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AskEd's Coco Guide


 

#1
AskEd

AskEd

    Coco Evangelist

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High everyone! Using coco has been a wonderful journey here lately. I've spent countless hours looking up good info on coco, it's not easy! And a lot of it is outdated and in some cases just incorrect. I've been growing like crazy in this stuff, and I've been a mad scientist in the vegetable and herb garden, growing hundreds of tomatoes, cukes, herbs, veggies, you name it. I've mixed coco with soil, organics, itself, all in the quest of experience.

I'm not an expert, but I have gone through a lot of trouble to run down info from various sources, including the good folks at Botanicare, Atami, and Fox Farms. A few other nameless companies were not as responsive, but these fine people were more than happy to talk shop and share their valuable info.

I'd like to share what I've learned along the way with this coco guide. I hope you may find something useful or inspiring here.

Always growing,
ED, The Coco Evangelist

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INDEX
There's a lot of stuff here so I broke it up some. Click on the section or just scroll down. A lot LOL.

Part 1 - General Information (next post)
Part 2 - Germinating With Coco
Part 3 - Cloning With Coco
Part 4 - Harvesting With Coco
Part 5 - Reusing Coco With MrsEd!
Part 6 - AskEd's FAQs


Thanks to all the great blades here at GC who have shared their growing experience with me, given advice, and have shown some love for my endless ramblings and postings. And a big thanks to my beautiful wife MrsEd, she is the true flower in my life.

Edited by AskEd, 20 June 2010 - 06:39 AM.

  • unoit, , Corto Malteze and 11 others like this

#2
AskEd

AskEd

    Coco Evangelist

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GENERAL INFORMATION



What is coco coir?
Coco coir is the fiberous strands found between the coconut and husk, it’s a by-product of processing coconuts and has recently become available for home gardeners. A lot of people are discovering what a quality growing medium it is and as more people use it, more stores will stock it!

Coco looks just like a high grade soil, and comes in bags (ready to use) and very commonly as compressed bricks that expand when water is added (very convenient for shipping).
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Many types of coco are available now, coir, bricks, croutons, mats, soiless mixes, etc.
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Sri Lanka & The Philippines are major producers of coconut coir. India is the world's largest, but they export very little.
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We all love a good nut
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Coir is processed from the husks left over from harvesting
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Most of this will be used to make brooms and door mats, the remaining 'dust' or 'pith' will be gathered and made into coir.
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Coco and the Environment
Coco coir is a by-product of the coconut harvest. It can turn into waste or high quality growing medium. It’s a no brainer as to the benefits. That’s only half the story though.

Coco serves as a replacement for peat. If you are not aware of the effects of harvesting peat from bogs, please do a quick search (after reading this of course) and it won’t take long to see using an alternative is good for the environment. Not only does coco replace the need for peat, but performs better.


Is Coco Hydro or Soil?
It’s actually “Soiless”, which is like a hybrid of both and needs to be treated like hydro, even though it looks like soil. Use quality hydro or coco specific nutrients and ph to 5.8, and water as if it were soil. You’ll have to feed every water cycle or alternate between the two since coco is an inert medium. Growth for coco is faster than soil, but less than or equal to hydro setups. We’ll get into this some more, but for now we just want to clear up that hydro-soil thing.


How to Grow With Coco
The cool thing about coco is it can work with a variety of grow styles with impressive results. For this guide we will focus on good ol’ hand watering, just like you would using soil. A good mix is equal parts coco & perlite, I’ve had the best growth rates with this ratio. The down fall is that it will require more frequent watering since it’s such an airy mix. I normally use roughly 75% coco & 25% perlite for mixes, it’s a great ratio and performs very well.

Coco performs well by itself and is very forgiving about watering. I have tried and failed to overwater plants in 100% coco. To me they seem to grow a bit slower without perlite.

It should be noted that coco works exceptionally well with drip and wick type setups. Coco can be used with flood tables but the cycles should be short and reduced to once or twice a day at most. I’ve seen a flood setup cycling every-other day with fantastic growth. There are coco cubes available now that you can use in place of rockwool as well. Coco rarely grows algae.

Again, for this guide we will concentrate on hand watering method.

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Preparing to Grow With Coco
Coco requires a hydro way of thinking, which is weird when it looks and acts like soil. With that said, your basic grow kit is exactly the same as a hydro setup. Ph is everything, you can go without a TDS or EC meter, but a good PH meter is a requirement, no excuses! Budget at a minimum $40-$100 dollars, I don’t want to hear any bitching about how it’s not within reason, paying lots of money for a gram of weed is not within reason. With the meter you also need some calibration/storage solution. Meters need to be checked monthly at least. Don’t skimp out on ph in any way, it’s the last thing you check when feeding, and the first thing you check when there’s a problem.

