I've tried this with 5 gallon smartpots over 5 grow cycles in roughly 2 years now.
I asked several times if I don't need to topdress or somehow reamend the soil after each round because I couldn't imagine that nutrients don't need to be replenished.
I didn't get good feedback, nor answers and kept hearing how notill means it gets better as time goes on.
Well in those 5 grow cycles I also twice used a fresh batch of soil.
The fresh batch always yielded great results, even though I had issues with PH, used a PH down for pools (which is anti-bacterial and kills the microherd .... doh) and also tried to mix in "organic" synthetic nutrients (Canna Bio) in the first 2 rounds.
But the second (and one time third) round with the same soil batch always were disastrous. But I believe this was mostly due to the N deficiency and compaction issues from the decomposing buckwheat hulls I used instead of perlite. This along with the other issues I havent even mentioned yet, like temperatures and the like. And mainly, I think, because I didn't topdress or otherwise reamend the soil in any way between grows. I just pulled out the stump and most of the roots and planted the next one in...
So long story short:
It does work and it does work well. I have no issues in 5 gallon smart pots aside from the fact that YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO REAMEND YOUR SOIL IN THOSE POTS after, I presume, every grow.
I have by no means figured everything out and am still struggling with several issues. Mainly compaction issues and massive nitrogen deficiency due to the buckwheat hulls I used instead of perlite composting in the soil.
After this run I plan to mix perlite into my soil mix for aeration and replacing the decomposed buckwheat hulls. Since I am already mixing it, I will amend it with bonemeal, bloodmeal, kelp, rock dusts, dolomite lime etc. to bring it back up.
Then I will do 1 run with it and expect it to give me equally good results as the 2 runs I had with fresh soil batches.
After that I will start top-dressing with blood, bone and kelp meal along with EWC and maybe some dolomite lime and maybe some epsom salts after every harvest before transplanting the next plant in the same pot.
I hope/expect that it will work fine then.
So far, for me, it didn't work in the 5 gallon containers but I believe that was all due to other issues and not the container size.
Will report back when I was able to fix the other issues and can safely say whether or not it works for me.
But I am pretty sure it works fine, you just need to topdress enough and the right things.
I also would say from my experience that not PHing my water in 5 gallon containers was a mistake. I am of the belief that in such smaller containers, PHing is maybe not absolutely necessary but to me, it seems like it definitely positively affected the plants. I believe that you need a certain volume of soil in order to successfully buffer the PH to the point where it doesn't matter much what you started with.
At the moment, I am trying to combat the nutrient deficiencies with aerated compost teas. Top-dressing EWC generously was not enough this time around. It did help a lot mid-flower last round. I used bloodmeal pellets instead of powder/meal since it wasn't available and I think the pelets took too long to release the nitrogen for the plants so I had nitrogen deficiency mid flower. I top-dressed generously with EWC and it did help a bunch.
I top-dressed with EWC again after the last round and it wasn't enough. A bunch of deficiencies showed up, nitrogen chief among them.
So now I am trying with aerated compost teas. Applied one with malted barley, EWC and molasses a few weeks ago with not as much effect as I had hoped.
2 days ago I applied a ACT with malted barley, EWC, molasses, kelp and bonemeal. I also defoliated heavily (a lot of dead/yellow growth had to go).
So far I couldn't tell how they reacted because they look completely different due to the defoliation but I have already started the next batch of ACT and will water them with it again in a few days. Hope they will improve considerably and new growth will not show so many nutrient deficiencies any more.
Problem is, I can't water as often because of the compaction/drainage issues... It is really tricky if you ask me and I often wondered if it wouldn't be a lot easier if I just went into beds or 20 gallon containers or something with a lot fewer plants. I am actually convinced it would be much easier then.
But I am trying to pheno hunt here and I need the high plant numbers to do so and 5 gallon is the largest I can go if I want to flower around 20 females at a time and make a selection...
Often wondered if I shouldn't switch to a hydroponic system at least until I have a few keepers selected. But what good is it to select in an (imho) inferior system? All the tastes and smells would be off/wrong and I might end up selecting plants that do well in hydro but are surpassed by others who would have done considerably better than them in organic soil...
Last edited by bigbadbiddy; 03-20-2018 at 02:06 PM..