No-Till Gardening

By way of introduction, for those that do not already know, I am a rather inexperienced cannabis cultivator. However, in my one year of gardening, I have done what I feel is rather extensive research into various topics regarding growing marijuana.

About a week ago, I ran across a topic that I had never seen mentioned. No-Till Gardening. And then, specifically, using this technique to cultivate weed. I could not find any information on this site mentioning this method, so I searched elsewhere. (If by chance I missed a major discussion on ILGM about No-Till Gardening, please let me know!)

While I won’t put a direct link here, if you google search " no-till gardening revisited ", I am confident you can find the base of most of what I have learned.

I am very interested in growing marijuana in this fashion - to the point where I have priced out what it would take to convert my entire grow over to No-Till. I am actively pursuing the components necessary.

If there is sufficient interest - and if no one can convince me of the detractions from this method to the point where I will abandon the project completely - I will post the sum of my research as to the costs, etc.

The paradigm shift that really struck me the most about moving toward No-Till Gardening was this: I have been focusing so far on feeding the plant. Instead, No-Till focuses on feeding the soil.

No-Till Gardening (heretoafter “NTG”) is a method of building a healthy, living soil that in turn will produce healthy, vibrant plant life.

There are never any chemical additives to buy, mix, and pH. Instead the soil is amended naturally and organically.

I do not want to simply rewrite what has already been extensively written on elsewhere (mostly because the edible I ate an hour and a half ago was WAYYYY too strong and my cognitive functions are failing me), nor do I pretend to understand more than the tiniest bit of the science behind this method.

Nevertheless, I am interested to see if anyone else finds this method compelling or appalling. If you do, feel free to follow along. I will use this to journal my adventure into No-Till Gardening.

Tag in anybody that I missed.

@MAXHeadRoom @Jmesser80 @bob31 @sirsmokes @covertgrower @BIGE @Tr33 @Smokngranny @smokin_ernie


Here is a synopsis of the basics I have learned so far…

An NTG soil base consists of:

  • 1 part Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss (aka CSPM),
  • 1 part Aeration (lava rock, pumice, grow stones),
  • 1 part Compost (up to half of which could be Earthworm Castings aka EWC)

The most important part of this seems to be the compost layer - this has been an emphasized fact throughout my reading on the topic. (Please remember… I haven’t ACTUALLY done this yet - so, for me, it is all theory)

The soil mix is then amended ONE TIME as follows:


1/2 C Malted Barley Powder (MBP)
1/2 C Neem or Naranja Cake
1/2 C Kelp meal
1/2 C Crustacean or Crab Meal
1 C Gypsum
2 C Basalt
2 C Biochar

Mix soil parts and amendments thoroughly, then add 100-500 red wiggler worms per cubic foot of soil. It appears that even if you cannot afford to max out your worm additions, they will multiply to the number needed based on size, food availability, etc.

This can be done in containers, but I am planning on using a Geo-Planter (3’ x 6’ x 14") to start and expanding to two when possible.


First, thanks for the tag. This sounds interesting and I definitely will follow along. :hugs:

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I will have to research this lol very intresting thats kinda what I remember from growing back 20+ years ago was soil soil soIL no ph water and no plant food just made sure to have a very good soil


@BlackShirt funny you say edible, I just ate one. I only ate half to be safe, still feeling this batch out. This NTG is very interesting, and I’ve always leaned organic when I can, because organic is best for the roots and soil. Bacteria is what makes everything happen. It happens best with the most effectiveness when you have healthy bacteria in the soil.


The feeding schedule that I plan to use is the same as what is found in the NTG revisited thread. I can repost it here, but please know that this is not mine, nor have I used it. It just seems to make a lot of sense to me.

The soil is fed on an 11 day repeating cycle that is not based on plant stages or ages. The soil is given what it needs, the microorganisms make it bio-available to the plants, and the plants then take what they need. No force feeding. No pH lock-out. No flushing.

Recipes for each will be included below, but they are still clunky and need some conversions.

