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Don't Panic It's Organic


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#1 Damar

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 01:07 PM

Hello fellow OG'ers!

Im starting this thread precisely because I'm feeling overwhelmed by my dive into organics, but want this to tether me to the ground so I don't give up. Due to my current situation, I won't be growing any bud with my soil, but I would like this to be a learning thread for all novice organic growers who are learning to make a true living organic soil. I plan to grow some vegetables, and with help from our more experienced members we can get my soil to where it needs to be so I'm ready to get things going in 6-8 weeks.

So far, I made the jump and bought a bunch of amendments. I had my original list made up from some notes I took from The_Organic_Obsession's "first post" thread. A ton of info on there, but as I read other threads, it's clear there will never be unanimous consensus on how to go about doing this. Everyone's constructive comments are welcome, but what is not welcome is any arguing or bickering of any kind.

I know it's more than I need, but better to have it than not, so without further ado the following is what I've got so far:

For the soil:
5lb alfalfa meal
4lb crab meal
5lb kelp meal
5lb fish bone meal
2lb neem cake
5lb glacial rock dust
5lb rock phosphate

For foliar sprays/teas/etc..:
1gal molasses
1lb amino acids
1lb humid acid
1lb fulvic acid
8oz silica powder
4oz yucca extract

Now come the things I need to complete the soil. For the spaghnum peat moss component, I'm thinking a bag of 3.8 ft3 Promix High Porosity with Myco. Maybe I don't need Promix? Maybe generic Premier Canadian Spaghnum Peat Moss would do, for a third of the cost? That is Question#1, for reference. I'm shooting for about five 10-gal smart pots on my deck, tomatoes, peppers, that sorta thing (the deck, it faces south on the top of a big hill in WV so LOTS of sun, it's pretty beautiful).

Next, the Earthworm Castings. Question#2. I have my heart set on a worm compost bin in my basement, but the soil needs to start cooking pronto if I'm going to grow anything this summer, so in the meantime... Should I go with Build-A-Soil castings? UNCO's Worm Wiggler bags on Amazon? When I get this shit, literally, what's my window on not having the microbial life die before I mix it into the soil? (In your first hand experiences).

I already have a huge 4 ft3 bag of coarse perlite I used for some other "mind-melting" projects ;-) I have about 3 ft3 left, and feel like I'll probably use a decent part of it to get a nice fluffy soil.

Finally, let's agree I got all the soil and amendments (please notify me if you think I'm missing some critical components)... Should I err on the safe side and innoculate with some probiotics? Make my own, or buy a package like Modern Microbes? Hempyfan says that EM1 isn't an innoculant, but rather a food for the microbes? I am worried I will have all these great amendments in the soil, but no life to break them down. I mentioned in another thread my access to a good quantity of organic cow manure, but it's fresh, and I read that it wouldn't be a good additive until it's aged/composted. But maybe a cow-pie's worth would be enough to get me some microbes, but not too much to cause problems? I'd rather err on the side of caution.

I'm relying on you all, the organic experts (by my account), to help me, and so I thank you all tremendously in advance for helping me. Again, the goal is to learn the basics of these living organic soils, so that when my time comes to start growing great organic bud legally I can hit the ground running!!!

#2 StankyDank30

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 03:28 PM

Was just discussing organics with another member threw pm. Thanks for this thread ill be following along. Ready to learn organics

#3 Papalag

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 03:52 PM

Hi damar
I also use blood meal
Dolamite lime ( helps with ph )

Bat and sea bird gruno ( bird for bloom also good in teas )
Be carful not to make it to hot is is kinda like what I use ( modified sub cools supper soil mix ) I have burned a few girls that way
Also the soil mix will be good to make teas from
I will try to find a link to an organic artical which helped me out a lot on the journey into organics it's on icmag organics for beginners
Have fun with you garden
Papalag

#4 BagWell

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 06:10 PM

yo papa i would not worry to much with dolomite lime as its a fertilizer with proper carbon cycle ph will adjust accordingly
Dolomite lime is used as a soil sweetener its has been always considered that minerals are always leaching from the soil in most cases its not because of the amount of organic matter not enough will leach soils,, And trust me most new organic growers and
old ones ,, tend to put more then enough, organic matter to have proper CEC
And even if minerals are leaching blindly adding only 2 ??? Calcium and magnesium can and will cause you more harm then good
Because Calcium has very little mobile properties magnesium is mobile
But the real problem i mean marketing and what have you sold everyone on needing dolomite lime as a necessity TBH magnesium is very abundant in most soils and the ratio of dolomite lime is 2 - 1 which is to much Magnesium
So in all honesty Stay away from that crap :) unless you had a soil analysis done

