Example Top Dress Only Program?

chico1st

Active Member
Hello!
I grow organic and on my last grow tried to go top dress only (no teas) but my plants weren't very happy. (for reference I start with a subcoolesque soil recipe from buildasoil)

Does anyone follow a topdress only routine or know one I can copy as a starting point? I don't enjoy making teas.

I copied a ( 1tsbp/5gal/month of kelp+alfafa during veg, and 1tbsp/5gal/month karanja+kelp) from a homesteading site but then realized afterwards that they also used teas in addition to the top dressing.

I have bone meal, karanja, kelp, alfalfa, crab meal, worm castings, oyster shell off the top of my head.
 

Marq1340

Well-Known Member
Hello!
I grow organic and on my last grow tried to go top dress only (no teas) but my plants weren't very happy. (for reference I start with a subcoolesque soil recipe from buildasoil)

Does anyone follow a topdress only routine or know one I can copy as a starting point? I don't enjoy making teas.

I copied a ( 1tsbp/5gal/month of kelp+alfafa during veg, and 1tbsp/5gal/month karanja+kelp) from a homesteading site but then realized afterwards that they also used teas in addition to the top dressing.

I have bone meal, karanja, kelp, alfalfa, crab meal, worm castings, oyster shell off the top of my head.
What problems did you have? How soon did they appear?

Have a few photos?
 

chico1st

Active Member
Hello sure thing image attached :)
As a whole, my leaves turn yellow and falloff wayyyy too fast, plus any remaining leaves are kindof yellow (this is ~2 weeks from harvest, I lollipopped the plant at one point...then the leaves kept falling off and there aren't many leaves left). The image attached is likely color accurate as you can see some green leaves in the background.

I had to do a fair number of vinigar+water spritzes for WPM so I'm not sure if some of the burn tips are from that or not.

I'm happy to modify someone's routine as needed but I can't find a topdress only plan as a baseline.
 

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m4s73r

Well-Known Member
Thats gonna be a tough one. I dont think anyone just topdresses. I dont know, I'm wierd on this one. I believe if you have to top dress you did one or both of 2 things wrong, your pot is too small/plant is too big, and/or your soil biolife isnt making nutrients available fast enough due to no decaying plant matter. Most people either topdress and do teas. Or they top dress and do living mulch. Not sure you can get away with just adding top dressing unless your doing earth boxes. Maybe look that up and see what those guys are doing.
 

PadawanWarrior

Well-Known Member
Hello sure thing image attached :)
As a whole, my leaves turn yellow and falloff wayyyy too fast, plus any remaining leaves are kindof yellow (this is ~2 weeks from harvest, I lollipopped the plant at one point...then the leaves kept falling off and there aren't many leaves left). The image attached is likely color accurate as you can see some green leaves in the background.

I had to do a fair number of vinigar+water spritzes for WPM so I'm not sure if some of the burn tips are from that or not.

I'm happy to modify someone's routine as needed but I can't find a topdress only plan as a baseline.
I mainly just top dress. I haven't made a tea in a couple years. I do use Neptune's Harvest occasionally. I just push my rice hull layer to one side top dress, then do the same to the other side of the pot.

There's lots of mixes that make things easier. Dr. Earth, Build a Soil, etc. if you decide to order through BAS let me know and I can get you $5 off your first order.
 

PadawanWarrior

Well-Known Member
You might find some ideas here:

Until the pot is overflowing, lol. But it does work. I just don't think that's what the OP is thinking about. I don't know.
 

Marq1340

Well-Known Member
Hello sure thing image attached :)
As a whole, my leaves turn yellow and falloff wayyyy too fast, plus any remaining leaves are kindof yellow (this is ~2 weeks from harvest, I lollipopped the plant at one point...then the leaves kept falling off and there aren't many leaves left). The image attached is likely color accurate as you can see some green leaves in the background.

I had to do a fair number of vinigar+water spritzes for WPM so I'm not sure if some of the burn tips are from that or not.

I'm happy to modify someone's routine as needed but I can't find a topdress only plan as a baseline.
Is your gripe with just making teas or is it any organic liquid?