A basic kit for a successful grow will look similar to this
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Coco Nutrients
There are a lot of coco specific nutrients out there and I highly recommend them for ease, but beware as some can be a bit pricey. However you can use any hydroponic nutrients. If you are not using coco specific nutrients then you will need to use CalMag or Epsom salt or some equivalent supplement to correct the calcium issue that coco has, especially if you are using purified or distilled water. Just follow the directions on the bottle and add every time you use nutrients.


Watering Coco
There seems to be a bit of confusion when it comes to watering coco, even intimidating depending on who you listen to. I’m here to tell you it’s very simple. First off, use light pots, don’t get some heavy material container, plain plastic works great, buckets or bags work well, smart pots are fine too. If you lift the pot you can tell if it needs watering by how light it is. Learn to judge the halfway weight by feel, when the pot feels less than half full, water it. Try this lift technique for two weeks checking daily. You’ll be a pro at the end of that two weeks.

This of course presents a problem when using a screen. When designing a scrog setup, keep in mind you will need to flush while the plant is in place, and normally you can lift it enough to feel the weight without too much trouble.

Indoors, normally plants can go 1-3 days between waterings in 1 to 5 gallon containers. Young plants may go 5 to 7 days between waterings. 10 to 15 gallon containers may go 10 to 14 days. Outside grows may require a more frequent schedule, more so than soil and even more so if you mix in perlite. Once flowering begins, the water consumption will increase and you may be watering daily when you factor in the size of the plant and container size. This may sound a lot like a soil schedule, and that’s just about right. Trying to schedule waterings of more than one plant can get complicated if you’re using the last day as a calculation. That’s why using the lift method is so handy. After some time you can forecast up to 2 or 3 days of when a plant will need watering next with a simple 2 second lift.

Give enough water to see some runoff or almost see it, especially when nutes are mixed in. Runoff with plain water means you’re washing out nutrients, coco is very easily flushed.

Coco responds especially well to drip waterings
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Watering Coco With Nutrients
Just like soil, you feed the medium, and the medium feeds the plant. Coco does not have nutrients like soil, so when your plant enters the veg stage (when you see the 3rd set of leaves), it’s time to feed.

How often to feed is something you will have to figure out, there’s no one way for anyone to tell you and this is where a little grow experience is very helpful. Factors like strain, lighting, pot size, amendments, can all affect your feed schedule. The best approach I can offer is to use a very basic baseline and adjust as needed, or follow the directions for your nutrients at a lower dosage and increase as you see fit. I’ve yet to use any bottled nutrients at instructed full strength that didn’t burn.

A generic baseline approach would be the same as hydro. Just like in a DWC setup, start feeding around two weeks after sprout with about 150-300ppm. Do this every-other watering and watch your plant. If she looks hungry, try feeding nutes-nutes-water. If she looks over feed try nutes-water-water. You get the idea. You have to dial it in, and every plant you grow may be different. Increase to 400-600ppm after a few weeks, then eventually up to 800-1000ppm. I rarely go over 900ppm. Coco likes frequent low does feedings, but you can hit them hard when needed. If you over do it a flush should get you back in good shape.

This may sound a bit difficult, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, especially once you get a few weeks under your belt. Coco can absorb and release nutrients very quickly, like a broadband internet connection. This is one reason plants grow so well in coco, the high CEC ratio makes plenty of food available to the plant when it wants it.

I highly suggest keeping a feeding & watering log. This is a tremendous help when trying to troubleshoot or determine if you need to feed or not. Beginner growers should really stick to one strain at a time as opposed to trying to grow different strains at the same time. Having all your plants on the same schedule is a blessing, take advantage if you can.


PH and Coco
Most coco comes out of the bag at 5.5 – 6.5, this is great for weed! When you water or feed your plants, make sure to ph to 5.8. Coco is very forgiving either way, but growth really slows over 6.5.


Coco Problems
There can be no Heaven without Hell, so let’s look at problems to watch out for with coco. First let me say, the problems are minor and easily fixed. And while not necessarily a problem, I should mention that coco can be a little on the expensive side. Personally I don't think it's a big deal, but thought I'd mention it just the same. I don't think it's any more expensive than good soil to be honest. Besides, money is like the wind, you only feel it when it's moving.