DAY 1: Plain Water

DAY 2: No Water

DAY 3: MBP Topdress watered in with Aloe/Fulvic Acid/Silica

DAY 4: No Water

DAY 5: Plain Water

DAY 6: Neem & Kelp Tea

DAY 7: No Water

DAY 8: Plain Water

DAY 9: No Water

DAY 10: Coconut Water

DAY 11: No Water

MBP Topdress with Aloe/Fulvic/Silica

  • 1/8 tsp “200x Organic Aloe Powder” per gallon
  • 10 mL FulPower per gallon
  • 5 mL silica (AgSil, SI, ProTekt, etc) per gallon

Neem / Kelp Tea (5 gallons)

  • 1/2 cup of Neem Seed Cake / Meal
  • 1/4 cup of Kelp Meal

Bubble for 18 - 24 hours and apply.

Coconut Water

  • 1/4 C freeze dried coconut water powder per gallon

@Covertgrower This is precisely what this system is designed to do!

I have not grown organically as yet - there are so many voices to listen to when you first start growing. It is hard to tell which ones are based in solid science and which ones are junk.


I use organic nutes, but have never thought of it as no til gardening. However, most of the amendments you’re listing sound like the makeup of my bottles.

Based on your research, safe to say it’s pretty much the same thing? Or, not so much?


I did organic for my Greeny girl, who provided very well. I learned when using organics, if you add a teaspoon of molasseses per gallon of water, the molasses feeds what is in the organic nutes and soil, which in turn feeds the roots. I am going to read up on the NTG, it sounds very interesting.


I’ve been growing organic, I use peat moss, vermiculite, perlite and homemade compost. Red wigglers and black soilder fly larvae.I water with rain water, pond water, aloe water, coco water and brew some teas.

Here are some also growing organically ,aquaponics


There are some differences between organic growing and no-till gardening. No-Till Gardening is, by definition, organic … but all organic gardening is not necessarily no-till.

No-Till is exactly that… never tilling the soil - no replacing it - leaving the root balls from old plants in the soil to decompose to become humus. There are people reporting years and years of the same soil - never turned over - never replaced.


This sounds exactly like what I am about to embark upon.

Do you replace your soil after every grow? Or do you leave it intact?

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@BlackShirt I didn’t realize it meant to not replace the soil in the root ball. In fact, I’ll try tat this time from the last harvest. As an experiment I will try it for you. I’m open minded sort, and if you’re feeding the soil anyways why wouldn’t it work? This just saves me $100 in soil costs. I might add a little on top though. Just so it’s loose for the new plant to kind of make a good home.


@BlackShirt , I just pull out the rootball insert next seedling clone or seed with new compost mix where the root ball left a hole.


yes… i have seen debate and have read information from no-till growers who both gently remove the old root ball and those that leave it in - There doesn’t seem to be clear evidence that one is superior to the other… just a matter of preference.


i like the idea … just be sure that you are starting with the best and healthiest soil you can. Compaction could become an issue if you use something like rice hulls that break down over time.

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Sooooo, kind of on the topic I guess… how does one store their soil between grows? Right now I have six 5 gallon cloth pots with about 4 gallons of soil in each plus the root balls of the harvested plants sitting in the basement. Wanted to save the soil but I can’t really leave the soil sitting out in the pots for the next several months. Should I store the soil in garbage bags? leave in the pots?? Have never done this before. :green_heart: :seedling:


Good question :+1:. I was wondering about that myself :slightly_smiling_face:

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Great question! Here are some thoughts on that…

And this gets into another NTG topic that I wanted to discuss anyways (so thank you for the segue way)

There is an idea of a “living mulch” or “green manure” that I have read some about. I think this would be the way to preserve your soil for another run. But again … your starting soil is KEY.

From my reading (and please, someone who knows more, please jump in here) it would be useful for you to plant a “cover crop” in your soil after harvest. A cover crop would be something like white clover or red clover. Keep the soil moist and add 1-2" of EWC before planting the cover crop.

If you were not planning on storing your soil for an extended period of time, many NTG growers will wait until a seedling or a clone were a few inches tall, then they plant the cover crop. This crop thrives, fixing nitrogen (among other things) until the marijuana plant canopy prevents adequate light from reaching the clover. Then the cover crop dies back, becoming a mulch layer that then feeds the worms and microscopic life in the soil that can then feed your plant.

In your case, @FreakyDeekie , you could simply “mow” the cover crop down (I would leave the leftovers right in the pot) and plant your seedling / clone.

Much of this has been plagiarized - the key to creativity is forgetting who you stole the idea from. lol


I would think that some sort of a compost bin would work as well. Throw your old soil and whatever amendments you plan to use in the bin, throw some worms in there and let it do it’s thing.

Don’t know for sure though, but seems to be something a lot of people do.