Growing with organics is a great way to get started growing Cannabis indoors or outdoors. If you have ever heard the expression “ Don’t panic...it's organic “ then you know its origin goes back a long time. Below explains beneficial bacteria and fungi, their relationship with Cannabis plants and how they survive in the soil food web, how to avoid bad bacteria and our top tips.
Mother Nature’s Helpers
Microscopic microorganisms can be found in soil cultures that have coexisted with the Earth for thousands of years. Like anything in life, there are good and bad versions, however the ones who work side by side with Cannabis plants are called aerobic bacteria.
The way that aerobic bacteria form a relationship with the roots of a plant is quite fascinating. By attaching themselves directly to the root hairs and treat the rhizosphere as its host. Once the two are connected in a symbiotic fashion, then the beneficial microorganisms will feed the plants and defend against threats from pathogens and other bacteria or fungi.
The helpful type is known as aerobic and that is because they use oxygen to multiply and thrive. On the other hand, harmful bacteria that will infect a healthy Cannabis plant’s root zone is known as anaerobic. As the name suggests, this type does not need oxygen and prefer a low oxygen, acidic environment such as a swamp or stagnant pool.
What Are The Signs of Bad Bacteria?
The way to promote anaerobic bacteria is to use a water source that does not have a supply of oxygen keeping it fresh and clean. Nutrient solution that has been left to sit for long periods of time will develop a Sulfur, egg smell that is unpleasant a sign something bad is happening.
5 Ways To Avoid Bad Bacteria
Use an air pump with air stone to aerate water with high amounts of dissolved oxygen.
Hydrogen peroxide will kill any anaerobic bacteria and make the water clean again.
Use beneficial bacteria and fungi to actively fight of threats from pathogens.
Do not let plant pots sit inside a saucer of nutrient solution and always feed until run off occurs.
Avoid overwatering plants as too much water can reduce oxygen levels to harmful levels
The Benefits of Organic Compost Tea
This is usually the number one choice for old school organic farmers, who understand the short and long term benefits of using home made brews. The reason why aerated compost tea needs 24 hours is to activate and multiple beneficial bacteria count from millions to billions.
In fact it is the fungi that need 24 hours of aeration and a food source, as the bacteria only require a much shorter time frame. Using aerated teas will not only supercharge your growing medium and provide an abundance of nutrients to the plants, but it will also improve the longevity of the growing medium being used,
Top Tips When Using Beneficial Microorganisms
Oxygen is everything when it comes to working with beneficials. My top tip here is to make sure your nutrient solution is oxygenated by an air stone, and when brewing teas, make sure there is a sufficient amount of air in the solution for at least 24 hours.
Bacteria only require around 6 hours in order to reproduce, however it is fungi that depend on the full 24 hour brewing period. Fungi actually prefer plants that are alive longer than 9 months and bacteria prefer plants that live for 9 months or less, such as Cannabis, so our top tip here is to use more bacteria dominant ratios.
You should always make sure your organic compost tea is warm to touch and is above 18 degrees Celsius. My top tip here i Ideally around 22 degrees Celsius, and a good indication of a successful brew will be a foamy, frothy substance floating on the top of the water, similar to the head on a pint of beer
Beneficials will feed the plants, so you need to make sure you can provide a carbon rich diet for them. My top tip here is to add organic material to your growing medium, such as worm casting, compost and biochar. All of these are an excellent source of organic material that will be slowly broken down over time.
Worm castings are nature’s way of supercharging the growing medium with beneficial bacteria, produced inside of the worm. My top tip here is to buy fresh, living worms that you can add to your growing medium. These little helpers will not only keep the microbes happy, they will also crawl through the medium creating air pockets.
Over watering your growing medium can cause an imbalance between wet to dry, promoting bad bacteria. My top tip here is to remember that oxygen is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic, so make sure your growing medium receives as much oxygen as possible around the base and side of the pots, as well as the top of the medium.
When fighting off airborne pathogens that enter our gardens through the vents, it is a good idea to fight fire with fire. My top tip here is to use your freshly brewed compost tea to foliar spray your plants.
By doing this prior to any symptoms of powdery mildew is an excellent way to prevent an attack in the first place, and really boost your plants receptiveness.