Howdy my esteemed green peeps! Container layering growing cannabis is a TLO (True Living Organics) strategy that works on the same basic principles as TLO container spikes. True Living Organics Nutrient Spikes. What we are doing is SAFELY adding more nutrients to the containers. This is especially handy for older damaged growers like me that like to use smaller container sizes while still getting primo yields and the highest quality.
If you don’t use container layering now, you should. You can up your game considerably by starting to use this practice during every single transplant. Unlike TLO spikes, which I only use in my flowering containers, I use layering every time I transplant any plant at any stage.
I know dumping powerful solutions (teas/fertilizers) that drench entire containers (all roots and soil life) is never a good idea if you actually want to leverage the power of living soil. TLO style container layering adds some decent horsepower to your containers for sure. It also allows the roots to get used to these added nutrients, in a more isolated location/fashion, so as not to affect the entire root system (container). Like spikes, we always want to add layers where roots are NOT … Not yet anyway. Let’s get into it…
Container Layering—The How
Like I said above, you add layers where the roots haven’t been to yet. This allows the roots to approach the nutrient “treasure chests” gradually, adapting to the unique pH and other conditions locally where the layers are. The roots in concert with the established microbial life takes full advantage of the layers.
It is best to use nutrient sources that are also found in your soil mix when using container layering. This way all the microbial life in the soil is already familiar with the nutrient source(s) and will make quick and efficient work of them.
I have done many growing containers/plants side-by-sides with layers and no layers. It is quite obviously a bonus to your plants resulting in faster/happier/more vigorous growth, and with larger yields when used in flowering containers. This is also super-handy for clones you may want to keep fully healthy/happy in smaller container sizes for longer times. This is basically a 2-step operation here during any transplant. The 1st step is the bottom layer…
- Lightly mist the inside of the containers before doing anything else.
- Find locations on the floor inside the container you can put some nutrients down without having them just spill out of drainage holes. If this is very difficult you can always add a very thin layer of soil mix on the floor first before adding your nutrient(s).
- Simply sprinkle down the nutrients you have chosen. Immediately afterwards add more soil mix up to the level you normally would before placing the new plant in.
I like to let these containers sit this way for a full 24 hours before I actually transplant into them. You absolutely don’t have to wait, and you can transplant immediately if you want to. I like to wait just to give all the soil life a chance to “get a grip” on the rich nutrient source and begin colonizing it. It’s all good either way, no worries.
The 2nd step is the top layer, this is not like a TLO top dressing. Top dressings are done differently. You will absolutely be wanting to use a mulch layer here (righty after putting down the layer) as well to get the most bang for your buck out of the top layer. You can mulch with bark, cannabis stems chopped up, dried banana peels chopped up, the possibilities are many. Don’t forego the mulch because it’s a huge advantage for the roots and the soil life—not to mention the general speed and effectiveness of the top layer.
- Once you have backfilled the new container with the new plant in it, and before you add the mulch, you just mist the top of the soil a bit first.
- Sprinkle down your chosen nutrients out around the container sides, mostly avoiding the top of the plant’s root-ball. You want to keep most of the nutrients only on top of the new soil you have just added.
- Once you have your chosen nutrients all sprinkled down, you mist the top once again, then add your mulch layer on top. Boom, done!
Container Layering—The What
Choosing which nutrient(s) to use for your layers will depend partly upon when you may already know you need a bit more of. Say your soil mix is a bit weak where phosphorus (P) is concerned, so you would make sure whatever you use bumps up your P a bit. Now, part of this tricky-trick is also recognizing the local pH effects different nutrient sources will contribute. I like to balance that out a bit up on top and in the bottom layers.
In a Typical 3-Gallon Container for Flowering…
- Bottom Layer—1-teaspoon bone meal, 1-teaspoon crab meal, 1-teaspoon bird/bat guano.
- Top Layer—1-tablespoon alfalfa meal, 1-tablespoon crab meal, 2-teaspoons bird/bat guano.
I really like using bird/bat guano in my mix and for layers as well. It has always seemed to me this addition enhances the terpenes in a profound way. The crab meal, and the bone meal are both pH buffers that tend to raise the pH while the other constituents tend to lower the pH.
I wouldn’t use things like gypsum, lime, rock phosphate, K-Mag (langbeinite), or other minerals in container layering, although a little bit of greensand contributes a lot and also buffers the pH upwards a bit as well. Basically, you can use whatever you want to when layering. Just don’t use too much, and make sure it is an organic all-natural (as in made by Mother Nature). You also really want to use nutrient sources here that are also found in your soil mix. This really gives the microlife a leg-up when it comes to utilizing these nutrient sources for the plants.
Container layering is a real easy habit to get into doing, always, at every transplant. It has a huge payoff when it comes to overall plant happiness and vigor/health. Why wouldn’t you do this…? Is the real question, yes?
You could get fully Bohemian here and layer with rinsed chopped up kelp and something like dried/composted rabbit poop. You can use something extra simple like 1-part bone meal, 1-part blood meal, and 2-parts kelp meal. You could sub out ground pumpkin seeds for the kelp meal if you wanted to. Just do some research into whatever you want to potentially use.
There are a bazillion things you could use here in combination or even stand alone. My favorite granular chicken guano is perfect as a solo additive for layering containers because it also contains decent calcium levels which balance out the pH level of the guano decomposing. All-natural/organic dry nutrients that are NPK balanced would also work fine as a stand-alone layering product. Alfalfa and crab meal work excellent together as well. Just get into this habit and you won’t regret it.
Boom! Here’s my TLO Book for more info on layers, spikes, and top dressings: Rev’s True Living Organics book, 2nd Edition! Swing by Kingdom Organic Seeds for a fine selection of healthy and exotic cannabis seeds. Well, I’m outty for now, but I’ll be back next Tuesday for another article here at SKUNK baybee.
I’m so close to finishing the new book now I can taste it, heh heh. It’s not the writing of it that is the most work, it is the constant rewriting–LoL. Time to puff a little hash … Happy Trails.
- REv ?
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.