How much is enough? Sometimes, it's hard to know where the line is -- especially when it comes to feeding your buds so they get healthy and big.
There are a lot of factors to consider when you go to feed your cannabis crop.
Sure you could just follow the label and hope for the best, or you could start determining how much your plants need and when; especially since that's changing all the time as your plants develop from sprouts to a heavy yielding crop of tasty medicinal buds.
If you don't feed them enough fertilizers or nutrients, your plants could develop deficiencies that slow growth, hurt yields, and invite potentially devastating problems like disease.
Feeding too much can be even worse, stunting plants or practically even frying the roots off. Insects love to attack overfed plants because they are soft and weak from growing too quickly.
So where is “just right”? That magic sweet spot for feeding can be a challenging target to bullseye every time because it's always moving around. However, when your learn to gauge the external factors in the environment, just like a marksman compensates for windage, you can get good at hitting the mark more often.
First, let's look at the target itself: the plant. How big your pot plants are will play a heavy hand in how much to feed. When there is less living plant material to use the fertilizer, excesses are easy to create, hurting young plants before they even really get going. When plants are small, you can feed as often, but it's better to feed less. In most situations 1/4 of full strength recommended by the manufacture is plenty.
However, here's an example of how it can get tricky. Let's say that same young plant is growing in coco coir (which is pretty good stuff). This is one of those times where you might have to "compensate" and feed a little more of your fertilizer component that contains higher levels of Calcium and Magnesium. This is because coco coir typically holds onto some of the calcium and magnesium, so you need to apply more of it to make sure plants get enough. Maybe 1/3 to 1/2 strength, for example.
Alternatively, let's say you are planting in a fortified potting mix -- at this point your plants will not require more than good quality water, or would simply benefit from some additions of B-Vitamins in the early feedings, before plants are big enough to have used the native fertility and require more from you, the grower.
What about hydro? Here you might like to supercharge the root zone with increased levels of oxygen with an air pump. If this is the case, you can get away with feeding much lighter, because plants can use fertilizers more effectively if they are supplied in pure forms with a chemical fertilizer.
Organics can be great, in part, for their forgiving nature. However, over the course of a crop it IS possible to stack up too much fertility through repeated feedings to the point where flushing prior to harvest may not be completely effective at removing any unwanted tastes in your buds because of excess fertilizer residues.
The goal of this article isn't to make what can often be one of the more confusing parts of growing even more confusing, rather, to shed some light on the fact that there is more that you need to look at than simply a label when it comes to something as important as feeding your crop of medicinal nugs.
As a rule of thumb, start off feeding at 1/4 strength when plants are small and gradually increase as they get bigger. You could also follow a proven feeding chart, but again, taking factors into consideration. Alternating with light waterings of plain pH adjusted water or doing a light flush between reservoir changes is always a good preventative measure. When it comes to feeding your crop, try and remember this old adage: measure twice, cut once.