ALRIGHTYTHEN SKUNKERS! Got a couple good “Letters” to Rev today for you and I hope something here can help you out as well. I hear from a lot of you every week via email and what I do is take the most common category of questions and pick one from each that is most representative of the category. We gots two “fears” today with the first question about switching over to all natural growing, and the second regarding bat and bird guano fears and issues. Rock on my green friends, Rev here coming at ya from the Southern Oregon Coast on one hot-ass day; let’s get into it…
QUESTION #1: Fear of Switching to All-Natural
Rev my man, thanks for all your knowledge about growing and even though I’m not an all natural grower I really want to be. I have read your articles and I have both of your books. You have taught me a lot about the sacred plant. Here’s my problem, I have a rather large garden with commercial applications so if I mess things up it will hurt me and others financially. Is there some way I can get my feet wet without risking my grow? Can I do this in a super small super simple way on a smaller scale per your recommendations at this point in time? I know you must know more now hehehe. Thank you and keep on with your bad self, brother.
Your biggest fan,
Super easy to do Ken, I mean, likely easier than you think. Just run a couple or a few all natural pots on the edges of your grow-zone. Use larger pots than I do, like a 4-gallon pot to finish at about 3 feet tall untopped; and say, a 5-gallon pot (or larger if running topped plants) to finish plants above 3 feet tall but less than 5 feet tall. Here’s a wicked easy mix for you to try out first, no “cooking” (fast composting) needed…
Superfast Living Soil Mix
- 2-parts good soil not a lot of peat moss present. Like Ocean Forest, or G&B brand, or Happy Frog all work well, as do others. (See photo of soil I found locally at a nursery.)
- 2-parts earthworm castings or fresh compost made with skills; I highly recommend using earthworm castings here and bagged compost is not an option 90% of the time.
- 1-part perlite—small nugget sized is best.
Just blend these all together and water until fairly moist (not soaking wet) and let it sit for at least 24 hours before using. Make sure to inoculate your plants with a Mycorrhizal Fungus (Myco Fungi) product, that is soluble soon after transplanting into any new container. See photo one of the products I use from Rootnaturally.com; the one not shown I also use is Great White, and either one of those works great, as well as others. Using my custom soil mix from my book will give you much larger yields than this recipe, but you will still be pretty good on yields, and your quality will be through the roof better, I have no doubt about it.
Water Source: It is super important you have a chlorine/chloramine free water source; and, that water needs to contain some dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. I suggest you run your water about 60-80 PPM and a huge keystone move here with all natural growing is keeping your water consistent, as the plant will adapt to the water source making great use of the calcium and magnesium and other elements. Below is a table showing you combinations you can use to reach your desired PPM level. Water sources on the right are blended with water sources on the left.
All you have to do is figure out the ratio of say, well water to rain water, to reach your desired PPM and then you know how much to add of each from there on without having to read the PPM every time. You can just use water and DO NOT add ANY liquid nutrients, as it is highly counterproductive. See what you think about the final product—wiggling eyebrows. That’s it Ken, remember, TLO (True Living Organics) is way more about what’s NOT in it, heh heh. Just add water amigo, literally.
Two final pieces of advice are, have patience, it takes the plants 10 days or so sometimes to get fully symbiotic with their soil or to shake off small issues they may have. Also, don’t attempt to “fix” any problems by adding something from a bottle. Good luck on your mission, you’re going to love what you grow; final thought here if you don’t have any extra space under your lights, grab a grow tent—Gorilla Tents are my number one pick here.
Your Water Source Constituents Table
|0-10 PPM WATER SOURCES||ABOVE 60 PPM WATER SOURCES|
|Distilled Water||Spring or Well Water|
|Rain Water||Pond or River Water|
|Dehumidifier Water||City Tap Water (chloramine removed)|
|Reverse Osmosis Filtered Water||Low PPM Water Bubbled with Dolomite Lime**|
**This example involves bubbling low PPM water with some dry, fast-acting dolomite lime for 24 hours and using about ½ teaspoon of the lime per gallon of water will result in approx. 60 PPM water with awesome levels of both Ca and Mg.
QUESTION #2: Guano Concerns
I am from Canada and am recently running into this issue with getting guano due to my country’s concerns over some kind of toxin present that you breathe, caustic perhaps possibly? What can I substitute without throwing off my recipe that still works great for me?
Howdy Greenbadger, first of all I would like to advise you to always wear a mask when mixing any kind of guano, manure, or finely powdered amendments like bone and blood meal and others; also, including perlite and while perlite isn’t toxic it is a big lung irritant when breathing the dust. Percentage-wise it would be very rare that you would encounter toxic things in this manner, but it only takes once right? So better safe than sorry in this case for sure if you ask me, heh heh.
See that Chicken Manure in the photo? It’s available online, and in granular form, so it might work out for you, and I can attest personally for how bad-ass this guano works (by Espoma). I would still wear a mask when using this guano. Here’s the link to it on Amazon: http://a.co/hUiJvUt
Another alternative I would use if no guanos were available to me, would be rabbit manure. Very high nitrogen and as long as you feed your rabbits real food that is pretty diverse, their poop will be gold for your plants. Cheers.