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Chamalla

Building my first supersoil

81 posts in this topic

Hi there,

 

After a first attempt with coco coir / hydro which I think I enjoyed less than I (or the plants) should have, mainly due to having to deal with the myriad of nutrients every other day, I've since been growing my plants with Canna's BioTerra Plus soil & their Bio organic nutrient line, which I (and clearly the plants too) enjoyed a lot more.

 

I've had some minor nutrient deficiencies, potassium mostly, but I think I got that under control with some light foliar feeding. So far so good - less hassle than hydro, but still not quite where I would want it to be.

 

In future I'd like my soil to do most of the work, ideally I'd like to have to provide only water throughout the grow. For this purpose I've been looking at supersoil recipes, what they have in common etc. - some are more US-centric in their ingredients, some more UK etc. ... since I don't need a huge amount of soil for now I'd probably try and cook a small batch first.

 

My questions:

 

1. How ethical / sustainable is ethically / sustainably sourced bat guano really? If it's not, what do you use instead?

 

2. Instead of adding fish meal, bone meal, and blood meal individually, is it okay to add a combination product, or should I generally steer clear of those? Are there better / greener alternatives?

 

3. For future amending of this soil I've set up a wormery, the worms will mainly be fed with kitchen waste from bokashi buckets and gardening waste. What else can I do that's both simple and useful? Keen to hear more suggestions. Plant comfrey? How much to keep a small body of 50-150 litres of soil going?

 

4. How do you manage your soil in general? Do you have a bin that's cooking while you're using the soil from another, finished bin? A separate bin just for amending old soil? Or am I drastically overthinking this and your is setup much simpler?

 

Cheers!

Edited by Chamalla
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hey, looks like no-till is the way you might wanna go......

 

i'll try answer your q's

1, don't think it is, I use comfrey?

2, combination is ok but most are not strictly organic(meds for cows etc) I use kelp/seaweed

3, wormery is your key tool/resource for e.w.c. comfrey,nettles and many others can help......

4 check some no-till diary's, the answer is very varied depending on individual needs/preferences

good luck:smokin:

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This is interesting as I thought the no till way you needed to sterilise because of the risk of getting bugs in your room, but I could well be wrong on that now. 

 

I am too making a move over from coco, I am trialling one plant now against coco, im just using biobizz allmix and oltimer organic bloom, and ecothrive biosys periodically. It is kicking the coco plants backsides imo. Not quite a bush like the coco boys, but the growth upwards has been ace and the arms are getting strong in flower. 

 

So im motivated to do a soil that has good stuff in so I dont need to be so feed heavy until week 3 bloom I hope. I have 5 choc mint OG seeds around 5 days old in light mix and kept moist with water and GA root tonic (which smells like off fish which I think is a good sign??). 

 

The mix I am planning to get ready after lots of research on here, and I just started a thread 1 hour ago in the non organic soil section. My mix is Plagron Batmix 1/3 (which I was told is organic compared to H&G which isnt), 1/3 Biobizz soil (50/50 Light/All), and 1/3 Coco for airation. I want to then add ecothrive charge which is mealworm beetle droppings, organic. I think if I let that sit for a few days Im hoping that 1. Its not too strong for young plants, and 2. The mix should last on water till week 3 bloom. Then just top up with the odd splash of OT bloom. 

 

Let me know what you think to that, I want to 'go a bit more live' for sure, but Im not at that level of research yet. 

 

And Im glad your on this path too, lets see how it goes. :hippy:

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On 17/05/2018 at 6:57 PM, buddy13 said:

hey, looks like no-till is the way you might wanna go......

 

i'll try answer your q's

1, don't think it is, I use comfrey?

2, combination is ok but most are not strictly organic(meds for cows etc) I use kelp/seaweed

3, wormery is your key tool/resource for e.w.c. comfrey,nettles and many others can help......

4 check some no-till diary's, the answer is very varied depending on individual needs/preferences

good luck:smokin:

 

Cheers mate, brilliant, I'm going to start a planter or two with comfrey as soon as possible. And nettles. Mostly because I want to find a nettle that could pass for a Frisian Duck during veg (because vice versa, obviously).

 

My worms have finally settled in, took them a while but now they're happily eating and doing worm things.

 

I'm not quite sold on the no-till thing - I think it's a great thing to do outside, but indoors, with containers etc., I'm not sure the benefit is there - but quite possibly I have this all wrong, I am a newb after all.

 

 

On 17/05/2018 at 7:16 PM, Magicmunchietree said:

This is interesting as I thought the no till way you needed to sterilise because of the risk of getting bugs in your room, but I could well be wrong on that now. 

 

I am too making a move over from coco, I am trialling one plant now against coco, im just using biobizz allmix and oltimer organic bloom, and ecothrive biosys periodically. It is kicking the coco plants backsides imo. Not quite a bush like the coco boys, but the growth upwards has been ace and the arms are getting strong in flower. 

