Imagine if you could grow top-shelf cannabis that’s completely free of pesticides, fungus and mold using a method that requires little to no effort at all. Seriously—it’s called the “Do Nothing Method” and it’s been around for centuries. Our bud Joe Snow, a Norther California-based grower has not only mastered the process adapting it to cannabis cultivation he’s willing to show us all how it’s done.
As you can see from the photos Snow’s weed looks amazing. It tests with a ton of terps, no pesticides and impressively low levels of pathogens which will exceed California’s new clean cannabis mandates. If we didn’t sample his super choice cannabis, read his test results from Santa Rosa’s Pure Analytics Laboratory and tour his boutique, East Bay, indoor grow operation we wouldn’t have believed it.
The 28-year-old, 6-foot-5 Snow was born in New York but was mostly raised and educated in Israel. After exiting the Israeli army—required by all Israeli high school grads—he began cultivating cannabis—a science and practice that he’s extremely passionate about. In fact it’s the reason he moved back to the states recently, specifically California—the epicenter of cannabis cultivation. (You can reach Joe Snow via Instagram.)
Here in California growing pesticide and contaminant-free weed is crucial. It’s especially important today as the state gears up for recreational marijuana sales this January. Alarmingly an overwhelming majority of the weed floating around the state right now is so filled with contaminants it won’t be allowed on the market. A recent study revealed that 80% of the San Francisco Bay Area marijuana poses health hazards including cancer.
California’s cannabis contamination problem is so bad that back in August San Francisco-based Anresco Laboratories conducted tests on all of the cannabis featured at the HempCon Festival held in San Francisco over the summer. Guess what? Eighty percent of the herb at the festival was contaminated with unhealthy levels of solvents, pesticides, molds, fungus or various bacteria. Yuck.
Contaminated cannabis like this would never be allowed on dispensary shelves in Colorado or Oregon where strict laboratory testing is mandated before any pot product even hits the market. And the new rules in the Golden State spelled-out in 500-pages of regulations by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control in September are even more strict.
However Snow’s gorgeous cannabis crops have been passing laboratory tests with flying colors. His flowers show high cannabis counts. Most importantly Snow’s weed shows absolutely no signs of pesticides or other chemicals and impressively low levels of molds and fungi. So how does he do it? By doing nothing of course.
Do Nothing Farming
Snow’s technique is an adaptation of a method and philosophy developed by Masanobu Fukuoka who was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He live between 1913 and 2008 and was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures. And he used these techniques to create his own method of farming commonly referred to as “Do-nothing Farming.” The technique produces a soil and growing environment that naturally repels insects and molds while allowing each plant to reach its full genetic potential.
Masanobu’s book, The One-Straw Revolution, inspired a natural-farming philosophy for growing fruits and vegetables that quickly spread internationally. His theories haven’t been widely applied to cannabis cultivation but the technique seems perfect for growing pot indoor, outdoor or inside a greenhouse. And like we said it seemed to work for Snow in his intimate room. The grow technique is reminiscent of that used by Skunk magazine’s The Rev that he details in his book, True Living Organics. We’re big fans, however Snow’s technique is far simpler to execute.
“I based my method off of Fukuoka through recommendations I got on No Till cannabis forums,” Snow explains as we enter a large building in the East Bay. “Grasscity forums had a great thread from someone who can now be found on Instagram @mountainorganics. He recommended that we read Fukuoka’s books. After actually reading them I instantly fell in love with Fukuoka’s philosophies and methodologies and have run with them ever since,”
The principles are pretty basic. All that’s necessary is a healthy environment, chemical-free soil, a little temperature control and lots of life—especially worms. Hope you aren’t afraid of bugs, Snow chuckles as we enter his grow room. The small space is about the size of a single car garage and filled with several rows of well-worn15-gallon grow bags containing soil. We approach a bag and Snow pulls back the thick mulch—a layer of rice, a sizeable amount of straw and plenty of busted-up pot branches with small crystally buds still attached—to expose a rich, dark soil teeming with life. We see a litany of bugs various shapes, colors, sizes and a lot of worms. “I use both red worms and European nightcrawlers in my grow bags and in my worm bin,” Snow tells us as he hoists a handful of soil that’s the color of cocoa powder.
The soil is airy, light and moist to the touch—almost wet even. “You don’t need to let the cannabis plant dry out,” he says as we exit the meticulously neat grow space. “By letting the soil dry out you’re killing off a lot of the microlife that you need to support a healthy growing cannabis plant.”
Snow doesn’t compost his soil, he doesn’t even till. He also avoids nutrients of any kind. When we meet at a local grow store one afternoon he explains that he infrequently ever visits them. While there he picks up a book, Teaming with Fungi by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.
“With my methodology you’ll reduce the need to keep going back to a grow store for nutrients, soil or any other general growing items,” Snow explains. “I utilize a one-time soil mix and if cared for properly it lasts forever. You can see how this would be a practice that hydro stores would probably want to discourage,” he says as we hop in a car headed back to his place.
Not only does Snow’s straightforward grow process save money it also saves time. “Stoners like this method for growing weed because it’s quick, cheap and easy. It also has the most buffer room for error due to the multitude of soil life mitigating potential harmful effects,” Snow says. “This technique is simple in both theory and practice. Of course you have to work hard and pay attention to the details while growing. But if you care for the the plants properly they’ll care for themselves by producing a nice amount of resin and terpenes which naturally protect the plant from things like mold, fungus and pests.”
The process couldn’t be simpler. Once a fully ripe pot plant is ready for harvest Snow just lops it off right at the stem. Then he gently plants another clone right next to the old stump. Snow claims that his current non-tilled soil has been used for five consecutive grows. That means there are a total of five root balls in each grow bag. We can see the remnants of at least two stems, one pretty well decomposed and one fairly fresh, in the grow bags spaced neatly on the floor—each with a freshly planted new clone.
Plus Snow’s process can be done anywhere. Outdoors makes it variable to season obviously, says Snow. “If it’s a place with a harsh winter, you’ll have to work on reinvigorating your soil at the beginning of each season. It’s perfect for indoor as well as greenhouse grows, he says. However, it’s a lot less work I find when done on a small scale,” Snow says.
Speaking of scaling Snow hopes to expand his operation by moving to a greenhouse facility in the near future. He and his partners are also entering the education and consulting aspect of the pot industry. “That’s why I’m really excited to work with Stuff Stoners Like on creating cannabis cultivation content,” Snow says. My business partners and I are stoked to get the knowledge out there for everyone to grow clean medicine especially with recreational sales about to start.”
Stay tuned for lessons on how to create your own living soil just like the stuff that Snow uses. You’ll also learn how to master Snow’s “Do Nothing Method” so you too can create all-natural cannabis that’s teeming with terpenes and bursting with crystals all for pennies on the dollar.
Have you ever hear of or tried this “Do Nothing” style of cultivation developed by Masanobu Fukuoka or read his book, The One-Straw Revolution? Let us know your thoughts about using it to grow organic cannabis in the comments section below.