going no till, advise please

Discussion in 'Organics' started by im4satori, Aug 29, 2017.


    im4satori Well-Known Member

    so I got some #20 smart pots that just finished there first run in DIY soil build

    per cubuc ft
    1/3 peat,compost,perlite
    1/14 cups lime
    2 cups mix

    im going to dump the pots and blend in some biochar and some amendments

    then put the soil back in the pot, cover the top with vermicompost
    im going to also go ahead and add the worms to the pots

    cover them with straw, and that it???
    de'green likes this.

    kratos015 Well-Known Member

    Sounds more like you're recycling the soil as opposed to a no-till. Dumping the soil and re-amending it is recycling the soil, which can give good results but is not a true no-till. A no-till would be if you just left the soil in tact, never removing it from the pots whatsoever. You make your base soil mix and amend it as you normally would, however when the plants are finished you leave the soil alone. Cut the stem as close to the dirt as possible and leave it there, root ball and everything. Eventually the microbes (and worms if you have them) will get to work on decomposing the root ball, stem, and any leaves you may have mulched with.

    Again, there's nothing wrong with going the ROLS route as myself and many others have had incredible success with it. I'm not trying to be an asshole and certainly hope I don't come across as such, it's just that this isn't a no-till technically. If you wanted to go the no-till route, instead of dumping everything and re-mixing it just leave the soil alone just as it is now. That lime and 2 cups of amendment mix you were planning on using per cuft, just top dress with that instead of dumping the soil and mixing it that way. Top dress with your amendments, and then top dress that with whatever compost you used when you originally mixed the soil. Top with mulch if you have it and keep the no-till nice and moist and that's all you have to do.

    Just pulled my girls from my no-till about a week ago. I have all 6 of my 25g pots still sitting in the room, sowed some clover seeds and eventually they'll take over and act as a living mulch for me until my next batch of clones are ready. I'll keep watering my pots as if they still had my girls in them (technically, they do have the clovers after all :P) and just keep things exactly like that until my clones are ready within another 3-4 weeks (waiting on my moms).

    Again, you've just about got it perfect. It's just that if you want a no-till, just top dress with the amendments and then vermicompost rather than dumping the soil and mixing all of that in. Top dress with all of that instead and keep things moist, throw your worms in the pots and you'll be good to go, absolutely no mixing required! The reason people like to avoid dumping and remixing and go with no-till is because it keeps the microbiology in tact. It's called a soil web and you can literally picture it as such. If you don't destroy the web it will stay strong and undisturbed, however if you destroy the web you will have to wait for the spider to create another web.

    All of that being said, both the ROLS method and the no-till method will both produce fine quality organic meds and there are pros and cons to both. There are some cons exclusive to no-till beds much like there are cons exclusive to the ROLS method. With ROLS, you'll never have a soil web anywhere close to as well knit and balanced as one in a well taken care of no-till bed. That being said, a no-till bed requires a lot more things to troubleshoot than the ROLS method does. With no-till, there absolutely cannot be any compromise to the quality of the compost or it all falls flat. Soil compaction will also become an issue eventually as well unless you plan accordingly, and even then the best you can do is stall it. Eventually, once everything in the no-till bed has decomposed it will inevitably become ROLS as the entire no-till will eventually turn into humus once everything has been fully decomposed. You'll then have to mix up a new batch of soil, with your old no-till bed being the compost component of your new soil.

    Hoping for the best on your venture!

    morgwar Well-Known Member

    Bravo !
    Thanks for the download man!
    I've got two 10 gallon fabric pots from my last grow I was too lazy to put in my compost heap. I'm gonna follow that advice to the letter. Picking up aslike clover seed tomorrow.
    Don't mean to hijack, just a really informative post.
    Jimdamick and im4satori like this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    I understand what your saying

    thank you for taking the time to explain so well, that's exactly what I need

    I understand a no-till means literally not disturbing the soil, I should have explained myself better

    what I meant to say is I would only recycle the soil this one last time since I have not yet added the worms or biochar I figured Id go ahead and mix the amendments and biochar in this one last time before adding the worms and going to till from that point forward

    you do bring me to a couple more questions, how does one manage transplant from a smaller container into the #20 no till and also adding/top dressing composts
    doesn't the #20 pot get over filled
    de'green likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    not at all man

    happy to have the conversation
    de'green and morgwar like this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    about the clover leaf

