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 No-Till Coco

Discussion in 'Autoflower Myth Busters' started by Saint Skinny, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Saint Skinny

    Saint Skinny Red eyed, Smiley, Livin' life Irie!

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    Hey all,
    I'm guessing a lot of you have heard the myth that you can't replace Peat with Coco in supersoil. I've always wondered about this, I know a bit about Cation exchange Capacity (that of coco being relatively low) and understand why you couldn't expect nutes to stick to straight coco... But, when building an amended soil, even with peat, alot of people add humus of some sort (EWC, Compost, etc.) which should, in theory at least, increase the CEC of the mix as whole, right? At least I think that's how it should work. I've done quite a bit of research but I'm no PhD.

    I had always had a nagging question in my head about this... Couldn't you just heavily amend the coco with something like EWC or another humus source to increase it's CEC? Eventually I gathered soil building material, did my first round of no-til in an outdoor veggie bed with amended pro-mix , a couple small bricks of coco, and a little bit of Foxfarms Ocean Forest. It worked fantasticly! I was so excited that I was actually doing it! I was really proud watching them grow all summer, knowing they were thriving because of the work I had put in. Then we moved, and due to our ex-landlord being a dickhead and having questionable mental stability, I didn't bother going back for my dirt, which I was originally going to re-use.

    To make a long story shorter, We go into our new place towards the end of summer, and I ran out of peat. I still had some coco and castings, so I said screw it, do it to it! I've gotten through a couple grows using the amended coco without any major issues to speak of, aside from one plant with a Ca deficiency (That was before I picked up Roots Org. Elemental) and the small population of fungus gnats that are still hanging on from my air-pot experiment (Air-pots with amended soil is like Fungus Gnat Heaven, I always top with Gnat nix but obviously they had more than just the top open to them in the air-pots). Yield could definitely improve, but I attribute some of that to my hesitance to make too hot of a soil, and some Seasonal Affect/Depression I've been dealing with (along with some other life issues) have really put a drag on me this winter, especially the last couple months, I'm sure they would've benefited from a few nute and compost teas but it was something I never got around to. Hopefully my mood will improve when I get some sunshine back in my life and can spend some time out in the veggie/flower garden.

    So has anyone else ever had reasonable success using amended coco? I'd love to hear you're stories and opinions on the matter.
     
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  2. Beast in the East

    Beast in the East Auto Warrior

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    Yo Saint Skinny! I was searching around for coco CEC and so cool I found a fellow DGC. I've been using a soil I make with 30% coco, 30% rice hulls, 15% castings, 15% compost. The mix works really well for my plants. I saved a sample of the original soil and will be sending it for analysis soon. That being said, I've been wondering if using straight coco and rice hulls with amendments could also work well. That's going to be a side project of mine for the next few months. I'll try and remember to let you know what the results are.

    Beast
     
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  3. Saint Skinny

    Saint Skinny Red eyed, Smiley, Livin' life Irie!

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    Hey Brother! Hows life treatin' ya? Sorry I took half a week to respond, I didn't see anyone had commented on this post. I was looking for CEC info too and couldn't find much of anything. I found a little bit of info here and there but not much. It's surprising that there's not more info on people growing this way. They always seem to have a half bag of Ocean Forest in the mix or something like that. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    I've been considering rice hulls for awhile, I like the added Si too. I have no clue when I'll actually be able to get some, but It's on the list lol I haven't used perlite the last couple rounds, but I think the batch I mix will get a couple handfuls, just to see how it works.

    I'm trying a new mix with Elevation Organics Amendments, they hooked your boy up! I got a couple boxes in the mail after talking to the company via email. The first box was their OG starter pack that came with their liquid nutes, and a small bag of each of their Bokashi+, Crucial Castings (EWC), Fertile Valley Soil Builder and Tea, then the grow and bloom dry amendments. Then I open the second box and their were 3 big bags, a 3 dry-quart Fertile Valley Soil Builder, A 3 dry-quart Crucial Castings, and a 3.5 lb bag of the Bokashi+! That shit was like X-mas in Feb! lol I came up with a new base mix according to the application rates on the bags.
    • 1 Dry-Gallon Coco
    • 2/3 Cup Fertile Valley Soil Builder
    • 1/2-1 cup Crucial Castings
    • 1/4 cup Bokashi+
    The Fertile Valley is supposed to have a "light" charge of amendments, so hopefully the base will be good for seeds, and I can amend it for the big boys and girls!
     