Calcium – The only real issue I’ve ever experienced in all my coco grows is calcium deficiency. This is a well documented trait of coco, it tends to absorb it and not release it in the quantity the plant needs. Many coco specific nutrients claim that their product corrects this, and I believe some do. But I can tell you not all of them do.

To correct the issue, whether using coco specific nutes or standard hydro nutes, supplemental calcium is needed. Botanicare CalMag is a very common and recommended fix. It works well but some heavy feeding plants hitting their stride, even twice the dosage may not be enough. This has happened to me on many occasions. The one thing I’ve found that works very well is adding dolomite limestone to my coco medium at the rate of 1 tbsp per gallon of medium. Hydrated lime also works very well, and needs to be applied every 4 to 5 weeks as a top dressing.

Once a calcium deficiency starts, it will continue to deteriorate even after a fix has been applied. It’s an extremely frustrating ordeal and can trick you into taking drastic actions because nothing seems to be working. If you stay calm, you’ll find that it really doesn’t affect much other than making your leaves look like crap and killing them. Buds seem to be unaffected for the most part.

Calcium deficiency is more of a pain in the ass than problem, but it usually starts with little rust spots
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Magnesium - Heavy feeders seem to use up a lot of magnesium in coco, even medium feeders can consume quite a bit if they hit a growth spurt. If you notice a deficiency, treat it quickly with some CalMag (5-10 ml per gallon) or epsom salt (1-4 tsp per gallon). When treating a deficiency, hit 'em hard with the first application, then lower the dosage by 1/2 for the next few feedings.

Magnesium deficiencies normally start in the lower leaves. The veins remain green while the rest of leaf turns yellow and shows chlorosis. The leaves eventually curl up and die. The edges of affected leaves feel dry and crispy. As the deficiency continues it moves from lower leaves to the middle and upper half. Eventually the growing shoots change from pale green to white color. The stems and petioles may take on a purple color.

I haven't had a lot of mag problems, but I have always supplemented with CalMag or epsom salt. I use RO water and add 1 tsp epsom per gallon. This is something to watch out for, and I suggest always supplementing your water (even plain) and nutes. If you are flushing like you should, you should not have to worry about salt buildup.

Magnesium deficiencies can show their ugly face in a number of ways, this is the most common. Note the taco curling on the upper leaves, lack of magnesium can cause this. Thanks to Russy for providing this picture.
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Salt Buildup – Coco retains salt, and since most chemical nutes are derived from mineral salts, they leave salt deposits behind in the coco when the roots suck up the juices. Those salts cause all kinds of havoc on the leaves because they make the ph swing when water passes through the medium. Just like soil LOL

The good news is that coco flushes twice as easily as soil. Flush every 4 weeks as a rule of thumb and you should not have any problems. Use 2 gallons for every gallon of pot size. So a 3 gallon pot needs 6 gallons poured through it. Ph your last gallon or two.


Benefits of Using Coco

Hard to overwater - One of the most impressive attributes of coconut coir as a growing medium is the level of aeration and structure supplied to the rootzone. Coco is difficult to over water. Basically, if you supply too much water it will just run out the bottom of the container, and will not become water logged (anaerobic). The coconut fibers are much tougher and coarser than those of peat for example. This means more airspace is available for drainage and to supply the roots and soil life with more air.

Coir fiber will not compact over the course of the grow. You may have experienced filling the pot right to the top with peat at the start of the grow, only to find that a third of the media is “gone” by harvest. What is happening is that the peat fibers are eroding from the force of watering, saline conditions, and the roots compacting the media. This robs the crop of valuable air space in the rootzone, and increases salt build-up as drainage is impeded. With coir fiber there is little if any compaction of the growing media over the cropping cycle due to the higher content of lignins and cellulose found in the physically coarser fibers. In container grown crops, little compaction is evident. Plants receive optimal water to air ratios over the course of the entire crop, not just the first few weeks.

Fewer pests! - I have a curse with spider mites whenever using soil indoors. You have a lot less chance of that with coco, including most other soil pests. You're not immune, just safer is all.

Impressive Growth - The most common comment I hear from coco growers is the fantastic growth rate. There are several reasons for this, and the accumulative effect is vigorous plants and large buds.

Edited by AskEd, 25 June 2010 - 07:54 AM.

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#3
AskEd

AskEd

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Germinating With Coco


Overview
There is really no difference in starting a seed in coco versus soil. Basically you pour coco into a container, water it, bury a seed about 1/4 inch, and give it a few days. Do not cover with plastic or mist, just keep it moist enough that the top layer does not dry out until the plant has a set of leaves or two.

