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Old 07-13-2016, 07:38 AM #1
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What is No Till Gardening?

This thread will be a brief summary of the philosophy behind No Tilling, along with a guide on how to transition over into this type of system from your current set up. Enjoy!



"What is No Till Gardening?"



No Till Gardening resonates from the natural processes we see in our ecosystem. It abides by natures laws, and focuses on building soil through natural processes rather than dumping it out, re-amending, and then refilling your pots.

It is the never-ending cycle of life, death, and decay that our ecosystem relies so heavily upon to regenerate without the need for human intervention. In nature a tree falls to the ground, is decomposed, and eventually returns to the ecosystem in the form of humus. In a no till setting, we harvest our flowers and return all leaves, branches, and stalks to the mulch layer to follow suit. Nutrition once lost is now returned, and held onto indefinitely via the (hopefully) relatively high TCEC (total cation exchange capacity) of the soil body.

Most of us can recognize this process by what we all see come Autumn; leaves fall from the tree tops and land on the ground, are broken down and returned to the soil. Without this intrinsic process of the soil food web, leaves would pile so high that trees would become completely engulfed in organic matter; resulting in certain extinction. This is the magnificent orchestra of the soil food web; a never-ending cycle fueled by trillions of microorganisms, soil enzymes, bacteria and fungi that regenerate ecosystems - no matter how small the size. [/size]


Week 4 of veg - 25 gallon containers



1) Container, or raised bed?

The first thing you should determine is the container size and how many gallons your soil mix will be. Unlike soilless mediums, below ground biomass will directly correlate to above ground biomass in soil. With that being said, you're going to want to figure out what size pots (or beds) will grow the size plants you want.

I started with 10 gallons, and moved up to 25 gal containers recently I don't like going under 10 gallons, because plants become root-bound for me in mid flower when I veg for the typical 4 weeks. The 25's are light enough to move around, but give me more wiggle room for root development so to speak.





2) Your soil mix


This is everything, and should be where you invest most of your budget. Balance within the soil is everything. A balanced soil mix will exponentially outperform an imbalanced soil mix. When certain elements are in excess, they can greatly effect other elements or completely lock them. So choose a balanced recipe that's tried and true rather than letting your inner Bill Nye go ham with the amendments.
There are many mixes out there, so choose the one that suits you and what you're able to source locally. I'll post the recipe I've used with success for the past 2 years, but first I'll touch on alternative solutions for the base mix because this will be subjective depending on your location/access to different materials. Use whatever you can buy locally to avoid having to ship heavy materials to your state.

Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
Replacements - Leaf mold

Lava rock
Replacements - Pumice, Grow Stones, Perlite

Compost
Replacements - Earthworm castings, Organic manure




No Till Soil Base Mix:

1 part Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss
1 part (high quality) Compost
1 part Aeration (75% Lava rock, 20% Bio char, 5% Rice hulls)


Mixed with:

Acadian Kelp Meal @ 1/2 Cup per cubic foot

Neem Cake and Karanja Cake 50/50 Mix @ 1/2 cup per cubic foot

Crustacean Meal @ 1/2 Cup per cubic foot

Gypsum Dust @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot

Brix Blend Basalt @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot

Glacial Rock Dust @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot

Oyster Flour @ 1 Cup Per Cubic Foot

Malted Barley @ 2 Cup Per Cubic Foot

1 Handful of Red Wigglers (per container)

1 Handful of European Night Crawlers (per container)




Side note -
The greatest thing I've found when it comes to adding worms to your containers is the fact that in time (2-3 cycles) your worms will completely turn over the soil into nutrient-rich worm castings. This is huge, because you can then take that original body of soil and use it for your 1/3 humus portion in a future base mix. That's right, you can triple the volume of your original soil mix in less than a year's time. Talk about sustainability!




My Watering Regimen:

Day 1 - H20

Day 3 - H20

Day 5 - Coconut Water (1/4 cup per gallon) OR Freeze dried Coconut Powder (1 tsp per gallon)

Day 7 - H20

Day 9 - H20

Day 11 - Aloe Vera puree (1/4 cup fillet per gallon) OR Aloe Vera 200x powder (1/4 tsp per gallon)

Day 13 - H20

Day 15 - H20

Day 17 - Malted Barley powder (1/4-1/2 cup per 25 gallon pot) watered in with Bio Ag's Fulpower (20 ml per gallon)





4) Regeneration


Here's the important part. The part that most beginners will exempt after hearing no tilling consists of sowing a cover crop, or simply mulching in straw. A rude awakening is waiting for them if they don't follow this next step:



After cutting, hanging and drying your crop remember to return your left over biomass to the surface of your mulch layer. This will not only feed your microorganisms, but it will return most of the nutrition used during that cycle to the soil. Just as leaves fall in Autumn, our biomass falls at harvest. And the cycle continues...

