Howdy all. It is Growing tips time here at SKUNK. Today, I have a whole little slew of them for you. It’s always a good idea to have at least one of those three volcanic/mineral based amendments below, in your soil mix. They buffer pH towards neutral. Their porous surfaces promote colonization by microbial life; especially bacteria, due to the neutral pH buffering.
I have been messing myself all up for the last few months. Disabling bicycle crashes, then got a wicked serious AF flu. Dunno if it was “The Covid,” but I do know it fried me hardcore for 5 days; and 3 of those were really bad. Much better now. I still have a semi-injured hip, and knee. Got some knee pads and some better masks to fight injury and flues in the future. Ever forward.
Hope you guys are staying less injured and healthier than me lately, heh heh. I no longer use a ton of perlite in my soil mixes for aeration purposes, now I use less, because of my observations around growing containers and the locations of their drain (and aeration) holes. Perlite is awesome, but you just don’t need that much of it unless you have a special soil mix that is coir heavy or something. Check out this related article by yours truly: Growing Containers II
Growing Tip #1: Perlite, Vermiculite, & Pumice
All 3 of these soil amendments are volcanic/mineral based, and they all are basically neutral as far as pH is concerned. All 3 are also very microlife-friendly. Perlite is very lightweight and does not absorb water at all. Perlite will however, hold a fair amount of water, due to the irregular porous structure. For all intents and purposes though, perlite will somewhat decrease the overall amount of water your soil mix can hold. This can be very advantageous. Like if you are using high levels of coconut coir fiber in your soil. It enhances soil aeration huge.
Vermiculite, on the other hand, can hold a lot of water and is highly absorbent. In fact, vermiculite can hold like 30x more water than the same volume of soil. I like vermiculite in special circumstances, like in my soil mixes for freshly rooted clones. It’s also great for using with plants that you plan on letting get pretty large for their container size. Vermiculite is very light when dry but very heavy when wet. My best growing tips for vermiculite are to use it mixed with soil for: Sprouting soil, freshly rooted clone soil, or any soil mix where you need greater water retention.
Here’s a great vermiculite growing tip, if you are using fabric style pots. As you are likely aware, these pots tend to dry out fast in hot & dry environments with good air movement—like most grow rooms have. Vermiculite is amazing for this. You can use up to a 30% cut of vermiculite—depending on container size. Using larger fabric container sizes allows for heavier vermiculite usage. Works great!
When mixing in perlite you can go with like a 5% to 15% cut to your soil. Vermiculite I would use 10% or less. Using pumice, I would suggest more like a 5% or less cut. My best growing tip for these amendments is to use them sparingly, and in combination if possible. I use all three is very small amounts, and because I recycle my soil, they all recycle right along with it. So, I use less and less added as time goes by. If you are growing in a heavy coir mix, you can go 30% with your perlite. As always, simply do not compact your soil in your containers.
My growing tips for using pumice, and my love for it, all revolve around how microlife friendly it is. Along with its ability to absorb/hold a lot of water. I use it lightly, and it has a ton of water (absorbing) holding ability. Of the 3 of these, in my opinion, it has the best pH buffering ability, and is the most microlife-friendly. I always add a little bit of this with any soil mix I make. Pumice is heavy, and super heavy when wet, so this must also be considered when using it. Iron and calcium here too, extremely slow to become available, it lasts years and years before breaking down somewhat.
Growing Tip #2: Using Soluble Minerals Correctly
I have gotten a lot of emails lately about you guys crafting up your own soluble grade minerals, like calcium as one example. I’m going to solve all your problems right here, ready? You are using too much. Not just too much, way-way too much. You don’t see the downsides for maybe 20 or 30 days, but you see upsides immediately. Yeah, it’s a sneak-attack for reals, and makes you think it wasn’t the cause due to the delay between cause and true (bad) effects.
Every nutrient element absolutely relies on every other nutrient element. If any single nutrient gets locked out, or runs out in your soil mix, bad stuff will begin to domino. If you introduce something, like too much of a single nutrient element, that is also highly available, you will always have issues. Too much Ca will mess with your K and N. Right after that, your Ca normally gets locked up as well.
Use a TDS meter to get a grip on your overall PPM value of any liquid you pour on your plants’ soil. Keep it close to the same every time you water. I run right around 65 PPM until 2 weeks before harvest. At that time, I switch to pure groundwater at about 45 PPM. Boom! Beautiful, consistently.
Sativas are the “wolves” of cannabis. Indicas are like the many “human bred dogs” of cannabis. Sativas, as a rule, are universally way heartier, and way more resistant to pests. Their root systems are LARGE and uber powerful. Keep these things in mind as you read on 😉
Growing Tip #3: Outdoor Grafting Power
For those of you that do outdoor style, that are also decent at grafting plants. I have a wicked cool growing tip for you here really quickly. We used to do this same thing many moons ago, when we cropped outdoors in greenhouses, and yields mattered bigtime. Actually, both yields and resin production can be expressed all the way to genetic potential with this method.
Get a good hearty sativa, and a killer indica(s) you love. Plant 30% more sativas. Sex them. Then, when they are almost 1 foot tall, graft the top of the indicas, to the base/roots of the sativas. I would use female sativas with female indicas, just FYI. This will blow your mind! A growing tip for “Crazy Ass Artisans” for reals.
Bonus Tip: Longer Term Cannabis Storage Dynamics
Not everyone has the same situation when it comes to their cannabis supplies. For my own example, I make a lot of seeds. This means I have to squeak in my grows that result in seed-free buds for me to enjoy. I tend to do a back to back bud grow when I need to restock my bud supply. I get a big influx of buds, that I will also need to keep a lot of well stored, for several months at least. Great growing tip here folks. I have stored buds for literally 2 years this way. They are still all good, perfectly preserved.
Big coolers are also airtight. This is uber important. Especially if you store your buds in bags. I would recommend using canning style jars though. Smaller sized jars are also the superior choice here. Cannabis buds are a little bit like ice cream. Once you’ve cracked open the container the first time, the clock is ticking. I access many jars all the time. I just keep track of which ones have been opened already.
I keep a small plastic bowl with several plastic ice cubes in it. Anytime I open the cooler to get anything, I always replace the ice cubes with fresh, frozen ones. This keeps everything on the cool side. The secret to this storage is the insulation of the cooler, and the cooler temps inside. Temperatures inside the cooler will change very little over 24 hours. Only a few degrees either way. That, my esteemed homeskillets, is your most awesome cannabis storage growing tip! L8r G8rs.
I'm The Rev, and I have been with SKUNK for about a decade now. I hail from Southern California, spent mucho time in Northern California, and now reside in Southern Oregon; always coastal. I am an all natural style cannabis grower and I have written a couple books on the subject - check out True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon - I have been growing for over 45 years, and I have been breeding cannabis for over 30 years. Check out kingdomorganicseeds.com to see some exotic selections. Growing connoisseur cannabis is what I teach mostly, growing it in living soil without using liquid organic nutrients to feed the plant. I am also a highly skilled synthetics grower, hydroponics, aeroponics, DWC/SWC/NFT, Ebb and Flow, and soilless, but I cringe when smoking synthetic grown herbs, so for the last 15 years or so I preach the artisan style of all natural growing, specializing in container growing. Cheers and welcome aboard.