Marijuana plants need more than just sufficient light, water, and carbon dioxide to grow and thrive. They also need plenty of nutrients applied in the right mixtures and at the right times according to their growth stages. This article will focus on one specific aspect of getting your plants the nutrients they need: understanding and developing appropriate feeding schedules for cannabis plants grown in soil.
What Is a Feeding Schedule?
Whether you decide to grow your plants outside in a dedicated cannabis garden, or you want to start an indoor soil-based grow, you’ll need to keep track of everything you feed your plants throughout their growing cycles. Feeding schedules make it easy to ensure that every plant in the garden or grow room has the nutrients it needs based on its size, strain, and growth stage.
Most novice growers start by using the feed charts provided by their nutrient vendors. These feed charts contain all kinds of relevant information about what type of nutrients each plant food contains, how much of each product you should use, and what pH level you should maintain depending on the plants’ growth stage.
How to Read Feed Charts
Feed charts are usually divided into three sections based on the crop’s growth stage. The first section will cover the nutritional needs of seedlings and applies to all plants that have already been germinated but are less than three weeks old. The second applies to plants in the vegetative stage, which lasts around a month for most strains.
The third section of the feed chart is usually the longest. It refers to the nutritional requirements of cannabis plants that are already in flower. You should only switch over to this final section of the feed chart after your plants have begun to produce buds, regardless of how long they were in veg.
Each section of the feed chart should contain at least three columns that refer to the type of nutrients your plants will need, the dilution rate for the plant food, and the ideal pH for your soil. Many plant food manufacturers also include more detailed information about dilution rates, such as the amount of nutrient solution you’ll need to add per liter vs. per gallon of water to achieve an ideal balance.
You may also find information about the ideal PPM and EC for your nutrient solutions. They refer to the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your liquid plant food and its electrical conductivity, respectively. The reason plant food manufacturers include this information in their feed charts is that the concentration of minerals in your soil directly affects the plants’ ability to uptake nutrients.
Keep in mind that the EC and TDS measurements listed on your feed chart refer to the concentration of nutrients in the liquid. They will change when you apply the liquid plant food to your soil. Soil electrical conductivity is influenced by everything from irrigation and evaporation rates to the plants’ nutrient uptake, and more. If you want to keep an eye on your soil EC and TDS levels, you can send samples to a lab or purchase TDS and EC meters for in-house testing.
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