Nothing beats enjoying the first toke of cannabis that you’ve spent the time to cultivate yourself. It’s the feeling when months of care and effort culminate into a relaxing and satisfying experience.
Growing your own cannabis not only saves you the money you might have otherwise spent at the dispensary, but it also changes your relationship with the plant—making for a fuller, more gratifying enjoyment every time you light it up. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any potentially harmful pesticides or environmentally unfriendly cultivating practices since you’ll have done it yourself.
There are plenty of tips for getting the best cannabis crop, but today we’re going to explore just one—the art of mulching. Keep reading to learn how mulch can make for happier, healthier plants.
What Is Mulch
Essentially, mulch is a layer of typically organic material that sits on top of the soil, mimicking the way plants grow in nature. When you walk through a forest or wooded area, it’s not just topsoil you're stepping on.
Plants growing in the wild absorb nutrients from the earth, and when those plants reach the end of their life cycles, those nutrients are returned to the earth through decomposition. This creates a layer of beneficial nutrients that sits above the soil and helps facilitate the growth of new plants. In a garden, however, plants are harvested instead of being left to decompose. So, the natural nutrient layer you find in the forest won’t be present. But that’s where mulch comes in.
Mulch can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Grass clippings can serve as mulch, as well as leaves, straw, hay, bark, animal manure, and even composted kitchen scraps. There are also inorganic mulches like gravel or old newspapers, though we won’t be using these for cannabis.
Benefits Of Mulching A Cannabis Garden
Introducing mulch into your garden can provide a ton of benefits to your cannabis. For example:
Insulation: A layer of mulch can work like the insulation in your home—keeping your plants warmer during cold months and cooler during heatwaves.
Retaining Moisture: A mulch layer over your soil helps to prevent moisture from evaporating. This helps keep your cannabis hydrated and can drastically reduce the need for watering.
Increased Nutrients: Like with the natural decomposition of wild plants, mulching can help provide essential nutrients as the mulching materials break down.
Better Environment: Mulch barriers can break up clay in the soil, allowing for better air and water flow around your plant’s roots and creating more room for those roots to spread out.
Erosion Prevention: Soil will naturally erode, but mulching can help slow this process down, helping to preserve your garden for the years to come.
Tips For Mulching Cannabis
The first and arguably most important step in mulching is choosing which mulch to use. Avoid using pine needles or oak leaves in your mulch, as the acids in these materials will alter your soil’s pH levels. You’ll also want to avoid any sort of heavy materials such as rocks or gravel, as they can compact your soil.
Bark or wood chips make for a good mulch for beginners. They take longer to break down, which means less overall soil nutrients, but they don’t need to be replaced as often.
Fresh grass clippings or other garden cuttings break down rapidly and deliver a large boost of nutrients and nitrogen to your soil. Be aware that fresh clippings can have an unpleasant odor as they decompose and will need to be replaced more often than woodier mulch. Also, make sure the clippings you use aren’t coming from grass that’s been heavily treated with pesticides.
One of the best materials for mulching cannabis plants is cannabis itself. Save your leftover stalks and trimmings and incorporate them into your mulch. Cannabis leaves compost and return their original nutrients to your soil.
Once you’ve chosen your mulch, simply apply it around your plants a few inches deep and replace it as it decomposes.