Howdy once again Earthlings. In today’s article we’ll tackle natural nutrient sourcing as it relates to growing cannabis. I hear from so many of you that are so close to actually being all-natural growers. The most common flaws I see are the use of things like liquid “Nectar” type products full of organic acids. Totally counterproductive amigos! Totally.
I’m going to help you guys out today that are looking for specific nutrient input from all-natural sources. Mother Nature doesn’t ever “bomb” roots globally with organic acids. Why? Because it kills microbial soil life while drastically changing the soil’s pH. Sure, it will slam some nutrients into your plants. In the short term, it seems like it works great. That’s the problem.
If you are going to use living soil, your nutrient sourcing is all in the soil, and any “extra” is delivered via top dressings, along with good water containing dissolved minerals like calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg). A.K.A. groundwater. If you want to use liquids to force-feed your plants, use less soil. Use other mediums like perlite, vermiculite, and coir, etc., with less soil. You’ll do better.
Alright then, let’s rock and/or roll with today’s “Letters” to Rev…
Nutrient Sourcing Question #1: Zinc?
FROM: Julius L.
“I use your recycled soil recipe and water with 50 PPM dolomite lime water. It is pH 7.0 as is the runoff water. I have a mother clone that is showing a zinc deficiency. I was wondering what my nutrient source for this would be using TLO (True Living Organics)?”
Rev’s Answer to Question #1
I’m stoked you asked me this Julius. Let me start by saying that you may or may not have a zinc (Zn) issue. That is actually irrelevant—LoL—lemme ‘splain… A Zn issue looks a whole hell of a lot like say, a manganese (Mn) issue; and several others. If you use my TLO soil recipe(s) you do not have a Zn deficiency. Whatever you are seeing is way (99%) more likely a lockout. I have tons of priors in this zone.
The leaf illustration (right) shows your basic Zn deficiency; in the later stages. I will show you some targeted nutrient sourcing for your recycling process at the end of this article. But first, when I see a leaf that looks anything like that one in the illustration, I think … ‘salt toxicity’ … as a broadband terminology for it. I know I have no micronutrients lacking, ergo, it’s a lockout.
By ‘salts’ I mean mineral/nutrient salts. These salts build up in the rhizosphere, altering the soil pH locally; in microenvironments. Subsequently locking out some nutrients. Then, the Domino Effect, as other nutrients get locked out. The answer could be as simple as, you are overdosing with something like kelp extract, or molasses, or a long list of others. It’s a you-problem amigo, heh heh, not (99%) a nutrient sourcing problem—wink.
Nutrient Sourcing Question #2: The Goldilocks PPM Range
FROM: Frank Z.
“Hi Rev. I am having serious nutrient sourcing problems regarding nitrogen and magnesium. My plants are pure awesomeness until about halfway through flowering, then the shit starts hitting the fan. Looks like nitrogen big and magnesium as well. It all fries my plants by harvest resulting in very subpar buds. Please help! What can I do to supply the nitrogen and magnesium I need? Thank you in advance.
Oh, I run 85 PPM groundwater dechlorinated, with an occasional tea (under 100 PPM) and only a single flowering tea. My soil is basically your TLO soil. I just have to use commercial earthworm castings.”
Rev’s Answer to Question #2
High Frank. I’ll give you some natural nutrient sources for nitrogen (N), and magnesium (Mg), below. But first, I think I can make this really easy for you, mi amigo. Ready? Stop using the teas altogether. Also, adjust your PPM downwards, closer to 65ish PPM. Easy peasy man. Just cut your groundwater with distilled, rain, or reverse osmosis filtered water to reach the target PPM. Get a formula benchmark to make the mixing easy every time thereafter. Boom! I bet that’s it.
You’re likely experiencing some of the same salt build up in the rhizosphere as Julius, in question #1. From your water source, and the teas. Anytime you are “feeding” your plants with things like teas and/or bottled nutrients, you are throwing your soil equilibrium way off balance. As in my answer to the question above, it is unlikely you are deficient in N or Mg.
You don’t need any teas. In reality you are doing more harm than good when you globally dose your containers with higher PPM liquids. Especially during flowering, when most peeps like to goose phosphorous (P) levels. It is NEVER, EVER, a good idea to “feed” your plants with any real available P. Phosphoric acid is a natural nutrient source for sure. It’s the available amount of it, on the scene, where the problem lies. You savvy?
PARTIAL LIST OF NATURAL NUTRIENT SOURCING
- Zinc (Zn): whole grains, nuts, fish, mushrooms, legumes, lima beans, pecans, pumpkin rind and seeds, sunflower seeds, and soy beans.
- Nitrogen (N): blood meal, anything dark green basically, like broccoli, alfalfa, grass, green beans, peas, etc., fish, coffee grounds, urine, soy beans, and most nuts.
- Magnesium (Mg): brown rice, avocados, spinach, oatmeal, navy and lima beans, broccoli, bananas, potato skins/potatoes, apples, cantaloupe rinds, and wheat.
The ground is super forgiving to you adding things like teas and liquid nutrient supplements. It’s not like in a container, with all the roots and all the soil life getting blasted with whatever is in your teas or nutrient regiments.
Slow and steady, is the way. In nature plants never get blasted with P. Grab a copy of my book for more info on natural nutrient sourcing, here: True Living Organics 2nd Edition by The Rev. Check out another article if ya wanna, here: Letters to Rev – Cannabis Growing Advice: Leaves – Skunk Magazine.
Good water and good soil, and consistency is what you want. Good soil is your keystone player here. Your soil holds all the nutrients your plants may want/need. Plants use the microbial life to get these in a timely manner. Your containers are like little bio-spheres … a small world … so, bombing these worlds with random available elements that you THINK your plants need, is almost always wrong, heh heh. Truth baybee.
Natural nutrient sourcing is really done by you making sure your soil is rich and diverse with ingredients of (mostly) decomposed organic matter. The microbeasties (microlife) are your plants’ go-to nutrient sourcing machines. Making sure the microbeasties are stable and thriving is all you have to do. It’s really not hard, just stop bombing your plants with things like teas and bottled nutrient type stuff. Again, truth.
It is common to want to bomb your plants with P during flowering. This is highly destructive to a living soil. P is best had by natural nutrient sourcing by soil life; over time, slowly. Plants can store a decent amount of P for use when needed. If you have some bone meal in your soil mix, as one example, your P is covered. You just need happy thriving microbeasties to get it for your plants. Okay, I’m outty for now, see ya all back here next week… L8r G8rs.
- REvski ????????????
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.