Organic vs Synthetic nutrients can be a sticky topic for growers. Find out what the difference is and if it really matters to you?
When growing your own cannabis, you will be faced with what appears to be the simple choice of using organic or synthetic nutrients. This is a bit of a controversial choice often clouded in confusion. Amongst the colourful shelves of brands and bottles there lies a deep debate. Which nutrients are "better"?
Cannabis nutrients are typically divided into two stages of nutrition: vegetative and flowering. Vegetative (aka Grow) nutrients are used at the beginning of the life cycle and then Flowering (aka Bloom) nutrients are used towards the end. Vegetative nutrients are usually high in Nitrogen, Calcium and micro-elements. Flowering nutrients are higher in Phosphorous, Potassium and Sulphur. In the first stages of growth the aim is to provide your plant with a strong healthy root system. You may want to use "root boosters" and growth hormones to ensure your plant has a strong immune system. When flowering your cannabis plant, the goal is to provide as much Phosphorous and Potassium for large solid flowers. Balance is key as too much of one nutrient can affect the uptake of others. Similarly, cannabis still requires all elements in the flowering stage with Nitrogen and micro-elements being a smaller portion of their entire diet.
Organic vs Synthetic nutrients, what's the difference?
Organic and synthetic nutrients differ in chemical composition. Organics require bacteria and fungi in the substrate to process the nutrition into plant available form. These products are derived from natural sources, and they feed the micro-life in the soil rather than the plant itself. This means they may not necessarily contain any mineral content and will not feed the plant directly. Organic nutrients can be added without any pH adjustment. Synthetics are nutrients that feed the plant directly and require no in between processors. Synthetic nutrients therefore need to be delivered at the correct pH for the plant to absorb them.
The pros and cons
Synthetic nutrients are often touted as producing superior yields. While organic nutrient growers boast of better taste and flavour. And while both can be used to achieve the result you desire; it will be up to you to work out the best solution for your grow. The cost of nutrients can vary greatly, as well as the potential expense of additional equipment. When using synthetic nutrients, you will need to purchase a pH meter and EC meter to ensure ideal feeding. They will probably also require a 3 part mixing guide for best results.
When using organic nutrients, you will ideally need to purchase a substrate with mineral and organic content. These are essential building blocks and can significantly influence your plants' performance. Access to both types of nutrients is easy and while specific organic nutrients may be more difficult to find, with a little ingenuity many organic solutions can be produced on your own. More about that later.
What nutrients for which growers
The most important part of choosing your nutrients is matching your substrate to your preferred nutrition. Traditionally the use of synthetic nutrients has been reserved for hydroponic growers and organic nutrients for soil growers but this is not a steadfast rule. While many organic nutrients are not compatible with hydroponic methods of growing, synthetic nutrients can be used in soil growing. Many growers have adopted a hybrid style of growing and use synthetic nutrients alongside organic nutrients to try and make the most of both.
Are nutrient additives essential
Some of the best nutrients you can use will be additives. They do not necessarily feed your plant directly but may aid in other processes such as immunity, strength, efficiency and possibly potency. Notable products include bacterial and fungi additives such as EM Pro-soil and Explo-grow. These products contain beneficial bacteria and fungi that will aid in nutrient uptake as well as increase your plants' immune system. Both products can be used with organic and synthetic nutrients. As actual nutrients go, Phosphorous and Potassium boosters are often used in the flowering stage. Products such as Atami "Bloombastic" and Greenhouse Seed Co "PK booster" have shown to be effective at delivering high amounts of flowering friendly food for those monster crops.
Of course, for those who prefer to do things themselves, there are many options to explore. One very popular method being used by many is what is known as "KNF' or "Korean Natural Farming". The idea being that all nutritional inputs for your plant are developed for and by yourself. This includes fermenting different ingredients, brewing up concoctions of microbes and using your own compost. While this may seem tedious for some, others prefer this style and it ensures you learn sustainable gardening while reaping the rewards of your efforts. Worm farms are an excellent place to start for beginner nutrient makers.
Organic vs Synthetic Nutrients, what's the verdict?
At the end of the day, it will be up to you to choose what it is you want to feed to your cannabis plants. The choices are vast, and the results will mostly depend on you. Try as many different styles and methods as you can and figure out which ones suit your preferences. Your best results will come from education, experience and a reliable grow store. And if you still aren't certain, please contact our grow pros for some top shelf advice.