Sustainable Watering Practices for Marijuana Growers
Many farmers are directly affected by current limitations and regulations on the use of water due to the extreme drought. Licensed growers in legal states such as Colorado and Washington have lost access to federal water since the Bureau of Reclamation announced water rights were cut off to the medical marijuana industry.
We now are seeing regulations passed in the state of California as a direct response to the drought.
With all of California’s water reservoirs reported at below historic levels, the signs that water conservation regulations are in effect begin to leak through– front lawns painted brown, cars layered in dust and flashing traffic alerts reminding us we’re facing a severe situation. Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce water usage by 20%.
With that being said, let’s explore a few water conscious approaches that could be incorporated in our medicinal gardens regardless if it may be outdoor or indoor.
Measure Every Drop
Plants are anywhere from 90-95% water and take a lot of it to grow. And while every growers’ methods (ebb & flow/re-circulating, drain to waste, soil, soilless, aeroponic, deep water culture, etc), feed schedule, and application preferences varies greatly from one to another, there are still ways for everyone to help conserve as much as possible.
Experts have stated that for those growing in soil, frequent micro-doses are a more water conscious approach towards watering. By measuring every drop of water that your ladies get, you will start to become accustomed to only feeding them what they need, therefore reducing your run-off.
Simply by reducing the possibility of excess run-off you’re helping in the conserve water. However, nothing always perfect so if it just so happens that you have excess run off, recycle it! Instead of draining to waste you can drain to power another garden like a veggie one.
From top dressing with straw, hay, bark, and even cocoa hulls- mulching is a great way to conserve soil moisture and can even foster beneficial life underneath the top dressed layer.
By greatly reducing evaporation and helping maintain a more uniform soil temperature, mulching can help outdoor growers conserve water by watering less often.
Another way of reducing chances of evaporation is (for outdoor growers) to water early in the morning, between 6am and 10am–the reason being that during this window the temperatures are cooler, therefore reducing the rate of evaporation.
Sub Irrigation Planters-SIPs
Sub Irrigation Planters (SIPs) are a low water consumption solution to gardening during a drought.
SIPs play on the concept of capillary action used by plants to pull water through soil. In a SIP, root systems sit right above a golden resource of water and oxygen.
In a properly executed SIP, the plant will eat whenever it wishes since the roots will be drawing from the chamber.
Make water, light, and carbon dioxide available to a plant and she will create her own sugars and resources for food. Just the same, limit these key ingredients and you’ll subsequently limit a plant’s growth and ultimately lead to her death. With stringent limitations and regulations on water, farmers are finding themselves in a difficult situation looking for conservation methods to incorporate into their gardens. If you have a personal tip that works, let us know. Once again, hope this has helped and happy farming!