Compacted No Till Soil?

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by FlexedDabs, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. Hey GC!
    I've run into a little issue with my no till pots and I'm hoping you can help!

    I have been growing autos only in these 20gal No-till pots. The pictures below are of my 4th (current) cycle. Each pot has had 1-2 plants per cycle.

    Soil recipe:
    3 cu ft Peat Moss
    2 cu ft Compost
    2 cu ft Rice Hulls
    2 cu ft Lava Rocks
    1 cu ft worm castings

    Amendments per cu ft
    1 Cup Kelp Meal
    1 Cup Crab Meal
    1 cup Neem Meal
    1 Cup MPB
    3 Cup Basalt
    1 Cup Oyster Shells
    1/2 cup Gypsum
    5 cups Bio Char

    Topdress weekly with Neem meal, Kelp meal, and MBP.

    Can soil compact this quickly? Could my rice hulls have broken down over the last 9 months causing the soil to compact? Too much basalt? Too many roots left over from old plants?

    And finally, how do I go about fixing the soil if it has compacted? My first though is to dump them out and remix, but I have no idea what ratios of amendments to add, if any.

    Odd that this started last cycle with just one pot. Now it seems to be 3 out of the 4 that are having this issue.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Group shot (back left is the only one not super small)

    Pot 1

    Pot 2

    Pot 3

    Pot 4
    20190621_064048.jpg 20190621_064105.jpg
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  2. its your choice of aeration materials. the rice hulls will break down in around 6+ months. the lava rock is probably pretty big compared to other aeration materials. i only add basalt when i make up the initial mix and i don't use it to reammend before each cycle. i would dump it out and add in 2 cuft of perlite or pumice; something small. that's it. that would fix it and then just keep doing what you're doing. :thumbsup:
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  3. when you're done mixing it up, before you do the work of putting it back in your pot, add water to it and watch. if the soil is moist before you added water, the water should go right into the soil but if its still compacted, it will pool on the top. if the soil is too dry it needs moistened again before you can do a drainage test.
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  4. Rice hulls are great but the issue with using them in no-till is that they decompose and stop functioning as aeration.
    If you feel like the soil is too compacted to grow in, I would remix it and add 2cf of non compostable aeration (lava rock, pumice, perlite etc). Save the rice hulls for small containers and seedlings.
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  5. Skunker is correct. Lava rocks SUCK for aeration unless you get the small 3/8” size. You want Horticulture Perilite. Dump, add, mix, refill pots. Should be golden after that.
    Just for reference, my base mix is:
    7.5gals CSPM
    7.5gals EWC
    8.5gals Horticulture Perilite
    2gals Bio-Char.

    Since No-Till is always adding more organic matter to our pots, need to start out with higher aeration to avoid this problem in the future and loose the lava rocks. You got this!

    “You are unlimited!”
    Prepper420’s No-Tillin Adventure!
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  6. i would just tough it out till harvest and then remix the soil. i've never tried to take a small plant out of a big pot like that but i bet you could with some of the smaller veg plants. it just might take them a few days to rebound. just don't let the soil dry out and it will be ok till harvest.

    i love perlite. i know some people don't but i do. you can use rice hulls if you recycle soil instead of doing the full no till. that just means you remix soil every round with amendments instead of letting it stay in the pot forever. you would add fresh rice hulls each round and that is more what i've been doing. i like them for the silica content and they really make the soil fluffy using very little.

    my new base mix i really love because it holds water easier/longer than the 1:1:1 is 50% peat the 25% each of perlite and EWC. i'm never using the 1:1:1 again and the plants are a lot happier throughout the entire round.
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  7. Spot on! I really appreciate the insight. is there any fear of messing up the soil food web I have built or is addressing the compaction my #1 focus at this point?
    That was my fear. Going to stick with the hulls as a mulch layer instead. Thanks for the info!
    Thanks Prepper! The scoria I used is very small, about the size of perlite. I think I'm going to look for some cheap pumice, but if all else fails, perlite it is.

    The City coming through strong. You guys are the best!
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  8. It is really dry here (RH between 10 and 30% all year) so the thought of having soil that holds a bit more water is appealing.

    If I were to do this, would I just add 1 cu ft of aeration and an extra cu ft of spm?

