Trying to make a living soil for the first time

Not sure who to tag here as the last time I was looking for advice it was for an Auto using FF synthetic nutes.

Since watching YouTubers like Mr Canuck I decided I wanted to try an organic grow, indoors with white widow fem seeds.

Im in NY so I couldn’t order Gaia’s living soil that he uses but I did get their 4-4-4 and 2-8-4 so I picked up some Coast of Maine potting soil, along with their earthworm castings and then basically mixed it up as per Mr Canucks method.

I only had a Coleman cooler to start with so it’s been in there in my basement for about 3 weeks now with the lid shut and sometimes I’ll leave it slightly open and spray it every few days, mix it up once a week too.

I’m not feeling any warmth so I honestly don’t know if it’s working, I have some seeds germinating now and some happy frog to start them in but I’ve just picked up a 30 gallon tote and want to make sure I’m “cooking soil” properly.

Perhaps there are ingredients in Gaia’s that Coast of Main doesn’t have? I’m not sure.

Latest video I watched from Mr Canuck he mixed his as follows:

Living Soil (I used Coast of Maine potting soil)
25% - Organic Worm Castings (also Coast of Maine)
4-4-4 All Purpose - 3Tbsp/G (added)
2tsp of Mycorrhizal Inoculant

Sorry if you guys don’t know, I just saw you tagged on another thread where someone was making living soil.

happy to learn, happy to be told I’ve done something stupid just as long as I know why :smiley:

Not sure if pictures are in any way useful but at least you can see where it’s sitting for now.

@MattyBear @Covertgrower @dbrn32


You may want to pull a sample and do a slurry test to make sure soil PH is in range for cannabis. This is overlooked a lot and likely will need a dose of something like dolomitic lime or gypsum to buffer into range. I would also like to see fruit-bat guano in the mix for the additional P and K. A dose of Epsom might be good too.


I’m happy to make up a shopping list of things that I am missing, could I add those to this current mix or would I have to start again? I would need to know what measurements to add also.

I’ll do a slurry test now and update you with the results, I really appreciate the quick response given how new I am to organic grows.


coast of Maine doesn’t need to be cooked can use right out of the bag and Dr earth, Fox Farms and COM all make dry amendments similar to Gaia Green


I got a free bag of coast of main soil and it fed my plants for 40 days. I have to say it worked well

I got the Gaia Green dry amendments at least, I dont have any of the extras that @Myfriendis410 mentioned but I wanted to learn how to care for the soil as much as the plants too, hence the attempt to mix up my own batch using that and the dry amendments.

I will say I tried some seeds in the mix and they all died so it’s definitely too hot for germinating.

This time I will use the shot glass and wet paper towel method and plant them in a bit of happy frog with this mix around it, my own mix is mainly for flowering when they get transplanted into their 7g pots, but more importantly so that I can learn how to make and care for living soil.

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Do a slurry test first. I don’t see why you couldn’t add to it.

Hey @Covertgrower, who does living soil? My stoner brain…


I appreciate you investigating for me bud, soil is in the distilled water and I’m mixing every so often, will PH in about 20 mins

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So I did a ppm reading too just out of curiosity and that’s at 2540 on the ppm700 scale, the Ph seems to have settled at 6.18

That’s a lower concentration of dissolved salts than you’d see in FFOF: 4K or more but soil acts as a buffer so you should be fine. A living soil is supposed to be continuously providing the needed salts broken down IIRC.

That’s great!

I’m surprised you can get the materials you need, based on your location. FYI using 700 scale here will conflict with most members as they are on the 500 scale. So long as you are aware.


I’m a big fan of Mr. Canuck. I use Happy Frog dry amendments because Gaia Green is so expensive (shipping alone doubles the cost).

I do alright.


Alright so this is good to use then essentially? I won’t need to for some time until I transplant them to their 3g pots anyway but I am curious about the other amendments you mentioned as I often see people talking about blood meal or bone stuff and kelp, basically a bunch of ingredients I haven’t used.

I couldnt find anything other than the Gaia dry amendments, that’s why I used Coast of Maine.

My pH pen also does 500 but thanks for the heads up on that.

“dolomitic lime or gypsum to buffer into range. I would also like to see fruit-bat guano in the mix for the additional P and K. A dose of Epsom might be good too.”

I’m pretty sure I could get all of that where I am, do you know where I can find out how much I should be using per gallon?

That’s good to know thank you, I’m sure I’ll be fine with what I have but I want to learn the organic Grow properly, I’ve used synthetic a bunch at this point and I want to try something different in my new 5x5 with HPS and MH light setup.

I have some FF seed starter and happy frog so I might let them sprout in that and use my mix when they get transplanted.

Yours look like where I want my White Widows to be in a couple of months!

