A big thank you to our resident blogger, Melissa, for this informative post!
If you’re hashtag blessed enough to live in a part of the country where the right to cultivate your own cannabis has been written into law, go you! You’re one step closer to powerful medication that you’ve grown yourself, and we all know that home-grown is always better than store-bought.
It may take a little longer, but – in our opinion – the extra time involved in organic cannabis gardening is more than worth it, you can’t put a price on having complete control over how your plants are cared for. There’s peace of mind in being able to trust the pot you’re enjoying hasn’t been treated with harsh and dangerous chemicals. In fact, a recent High Times article reported close to 90% of illegal cannabis farms use toxic pesticides. Do you know where your cannabis is coming from?
Once bugs and molds and other annoyances have settled in, it can be difficult to get rid of them. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and every diligent gardener will:
- Regularly check their plant and leaves for signs of stress, bug bites, and discoloration of the buds.
- Never enter the grow room directly after coming in from outdoors. This helps avoid tracking in bugs from outside. Additionally, pro growers are careful not to introduce other cut plants or flowers in the grow room (unless they are companion plants – more on that later) to avoid possible cross-contamination.
Of course, even the most seasoned green thumb can end up losing part of their crop to persistent pests. You don’t have to race to the home and garden section of your local hardware store just yet. Below we’ve compiled a list of popular and safe organic pest control methods, and you may already have most of the tools needed lying around the house.
Although unlikely, there’s a chance that the soil you buy for your gardening project might contain eggs or even larvae of pests that love marijuana plants. This is especially problematic for indoor growers, since there are no natural predators inside your sterile grow room to help protect your plants.
The good news is you don’t have to shell out an arm and a leg for sterilized soil, you can sort it out all by yourself: heat your soil up to an internal temperature of around 160 to 180 degrees F before letting it cool and planting as usual. This temerpature is high enough to kill off most if not all molds, pests, weeds, and seeds.
NB: In raising the temp of your soil to such an extreme degree, you’re basically cooking it, which will kill everything that could harm your plants, but also the chemicals and nutrients that might have been added to help your plant to grow. Make sure to pick up a high quality, organic fertilizer to feed your growing green; this will reintroduce important vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy harvest.
Let Your Plants Enjoy the Breeze
Setting up an oscillating fan in your grow room does double duty: for one, many bugs, specifically the winged variety, don’t like the blowing breeze, so this is an effective way of keeping pests at bay.
Primarily, though, proper air circulation in your grow room is key to maintaining moisture levels in the air and soil. Too damp, and your plant may develop root rot, or the buds and leaves can develop mold. Additionally, a gentle breeze can help guard your weed plants against problems like fungus gnats, spider mites, and white powdery mildew.
Sprinkle About Some Diatomaceous Earth
A complicated name for a simple solution, diatomaceous earth is fossil dust that you can sprinkle on top of your soil and anywhere else in your room where bugs may try to enter. It’s harmless to mammals and plants but will tear and dehydrate bugs on contact.
Grow Companion Plants
Have you ever visited a vineyard? You may have noticed rose bushes planted at the head of each row of vines. This tried and true trick has been used by generations of growers to keep bugs from attacking the delicate and expensive grapes.
This same technique can be used when growing marijuana – nicknamed “companion plants”, planting naturally repellent plants like geraniums or marigolds may help to keep leaf-eating insects and worms from destroying your precious pot crop.
Other plants that are popular among the cannabis cultivating crowd:
- Basil – its strong scent is known to keep away thrips, beetles, aphids and flies, and some growers swear that it can increase oil production and flavor of their marijuana plants.
- Beans – the musical fruit absorbs nitrogen from the air and deposits it into the soil as nitrites, chemicals essential to marijuana plant growth.
- Garlic – a natural fungicide that defends against pests, molds, and deadly diseases.
- Mint – these plants smell great to us (and can help mask the scent of marijuana plants) but awful to pests.
- Chili peppers – it’s believed that the root system of the chili pepper plant gives off a chemical that protects marijuana plants from rot.
Use an Organic Spray Repellent
There are products on the market that, when sprayed around the perimeter of your grow space, repel or kill bugs before they can even reach your plants, but you can make similar products at home from items you may already have lying around.
Create a basic insecticide by combining either vegetable oil and soap (combine one cup oil with one tablespoon of soap, then dilute two teaspoons of this mixture in one quart of water) or soap and water (combine 1 ½ teaspoons of mild soap with a quart of water in a spray bottle), adding other natural ingredients like neem oil, garlic, and chili powder to increase their effectiveness. Tip: spray plants at dusk or dawn for best results.
Other pungent repellents like cinnamon oil, clove oil, and coriander oil have been successfully used to keep pests at bay without causing damage to the marijuana plant, but some strains may have adverse reactions – it’s important to test on a small area to ensure you don’t harm the entire plant.
If you take care of your marijuana plants, they’ll take care of you – treating potential problems with natural and safe solutions guarantees you a healthy harvest that’s equally safe to consume. As always, the best way to start your garden is with superior-quality cannabis seeds, and you can find those for sale on our website. Have a look!