It is best to use a combination of different fertilizers to get a wide variety of minerals and other nutrients. Fertilizers from seaweed and guano (bat dung) mixed with compost and peat is what I normally use, however different plants like different mixtures. For herbs the I should start with peat during germination and beginning stages of vegetation (peat is very low in nutrients and mainly retains water and this is what the plant prefers during its earliest stages.) Start using small amounts of fertilizer mixed into the soil and gradually add more every couple weeks. The I can tell if the plant is underfertilized or overfertilized from the colour of the leaves and stems. Generally light green leaves with dead tips are underfertilized, dark green leaves with reddish stems are overfertilized. Volcanic ash is very good for a wide variety of minerals. Both volcanic ash and guano are worth their weight in gold.
Here is a part of a grower's guide I have:
NUTRIENTS AND FERTILISING
There are about 15 elements known to be essential to plant life. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are absorbed from air and water. The remaining 12 elements are absorbed primarily from the soil, in mineral (inorganic) forms such as NO3- and K+. They constitute a natural part of soil that becomes available to the plant os organic matter decays and soil particles such as sand and clay dissolve.
Soil elements that are necessary for normal growth are called nutrients. The elements nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) are considered major nutrients. The three numbers that appear on all fertiliser packages give the available percentage of these three nutrients that the fertiliser contains; and always in the order N-P-K. For example, 10-2-0 means 10 percent N, 2 percent P (actually, 2 percent P2O5), and no K (actually, no K2O). Fertility is often measured by the amounts of major nutrients a soil contains. Relatively large amount of N-P=K are needed for lush growth.
Three other elements - calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), and magnesium (Mg) - are called secondary nutrients. Plants require less of these nutrients, and most cultivable soils contain adequate amounts for good growth.
Six remaining elements are called trace elements or micronutrients. As their name implies, they are needed in very small amounts. Commercial soils contain enough trace elements to sustain normal growth. The trace elements are also present in manures, humus, ash, and limestone.
The amount of nitrogen a soil can supply is the best indication of its fertility. Nitrogen, more than any other soil nutrient, is inextricably linked with the living ecosystem. Nitrogen is continually cycled through living systems: from soil to plants and back to the soil, primarily by the activity of soil microorganisms. Nitrogen is essential to all life. Nitrogen is a key element in the structure of amino acids, the molecules which make up proteins. These, and all other biomolecules, are synthesised by the plant. Chlorophyll, genetic material (for example, DNA), and numerous enzymes and plant hormones contain nitrogen. Hence, N is necessary for many of the plant's life processes.
Cannabis is a nitrophile, a lover of nitrogen. Given ample N, Cannabis will outgrow practically and plant. Ample nitrogen is associated with fast, lush growth, and the plant requires a steady supply of nitrogen throughout its life. Marijuana's requirements for N are highest during the vegetative growth stages.
P is a constituent of energy-transfer compounds such as NADP and ATP, and molecular complexes such as the genes. The energy compounds are necessary for photosynthesis, respiration, and synthesis of biomolecules. Cannabis takes up large amounts of P during germination and seedling stages. During flowering and seed set, Cannabis' need for phosphorous is also high.
K influences many plant processes, including photosynthesis and respiration, protein synthesis, and the uptake of nutrients. Just as with P, K uptake is highest during the earliest growth stages. K is associated with sturdy stems and resistance to disease in plants.
Ca functions as a coenzyme in the synthesis of fatty compounds and cell membranes, and is necessary for normal mitosis (replication of cells). Plants take up much more Ca than the small amount necessary for normal growth. Ca is not added to soil as a nutrient; is added to adjust the soil's chemistry or pH.
S is a constituent of certain amino acids and proteins. It is an important part of plant vitamins, such as biotin and thiamine, which are necessary for normal respiration and metabolism. (Plants synthesise all vitamins they need.) Most soils suitable for growing marijuana contain plenty of S.
Mg is involved in protein synthesis and metabolism of carbohydrates. Mg is the central element in the structure of chlorophyll molecules and hence has an important role in photosynthesis. Most mineral soils and commercial soils have a good supply of Mg.
The trace elements (Fe, Mn, Mb, B, Cu, Zn) are particularly important in the coenzymes and catalysts of the plant's biochemistry. Many life processes, particularly the synthesis and degradation of molecules, energy transfer, and transport of compounds within the plant, depend on trace elements. Trace elements are not used in large quantities to spur growth, but are necessary in minute amounts for normal growth. Indoor soils rarely require an addition of trace elements.
All the nutrients are needed for normal growth. However, most of them are supplied by the potting soil. Ca, S, and the trace elements rarely present any problems. For most growers, fertilising will simply require periodic watering with a complete fertiliser, one that contains N, P, and K.
From THE MARIJUANA GROWER'S GUIDE
by Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal
Typed by Ben Dawson