The Symbiosis Of Soil

By Ralph T Henninger, Founder Royal Knight AG

“Symbiosis is the relationship between two different things that depend on each other in any particular ways, each getting specific benefits from the other” -Cannabis bible, second edition

Female plants count on male plants to pollinate them: symbiosis. It is my personal theory that symbiosis is dependent on healthy plant roots.

Roots depend on the nutrients, and the plant itself depends on the roots. Healthy soil makes the plant’s life easier. Oxygen exchange happens more readily, allowing the plant to breathe and stay healthier.  A healthy plant and is better able to naturally fight off pests.

IPM. Integrated pest management is a carbon neutral approach to managing bugs.  When we look at any plant. including cannabis, we need to check out the environment that it is in. Is it hot? Is it dry? Is there a tree branch? Is there a puddle? Is the irrigation water good? These are all variables that can make a plant healthy or will can make a plant stress when maybe stress is unnecessary, when examining the IPM triangle its only when we have the Host plant, environmental conditions that stress the plant and a pest will then attack.

When pests attack a plant – which is very common — the plant will become more susceptible to disease, and more vulnerable to attacks from other types of pests. This is why when we monitor plant health, we need to check out the weather, water and all scenarios around our host plant. This will dictate the strength of the plant and the overall IPM program that you have your on.

How to naturally resist pests?  There are strains of plants that have been breed to better resist pest attacks, something to keep in mind when selecting seeds and clones. And there are advantages to growing outside.  We are more likely to see infestations breakout wall to wall or all over in an indoor condition before we see a giant outbreak in an outdoor condition. Don’t over water. Water is essential to plant health, but too much water can also hurt the plant. Root system of the plant should never be allowed to clog. Carbon Neutral is maintained by the natural flow and cycle of sun, soil and water through the plant.

The Dirt On Growing Green: Soil Texture & Composition

By Sunny Kaercher

Every grower has their own approach to cannabis. Varying techniques and products are plentiful, but one thing that remains constant is that healthy plants depend on healthy roots. This is the beginning of a series dedicated to creating and maintaining a vigorous root zone, also known as the rhizosphere. These articles will range from horticultural to scientific, with the goal of educating cannabis growers about natural cycles and what makes the perfect organic growing media.

My name is Sunny Kaercher and I work with Miller Soils. We offer all-natural, cannabis-specific container media catered to growers that want to minimize their inputs and see big, beautiful yields. We design our medias to mimic and support ecological balance, both within the container and out. Now, let’s dig in.

This being the opening piece in The Dirt on Growing Green, it seems appropriate to cover some of the basics of soil science.

One of the first things to understand is soil composition; what’s in your dirt?

45% of soil is composed of mineral particles, which originate from the parent material several horizons below the surface of the earth. These particles, sand, silt and clay, are measured and identified by their diameter. Together, their ratio determines soil texture, which greatly affects important soil properties. Sand, the biggest of the three (.05-2mm), is great for drainage, but has a very low holding capacity. Clay, on the other end of the spectrum (less than .002mm), has a high surface area for adsorption of water and nutrients. Though this retention is cornerstone to a thriving rhizosphere, too much clay leads to compaction, meaning inadequate drainage and roots that cannot breath. A balanced soil, called loam, will have all sizes of particles, and in turn embody all characteristics.

Another 5% of soil is composed of organic matter (including roots) and soil organisms. These I will tackle another day… but what about the remaining 50%?

The remaining half of soil is a delicate flux of air and water, existing in the pore spaces between the physical substrate and active biology. This pore space, though ‘empty,’ is incredibly important to the success of any plant. Unlike leaves, plant roots breath in oxygen (O2) and respire carbon dioxide (CO2). Soil microorganisms and fauna need porosity for this same reason. Soil must allow gas exchange with the greater atmosphere. Water also moves through these pore spaces, but it is infinitely more complicated. There are 3 types of soil water, gravitational, capillary and hygroscopic. The latter is adhered so tightly to particle surfaces, plant roots cannot absorb it. Gravitational water drains from the soil in a matter of days, whereas capillary will be available for longer. This is directly tied to pore size and porosity. It is critical to understand soil water behavior in your cannabis container, whatever it may be, because it affects everything else, from pH to watering/feeding schedule to root vigor.

Now that we’ve covered the foundation of life in soil, air and water, we can move on to the food web.

Stay tuned for next time!