    I don't really have the space in my indoor to keep the sitting pots to grow the clover so the "cooking" pots will be in the dark for the entire cook

    is that a problem? can I just mulch it and skip the clover?
    de'green likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    eventually when the no- till is spent and its time to finally re-amend.... will the worms survive?
    de'green and Wetdog like this.

    kratos015 Well-Known Member

    Glad to be of service my man! I'll actually be doing the exact same thing you're doing because my 25g pots were root-bound after I finished. I'll be upgrading to fabric beds my next time around and will be mixing my old soil with the new soil I'm getting.

    But pretty much for transplants you can go about this a handful of ways. People will actually avoid filling their pots 100% for this exact reason and make sure to leave room for top dresses. You know how when you transplant a clone/seedling into a new pot and cover it up with whatever soil you're using? Well, instead of soil just top dress with your amendments and EWC/compost instead of soil and you'll be good to go. Many people have hang ups about top dressing in the marijuana community because some of us started with synthetics.

    Many people (myself included when I started organic) believe that top dressing a clone/seedling is a bad thing because nutrients are bad for plants that young. However, once the plant (any plant) gets into the living soil the roots of the plant then form a symbiotic relationship with the microbes within the soil. Unless I have it mistaken, the roots actually "signal" to the microbes what they want to eat, if anything. So the microbes will go and grab exactly how much of a specific nutrient it wants, when it wants. In fact, I recall reading RROGs ROLS thread a few months back and he compared living soil to a warehouse and the plant as a person. Sure the person has an entire warehouse full of food, but this it's conveniently packaged for long term storage and can be eaten at your leisure. However, this is only true if you're using something light like crab or neem meal. If you top dress a clone or seedling with blood meal or any kind of guano you're gonna have a bad time.

    Forgive my wall of text, but I get into all of that because it has to do with why top dressing even clones or seedlings can be alright.. depending entirely on what the top dress consists of. My top dress is nice and light, same stuff I used when I made the soil. Just crab, neem, and kelp meals and I cover that up with either EWC or compost.

    If we're talking about transplanting a 5 gallon pot into a 25 gallon no-till pot then unfortunately some damage will have to be done. You can carefully remove as much of the root ball as you need to in order to fit your transplant in the no-till pot/bed. While you will be causing damage to the area being removed, it isn't the entire mass of soil at least :)

    Most of the people I've seen doing no-till raised beds are just popping clones straight into the beds after harvest and vegging for however long is necessary for their particular setups. With a well established no-till bed, it takes absolutely no time at all for whatever is planted in there to start filling to medium and spreading out as fast as possible. Because as I was mentioning above, the microbes form a relationship with the plants that are put into your soil and communicate via their roots. I transplanted rootbound 2g pots into 25g pots and was only able to veg them for 2 weeks before 12/12. They filled the pots. The rate at which these girls can fill pots is rather obscene, I almost thought those pots were too big if anything.

    Totally not a problem at all, mulch is a personal preference thing for sure just like many aspects of organic grows. All about what is giving you the results you want. I grow in a shed and it has fluorescent bulbs wired into it, nothing fancy buts it's enough light to get clovers going in my no-till pots/beds. For one, they'll tell me if I have any issues with my soil and act as a canary in a coalmine if you will :p On top of that, clover will absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and store it within the soil which is perfect for me personally when I'm in between crops. Absolutely no need to use clover for mulch, was just suggesting what worked for me personally. If you have something that's been working out for you then I definitely recommend sticking to that for sure!