But we can complicate things a little anyways... :)


Shot Glass Method
This is my preferred method of germinating, there are some who advise against it and some who swear by it. With that said, it has worked extremely well for me, but I don't recommend this method for anything other than MJ.

The idea is simple, let the seed soak in water for about 24 hours. When you see the tap root break through, pour it into a container of coco and she'll break ground within a day or two.

Inside the seed is an embryo, when it comes into contact with water it begins to grow. The seed shell keeps it safe and dry, and when moisture breaks through the shell, it reaches the embryo.

Light is bad for the delicate tap root, so I keep a black cup covering the shot glass. This is similar to the paper towel method, but using a shot glass instead. Warm is better, and I don't recommend soaking the seed more than 24 hours or you may drown it. Some people plant the seed when the seed sinks to the bottom of the glass.

The seed has sunk
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Here's what the taproot looks like breaking through, this is a good time to bury into some coco
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This seed hasn't quite cracked yet or sunk after 30 hours. She got poured into some coco anyways and sprouted 4 or 5 days later. Slow poke! I don't recommend letting seeds soak in water for more than 24 hours, they can drown.
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Working With Coco Bricks
Coco comes in a variety of ways. Very common are the coco bricks, which is ready to use coco coir pressed into bricks of various sizes. When water is added, the bricks absorb the water and reconstitute the coir into it's natural state. It's really cool to watch, play your favorite horror movie soundtrack really loud when you do LOL

I like the bricks for several reasons, they are convenient and easy to work with and if you find them on sale you can stockpile them easily. No bugs or larvae will survive the compression process, it's guaranteed pest free! The shipping costs are much cheaper than the bags of coco.

Directions on how much water to add is rarely included with the coco in my experience, but it's not hard to figure out and it's not big deal if you add too much water. If I overdo it with the water, I just pour the coco into a regular container with drain holes and let it drain for a few minutes.

I recommend distilled or RO water for expanding bricks, you can use it straight out of the bottle. Optionally you can add your own nutrients in very low dosage, like 150-300 ppm or 1/4 strength directions. This provides basic food for young seedlings or clones when they are ready to eat. I like to add micro nutrients (Tiger Bloom or Maxicrop) if I'm not adding nutes, but I always ph my water to 5.8 at minimum.

The water we're using here is RO (ignore the label LOL) supplemented with 1 tsp epsom salt and a drop or two of Superthrive and ph'd to 5.8. This makes a nice base coco with no nutrients to start with.
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Just adding about 1/2 gallon since the coco came with no directions (very typical), the brick begins to expand immediately
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About 20 seconds later
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Break it up some and if it absorbs all your water, just add some more
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And we are done! It's ready to use, but I'll let this dry for several days then add some organic amendments and get it ready for action. The whole process took about 2-3 minutes for this one and yielded 2 gallons worth.
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Rinsing Coco
In the early days of coco (early 1990's), coco was not processed as well as it is today. You had to rinse the hell out of the coco before using it to rinse out the salts in it. This was a terrible time in coco history, but most of today's products are pre-rinsed and ready to go. Manufacturers spend months rinsing and steaming the coco into usable condition. I prefer the bagged coco because I mix in organic amendments and it's ready to go. I basically pour the coco from the bag, mix in my stuff, and put into the container.

To check the coco, pour some distilled or RO water through the coco, measure the runoff's ppm (please see pics below for more detail on this). It should be less than 100ppm (less than 50ppm is ideal). If it's over 200ppm, tell your source they are selling crappy coco! I've tried every brand I can get my hands on, I've yet to come across sub-par coco, even ordering from Ebay stores or Amazon.

Let's test this coco's ppm to see if it's ready to use, first we pour some distilled water through the coco and capture the runoff
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See how murky this water is? You can't see the bottom of the cup due to the dust and micro particles, pour this out this will read really high and is not accurate, we want to test for salts
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The 2nd pour of the same amount of water produced this, much better! Let's test it with a TDS meter
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We want less than 100ppm, less than 50ppm is ideal. I'm OK with this reading :)
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Now I know some may argue that this is basically a rinse/mini-flush by not taking the first runoff, but I just find that first reading to not represent what's happening due to the dust in there, which comes out in the first watering. Salts are much more stubborn to wash out and will be in there for several small pour-throughs like this. This is evident when flushing established plants.


