A big ol’ fist-bump to everyone out there; I’m going to do a kind of rapid-fire Q&A today regarding questions directly relating to TLO (True Living Organics 2nd Edition) style growing techniques. I have a lot of questions sent to me, and since many people ask me about TLO growing, (duh); I thought a good rapid-fire session was in order. For those of you that don’t know, I have been a TLO grower now for over a decade, and have 35 years of growing pretty much every way possible before that. Once you dial in a truly all-natural system—and they are very flexible—you’ll never look back; the differences are just too stunning.
To help those of you along TLO/Truly Natural pathways, first, of course I recommend getting the latest 2nd edition of my book, but besides that, TLO is a lot like a “bootcamp” for all-natural neophytes, and the partially skilled as well can both gain some serious knowledge. More expert organic growers should note the lack of bottled nutrients when using TLO. Let’s answer some direct TLO style questions, my very green friends…
Q: “Why don’t you add earthworm more earthworm castings during your soil recycling?”
A: Okay, so when I said above how all-natural growing systems are flexible, this is a great example of one of the millions of reasons why. My soil mix, is actually about 40% castings by the time the plants are introduced to it. Feel free to add this same ratio of earthworm castings to your recycling soil mix; if you have made those castings yourself using TLO recommended additions to your worm food. I would recommend more like 25% if using bagged castings. Add it at whatever stage works best for you.
For me it is a logistical concern. Since I recycle my soil, some distance away from where my worm farm and stored worm castings and recycled soil are located, it is more efficient for me to have to carry less weight over that distance; and make a greater volume of soil. I mix my soil with my castings at least a couple days in advance of transplanting, I make about 10 gallons at a time, this works best for me. Be creative, by all means, cheers. I like the idea of introducing my castings to the soil mix a day or two before transplanting into it. There are crazy amounts of microlife that ride in with those castings—seems like introductions are in order: “Massive microlife, meet living roots” heh heh.
Q: “Do you flower 4 or 5 plants in a 4’ x 4’ tent running a 300- or 400-watt light?”
A: You need to truly respect the need for a little room, and in tents I normally run 3 plants, sometimes 4, but that’s actually rare unless the 4th is a male for breeding. This makes all the plants easily accessible to me, it also allows for awesome air movement—I have a fan on the floor and on the roof moving air—and I personally find that when they are less crowded overall, they don’t stretch as much, and I swear I will yield higher quality buds, and more weight from running three happy healthy plants; fairly consistently.
I run a 300-watt full spectrum LED in the summer months, and I run 400-watt HID metal halide—Agrosun Gold bulbs—in the winter months. The HID lights are duel functioning as heaters and lights. My preferred grow tents at present are Gorilla Tents.
Q: “What are the rules if you want to use pure reverse osmosis, distilled, or rain water with TLO?”
A: You need to have the coconut coir, rinsed, in your soil mix, most of all; along with proper additions of dolomite lime and oyster shell. These very low PPM water sources are actually more complicated than using a water source higher in PPM value, like groundwater, including spring and well water. For your TLO garden that requires no coconut coir in your soil mix. I actually recommend not using coir at all, and you can even skip the oyster shell additions, if you use a water source with higher PPM levels of dissolved minerals and especially Ca (calcium), and Mg (magnesium). No hard water or “softened” water.
If not using oyster shell or coir in your mix, I advise using a water source with around 70-90 PPM; but generally speaking not using just the coir, I would use water with a PPM value between 30 and 60ish; and obviously chlorine/chloramine free. You can devise ways to blend water sources to come up with your desired PPM ratios, like blending hard well water with rain water, as one example. I run about 40-50 PPM tap/municipal water here in Oregon. So nowadays I just use duel carbon filtration on my water to remove the chloramine and keep my water at that PPM level for the most part.
Q: “Do you still use teas or any bottled liquid fertilizers?”
A: No, not really these days, regarding both of your questions. I still have 2 liquid bottled nutrients in my garden, only my vegetative garden room, where I sometimes use very weak mixtures of Fox Farm’s Big Bloom, and Alaska Brand’s Liquid Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1 (NPK) to keep larger plants going while still in smaller containers. Rather than doing any teas, I actually only use my liquid worm leachate that collects at the base of my home (stacked) worm farm. I use this sometimes in my vegetative and in my flowering rooms. I do stop all usage of this about 3 weeks before harvest.
An example of the Big Bloom and Liquid Fish recipe is like ¼ teaspoon Liquid Fish, and 1 teaspoon Big Bloom per gallon of water. I use this every other time I water, if keeping larger plants happy in smaller pots. Also, handy to use if you want to see a big growth spurt in your vegging room; assuming you are running good heat and light intensities. Another supercharged addition is aquarium or pond water, if it’s healthy; these water sources are normally pretty high in PPM value, so check carefully while blending.
Q: “What about bugs, I feel weird about having a lot of bugs around my gardens in my house?”
A: I run my small gardens, two bedrooms basically, my girl and I use the Livingroom as our bedroom, and we actually both love that. When things are first settling in as you begin, you will likely experience a couple of fungus gnat invasions, don’t worry, they will pass and beating them is fairly easy using a little BT soil drench, and some hanging sticky-tape thingies. But in all seriousness, any invasion of gnats will cycle down on its own within a couple of weeks max in my experience. Seeing a few gnats here and there I think is a good thing, but we don’t have “bugs” leaving the garden areas to invade our house, not at all.
Make sure your venting, both air exchange and air movement are up to or above par. Don’t over water, and don’t use steer manure as a top dressing. I would advise always trimming plants going into flowering and removing a few nodes from the bottom up to allow greater flow around the soil surface for the plants. Watch your sources for things you bring in, like mulch, compost, and manures. All these things can really make the difference when it comes to gnat invasions—these (gnats) are really the only “bugs” I have ever seen actually come out of my garden rooms into my house. If you are planning to run a home stacked worm farm, I would recommend a garage or shed for that, as they can get some invasions from time to time; especially while you are learning how to maintain it well.
Check out getting my latest TLO book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937866092/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_UpzyCbPRENYSQ
Until next time my esteemed homeskillets, REvski out 😊 L8r G8rs