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Grow Growing in organic soil

Shredder

Dogs like me
My favorite way to grow is in organic soil. I learned a lot back in the day on the net, (overgrow, ic, grass city) and over time developed my own little system.

There are tons of soil recipes, but I think most start with peat moss. I like pro mix. Pro mix has some perlite, and some lime. But really not enough of either. Straight peat moss needs even more lime. Peat is around ph5 or lower. We want a ph of about 6-7. Lime will raise the ph and buffering ability of the medium. Some peat based grow mediums need a liming agent. My fave is oyster shell powder. It's calcium carbonate with some trace elements from the ocean. Agricultural lime is a good choice as well. I'm not a fan of dolomite lime, ( or cal mag) unless for some reason you need magnesium. IMHO magnesium causes more problems than people realize. It's needed, yes, but in small quanities.

Areation. Our plants need both water and areation at the root level. Perlite is the most popular, but there are other more expensive choices that make sense if you reuse your soil. And if you grow organically why not? 1/3 perlite is good.

Compost. And IMHO this is key to growing organically. The best compost is earth worm castings. The fresher the better. I have a worm farm for this reason. 20-30% compost works well. More can cause problems depending on the texture of the compost. It can get mucky and not allow areation to the roots. So my advice is to get the best compost you can get, and pay attention to the soil texture. Ideal is you squeeze a handfull of mixed damp soil and when you release it puffs back like a sponge would. Too mush compost could make it dense, again depending on the compost texture.

Fertilizer. There are a lot of organic fertilizers. One easy to find is the espoma line. There are a half dozen or so types with different npk ratios, like plant tone, garden tone, tomato tone and so on. In my garden most of my fertilizers come from worm castings. And I can enhance by feeding worms organic materials that return as castings.

I want to start this as just a general post that we can expand on. But quickly I use a wide variety of inputs to keep a diverse pallet for my plants to choose from. A few faves are malted barley seeds (from brew stores) and homemade fermented plant extracts. Malted barley has all the energy to power up a barley plant for several weeks plus their packed full of enzymes. Emzymes make other nutrients available to plants. It works very well. I use not quite a half cup that I grind in a blender and mix in a five gallon bucket of water. The effects are flat out amazing. For plant extracts I grow comfrey that I water rot, or ferment in sealed five gallon buckets. It stinks to high heaven but plants love it and worms like the left over mush. I also ferment wild flowers, and weeds like lambs quarters, dandelions. I realize most people are not this fanatical but this is what I use.

Let's discuss......
 

Shredder

Dogs like me
Well one thing I want to discuss further is your worm farm @Shredder . How did you set it up? Did you start from a kit or just create it yourself? Is it inside or outside?

Did you go out worm hunting? :biggrin: Or did you buy them?
My worm fam is in. 30 gallon tote box. It has small holes drilled in the bottom, and some holes near the top.

I start by lining the bottom with wet cardboard, then add about 4-5 inches of compost. I use local stuff from a dairy farmer or my own. Then I add red wiggler worms I bought from uncle Jim's worms.

They need dampness, but not a lot of water. They need to stay above 45 degrees and not too hot (not sure of the upper limit)

The compost itself is enough food, but I add oyster shell powder, rock dust, ground barley seeds, and mush left over from fermenting plants. And yes I ferment cannabis fan leaves. It's like designer compost as you choose the inputs. But you don't want to start an active ferment in the worm bin, cause the heat of an active ferment can kill worms. Been there myself, lol. So watch the green foods.

I harvest castings by seperating worms from castings. I miss a lot of worms, lol, but that's ok and my small farm takes about 2 hours. I've tried different methods, but settled on talking about a gallon and use a tray to pluck worms out and use the worms in a fresh bin.

The castings are for top dressing my pots. I divide it up between 8 flowering plants.


I harvest castings about when my flower room is about 1-3 weeks in flower. I also keep the worms in the flower room. The main reason is because decomposing plant materials in the compost and worm farts i guess give off co2. I have a co2 monitor and when my castings are on the pots the co2 goes over 3000ppm, then gradually comes down to around 800ppm at plant harvest time. People pay big money to get 1500 ppm of co2.

So worms are a large part of my system, and really up my flowers.
 

BD9

Leaf Dawg
Raising worms can be challenging at first. I used to fish, and worms were expensive to buy, so I tried several times raising my own. Water can be tricky. The moisture content needs to be carefully monitored. Not too wet. Not too dry. I fed my worms coffee grounds, ground up egg shells ( a few pulses with a cheap spice grinder), paper, cardboard and plant material. One thing to remember is not to feed them any meat or fat. Only plant material.
I would only consider vermiculture if you do a large outdoor grow or have plenty of time. You can buy worm castings at most any garden store
 

Shredder

Dogs like me
Raising worms can be challenging at first. I used to fish, and worms were expensive to buy, so I tried several times raising my own. Water can be tricky. The moisture content needs to be carefully monitored. Not too wet. Not too dry. I fed my worms coffee grounds, ground up egg shells ( a few pulses with a cheap spice grinder), paper, cardboard and plant material. One thing to remember is not to feed them any meat or fat. Only plant material.
I would only consider vermiculture if you do a large outdoor grow or have plenty of time. You can buy worm castings at most any garden store
Raising worms gets easier after a while. Along with getting the moisture right, you have to be careful not to over feed them. And a neat thing is to add nutrients for worms to digest that ends up as plant food. You can freeze plant materials for later feeding as well. The cell walls break down in the freezer, making decomposing easier. And the worms don't actually eat plant material, rather the bacteria and fungus that breaks plant material down.