    To be completely honest with you, I've never actually made it that far with no-till. It was difficult for me to find much information about that on google; but the handful of information I did manage to find all mentioned how the soil will eventually decompose into pure humus/compost and you will in fact have to start anew. Try to think of your pots as a worm bin, worms are totally capable of surviving in their own castings for a little while. This is just me coming from worm bin experience and not a finished no-till experience, but eventually the worms will grow tired of living in their own crap and start to make a run for it. You'll know it's time because you'll come to a point where the worms are trying to escape because they're living in their own castings. At this point you can just make arrangements to get a new batch of soil going and get those worms into a new home as soon as possible! And you would be amazed with worms too. I didn't do the best job screening my castings and had quite a few that got into the castings. I stored them for damn near two months before using them and I still had plenty of worms and cocoons in the castings when I made the soil. While it is entirely probably you will have some casualties, so long as enough of them survive and they're happy you will never be short on worms :p

    Hope that helps!

    Wetdog Well-Known Member

    Without meaning to, you've just explained why no-till in containers is more of a buzz word than an actual real thing. Eventually, it IS spent and has to be broken down and redone.

    Basically ROLS but with longer intervals. I call large containers that are too heavy to easily move, no-tills and have found that 3 years is about it till they must be broken down and redone. This is all outside and where I can get to them with a wheelbarrow to handle the mix. Inside, 7 to 10 gal containers is about max for me. I just turned 69 and can't hump stuff around like I used to.

    It is a real thing outdoors, in soil, where (lacking huge earthmoving equipment), the same topsoil is used forever. My soil raised bed gardens are no till and a totally different animal than the container grows.

    Yes, the worms will survive, but as I mentioned in another post, don't try and turn your grow pots into worm bins. The cocoons and missed worms in fresh VC that you topdress will be all you need in a growing container. A too large population ends up making the mix way too dense and ends up being detrimental to the growing plant. I tried the same thing you are thinking of and over time learned it was a mistake and had to break down the pot over a year sooner than it was due.

    The populations that resulted from just the VC were more than adequate without being over crowded.

    Anyway, if you just think of no-till as ROLS with longer intervals rather than something different it makes a lot more sense. They really are pretty much the same thing AFA containers go.
    Buba Blend, MistaRasta and im4satori like this.

    Wetdog Well-Known Member

    Just mulch is more than fine.

    *I* don't do cover crops at all indoors and pretty much not at all in containers outdoors. Wind blown weeds do just fine for that.

    Cover crops are intended for soil BETWEEN food crops and I will cover crop my raised beds between seasons, but even then, not every year. Mulching just gives me better results.
    im4satori likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member


    that all helped tremendously and has me re-thinking my approach for sure

    somebody tell me what ROLS stand for :dunce:

    I got the understanding that is what im currently doing now with re-amending my soil, but don't know what it stands for specifically lol
    de'green likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    ya man

    I don't think my worms are real happy

    I should have screened them out and made new bedding for them some time ago, I think they are tired of living in there own shit maybe

    the large bin has a large population and they are active... they'll hop and jump around when disturbed and it stays wet

    the small bin has a smaller population and the bin stays more dry, but it seems like the population is low comparatively

    I need to do some work on them, I was holding off thinking Im just going to toss them into the pots but I don't think im going to do that after some chatting
    de'green likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    I use #20 smart pots

    Ive been growing 1 plant per pot and veg 9 weeks
    up-potting from
    solo cup
    6" pot
    5 gallon pot
    20 gallon pot

    so my thought is to change all that and plug 4 plants into the #20

    just go from the solo cup direct into the #20 pot and veg it a couple weeks

    I arrange 4 #20 pots under 1 hps light (gravita DE) for a 5x5 canopy

    the purpose;

    to reduce power consumption with less veg
    to make the pots/plants more manageable if I have to move them
    de'green likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    so it sounds like im going to do something in the middle

    I got 8 #20 pots but I only use 4 at a time in bloom
    so I can let 4 sit empty for a few weeks between each round

    for example;
    maybe I get 3 grows per pot no -till and then break it down and do it again
    so id only be breaking down each pot 1x per year +/-
    de'green likes this.

    Wetdog Well-Known Member

    Recycled Organic Living Soil (ROLS) ... To sound all organiky
    Reamend or Recycled Mix for just talking.
    im4satori likes this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member


    so if I want to sound smart and organiky I should say ROLS lmao
    de'green and Wetdog like this.