Preparing Coco
Coco is fine to use by itself, a lot of people prefer this over anything else. I like to mix in some perlite to add some airiness and structure, I truly feel this speeds up the growth rate as well. The draw back is that you have to water more often. I prefer 75% coco & 25% perlite, but I've had great success with 50/50 mix.

** I highly advise adding some lime to your base coco at the rate of 1 tbsp per gallon of medium. Hydrated is good, I prefer pelletized because it's slow release and keeps the calcium issue at bay during flowering when it's the most troublesome. It has a lot of other benefits, but the calcium supply can save you a lot of headaches later.

If I want a super fast growing plant, I'll sprout it in a 1 gallon container if I have the space. If I don't have the space I use smaller containers. I really don't like using smaller than 6" or 1/2 gallon pots, although I've used smaller as well as platic cups with no issues. For flowering, 3 to 5 gallons is plenty big for most indoor grows. Outdoors I don't recommend anything smaller than a 5 gallon.


Here's a 50/50 mix of coco and perlite, a serious ass kicking mix
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Coco is organic, and works awesome with organic grows. Currently I use a homemade organic mix that gets me from seed to mid-flower only using water.
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Here's a fine young lady about 5 days after breaking ground
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Same plant as above 2 weeks later after a heavy watering
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Edited by AskEd, 21 June 2010 - 08:04 AM.

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#4
AskEd

AskEd

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CLONING WITH COCO


Coco is a fantastic cloning material, by far the easiest method I've personally tried in the last 20 years or so. My 2nd favorite method is aero cloning, but this is a lot easier IMO.

You don't need a dome, rooting gel, pump, air stone, heating pad, this is as minimal as I've been able to find.

First off, please say hello to our lovely model "Amber Lynn" :wave: She's a 4th generation Dinafem California Hash plant, just an amazing smoke.

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All our supplies. The little round thing is rooting hormone, which I don't use but it does help so I'm including it here. This is the cheapest stuff the hydro guy had. In the cups are 100% coco coir (Botanicare Cocogro) straight out of the bag. Any coco fiber coir will work, I've used several to the same results.

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Start of by preparing the coco, saturate the hell out of it, make sure you get some runoff. I use RO water, but distilled is fine, or any purified water. I don't recommend tap or spring water. You can ph it or add super thrive or b1, but really it's not needed.
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Make the holes a little deeper than you need them, you want to bury as much stem as you can.

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Pick a healthy looking soft branch. Don't grab a slow poke off the bottom if you have some go getters up top. You want at least 3" of stem to work with, you can cut off leaves to make that happen, as we will do here. Use clean scissors (you can get as anal about sanitation here as you want, but basic practices are plenty), a 45 degree cut on the stem, and do not let the exposed cut stem touch anything.

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The big leaf has to go, we're not going to worry about that little branch forming though.

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If the leaves are big, cut them in half. You don't need a lot of leaf. Doing this takes a lot of stress off the plant to process light, it doesn't have a root structure to support that process.

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And she is ready to stick into the coco.

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This is optional, but to use rooting gel, just lightly apply some to as much stem as you can, including the exposed cut. Do not let it clump anywhere.

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Try to bury the clone up to the leafsets, the more stem in the coco the better. Within reason of course

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Press it down firm but not hard. You want the entire stem snugly touching moist coco.

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And we are done! I've cloned 100% Indica, and 100% Sativa, even the stuborn ones in between. It works for both of them, and sativa heavy seems to respond especially well. 11-12 days seems to be the norm for rooting to finish. If you gently pull on the stem, you can feel if there are roots holding it in or not.

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Let's talk lights for a sec. The biggest thing I see people have trouble with is proper lighting for cloning. Many like to place the clone in the same grow space with other vegging plants. Often this is too much light, and the clone will not make it more than a few days before burning, limping over, and dying. Use low wattage, I like this 10 watt CFL 2700k, you don't have to worry about using the side of the CFL and about a foot away is perfect. I wouldn't recommend anything over 27 watts. Blue lights are a little harsh or something for clones, I normally get slight brown edges with 6500k.

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Do not use a dome, I know if defies normal best practices for cloning, but this is not peat or soil, and don't try using a sandwich baggie either :) You don't need to mist, you can run 24/0 or 18/6 (I prefer the latter), hell you can run 12/12 if you like but I don't recommend that unless you are sexing a plant. It does work ;) Just say nice things to them, they respond to love - it's the green in green thumb trust me.

DO NOT let the coco dry out, this is a deal breaker. Keep it super moist, you can flood the tray with about 1/4" of water, just don't let it wick for more than 3 days, and give it 2 days before flooding again. I normally pour a little drink on the coco every 2-3 days, they like that.

