Veganic growing, the rise of vegan marihuana G 16 Nov 2018 By Rich Hamilton / Photos courtesy of Dinafem "Organic" means working with nature rather than against it, practicing sustainable management of your growing and surrounding environment. It is also beneficial to health considering that there are almost 300 pesticides routinely used in non-organic farming and growing, traces of which can all be found in non-organic food. Have you however, heard of "Veganic" growing? Vegan weed is grown using a plant nutrition range containing no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides and also no ingredients derived from animals such as bone meal, fish hydrolyse, blood meal or guano. It is pure plant-on-plant action. It is taking Organic to the next level and has begun appearing on the shelves of many dispensaries in Canada and the USA. The demand for Vegan weed is growing on a par with the demand for dairy free, sugar free, gluten free or nut free edibles. People want a product that will fit in with their lifestyle with no compromise, where they do not have to stray from their dietary or moral paths to indulge their tastes? These plant nutrition ranges are being used not only by vegans, but also by non-vegans who simply believe that using fully plant based nutrition produces the best plants possible Of course there are some who argue that you can never class anything grown in indoor artificial conditions as organic as its a contradiction of the environment.. Which is anything but organic! This same argument stands with Veganics and a vegan lifestyle in general. If you go far enough down the rabbit hole you will come across something that contradicts what you stand for, for example.. What are your tents or pots made out of? Are there any animal products in the adhesives, plastics or packaging that your equipment comes in? The list goes on. Most people however will accept that in today's world, you can only do as much as is in your control and that doing something is better than doing nothing! You are still making a difference as far as humanly possible and that's the thing to remember if you choose to grow Veganically! Vegan growing techniques come closest to mimicking the natural conditions and environment that plants would normally grow in. In nature plants are exposed to very little animal matter, mostly limited to the decaying insects in the soil. In no way are they exposed to the levels of animal product that are contained within generic organic fertilisers, so your plants will definitely not be missing out by using Veganic nutrients Animal matter in fertiliser can have a negative effect on your crop. Residue from animal products breaks down very slowly in cannabis, leaving a residue that remains long after the plant has metabolised the nutrients. This residue, in the form of heavy metals is impossible to completely flush as they are stored in the plants as salts. The residues come from various sources including, some nutrient companies who may not be listing all their ingredients, growers themselves who add extra sprays and products to increase yield and of course from the animal products present in the feed. Animal excrement as used in fertiliser is full of whatever the animal was exposed to and/or ingested, including hormones, pesticides and antibiotics to name but a few things. All of this has an effect on your finished products quality and taste. Veganic weed can be up to 1000 times lower in its heavy metal content than the highest quality organic produce. Veganic advocates preach that vegan weed is the cleanest, most potent weed that you can grow or smoke and the closest version possible to naturally grown cannabis. The build up of residues In the plants also has a negative effect on soil pH, effecting your plants if you do not keep good pH management standards. Veganic growing methods in contrast, require no pH management, naturally maintaining a balanced healthier ecosystem for your plants, between pH 5.5 - 7.0. You may only need to adjust pH slightly during the flowering phase at the mid way point. When feeding is at its heaviest and you may see the pH dip toward the lower end of the accepted scale (5.5) Soil is the key with Veganics. Just like with Organics, it's best to use a soil or soil mix. Soil holds a lot of moisture, drains well and has a certain level of naturally occurring nutrients meaning that it can provide some of the nutrients needed for at the least the first few weeks. Soil will also have a batch of fungi and bacteria teeming around it already which is just what you want. A "potting mix" rich in the end result of decaying matter such as leaves and grass clippings etc. is a good choice as it is packed full of beneficial microbes which will help the bioavailability of the soil to reach as close to 100% as possible. The bioavailability of the soil is a measure of the amount of ingestible nutrient that is present and available to be taken up by the plants root system. Non organic/non vegan nutrients are already soluble and ready to be taken up by the plant straight away. Organic and Veganic nutrients however need help to be broken down into a soluble form and so the plants are relying totally on there being enough beneficial microbes/bacteria present in the soil to break down the decaying plant matter (nutrients) The goal with Vegan growing is to keep the soil full of beneficial bacteria in an effort to create a densely packed thriving hotbed of bacteria and fungi, creating a bustling environment where all nutrients can be quickly converted into a soluble form. The only thing left after the plant has metabolised the nutrients is complex carbohydrates, which are then used to feed the microbes in the soil, continuing the cycle! Non vegan nutrients can have absorption rates