Hey there! I hope everyone is having a nice start to the season!
I wrote a tek on how to incorporate manures into your garden as fertilizer, and I hope that people here find it helpful. There are pictures and embedded links at the peasyo.com site that were lost when I pasted it in (and formatting), so please click on that and check it out. Any feedback is also appreciated. Cheers.
#PeasYoRocketSoil by Skully MacSkullface
AKA: How to grow large amounts of face melting weed
If you’re here for the simplest and cheapest possible way to grow anything organically, and are not interested in the fine print, here is a major #PeasYoRocketSoil hack. Please hashtag your grows so I can see how this is being used. -Skully
This technique is focused on growing cannabis outdoors, but would work for growing giant tomatoes, giant pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, flowers. Amend the soil as early in the season as possible, if not late fall after the growing season has ended.
Buy a bag of manure, and it doesn’t matter what kind (no carnivore manure). Better yet, get it from your local farmer. Don’t forget to tell them thanks for working hard, rain or shine, to produce your food.
Dig a hole at least 18” deep and save the contents of the excavation on a tarp.
Bury the manure underneath your plants as deeply as you can. Waist deep, if possible, and as wide a hole as you want to dig. Mix the original soil in 50/50 with the manure at the bottom of the hole.
Optional: Top the manure with lime; it doesn’t really matter how much (not the whole bag). Sprinkle a bunch and mix it in with a shovel.
Optional: Throw some straw on top of the manure, the more the merrier.
Re-fill the hole with the soil contents from the tarp.
Plant your goodies.
Congratulations! You’re a manure farmer and have dramatically boosted the yields and the flavors of your crop!
If you’re interested in the propellerhead version of the #PeasYoRocketSoil, here it is. We’re going deep, so you might want to don a propeller hat atop your propeller hat.
The Willamette Valley of Oregon is serious about local food and growing things organically. Back in the 1980’s, Oregon Tilithe established the first ever organic certification program that tracked fertilizers and other inputs to validate that certified crops were grown using organic practices. This established the framework for the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act that is the USDA Organic Certification. As such, Oregon is a focal point for health based medicine, and this document reflects that; it is an aggregation of many different sources, activities, and people. If you’re looking for a great read on organic practices, pick up a copy of The Transition Document.
Taking a spin in the WayBack Machine, here is a snippet from a 1942 publication of Organic Farming and Gardening magazine:
Plant growth depends on a bacteriological process in the soil and in this process there is a certain relationship or co- operation between bacteria and certain fungi called myccorrhiza. These two work as a team in feeding the organic matter of the soil to the roots. In the presence of artificial chemical fertilizers the efficiency of these bacteria and my-ccorrhiza is greatly reduced and the resultant food products do not have the fine taste of those raised with natural organic fertilizer materials, also called humus. In other words not only would we be much healthier if we ate food grown under the above-mentioned correct methods, but our farm animals, if fed on them would be healthier and the income we get through them would be higher.
Where much chemical fertilizers are used with insufficient application of organic substances the soil is gradually becoming hard-packed and the earthworms which nature put there for a well-defined purpose are being killed off. By boring in the earth these tiny creatures produce openings which help in getting oxygen into the soil. But their most important duty is actually to swallow earth, mix it with matter from their digestive process and excrete one of the finest natural fertilizer materials ever made. Many soils today are almost barren of worms because of the constant dumping into the soil of artificial chemical fertilizers. By the use of humus, or the natural organic fertilizers, the amount of earthworms in the soil is greatly increased because they can live and multiply in this element which is natural for them.
Yes, there’s a lot there for discussion. One of the reasons it’s included it is to lay the foundation for better understanding of the latter half of the document, as well as to encourage people to dig into that archive (linked above) and read some of what is available.
Stage One: #PeasYoRocketSoil Launch
Stage one is the assembly of macro-nutrients of plant growth commonly known as N-P-K, or Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium, which are present in the manures. Lighting up these nutrients with biology takes a bit of time, and the foundation of this mechanism are rock eating bacteria.
Painting the broadest of strokes:
The bacteria eat the rocks (calcium, magnesium, dolomite, rock phosphate, etc).
The fungal mats in the soil consume the bacteria and present it as food to the roots of plants.
The plants, in turn, exude starches and sugars to nourish the fungal presence in the soil.
The byproduct is carbon (soil).
