If you’re on the west coast, I recommend using Super Soil brand. It’s the only soil available on the west coast that I know for a fact is good. Most other soil products contain very little nutrients, or they’re too moist. I recommend adding vermiculate or pearlite to the soil, to increase aeration and drainage.
Lots of people use their own organic compost to grow with. This is a good idea, if you already have a composting setup. Dog waste, including hair is very high in nitrogen. However, there have been cases (however ridiculous this may sound), where people have been caught because the hair was DNA tested and linked back to the dog, and therefore the person. Yeah, not likely, but certainly possible.
You should always prepare for the worse. Droughts have been known to wipe out entire crops in a matter of days, especially if the grower is unable to make it to the plants to hand water them. I recommend using P4 water crystals for situations like this. These small crystals absorb water like sponges, and allow for an emergency reserve for the roots. Don’t overuse this stuff though. It tends to sink low, and has been known to choke out new-growth roots, damaging the plant.
When growing in soil, the size of the pot directly reflects the size of the grown plant. So, if you want bigger plants, use a bigger pot! A good figure to use is a ½ gallon per foot of plant. So if you want good-sized 4’ plants, use at least a 2-gallon pot. If you’re growing in a square area, such as a closet or small room, square pots are recommended because they will fit in perfectly. If it’s at all possible, planting directly in the ground is always better than growing in pots. This allows plants to grow as big as they can, and therefore yield as much as they can.
Chicken manure, bat guano, worm castings, etc. can all be used to fertilize naturally. Be warned though, straight manure is very flammable. It should be composted in soil over several weeks before using. Sea weed is used by many growers, because it has a lot of trace minerals, and takes a while to break down, meaning it will be a constant source of food for the plants.
If you’re growing outdoors, look around for natural sources of nitrogen, such as leaves. Break them down and mix them into the soil, along with some dolomite lime or organic fertilizer. If you need to, plant food such as miracle grow can be added to the mix, but if you’re trying to go all organic, avoid this as commercial plant food creates toxic waste. You can use the natural things around you to make mulch. Leaves and bark work well. Break them down and spread them over your growing area. This will keep moisture in and weeds down.