Soil amendments for cannabis and vegetables
Cannabis seed starts

Now that we’re into May, an interesting greenhouse transition has happened. In April, the greeny’s bulge with spring, cool-weather crops. A couple hundred trays of beets, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, collards, Bok Choi, Tatsoi, fennel, mizuna/osaka mustards, chard, onions, leeks, a bed of peas and small reefer plants.

Those same couple hundred trays now have peppers, squash, tomatoes, melons, cukes, basil and large reefer plants. We’ve stopped planting brassica for six weeks because sowings this time of year will just bolt with the summer heat. We start sowing brassica again in the middle of June when we’ve finished dealing with our hot crops.

These June plantings have to be babied with shade cloth and extra water, but have been known to grow 10-pound heads of brcoccoli, cauliflower or cabbage when done in fertile, reefer-type soil. Treat heavy feeder vegetables and reefer like bottomless pits; give them large quantities of super high-quality compost and a hefty dose of the entire nutrient profile front an amendment blend.

We’ll spread the amendments on a tarp and roll the tarp back and forth until they’re mixed. I figure that the high-power blend will give me amendments for 25 large-hole reefer plants (I’ll fill the square Sparetime buckets 1/plant) with 2-3 five gallon buckets left over for boosting my vegetable amendment mix over the course of the season.

I buy the aforementioned along with ten bags of Nutririch 4-3-2 chicken pellets — I figure one bag/five reefer plants, with five bags for making vegetable amendments over the year. Also for vegetables I buy 3 more bags of cal-phos, 3 of gypsum and 2 kelp.

For regular vegetable plantings, our amendment blend is a five gallon bucket ¾ full of chicken pellets with a salsa container scoop each of cal-phos, gypsum and one scoop of the high power mix. In our soil preparations, we also use biochar, coconut coir, rice hulls and huge quantities of industrially produced compost made from agricultural wastes from our bioregion.

We’re starting to work with more mychorrizae and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and we’re now inoculating our homemade bio-char before blending it into our beds. In short, my recipe for 25 reefer plants and a large vegetable garden is:

  • 10 bag nutririch 4-3-2 chicken pellets
  • 4 bag cal-phos
  • 4 bag gypsum (if you have clay, otherwise agricultural lime)
  • 3 bag kelp
  • 1 bag each Azomite
  • Oyster shell
  • Neem seed meal
  • Glacial rock dust
  • Bone meal
  • 1 bucket of TMI
  • 1 bag of Mykos

I’ll generally also use 10 bales rice hulls, 20 blocks coir, 20 yards black compost and as much char as I can make annually.

Growing All Year Round

We shoot to sow seeds more or less every week of the year except from the middle of December to the middle of January when the sun is too low on the horizon to effectively grow plants.

Right now we’re bulging out at the seams and wishing we had more greenhouse space. Last winter, I had 500 sqft more space to work with than I do this year because I broke down some of my smaller hoophouses last summer and didn’t manage to get them put back up. I had been planning to build a larger greeny but that sorta fell flat because of poor construction ideas. Good sense prevailed and construction was abandoned before we really got off the ground.

I’m really good at fabricating my own 10×20 foot greenhouses. I can go wider with a support down the middle, but with PVC you can’t really expect too much snow-load capacity. I’m reluctant to put up a large greenhouse to grow vegetables in specifically because law enforcement will think that I’m growing reefer in it because that’s what lots of folks do in these parts. I’m also lacking in flat space and money to purchase large hoops.

I have hope these things will all work themselves out in the next few years and we’ll have a legitimate regulatory framework for reefer. If so, I’ll have a nice big greenhouse right up by the county road (which, of course, means the county will want money for permits).

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Casey is a CSA farmer who runs a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises approximately two acres of Clean Green Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. He is a self-described “weed geek” and is passionate about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers as a Board Chair of the California Growers Association and as a voice in the legalization and functional regulation movement.


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