Are worm castings enough?

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by BeZtoken, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. I read that if you add 1/4 inch worm castings to the top of the soil when watering that its all the plant needs for nutrients? Is it true?
    Has anyone done this? Or heard this? (If so sweet I have a lot of castings.) If not what would the castings be lacking for flowering plants? What would I need to add.
    BTW the mix of soil I'm using is 50% advanced sunshine mix #4, 50% advanced sunshine super hydro blend and 25% worm castings. RO water 6.5ish. I'm thinking of Aurora Roots nutes or FF if the castings aren't sufficient if I do use additional additives can you please recommend a safe dose.

    I really Fd up my last plants with synthetic nutes (advanced...I know but first time grow and I bought into there whole scheme...never again I gave that blank blank blank to a friend and said good luck) so I'm going more natural and organic.

    Thanks to all in advance for any advice or suggestions.....V
  2. BeZ, take a look at espoma's tone fertilizers. They come as plant tone, bio tone, garden tone, tomato tone and so on. It is fully organic and comprised of meals, just like what a lot of us source anyway. But a 4-5lb bag runs less than $5 in my part of the mitten. I use it myself slightly less than what they recommend.
    Castings are great too at rates up to 20% or so. Casting quality varies, better worm food equals better worm poop, but less profit for the worm rancher, so if you can, start a worm farm, for easy cheap DIY castings. For now let's assume yours are good.
    And if you stay away from the bottled nutrient lines we will help you spend wisely on better ingredients, and mostly just feed water. It all starts with your soil. Your brand I really don't know much about. Is it amended? Have perlite? Ph balanced with lime? MIW
  3. BeZ,

    Another consideration to add to MIW's take on the worm castings is to read the label when you buy them. Most Canadian castings are the result of worms that are fed primarily paper and cardboard.

    Paper and cardboard are food sources for sure, and they put out castings that have a high carbon profile, but they're light on the microbes that are so important for establishing good soil biology. When you use castings that are made at home, you control what they eat.

    With a topdressing of one of the Espoma Tone ferts and an inch or so of your home made're set.

  4. Go blue!!! It's always nice to see a fellow Michigander on gc.

    I looked into the tones and I'm very interested, is there one specific brand or tone to use. Since I didn't see one for mj do I just use the tomato or a combination. I don't want to add anything for veg.

    Oh and the castings came from a soil factory that makes the advanced sunshine blends I know someone so there's no label. Adding a pic of the soil label of the mix #4.

    Thanks for the help guys I really appreciate it....V

    Attached Files:

  5. To tell you the truth I have used both plant tone and bio tone, and have seen grows done with garden tone and tomato tone, and I could see no difference despite the different NPK numbers. I would go with the cheapest you can find, for me it was plant tone. Mixing it at the recommended rates is a little hot so only use it on started plants, and after a month to 6 weeks give them a top dressing of more. As the grow progresses we can fine tune, with humic acid, teas made with molasses and either ewc and or compost. Maybe pick up some kelp meal and alfalfa meal, and fish hydrolysate. I found alfalfa meal at the farm store $12 for 50lb, not bad, compared to hydro store prices eh?

    BTW I like that your on board with soil amendments, over bottled hype. If you follow through with what were talking about you will cut off at least one year of growing pains through knowledge. Ask any of us old timers, it took that long or longer to get off the nutrient merry go round, and start using living soil.

    To start, pick up some tone, mix your soil up and let it sit for some weeks, i'd say a minumum of two weeks, a month is better. Wet it and leave it. This will feed the microbes in the mix and the microbes are the key to a living soil.

    And why no ferts for veg? i can tell you flowering goes so much better when your plants have momentom going into flower. The first several weeks in flower are hard on the plants, they go through hormone changes, and the nutrient needs are upped big time. Not a good time to go without food....MIW
  6. No nutes during veg because I assumed the soil with the added castings would be enough for veg.... I guess. And I'm only going to grow them 12 inches or so before flower I'm just looking to produce nice compact sticky buds. Like I said earlier on my 1st grow I bought into A.N. and vegged my plants great (I think anyway, first grow but they were beautiful) I switched to flower at 18-20 inches and they NEVER STOPPED GROWING. They never REALLY focused on the buds and now I have a 5 gal pail full if sticky little calaxes that km gonna make bubbling hash out of. I'm sure it was the nutes. And besides I REALLY, REALLY, REEALLY, HATE black sticky ashes and want no part of it.

