Growing with purely peat, pumice, compost and worm castings?

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
Depends on the conditions, really. For someone living in Florida, or the mid-west where it's hot and humid, sure mexican landraces will be tough to grow. But, Mexican landraces specialize in just that, Mexico type weather where it's dry and hot weather. "dry heat" lol. SoCal will be great for growing any Mexican landrace.

I always thought BluMats were cool, but I've grown so fond of the SIPs that I'll do this instead of BluMats, no troubleshooting or any BS. Always perfect.

Regardless of the amount of soil, I'll always run 40% perlite going forward. I've had mixed results with the 1:1:1 ratio, but going 40% perlite in my mix has been game changing as fuck for me. I'll never do anything but 40% perlite going forward, SIP just makes it all the better.
Interesting, which SIP system do you use? Definitely interested to check it out.

Regarding 40% perlite, what differences did you see by running it?

(Also, why not try pumice? It breaks down a lot slower (or not at all?), maybe that would help with soil compaction after 1 year. I heard perlite breaks down pretty fast).

Are you sure they're red spider mites and not the red predatory mites? You'll know they're predatory mites because the eggs will look similar to fish eggs, if you're a fisherman and/or sushi connoisseur. They literally look like fish eggs. I have those same red mites. If they were spider mites, you'd know. You'd have the damage and the webs. But, if you have no damage/webs, they're likely predator mites.

These look familiar?
Hmm I think that is it... there are ton's of eggs in there, I always thought they were worm eggs. They're like little dessicant balls, they seemed pretty big for a mite egg. The mite eggs are literally as big as the fish eggs on sushi, like 0.5mm yea?

I would be stoked if my worm bin came with beneficials, I wonder what those other people red mite were talking about. Supposedly there's a red one that feeds on the earthworms.
 

kratos015

Well-Known Member
Interesting, which SIP system do you use? Definitely interested to check it out.

Regarding 40% perlite, what differences did you see by running it?

(Also, why not try pumice? It breaks down a lot slower (or not at all?), maybe that would help with soil compaction after 1 year. I heard perlite breaks down pretty fast).



Hmm I think that is it... there are ton's of eggs in there, I always thought they were worm eggs. They're like little dessicant balls, they seemed pretty big for a mite egg. The mite eggs are literally as big as the fish eggs on sushi, like 0.5mm yea?

I would be stoked if my worm bin came with beneficials, I wonder what those other people red mite were talking about. Supposedly there's a red one that feeds on the earthworms.
You mean the little flying fish roe sushi eggs and not the larger salmon roe fish eggs, correct? I have those same mite eggs, and red predatory mites. They're not only nothing to be concerned with, but are a good sign your soil and grow room conditions are on the right track. They're good guys.

Perlite doesn't break down though, sure you're not thinking of rice hulls? Rice hulls break down very fast, perlite/lava rocks do not break down at all. Pretty sure pumice doesn't break down at all either, but I could be mistaken there.

You're spot on though, slow breakdown = slow compaction. However, the biggest issue that causes soil compaction is shit quality compost in my experience. When I had my own EWC and mixed it with Coast of Maine Lobster Compost, those 25g pots lasted me nearly 4 years before they had to be dumped and recycled. Because the compost was light and fluffy, and didn't clump in the slightest.

The coots blend of nutrients are also very light, so they'll react much more slowly with the carbon (peat/coco) in your soil than something like a blood meal or a guano. This also helps with compaction. Say you follow the 1:1:1 ratio, or 33% peat (carbon). After a year or two, that 33% peat will be something like 25% peat, and now your compost is 40-45% instead of 33%. You can see how that could be problematic, if your source of compost is prone to clumping.

I see much more vigorous growth using the 40% perlite in the mix, roots are able to move around the soil much more freely. Soil is much more fluffy, roots seem to love it. I've experienced zero issues only using 20% compost either, especially since I just top dress with it as opposed to mixing so much into my soil.

Even when I get my worm farm going again, I still plan on going the 40/40/20 route. You can always add more, but cannot take something out.

This is why I like that mixing soil is referred to as "cooking", because it's very similar. Its like adding salt to your dish. You can always add more salt if you need it, but you're fucked if you add too much.
 

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
Noice! I always viewed as soil cooking since it got hot when everything is reacting with each other at first, but I like the kitchen cooking analogy too, best to go light on the seasoning, simple is always best. On my new mix I'll try the 40/40/20 mix and compare it to my other one.

Btw also wanted to ask - when you feed your worms the kelp and crab meals, do you have to grind it up into a fine powder to feed it to them? Or can you feed them the coarse flakes?
 

kratos015

Well-Known Member
Noice! I always viewed as soil cooking since it got hot when everything is reacting with each other at first, but I like the kitchen cooking analogy too, best to go light on the seasoning, simple is always best. On my new mix I'll try the 40/40/20 mix and compare it to my other one.