#5 Papalag

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 06:40 PM

Hay bags
Thanks for the info I have always added it to my soil mix
Maybe not so much now
But as you know it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks lol
You know what's funny I have never used cal mag in all these years until now thought I was missing something all my grow buddies use it just bought some I always say less is better I just don't listen to my self lol
Papalag

#6 Damar

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 09:17 PM

Well thanks for stopping by gentlemen! In my following posts I'm going to research what amendments do what, to better see what can be substituted with what, what overlaps, etc.

Still waiting on opinions on what materials should constitute the bulk of my substrate... any counters to the Promix? What about ordering compost and earth worm castings (EWC) online? I'm worried that the microbial life will suffer if I'm not using a fresh source...

Which brings me to the real reason for this post, and another reason why I'm learning to love West Virginia! A friend from work decided to go around our work yard today and salvage some old wood palettes with me, and then we went back to his tool filled garage to build a worm bin for me. I was pretty down today, and this was just the thing to pick me up. I can't believe we finished in just a couple hours. Luckily, he had everything we needed laying around.

Check it out!

First we made the frames for the two stackable trays:
Posted Image

Then, we put some wire mesh on the bottoms, and built a "pan" tray for the bottom to catch leachate and loose droppings. Also added some guiding legs to the outsides of the trays, and handles:
Posted Image

Posted Image

The top is just a piece of plywood. This was 100% free to make, other than some wood glue, nails, and of course the tools from my friend! Big props to him!!

Posted Image

I'm going to set it up in my basement, which should hold a perfect temperature this summer for making a whole bunch of castings! The box diameters are just under 2'x2' (I think it was about 22"x22") The imperfections of the box seems to make it perfect for providing some cracks for good aeration, but if need be I can drill some holes.

#7 Papalag

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 08:53 AM

In my area I get mushroom compost local stuff is the best I do use promix as well
I know from my own experience I tend to be the mad scientist and throw a bunch of stuff that overlaps so read up and knowledge is awesome
Have fun
Papalag

#8 DreamOfGreen

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 02:18 PM

cool worm hotel. i think as soon as it dries up some outside i plane on taking a trip to the wood dump pile out side of town with a hammer and a wonder bar.
*** I know the right fat girl is going to come along and make me fall in love ***

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#9 buddah_fingah

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 06:05 AM

if you looking to add microbial life to your soil, look no further than this imo.

https://better-organ...o-media-pro-50g

i use it inside and outside on my vegtables

also mycorrhizae is also a must, better organix do a great mycorrhizae, infact paul stamets helped with the ratios of the mix in this.

other than that i'd make/buy a worm bin to get your own worm castings.

its hard to find good worm castings that are bought in a bag, most are really bad. gold label is the best for shop bought stuff imo.

also, if your near the sea, collect some sea water and feed your plants the sea water diluted to rain water at 1part sea water/30 parts water.
this gives your plants the perfect ratio of minerals, thus making your vegetables more nutritious and tastier :)

try it out if you can, you'll be amazed.

also, don't add fulvic acid or humic acid to your teas as it slows the rate of growth of bacteria and fungi. its great added as a drench though.

thanks BF

edit.. haha, totally missed the worm bin your making. looks decent brother

#10 Damar

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 03:53 PM

Haha, im glad i read down to the end of your post. I was thinking to myself, "but, but, there are pictures!!" :-)

Thanks for the tip! Now I can proceed without needing a directly natural biologically active compost inoculate. I'll add my Sannies Mycos when I add plants, after the soil cooks.

#11 Damar

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Posted 28 April 2016 - 03:53 PM

Double post o.O

#12 webeblzr

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 07:17 AM

Food for thought:
Dolomite or oyster shells :http://buildasoil.com/products/oyster-shell-flour-replacement-for-dolomite-lime

#13 DreamOfGreen

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 08:54 AM

crushed crab shells get added to all my soil, it gets reused. and to the worm bin and the compost pile.
while it takes a good amount of time to break down enough for the calcium and other nutrients to be available to the plants, it immediately serves as a good food source for microbes. and the more microbes the better.

should make a bumper sticker 'happy microbes make life easy'.
*** I know the right fat girl is going to come along and make me fall in love ***

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#14 Damar

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 08:03 PM

"happy microbes make better cannabinoids"

-Greetings from Rte 66, b/w Tulsa and OKC

#15 Damar

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 10:40 AM

Update Time!