    So I thought what does it take a plant to grow outdoors on its own ALLL natural. Good soil and poop of some sort? I've already planted into 5 gal pots with the soil mix I mentioned earlier so I guess its to late to mix it now. It is organic natural and ph balanced so by adding the extra castings did that make it hot?
    I am going to get the espoma's tone fertilizer and use as directed for flower. Would that not be enough alone to feed? What else would I add and in what form.. a tea? I've never done a tea before either.

    I appreciate all your advice and will do whatever I can to produce quality buds.

    Oh yeah MIW have you seen any of that organic medical marijuana soil? I heard about it and just seen a bag at a despensery yesterday it says its all natural organic, EVERYTHING you need its npk is like 15-32-38 or something don't remember exact numbers, just add water, for best results add some sort of poop at water.
    BTW if your interested I'm very medicated and my strains this round are 3 sensi star, 2 death star,1 each vanilla kush, Jinn & chem dog. All seeds from meds I purchased at despenseries.

    Thanks again...V
  7. Chunk is the master, I just have to stop in and say that.
  8. #8 MI Wolverine, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
    BeZ, plants will stretch the first several weeks of flower regardless to chems or organic, that's just how they grow. There are things you can do that can help control it. Your light for example. And outside or inside, plants need nutrients to grow, in an organic living soil they get what they need from microbes. And since your soil came in bags you need to know wether it is sufficient or not. I simply don't know anything about your soil other than what you tell me.The castings will help for sure, especially for shorties, and it is good for soil anyway up to 20%. If not sufficient, a light nutrient charge is in order.

    Part of what I'm talking about is a change in your thinking, try to forget hydro/chemical thinking. You are feeding and nurturing your soil's microbes, shorting them makes little sense to me. It takes big healthy plants to get big healthy buds AFAIK.

    So you need to prepare for a stretch, knowing your strain and keeping notes will help tremendously.......MIW

    Edit.... I'd be suspicious of soil with npk numbers that high, it sure does not sound organic.....
  9. #9 BeZtoken, Aug 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2011
    I know that they will stretch, double or triple in size even. That's why I plan on turning flower on at 12-14" instead of 20-24. I don't want to top train or LST I just want to let them grow natural (as natural as possible indoors). The soil is store bought Sunshine Advanced mix #4. Ingredients:45-55% Canadian sphagmum peat moss,horticultural grade perlite,coir(coconut potholes fiber) dolomite lime, mycorrhizae and organics wetting agent (yucca extract) also contains non plant food ingredients. Glomus intraradices..0.0196 propagules/cc
    Glomus mosseae..0.0196 prop/cc
    Glomus aggregatum..0.0196 prop/cc
    Glomus etunicatum..0.0196 prop/cc
    One 2 cubic foot bag and one 2 cubic foot bag of Sunshine Advanced Super Hydro. Ingredients are 35-45% horticultural grade perlite, Canadian sphagnum peat moss, forest products compost, composted softwood bark, fertilizer, worm castings, mycorrhizae and organics wetting agent. Guaranteed analysis 0.06-0.02-0.04
    Total nitrogen..0.06
    0.052% water insoluble nitrogen
    0.008% water soluble nitrogen
    Available potash..0.02%
    Soluble potash..0.04%
    Derived from worm castings, feather meal, bone meal and sulfate of potash. With the same Glomus extracts as the mix #4. And about 25% worm castings.

