M mmm

Small fockwool plugs are fast to plant and easy to maintain.

Rockwool plugs grow strong root systems in about two weeks.

Coarse perlite is lightweight

ents. Mineral amendments decompose through weathering and erosion. Add mineral amendments to augment air and increase drainage. They have the advantage of creating no bacterial activity to alter nutrient content and pH of the growing medium. Dry mineral amendments are also very lightweight and much easier to move in and out of awkward spaces.

Perltte is sand or volcanic glass expanded by heat. It holds water and nutrients on its many irregular surfaces, and it works especially well for aerating the soil. This is a good medium to increase drainage during vegetative and flowering growth, and it does not promote fertilizer-salt build-up. Versatile perlite is available in three main grades: fine, medium and coarse. Most growers prefer the coarse grade as a soil amendment. Perlite should make up one third or less of any mix to keep it from floating and stratifying the mix.

Pumice, volcanic rock, is very light and holds water, nutrients, and air, in its many catacomblike holes. It is a good amendment for aerating the soil and retaining moisture evenly. But like perlite, pumice floats and should constitute less than a third of any mix to avoid problems,

Hydroclay is used more and more as a soil amendment in containers. The large expanded clay pellets expedite drainage and hold air within the growing medium, See Chapter Twelve "Hydroponics" for more information.

Vermiculite is mica processed and expanded by heat. It holds water, nutrients, and air within its fiber and gives body to fast-draining soils. Fine vermiculite holds too much water for cuttings, but does well when mixed with a fast-draining medium. This amendment holds more water than perlite or pumice. Used in hydro-ponic wick systems, vermiculite holds and wicks much moisture, Vermiculite comes in three grades: fine, medium, and coarse. Use fine vermiculite as an ingredient in cloning mixes. If fine is not available, crush coarse or medium vermiculite between your hands, rubbing palms back and forth. Coarse is the best choice as a soil amendment.

Ptimicc is lighweight

Vermiculite is lightweight and absorbent.
Some growers use This bag of soil amend-organic potting soil as a ments contains well-rotted soil amendment. mulch and chicken manure.

Organic soil amendments contain carbon and break down through bacterial activity, slowly yielding humus as an end product. Humus is a soft, spongy material that binds minute soil particles together, improving the soil texture. New, actively composting organic soil amendments require nitrogen to carry on bacterial

Peat mass is available in bags or compressed bales.

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Coco bricks are ideal for guerilla growers. They expand to nine times their original size when wet.

Coconut peat is becoming very popular among growers.
Rent a commercial cement mixer to mix large quantities of soil.

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decomposition. If they do not contain at least 1.5 percent nitrogen, the organic amendment will get it from the soil, robbing roots of valuable nitrogen. When using organic amendments, make sure they are thoroughly composted (at least one year) and releasing nitrogen rather than stealing it from the soil. A dark, rich color is a good sign of fertility.

Rich, thoroughly composted organic matter amends texture and supplies nutrients. Leaf mold, garden compost (at least one year old), and many types of thoroughly composted manure usually contain enough nitrogen for their decomposition needs and release nitrogen rather than using it. Purchase quality organic amendments at a reputable nursery. Look carefully at the descriptive text on the bag to see if it is sterilized and is guaranteed to contain no harmful insects: larvae, eggs, and fungi or bad microorganisms. Contaminated soil causes many problems that are easily averted by using a clean mix.

Garden compost and leaf mold are usually rich in organic nutrients and beneficial organisms that speed nutrient uptake, but they can be full of harmful pests and diseases, too. For example, compost piles are a favorite breeding ground for cutworms and beetle larvae. Just-one cutworm in a container means certain death for the defenseless marijuana plant. Garden compost is best used in outdoor gardens and not indoors. See below for more information on garden compost.

Manure: Barnyard manure, a great fertilizer for outdoor gardens, often contains toxic levels of salt and copious quantities of weed seeds and fungus spores that disrupt an indoor garden. If using manure, purchase it in bags that guarantee its contents. There are many kinds of manure: cow, horse, rabbit, and chicken, etc. See Chapter Eleven for a complete rundown on manures, all of which help retain water and improve soil texture when used as soil amendments, When mixing manures as amendments, do not add more than 10-15 percent, to avoid salt buildup and overfertilization. The nutrient content of manures varies, depending upon the animal's diet and the decomposition factors.

Peat is the term used to describe partially decomposed vegetation. The decay has been slowed by the wet and cold conditions of the northern United States and Canada where it is found in vast bogs. The most common types of peat are formed from sphagnum and hypnum mosses. These peats are harvested and used to amend soil and can be used as a growing medium. Peat moss is very dry, and difficult to wet the first time, unless you bought it wet. Wet peat is heavy and awkward to transport. When adding peat moss as a soil amendment, cut your workload by dry-mixing all of the components before wetting. Use a wetting agent. Another trick to mixing peat moss is to kick the sack a few times to break up the bale before opening.

