Basic Plant Nutrition

There are several nutrients needed for proper plant growth. The first three are the non-mineral nutrients and are Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon. Water (H2O), atmospheric Oxygen (O2), and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) supply these requirements for plant growth.

In photosynthesis, light energy is collected by chlorophyll in leaves, and part is used to split water (H2O) molecules into free oxygen gas (O2), and hydrogen (H). The hydrogen is bonded with carbon dioxide (CO2) to form the sugars the plant can then use to grow. The water is often added by itself or as part of a nutrient solution, and carbon dioxide are naturally present in fresh air (or is added to the garden as a gas).

In a natural setting, plants use nutrients to grow to maturity, then when they die they fall to the forest floor and return their nutrients to the soil, so new growth can use them to grow to maturity. One reason that composts are useful is that they are made from the decomposed building blocks of other plants (“animal” composts are plants processed through an animal first), and as such tend to have at least a little of all the required nutrients. When an animal dies in the forest, the scavengers eat the fats and meats, and the plants eat what remaining blood and bones they can get (blood tends to be high in N, bone high in P).

In a garden, often times the previous year’s plants have been cleared away, and are not decomposing into compost to return their nutrients to the soil. Even if they were, the nutrients removed along with the harvested portion of the plant would eventually show a loss of nutrients in the system.

In container gardens, the growth medium may be new and sterile, without any preexisting nutrients in them at all. To replace the missing nutrients, they are added to the system in the form of fertilizers.

Fertilizers supply replacement nutrients so they are available for use in plant growth. The first three are known as the primary nutrients, and are so important that they are listed on the front of nutrient packaging.

Nitrogen (N) is needed to make plant cells and the chlorophyll (the green in leaves) required for photosynthesis. Nitrogen compounds comprise from 40% to 50% of the dry matter of plant cells. It promotes large healthy foliage, absorption by roots, and proper plant development. Used in chlorophyll, amino acids, proteins, and nucleic acids. Nitrogen deficiency is the most common nutrient problem. “Growth” nutrients commonly have elevated levels of Nitrogen in them.

Organic nitrogen breaks down over time to become a form available to the plants. In contrast, synthetic nitrogen forms can become available to the plant very quickly, and are often made with an easily dissolved salt.

Nitrogen deficient leaves will contain relatively little chlorophyll, tend to be pale green to yellow in color, and plant growth is retarded. Nitrogen is very mobile in plants, and this enables it to be moved from older growth to young growing tips when supplies are short. This mobility of nitrogen explains why deficiency symptoms appear first in the older lower portions of the plants, working their way up to the growing tips.

Phosphorous (P) is required for photosynthesis, root development, and assists in blooming. It is also used to form nucleic acid which is an essential part of living cells. Compounds of phosphorus are used in respiration and the efficient use of nitrogen. It is important throughout the life cycle of the plant, but use is elevated during flowering. “Bloom” and “Flowering” nutrients often have elevated levels of Phosphorous in them.

Phosphorus deficiencies usually manifest as a generalized under-performance of the plant, leaf development is stunted, and buds size is reduced. Leaves may develop a bluish tint. Phosphorus assists in nitrogen uptake, so symptoms of phosphorus deficiency are often similar to a nitrogen deficiency.

Potassium (K) is required for photosynthesis, carbohydrate and protein creation. It assists with disease resistance, and is used in the “plumbing” of the plant: liquid movement within the plant, stems, roots etc. Many enzymic reactions require potassium, and it assists in silica uptake.and helps with fruit quality. “Bloom” and “Flowering” nutrients often have elevated levels of Potassium in them.

Potassium deficiency often shows as a yellowing/browning/dying of the leaf edges, curled over leaves, followed by yellowing spots in the interior of the leaf face. Discolored spots may appear on the undersides of leaves.

Potassium is mobile, so deficiency symptoms show first on lower leaves as flecking or mottling on the leaf margins. Prolonged deficiency results in cell death along the leaf margins and the plants can show signs of wilt. These symptoms first display in older leaves, and continue to work up through to the newer leaves if not corrected. Growth, root development, disease resistance, and bud size are reduced.

The next three are the secondary nutrients, and are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S). Calcium-magnesium supplements can be used if needed, but sulfur deficiencies are rare since sulfur appears frequently in both synthetic and organic nutrients.

The final group are known as micronutrients, and are Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Chloride (Cl), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni) Zinc (Zn). Micronutrients are only needed in very small quantities when compared to the other nutrients. Micronutrients may be either added as a separate additive, or included as part of a nutrient line.