    So since I mixed the soil how do I add some of the additives other than the epsoma tone. All I want to do is regularly water and replace the used nutrients, I thought maybe a tea or something.
  10. Alright, your soil looks like it has a light nutrient charge, and has lime added, great. It probably has just enough to get small plants started. I would start clones or seedlings in the mix without adding any amendments. For started plants you can mix the espoma tone in and let it cook or add the tone as a top dressing, your call, but i prefer mixing it in and top dressing ewc as your needs indicate.

    Teas, when we get there, can be super simple or can take some equipment. But are not mandatory. One simple tea I have made is to mix ewc and molasses in an old milk jug with good water, shake it to mix it, and water it in. The ewc has the microbes and the molasses will feed them. Another is to simply soak alfalfa meal in water for 24-48 hours, strain off the alfalfa meal and use the water as as spray or drench. Alfalfa has growth hormones in it, along with the npk numbers. I usually see new growth in a day or two after using this in a spray. Then, if your game, we can use ewc and molasses bubbled for 12-36 hours. This would be a basic compost/ewc tea that you can expand with kelp meal or alfalfa meal or fish hydrosylate, in MI I have found neptune's harvest and bonide brands, I've found bonide in nurseries and farm/hardware stores. I like to use alfalfa early, kelp in flower and fish whenever. For a nutrient tea ( fertilizers but little microbe numbers) you can bubble the tone ferts for 12 hours or just top dress, either will work fine......MIW
  11. Sweet bro this all sounds great and simple and yes I think I'm game for the teas later.
    So when I do start to mix the tone I will use ewc I have plenty, but equal parts tho or more ewc than tone. Your the only one I have talked to that's doing this all my friends that grow are using liquidation frets, so you can say your my
    I'm kinda getting ahead of myself I think I'll let you know when I get the stuff. And post a pic of how they are doing probably next week. In the mean time ro water ph balanced or is just leaching tap ok, that's what I've been doing, leaching tap with an airator and stone for 24 hrs and not ph testing I didn't want to add acid or alkaline because I read that really don't adjust the soil ph anyway. I've only watered once so if It's bad hopefully it hasn't harmed them yet.
    Oh ya I will look into getting the other things you mentioned.

    Thanks again bro...V
  12. #12 MI Wolverine, Aug 4, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
    We will get you going no problem, others will chip in too, were not alone here. You will be teaching all your friends by years end.

    I think espoma generally suggests 1 cup tone to 25 cups of soil. Or three cups per cubic ft. Three cups of tone is also one pound. I found this a little on the hot side, so now I add 2-21/2 cups per cf of soil mix. You can add up to twenty percent ewc. If you make teas you will need some for that too.

    How is the soil for perlite? 25-30% would be good. Maybe someone could chirp in on the lime in your mix, unless you know the ph of it.

    Is your tap water bad? High ph? If it is you could use your RO or add citric acid. Your right you don't want to add most of the ups and downs to your soil. They stay there and build up. Citric is safe and cheap though, you can get it in grocery stores. In the winter I use it when I'm only left with high ph tap water. In the summer I have a outside well I use.

    After you mix the soil all up, then wet it, and let it sit for a month if possible. This time will get your microbe population up and going. I like to wake my soil up with a compost tea a week or so before I start plants in it. Once the plants are in I give it a little top dress again with ewc. It seems to be easy on tender roots, but I have no data for that off hand, I'm pretty buzzed on hash at the moment, but I know I have read that somewhere, and I just do it....all this make sense?.......MIW
  13. #13 BeZtoken, Aug 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2011
    Yeah I'm totally on board bro and very excited. It all makes complete sense.
    So a month into flower I will mix my soil the way you explained. But sense I still have enough soil for my next grow I think I'll just add the epsoma to my same mix and let it cook a month.
    And I've already told a fellow grower who's a good friend of mine about going organic and not using any bottles. I think I need to produce tho to convince these guys. One friend is going hydro, I bitch about it everyday and have no clue why he insist on hydro. I think its just the word more than anything. I tried to tell them the amount of chemical hydro growers pour down the drain is very bad for out environment. I find whenever I can and I do not want a nute river from stupid hydro. Plus it taste like Shit.

    The perlite should be good both bags I mixed is loaded. Idk about the lime. I will try to ph test the soil today sometime.