That is a very crude description of what is going on in your dirt.
Before going any further, big props to SubCool on his Super Soil recipe; the weights of the amendments from his soil recipe have been incorporated into this document. He’s spot on with his recommendation of heavily mineralization, as bacteria are the base of the food chain. If you’ve got lively bacteria, odds are you’ll have aggressive uptake of nutrition in the soil.
In the context of marijuana cultivation indoors, much of that soil biology never fully matures before the plant is harvested at an 8 week flowering schedule, as it (usually) takes roughly six weeks for the bacteria to set up on the minerals; kicking off the biology of the fertilizer prior to planting circumvents this problem.
#PeasYoRocketSoil Verson 1.0:
This mix was based solely on convenience, what inputs were available locally at the feed store and a nearby stable, as well as dry amendments already on hand. The end result is a dramatically lowered cost with a higher level of nutritional density and biological activity than other fertilizer recipes.
“Super Soil” recipes typically use a base that is primarily peat or coco; #PeasYoRocketSoil is based primarily on manures, sawdust and compost. Seek your own local sources; meet a goat farmer, meet a stable owner. If you’re unable to find sawdust from a stable, acquire it elsewhere and amend the pile heavily.
Horse manure with Douglas fir sawdust: Free from a stable found on Craigslist, aged in a giant pile, loaded into the bed of the pickup steaming with biological activity. It sat outside for several weeks in the yard and no seeds whatsoever sprouted atop the pile. Lots of earthworms, no fragrance of manure and full of carbon-dense sawdust. Roughly 40% of the pile on the tarp is horse manure/sawdust. Still a “hot” fertilizer that will burn the plants.
Bagged steer manure: Appears biologically dead. Composted to the minimum point of non-ickyness. Says up front it will burn if not mixed with regular soil. $5 a bag. Steer manure has a reputation for the lowest nitrogen-to-phosphorus ratio (good) and also a reputation for high levels of salt (not good in dry climates). Roughly 20% of the pile is steer manure.
Bagged chicken manure compost: A very interesting amendment. Cheap, it was $11 on sale for 75 pounds. The bags emit a pungent ammonia/diesel fragrance that is very similar to the scent of a nice Sour Diesel plant. Chicken poop made northern California weed famous, and starting with a pungent fertilizer probably contributed to that. Says on the bag that it won’t burn. Roughly 40% of the pile is composted chicken manure.
Sunshine Mix #5: Didn’t use it. It will be incorporated at a later date to roughly double/triple/quadruple the size of the existing pile before placing the fertilizer into garbage cans for long term storage.
Thrift store drill and paint mixer attachment: The paint mixer is usually used to agitate the sediment at the bottom of jugs of Earth Juice. It worked well for the purpose of tilling the pile o’ poo and was thoroughly bent by the time it was over.
Large pile of manure or composted manure
Lime 1 ½ Cups
2 Tbs granular humic acid
50# bale of straw
Pearlite (large bag), as needed
As a rule of thumb: the more diversity, the better, and you don’t need large amounts. Smaller amounts mixed thoroughly do the trick.
Optional amendments per 9-12 cubic feet of volume:
25 to 50 lbs of organic worm castings
5 lbs steamed bone meal
5 lbs Bloom bat guano
5 lbs blood meal
3 lbs rock phosphate
¾ cup Epson salts
½ cup sweet lime (dolomite)
½ cup azomite (trace elements)
Fish bone meal, 5 lbs.
Alfalfa meal, 3 lbs.
Neem seed meal, 2 lbs.
Feather meal, 3 lbs.
Green sand, 2 to 3 lbs.
Soybean meal (for veg), 3 lbs.
Kelp meal, 3 lbs.
Bark mulch, 2 lbs.
Wood chip compost
Food waste compost
Each input brings a different biological spectrum with it: food waste compost will be microbially different than wood chip compost and leaf compost. Seabird guano is microbially different than bat, worm, chicken, etc. The more diversity, the better.
First step, get all this stuff in a pile and mix it. This took much longer than anticipated.
Then, dump of 10 gallons-ish of non-chlorinated water on the pile.
You’re done for now! Cover the pile with plywood or cardboard if it is going to sit.
Past custom fertilizer mixes have always been based on commercially available soil (peat or coco), stored in a trashcan, and the plants turned a healthy dark green when they were amended. There was never any kind of perceptible heating of the pile after mixing. This pile was left to sit unattended in the cool spring weather for several days, during which time it did something that was totally unexpected………it launched.
