No-Till Gardening: Revisited

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by MountainOrganics, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. #1 MountainOrganics, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2019
    It seems to me that one thing is absolutely necessary and that is passion without motive - passion that is not the result of some commitment or attachment, passion that is not lust. A man who does not know what passion is will never know love because love can come into being only when there is total self-abandonment." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Below you will find an easily replicable potting soil recipe along with a watering/top-dress/foliar/ routine that one can follow and be very successful - assuming one isn't over/under watering and has the appropriate environment and lighting. This will all be quite familiar to the good folks that have been around awhile and with the in-depth discussion that has already been done (here, there and everywhere) on the various inputs I will not detail things such as "why neem?" So do some reading in the other 'sticky' threads here (especially Gimiks library), and then please by all means ask questions and let's discuss NTG!

    Say you're growing in #20 smartpots, I've always approached this in the sense of looking at that small body of soil as just a cross section, or more-so a chunk of a much larger body of soil, a section of your outdoor veggie garden, a grassy field or whatever the case is. When I look at container gardening from that perspective it takes away all the inhibiting stereotypes of growing in containers and allowed me to conduct my own research "outside the box" so to speak. Anyway, maybe that perspective will help someone, or not, it did for me! LOL

    What this whole deal comes down to is building soil, caring for soil, harboring and encouraging the plethora of life within that soil so that it thrives, multiplies, meshes together and creates it's own unique and diverse mini-ecosystem! In a sense, you are thus emulating the greatest (and only) life giving process to have developed on this planet.

    An important aspect to keep in mind especially when wading through the hydro high times BS is that the soil you build is in constant motion and that motion only increases as time goes by, the process driven by this mass of (mostly) microscopic life is truly incredible! Mulching is something I would consider absolutely crucial in any no-till garden, this is what drives the process and what is the continual source of organic matter into your soil and the energy (food) source for soil life which in turn ends up in the plants you will grow. If any magic were to actually occur here it would certainly be happening in the upper most portion of your topsoil that is directly in contact with the mulch layer (ok maybe in the rhizosphere as well!). Planting a cover crop at the beginning of each cycle is always a good idea as well as the added roots throughout the topsoil also aerates and harbors soil life itself. Once and if the cover crop becomes established it then likely dies back under a full canopy (no light) and through it's death becomes mulch and is completely incorporated into the soil. A decaying mulch layer is key - a living mulch/cover crop comes second.

    "The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination." - Masanobu Fukuoka

    Enzymes begin to break down your mulch/top-dress material converting it into a more 'basic' material to then be consumed by bacteria/fungi/actinomycetes - starches to sugars for example in the case of amylase, the sugar then being readily consumed by bacteria - arthropods such as springtails, millipedes, the infamous Roly poly / wood lice and a long list of soil mites along with yet more microbes also facilitate in the deconstruction of organic matter (your mulch layer) which is converted into what we know as humus. With fresh layers of humus on your topsoil (as mulch is continuously converted in a never ending process) it is now available for your worm community to come to the surface and consume. In the worms gut it is further broken down via an enzymaticaly driven process (including enzyme creating bacteria that reside in the gut of the worm to further move the process along). This deconstructed organic matter (humus) then passes through the worm and is deposited throughout your soil, providing for a constant source of aeration in the process. The worm castings left behind are now a humus which is perfectly compartmentalized with greater surface coverage allowing for an increase in further microbial activity. Nutrients are mineralized, stabilized and both made available to plants and stored away in organic compounds for the long haul (think "slow release" nutrients). PGR/PGH (Plant Growth Regulators & Hormones), enzymes & humates are all increased in quantity because of this natural process along with encouraging further diversity and activity in the microbial communities.

    So can you seen now the benefit of no-till when thinking of long term soil improvement, nutrient retention, microbial stimulation and an ideal medium for optimal plant growth? You see how the concept of feeding 'this or that' at a specific time in a plants life becomes mostly irrelevant? The sad concept of flushing proving utterly pointless and even detrimental? Can you see how the texture of soil is changed over time by these trillions of life forms and when left in place is thus structured to be the perfect communal home for roots & soil life alike? You see your soil is 100% alive and in constant motion, in a constant state of being deconstructed and reconstructed all in perfect form for plants to not just thrive but allowed to grow with the highest level of nutrition and medicinal content (secondary plant metabolites including cannabinoids, terpenes, terpenoids, ketones etc etc) - the plant of choice that you are growing being completely irrelevant.