    Thanks again for being interested in helping me out MIW.....V
  14. What do you guys think of espoma dried blood meal and bone meal? (2 different bags) Is it something I could use I just ask because I looked up the tones at the website of a local shop and seen these. I'm still looking for the alfalfa meal but plan on the espoma kelp meal with the tomato tone or whatevers cheaper I guess, like you suggest.
  15. I'd skip on the blood and bone meal, the tones have that covered pretty well, but I would use the kelp meal. Just substitute 1 for 1 with the tone. Kelp meal is important for many reason, and is my most treasured ingredient. Alfalfa would be a close second and can be found in farm stores, if you can't get the loose stuff you may be able to find it in rabbit food, it comes in pellets, just make sure there is no salt added.

    BTW I have won over several of my grow friends after they see and try my buds. The biggest advantage I see is how a living soil does not have all those mysterious lockouts and dificiencies that chem growers get. That and it's a damn site cheaper......MIW

  16. I guess I'm confused here. You have plants in veg right now? Will you be doing a transplant with your new soil? A month into flower is not a good time to mess with the plants, that's peak bud building time.
    Once your in flower you could do a simple top dress, but if your growing a 8 week variety, I think adding fertilizers should be done earlier....MIW
  17. Oh yeah sorry bro I am in veg rt now with the mix I mentioned in the 5g pots and its the pot they will finish in. I'm just saying for the next grow il get the soil mixed a month into flower for my next set. I want to mix the espoma in the soil and let it sit like you said.
    So for now with this grow I can only add a top dressing and teas.
    Is that ok? I caaan re transplant but I really don't want too have to.
    I plan on switching to flower as soon as there the right size and adding the espoma with ewc top dress and whatever else you suggest.
    I really hope this is ok I don't have enough from my failed last grow to last very long.
  18. Sure OK, leave them in the fivers, and top dress. I was confused as to if your growing now or planning ahead, now I see our doing both, good.

    A week or so before going to 12/12 would be a good time to apply a top dress, so if your flipping soon, get er done.

    In your travels look for alfalfa meal in farm/feed stores, kelp meal and fish hydrolysate (neptunes harvest fish is the easiest to find) in grow stores. You can use some of each in teas, and since there is time you can incorperate some of the alfalfa and kelp meals in your next soil mix, and drench it with the fish......MIW
  19. Bro I can't think you enough for all the advice and interest you've taken in my grow and going organic.
    So here's my shopping list.
    Kelp meal
    Alfalfa meal
    Fish hydro
    Espoma tone
    I already have ewc is there anything else in the future I will need, the humic acid? I just want an idea of the $ I'll need after the initial meals and tone. I gotta bust my ass with manual labor for every extra dollar this cost not that I'm bitchin It's worth every sweaty hour.
    So if you don't mind can I please get a full run down of ALLL the ingredients I will need present and future so I can find them and plan ahead a little.

    Thanks again bro...V
  20. The humic acid would be your call or optional. What it offers is called chelating, that means it makes nutrients available to the plants. Sometimes elements are bound to each other or whatever and are not able to be used, chelates unbind them, or make them available. I got mine here Keep It Simple Compost Tea Brewers and Composts Sm-90, but folks here swear by the bio-ag? brand. Hopefully someone can give us a link, LD's research says it's the best due to the extraction method used. Mine works fine, but I will defer to his judgement. And you will need some molasses for teas, look for unsulfered.

    That really should do it for soil amendments. At least I'm drawing a blank, if anyone has an essential addition please speak up. There are plenty of things you could add, but I think we got the basics covered.

    What are your plans for bug control? I use neem/karanja oil as a spray, and both in meals in the soil, along with crab meal. But for the sake of simplicity in your initial organic grows regular store bought neem oil sprays into flower work well and they won't break the bank. A good brand is dyna gro neem, it's reasonable priced and effective. And dyna gro pro tech is good in sprays as an emulsifier and the silica in it makes for strong healthy leaves and plants.

    Oh, and your very welcome.........MIW

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