Howdy all, True Living Organics’ nutrient spikes are a fantastic tool to use, specifically when container growing using an all-natural style like TLO. Spikes are super friendly to the equilibrium of the living soil. They also allow you to grow larger plants in smaller containers and yield larger.
There are quite a few of you out there from what I have read recently, that don’t really “get” how TLO nutrient spikes work. Especially in relation to the soil life, and particularly the roots of the plant. To be clear, my two remaining brain cells didn’t originate nutrient spikes, it was 10+ years ago I saw that Job brand had something very similar. I basically DIY’d them to adapt them True Living Organics (TLO) style.
You can learn all about spikes and more great stuff like recycling your soil and just adding water to rock and roll in your gardens by checking out my book: True Living Organics 2nd Edition on Amazon. Okay then, away we go…
TLO Nutrient Spikes’ Overview
Let me start out by saying that using the spiking methodology, in container growing, can up your game huge. Because the bottom line is that you are packing more food into your container, for both soil organisms and plants. The big plus here, is you are doing it safely, and not causing chaos to your microbial life; as you would just dosing your entire container with a tea or fertilizers.
Also, you can use those (all organic) Job brand spikes here as an option. The only advice I have if you are doing this is to use them early, about 3 to 4 weeks before starting to flower. These spikes have a very long duration compared to TLO nutrient spikes. We all should know how bad it is to have too much nutrient value available in the later flowering stage—yuk!
Using TLO spikes, I recommend using them about 1 week before flowering begins. Always spike right after a transplant so you can place the spikes in soil that doesn’t have living roots—yet. If you use spikes in a container already full of living roots, you will shortly thereafter see signs of root damage. Your plant takes a hit it doesn’t need to take.
What is a TLO Nutrient Spike?
Simply, a spike is just a hole made vertically in your soil filled containers that goes almost all the way to the floor of the container. That hole is then filled with an all-natural nutrient. My favorite nutrient source to spike with is granulated chicken guano. The granulated part is important, just like the more air you add to a burning fire the hotter it burns. You want your spikes to “light up fast” and keep “burning” until their gone. The chicken guano lasts about 5 or 6 weeks, waning off in the last couple weeks. Perfect for flowering containers. Here is a link to some good granular chicken guano: Hoffman Granular Chicken Guano on Amazon.
Now, if you can’t get any granular all-natural nutrient, you will need to use powdered dry nutrients, like bird/bat guano. To add the air to this application is simple. Just cut the guano 50/50 with kelp or alfalfa meal. This dried leaf matter will decompose more rapidly than the guano, leaving space for the guano to get air exposure. You could use several things here as all natural sources rather than guano, like all-purpose (complete) dried organic nutrients, or dried fish. Just mix it 50/50 with the alfalfa or kelp meal and you’re fine.
Another Spiking Bennie…
Using these TLO nutrient spikes has another huge advantage for growers like myself. It allows you to flower larger plants that yield large, in smaller growing containers. Normally speaking the rule of thumb when growing TLO style, is that you would use 1-gallon of container size per foot of your flowering plant in that container, plus 1-gallon. So, if you are flowering 3-foot plants you would want 4-gallon containers. If you are using the TLO Spikes, you would only need a 3-gallon container for 3-foot plants. I’m an injured man, so working with 3-gallon containers is much easier for me than using 4- or 5-gallon containers. Hella easier.
As I mentioned above, you only want to do this in a container you have just transplanted into. You want to place the spikes down into the new soil that has no living roots in it yet. Make sure and mist up the top of your container soil after the transplant and just before making spike holes. This will keep soil from falling down into your spike holes when you make them.
After misting, simply take a dowl about ½ inch diameter and make 2 to 4 vertical holes down almost to the bottom of the container. How many spikes to use depends on how intense your growing environment is. For hot high intensity gardens use 4 spikes, for lower intensity use 3, or 2 spikes.
Simply fill these holes up with your granular chicken guano or whatever you are using, put a little soil over the top. Then add your mulch layer. It’s as easy as that.
I only use spikes myself when transplanting into the flowering containers. You can use them during vegetative stage as well if you want to keep larger plants happy in smaller containers, like mother clones or something. Always try for balance, nutrient-wise when choosing your spiking nutrients source. While something like bloodmeal and kelp or alfalfa works, it’s a bit overkill on available nitrogen. So, this can cause other issues.
When Not to Use TLO Nutrient Spikes
Okay, these spikes pack a big punch! You will not want to use the spiking methodology if you also use any kind of acid chelated (force feeding) organic fertilizers, like say Earthjuice type fertilizers. While they are indeed an all-organic nutrient, they are far from natural, regarding the levels of acids present, and nutrient levels too. You don’t want to chelate nutrients in your container when you have those big nutrient spikes present. The chelation will hyper-activate those spikes overdosing your plants fast.
TLO nutrient spikes are for growers using all natural methods and living soil only, for the best results. You don’t want to add any liquid nutrients, or supplemental things like nectars, sweeteners, tonics, elixirs, etc. These contain pH-tweaking acids/bases that are highly counterproductive to spikes, and arguably to all-natural growing period.
TLO Nutrient Spike Challenge
You may think yay or nay about using spikes. But I really want to open your eyes here in case you don’t think they are worth it for some reason. It’s super easy to test this out yourself without risking your whole grow. Having granular chicken guano around is a very good thing anyways for all-natural growers like TLO growers. Get yourself some granular guano (there’s a link above to some) and take one of your plants and use the spikes on it—using my guidelines. Then all you have to do is see what you see baybee. You don’t have to trust me, see for yourselves—yay you!
I hope you guys that are iffy about using spikes try them out. You’ll see clearly how truly awesome they are. Once plant roots find the TLO nutrient spikes, they adapt on the spot to leverage them, safely for the plant. They are pure, safe all-natural plant power man.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s article, check out another article by yours truly here: Five Biggest Mistakes Germinating Cannabis Seeds. Don’t forget to buzz by Kingdom Organic Seeds and grab yourself some exotic cannabis seeds to start your garden out right.
I’ll catch ya’ll on the flip-flop right here next Tuesday for another article. Until then, stay happy and healthy as you can. Myself, I just love me a good sativa dominant wake-n-bake with a good coffee as well. That usually gives me an extra happy start to my day, heh heh. L8r G8rs…
- 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.