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  4. Beast in the East

    Beast in the East Auto Warrior

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    Nice! Sounds like an awesome mix dude. Are you growing in that currently? What's your experience? Also I apologize for taking a freaking month to respond to this thread! A man forgets...

    I was doing a bit of research on the CEC of coco and peat. I emailed Roots Organics asking about their coco CEC and Lambert Peat about their peat bail that sells at garden centers and such. Here's the response from Lambert Peat:

    "To answer your question about CEC of the peat moss you bought, you probably know that each type of peat is a little bit different. I assume you bought your product to a retail store, so that grade of peat probably have a CEC around 100. Professional grade peat are more fibrous and often have a CEC up to 150.
    Regarding the mineral content of the raw peat, it's only trace elements apart maybe the Na around 30-40 ppm."

    So that's really cool that we know exactly what's in the Lambert peat product and the CEC! As for the coco media, either I actually forgot to email Roots Organics or they didn't respond because I can't find their email. I read online however that coco has a CEC of around 40. It would be a good idea for me to email another company like Canna and ask about their Coco CEC.

    So last time I pulled a harvest I was using my soil mix and it worked very well until about half way through flower. The leaves were showing a nitrogen deficiency. My solution was to top dress with some home made worm castings and kelp meal ... and maybe a little high-nitrogen salt based fertilizer, which I don't necessarily mind doing occasionally. The grow was then moving along nicely until I allowed the pH of my irrigation water to rise high to 7.5 then sh*t hit the fan and the plants were showing phosphorous deficiency, nutrient burn, and god knows what else. I managed to harvest like regular, it's just the plants looked only half as nice as they would have. I kick myself for messing up my nice super soil experiment.

    My take-away is that a grower can probably get away with using mostly amended coco in the soil mix if 15% worm castings are added and the pots actually have live worm in them. I really think the worms have a big impact on moving nutrients to the root zone (or something like that, not that I'm a worm expert... yet).

    Here's the exact soil mix I used. It makes enough to grow under a 1000 w.:
    • 1 brick (5 kg) Roots Organics coco. Makes about 12 gallons of hydrated coco.
    • 10 gallon rice hulls
    • 5 gallons worm castings (home made)
    • 5 gallons compost - this was 3 years old and looked nothing like animal waste when I received it. Just good black soil.
    • 6 cups gypsum
    • 12 cups calcium carbonate
    • 4 cups kelp meal
    • 4 cups neem meal
    • 4 cups alfalfa meal
    • 16 cups milled (crushed) malted barley
    I allow it to cook for a month or two. It's really airy due to rice hulls. I'll probably use 30% hulls in all my soil mixes because of how well the plants grow with it. Only thing is to watch out for the soil becoming too dry, too quickly. Though, if it does, the soil mix is really easy to re-wet since there is 0% peat.

    I designed this soil while looking at Clackamas Coot's mix, Build-a-soil mix, and the Rev's super soil mix. They all seem to add a similar quantity of plant meal and calcium-rich minerals. For example, a cubic foot of my soil (7.5 gallons) contains approximately 4 cups of calcium rich minerals (gypsum and calcium carbonate) and 6.5 cups plant meal. I'm using so much barley because otherwise my soil mix lacks sufficient phosphorous. I don't like using bone meal for phosphorous, which would only be required at 3 or 4 cups in this recipe, so I have to replace it with 16 cups crushed malted barley. I think the soil fungus like the barley better anyway!

    It's way cheaper to buy the rice hulls and malted barley from the local homebrew store. The hulls come in 50 lb bags that sell for around $1 per lb. When buying barley ask for "two-row pale" or "pilsner" malt. This can also be had for $1 per lb or less, just make sure the homebrew store isn't ripping you off. Just get the least expensive malt possible. The store can mill it for you as well. Maybe you already knew this SaintSkinny but I really want anyone reading this thread to be aware of that info.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    On another note, life is treating me very well Skinny and I hope the same for you. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in soil and gardening in general. I'm also hoping your growing situation is much improved next time we talk.