I have an auto flower grow going that that's been top dress and liquid kelp for the most part, and it looks fine. Used recharge today but wasn't because it was needed.

Yeah that photo didn't help as much as I thought. You definitely had some serious problems going on though.

How did you keep a handle on your pH that run? What about light distance?
 

myke

Well-Known Member
Just sounds like not enough. I tbls a month of ea sounds light.
My 10 gallon sips get 4-6 tablespoons a week of Gaia. Dry. Now not all of the contents in Gaia are food per say. But it does keep up.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
I mainly just top dress. I haven't made a tea in a couple years. I do use Neptune's Harvest occasionally. I just push my rice hull layer to one side top dress, then do the same to the other side of the pot.

There's lots of mixes that make things easier. Dr. Earth, Build a Soil, etc. if you decide to order through BAS let me know and I can get you $5 off your first order.
Shit and we were just talking about this. Dont know why Kashi went out my head. Could totally go with a top dress only program as long as you used Kashi. It would accelerate the break down process of the top dress. good call
 

chico1st

Active Member
Thats gonna be a tough one. I dont think anyone just topdresses. I dont know, I'm wierd on this one. I believe if you have to top dress you did one or both of 2 things wrong, your pot is too small/plant is too big, and/or your soil biolife isnt making nutrients available fast enough due to no decaying plant matter. Most people either topdress and do teas. Or they top dress and do living mulch. Not sure you can get away with just adding top dressing unless your doing earth boxes. Maybe look that up and see what those guys are doing.
So I'm down to have a whole living soil /mulch thing going on. I have 5 gal pots though and I remember when I started my first grow people were saying you had to have a pretty massive soil mass to pull it off (100+ gal to my memory). but yeah I have no decaying plant matter, and my 5 gal pots are grown into 2x2ft scrog plants so I think they are likely pretty hungry (at the time 5 gal seemed like I was going bigger than recommended)

Is your gripe with just making teas or is it any organic liquid? I have an auto flower grow going that that's been top dress and liquid kelp for the most part, and it looks fine. Used recharge today but wasn't because it was needed.
Dont know why Kashi went out my head.
I grow scrog photoperiods so they are supposed to get pretty big...if I don't kill them along the way.
I'm fine to use a liquid or bokashi at times, I was mostly chasing topdressing and organic soil (+blumats) as the most hands off method. If I needed to top dress or put some liquid on once a week that's fine with me. What are your top dressing routines?

I mainly just top dress. I haven't made a tea in a couple years. I do use Neptune's Harvest occasionally. I just push my rice hull layer to one side top dress, then do the same to the other side of the pot.
If you think the routine would work without the rice hull layer then I'm all in :)
 

Marq1340

Well-Known Member
I grow scrog photoperiods so they are supposed to get pretty big...if I don't kill them along the way.
I'm fine to use a liquid or bokashi at times, I was mostly chasing topdressing and organic soil (+blumats) as the most hands off method. If I needed to top dress or put some liquid on once a week that's fine with me. What are your top dressing routines?
After my roots organic/ewc/compost/perlite mix fed the plants for 3-4 weeks I just gave them 2 tbsps of Dr earth per gallon and fed them liquid kelp at just 5ml each watering. The plan is to top dress once every 2 weeks per instructions from @Hollatchaboy

I am a new grower so I decided to keep it as simple as possible. I have nothing on these other guys.
 

PadawanWarrior

Well-Known Member
So I'm down to have a whole living soil /mulch thing going on. I have 5 gal pots though and I remember when I started my first grow people were saying you had to have a pretty massive soil mass to pull it off (100+ gal to my memory). but yeah I have no decaying plant matter, and my 5 gal pots are grown into 2x2ft scrog plants so I think they are likely pretty hungry (at the time 5 gal seemed like I was going bigger than recommended)



I grow scrog photoperiods so they are supposed to get pretty big...if I don't kill them along the way.
I'm fine to use a liquid or bokashi at times, I was mostly chasing topdressing and organic soil (+blumats) as the most hands off method. If I needed to top dress or put some liquid on once a week that's fine with me. What are your top dressing routines?


