As more and more people and businesses enter the cannabis cultivation sphere, prices are dropping and the carbon footprint of pot production continues to rise. Mass-produced indoor weed isn’t sustainable and is mostly of questionable quality. “Mom and Pop” grow-ops looking to produce a sustainable product seek viable ways to reduce their dependence on expensive and non-renewable energy in order to create a clean and green alternative to “Diesel” dank. Here are seven ways to lower costs and improve the environment.
1. Grow Outdoors Or In A Greenhouse
Indoors, grow lighting and air conditioning costs make up the bulk of the costs of cannabis cultivation. Sunshine is free and, in most places, abundant.
Switching to an outdoor model can actually reverse the impact of pot farming on climate change by pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and converting it to oxygen. Greenhouses provide the best of both worlds—the environmental control of indoor growing without the outside effects of wind, rain, dust and pests.
With supplemental lighting (LED’s are an efficient alternative to HID’s) and light deprivation techniques, greenhouse growers can increase harvests and extend seasons.
2. Go Organic
Well, technically you can’t go officially “organic.”
OMRI certification is federal, and marijuana is still against federal law. But, you can adhere to a set of standards that will qualify for Clean Green certification.
So ditch any synthetic bottled nutrients or better yet, go “veganic” and avoid using allegedly-natural products such as bone meal, blood meal, liquid fish and others that are a by-products of the meat industry.
3. Save Water
Using a mulch, such as hay, around your planting beds reduces water waste due to evaporation and allows you to water less frequently.
Plants will also be able to use more of the nutrient solution you add to them if you bury your drip-emitting system a few inches below soil level.
Rain water collection is also a wonderful way to decrease costs and your dependence on local aquifers.
4. Switch Your Growing Medium
Peat-based “soilless” mixes take hundreds or more years to naturally develop, absorb and store large amounts of CO2—and are mined at an alarming rate. Rockwool is a dangerous and irritating material that takes centuries to decompose.
The healthy and safe alternative is coco coir, made from renewable husks as a by-product of the coconut industry. It’s inert, retains water and allows plenty of oxygen to reach the root zone.
5. Utilize Predators
Replace potentially harmful pesticides with beneficial insects and predatory nematodes. For every vegetarian bug that plagues our pot plants, there exists a carnivorous nemesis just waiting to be unleashed.
Once you’ve diagnosed your marijuana’s malady, purchase or place an order through the mail for the living solution to your pest problem. Release them as recommended, and then sit back and watch them attack.
6. Brew Compost Tea
It’s difficult to overstate the benefits of using an oxygenated compost tea as a foliar feed and soil drench for your precious pot plants. If you’re not already composting your yard waste and food scraps, start a pile or bin immediately.
Steep the compost in a bucket of water utilizing an old stocking, pillowcase or tea towel and oxygenate the tea for 24 hours using an air-pump and airstones from an aquarium supply shop to fully activate the beneficial bacteria and microbes. This mild nutrient will feed your plants and protect them from pests and disease.
7. Grow Companion Plants
Growing beneficial plants among your cannabis trees provides a plethora of benefits for your buds. Clover and beans can fix nitrogen and act as a “canary in the coal mine,” attracting mites and other pests before they infest your weed. Marigolds and chili peppers help repel many nuisance bugs as well. Basil and rosemary help to keep slugs away.