    Base soil mix:

    1:1:1: CSPM (Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss) : Pumice/Lava rock : Compost - Malibus B/U is an excellent choice if it is available in your area.

    Amended per cuF with:

    1/2 - 1 cup Neem or Karanja
    1/2 - 1 cup Kelp
    1/2 - 1 cup Crab/Crustacean meal
    1 cup MBP (Malted Barley Powder)

    1/2 cup Gypsum (nice sulphur source)
    4-6 cups Basalt
    6-8 cups Biochar

    ***Small handful of worms per container*** In beds, lets say 4x8 for example, something like a handful per 2x2 area is more than plenty. I’ve seen quite a number of instances where a very large number of worms are started with and while there is nothing wrong with that I feel it not only detracts from the purpose but is wholly unnecessary as worms will regulate their population in containers so you risk simply a huge waste of money and worms right out the gate. IMO it is better to start with a small amount and allow your mini ecosystem to develop ‘naturally’ and soil life will find it’s own balance that is most appropriate for any given size body of soil - make sense?

    Keep in mind, if you build a soil that at least somewhat resembles the recipe above, the addition of worms (or not) at the beginning will not make one iota of difference. It is in the long term where the benefit of a diverse healthy soil life, including worms, that you will see a benefit…..and please please do not skimp on the humus portion of your soil mix, as my good friend Coot has said, “get your humus right, and the rest is like a pleasant drive through the countryside.” And I’m sure there’s a number of variations on that quote, some not as savory as others! LMAO!!


    Here’s an example of a tried and true watering schedule (because I personally used it for years) to use from day 1 to ensure your plants are being pushed to ‘peak health’ and expressing their full ‘genetic potential.’:

    Day 1 Plain water
    Day 2 No watering
    Day 3 MBP top-dress watered in with Aloe/Fulvic/Silica (agsil or your silica source of choice)
    Day 4 No watering
    Day 5 Plain water
    Day 6 Neem/Kelp tea
    Day 7 No watering
    Day 8 Plain water
    Day 9 No watering
    Day 10 Coconut Water
    Day 11 No watering

    REPEAT - Beginning to end, no changes needed for various stages of growth, simple enough right?

    Now for al the reasons previously stated your soil is becoming richer and richer as the water and nutrient retaining ability of your soil improves over time. By the 3rd cycle the plants may already be showing signs that you could back off on the above watering schedule and that can be done any number of ways to best suit your situation. For example, use half the amount of neem/kelp tea and coconut water. Add a couple extra days of plain water in between 'feedings', and so on.

    As an observant gardener you should be able to notice plants performing equally as well even though you are using less inputs and in the same way you can tell if perhaps you backed off too much from time to time - in this way you can find the "sweet spot" for your garden and when that clicks with you it is very easy from then on to know what your soil needs.

    Here's an example of a watering schedule a couple or few years into established no-till gardens (it happens to be my current routine as well):

    - Plain water every other day, beginning to end
    - MBP top-dress every 10-12 days watered with aloe/fulvic/silica
    - Kelp & neem top-dress at the beginning of the cycle, maybe once more in early flowering.

    Yea, that's it! No teas are ever made. The days of needing a soluble 'quick fix' are long gone. The soil is extremely rich and the mulch and top-dress' we do apply are not for that moment but for the weeks and months to come - make sense?

    "I am happy simply to work joyfully on my farm, which to me is the Garden of Eden. The way of natural farming is forever uncompleted. Nature can never be understood or improved upon by human effort. In the end, to become one with nature, to live with God, one cannot help others or even receive help from them. We can only walk our paths alone." - Masanobu Fukuoka

    Well maybe that's enough for the first night? I hope some will find this helpful, I've continued down this path because I believe there is no better way to garden, indoors or outdoors. I will always look for ways to simplify and lower inputs in efforts to 'close the loop' as much as possible while still harvesting the worlds best food and medicine.

    Some topics I know I haven't gotten to that I'd like to cover in the near future (so it stays in the beginning and easy to find! LOL):

    1. Foliar / IPM
    2. Mulch & topdress - what and how often
    3. Enzymes / malted grains (Coot please feel free to drop your 2 cents since this is all you) ---- enzymes play such an important role in soil/plant health, for the last year I cut back on all other inputs solely to observe what MBP (malted barley powder) brings to the equation and I really couldn't be more impressed!
    4. ......building soil for tomorrow.....