Peat tends to break down and should be used for only one crop.

Sphagnum peat moss is light brown and the most common peat found at commercial nurseries. This bulky peat gives soil body and retains water well, absorbing 15 to 30 times its own weight. It contains essentially no nutrients of its own, and the pH ranges from 3-5. After decomposing for several months, the pH could continue to drop and become very acidic. Counter this propensity for acidity and stabilize the pH by adding fine dolomite lime to the mix.

Hypnum peat moss is more decomposed and darker in color with pH from 5.0 to 7.0. This peat moss is less common and contains some nutrients. Hypnum peat is a good soil amendment, even though it cannot hold as much water as sphagnum moss.

Coconut fiber is also called palm peat, coco peat, cocos, kokos, and coir. Coir is coconut pith, the fibery part just under the heavy husk. Pith is soaked in water up to nine months to remove salts, natural resins, and gums in a process called retting. Next, they beat the straw-brown coir to extract the husk.

Coir is biodegradable and a good medium for propagation through flowering and fruit growth. Coir holds lots of water while maintaining struc ture. It is durable, rot-resistant, and a good insulator, too. It is inexpensive, easy to control, and holds lots of air.

Washed, pressed blocks or bricks of coir are virtually inert. Bricks weigh about 1.3-2.2 pounds (0,6-1 kg.) The pH is between 5.5 and 6.8. Some of the best coconut coir is from the interior of the Philippine Islands, where the environment is not packed with coastal salts. Quality coconut coir is guaranteed to have sodium content of less than 50 ppm.

Growers use coir by itself or mixed 50/50 with perlite or expanded clay to add extra drainage to the mix. Some growers sprinkle coconut coir on lop of rockwoo! blocks to keep the top from drying out.

Flake dry bricks of coconut coir apart by hand or soak the bricks in a bucket of water for 15 minutes to expand and wet. One brick will expand to about 9 times its original size. Growing in coconut coir is similar to growing in any other soilless medium. Coconut coir may stay a little too wet and require more ventilation and air circulation.

Hit the site www.canna.com.for more information on coconut fiber and growing marijuana.

Soil Mixes

Outdoor soil mixes that incorporate garden soil, compost, manure, coco peat, and rock powders grow some of the best plants in the world. Outdoor soil mixes can be mixed a few months early and left in the hole to blend and mature. Outdoor organic soil mixes are alive, and controlling the soil life is a matter of paying attention to a few details.

Indoors, outdoor soil mixes often create more trouble than they are worth. Too often misguided novices go out to the backyard and dig up some good-looking dirt that drains poorly and retains water and air unevenly. The problems are compounded when they mix the dirt with garden compost packed with harmful microorganisms and pests, This lame soil mix grows bad dope. By saving a few bucks on soil, such growers create unforeseen problems and pay for their savings many times over with low-liar-vest yields. Avert problems with soil mixes by purchasing all of the components. Use garden soil or compost only if they are top quality and devoid of harmful pests and diseases. Use only the richest, darkest garden soil with a good texture. Amend the soil by up to 80 percent to improve water retention and drainage. Even a soil that drains well in the outdoor garden needs amending to drain properly indoors. Check the pH of the garden soil before digging to ensure it is between 6.0 and 7.0. Add fine dolomite to stabilize and buffer pH. Check pH several times after mixing to ensure it is stable.

Solarize garden soil by putting it out in the sun in a plastic bag for a few weeks. Turn the bag occasionally to heat it up on all sides. Make sure the bag receives full sun and heats up to at least M0°F (60°C). This will kill the bad stuff and let the beneficial bacteria live.

You can also sterilize soil by laying it out on a Pyrex plate and baking it at I60°F for 10 minutes, or microwave it for two minutes at the highest setting. It is much easier and more profitable in the end to purchase good potting soil at a nursery.

Compost

Compost is outstanding. !t solves most problems outdoors. Compost is an excellent soil amendment. It holds nutrients and moisture within its fiber. However, using backyard compost indoors is tricky.

Some growers have no trouble with organic composts, but others have bad luck and even lose their entire crop when growing in backyard compost. Good compost recipes are available from monthly publications such as Sunset, Organic Gardening, National Gardening, etc., or from the companies specializing in organic composts. Outdoor growers love compost. It is inexpensive, abundant, and works wonders to increase water retention and drainage. It also increases nutrient uptake because of biological activity. Indoors,

Compost piles must be at least 3 feet (90 cm) square in order to retain more heat than they give off.

Solarize used soil to kill pests and diseases.

Soil mixes with compost:

0.5 compost 0.5 soilless mix

0.3 compost 0.3 soilless mix 0.3 coco coir

0.5 compost 0.5 coco coir

0.3 compost 0.3 soilless mix 0.16 worm castings 0.16 perlite

Compost piles must be at least 3 feet (90 cm) square in order to retain more heat than they give off.

Solarize used soil to kill pests and diseases.

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