So, after the roadtrip, and a crazy, drug-filled memorial day weekend (drinking, smoking, dropping acid :dribble: ) ...

I finally had time to build my super soil.

I thought I would be clever and prepare my trash can for cooking, and drilled holes in it to help with some airflow for the composting microbes:

Posted Image

However, I underestimated my volume of soil, especially after the sphagnum peat moss came OUT of compression in the bag.

Posted Image

My recipe is as follows, and I just decided to go with it after doing the research I talked about above. Here's to hoping the internet didn't guide me completely astray...

Base Soil:
2 cu ft Sphagnum Peat Moss (a little over half the 3.8 cu ft bag)
2 cu ft Coarse Perlite (Horticultural Grade)
1.5 cu ft Used Mushroom Compost (i was breaking up little clumps of manure with my fingers, I think)

Additives:
5 cups Kelp Meal
5 cups Crustacean Meal (Chitin)
5 cups Glacial Rock Dust
3 cups Fishbone Meal
3 cups Alfalfa Meal
3 cups Neem Meal
3 cups Rock Phosphate
1/2 cups Gypsum

As you saw in the picture above, over the course of an hour or two, I slowly mixed the base soil together, and then the additives. I did this just by getting shoulder deep into the pile and moving it all around. Now I understand why a kiddy pool is perfect for this home project!!!

My original plan was to add 3 gallons of EM-1 infused water, but I ended up going with an extra gallon of clean water for the moisture content. I wanted the soil to feel heavy, but not soaking wet. I'm actually thinking I may not have added enough, or rather, that it will evaporate too quickly.

And so I added... a semi-cover:

Posted Image

Anyways... My 1lb of Red Wigglers should arrive today or tomorrow, so my worm bedding/decomposing food can finally provide some nourmishment and get my worm bin really going!

Stay tuned, friends!

#16 Hempyfan

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 12:28 PM

I would add a large bag of worm casting to your mix. Make sure you "cook" by letting it sit, the soil for awhile. At least a week to a month generally good.

I see this only really good for veg as I do not see you addressing flowering and a bit of calmag aspects maybe a bit more.

To do this I would add some
  • Epsom salts 1/2 cup.
  • 1 c pulverized dolomite lime
  • Blood meal 3 cups
  • Bone meal 3 cups
  • Flowering fruit bat guano 3 cups.
I would ask someone how the gypsum would affect what I written. I have not used it in years so I am not experienced with it to use it accurately in a soil recipe.

It will affect the calmag aspect so with what I wrote I might have over dosed. So please get another opinion on what I wrote. I would have dont it a bit differently than you so I am not confident in my ratios but I think they are ok outside of my question on the gypsom and meals, epsom salts and lime.

Next time, I would water the soil in with a veg tea made from your EM1, alfalfa and casting. Em1 is good in the soil but is best used in foliar feeding in my view.

You just want to lightly water in, not soak. You do not have plants uptaking water if you water log the media it is not good and evaporation may not remove the unwanted extra wetness fast enough. You are just kicking off life in your media. A little dark humidity goes a long way.
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#17 Damar

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 01:59 PM

I agree with your recommendation on the need for a slight buffering additive, such as Dolomite Lime, to help the soil naturally protect itself from pH swings. However, after reading up on gypsum vs. dolomite lime, I feel that the two together will be a strong solution. The dolomite lime to buffer, but the calcium in gypsum is more mobile and a better source for plant uptake. It can also fight against aluminum toxicity in pH<5 soils, but I don't think I'll have an issue with that.

I disagree with what you said about a lack of flowering nutrients, as my Phosphorous is very strong in the fish bone meal (We'll see with the tomatoes and peppers I guess!)

Here are some notes I took on the various amendments:

Alfalfa Meal
N-P-K = 3-1-2
Potassium, Sulphur, Magnesium, Manganese, Selenium, Iron
Speeds up composting piles, not as nitrogen rich as blood meal, used for more delicate plants

Crab Meal
N-P-K = 2-3-0
Good source of calcium, a little magnesium, NITROGEN
Encourages growth of chitin-eating bacteria, which staves off pests and bad microbes

Kelp Meal
N-P-K = 1-0-2
Great source of Potassium & Trace Minerals

Rock Phosphate
N-P-K = 0-3-0
A good alternative to bat guano. Product is 20% total phosphate and 3% available phosphate. Organic phosphorus fertilizers come primarily from mineral sources, like rock dust or colloidal phosphate (also called “soft phosphate”), or from bone sources, such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal.