After taking cuttings/sprouting seedlings you can simply dig a hole next to your existing stalk, and plant anew. Your left over root mass will feed the microorganisms in the soil and will eventually be completely broken down, performing a natural "tillage" in the soil by leaving behind tiny channels of air. Combine that with the pathways made by the worms you've added, and you can soon begin to see how it is possible to never till again.

The only things that I add at the beginning of each cycle is 1 tbsp kelp meal per container (for too many reasons to list), and some straw if the mulch layer is mostly digested (usually by this time it is). That's it!
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:48 AM #2
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looks great =)

How do you charge your lavarock/pumice/char ?

greetings
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Old 07-13-2016, 03:04 PM #3
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Nice.
Very similar to what I've settled on after thirty years of experimenting.
Been growing this way for about five years now. The first year or so was tough due to learning curve that came with the perpetual gardening of 25 different cultivars. It is nice to finally have an understanding of what is going on in the dirt.
The worms are a big part of my success, they work hard in every pot and have even established themselves in my composter.
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Old 07-13-2016, 04:18 PM #4
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welcome back TM.

lets keep it friendly and constructive i hope!

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Old 07-13-2016, 04:20 PM #5
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Great thread. I'll follow.
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Old 07-13-2016, 05:32 PM #6
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I'm just getting into this my self, as an avid hydro grower who only keeps mothers in dirt, I have a lot to learn. This thread seems like a good place for these comments/questions.

1- can I use any salt based nutes or does it all have to be organic to keep the microbes and worms thriving ? I thought forum member rykus was using a no till method but also used some salt ferts, I could be wrong.

2- what's with the coconut water and rice hulls? I don't understand why they are in the mix, it seems to be as easy as replicating my veggie garden inside, am I missing something?

3- what kinda pot size would accommodate a 1 pound plant, 25 gallons?

4- is it advised to use or not use a product like Sm-90 with no till?

5- would beds lined with canvas or 45 gallon drums cut in half be better suited for the microbe activity ?

Last edited by OG Tree Grower; 07-13-2016 at 06:00 PM..



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Old 07-13-2016, 05:50 PM #7
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What minimum container size do you think is appropriate for no till gardening? I have been doing water only amended soil for the last year and a half, however I am not recycling the soil and I think these are the missing keys in allowing my plants to really thrive.

I am using only 7 and 9 gallon containers (smart pots and hercules pots) to flower in. We dont have the veg area for anything larger, however I have debating just putting them into the flower rooms and vegging them in there with HPS for 2-3 weeks before flip., in order to take advantage of a bigger container.
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Old 07-13-2016, 05:55 PM #8
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You only go 3 cycles per container before recycling?

There is so much "cootganics" in here I think you are going to lose some of us.

And yes I just coined the term "cootganics"
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Old 07-13-2016, 10:20 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edo View Post
looks great =)

How do you charge your lavarock/pumice/char ?

greetings
Thanks Edo!

The simplest and most efficient method to biocharge your biochar is to simply mix it into your compost piles, stacking functions to benefit both the biochar and your compost. Even if you buy inoculated biochar, rather than producing it on-site, it will be improved by maturing in your compost. You can use as much biochar as you want, up to about an even 1:1 ratio with the compost, so don’t worry too much about overdoing it.

The other way to inoculate your biochar is a bit more labor-intensive, but you can complete the process in hours or days, not months. First, fill a 55 gallon (210 litre) drum with fresh water and biochar. If you are using municipal treated water, let it sit for a couple days to remove any chlorine. Then add compost tea or worm castings and leachate to the barrel with some soil from the area where you will use the finished biochar.

Once everything is well mixed, insert a long tube such as a length of PVC pipe into the barrel and direct air from a blower into the tube, or use a pond aerator and air stones. Aeration supercharges the inoculant and gives the beneficial microbes a massive head start, and helps them adhere to the biochar. Continue this for 12-24 hours. Hope that helps

Quote:
Originally Posted by I wood View Post
Nice.
Very similar to what I've settled on after thirty years of experimenting.
Been growing this way for about five years now. The first year or so was tough due to learning curve that came with the perpetual gardening of 25 different cultivars. It is nice to finally have an understanding of what is going on in the dirt.
The worms are a big part of my success, they work hard in every pot and have even established themselves in my composter.
Nice man! Yeah it seems like this is the last "stop" for many, as that relation from soil health to human health becomes clearer and clearer. I've noticed a big increase in plant health as well, especially after adding red wiggs and african nightcrawlers to my pots. Doesn't get any easier than this!