IMHO buying store bought castings is a crap shoot. We use castings for the multitude of microbes they should contain. But you can imagine there isn't much life in a sealed plastic bag sitting in a grow store for months. And a lot of commercial castings are from worms fed only cardboard. Worms love cardboard but like they say, junk in, junk out. Homemade is way better in most cases.

And I think the proof is in the pudding, my garden took a big step up when I started my own worm bin. It wasn't bad before, just saying...

Here is an easy peasy way. Drill some holes in a tote box like I described. Then fill with used potting soil, assuming you grew organically, then add worms and water the soil until its good. You only have to moniter it weekly for moisture, and the worms will eat microbes that break down left over nutrients and old roots. Win win, it takes a while depending on how many worms you add, and how much soil there is, but the soil comes out great.

I havn't bought worms in years, I started with 5000. It sounds like a lot but they come in a small bag and are tiny, and if you start big things go quicker. And now I have worms in all my pots, my soil bin, worm bin, compost pile and pretty much everywhere
 

lazylathe

reaching maximum velocity...
My worm bin happened by accident and is not supposed to be a worm bin...

I was tired of being tied to bottles of nutrients and adjusting pH and ec and everything else that usually goes with growing.
So I decided to go full organic for all my future grows and thus started the worm bin.

I bought a massive tote to fill with all the requirements to make an organic soil, all the amendments and organic additives the soil would need.
What also went into the tote was a bag of this amazing earthworm castings, rich and black and smelling like a forest floor!!
I noticed around the edges of the bag these clumps of red stringy things...worms, tiny, tiny, tiny worms!
Carefully added them to the tote and thought nothing more of it.
Let the soil cook for 3 months and kept turning it over, feeding it and turning until it was time to transplant for flower.
By now the tub was teeming with worms and into the pots it all went.
Water only with a bit of cal/mag to compensate for the LED's, a few top dresses here and there and some bokashi and the bokashi fermentation product.

After the grow I recycled the soil and the worms have doubled in volume!
I feed them the left overs from juicing, egg carton ripped into small pieces, compost, softened basmati rice, coffee grounds and anything else healthy and organic.

The soil is now being recycled for it's 3rd time and the tote is still not a worm bin...
No holes in the bottom and I leave the lid off for a few hours each day for oxygen for the worms.
When I spray it down I use Kelp water to feed the soil as well as the starchy water from the Basmati rice.

The bud tastes so much better when grown organically!

Here is a pic from the top of one of my pots on the last grow! these guys cruise everywhere!
You can also see some Bokashi on top with a nice white mycellium forming!
 

Madri-Gal

Well-Known Member
My worm bin happened by accident and is not supposed to be a worm bin...

I was tired of being tied to bottles of nutrients and adjusting pH and ec and everything else that usually goes with growing.
So I decided to go full organic for all my future grows and thus started the worm bin.

I bought a massive tote to fill with all the requirements to make an organic soil, all the amendments and organic additives the soil would need.
What also went into the tote was a bag of this amazing earthworm castings, rich and black and smelling like a forest floor!!
I noticed around the edges of the bag these clumps of red stringy things...worms, tiny, tiny, tiny worms!
Carefully added them to the tote and thought nothing more of it.
Let the soil cook for 3 months and kept turning it over, feeding it and turning until it was time to transplant for flower.
By now the tub was teeming with worms and into the pots it all went.
Water only with a bit of cal/mag to compensate for the LED's, a few top dresses here and there and some bokashi and the bokashi fermentation product.

After the grow I recycled the soil and the worms have doubled in volume!
I feed them the left overs from juicing, egg carton ripped into small pieces, compost, softened basmati rice, coffee grounds and anything else healthy and organic.

The soil is now being recycled for it's 3rd time and the tote is still not a worm bin...
No holes in the bottom and I leave the lid off for a few hours each day for oxygen for the worms.
When I spray it down I use Kelp water to feed the soil as well as the starchy water from the Basmati rice.

The bud tastes so much better when grown organically!

Here is a pic from the top of one of my pots on the last grow! these guys cruise everywhere!
You can also see some Bokashi on top with a nice white mycellium forming!
Thank you for the detailed explanation, @lazylathe. Some great information there. It's inspiring.
WOW, @Moses Baca. Very nice. Very nice garden, indeed. :weed: :clap::weed:
 

Moses Baca

Well-Known Member
My current flower room, around a month of 12/12.



Next round of seedlings, I'm trying out some cbd. Front row left and center are Therapy and Mango Haze fems from CBD Crew, back row center and right are Cannatonic regs from Resin.
Non-cbd plants, back row left is DP Blueberry fem and front row right is Seedsman White Widow fem freebie.

 

Moses Baca

Well-Known Member
I may have just started my worm farm by accident, too.

I have a kids plastic swimming pool for my veg soil, 4' wide x 9" deep. I keep it covered by a tarp to keep it from drying out too fast. I just noticed I've got some worms! I dug around and found them in a couple spots. Two possible ways I can think of that they could have gotten there.

-Are they some sort of earthworm that came in with my compost? Could earthworms come in with my compost? Could they survive in my shallow pool?
-Did they come with the bag of worm castings I bought? Did I score some red wigglers?

moreworms.jpeg worms.jpeg
 

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