Howdy one and all; I’m The Rev and I been around the cannabis growing and smoking genre for just shy of a half century now—yikes—and so I have seen and done a lot of things in those years. In my “Letters” to Rev series, I like to tackle some of the more interesting questions I get emailed and texted, and then answer them. I have heard from many of you how much you dig this series, thanks for sharing with me, my very green amigos 😊
I love how so many of you I am hearing from are doing sprouts for the first time. With so many new peeps entering the growing scene lately … judging by all the “letters” I get, many of you are still having some problems with your smaller plants like sprouts and clones. If you are growing in living soil, you are in luck, because I’m here to help—let’s begin…
UNEVEN MOISTURE LEVELS
FROM: Julie, Lincoln City, OR, USA
“Hi Rev! Love your new book, it’s our bible here. I was hoping you could help me out with my sprouts. I used to have problems when I would transplant sprouts into large containers, then I read that you advised stepping up your container sizes more slowly for greater root-mass at flowering and for better soil moisture level control. This was great advice and the difference is as you say, obvious. Now though, I am having some issues with watering sprouts in smaller containers. Some of them dry out too fast while others stay pretty moist.
I have good air movement and air exchange, and I use little catch trays below my pots like you do. Watering them individually takes a little time, but I give every plant 4 oz. of water and I can’t water them all at the same time anymore because of the differences in their moisture levels. Can ya help me streamline this a bit Rev? Thank you in advance.”
Hi Julie! Thank you for the support and your kind words regarding my book. You have three things working against your desire for all your plants (sprouts or otherwise) here. Air movement is very important, but invariably some of your plants will be closer to the “wind” from the fan(s) and therefore will dehydrate faster. You can get a larger sturdy tray you can place your sprouts on, this way you can rotate the tray 180 degrees every 24 hours (halfway through their daytime cycle), this will dry out all the plants more evenly.
Individual plants can be more or less thirsty/hungry than their siblings, just like people, plants are different; and individuals for sure, I think. Using a shared catch tray like in the photo, can help out with this as well. Simply add up how much water you will need to water all the sprouts and simply put it in the tray—your hungrier/thirstier plants will get what they need; as will less thirsty/hungry plants.
Just make sure the shared catch tray is small enough to get a slight water-level (between ¼ and ½ inch is fine) so the plants can soak it up. As an example, this size of pot in the photo above requires 4 oz. of water to be watered well, so 9 pots equals 36 oz of water, so I would do 38 oz. just for good measure. The water level in the tray starts out at a water level of about ½ inch, but within 30 minutes all the water is almost all gone.
Lastly, ambient temperatures and humidity will greatly influence water usage, I know this one is fairly obvious, but I always think it’s a great idea to have a thermometer/hygrometer in every growing room; even in different growing zones within a room, to find problem areas. Get one of these that will record the highs and lows over the last 24 hours.
These are awesome and will clue you in before it becomes a problem. The picture above is a compact thermometer/hygrometer that does everything you need it to do I mentioned above. I think these are about $10.00 or so (each) and well worth their weight in gold. Cheers Julie, no worries, you’ll get it; watering skills are keystone important.
TOP DRESSING SPROUTS
FROM: Matty V., Vista, CA, USA
“What up Rev? Man, I recently fried some sprouts using liquid fish fertilizer. It was a serious bummer brother. I want to give them a little boost when I transplant them into their first pot after sprouting, what can I top-dress with that won’t fry my plants?”
Hola Matty… You have to be very vigil, regarding the amounts, of anything you add to your plants; in other words, anything can be deadly in high enough ratios. You don’t really NEED to use any kind of fertilizer here at this stage, I do this myself at times (top dress at this stage) like when I know these plants are going to be in these pots a little longer than they should.
That being said, in the photo above you will see one of my favorite, and easy to get almost anywhere top-dressing combos, bat guano and ground oyster shell. For these little pots I would use the guano and oyster shell mixed 50/50. I would use this 50/50 mix just under the mulch layer, ¼ teaspoon max per pot—and always place the dressing as far from the mainstem as possible out around the inside edges of the pot. Using this combo on your vegging plants adds some fantastic secondary nutrients, like sulfur and calcium, along with many micronutrients; with a good “goose” of nitrogen and phosphorous.
Espoma packages dried chicken guano in granular form (see photo above) and this can replace the bat guano and the oyster shell. This chicken guano product can be used as a standalone top-dressing product. Using the bat guano tends to drop the pH pretty hard around the guano in the soil, for sprouts this could be problematic fairly easily.
The oyster shell product counters the pH dive and helps to keep it up where more bacteria like it to be. The chickens that make this poop are fed oyster shells with their food, so their guano is already pH friendly—just don’t use too much—and I would recommend a heaping ¼ teaspoon max, as a top-dressing per small pot here using this granular chicken guano.
Make sure whatever guano you use here, that it is as balanced with N-P-K as possible. You do not want to use a high phosphorous guano here at all. That bat guano in the photo is 10-6-2 per N-P-K values, and the chicken guano is 3-2-3 + 2% calcium. Both primo and packed with nutrients-O-plenty. As a substitute for the ground oyster shell you could use (agricultural or food grade only) DE (Diatomaceous Earth) to mix with your bat guano, it too will buffer the pH upwards. Always wear a good mask when working with guano, seriously, do it.
I NEED THESE SEEDS TO SPROUT—BEST WATER?
FROM: DatBluntGuy, Seattle, WA, USA
“Is there a bulletproof way I can sprout my seeds and make sure I don’t mess them up? I am super confused about what kind of water to use, some seed companies advise bleach water in wet paper towels, others say distilled. Please help, I need these seeds to grow up. Thank you.”
Hey-hey amigo… bulletproof water to use on your germinating seeds and sprouts right there in the photo—Arrowhead bottled spring water—or any good bottled spring water, Arrowhead is just my favorite and what I myself use to germinate seeds with and water small sprouts.
Plant your seeds about ½ inch deep in good bagged soil like Fox Farm’s Ocean Forest or any G&B brand of potting soil. Don’t let them dry out too much or overwater them, make sure your temps are warm and a lower humidity is good … and you’re golden.
I hope you got something good out of this article today. Always remember and don’t ever forget: Growing top-shelf buds in living soil is mostly about what’s not in them. Cheers everyone, see ya on the flip-flop.
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.