    Also, when I am mixing them up, should I re-ammend the soil with dry amendments or just leave it with the amendments it already has?
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  9. compaction is number one at this point. disturbing the soil isn't going to cause death to the microbes. before they did no till, they all recycled their soil mixing it all up. i think it was just mountain organics, not even coot, who does the no till thing.
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  10. if you have a way to sift out the lava rock, i would just replace it with perlite. i'm honestly not very good at math but
    you'd add one part perlite, and three parts peat and you replace the lava with perlite. that would give you a 2:1:1 base mix. if you tend to over water your plants often, i wouldn't do this mix and would stay with the 1:1:1 but if your plants are drying out quick from no humidity, then this will really work well. you could store extra soil since it will be a lot more to correct the ratio.

    Part= cuft
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  11. I'm not following this logic. I see no reason to replace the scoria with perlite. See the picture below that shows my lava rock's size compared to perlite.

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  12. wow thats a lot smaller than what i can get. usually people are trying to crush it with cars lol to get it small enough.

    i thought it was bigger than what you have. i was saying that it would probably be pretty quick to sift out the large rocks and just replace it with a more appropriate sized aeration just so you can switch the base soil from 1:1:1 to 2:1:1 and have enough small perlite to make a difference in soil structure.

    but if its that small then just use that. :thumbsup:
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  13. If you end up using more Pest moss, make sure to balance it out with calcium to buffer the acidity.
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  14. #14 Possuum, Jun 22, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
    well, how about a few alternate opinions?

    if you've grown 3 cycles previously that is 9-12 months so just sitting still in one spot along with constant water movement and gravity at work the lack of porosity could certainly occur and the soil could become stratified. if during the course of the past 9-12 months you've moved the containers about, sliding, jostling, etc., that too will compound the problem of stratification. if the mix had good tilth and porosity to start with then the addition of some type fresh/new areation amendment to replace the orignal rice hull contribution, and a remix the tilth should return. see below.

    i've never really understood the indoor cannabis no-till paradigm. "no-till" originates in outdoor gardening and agriculture. in that context it simply means no rototilling the garden and no discing the field. this was done ostensibly to preserve earthworm and other biological lives in the top 6-10 inches of the soil. however, breaking the soil surface to a depth of 6-10 for purposes of areation is a perfect and often cited practice in no-till gardening and no-till agriculture. this is very well documented. so taking the rationale for "no-till" indoors what so-called rule of no-till in it's purest sense prevents one from breaking up or remixing their indoor no-till container? we used to refer to this as "recycling" our soil. imo find an appropriate garden tool and break the soil up or shovel half of it out, mix the remainder that's left in the bottom half of the container with some fresh areation (no amendments) and the top half separately with your amendment and areation mix. see following.

    you've grown 3 successful harvests with your original mix and there's no way to tell what mineral constituents are remaining, how much of each, and if they are even in a plant available form. so think about it. 3 harvest with your original mix, some minerals remain in some form. how much does a plant need to grow just one cycle? i suggest it is on the scale of ppm's of each element and for our organic purposes I'll suggest that is measured using the scale of tbsps for some amendments and tsps for others per CUBIC FOOT. i understand 20 gallons is a lot of media but a plant, especially an auto but even a photo, is only going to use so much of 'x' amount of any element in it's indoor life cycle. why overdo it? it usually causes a problem of some sort in the long run ime.

    so reamend the top half of your soil, dump it out and mix it all, or break it up in place. i wouldnt add any more basalt and i'd go easy on any calcium sources as alkalinity is your enemy and it is burdensome beast to fight (contrast to alkaline). but i'd for sure add some ewc and try to cover the entire macro and micro nutrient profile in some combination and some reasonable amount (grower's choice). if you can source true glacial rock dust, that in addition to kelp provides beau coup micronutrients and some amount of macronutrients. it's great stuff both!

    carbon, nitrogen, potassium, calcium are the most fundamental elements for cellular growth in any living thing. that's something to think about when growing a plant whether in fresh mix, recycle, or "no till". phosphorous is ornery and the need for copious amounts of it for cannabis production are probably overstated.

    hope this helps and gets you thinking critically. bountiful harvests!
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  15. Use Dacon Radishes. Not sure on the spelling but they are the fairly larger white radishes. They grow a long thick tap root and are a nutrient rich time bomb when left to decompose.

    Best of wishes.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Grasscity Forum mobile app
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  16. Daikon - Wikipedia
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