Fish Bone Meal
N-P-K = 4-20-0
The bone meal has been pasteurized and infused with seven (7) strains of beneficial soil microbes. High in trace elements and pro-biotic soil microbes. Ocean-run bone meal. Has 20% slow-release calcium phosphate.

Glacial Rock Dust
N-P-K = N/A
A natural rock powder that is non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Will not burn plants or seedlings. Contains over 28 identified elements. Provides immediate and slow-release of trace elements such as: iron, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc, and many more...

Neem Cake Meal
N-P-K = 6-1-2
Kelp4Less had limited info on Neem Cake Meal, but from wikipedia and supported by other sources I've read:
Neem cake has an adequate quantity of micronutrients in organic form for plant growth. Being a totally botanical product it contains 100% natural NPK content and other essential micro nutrients such as N(Nitrogen 2.0% to 5.0%), P(Phosphorus 0.5% to 1.0%), K(Potassium 1.0% to 2.0%), Ca(Calcium 0.5% to 3.0%), Mg(Magnesium 0.3% to 1.0%), S(Sulphur 0.2% to 3.0%), Zn(Zinc 15 ppm to 60 ppm), Cu(Copper 4 ppm to 20 ppm), Fe (Iron 500 ppm to 1200 ppm), Mn (Manganese 20 ppm to 60 ppm). It is rich in both sulphur compounds and bitter limonoids.
Pest Control:
Neem cake is effective in the management of insects and pests. The bitter principles of the soil and cake have been reported to have seven types of activities (a.) Antifeedants (b.) attractant (c.) repellent (d.) insecticide (e.) Nematicide (f.) growth disruptor and (g.) antimicrobial.

I will definitely be using teas and foliars during this experiment, since I'd like to learn how to better use those to fine tune an organic grow. I like your idea about watering in the soil with a veg tea, not JUST the EM-1, although I think it will be sufficient for this first watering. I will need to get an airstone or something to bubble the tea for 24 hours.</p>

My plan right now is to water the soil once a week, and turn it after watering, for 3 weeks. I've read in various places that you should wait anywhere from 14 to 45 days for the soil to cook. But, I have extra peat moss and perlite, so I could possibly just create a small nutrient-poor space around the baby plants when I put them into the bigger 7 gallon smart-pots, and let them grow into the nutes.

#18 bigun

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 02:10 PM

hempy, I used a lot of gypsum when I was in landscaping business.
I used it to soften clay soils so it would perk(take water) more easily.
I am sure it does nothing as far as increasing or decreasing the mineral values in the soil.

#19 Damar

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 02:15 PM

I added another gallon of clean water to the soil pile today after getting home, and mixed it all up. I decided to do so because after reaching into my pile it just felt too dry (trust me, hempy, it's not waterlogged :D) I'm judging it kinda how I judge my soil when I'm growing - I wanted it to feel lightly moist, similar to how it feels usually before I water my plants.

I'm now going to leave it undisturbed for a few days and then shove my arm into the center to see if it's getting warmer.

Edited by Damar, 03 June 2016 - 04:46 AM.


#20 Damar

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 12:13 PM

Just some quick, back of the notepad calculations... not sure if this is even how you're supposed to do it, but I added up the ratios of what I added and got the following:

3 x 3-1-2 = 9-3-6 Alfalfa Meal
5 x 2-3-0 = 10-15-0 Crab Meal
5 x 1-0-2 = 5-0-10 Kelp Meal
3 x 0-3-0 = 0-9-0 Rock Phosphate
3 x 4-20-0 = 12-60-0 Fish Bone Meal
3 x 6-1-2 = 18-3-6 Neem Cake Meal

Total 54-90-22


So, although it'll all break down slowly from the microbes, the Potassium may be lacking in the longterm? Maybe that's what you meant, Hempy, and if so I apologize.

I'm thinking how to remedy this. Supposedly, Greensand as an amendment is 0-0-3, but Kelp4Less doesn't carry it.

It could be just good to brew alfalfa + kelp teas late in flower, and water with those to supplement the potassium?

Ahhhhh, I'm so excited about using an organic soil! The learning curve seems a little steep at first, but the rewards of a no-hassle grow & harvest seem to be worth it :D