CBD Cannabis

Growing high quality CBD Cannabis is no different than growing high quality fruits, vegetables, and other produce. We start with the soil, and this begins the preceding fall. 

Our fields, such as this one we are growing CBD Cannabis in, receive an annual application of biodynamic compost at the rate of 40 tons to the acre. Lime is spread every few years at 1.5 tons per acre. The acids in the compost act on the bases in the lime to create great growth potential. 

BAREFOOT FARMER organic certified hemp – Long Hungry Creek Farm, Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee – 9.29.19 © Photograph by Alan MESSER | www.alanmesser.com

Last year’s sweet corn patch was followed by a cover crop of grasses. In mid-May I plowed the field with a chisel plow. The shanks vibrate back and forth because of the springs. The land rests for a few days and then I chisel it again perpendicular to the first pass. After a week or so it gets chiseled in the direction of the first time, and a spike tooth harrow is chained behind the plow. 

The waiting days between plowings is important for preserving soil structure. We do a lot to ensure our soils are a live clay/humus complex. This includes remineralizing, cover cropping, and making herbal preparations for the compost piles, all of which foster a vibrant microbial population. These live beings need the air provided for with little gentle tillage, but can be damaged by too much plowing at once. Time between tilling allows the microbes to resettle, hold the soil together, and get ready for the next crop. 

Another humus building process we do is burying cow horns stuffed with manure in the fall. When dug up in the spring, the manure has transformed into an enzyme-rich humus material. We stir it up vigorously in warm water for an hour and sprinkle it on the freshly plowed soil before planting. 

On June 6 I felt the soil was in good heart so I laid off 14 rows with a farmall 140 cultivating tractor. We planted a row of marigolds for color, and rows of the old-fashioned Tennessee pumpkin along with delicata and spaghetti squash. Two rows were left blank. The pumpkin patch usually ends up with weeds in it, and this year I chose the weed. 

Every five or six feet we dug a few shovelfuls of the soft dirt, and then took a digging fork and loosened the subsoil underneath. The deeper the soil is loose, the easier it is for the plant roots to get moisture and nutrients. A few shovelfuls of beautiful black compost was added to each hole, along with a cup of Jersey greensand, a mineral deposit from an old sea bed rich in silica, potassium, and trace elements. 

Three things are necessary for growing high quality produce. Gentle tillage incorporates air, which has the nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen that make up 95% of a plant. Minerals and trace elements are needed by the plant to make up the other 5%. And well-made biodynamic compost has microorganisms that help get the air, minerals, and the trace elements into the plant. 

We swapped 1000 sweet potato slips for 100 low THC cannabis plants. They were set in the holes before a rain so that they didn’t need watering. I ran the cultivator over the field three times to check evaporation, aerate the soil and take care of weeds. We hoed around them once and added a few more shovelfuls of that great compost, along with a cup of calcium phosphate. Horn silica and horsetail (equisetum) tea were stirred and applied separately in mid-July to help offset the humus earth preparations with silica, a light and warmth preparation that helps plant quality. 

The pumpkin and squash vines had to be pulled off of the cannabis a few times. I wanted to keep full production of vegetables, but we certainly questioned the wisdom of this companion planting while rescuing the plants from climbing vines. The soil has stayed loose and friable, a prerequisite for growing high quality plants. 

The inspector came August 20th and said they were the healthiest plants he’d seen. Most plants he had seen had been grown in less fertile conditions with hard soil, plastic mulch, and drip irrigation. We rely on cultivation, soaking in of winter rains, and a live, humus-rich soil. 

JEFF POPPEN / THE BAREFOOT FARMER with organic certified hemp – Long Hungry Creek Farm, Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee – 9.29.19 © Photograph by Alan MESSER www.alanmesser.com

We harvested some on August 27th although we’d planned on waiting until September 20th. The buds were getting thick and I didn’t want them to mold. I strung them upside down in the barn to dry, keeping them close but not toughing. 

Hemp is Cannabis drilled close together to make tall, branchless stalks for fiber. Most of the 3000 hemp growers in Tennessee are growing flowers for medicine. The plants are only females. To grow seeds for oils and protein you would need to grow male plants, too. All Cannabis grown in Tennessee must have less than 0.3% THC or it is illegal. 

Cannabis is a beautiful plant domesticated by humans before recorded history. I think it would have a place in our crop rotations. I try to grow the highest quality peppers, potatoes, squash, and many other fruits and vegetables, so it has been fun growing this new crop. 

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