A warm window sill that receives NO direct sunlight is perfect. A 20watt 2' fouro 2700k (or "plant/aquarium") is probably my fav light, it works like a charm about 6" away. Humidity lower than 25% may cause some problems, misting twice a day would help a lot. Again just plain water is all you need. Humidity over 80% can cause some problems as well. In other words, normal room humidity & temps is fine, don't let them get too cold (60's) or they'll take forever to root.

Just plan on them being ready in 2 weeks :) The samples here have another 10 days to go.

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Here is a recent cloning, this is Rosita, she's a pure sativa El Dorado. This is about 5 days from cut. The leaves were small enough to where I didn't need to cut them in half.

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Here she is 15 days from cut. She will be a bonsai mother plant.

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And that's it! Keep a bottle of water by your clones and you are set. Look for new leafset to grow as a sign that they are ready to eat and transition into full light (shade on 1st day, full by 3rd), transplant into a nice big pot of coco or whatever you use, coco plays nicely with everyone. If you're keeping it in the same pot for longer give a 1/4 veg feeding.

Please be sure to rep my lovely assistant MrsEd for bearing with me during this shoot. :rolleyes: :love:

Edited by AskEd, 20 June 2010 - 06:20 AM.

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#5
AskEd

AskEd

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HARVESTING


The great thing about coco is that it produces much of the flavor you expect from soil, especially if you use organic based nutrients or amendments. Flushing is good, but honestly I haven't been able to taste much difference. I've feed plants chemical nutes up to cut day and have yet to taste any chems when smoking it. And we start smoking as soon as it dries. Cures add lots of sweet flavor, but weed grown in coco is ready to smoke when it's dry IMO.

I notice the biggest difference in cures at days 60 for some reason. The few jars that have made it that far LOL

One thing I will say for coco, it produces large buds under good conditions. I am constantly amazed at the plump goodies that result with such little care.


Two plants drying, they produced about 3-4 oz each
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This White Widow had zero veg time, straight into 12/12
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Super Lemon Haze bud, 24 grams dried
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Edited by AskEd, 20 June 2010 - 06:33 AM.

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#6
MrsEd

MrsEd

    got cannapeanut butter?

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REUSE OF COCO COIR


Coco can be expensive so we reuse all of our coco. It is great to recycyle/repurpose/reuse at harvest or other times. About the only time I would not reuse with my mj plants would be if it is due to a hermie or male being escorted out. I would however still use that outside. Most times it is remixed with amendments and/or expanded out with fresh additions.

Coco is just really clean to work with. When you go to dump out the old coco, the pot is damn near ready for reuse without even a wash for the next round.

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The following plant was a test subject (GHS Super Lemon Haze) which was no longer needed. So that her life had purpose she became a test subject when someone asked if you could go from coco to hydro.



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As seen below you can get quite a bit of the medium off the root ball with just a good shaking. I did put my fingers into the center to help break it off a bit.

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If you wanted to clone in coco and switch to hydro it actually comes off fairly clean with some rinsing. If done much earlier on in pure coco you are left with a very clean root (will get a pic next time we have one).

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This was cleaned off the above root ball.

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For our purposes however we only use fresh coco inside and the used coco goes outside and does wonderfully in our "test subject garden". We do this to try and keep any type of pests out of the indoor space. Better safe then sorry type of measures. The tomatoes and cucumbers just love the airy perlite/coco mix.

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This cucumber seedling was transplanted to a five gallon bucket when it was about six inches tall..that was three weeks ago.

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Edited by MrsEd, 05 July 2010 - 05:23 AM.
added image clean

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#7
AskEd

AskEd

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AskEd


My screen name is an homage to Ed Rosenthal, he was my first grow teacher with his AskEd columns and books, and we share the same first name and attitude toward helping other growers :) In that spirit I'd like to make an Asked Coco FAQ section here. I don't claim to be any kind of expert, but I'm sure willing to help find an answer and share what I know from my experience. I'll add to this as time goes by.


Q: Can I Just Use Coco Instead of Soil?
A: Yes you can, but… there is a learning curve and this is like jumping from soil to hydro. If you have hydro experience, then you should have no problem with coco. If you have only grown with soil then you may have some trouble if you don’t have a grasp on the basics of hydro. If you have not used soil or hydro, then you have the same chance with coco that you would have with hydro – some get it the first time, some don’t.

Q: What is the proper nutrient ph lockout scale for coco?
A:
Use the hydro scale.