Internal temperature of a robust compost pile should reach roughly 140 degrees; once it hits this threshold it is time to be turned. Achieving this level of biological activity requires (ideally) an carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of 25-to-1 as well as a mass of several yards of organic material. This pile fit comfortably on an 8’x10’ tarp; it theoretically didn’t fit the criteria where such intense biological activity would be anticipated.
Four days after mixing, the plywood board shielding the pile from rain was warm to the touch, over 100 degrees, and there was still a pungent diesel aroma within a 10’ radius. Lifting up the board released a fragrance of ammonia - the pile had gone slightly anaerobic - and actinomycetes bacteria had colonized the whole shootin’ match. Presumably, those bacteria had attached to, and begun digestion of, the many different minerals incorporated into the mix. Mycelium from spent Lion’s Mane mushroom blocks appeared to have survived the pasteurization.
Both the dogs found the mix of guanos, “Surprisingly delicious. Sandalwood, with a hint of anise.”
Buttoning up the first half of the document: by (unintentionally) incorporating a substantial portion of carbon-dense Douglas fir sawdust into the mix, it created intense biological activity typically found in a larger mass of humus. Giddyup.
Stage 2: Deep Space Thrusters
“We’re charting a course for Sirius, and we will see the rise of the Dog Star on our horizon.” -Skully
Stage one of the typical space voyage consumes most of the fuel leaving earth and launching the payload into orbit. Sadly, that is not the case with the second stage of the #PeasYoRocketSoil.
As with any voyage worth taking, preparation can be hard work; there’s a large hole to be dug, so just keep thinking about the pounds/kilos of stinky, sticky, face melting weed you’ll be rewarded with.
Before before planting your #PeasYoRocketSoil:
Fill a garbage can full of straw and cover it with water
Let it sit for 12-36 hours
This is, in the mushroom world, considered an an-aerobic pasteurization of the straw. Today, it’s use is to load the straw with water content. If it gets stinky, that is just fine. Once the water is drained, all those an-aerobic bacteria will die and become food for the fungal presence in the soil.
Digging the hole
The cheapest way to increase your yields is to dig a giant hole for your plant. Dig whatever size “container” you’d like to see your root mass expand to, as the reality is that if your soil hasn’t been turned, the roots are much less likely to penetrate deeply into the soil.
Guidelines of hole digging:
Save the soil on a tarp next to the hole
Save the soil from the top of the excavation where it is accessible. It will be planted at the bottom of the hole near the #PeasYoRocketSoil
Dig the hole as deeply as you can. Waist deep, if possible, and as wide as you’d like it
Once the hole is dug:
Fill the bottom of the hole with #PeasYoRocketSoil to a depth of 6-8”. The bottom of this particular hole was larger than anticipated, so a 25# bag of composted chicken manure was thrown in for good measure.
On top of the #PeasYoRocketSoil, add a deep layer of wet straw. Pour the water from the trashcan into the hole, if desired.
Next, layer in a portion of the soil that was excavated from the top of the hole. This contains contains more organic material than the (less fertile, more mineralized) soil that was taken from the bottom of the hole.
Finally, fill the hole in with the remaining soil from the tarp.
Plant your goodies.
Summing all this up:
We’ve heavily amended the soil with macro-nutrients that bulk up the plants, as well as micro-nutrients that provide food to the base of the food chain, thus kickstarting the digestion of the macro-nutrients that have been incorporated into the soil.
Earthworms will eat the straw at the bottom of the hole and leave behind them a trail of earthworm castings. The roots, in turn, will follow the trails of earthworm castings down to the fertile plug at the lowest point of the excavation. The plant will be encouraged to root deeply, as the topsoil has been turned upside down. The fertilitility that is typically found a the topmost layer has been moved downward, and the more heavily mineralized, less fertile, soil has been moved to the top.
Finally, the #PeasYoRocketSoil mix can be stored indefinitely in a trashcan, mixed in with carbon and further composted, or amended to the bottom of growing containers and used indoors.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You’ve earned the right to wear your propellor hat proudly.
Again, please hashtag, share and repost #PeasYoRocketSoil !! I look forward to hearing from all of you and how things are doing in your respective gardens. I also hope you’ll stop by and do some shopping at www.PeasYo.com.