Btw also wanted to ask - when you feed your worms the kelp and crab meals, do you have to grind it up into a fine powder to feed it to them? Or can you feed them the coarse flakes?
I've never ground up any of the amendments I've fed with, though it wouldn't hurt if you wanted to. Technically, worms predominantly eat the microbes responsible for decomposing organic matter and typically do not eat the organic matter itself. This is why when you throw scraps in the bin, it takes a few days for it to get eaten even with a source of grit. Worms won't really eat anything until its begun decomposing, and has been colonized with the microbes associated with the decomposition process.

Rather than grinding the amendments, you could simply spray them with some Grower's Recharge and/or Fish fertilizer to get a bit of a kick start to the decomposition process.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
25 gallon no tills here for 5 years just dumped them all into a 4x4 bed. Moving the pots around adds to soil being compacted. I saw worms were discussed however no mention of cover crops.
Now Northwood does his correct by planing his green mulch in 30 ish days before he harvests. In my 25 gallons, i would run a cover crop with some deep rooting plants every 3rd grow to make sure my soil didnt compact. Seed it in thick and let it grow tall. Those roots will drive straight down and break up your dirt pot. Think of it like organic tilling. once you got some good long roots, kill the lights. go back in and cover all the wilted/dead cover crop with some straw or even better the leaves and twigs from the plants your just harvested. The roots will add fibrous organic material to your pot.

Make sure what when you ad compost to the top in a coots mix to also add leaf mould if your ewc arnt fluffy. So for me i drop the ewc out my bin, mix them with perlite and leaf mould and lay it in. then it all gets covered with dry leaves and stems from the harvest. When fall hits outside ill go get a load of dry brown leaves and throw them on there.

Getting to a place of all humus is interesting. I guess when that day come ill take half of it out, mix in some leaf mold and keep on going.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
Rather than grinding the amendments, you could simply spray them with some Grower's Recharge and/or Fish fertilizer to get a bit of a kick start to the decomposition process.
My wife yells at me. I take worm food and tie it up in plastic walmart sacks and hang them on the rail outside. One maybe 2 days in the sun and the rot is going strong. Worms love it.
 

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
25 gallon no tills here for 5 years just dumped them all into a 4x4 bed. Moving the pots around adds to soil being compacted. I saw worms were discussed however no mention of cover crops.
Now Northwood does his correct by planing his green mulch in 30 ish days before he harvests. In my 25 gallons, i would run a cover crop with some deep rooting plants every 3rd grow to make sure my soil didnt compact. Seed it in thick and let it grow tall. Those roots will drive straight down and break up your dirt pot. Think of it like organic tilling. once you got some good long roots, kill the lights. go back in and cover all the wilted/dead cover crop with some straw or even better the leaves and twigs from the plants your just harvested. The roots will add fibrous organic material to your pot.

Make sure what when you ad compost to the top in a coots mix to also add leaf mould if your ewc arnt fluffy. So for me i drop the ewc out my bin, mix them with perlite and leaf mould and lay it in. then it all gets covered with dry leaves and stems from the harvest. When fall hits outside ill go get a load of dry brown leaves and throw them on there.

Getting to a place of all humus is interesting. I guess when that day come ill take half of it out, mix in some leaf mold and keep on going.
I was actually growing with the cover crops inside my 30 gallon no-tills. Hairy vetch and nasturtiums. Would that also work?

Also, what kind of cover crop were you running to do that?
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
See that will work until the cannabis plant and the cover crop deplete all the nitrogen in the soil. See living mulch is what your talking about. And for that you do NOT want deep rooting plants. you want shallow roots. Like on dutch white clover. See the roots of the clover along with the top 3 inches of your compost/mulch is where everything is happening. (Rhizosphere) You have to feed this by mowing the clover down constantly. I will only recommend a living mulch on something that will always stay in use perpetually. I personally have done away with this method. Imo cannabis life cycle in indoor grows is much too short to utilize this effectively. its too easy for the clover or other plants to take over and starve out your cannabis plant.
Now I use cover crop just too keep having mulch being fed to the soil food web.
 

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
See that will work until the cannabis plant and the cover crop deplete all the nitrogen in the soil. See living mulch is what your talking about. And for that you do NOT want deep rooting plants. you want shallow roots. Like on dutch white clover. See the roots of the clover along with the top 3 inches of your compost/mulch is where everything is happening. (Rhizosphere) You have to feed this by mowing the clover down constantly. I will only recommend a living mulch on something that will always stay in use perpetually. I personally have done away with this method. Imo cannabis life cycle in indoor grows is much too short to utilize this effectively. its too easy for the clover or other plants to take over and starve out your cannabis plant.
Now I use cover crop just too keep having mulch being fed to the soil food web.
So do you think it would be wise to put hay over the cover crop, let it die so the worms can eat it, and only plant a cover crop in between cannabis crops?
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
For sure. Hay is fine to get the process started. Thats one of those things if you have it and its clean then sure. But some hay has pesticides and stuff sprayed on it while its growing. Just be sure to wash it first. To be honest the cannabis plant produces enough leaf and wood for a dry top layer in my experience. I think you will find as you get the layering aspect down and mulching your dryed out harvest materials that you wont need hay.