PH nutrient scale
Posted Image


Q: What is the proper ph for water and nutes for coco?
A: Adjust your water and nutrient mixes to 5.8 and you should be good. Coco is very forgiving either way, but I don't recommend going over 6.5 or lower than 5.0.


Q: What is the proper way to measure the ph of coco?
A: Ph is a touchy subject with some people, so I offer this as advice and not some scientific certified whatever. There are lots of opinions on soiless ph measurements, these are the ones I agree with and have proven accurate in my grows.

Measuring runoff ph is not accurate with soiless mediums, especially coco. Here is one method that works well:
1 - Place 1/4 cup of coco in a large glass or bowl. If measuring from an existing plant, dig a few inches below the surface and grab a sample from there. Be careful not to tear the roots too much.
2 - Add 1.25 cups of distilled water (1:5 ratio) and stir
3 - Let this sit for 1 hour
4 - Stir the mix again, and drop your ph meter in there. If you're freaked out about that you can filter the mix through a paper towel into a glass.
5 - Let the meter stabilize for at least 2 minutes. This is your medium ph reading!

Coco normally comes in around 5.5 - 6.5. I don't recommend trying to change the medium ph with any kind of flushing or treatments, even if it's close to 7.0. It really doesn't hurt anything to try, but really it's not needed. Coco is pretty stubborn about maintaining the ph it wants to maintain, I find it's easier to adjust the water/nutrients if needed. The problem is that if you run 10 gallons through and get the coco to adjust .5 points let's say, the coco will get back to it's original ph within a week or two. You'll be fighting a never ending battle LOL

Just ph everything going in to 5.8 and you should not have any ph problems with coco. When diagnosing suspected problems, use the hydro readings. For example, Magnesium locks out in coco at 5.7 and lower, where as in soil it locks out at 6.4 and lower. More reading on soiless ph.


Q: What's the proper way to flush coco?
A:
First off, coco is about the easiest flushing medium there is, you will come to really love this quality if you've ever suffered through a 3:1 flush of soil. Adding perlite will make this process especially easy.

All there is to a flush is pouring twice as many gallons of water as you have gallons of container, a 2:1 ratio. So if you are in a 1 gallon container, pour two gallons of water through. Do not let the water come over the sides of the pot, it needs to go through the coco to wash out built up salts. Do this at least once a month/4 weeks as a rule of thumb. You can flush every week if you have the time and energy LOL

If you have a TDS meter, capture some runoff after each gallon is almost through. First readings are normally 600-1200ppm for me. When your readings are down to 50-100ppm, you are done. I've flush a 3 gallon plant with as little as 2 gallons. This is typical ass kicking behavior of coco.

PH your last gallon or two to 5.8. Preferably adjust all your water (don't be lazy!) but it's not absolutely needed, just at the end.

You can add nutes to your flushes if you like. There is a train of thought that pure water flushes stress a plant. I don't agree with that theory, but I don't see any harm in adding nutes to the flush water. I would suggest anything below 600ppm. Personally I prefer plain water with a drop of super thrive.

Leaching agents can also help release salts, but coco is so good about flushing they really don't make much difference that I can see. I've used Botanicare's Clearex, it did not work much better than ph'd RO water in my numerous tests. But it didn't hurt anything!

Note: These readings are based on using purified water (distilled/RO) with initial readings of 0-20ppm. If you are using tap, get your ppm reading and add to all figures.


Q: Are there different types of coco?
A: Yes! There are several types of coco, including blocks that you can use instead of rockwool, mats for NFT systems, plugs for cloning and seeding, you name it. For this guide, I'll mention these three common types:

Fiber Coir – This is what you want for growing, it’s ground up a little more and perfect for container growing.

Piece Coir – This stuff is super airy and awesome for loosening up soil or fiber coir. Not a good choice to use by itself though.

Coco Chips – This is really landscaper grade coco, and if you are growing outside this has many benefits, especially as a mulch. Not a good choice as a medium though.

Posted Image

Edited by AskEd, 20 June 2010 - 09:20 PM.

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#8
Russy

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Well, I think you just convinced me to switch over to Coco.


Awesome Awesome stuff. thanks as always Ed !
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#9
Veeners5

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:yay::metal::metal::yay:

Awesome job Ed, absolutely incredible :hello:!! This deserves a good sticky'ing imho, thanks for all the time you obviously spent on this Ed, a great thing you've done here:cool::cool::smoking::smoking:

Yeah Mrs, I seen your fingaz in there, way to make Ed look good ;):D Nice tomatoes as well, I dont even like tomatoes but man I want to grow some now :metal:

Edited by Veeners5, 20 June 2010 - 05:55 AM.