One benefit of using a particular nutrient line, is that by following the manufacturer’s schedule the plant should receive enough of the above nutrients to grow. If designing a nutrient regimen, then attention should be paid to ensure that there are sources for each of the nutrients. Regardless of the exact sources of a garden’s nutrients, they can make the difference between a fair garden and an impressive one.

Review: Outdoor Performance Cannabis

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a review copy from Kyle.

Written by Dustin Fraser with the help of Kyle L. Ladenburger; Outdoor Performance Cannabis is a practical guide to growing cannabis outside.

Dustin Fraser is a well known member of the Smart Pot(TM) team, and Kyle L. Ladenburger is a respected gardening author known for his insightful Maximum Yield Magazine, Hydrolife, and Garden Culture Magazine articles.

At 77 pages and written in a conversational tone, it is a quick read that doesn’t get bogged down in overuse of scientific jargon or overly abstract theories. This is a booklet about how to grow big cannabis plants outdoors in Smart Pots(TM) written by someone who grows big cannabis plants outdoors in Smart Pots(TM) in the Emerald Triangle using a method he calls “performance gardening”.

Included are suggestions for best practices based on years of experience, and opinions on the ideal cannabis garden. A chapter at a time, it walks the reader through site selection, propagation, growth, flowering, harvest, and even advice on sales.

Not everyone has the opportunity to sit down and pick the brains of growers from California’s famed Emerald Triangle, but reading Outdoor Performance Cannabis is about the next best thing.

I would recommend this to anyone curious about the methods used to grow exceptionally large outdoor cannabis plants (hint from the book: Start early), that prefers a no-nonsense direct explanation that emphasizes on the major points of what you need to know and doesn’t dally around about it.

Review: The Cannabis Grow Bible 3rd Ed.

My photos on page 92

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t pay for my copy, and on page 92 they used (and paid a flat fee for) some of my photos.

First of all, it is big, over four pounds big. The pages are thick (unlike some big books that use a cheaper, noticeably thinner paper), and there are 690 of them. There are over a thousand color photos, and the layout is nicely organized for ease of reading.

Since it is such a big book, I recommend that before diving into it, take a few minutes to break it in by limbering up the pages. For those unfamiliar with the process, while taking care not to break the spine or separate pages from the binding :

1) Set the book on its spine.

2) Open the front cover, make sure it bends along the crease, and run your finger along the inside to ensure the opening fold is along the crease and not on either side of it.

3) Then repeat with the back cover.

4) Open a few pages in the front, and using light pressure, run your finger along the page near the binding. Repeat with a few pages from the back.

5) Return to the front of the book, and repeat with the next few pages.

6) Alternating between the back and the front, continue though the entire book. If done correctly, you should end at the center of the book. When finished, the pages should be more flexible, and less likely to split from the binding.

It should only take a few minutes, and may extend the life of the book, which in this case is a good thing since it is the sort of reference book that begs to be opened repeatedly. It is worth noting that due to the nice wide inside margins, the text has plenty of room for reading when the book is opened despite its impressive girth.

Inside the Book

The first chapter is a quick overview, and while brief, people have successfully grown plants on less information, and it gives a glimpse of the tone and information to expect from the rest of the book.

The second chapter concerns the cannabis plant itself, with history, classification, and physical characteristics. Chapter three includes information on procuring and selecting appropriate seeds, and chapter four is about getting them to sprout.

The following nine chapters are filled with hundreds of pages on how to grow cannabis, indoors or out, organic techniques, hydroponics and more. These nine chapters would comprise a respectable grow book all on their own, and I’ve read plenty of entire grow books that don’t offer as much information presented as well.

But wait, there’s more.

Chapter fourteen is a cannabis pest problem solver, fifteen harvesting and curing, and sixteen is one of the better chapters on cannabis breeding that I’ve read. Chapter seventeen discusses popular varieties.

Chapters eighteen and nineteen are about concentrates, their construction and consumption. These chapters only address traditional hash, and infusions, but also dabs, oils, rosin and other topics not covered in many older publications. Chapter twenty is a nice concluding cap to the experience.

For the beginning grower, this book would be an excellent start. While I am a strong proponent of not getting all your information from a single source, I must admit this book has enough information to give a solid foundation to build further studies on. If a grower was only going to buy and read one book, this would be my suggestion.

Jabberwocky (read by Grubbycup)

Growing with Grubbycup

Grubbycuo reading Jabberwocky

by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.