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Cannabis Compost: How to Make and Use It

by Freddy Castillo 08 Jul 2024
Cannabis Compost How to Make and Use It

As the cannabis industry grows and evolves, sustainable practices are becoming increasingly important. One such practice is composting, which not only helps reduce waste but also enriches the soil, enhancing the growth and health of cannabis plants. This comprehensive guide will take you through the process of making cannabis compost and how to use it effectively to boost your cannabis cultivation.

The Benefits of Composting Cannabis

The Benefits of Composting CannabisComposting is the process of breaking down organic matter into a rich, dark, soil-like substance called humus. This process offers numerous benefits, especially for cannabis cultivation:

  1. Nutrient-Rich Soil: Compost is packed with essential nutrients that cannabis plants need, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are released slowly, providing a steady supply over time.
  2. Soil Structure Improvement: Compost improves soil structure, enhancing its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. This leads to healthier root systems and more robust plant growth.
  3. Waste Reduction: Composting organic waste, including cannabis plant material, reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, contributing to a more sustainable environment.
  4. Microbial Activity: Compost boosts microbial activity in the soil, which aids in the decomposition of organic matter and improves nutrient availability to plants.
  5. Cost Savings: By creating your own compost, you reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and soil amendments, saving money in the long run.

Materials Needed for Cannabis Compost

To start composting, you'll need a mix of green and brown organic materials:

Green Materials (Nitrogen-Rich)

  • Fresh cannabis leaves and stems
  • Grass clippings
  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds
  • Manure (from herbivores like cows, horses, or chickens)

Brown Materials (Carbon-Rich)

  • Dried cannabis stalks
  • Fallen leaves
  • Straw or hay
  • Shredded newspaper or cardboard
  • Wood chips or sawdust

Other Essentials

  • Compost bin or pile
  • Water source
  • Pitchfork or shovel for turning the compost

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Cannabis Compost

Step by Step Guide to Making Cannabis Compost1. Choose a Composting Method 

There are several methods for composting, but the most common for home growers are:

  • Compost Bins: These contain the composting process, keeping it neat and controlled.
  • Compost Piles: These are simple and easy, but can be messier and require more space.
  • Tumbler Composters: These are enclosed bins that can be rotated to mix the compost, speeding up the decomposition process.

2. Build the Compost Pile

Start by layering your green and brown materials. A good rule of thumb is to use a ratio of about 3 parts brown material to 1 part green material. This balance ensures that the compost heats up properly and breaks down efficiently.

  1. Base Layer: Start with a layer of coarse brown material like straw or wood chips. This helps with aeration and drainage.
  2. Green Layer: Add a layer of green materials like fresh cannabis leaves and vegetable scraps.
  3. Brown Layer: Add a layer of brown materials like dried leaves or shredded newspaper.
  4. Repeat: Continue layering until your compost bin or pile is full. Aim for layers that are about 2-4 inches thick.

3. Maintain the Compost Pile

To ensure your compost breaks down efficiently, you need to maintain it properly:

  • Aeration: Turn the compost pile regularly (every 1-2 weeks) to introduce oxygen. This helps speed up the decomposition process and prevents foul odors.
  • Moisture: Keep the compost moist, like a wrung-out sponge. Water the pile if it becomes too dry, but avoid making it soggy.
  • Temperature: Composting generates heat, which helps kill pathogens and weed seeds. The ideal temperature range is 135-160°F (57-71°C). You can use a compost thermometer to monitor this.

4. Harvest the Compost

Composting can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the materials used and how often the pile is turned. The compost is ready when it's dark, crumbly, and has an earthy smell.

Using Cannabis Compost

Using Cannabis CompostOnce your compost is ready, it's time to put it to use in your cannabis garden. Here are some ways to use compost to benefit your cannabis plants:

1. Soil Amendment

Mix compost into your garden soil to improve its structure, fertility, and microbial activity. This creates an ideal environment for cannabis plants to thrive.

2. Top Dressing

Apply a layer of compost on top of the soil around your cannabis plants. As it breaks down, it will slowly release nutrients into the soil, providing a steady supply for your plants.

3. Compost Tea

Compost tea is a liquid extract made by steeping compost in water. It can be used as a foliar spray or soil drench to provide a quick nutrient boost and promote beneficial microbial activity. Here's how to make it:

  1. Fill a large container with water (rainwater or dechlorinated tap water is best).
  2. Add a mesh bag filled with compost (like a tea bag) and let it steep for 24-48 hours.
  3. Stir the mixture occasionally to aerate it.
  4. Strain the liquid and use it immediately as a foliar spray or soil drench.

4. Seed Starting Mix

Compost can be used as part of a seed starting mix. Mix it with equal parts of peat moss and perlite to create a nutrient-rich, well-draining medium ideal for starting cannabis seeds.

Tips for Successful Cannabis Composting

Tips for Successful Cannabis Composting

  • Balance Your Materials: Ensure you have a good balance of green and brown materials. Too much green material can make the compost pile slimy and smelly, while too much brown material can slow down the decomposition process.
  • Chop Materials: Chop larger materials into smaller pieces to speed up the decomposition process.
  • Avoid Harmful Additions: Avoid adding meat, dairy, diseased plants, or pet waste to your compost pile, as these can attract pests and introduce harmful pathogens.
  • Patience is Key: Composting takes time. Be patient and allow the process to work naturally.

Advanced Composting Techniques

VermicompostingFor those looking to take their composting to the next level, here are some advanced techniques:

1. Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting uses worms, particularly red wigglers, to break down organic matter. Worm castings are incredibly rich in nutrients and beneficial microbes, making them an excellent addition to your cannabis garden.

  • Setup: Use a bin with drainage and ventilation holes. Add bedding material like shredded newspaper, coconut coir, or peat moss.
  • Feeding: Add small amounts of organic matter, including cannabis scraps, vegetable waste, and coffee grounds. Avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods.
  • Maintenance: Keep the bin moist and turn it occasionally. Harvest worm castings every few months.

2. Bokashi Composting

Bokashi compostingBokashi composting is an anaerobic process that uses beneficial microbes to ferment organic waste. It’s a quick method that can handle a wider range of materials, including meat and dairy.

  • Setup: Use a Bokashi bin with a tight lid. Add a layer of Bokashi bran (inoculated with beneficial microbes) at the bottom.
  • Feeding: Add organic waste in layers, sprinkling Bokashi bran between each layer.
  • Fermentation: Let the waste ferment for about two weeks, then bury it in soil or add it to a traditional compost pile for further decomposition.


Composting is a sustainable and effective way to enhance your cannabis cultivation. By recycling organic waste, you create nutrient-rich compost that boosts soil health, improves plant growth, and reduces environmental impact. Whether you’re a home grower or a commercial cultivator, incorporating composting into your practices can lead to healthier plants and more bountiful harvests.

By following the steps and tips outlined in this guide, you can create and use cannabis compost to achieve better results in your garden. Embrace the power of composting and contribute to a more sustainable future for the cannabis industry.

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