#10
Alatar

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#11
antheis

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great write up, ed.
sub'd for sure.
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#12
PeteyGunz

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COCO is the best stuff ever. My two moms that I threw into flower are lovin it!

Thank you once again for an awesome read!!! You make it hard for anyone who wants to begin growing in this stuff to mess up. Thanks again for sharing with us!
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#13
Snow Crash

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Argh! You beat me to it, and you did a fine job as well. Good stuff, I'm on board with most of it. Beautiful resource for all looking to get into coco, this'll go down in the history books.

Epic Thread!
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#14
Alatar

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#15
AskEd

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Thanks for the kind words everyone! It was a lot of fun to put together and I have been working on this for some time, but with the new forum here I thought it'd bee a cool thing to get 'er done LOL

#16
AskEd

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I love this photo:

Posted Image


We don't have any decent shots of calcium deficiency in the Sick Plants and Problems stickies. There is one picture of very advanced calcium deficiency, but nothing that shows what the grower is likely to find earlier in the process. So this shot is great.

I've been waiting for calcium deficiency to hit my flowering plants in coco, and I haven't been sure what it is I've been waiting for. Now I have a much better idea and I can state with confidence that I have not seen any of this as of yet.

If I end up not getting any calcium deficiency, it will be fun to speculate as to why, and I have some ideas, but let's wait a few weeks and see if I really dodge that bullet.


Hey Alatar! You know I had this problem with the first 3 or 4 strains I ran in coco before I got the lime to fix it. Drove me nuts brother...

Anyhow, looking back at my LSD journal, I first noted seeing this on day 36 of flowering, just as the buds were starting to ripen. Lockstock on day 30, Cali Hash day 16, Super Skunk day 17. I got these on some tomato plants as well.

I think it has to do a lot with how big a feeder the plant is too. I hope you never have to deal with this man LOL

#17
Mechanibus

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#18
Snow Crash

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http://forum.grassci...=1&d=1277078623

Here's a picture of what I believe to be Magnesium deficiency which had occurred during the end of week 3 and through week 4 of vegetative growth. This is a common time to see Mg issues and I believe it to be Mg and not a Ca problem due to my usage of Calplex and Huvega.

Calplex is recommended to run at 10ml per gallon. In coco I have been running it at 15ml per gallon (150% recommended). Huvega is recommended to run at 15ml to 30ml per gallon, which I've been running at 15ml (bare minimum). To remedy the issue I have doubled the amount of Huvega to 30ml (max recommended). I have also just dialed back the Calplex to 10ml as I believe to have fulfilled the calcium requirements of the coco "nutrient bank." Over the last 2 days the spotting has gotten no worse where it did occur and there is no new spotting since doubling the Huvega to the maximum suggested.

This plant is a Lemon Skunk, and a unique phenotype of the strain if you notice the "saw blade" style fan leaves. It is the only one of the plants showing significant spotting though, and likely because it was located directly beneath the 400w MH lamp and had the most available energy VS any of the other plants.

The other picture is a view of the grow as it continues. The featured Lemon Skunk is on the lower right hand side of the grow. It has a slightly more hardy "twin" (same pheno of LS) right behind it.

Attached Thumbnails

  • mg_def_lemonskunk.JPG
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Edited by Snow Crash, 21 June 2010 - 12:26 AM.

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#19
Guest_Norma Stits_*

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this is absolutely excellent man.. us growers can't thank you enough for this.
i will absolutely run some (not all :D) coco my next grow thanks to this! You know i've been poking around a little for info.. but this is huge!

PS thread stickied (obviously) :)

thanks again dude!

PS

Once a calcium deficiency starts, it will continue to deteriorate even after a fix has been applied. It’s an extremely frustrating ordeal and can trick you into taking drastic actions because nothing seems to be working. If you stay calm, you’ll find that it really doesn’t affect much other than making your leaves look like crap and killing them. Buds seem to be unaffected for the most part.

Calcium deficiency is more of a pain in the ass than problem, but it usually starts with little rust spots


couldn't agree more with this..

a good PH meter is a requirement, no excuses! Budget at a minimum $40-$100 dollars, I don’t want to hear any bitching about how it’s not within reason, paying lots of money for a gram of weed is not within reason.


THIS! :hello:

Edited by Norma Stits, 21 June 2010 - 03:32 AM.


#20
Saaz

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