Diversified Regenerative Practices for Cannabis Farms
Diversified regenerative practices for cannabis farmS
Theres a good reason there aren't a lot of information sources on cannabis companion planting- given the potential for things to go wrong, and with lots of time and money invested in a season, who could blame folks for not wanting to take the risk of their main crop? Luckily there are a few of us who just couldn't help ourselves and did it anyway, in some cases we took some losses, in others we saw additional yields and benefits, now we can share this research and development with the rest of the cannabis community and hopefully help those who are interested in incorporating these approaches with experience based information.
This is a cool tolerant chickpea varietal, the seeds are striking pitch black, it will reseed to some degree if let go in this location. Like all legumes it needs a symbiotic rhizobacteria to perform optimally- but if you grow it for a cover crop be sure to get the appropriate bacterial innoculant. Like soybeans, chickpeas require a different strain specific to them, whereas many other legumes work with a basic pea an bean inoculation. The ideal time to cut back legumes is right at the peak of flower, the nodules they develop on their roots die back in the soils and deposit the nitrogen the plant was storing to produce its seeds. In this particular example, the plant is cut back at or slightly above the soil surface to die back as mulch, and the roots left to decompose underground fertilize the growing plant as well as feed the soil biology and catalyze growth.
A good example of "chop and drop" technique used on these fava beans for nitrogen fixation, bed sides are good places to direct seed or plant starts of lettuce or brassicas which thrive in the early spring cool. Side crops are thinned, cut back, or replaced with their next succession as cannabis eventually overtakes the space.
Happy, young Pineapple x Blue dream seed plant just getting established after planting out in the spring, underneath is a living mulch of nasturtium, purple vetch and buckwheat that was sown after tranplanting.
Not all genetics are created equal- selective breeding in outdoor conditions can greatly accelerate gene pools performance. Getting a clone from that "one-in-onehundred" plant that performed well on your site can be a major factor in the success of your farm.
Food forests are planned plantings, generally comprised of perennials, with intentional co-related functions designed to mimic natural patterns of succession. Pictured is a small example of a tree guild, a similar concept to food forests. In this case we have a young peach tree with grape vine trellising on it as they both establish. in the front right are a couple currants (to the northwest of the tree, they will still be able to produce in the shade as the primary tree establishes), and the flower in the foreground is clary sage, a wonderfully fragrant, long flowering pollinator plant that reseeds readily in this location but doesn't become aggressively established. In the case of this guild it would probably be ideal to incorporate nitrogen fixers, this could mean either leguminous cover crops that naturalize, or perennial shrubs like goumi which are woody nitrogen fixing shrubs that produce a decent quality high vitamin c fruit. as it happens I have taken cuttings of goumis and they are waiting to be transplanted into a spot on the south side of the grape at the time of this photo. A food forest is essentially several planned and interrelated guilds, with ground covers, insectiary support species, shrub and vine layers, accompanying a varying over story of larger nut or fruit trees. This is a calculated and strategic attempt to mimic how nature produces yields with only subtle inputs year after year, and when it works well its quite a magical symbiosis.
Computers can greatly speed up the design process, but sometimes drawing things by hand gives a different perspective, and we have to admit the old school appeal is a factor. This is a sector overlay of a site base map traced from google earth, created to analyze influences of things like human traffic, prevailing winds, vehicle traffic, and sun course and consider them in the layout of the site. This is one of many useful design tools originating from permaculture teachings.
Save seeds please, many food crops, flowers, and even wild or domesticated trees can be started from saved seed with relative ease. Do your research to avoid wasted time, but don't be afraid to conduct your own home-style breeding work, in many cases that scale and style of breeding is exactly how we evolved the rich diversity of foods available in our modern world. Much of that work took place over generations, by people without degrees, long before we humans understood genetics or evolution the way we do today. Humans ability to observe and skillfully adapt to and with our environment may be the only way we survive the future.