Mar 242011
 March 24, 2011

cannabis soilWhat’s The Best Soil For Growing Marijuana?

Growing marijuana is not easy. There are so many variables, so many decisions to be made, it’s enough to give a marijuana grower an anxiety attack! One thing that I always try to keep in mind when I am growing marijuana is to research and prepare ahead of time. For some reason, a lot of people think that growing marijuana is easy. It’s only when they are weeks in that they realize they are in over their head. In an attempt to salvage the crop, the marijuana grower starts doing drastic things to improve the marijuana plants. Plan ahead, it’s well worth it.

The first thing that you will need to determine is whether you want to grow marijuana hydroponically or organically using soil. I will save hydroponics for another article, since this article deals only with soil. One of the biggest questions that I always get is, ‘what is the best soil for growing marijuana?’ Luckily for readers, I have a recipe for quite possibly the greatest marijuana growing soil of all time. It was invented by the legendary Subcool. Here is Subcool’s Super Soil Recipe which originally appeared on Cannabis Culture:

Subcool’s Super Soil

Click on pictures to enlargeTo me there is nothing like the flavor of properly grown organic cannabis. The subtle flavors and aromas created when using mother earth is over whelming to the senses when done properly.

As with many vegetables a rich Organic soil can bring out the best in a plant. Over the past 20 years I have tried almost every possible way to cultivate our favorite plant and while hydro is certainly faster and the yields blow soil away, I have developed a soil that performs extremely well and there’s very little guess work. I don’t worry about ph or ppm I simply have spent a few years developing a sound recipe and in combination with 7 gallon nursery pots I can run from start to finish using only water. Other than a bit of sweat equity every 90 days or so it takes a huge amount of science out of the garden and puts nature back in charge. This recipe is slightly different from my last and from the one so many use as gospel that I have passed around for years from grower to grower.

I always start with at least 6-8 large bags of high quality organic soil. The selection of your base soil is very important so don’t cut corners here. I cannot begin to discuss all the different products but I will discuss a few in this article. A good Organic soil should cost between 8-10$ per 30# bag. I want you to get a real good idea what I consider a balanced soil to be so take a look at the ingredients of a product called Roots Organic:

Lignite*, coca fiber, perlite, pumice, compost, peat moss, bone meal, bat guano, kelp meal, Green sand, soy bean meal, leonardite, k-mag, glacial rock dust, alfalfa meal, oyster shell flour, earth worm castings and Mycorrhizae.

I have always believed in giving my plants a wide range of soils and additives I figure it’s like a buffet they get all they need

“Lignite, also known as leonardite, mined lignin, brown coal, and slack, is an important constituent to the oil well, drilling industry. Lignite, or leonardite as it will be referred as hereafter, is technically known as a low rank coal between peat and sub-bituminous. Leonardite was named for Dr. A.G. Leonard, North Dakota’s first state geologist, who was a pioneer in the study of lignite deposits. Leonardite is applied to products having a high content of humic acid. Humic acid has been found to be very useful as a drilling mud thinner.”

Another local product we are trying now is called Harvest Moon.

Washed coco fibers, Alaskan peat moss, perlite, yucca, pumice, diatoms, worm castings, feather meal, fishmeal, kelp meal, limestone, gypsum, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, rock dust, yucca meal, and Mycorrhizae fungi.

The Roots produced a more floral smell in the finished flowers while the Harvest Moon generated larger yields.

If you have access to a good local mix like these then I highly recommend starting with these type products. We have also had decent results using commercial brands as well but not as is. The best results we have seen from well known soil that is available nationwide is Fox Farms “Ocean Forrest” soil combined in a 2-1 ratio with Light Warrior. On it’s own the Ocean Forrest is known for burning plants and having the wrong ratio’s of nutrients but when cut down with Light Warrior it makes a pretty good mix for a base soil.

You can also just use 2 bales of Sunshine mix #4 but this is my last choice and plants growing in this may not complete properly with this “Just add water” method of soil growing. The concept to this concentrated soil is to not have to worry with mixing up nutrients after the soil is made. The concentrate is placed in the bottom ¼ to ½ of the container and blended with base soil. This allows the plants to grow into the strong concentrated soil and in the right size container need nothing else but water throughout the full harvest cycle. With strains requiring high levels of nutrients we go as strong as ¾ of the container with Super Soil but this is only with a small percentage of strains.