    Growers love to the max!

    Beast
     
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  5. dankstyle J

    dankstyle J Smoke Cannabis Live with Friends on AFN Staff Member Global Moderator

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    I h ave been amending coco and also creating bacteria that benefit the decomposition of organic matter I love the quality from living coco I will be doing a greenhouse grow using my living coco mixes I have a thread as well called the world's first living organic coco coir growers thread .
     
  6. Beast in the East

    Beast in the East Auto Warrior

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    Sweet thread @dankstyle J I like your style. I'm really into using freshwater aquarium water. I see a huge jump in vigor when I use it. I don't use carbon filters in my aquarium so I'm relying on microbes to clean the fish waste and uneaten food. Seems to work well in the aquarium, so I'm confident the wastewater is loaded with microbes.

    I'm also using some microbe tea I brew using a handful of my own soil and 1 tsp molasses in a 1 gallon container with a cheap aquarium air stone bubbling for two days.

    Another product I use is Recharge beneficial microbe soluble powder.

    Above all, I think the live worms in the pots are great for microbe activity. I don't use a microscope, so I can't test that hypothesis. It's just the soil that has worms grows much more resilient plants. I will sometimes find immature worms in my soil and when held up to a light, you can see little "pellets" inside the worms. That's when I realized that worms are just moving nutrients and microbes all inside the soil. And they do it WITHOUT disturbing the plant! So cool!
     
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  7. dankstyle J

    dankstyle J Smoke Cannabis Live with Friends on AFN Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Thanks I make teas using what others call weeds nettle ,clover ,an mint make excellent teas .Using fish water now that's going to give you good vigor many nutrients in that along with beneficial bacteria.The worms make humus an process the stuff for the plant but also aerate the soil a win win situation.I plan on using my old livin coco coir from this years greenhouse grow to make a worm farm an next years grow will have the available castings an composts .In my opinion the best coco is down to earth pro organic its gots a ton of beneficial Bacteria added an is just all around kick ass my friend .
     
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  8. Stinkybudz

    Stinkybudz Auto Warrior

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    I am in the process of doing the exact same thing with all my peat based mixes and plan to start cutting it with Coco when I mix it in because they're castings with perlite, been adding dolomite lime and my tap water at 9.2 pH to raise the pH of the peat, i read worms prefer a ph closest to neutral I figured the coco will be very well diversified and actually be the back bone of the mix as the peat breaks down into more and more of a humus. Started as biobizz light mix and roots original with worm castings and perlite. What do they think when you ask them to mill the rice hulls as well? I seem to be only able to find whole rice hulls
     
  9. Stinkybudz

    Stinkybudz Auto Warrior

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    What kind of worms do you plan on running? I've got separate containers of both European night crawlers and red wrigglers. I also am getting rid of all my waste material by mashing it in a bucket and a little water to allow it to break down bokashi style and then adding to my bin as well to get some greens to my carbon browns and reclaim those nitrates!
     
  10. Beast in the East

    Beast in the East Auto Warrior

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    Yo @Stinkybudz I like to use the rice hulls "as is". They are the bomb at keeping the soil from compacting. Brewers use rice hulls in their barley mash to help drain the liquid out. I feel like hulls are doing the same thing in my soil, keeping it from being compacted no matter how I treat the soil. I haven't encountered any difficulty in re-hydrating a dry soil that has rice hulls and coco.

    I've been using red wigglers in my worm bins and they enjoy the plant's old root balls. I don't have to compost it before feeding it to them. I like to keep any wet material out of the bins so they stay smelling good and feeling damp, but not soggy.

    @Stinkybudz I'm curious about your comparison between red wigglers and European night crawlers. Have you noticed any differences? Also that pH 9.2 water would seriously destroy my plants. Could be your irrigation water has high pH but low alkalinity? In which case the ability of the water to change the soil pH would be much less pronounced. What size pots/beds are you growing in? I'm in 5 to 10 gallon pots and my water has high pH and alkalinity, so I have to treat it to 6.4 pH before using it.
     
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