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My understanding is commercial inoculations my or may not be viable in your environment. Without a microscope you can’t really know. I’ve been really into making my own compost and worm castings. I’ve gotten to the point of not adding any commercial products at all to my soil or plants. The basic soil mix I’ve found is 1/3 compost/castings, 1/3 aeration (pumice/perlite), 1/3 peat/choir. The more diverse and local your compost inputs the more, IMO’s (indigenous micro organisms you can have. BMO’s Benificial micro organisms are known to be beneficial and some can be cultivated and sold in various forms. Not all of them are viable for life and cultivation in all environments though. I’ve seen quite a few commercial inoculants that had absolutely nothing able to live in them! Cooking compost is getting all of the material into the 130-140 degree temperature range to kill of any pathogens. To much nitrogen, (a food source for Microbes to do the work of breaking down the carbon) in your soil will cause the temperature to rise or transfer to ammonia in un oxygenated and anaerobic environment. I’m still learning constantly. But what I’ve really gathered is the more local, diverse, and fresh your compost is and if it’s been processed correctly the better. I do a EM1, lactobacilis, bokashi fermentation with my food scraps to keep them free of pathogens and gather enough to make an adequate pile to reach the Temps I want. I also use my screened compost for my worm bedding.


I’ve heard it said that there isn’t a soil on the planet including antarctic that doesn’t have enough nutrients for plants with the right microbial balance. Legumes for example have a relationship with nitrogen fixing endo micorizial bacteria the are nitrogen fixing and pull the most prevalent element in the planet out of the air that it is 70% of I believe, it might be 60%. I don’t believe anything that claims to be living yet has been stored, shipped, and sat around in unknown temperatures in an airtight plastic bag. Anaerobic Microbes tend to be more pathenogenic. Oxygen is good!!!


Woah you just taught me a lot and made me want to do more research all in one go, it’s pretty clear that you are way ahead of me with this!

I’m not really in a position to make my own compost yet, I’ve really only gone as far as mixing coast of Maine potting soil, with 25% earthworm castings and Gaia’s green 4-4-4 with 2 tbsp of Mykos and left it in the cooler, spraying every so often and turning it once or twice a week.

I do actually have a microscope haha we just found one whilst doing spring cleaning, from back in my school science project days, I could look for something if you point me in the right direction?

What are your thoughts on @Myfriendis410 mentioning dolomitic lime or gypsum, bat guano and Epsom? More than happy to get that stuff I just don’t know why I would need it or how much to use.

Epsom (Magnesium Sulfate) provides two micronutrients readily available to the plant (get scent-free). I’d do something like 1 Tablespoon per gallon (15 ml) and if you find bat guano the one you want is sourced from fruit bats which besides containing N it has a higher P, K value than insect bat guano. Maybe 2 Tablespoons per gallon of soil (10 ml).

Epsom salt is pretty easy but finding Fruit-bat specific guano has been a bit challenging, Roots organics have some high-phosphorous ones but without any potassium, what do you think of either of these?

I think the super one might be overkill, let me know if you know of any specific brands otherwise

Probably either one would work for you. I’m not a living soil expert but have seen numerous recipes posted here.

From Garrigan62 who is no longer with us:

Gypsum and lime both will adjust PH more natural. Guano are expensive and short lived. Check out the Food Soil Web. My current favorite book is for the love of soil by Nicole Masters. I’m constantly learning how wrong I’ve been. I personally think it’s great! Things I swore by for years that are just flat out incorrect! There is a wealth of knowledge growing in the biological and regenerative agricultural movements theses days showing us we’ve been looking at it all wrong and most of what we are being sold is garbage that has literally poised our soils as well as ourselves. Get a small plastic tub and some worms they’ll get you going quickly!!! I can only express what I’m learning and point you in the direction of better teachers than myself. I did just inroll myself in the food soil web schools program. It’s not cheap but I’ve wanted to learn to identify organisms in my compost and teas for years! Nicole Masters company integrity soils offers a much more affordable soil health curriculum. Build-a-soil and some other companies out there will tell you some potting mix recipes if you dig around that don’t require commercial mixes. Companies will tell you have an ingredient but not at what ratio. Just because it’s in there doesn’t mean it’s alive, viable to live in your environment, or even in a negligible amount. Truth is plants cannot absorb NPKs and 90% of water soluble nutrients end up in the water table then sea. Look into the massive are in the gulf of Mexico without oxygen due to agricultural runoff. Arkeya are the only thing able to live and there producing the kind of methane that make car pollution a joke. That process of fertilizing the field to feeding the arkeya takes 50 years so what were seeing now is from the 70’s think about the implications of that. We can save this world and reduce the atmospheric carbon levels by restoring them to the soil and literally healing the living soil of our planet! Find a way to compost!!! Worms are easy! Start there!!! It’s bigger than any of us!!!