Here are the amounts we have found that produce the best tasting buds and strongest medicines.

8- Large bags of High quality Organic potting soil with a coco and Mycorrhizae

1- 25-50 pounds of Organic Worm castings
5 lb. Steamed Bone meal
5 lb. Bloom bat Guano
5 lb. Blood meal
3 lb. Rock Phoshate
¾ cup Epson salts
½ to 1 Cup cup Sweet Lime ( Dolimite)
½ Cup Azomite ( Trace Elements)

2- TBS Powdered Humic Acid

This is the same basic recipe I have used for 15 years the hardest ingredient to acquire is the worm castings most people don’t even know what it is. Be resourceful and find it worms make up ¾ of the living organisms underground btw and hold our planet together.

Be careful not to waste money on Soil Conditioner with worm casting but local Pure Worm poop with no added mulch.

There are several methods of mixing this up well.

You can sweep off a patio or garage and work there on a tarp.

You can use a kids plastic wading pool these cost about 10$ and work really well for a few seasons.

Some growers have been known to rent a cement mixer and cut down on the physical labor. As long as you get the ingredients mixed up properly that is all that matters.

This can be a lot of work so don’t pull a muscle if your not used to strenuous activity. This method is good for mind and body. Working with soil keeps me in pretty good shape, but if you have limitations you can simply have someone mix it up for you while you supervise. One of the things I like about this method is I can drop of plants to a patient and all they have to do is water the plants when the soil dries out.

Place a few bags of base soil in first making a mound. I then place the powdered nutrients in a circle around the mound and then cover with another bag of base soil.

Then goes in the bat poop and then more base soil. I continue to layer soil and additives until everything has been added to the pile. So now I put on the muck boots, these help me kick the soil around and get it mixed up well using my larger leg muscles and not my back and arms. Then it’s as simple as my Skipper used to say “ Put your back into it”. This is hard work that I obsess on, even breaking up all the clods of soil by hand. I mix for about 15 minutes, turning the pile over and over until it is mixed well. I store the mix in large garbage cans. Before using the mix the entire load is poured out once more and mixed well. Once placed in the containers I water it slightly adding 3 gallons of water to a large garbage can full. It will make the stirring harder next week but it will activate the Mycorrhizae and I think help all the powders dissolve.

So now we add water and let it cook in the sunshine. 30 days is best for this concentrate.

Do not put seeds or clones directly in this mix. It is an advanced mix used in conjunction with base soil. It is used to place in the bottom of each finishing container and fully rooted established clones are placed in a bed of base soil that is layered on top of the concentrate. As the plants grow they slowly push their roots into the super soil drawing up all nutrients needed for a full cycle. The Super Soil can be used also to top dress plants that take longer to mature.

I will use this mix for a full year just adding like 30-50% in the lower potion of the container and plain base soil in the top portion.

Base Soil means your regular potting soil Like Roots, Harvest Moon, or even sunshine mix without the additives!

Buds from this method finish with a fade and a smoother fruity flavor. The plants are not green when done but Purple, Red, Orange and even Black at times. The resin content is heavier and the terpins always seem to be more pungent.

This method is used my medical growers all over with amazing results. The feed back I receive is really positive with reports of Hydro-like growth and novice growers producing buds of the same quality as life long growers.

