I.R. Ninja’s Outdoor Marijuana Garden 2012: Site Prep, Excavation, and Soil

Rambo March 30, 2012 3
I.R. Ninja’s Outdoor Marijuana Garden 2012: Site Prep, Excavation, and Soil

In a previous article we introduced I.R. Ninja and his plans to expand his existing medical marijuana garden. This extension has pushed his garden out past the 100 foot mark while retaining its modest 35 foot width. After seeing the results, I’m forecasting massive yields. In case you missed our first article here are the specs;

  1. Garden size roughly twice the size as before, now 105 feet by 35 feet
  2. Large holes, 1-1 ½ cubic yards, 5’x5’x2’
  3. Spacing between plants is now 11 foot on center
  4. All new soil
  5. ¼” galvanized, welded wire liners for each hole

To start I.R. Ninja built a template he could use to mark his holes; since all measurements were made based on center, this jig really helped. The jig was built from ¾” PVC, measured 5 feet by 5 feet, and was divided diagonally by tightly stretched string. The center could be found quickly where the strings crossed

After determining the exact center of each hole I.R. Ninja marked the holes location using surveyors paint. Next the jig was laid on the ground and carefully moved until the intersecting strings aligned with the measured center. Finally a compass was used to align the jig by sighting along the edge of the PVC. After the jig was placed a few strokes with the ground paint mark it’s edges. By measuring in this manner I.R. Ninja was able to lay out a very accurate grid.


I.R. Ninja sourced the soil needed for this project from a local landscaping supply company that has developed a solid reputation among marijuana growers in his area. I’m eager to post their recipe because nothing could be more “NorCal” than this blend of organics.

  • Mushroom Compost
  • Composted Redwood bark
  • Scoria (a volcanic perlite like material)
  • Agricultural Lime

For readers who are unfamiliar with mushroom compost I am truthfully sorry, as you are missing out!  There are many large mushroom producing farms in the north Bay Area of California, and they produce this material as an agricultural by-product. Before the blend of compost, steer manure and chicken manure is suitable for growing mushrooms, it must be sterilized. This kills any seeds, fungus or insects that may be present.  The mushroom growers then inoculate the compost with mycelia and grow their ‘shrooms.  After their harvest, the compost is sold to landscapers and pot growers.

When the soil was delivered in 10 wheel dump trucks it was very hot and steaming. It had a very pleasant odor (may be an acquired appreciation) and was surprisingly light. The soil is probably too hot for immediate planting but there is still some time left before I.R. Ninja plants his garden.

Excavation begins

The bulk of the earth moving was carried out with the help of rented equipment. It’s not that I.R. Ninja is lazy, it’s the sheer scale of the undertaking that warranted this added expense. Had the holes been dug by shovel alone, the process would have taken weeks, not a weekend.

To save time the excavator operator dumped loads directly into the loader bucket of the waiting tractor. When the loader bucket became full the tractor dumped the load in a growing pile, As with anything else, there was a learning curve to overcome. By afternoon clumsy jerking movements more closely resembled a graceful tractor ballet.

Wire Liners

In the past I.R. Ninja has been plagued by gophers, not anymore! New ½” galvanized steel cages should keep the critters out for a few years. After one attempt to make a square wire cage failed, a decision was made to simply make the remaining cages round. With these new cages in place I.R. Ninja hopes his gopher problems are solved.


After the second day of work the garden expansion was completed and now encompasses an area nearly twice as large as before. The holes are now laid out in an alternating grid, like the 5 dots side on dice. 

We are very excited about I.R. Ninjas project and he has agreed to allow us to check in with him several times throughout the season. I’m sure he has a few new tricks up his sleeve, so be sure to check in from time to time

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  1. Sgain Dubh September 29, 2012 at 9:08 am -

    That is a nice set up wished I had a backyard up here in Humbolt too outsource some of my quota too or do my own for now I’m going closet. That soil looked like the quality on my parents property an old silly Berm from a creek bed that pushed nutritional soils up during an old time high water flood mark then 28 years of goat barn poop hay chicken and duck fertilizer I dug some up a couple of weeks ago had too average at least 80+ worms per shovel the back side of a cattle yard has a yearly supply of dropped redwood needles and alder leaves in addition you dig in it and you’d think it was freshly rottotiled scrape the leaves back and tons of castings on top of soil. Nice video work too from the Emarald
    Sgain Dubh