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The Role of Nitrogen in Growing Organic Cannabis

By Michelle Pugle

Cannabis cultivators and gardeners of all skill levels need to know about nitrogen.

Nitrogen (N) is a macronutrient responsible for chlorophyll’s green pigment in plants. It’s a key chemical component in photosynthesis. Without it, plants can’t efficiently convert sunlight into energy and their bottom and base leaves turn yellow as the upper ones compete for resources and win. This deficiency starves and stunts your plants. 

Nitrogen also plays a crucial component in the building blocks of DNA and protein. Without adequate access from the soil, your plants can’t grow and reproduce as nature intends. 

Dealing with Nitrogen Deficiency 

Before you do anything else, test your soil. You can find an at-home soil test kit in garden aisles and stores for less than fifteen dollars. 

A simple soil test will save you from making fertilizing mistakes and risking nitrogen toxicity in your soil.

Okay, so you’ve detected nitrogen deficiency in your soil. Now what? You have a few options. 

  • Repair your soil with slow release organic fertilizers like compost, manure, alfalfa meal, or fish emulsion.

  • Grow nitrogen-fixing legumes like beans and peas.

  • Incorporate used coffee grounds (dried grounds, no filters).

  • Add a commercial organic fertilizer with the right balance of nutrients you need based on your soil test.

Just whatever you do, avoid the urge to dump synthetic nutrients into your already depleted soil. They add a quick blast of nutrients that don’t last. Instead, they drain into our waterways and further compromise the fertility of your soil.

When you have a nutrient deficiency, it’s best to play the slow game and restore balance rather than force nature to adapt momentarily to your needs. Take your time for sustainable results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nitrogen plays an important role in photosynthesis, growth, and reproduction.

  • Nitrogen deficiency can lead to yellow leaves and weak plants.

  • Excess nitrogen leads to toxicity.

  • Soil tests prevent mistakes.

  • Organic sources of nitrogen work to fix the soil and increase fertility.