If you think the routine would work without the rice hull layer then I'm all in :)
You could get away with doing it in 5 gals, just takes more attention. 15 is the recommended minimum, but I have plants in 3 gals sometimes. Right now I have 2 plants in a 3. I just put a couple cutting in a pot and they both grew. I should probably kill one, but I'm just experimenting.

You can use straw too. That's what most people use.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
So I'm down to have a whole living soil /mulch thing going on. I have 5 gal pots though and I remember when I started my first grow people were saying you had to have a pretty massive soil mass to pull it off (100+ gal to my memory). but yeah I have no decaying plant matter, and my 5 gal pots are grown into 2x2ft scrog plants so I think they are likely pretty hungry (at the time 5 gal seemed like I was going bigger than recommended)



I grow scrog photoperiods so they are supposed to get pretty big...if I don't kill them along the way.
I'm fine to use a liquid or bokashi at times, I was mostly chasing topdressing and organic soil (+blumats) as the most hands off method. If I needed to top dress or put some liquid on once a week that's fine with me. What are your top dressing routines?


If you think the routine would work without the rice hull layer then I'm all in :)
Not wrong. a full blown self sustaining pot imo starts at 25-30 gallon when going with a living soil approach. Not to say you shouldnt grow clover. You should. Even if your top dressing with say EWC or compost, at some point your going to need leaf litter. so this is good either way. But by doing this your soil microherd will be very high and able to get nutrients to your plant. I didnt see one way or the other but are you in fabric or plastic pots?

Second. Fuck some blumats. The only people who like them are people who havent had a 50 gallon reservoir dump over all your plants cause of a dry spot and the damn bluemat didnt close. Nope. Nope. Noppitty nope. Besides. You can go to Dripworks.com and put together a whole system that runs off your tap with a water timer for pennies. go with four .5 gph pressure compensating drippers per 5 gallon pot. Proly only 1 min per day till late bloom then jump to once every 12 hours. Jump on Amazon and get a rainbird water flow meter, a water timer with however many zones you need. I run 2. One for each bed. then run all your water through a RV filter to keep the minerals out your drippers. The pic is my system. I run a hose from the cold side of my washing machine with a Y hose manifold. Then it runs to a Y for the dripper and a hose. From the Y down, you have a Nelson 2 zone timer, then water flow meter, then rv filter and they flow down to my drip lines. For pots some 1/4 inche lines, some T's and elbows easy to set up. And after a grow or 2 your will know how often to adjust watering. Look at your soil like a Battery. how long can it run till you have to put it on the charger.

1635221628516.png 1635221820083.png

I am the the laziest grower of all time. I built my whole grow around the idea that I didnt want to do anything in it while it was growing. chop clover once every 2 weeks was the most I wanted to spend. Once a month water in some Q and Mikrobs. Twice a year amend soil and water in big 6. I bought a tumble trimmer just so I didnt have to spend a weekend trimming. I dont want to brew no teas, measure no shit, spend hours in the grow. Hard pass. I dont do worm bins, no KNF, no plant juice fermenting. I even run my light full power at the top of the tent so I dont have to adjust them. Now if I dont want to do all that, then I really dont want to lift no pots, dump dirt, or any of that labor intensive shit. Hard pass.

Shit I got stoned and pulled a Kratos long winded ass post. LOL
 
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PadawanWarrior

Well-Known Member
Not wrong. a full blown self sustaining pot imo starts at 25-30 gallon when going with a living soil approach. Not to say you shouldnt grow clover. You should. Even if your top dressing with say EWC or compost, at some point your going to need leaf litter. so this is good either way. But by doing this your soil microherd will be very high and able to get nutrients to your plant. I didnt see one way or the other but are you in fabric or plastic pots?