Here is some insight that I received from

What’s good Greenies and welcome to another insightful Wisdom Wednesday from me, ThisBuds4You. This week Greenie Brayden writes in asking about the best kind of soil for indoor growing:

hey i was just trying to figure out what the best type of soil there is to use for growing indoors and was wondering if you had any suggestions on what to use? or your favorite type of soil to use? because ive done lots of research and i cant seem to find the best type of soil just homemade mixes and the pH level the soil should be between so if you could answer this that would be great thanks.
peace and pot
There are many types of soil and mixes to choose from. When looking for a soil mix there are a few things to consider, pH, drainage and nutrients. A few months ago I did a post on the differences between Soil and Hydroponics and how each has its strong points and downfalls. In that post I mentioned Fox Farm’s Ocean Forest Potting Soil and I still stick by that potting soil. Ocean Forest is a complete, all organic potting soil. It’s consisted of rich composted forest humus, sphagnum peat for aeration, bat guano, fish, crab, shrimp, Norwegian kelp meals and premium earthworm castings. There are even some oyster shells mixed in to insure a balanced pH. Cannabis grows best in soil with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.0. Ocean Forest is ready to use straight out of the bag; it has good drainage, it’s pH buffered and contains enough nutrients to sustain the plant for the next 2-3 weeks. You can find Ocean Forest Potting Soil at your local hydroponics store or check Fox Farm’s website to find a local distributor near you.
Keep it green Greenies and OVERGROW THE WORLD!!!

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.

    ^Can’t U Juhz Grow Reggie Wit Juz Soil??

  • Billybaggz

    I found a round egg on the top of my soil then I squeezed it and it popped like a lil ball or something…what is it and should I be worried

  • The Real Grower

    Just use Scotts Miracle Grow Soil. It feeds for 3 to 6 months and no need to check the ph level since its already good dirt.

    You might kill a plant giving it that much food.

    You don’t want to kill your tomato plants.

  • Shane Wyatt

    So what about using fine sand for after the germination but before the bigger pot transfer? Do you think this will help retain the initial moisture and guides the root to dig deep for the soil?

  • james

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    • johhny1

      purple k from Oaksterdam? or seed ?

      curious in the 818

  • b real

    i am a new grower i just bought 6 seeds 2 purple widow 2 thc bomb and 2 white skunk wat is the best soil and food to use to get the best out of my crop

    • adamC

      wasgood i got my canabus card u got fire

  • johhny1

    COMPOST! worms

    The best soil is only 1 part of the equation. How fast the soil drys , how much nutrients to give .
    Jorge Cervantes has some good books ,websites ,youtube.

    Another good source is “bio-dynamics” Stieners belief that herbs and weeds removed by man actually regulate molds ,diseases. re-introducing these organic plants or applying to garden compost helps plants thrive in an organic environment

    SubCool has some great vids on youtube and I have only heard good things on his Vids

    back in the day , we had to hide this, We parked our cars miles away from the hydro shop ,paid cash ,told no-one.
    Now information flows freely on the Net
    To all Newbies the best advice I have heard was “whatever keeps it green”

  • Bronx Bull

    This thread is huge good comments….what type of supplement(s) will I need to add to this after I plant?

  • Adam

    Is that the exact amount to mix for every ingredient

  • cajyen

    Ok Hello Ppl I Have Read Most Of Your Articles And I Am MoRe Lost Then When I Started Im Trying For My First Time To Grow I Have The Soil That Was Recommended To Me The Lights And The Seeds. I Was Told To Put Coffee grounds In The soil Should I Or Not Do So And If Done RightHow Long Would It Be Until I See Some Kind Of Results.

  • conky

    can I leave my soil testers in the pot during the entire grow?

  • long haul drifter

    im growing autos and wondering can I start them under cfls and then transfer them to the hps after a couple weeks of grow?

    • Spinnr

      Yes you can and prob. the best way to start them off.

  • sandiw

    I’m confused now, but I read online that you can use soil for tomatoes and watermelon and it works good. Should I do this?

  • FEDupWITHstupidity

    2-4 people can easily mix large quantities by laying it all on a drop cloth or heavy plastic square shaped tarp. Have each person stand on one of the sides of the tarp. Each person grabs on and one at a time take turns lifting their side high enough to push the dirt to the center and beyond if possible. This is easy and there is no need to jump in and get dirty. You can use your legs to help with pushing your side to the middle. After 5 minutes of mixing, it is thoroughly combined