    "I see humanity now as one vast plant, needing for its highest fulfillments only love, the natural blessings of the great outdoors, and intelligent crossing and selection. In the span of my own lifetime I have observed such wondrous process in plant evolution that I look forward optimistically to a healthy, happy world as soon as its children are taught the principles of simple and rational living. We must return to nature and nature's God." - Luther Burbank

    Original No Till Thread can be found here:

    No-Till Gardening
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  2. Welcome back...

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  3. #3 HL45, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
    Thank you! I am about to make hundreds of yards of no till for my house for vegetables and medicine alike you were a big inspiration for the transition indoors!
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  4. Welcome back Bluejay! :yay::jump::ladiegaga::hello::rave-girl:
    gonna take this moment to thank you for the original No-Till thread thanks to which i am now on my third run with the same soil, growing the best meds i ever had!
    going a little bonkers cause there's not much to do other then look at them grow, lol!

    anyway, great to have you and coot back in the city!
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  5. i see you removed the oyster shell flower from your recipe. do you consider the crab meal to be your lime now?
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  6. Welcome back, Bluejay

    Like Scobby said - so nice to have coot and you back here on GC
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  7. Beautiful!

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  8. Please allow me to blow some smoke.
    I am being sincere when I say that you and your experience has inspired me in more ways than just growing cannabis.
    I have been researching cannabis growing on and off since I was 13 on multiple forums starting with overgrow. Fast forward another another 13 years and here I am now tossing aside most of what I thought I knew and relearning a passion I thought I had a grasp on.
    When I stumbled upon your no till thread you and CC had already left. I just want to say that your passion and attitude towards the subject has opened up a new way of thinking about life in general for me. I feel I have a deeper understanding of nature, I'm taking better care of myself, and have a much deeper desire for growing plants in general.
    You and all the other experienced, open hearted ppl in this community( the finest I've come across so far) have uncovered new paths for me to explore in life and I couldn't be happier, and for that I cannot thank you enough.

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  9. So glad to have you back. I wouldn't still be growing today if it wasn't for you and Coot.


    Edit: Not a sticky yet? Chunk must be asleep lol.
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  10. Here for the mulch porn.
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  11. Theirs some very fucking intelligent generous people here. Thank god I'm in the rite place finally subbed

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  12. Thank you! And of course thank you for your beautiful photos!!
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  13. Sweet. Glad you started a new thread. Read 315 pages of the 600+ of the old one.

    Just start my first cycle in 8 10g smart pots. As a test run. Then once I move switching to 25s.
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  14. Glad to see you back. Looking forward to your future posts. Good morning all.
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  15. Welcome back Blue! I too stumbled upon your no-till postings once you already left. I was pumped to find you on IG and now I'm even more pumped to get you back on a forum, where a better discussion can occur. I've been doing the 'organic' earth juice bottle line since day one and you and Coot inspired me to switch to no-till organics, I'm actually on my first round right now! First question for you, do you suggest going out and trying to find bacteria / arthropods in the wild to help boost a first cycle no-till? Would there be any negative to say, collecting some mature soil and throwing some pill bugs in my young pots?


    And this:
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  16. #16 AgnesDawgz, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016

    There's seems to be some confusion about crab meal (per se) and other crustacean meals, i,e, lobster, shrimp, crawdad and crab meals. They are 96.x% calcium carbonate just like oyster shells or limestone which is from ancient shell deposits from millions of years ago.

    The chitin content in arthropods is found in thin layers between the layers of calcium carbonate. When microbial action begins to degrade chitin, this process is driven by bacteria producing the enzyme chitinase and it's this enzyme that is the pesticide and fungicide source - not the chitin itself.
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  17. Thanks for the kind words all!

    Same as AD mentioned above & the idea of using something specifically as a liming agent in this type of potting soil went out the window a long time ago.

    The fact that most inputs we use have a wide range of benefits is definitely a topic of conversation....
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  18. Trying to micromanage each and every element as is the grow store orientation is a fool's errand.

    "Oh! I need molybdenum? Where do I get that? What about manganese? Oh dear! What shall I do?"
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  19. Oh, and #DEM Pure B/S
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  20. Welcome MOFO!

    Thank you sincerely for taking the time and effort to revisit your No Till methods in a concise, well thought out opening post. Your contributions to current day cannabis cultivation are unparalleled.

    And most importantly, welcome back!

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