Second. Fuck some blumats. The only people who like them are people who havent had a 50 gallon reservoir dump over all your plants cause of a dry spot and the damn bluemat didnt close. Nope. Nope. Noppitty nope. Besides. You can go to Dripworks.com and put together a whole system that runs off your tap with a water timer for pennies. go with four .5 gph pressure compensating drippers per 5 gallon pot. Proly only 1 min per day till late bloom then jump to once every 12 hours. Jump on Amazon and get a rainbird water flow meter, a water timer with however many zones you need. I run 2. One for each bed. then run all your water through a RV filter to keep the minerals out your drippers. The pic is my system. I run a hose from the cold side of my washing machine with a Y hose manifold. Then it runs to a Y for the dripper and a hose. From the Y down, you have a Nelson 2 zone timer, then water flow meter, then rv filter and they flow down to my drip lines. For pots some 1/4 inche lines, some T's and elbows easy to set up. And after a grow or 2 your will know how often to adjust watering. Look at your soil like a Battery. how long can it run till you have to put it on the charger.

View attachment 5016836 View attachment 5016837

I am the the laziest grower of all time. I built my whole grow around the idea that I didnt want to do anything in it while it was growing. chop clover once every 2 weeks was the most I wanted to spend. Once a month water in some Q and Mikrobs. Twice a year amend soil and water in big 6. I bought a tumble trimmer just so I didnt have to spend a weekend trimming. I dont want to brew no teas, measure no shit, spend hours in the grow. Hard pass. I dont do worm bins, no KNF, no plant juice fermenting. I even run my light full power at the top of the tent so I dont have to adjust them. Now if I dont want to do all that, then I really dont want to lift no pots, dump dirt, or any of that labor intensive shit. Hard pass.

Shit I got stoned and pulled a Kratos long winded as post. LOL
I have to actually exercise my brain when @kratos015 posts. He's full of knowledge.
 

youraveragehorticulturist

Well-Known Member
The good news is that Alfalfa, Crab Shell, Kelp Meal and worm castings are the best things to top dress with.

In five gallon containers, I would use 2 Teaspoons of amendments during Veg and 3 in bloom. Organic stuff is mild compared to bottles, but too much all at once can cause weird pH swings and temporary lock out/yellowing issues. If you're growing big plants in small containers you'll need to keep feeding the system without overloading it.

So veg top dress could be 1 teaspoon alfalfa and 1 teaspoon of kelp. Or you could use karanja instead of the kelp. Or 2 Teaspoons of some mixture like 1 part each alfalfa/kelp/karanja. I'd use this same mix for the Stretch or Early Flower period.

Once your plants are bigger and you've got some flowers starting add crab shell. So 1 teaspoon each alfalfa, crab shell, kelp. This will give you some NPK and calcium and magnesium. After 6 or 7 weeks I would drop the crab shell to taper off the Phosphorus and Calcium. And keep up the alfalfa had kelp so you still get Nitrogen, Potassium and some micronutrients.

In addition to the nutrients you also need to keep up the microbes and bacteria in your pots. Top dressing 1 or 2 cups of earth worm castings will work great for this.

So for top dress only plan you could do dry nutrients (2 or 3 teaspoons) 1 week, then EWC (1-2 cups) the following week. Third week you could check things out and see how your plants look. If they're light colored and hungry looking, use dry nutes again. If they look healthy and green, let them chill for a week.
 

chico1st

Active Member
Not wrong. a full blown self sustaining pot imo starts at 25-30 gallon when going with a living soil approach. Not to say you shouldnt grow clover. You should. Even if your top dressing with say EWC or compost, at some point your going to need leaf litter. so this is good either way. But by doing this your soil microherd will be very high and able to get nutrients to your plant. I didnt see one way or the other but are you in fabric or plastic pots?
...
I am the the laziest grower of all time. I built my whole grow around the idea that I didnt want to do anything in it while it was growing. chop clover once every 2 weeks was the most I wanted to spend. Once a month water in some Q and Mikrobs. Twice a year amend soil and water in big 6. I bought a tumble trimmer just so I didnt have to spend a weekend trimming. I dont want to brew no teas, measure no shit, spend hours in the grow. Hard pass. I dont do worm bins, no KNF, no plant juice fermenting. I even run my light full power at the top of the tent so I dont have to adjust them. Now if I dont want to do all that, then I really dont want to lift no pots, dump dirt, or any of that labor intensive shit. Hard pass.
OK this is awesome and wildly making me wish I was using some 30gal pots. Your grow is my utopia of laziness. I thought I was wildly the laziest person here :P
I own the blumat already though, I got it so in the event of a flood it was limited, and my 10 gal resevoir wouldn't make toooo much of a mess.
And I'm in fabric pots.