  • aliensRdrones

    I have been testing different methods for desert growers add 5 2 cubic ft bags of Lowes top soil , add one half bag chicken manure, one quarter bag steer, 2 bags hydroponics mulch, 2 1.5 bags hydroponic house plant soild, add coco shell 5lbs, 1lb sea kelp,5lbs peat moss and 3 lbs pearlite add 10lb natural pea gravel the smaller the better and 2lbs clean washed sand add add 1 bag 1.5 cft cactus soil mix well add I bottle peroxide large mix very well add to plant pots plant need bamboo reed building with clear roof we use a small swamp cooler to keep temp down adding humidity set on low away from plants pointing inward flowing out through reeds fantastic setup if done righ

  • Nezzie Spinney

    First time grower started with my seeds in
    Im just wondering what do i do next ? Its been like this for two weeks ? Need help

  • Nezzie Spinney

    What do i do next ?

    • KR

      Let them all grow and then wack the ,ail when it.identifies itself. Then growth the two females in a way where pruning properly will allow them light, strengthening ability, and give you sticky high yields. IMHO.

  • Nezzie Spinney

    First time grower started with my seeds in
    Im just wondering what do i do next ? Its been like this for two weeks ? Need help

    • Matao

      Give more them more light. Make sure your light cycle is proper. Keep growing. Soon move to the veg stage. Look on YouTube how to grow weed indoors you will get many results.

      • Nezzie Spinney

        Hey man they getting roughly 12/12 light n dark , but just the sun when will more leaves come , i just transplanted them from a small jiffy hot house to the big pots just wanted to know if they will grow the soil i started them from seed was on my pic and i bought today the premium potting mix today when should i transder them again or should i just leave them in the soil as is ,??? I need help pls ???

    • Jay Millz

      What the fuck? If you’re going to depend on the sunlight from outside to give them light then plant them outside for god sake. You need to buy some lights if you want to grow them indoors or otherwise you’re going to end up with dead plants. Also your light schedule should be 18h on and 6h off.

    • Nick

      I would reccomend germinating your seeds in a glass of water for only 24 hours or until the seed splits and you are able to see the taproot. Germinating in soil takes much longer and can be much more tedious.

  • Dave

    You said ”I will use this mix for a full year just adding like 30-50% in the lower
    potion of the container and plain base soil in the top portion.” Do you reuse the soil after the plant is done or you use the left over mixed soil in the trash can for a year?

    How much Mycorrhizae do you add?

  • need4weed

    first timer. useing 1 part vermiculite 3 parts perlite 3 parts topsoil 1 part mushroom soil , they are all organic. will this be ok or am he f@#@! it up?

  • lovesthebud420

    im a first time grower and want the most successful bud i can get, were you say “Here are the amounts we have found that produce the best tasting buds and strongest medicines” underneath that were you have a list of things to add to the base soil does that show how much to add to one bag or eight?

    • Will Riggert


  • dee ramos

    Im a first time grower i havent planted my seeds yet bcuz i dnt know what soil to use :o please help i need a just water method soil that will last the whole plants life time nothing complicated
    contact me to my email so i can ask you some questions

  • pato banton

    what is the best water for outdoor growing using this mix? if i grow near a river could i use that water?

    • Ronald Hams


    • tman

      always check the ph level of river water. our river is a 7ph most of the time. during the fall when the trees are dropping leaves it can become acidic. always check ph. it will still be better than city water.

  • Dirt Head

    It says you use 7 gallon containers and “just add water”. What would I have to do to make “just add water” work for 20 gallon containers?

    • steve3231

      Multiple x3

  • karla

    What if the person is a beginner, & is just trying to do 3 plants

  • Ann E.

    my daughters father-in-law has a friend that has a legal grow and he gave Mike all his soil from last years grow. My daughter used some of it to fill her newest flower garden as did Mike and we all thought that we would have a great growing season except that the soil has been killing everything. Anyone know why?

  • WatchingAngels

    I realize this thread may be inactive, but if there is still someone on the other end, I have 2 questions – one about scaling and the other about procedure.

    1) Do you end up using all 8 bags of base mix? Meaning that if someone wanted to make smaller batches, they could divide all other ingredient quantities listed by 8 to obtain a per-bag recipe.

    2) Is the 30 day ‘cook’ period mandatory? Can it be reduced within an acceptable range?