If you time it correctly, then the cover crop should be just getting good and poppin up as you harvest.
So for me
10-14 days before i plan to harvest ill sow in my cover crop.
Around 3 or 4 days before i harvest i have a young ground cover coming in. once the plants are chopped and the cover get the light it explodes.
5-10 days later ill pull a plant up and see how deep they are. if im looking at 14-18 inches long i pull out the hedge trimmers and cut it all down. Mow it hard. leave it all right there evenly covering the ground.
5-8 days later my buds are dry and being run through the trimmer. All the fan leaves sticks, anything that got got chopped off at harvest sits in a bin and dry outs. once dry it gets ground up a bit and then poured over the top of the cover crop.
Rest 4-10 days with light watering over the 4-10 days. I cant give you exact times as that will depend on how fast the worms and soil activity break down the roots of the cover crop. but normally in about a week its ready to go.
Plant in my next crop. Rinse and repeat.
 

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
For sure. Hay is fine to get the process started. Thats one of those things if you have it and its clean then sure. But some hay has pesticides and stuff sprayed on it while its growing. Just be sure to wash it first. To be honest the cannabis plant produces enough leaf and wood for a dry top layer in my experience. I think you will find as you get the layering aspect down and mulching your dryed out harvest materials that you wont need hay.

If you time it correctly, then the cover crop should be just getting good and poppin up as you harvest.
So for me
10-14 days before i plan to harvest ill sow in my cover crop.
Around 3 or 4 days before i harvest i have a young ground cover coming in. once the plants are chopped and the cover get the light it explodes.
5-10 days later ill pull a plant up and see how deep they are. if im looking at 14-18 inches long i pull out the hedge trimmers and cut it all down. Mow it hard. leave it all right there evenly covering the ground.
5-8 days later my buds are dry and being run through the trimmer. All the fan leaves sticks, anything that got got chopped off at harvest sits in a bin and dry outs. once dry it gets ground up a bit and then poured over the top of the cover crop.
Rest 4-10 days with light watering over the 4-10 days. I cant give you exact times as that will depend on how fast the worms and soil activity break down the roots of the cover crop. but normally in about a week its ready to go.
Plant in my next crop. Rinse and repeat.
Thanks for the detailed explanation! I'll be trying this on the next run.

Edit: Btw, I noticed you mentioned you avoid a perpetual cover crop (dutch white clover) on indoor grows.

What about outdoor grows? (Mine is a outdoor no-till grow in southern california).

Would it be better to just always run dutch white clover and keep mowing it, for an outdoor grow?
 
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Northwood

Well-Known Member
What about outdoor grows? (Mine is a outdoor no-till grow in southern california).
Isn't Southern CA "the place where the hills go brown in summertime"? Sorry it's a song I heard somewhere. lol

But if the song is accurate, I'd avoid planting a cover crop outdoors with your main crop that could help deplete water reserves. I'd mulch like crazy to retain moisture and keep the upper soil reasonably hydrated and protected. Consider a green manure during off-season instead.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
You can. Id be wrong to tell you otherwise. but its unneccesary. a good composting mulch layer will do you more good then worrying about clover. But if your growing out doors and like using a mower around your plants then yeah go for it. mulch that in and that would be fine. Its just if your mulching your plant back into its same spot you shouldn't be needing clover like that. Just mulch that shit bro.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
Remember when it comes to organics: dont grow plants. Feed your soil. You feed your soil right and nature will take care of the rest. (not that i dont like a good aloe or coconut foiler feed!)
 

RenaissanceBrah

Active Member
Isn't Southern CA "the place where the hills go brown in summertime"? Sorry it's a song I heard somewhere. lol

But if the song is accurate, I'd avoid planting a cover crop outdoors with your main crop that could help deplete water reserves. I'd mulch like crazy to retain moisture and keep the upper soil reasonably hydrated and protected. Consider a green manure during off-season instead.
Yes, what a fitting song. (If) it rains in the spring (luckily it has been the past few years) then the hills look beautiful and green and lush... but come June-July it all turns into a tinderbox and every shade of brown. Typically only significant rain here is between Feb and April or so.

My last run I had nasturtiums, hairy vetch and another cover crop running in my no till at the same time the plants were growing... and I was watering with filtered water, and the grow was offsite (15 miles away from me), so at the peak I was driving to the water store, filling up 20 gallons or so, and driving over to the grow site, twice a week, for a month or two. And at least once a week over the period of like 3-4 months. Definitely don't want to do that again lol. I'll definitely go with mulch this time.
 
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