The good news is that Alfalfa, Crab Shell, Kelp Meal and worm castings are the best things to top dress with.
is.

So for top dress only plan you could do dry nutrients (2 or 3 teaspoons) 1 week, then EWC (1-2 cups) the following week. Third week you could check things out and see how your plants look. If they're light colored and hungry looking, use dry nutes again. If they look healthy and green, let them chill for a week.
thank you so much for this! Everyone was saying maybe it was doable but I still had no idea what to do :P I'm perfectly happy to not use the karanja, it's too hard to find for me.
How come crab meal instead of bone meal? and would it make sense to add epsom salts or oyster shell along the way?

Shit and we were just talking about this. Dont know why Kashi went out my head. Could totally go with a top dress only program as long as you used Kashi. It would accelerate the break down process of the top dress. good call
So now that I have a plan does the kashi still help? I thought the plant kind of just extracted the stuff via roots and water, and the topdress didn't need to decompose. But as I can see with your setup you are leagues ahead of me.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
OK this is awesome and wildly making me wish I was using some 30gal pots. Your grow is my utopia of laziness. I thought I was wildly the laziest person here :P
I own the blumat already though, I got it so in the event of a flood it was limited, and my 10 gal resevoir wouldn't make toooo much of a mess.
And I'm in fabric pots.


thank you so much for this! Everyone was saying maybe it was doable but I still had no idea what to do :P I'm perfectly happy to not use the karanja, it's too hard to find for me.
How come crab meal instead of bone meal? and would it make sense to add epsom salts or oyster shell along the way?


So now that I have a plan does the kashi still help? I thought the plant kind of just extracted the stuff via roots and water, and the topdress didn't need to decompose. But as I can see with your setup you are leagues ahead of me.
So your first upgrade will proly be getting out of the fabric pots. Check these out when your ready.

Set those blue mats up once you have had time to dial in watering. I may be lazy but thats only cause I was rigorous about my grow when I started. Thats what I love about organics. Once your medium is set, it comes about everything else. Environment and moisture of soil. The plants are never a concern.

Use both. Bone meal contains phosphorus and calcium and is used for flowering perennials. Crab meal is rich in chitin and helps to enhance the activity of soil microbes.

In 5 gallon containers the kashi will speed up the break down of the top dress.
 

youraveragehorticulturist

Well-Known Member
OK this is awesome and wildly making me wish I was using some 30gal pots. Your grow is my utopia of laziness. I thought I was wildly the laziest person here :P
I own the blumat already though, I got it so in the event of a flood it was limited, and my 10 gal resevoir wouldn't make toooo much of a mess.
And I'm in fabric pots.


thank you so much for this! Everyone was saying maybe it was doable but I still had no idea what to do :P I'm perfectly happy to not use the karanja, it's too hard to find for me.
How come crab meal instead of bone meal? and would it make sense to add epsom salts or oyster shell along the way?


So now that I have a plan does the kashi still help? I thought the plant kind of just extracted the stuff via roots and water, and the topdress didn't need to decompose. But as I can see with your setup you are leagues ahead of me.
I use crab shell instead of bone meal because I have a big bag of it, and because it's a little more mild. Also crab meal has chitin, which is supposed to be cool. I think I would probably give the bone meal 3 weeks instead of two weeks to work before re-apply. That's a lot of phosphorus and you don't want it building up.

You could use Epsom salt anytime you were signs of magnesium deficiency. (Light, faded patches on your leaves between the veins.) It would also make sense to use the epsom salts in the last half of flower, after you stop using crab shell. That way you'd still get magnesium and some sulfur to help get real stank buds.

Oyster shell is cool too, it's got calcium and magnesium. But you've already got that stuff from crab shell or bone meal, if you use those.

Really, any combination of stuff is cool, just try not to load up on phosphorus or too much calcium all at once.
 

Lenin1917

Well-Known Member
I just top dress once or twice after pre amending whatever soil mix I’m using. Dr earth tomato foods it. It works.
 
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