as low as 20-25%. The Veganic method aims for 100%, resulting in a boost in yield and a quality and flavour that many say cannot be matched. Many converts will tell you that the results are so good that once you try Veganics you will not go back. There are many vegan nutrient feed ranges out there that when used alongside mycorrhizae products will give your plants a boost of beneficial bacteria that will help to create an environment offering as close to 100% bioavailability as you can get. There is a vegan version of just about anything from your basic "grow" "bloom" and "flower" to additives, boosters and flushes. The plant's needs are fully considered at all stages with nitrogen-rich plant matter such as alfalfa cotton seed and soya meal for vegetating plants and plentiful amounts of phosphorous and potassium in the form of potash, rock phosphate and wood ash made available for the flowering phase. Other vegan friendly additives include Humic acid, to assist with nutrient uptake, Cal-Mag for high yields, and enzymes for conditioning and re-generation of new roots and recycling of dead roots. Get all this right and you will be on your way to Veganic utopia. Really pump up your soils bioavailability by trying compost tea which in its simplest form is what you get if you soak a porous bag of compost in a bucket of water. Nutrients are transferred to the water, leaving you with a liquid "tea" containing all the fertilisers goodness. Compost tea helps to increase the amount of nutrients available for the plant to take up, it also speeds up the breakdown of toxins and increases nutritional quality and flavour. It is the perfect way to introduce a vegan nutrient feed to your plants and to try and push your soil to 100% bioavailability. To make compost tea, dilute your compost mix in water and force out the microbial life by adding an air line and aerating the mixture. This makes the micro-organisms comprising of good bacteria, fungi, Protozoa and nematodes multiply quickly, creating a rich microbial solution. A good vegan compost contains any and all "green waste". A good shovel full from the bottom of your compost bin where the material has really broken down is perfect. Apply compost tea to your plants regularly. I recommend brewing it with the aeration line for 3-7 days. The microbes will die off quickly once the air line is removed so try to keep the tea aerated right up until you are about to use it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to try and keep the soil as busy with beneficial bacteria as possible, it is the only way that you can be sure that everything you are feeding your plants is fully bio-available all of the time. Veganic is more than the next big growing trend, it produces real results with minimum input. As the cannabis market expands rapidly Veganic methods are gaining in popularity with growers who want healthier cannabis, a more flavourful flower and a higher yield. All of which is made possible by the close imitation of the natural growing environment and conditions of cannabis. Veganic weed is potent in hit and aroma, due to how easily the nutrients are metabolised by the plant which gives more time and energy for the creation of volatile oils and terpenes. Hence why vegan weed generally has a higher terpene content. Likewise in terms of active cannabinoids, It is not uncommon to see vegan strains with over 20% THC and over 10% CBD. The 2016 High Times cannabis cup winner was a vegan strain with a huge 13% CBD content and there is a Veganic Platinum Cookies strain which hits 22% on THC! This isn't a fluke either, Veganics Guru and cannabis cultivator Kyle Kushman has won 13 Cannabis cup titles for his incredibly smooth and potent "Strawberry Cough" strain! And you just can't argue with stats like that. Veganic weed is also the most eco friendly form of indoor cultivation. At present not much can be done to lessen the amount of energy used for indoor growing and therefore the removing of any animal products from the equation is an easy yet significant way to reduce the impact of cannabis growing on the planet in another way. When it comes to medical cannabis,the quality and pure make up of vegan weed is unparalleled. It is the perfect product to be used as a medicine as it is so clean. Non vegan weed can contain contaminants (heavy metals) at levels of around 2-5 parts per million, whereas Veganic weed comes in at more like 200-600 parts per billion, over 100 times less! Some people are very sensitive to contaminants, even at low levels. It may be a reaction exacerbated by an existing health condition or it could just be a random intolerance but levels of heavy metals can cause headaches, nausea and exaggerate conditions such a crohns disease or even some forms of autism. It is easy to see from all this evidence that there really is a strong argument for at least trying out Veganics. It has everything going for it. Healthier plants, healthier you, bigger yields, more flavourful, more potent effects. Not to mention its Eco-friendly nature or its complimentary medical position. With the market ever growing and expanding there is increasing demand for a more diverse choice of cannabis that is cleaner, sustainably sourced, animal free, purer for medicinal use and transparent and traceable in terms of its background. I do believe therefore that it won't be long before Veganics is adopted by many more as their preferred growing method and herb of choice regardless as to whether they are practicing vegans in everyday life or not. The higher demand will no doubt push creativity forwards and we will begin to see a wider range of vegan products available, as in the end isn't it all about trying to grow the best plants that are beneficial to you and your environment in all ways?