As gardening technology advances, it’s easy to get caught up in a lot of the newest, fanciest methods for growing. Hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics offer cutting-edge approaches to growing our favorite plant.
However, if you’re on a budget, or you don’t feel like you have the chemistry skills to balance the pH of 20 different nutrient solutions, you’re in luck. You don’t need to be a scientist to grow lush, verdant buds.
Non-soil methods rely on constant measurements, precise concentrations and monitoring round-the-clock. That’s because, when growing outside of soil-like media, we’re trying to recreate the natural environment that cannabis thrives in. If we grow in soil, then we can skip a lot of these processes. The soil acts like its own little universe; as long as you take care of the soil, it will do the rest of the work for you. You just need to understand some basics of nature, and let the science take care of itself.
What is recycled organic living soil?
Recycled organic living soil (ROLS) uses nutrient-rich soil to nourish a grow. Minimal, if any, synthetic additives are needed, because the life flourishing inside the plant will create those additives naturally.
If you’re new to professional-scale indoor grows, or if you just enjoy simplicity in your business, then sticking with a soil medium is your best bet. Although hydroponics and aquaponics have their advantages, Cannabis sativa originated in good old-fashioned soil. If you grow your plants in healthy soil, you can still pull off the same kinds of yields, terpene profiles and high cannabinoid levels that you would using a more artificial method.
The ROLS technique exploits a basic fact about plants: Soils are not just dirt. They’re living, breathing ecosystems of their own. If you feed the soil, the soil will in turn feed your plants. You’ll still need to check pH and watch out for leaf burn. But if you do this right, a lot of the headaches will disappear from your grow operation.
Advantages of ROLS
The biggest advantage of ROLS is money. You can recycle and reuse your ROLS over and over and over again. That means less money going into your grow and more money going into your pocket.
The second advantage is ease. Once you’ve got a super-healthy medium, you just need to add to it ever-so-slightly between cycles. If you can’t devote 110% of your time to the grow operation, think about switching to ROLS.
The third advantage is the environment. Using synthetic fertilizers will increase salt deposits into the water supply. Synthetics can also deoxygenate waterways, leading to excess algae growth and killing off hordes of microorganisms necessary to those environments. If you want a clean grow with a clean conscience, ROLS is the only way to go.
Finally, ROLS uses nature’s best tricks to generate the dankest buds. If you’re looking to max out your plants’ terpene and cannabinoid profiles, ROLS will do that for you. Buds grown from ROLS media typically exude potent smells, delicious flavors and heady highs.
How to make ROLS
There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for making a ROLS grow. A lot of it depends on personal preference, as well as what works best for your strains. The following guide is a general walkthrough for the ROLS technique. Keep what works best for you, and discard what doesn’t.
Never slow your ROLS
Don’t throw those things out! A lot of the waste you produce in your kitchen can go right into your grow operation, reducing clutter in our landfills and providing sustenance to your cannabis plants. That’s where the “recycled” part of ROLS comes in.
In the end, just be sure you’re balancing your ROLS with diverse additions. The more you add, the more bases you cover. So long as the microorganisms in your soil are doing fine, they’ll do most of the biochemical work for you. A healthy soil environment will automatically keep the medium’s pH balance, regulate soil moisture and provide a constant stream of nutrients and minerals to your plant’s root systems.
If you’d like more information on ROLS, check out this article at Vertical Veg, which offers suggestions for one type of ROLS recipe. Remember, every ROLS is different, with components dependent on the grower’s preferences. If you decide to go with ROLS, you’ll likely come up with your own recipe unique to your grow!
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