Quote:
Originally Posted by heady blunts View Post
welcome back TM.

lets keep it friendly and constructive i hope!

Thanks Heady! It's great to be back, I began to miss the IC crowd and started getting requests to return so after speaking to a few of the mods we were able to make that happen

Quote:
Originally Posted by exploziv View Post
Great thread. I'll follow.
Thanks man, that means a lot coming from you

Quote:
Originally Posted by OG Tree Grower View Post
I'm just getting into this my self, as an avid hydro grower who only keeps mothers in dirt, I have a lot to learn. This thread seems like a good place for these comments/questions.

1- can I use any salt based nutes or does it all have to be organic to keep the microbes and worms thriving ? I thought forum member rykus was using a no till method but also used some salt ferts, I could be wrong.

2- what's with the coconut water and rice hulls? I don't understand why they are in the mix, it seems to be as easy as replicating my veggie garden inside, am I missing something?

3- what kinda pot size would accommodate a 1 pound plant, 25 gallons?

4- is it advised to use or not use a product like Sm-90 with no till?

5- would beds lined with canvas or 45 gallon drums cut in half be better suited for the microbe activity ?
Absolutely, feel free to ask all the questions you want here

1) Force feeding with bottles is best done in a soilless medium such as the one you use in hydro IMO. In soil, plants regulate what elements they need, when they need them, and how much of those said elements to intake. So you can see how bypassing that step would be counterproductive. It's best to initially amend the soil with all micro/macronutrients along with adequate mineral nutrition (see the soil recipe above) and amend your base mix with 1/3 high quality compost. That compost has the capability of literally holding onto those amendments you just spent money on, for extremely long periods of time.

2) The rice hulls I add to please the worms, they're not necessary but worms enjoy breaking them down so I add an extra 5% to the initial mix. Just a personal preference.
Coconut water contains cytokinins. They stimulate cell division, morphogenesis (shoot initiation/bud formation) in tissue culture, the growth of lateral buds-release of apical dominance, leaf expansion resulting from cell enlargement, and enhance stomatal opening in some species. Again, not needed but I call this a plant supplement and enjoy using it in the garden (and drinking it myself in smoothies).

3) That's a subjective question with a subjective answer pretty much, you could use anywhere from a 25 gallon pot to a 400 gallon pot it mainly depends on how long you plan to veg for, how much headway you have before hitting the lights, and how much time you want to put into the plant. I typically veg for 4-5 weeks then flip the lights to flower, and see anywhere from 5 ounces to 10 ounces per plant depending on strain structure and bud density. Many factors come into play here!

4) Send me a link of the product label and I'll be able to answer that question

5) Either or would work - what's most important is a thick mulch layer to keep the majority of the life that resides in the top layer moist and alive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KONY View Post
What minimum container size do you think is appropriate for no till gardening? I have been doing water only amended soil for the last year and a half, however I am not recycling the soil and I think these are the missing keys in allowing my plants to really thrive.

I am using only 7 and 9 gallon containers (smart pots and hercules pots) to flower in. We dont have the veg area for anything larger, however I have debating just putting them into the flower rooms and vegging them in there with HPS for 2-3 weeks before flip., in order to take advantage of a bigger container.
I'd say 10 gallons is a good place to start. I've done it in a 7 gallon container before but as we all know - below ground biomass directly correlates to above ground biomass so smaller containers like that are better suited for smaller plants in a SOG type layout. I use 25 gallon pots, but with how close they are together in my room I could easily get away with 15's if I wanted to. I veg for 4-5 weeks in both 10's and 25's but I can say that the plants in 10's are pushing it, as they outgrow their pots at times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileHighGlass View Post
You only go 3 cycles per container before recycling?

There is so much "cootganics" in here I think you are going to lose some of us.

And yes I just coined the term "cootganics"
Yeah once the worms turn over the entire container it's then able to be used as your next mix's humus portion. It depends on the needs of the grower, some rapidly expand and some stick to their guns and never need to remove the soil ya know? I've found it useful in making high quality soil for my food gardens especially.
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