 

So im motivated to do a soil that has good stuff in so I dont need to be so feed heavy until week 3 bloom I hope. I have 5 choc mint OG seeds around 5 days old in light mix and kept moist with water and GA root tonic (which smells like off fish which I think is a good sign??). 

 

The mix I am planning to get ready after lots of research on here, and I just started a thread 1 hour ago in the non organic soil section. My mix is Plagron Batmix 1/3 (which I was told is organic compared to H&G which isnt), 1/3 Biobizz soil (50/50 Light/All), and 1/3 Coco for airation. I want to then add ecothrive charge which is mealworm beetle droppings, organic. I think if I let that sit for a few days Im hoping that 1. Its not too strong for young plants, and 2. The mix should last on water till week 3 bloom. Then just top up with the odd splash of OT bloom. 

 

Let me know what you think to that, I want to 'go a bit more live' for sure, but Im not at that level of research yet. 

 

And Im glad your on this path too, lets see how it goes. :hippy:

 

I'm pretty sure that I could get equally decent results with coco & chems, now that I've got a grow with it under my belt - the past month the 4 plants that are still in coco have been doing very well considering their stunted start. I just don't enjoy it nearly as much. Was good trying it though. Maybe some time in the future I'll try a small coco grow on the side if I find the space and inclination. But I'm pretty sure my main setup will be organic soil. :)

 

Edited by Chamalla
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On ‎17‎/‎05‎/‎2018 at 7:16 PM, Magicmunchietree said:

This is interesting as I thought the no till way you needed to sterilise because of the risk of getting bugs in your room, but I could well be wrong on that now. 

completely the opposite in no-till; constant :starwars:but as long as your environment is right the odd's are always stacked against the bad guys:realcool:

10 minutes ago, Chamalla said:

I'm not quite sold on the no-till thing - I think it's a great thing to do outside, but indoors, with containers etc., I'm not sure the benefit is there - but quite possibly I have this all wrong, I am a newb after all.

for me the benefits are;

no more buying new soil; I have pots that have been running for over 8-10 runs now

no need to test/worry about ph, e.c or anything really the soil takes care of it all

no fancy/expensive bottled nutrients; keep an eye on feeding the soil and the soil will take care of the plants

no flush(like that helps anyway!)

I could probably go on......

oh did I mention the best quality weed you can get?;)

 

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No till is great. I have tried (pretty literally) every growing method under the sun, not because I'm a ganja jedi or anything just because I'm a pathological tinkerer. I think if you enjoy organics then a few grows with bio bizz or similar won't do you any harm, but for me the ultimate soil grow has to be no till. Have a look at my diary.

I use insect frass and crab meal, and very occasionally blood but generally try and keep with plant based nutrients. Fish meal is a bit hot. I don't usually bother with that. In my experience anything animal derived is very hot and should be used with caution.

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Okay, maybe I had the wrong impression what no-till was about - the things you list all seemed like benefits of supersoil too. To be fair, I thought the distinction was fairly minor, with no-till simply adding Thou Shalt Not Till?

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No - its way more than that in principal. No till establishes long term microbial populations and cycling you don't get with just an organic soil grow as you keep the soil indefinitely. It also generally dictates the use of companion or cover planting. Its a subtle difference to the uninitiated, but when you see the two systems in practice they are so very different.

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1 minute ago, FarmerPalmersNT said:

No - its way more than that in principal. No till establishes long term microbial populations and cycling you don't get with just an organic soil grow as you keep the soil indefinitely. It also generally dictates the use of companion or cover planting. Its a subtle difference to the uninitiated, but when you see the two systems in practice they are so very different.

 

I really don't want to argue here (especially since I'd be arguing from the POV of someone without clue or experience), but again, that is precisely what I've seen folks who use supersoil do -- they keep it, grow after grow, and look after the critter population in it. In fact, it was all those benefits listed by buddy13 up there that drew me to it in the first place.

 

To clarify -- I'm not talking about "just" organic soil, but supersoil. To me the difference between that and no-till seemed mostly whether you keep a continuous "macro" ecosystem -- like you do in your admittedly really nice looking no-till bed -- or have the soil in several pots (but still regard it as one living body of soil, and the soil in the pots is just like temporary outposts of sorts).

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imho "supersoil"(I use the quote marks because there's really no such thing, an Americanism I would guess) is  kind off in the middle of no-till and grow shop profiteering but more on the side of grow shop rip-off because its a compromise of 2 ends of a spectrum which again imho don't really need to be mixed.

put another way there's not much, if any, money to make from no-till for grow shops so,,,,,,I've probably said too much already:wassnnme:

 

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Fair enough. It may be an Americanism, but that doesn't mean it's not a thing. Unless something isn't a thing in general if it comes from a certain place. Which seems a bit silly an idea to me, to be honest.

 

But yes - precisely: it's somewhere in the middle. I'm sure no-till is great for some folks - I'm assuming you guys have years and years of decent results with it under your belt already - I'm just not sure it makes sense for me. Maybe not just yet.