    ACitizenofColorado Active Member

    "Most of the people I've seen doing no-till raised beds are just popping clones straight into the beds after harvest and vegging for however long is necessary for their particular setups. With a well established no-till bed, it takes absolutely no time at all for whatever is planted in there to start filling to medium and spreading out as fast as possible. Because as I was mentioning above, the microbes form a relationship with the plants that are put into your soil and communicate via their roots. I transplanted rootbound 2g pots into 25g pots and was only able to veg them for 2 weeks before 12/12. They filled the pots. The rate at which these girls can fill pots is rather obscene, I almost thought those pots were too big if anything."

    I had the same experience but, respectfully, think you (OP) might be able to transplant directly from 5 to 25. I went from 3 to 10, believing the plants to be root-bound; they were simply under watered; the roots in the 3-gallon pot did not reach the outer edge of the soil. Within 6 days of transplanting into 10, using Azospirillium (I think), roots were blowing out the 10-gallon pot. I would just put at least a few inch layer of soil on the bottom of the 25 and transplant directly into it, if the vertical space allows.

    Excellent post though. I'd really like to try worms in bins. What do you feel is the minimum pot size?
    im4satori likes this.

    toomp Well-Known Member

    Bio char is going to yield less
    A hoard of organic gurus will argue me because they hate keeping shit simple but it's true.
    Do one bio char one with out, you will see.
    No till in pots will last only a year to 2 at most.
    When they come to argue me down remember you where the smart one that actually tested it instead of just following new age grower non sense. Half the shit here makes no sense to organic farmers that grow crops to keep us alive.
    Wetdog likes this.

    kratos015 Well-Known Member

    Determining pot size is entirely dependent on your specific situation/grow as well as what it is you're trying to do. What personally dictates my final pot sizes is how long I will be able to veg them before they go into flower. The veg time is pretty much my main factor for determining pot size.

    Like outdoor for instance; if I have a seedling ready to go in the beginning of March I'll be able to veg the seedling from March all the way until the end of June when the summer solstice hits and the days start getting shorter. If I'm getting 3-4 months of veg outdoors I'm giving them as much soil as I can possibly afford to give them. My first outdoor I went with 30g pots and it didn't take them much time at all to fill the entire pots up and become rootbound. Conversely, if I didn't get seeds started until May for whatever reason then outdoors I'll only have one month of veg before flower triggers as a result of the solstice. At that point, a 20-30g pot would be just fine. If you start early enough outdoors and get 3-4 months veg? The sky is literally the limit. I read a grow journal of a guy growing in beds that each had a cubic yard of soil (1cu.yd.=27 cuft = ~203 gallons soil) in Oregon, he averaged 4-5lbs per plant after all was said and done. Had he grown in 2 cu.yd instead of 1 he could have come close to doubling his yields, easily. He himself was reflecting on this, I'm still just a "basement" grower so I'm not about to tell someone running an acre sized outdoor grow how they should run things lol.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent, just trying to demonstrate that veg time really does dictate your pot size. If you plan on no veg time then you don't want anything larger than 1 gallon pots typically as you'll be flowering straight from clone. If you plan on vegging for 1-2 weeks in the final pots before flower, then a 3-7g pot will be what you want to go with (strain dependent). If you plan on vegging for 2-4 weeks then 7-15g pots will be your best bet. Anything longer than 4 weeks veg time and you'll want at least 20 if not 30 gallon pots. Anything longer than 8 weeks veg and I'd recommend going with 65g pots, if not 100g pots at the absolute minimum. And of course, it will also be strain dependent. Knowing your strain in and out and knowing how it grows will allow you to make the most informed decision when it comes to deciding the best pot size.

    Sorry to ramble and hope my response was useful.
    Buba Blend and im4satori like this.

    im4satori Well-Known Member

    im going to play it partly buy ear for now and see how it goes

    to start im going to plug 4 plants from solo cup and root bound into a 20 gallon pot that's about 5 gallons per plant, veg 2 weeks +/- in #20 pot
    de'green likes this.

Share This Page