Growing Cannabis Without Nutrients: There’s Pretty Much Only 2 Ways To Do It
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
A term popularized by YouTube grower Subcool (you can find his recipe here), this is one of the most popular ways to grow cannabis with no artificial fertilizers and minimal maintenance.
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.
Are you trying to grow cannabis on a tight budget? You may be interested in growing cannabis without nutrients to save some money, but you don't want to without reading this first…
How to Grow Weed on a Budget: Indoors and Outdoors
Growing cannabis doesn’t have to be a huge investment. With the right tips, you can reduce the cost of your cannabis grow room/garden and grow top-shelf weed on a budget.
Explore our in-depth guide to growing weed on a budget.
Growing cannabis on a budget can seem outright impossible to the uninformed. The cost of setting up and running a grow room, plus feeding and caring for your plants, can easily seem out of reach for the hobby grower. However, there are, in fact, many ways you can reduce the cost of your next grow-op to suit your financial constraints. In this article, we share our top tips for growing cannabis on a budget, both indoors and outdoors.
General Money-Saving Tips for Cannabis Growing
Cutting the costs for your next grow can be a lot easier than it might seem. Below are a few simple tips to help you save money when growing weed, indoors or out.
Choose Your Seeds Wisely
While it might seem counterintuitive to buy seeds when you’ve got the chance to grow bagseed for free, investing in quality cannabis seeds from the get-go has the potential to save you money (and stress) in the long-run.
When you buy seeds from a respected seed bank, you’re paying for guaranteed quality. Established seed banks have teams of dedicated breeders and growers constantly working to improve their genetics. That means, after germinating your seeds, you can rest assured the plants in your garden will grow strong and healthy (given the right care, of course) and reward you with good yields of top-shelf bud.
Buying autoflowering seeds is another great way to save money. Today’s auto strains have the potential to produce great yields and excellent buds, with the potency and flavours to stand up to any photoperiod strain. If you’re a budget grower, make sure to go auto for your next grow.
Grow From Clones
The cost of buying new seeds after every harvest can add up, especially if you’ve got a big garden and grow several plants at a time. Cloning can offset some of those costs, giving you the opportunity to reproduce your favourite strains without having to invest in new seeds every time.
Keep in mind, however, that cloning also comes at a cost. In order to get good results, you’ll want to take your clones from a robust, healthy mother plant, which you’ll need to keep in constant vegetation. Keeping a mother requires space, a constant 18/6 light cycle, and plenty of fertiliser. But, in return, you’ll get the opportunity to take numerous clones from your mother every few weeks, potentially for years to come.
Note that, over time, the yield potential of mother plants tends to go down. To deal with this, most growers renew their mother plants every 6–12 months. In general, we recommend buying seeds, keeping the healthiest plant from your seeds as a mother, and cloning it for 6 months before repeating the process. This will help ensure you’re always working with healthy plants.
Use All Parts of the Cannabis Plant
Cannabis is an amazing plant with tons of uses. Unfortunately, many growers forget that at harvest time. The stems and leaves many growers misprize post-harvest can be used to make tea, cannabutter, infused cooking oils, lotions and topicals, and much more. Make sure you hold onto these parts of the plant next time you harvest to reduce the waste of your grow-op.
Reuse and Recycle
Let’s be honest; chances are you’re going to conduct more than one cannabis grow in your lifetime. Hence, make the effort to reuse and recycle as many of the products/tools you use in your grow room as possible. Some obvious grow tools you can reuse include:
- Pots: Unless they are broken, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to reuse your cannabis pots for multiple grows. Just make sure you fully sanitise each container before planting a new specimen.
- Soil: Quality soil is one of the biggest costs of a cannabis grow room/garden. Luckily, you can reuse old soil pretty easily. Just know that you’ll need to supplement some new material into your old soil to boost its nutritional value and structure.
- Hoses, pruning shears, gardening gloves: If you’ve got gardening equipment you use for other plants, don’t go out and spend more money on extra tools for your cannabis garden. Simply sterilise your tools before each use (where necessary) to avoid spreading pests and disease from your cannabis plants to the rest of your garden, and vice versa.
- Try composting: If you want to take things a step further and save even more, consider composting the organic waste from your house (such as vegetable scraps, paper, and cardboard). Composting is very simple and, while it takes some time, produces an excellent, nutrient-rich growing medium for your plants. Best of all, composting is virtually free. All you need is a compost bin (any old bucket, bag, or pot can work), time, and some composting worms (technically optional; composting without worms just takes a little longer).
Want to reduce the costs of growing cannabis? In this article, we share our top money-saving tips for growing cannabis both indoors and outdoors.