 

Like I said, I really don't want to argue, and I didn't mean this thread to start a discussion about exactly which space supersoil occupies, or can occupy, between the purity of essence that is the lore of no-till and the sin of purchasing organic fertilisers with capitalist pig money. It's in there somewhere. It's not 100% communism. But it makes more sense to me just now, from a logistics & maintenance perspective, that's why I was looking into it and asking about it on here.

 

Anyway ... maybe back to the topic, thanks for suggesting kelp as a replacement for animal products - I will look into keeping it all plant based. Well, apart from what I feed the worms.

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23 minutes ago, buddy13 said:

2 ends of a spectrum which again imho don't really need to be mixed.

 

Just to pick this out, because it strikes me as interesting. You seem to be comparing any method of growing that isn't no-till, including any other organic method, with something like feeding the plants directly with salt -based fertilisers in an aeroponics setup. I'm not sure I'd go that far.

 

I'd think the spectrum is more like feeding the plant directly on one end, and nourishing a living soil that feeds the plant for you on the other end. Whether you till or not, and whether that makes all the difference ... that strikes me as a bit of an odd debate to have in an indoor grow situation. With all due respect etc. pp.

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Strictly speaking what we do isn't no-till at all anyway. This is a term applied to farming when the land is not ploughed/tilled and relies on stuff like intercropping/companion planting/crop rotation or seed blends. Its all misappropriated terminology in any case. Weed growers are fond of doing that. Nobody (least of all me) really gives a shit what anyone calls it, but it has to be given a name.... In pasture land the use of no till (if grasses are diverse and carefully selected) means you can keep cattle out for longer and the field needs less maintenance owing to the stability of the soil structure and the strength of the root mat. Someone I know in Devon's father pioneered this stuff decades ago. When growing crops it means you should be able to retain soil and prevent erosion as you never expose the subsoil to the wind/rain, keep biota alive and preserve the natural fertility of the soil. So no - that doesn't really translate directly to an indoor fabric pot when you don't really have a true soil anyway, but there are parallels.

 

Anyway to elaborate a bit more on the point I was trying to make briefly.. Supersoil is a homemade organic compost. Nothing new, and I would guess that most people have done that at some point. My grandad grew organic tomatoes with a spectacular mix of all kinds of nonsense and did very well with it for as long as I knew him (no liquid nutrients) and he just called it compost and rightly so - because that's what it is. That is to say - the 'cooking off' bit means that the soil is composted in the main. It doesn't cycle as such. You need to make more or recharge the old stuff through disruptive mixing as he did. 'No till' or whatever one would prefer to call it is a constant cycle of 'supersoil' production. So the top layer is creating new soil with amendments and the worms are sorting it for you. The dynamic equilibrium you create allows a greater diversity and maturity of soil biota and microbes you wont get in any other method because some of the populations and inter-dependencies take months, years to establish. So it absolutely does differ markedly from 'supersoil' so the distinction is not minor at all - doesn't make it superior just different. 

 

Whether one is better than the other I genuinely am not qualified to say, and if anyone says they are - they are probably bullshitters. Its *possibly* marginally easier to get a supersoil mix just right and rinse and repeat than keep a no till bed for multiple cycles if its your first real go at it. Maybe you could even get better yields - I dunno, I would guess quite possibly you would, and its a lot more interesting and teaches you more than a basic bio bizz organic grow.

 

The reason I use no till (and I also have hydro setups btw) isn't because I have a deep rooted objection to chemicals, or an attempt to be sustainable or any of that shite. Its simply because its really fun, very inexpensive and much less of a ballache in the long run than mixing up new soil all the time. Plus the quality, flavour and yield have been superb. I don't try and convert anyone, having a huge tub of living soil that can't be left unwatered or lit is not everyone's cup of tea. 

 

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Thank you, thank you, thank you! =) Well informative comment, think I understand better now why you'd make much more of a distinction. And yes, I suspect the misappropriation of the term is what made no-till in this context seem a tad suspect to me. My apologies for the standoff-ish tone in my previous comments.

 

One reason that I'm reluctant to go the mega bed route just the now - while at the same time very intrigued by it, no question - is that I anticipate moving house in the short / medium term. Not quite sure when, but it will be during the next 1-2 years. I'd like to do a few simple grow setups for learning purposes until then, and once that move is dealt with I can very well imagine setting up that massive planter in my tent.

 

But yeah, either way, I'd rather spend a bit of time and effort preparing the soil, and then have an easy time with the grow for at least a large chunk of the plants. So the no liquid nutrients is the main draw for me about supersoil ... about compost. Hmm. Eh, nah ... people mostly still feed nutrients when using compost, don't they? Compost is compost. Supersoil uses compost - a lot of it, and in the right mixture with other things so that you can run a few grows with it before needing to amend it. That is the specific point to supersoil, and if we're not going to call it supersoil it needs another name. Personally I don't see the point, it has a name already ... even if it's a bit of a stupid name ...

 

Edited by Chamalla
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So ... say you were to set up your first no-till grow (I promise I'm not going to till after harvest, honest gov) ... what's the smallest container that you think you could do this with? Does it have to be 20 gallon minimum?

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