During the vegetative phase of a cannabis plant, cultivators need to provide optimal environmental conditions. These include soil temperature, pH, and nutrient concentration.
Aside from these, the type of mulch a grower chooses can have an impact on their yield. In this article, we’ll explore the effects of different types of mulch on cannabis growth.
1. Reduces Moisture Loss
Mulching helps reduce moisture loss, which can be an issue for cannabis plants. It can also improve soil structure by promoting microbial activity and ensuring water stays in the soil. In addition, mulch is a great way to protect plants from harmful conditions such as winter freezes and thaws.
The type of mulch used also affects the cannabis plant’s growth. Green mulch generally consists of grass clippings or green leaves, while brown mulch is made up of sticks, twigs and other dead plant matter.
Green mulch is often the preferred choice for cannabis growers, as it promotes microbial activity and keeps PH at an ideal level. However, it is important to be aware that over time, the mulch can compost and deplete nutrient levels in the soil.
To ensure the right PH balance, use mulch with a low amount of acidity. This will help keep the microbial activity in check and prevent nitrogen from being drawn from the top layer of soil.
Fungi are essential for a healthy and sustainable cannabis garden, and they help the cannabis plant obtain a wide variety of nutrients. These include rock phosphate, potassium, and phosphorus. They also help the plants regain calcium, which is necessary for proper flower development.
Adding a layer of organic mulch to your cannabis garden can also help prevent pests such as fungus gnats from attacking the plant. It can also help suppress the growth of unwanted weeds and keep the soil surface clean.
The type of mulch you choose should be determined by the specific needs of your cannabis plant. For example, if you are growing your cannabis in a container, you should use mulch that is lightweight and easy to work with. You should also avoid using petrochemicals or plastics, as they can kill beneficial biology in the soil and disrupt natural nutrient cycling.
2. Reduces Weed Growth
Mulch acts as a weed barrier by blocking sunlight from reaching weed seeds that have already germinated. It also conserves moisture by reducing evaporation from the soil surface, keeping plants’ roots well-watered.
Using mulch is an effective weed control method, especially when used in combination with herbicides or a water-permeable weed barrier like landscape fabric. These weed barriers are commonly used around plants such as flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables before they’re planted.
Pre-emergent herbicides are spread in spring to form a protective layer around your garden, killing perennial weeds as they sprout without harming your desirable plants and grasses. These pre-emergents are easy to apply and can reduce your weed problem by up to 70%.
Wood chips, shredded wood, and peat moss are all great organic mulches that suppress weeds and help keep the soil moist. In addition, organic mulches feed the soil by breaking down into nutrients that are then available to the plants and other living things in your garden.
Pine needles, commonly called “pinestraw,” are another popular choice of mulch. They suppress weeds and add nitrogen to the soil.
Bark is also a great mulch to use around your marijuana plants because it blocks the germination of weed seeds. Unlike sand and gravel, bark is organic and natural so it will not hurt the plant or its roots.
Grass clippings are also a good mulch option as they help retain moisture and reduce weed growth. They can be mixed with other types of mulch to improve their effectiveness and add nutrients to the soil as they break down. In addition, hay or straw can be used as a mulch but they do contain weed seeds.
3. Reduces Soil Temperature
During the growing process, soil temperature is very important for plant health. It is a factor that affects germination, seedling emergence and root growth. The judicious maintenance and regulation of soil temperature is one of the most significant factors for the optimum growth of plants (Martin and Poultney 1992; Chalker-Scott 2007).
Soil temperature also determines the availability of essential plant nutrients to the plant’s roots. This is especially true in early grow stages. The judicious use of mulches to regulate the soil temperature can increase the nutrient availability to the plants.
A key aspect of this is that it allows the micro-life in the soil to develop and thrive, enabling your cannabis plants to absorb more nutrients during their vegetative phase. This can lead to better growth and more potent buds.
The micro-life in the soil is a team of bacteria, fungi and insects, all of which work together to decompose the organic matter that accumulates in your cannabis garden over time. These organisms help break down the building blocks that make up your soil and return them to a form that is easily available to the plants, enabling them to get the most out of their environment and fight off predatory pests and diseases that want to take advantage of the space they inhabit.
A key aspect of the decomposition process is boosting the population of fungi in the soil. These organisms, which prefer a slightly more acidic environment than bacteria, are a necessary part of your cannabis’s PH balance. A boost in fungi’s population will result in a slightly more acidic growing medium, something that is beneficial to your cannabis during the flowering stage.
4. Reduces Soil Erosion
Mulching helps prevent soil erosion by forming a barrier between the ground and rain, wind, sun, and other elements. It also provides protection from the harsh effects of winter freezes, thaws, and winds.
As mulch decomposes, it returns nutrients to the soil and replenishes essential moisture levels. In addition, it improves soil microbial activity and stimulates plant development.
A good organic mulch can be made from recycled wood, leaves, grass clippings, and other plant matter that is left to decompose naturally. These materials are often free from pesticides and herbicides, and they provide a healthy habitat for beneficial microbes, fungi, and bacteria that support plant health.
The best time to use mulch is mid- to late spring or autumn, when annual weeds are dormant and plants are dying back. You can apply a thin layer of mulch around new plantings or over beds and borders, taking care to not pile up mulches against low growing plants.
Depending on your growing needs, you can choose between organic and inorganic mulches. Both types can effectively reduce weed growth and soil erosion, but each type has its own benefits and limitations.
Organic mulches, including straw and hay, absorb moisture from the soil. They also increase soil temperature, moderate soil conditions, and prevent weed seeds from germinating.
Inorganic mulches such as gravel and stone can help control weeds by providing more optimal soil conditions, but they can also cause a lot of erosion and compaction. They also tend to be less permeable than organic mulches, preventing the emergence of weed seeds that require light for germination (Chalker-Scott 2007).
There are many different types of mulch, and it is important to select the one that best suits your growing needs. Choosing the right mulch will ensure that your cannabis plants receive all of the nutrients and moisture they need to grow strong, healthy, and bountiful.
5. Reduces Weed Growth
In addition to protecting your soil against a variety of negative factors, mulch also reduces weed growth. In fact, mulches can reduce weed seed germination by 90%!
It can also help increase the nutrient uptake by your cannabis plants. This can make them more efficient, and subsequently yield bigger buds!
Depending on what type of mulch you use, you can expect to see different results. For example, pine needle mulch (also called “pinestraw” in the southern US) is an excellent choice because it provides nitrogen for your plants while suppressing weeds.
Another option is grass clippings. Grass clippings are easy to find and can be used around your marijuana plants in areas where you want to stop weed growth.
Leaves are also an excellent mulch material. They are a natural, attractive way to protect your garden from weeds and they improve the soil by decomposing.
In addition to being an organic mulch, leaves are also a great source of nitrogen for your cannabis plants. They can be shredded and spread around your plants in the same manner as grass clippings.
Woodchips are another mulch that you can use to control weeds. These are a popular choice among outdoor growers because they’re durable and available in a variety of colors.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a mulch is that it needs to be organic, as well as not have any pesticides or chemicals that could harm your cannabis plant. It should also not contain weed seeds.
In addition, it should be applied at the right time for your crop. Mulching too soon, or with the wrong kind of mulch, can actually hinder your crops’ growth.