with this system, but its not as critical as with some other liquid nutrient systems. Some of the growers I’ve spoken with have commented that the BioBizz system doesn’t yield as much as some of the other nutrient line ups they’ve tried. Everyone always seems very happy with the bud quality though, and for most home growers, quality is usually a bigger concern than yield. I personally think the yield is perfectly acceptable, and the great bud quality is well worth any trade offs in yield. Several growers in the crew have won cups or other awards using BioBizz nutrients. If you want an easy system that grows great quality bud, BioBizz is a great choice.
For more info:
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully this article helped you better understand how nutrient systems work, and gave you some good ideas for nutrient systems to try. Whatever style of growing you are into, just remember to start with a well thought out plan and a system that is designed to work together.
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