YO SKUNKERS! Hey, so today, I wanted to share some “Devil’s in the Details” stuff with all of you, regarding flowering; specifically yields and quality concerns. If you are growing cannabis all naturally and not bottle-feeding your baybees, I will tell you some awesome sources I use for Silicone (Si), Sulfur (S), and Chitin. These three elements can often be overlooked in your gardens, and paying some attention to these will pay off in a huge way. And for you Druid-level aspiring all-natural growers, here’s a simple rule: don’t ever add anything to your grow that has the words “Blast” or “Ultra Powerful” used in association with it. Don’t subject all-natural style plants to high levels of any organic acids; in liquid form especially. This includes Fulvic and Humic acids!
Okay, now I’m not a scientist, and I don’t play one on the internet, or in my writing, so, rather than peel off a bunch of technobabble on you (you can find that anyplace) I am going to run these things down to you mostly from my experience using them in my gardens and what I have seen happen when I do. Chitin is technically N-acetylglucosamine and a long chain polymer. Some of its uses in nature are things like making fungal cell walls strong, making shells of insects, arthropods, and crustaceans strong.
When it comes to using chitin in your soil for your cannabis plants, it has a couple of really pronounced effects that I have plainly and clearly seen time and time again, and the first biggie are the yield increases; no doubt about it, I have done side by sides more than a couple of times and it is absolutely effective at increasing yields; my results were all in the 20% range of increased weight at harvest from identical clones I used chitin on, and the ones I did not use it on were about 20% smaller in weight per plant. Many years ago, I also saw another awesome effect chitin has, I had gotten a little dose of Spider Mites and some of my plants were just going into flowering—not good. Within about 2 weeks after top dressing with crab meal I noticed the mites weren’t infesting the crap out of my gardens and I managed them easily until harvest; so, chitin for sure seems strongly to me, to activate plant defenses indeed.
In my gardens I have a couple of main sources for my chitin input, Crab Meal, and insect Frass. Crab Meal is full of good chitin, along with slowly available nitrogen, and calcium galore. I use it as a top dressing as soon as my plants go into flowering, and it is also a component of my soil mix. Now, insect Frass is literally “bug poop” and usually cricket poop. However, lots and lots of cricket (or insect) pieces also ends up in the Frass, and since the hard shells, especially the legs, are also packed full of chitin, along with good calcium and some nitrogen … Boom! Frass (my brand of Frass is Better World) stays suspended well in water, so on all my plants, about every 3rd or 4th watering I mix 1 teaspoon of Frass per gallon of water and stir it up, before I pour it on my plants. You don’t need to do this, and in a living soil mix with lots of soil mites you have pretty good chitin always available I just like to kick it up a notch as Frass is easily available to me.
The run-down is, bigger yields and improved plant defenses are two real bennies when you pay attention to your chitin additions.
- fish scales
- insect frass
- crab meal
Silicon is not any kind of essential nutrient at all, but some plants do make use of it, like cannabis, which contains decent amounts … in the resin—interesting, no? Well, for almost a decade now I have always made sure that my cannabis plants have access to this from almost a single source, which is food-grade DE (Diatomaceous Earth). Don’t use DE unless it is meant for gardening uses or for human consumption. DE has a few cool properties, including a lot of calcium; which is always good within moderation for your plants. Using the DE has shown me very clearly that resin production is increased significantly and in side by sides it was quite obvious to me even with the naked eye.
Greensand is also a decent source for silicon, and greensand is an amendment I always add to my soil mix before composting it.
I’m going to tell you how I use DE in my gardens. First, I always add some to my soil mix before it is composted, so there’s always some in the soil. Now you have to be careful to use this lightly due to its effects on the soil’s pH and it can take it up very high causing problems with micronutrient availability. In approximately 3 cubic feet (18 gallons) of soil mix I add about 1 heaping ½ cup of DE (along with other amendments) before it is composted for about a month. Also, right when my plants go into flowering I place a ‘stripe’ of DE right on top of the soil, away from the mainstem of the plant, and in my 2-gallon flowering containers I use about 2 to 3 teaspoons worth; I also add some DE into my spike mixture as well.
I have a small personal stacked worm farm and my worms get apple and cucumber remains always; but even if I didn’t have a worm farm I would be composting tons of good stuff. All extraneous cannabis matter included.
- Diatomaceous Earth
Sulfur is mega important if you ask me, when it comes to connoisseur cannabis production due to the hard core help it gives to flavors and smells, making buds very tasty, and ludicrously stinky! Sulfur additions can be tricky because it can lower the Ph of the soil fast, to deadly levels for the plant. My favorite way to always make sure there is some sulfur always present is by adding bat or bird guano to my soil mix (NPK 9-6-2 Bat Guano, in my case here) before composting it; but I also will top dress with it from time to time as well. High phosphorous versions of bird and bat guanos have a really good shot of sulfur in them as a rule of thumb. Other sulfur friendlies for composting with my soil mix, that I use are, banana peels/old bananas, and rock phosphate (and/or soft rock phosphate).
When using high P (phosphorous) bird or bat guano for topdressing, I would recommend it done at the very start of flowering, using about a tablespoon of NPK 0-5-0 or half as much of NPK 0-10-0 in small piles away from mainstem, then mist them well right after—mist, don’t force downwards into the soil, let gravity do it.
The first few times (in a row) I water my plants once they are about 10 days into flowering, I will almost always add about 1/8th teaspoon of Epsom Salts (garden/food grade) per 5 gallons of water. It is important to have some buffering in your water as well if doing this, so I always make sure my water is about 30 PPM and the pH is around 7.0 (0.5 pH higher or lower is all fine) before adding any Epsom Salts. A few granules of Epsom Salts in mellow teas (per gallon of water) is always another addition I rely on—though, these days my dynamic is so self-sustaining I rarely use teas unless I am flowering 14 weeks plus exotics. I don’t include Epsom Salts in my soil mix before or after composting it, and if you do, make sure to keep your ratios uber small.
- Banana Peels/Bananas
- Bird and Bat Guano
- Epsom Salts
- Rock Phosphate/Soft Rock Phosphate
Revski’s Buzz at The End
I hope you all got something good from reading this. I tried to stay with the simplest approach, I believe, to help some of you wrap your melons around using living soil in containers. One of the fundamental keys to making very powerful levels of nutrients available to the plant is to use “Spikes” (from my book) and top dressing. Using the “Stripes” of DE, or “Spikes”, isolates high levels of nutrients allowing the roots to adapt to feeding off them with the symbiotic help from the other soil life, rather than smothering them with it. You can pack a long-term punch in smaller sized containers using this approach—never blanket your soil, as with a liquid, high in organic acids giving roots and microlife no options to adapt; you dig? Cheers amigos, until next time … L8r G8rs.
Liquid Fish Fertilizers and Phosphoric Acid Levels
Just a quick word here about liquid fish fertilizers. A higher P number than 1 is harmful to a true all-natural soil mix in balance. Notice the NPK is 5-1-1 of the fish fertilizer in the photo, this stuff is awesome and very low on phosphoric acid (P). If I am keeping mother clones or any plants in vegetative state in smaller containers than they really should be in, I will mix together about ¼ teaspoon liquid fish per gallon of water, along with a very (very) small pinch of soluble (very potent) kelp/seaweed for a couple watering times in a row. This gives you an easy 2 weeks bump you can keep them healthy in those containers; so, you can procrastinate transplanting them more efficiently—LoL!
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.