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Soil analysis?

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I haven't been active here in a little while, but I did spend the last few months growing some medicine in a tent with a Vegepod and LOS.  I used some no-till kits & supplements from OGS to make a typical Cootes type soil.  All went well and the flowers went in jars for curing last night.  I already have a plan for the next grow, because I enjoy the experience more than I actually need more flower!


I'm confident the soil initially had good components & ratios as I used tried & true stuff.  And the results look like they'll back that up.  But I admit reamending the soil is still a bit hazy for me.  Everyone gardens differently and some plants will use more/less of certain nutrients each cycle.  Which I suspect could create imbalances over time.  I can throw a bit of everything in before the next grow, but do I need everything?  Too much or incorrect ratios are probably just as bad as too little.  For example, maybe I still have plenty of P & K in the soil, but low on N & Ca.  Or something similar.


Do any of you get your soil tested for nutrient levels & ratios, cation exchange, pH, etc? Tests that help guide your reamendment plans.  My science-trained mind hits a brick wall when I read,"... just add a cup of product X per plant..." when everyone's plants & gardens are different!

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hey veritas 

yes in a perfect free to grow world you would definitely get a regular soil test done & amend accordingly

but how do you do that when your No Till ?  


considering we're not free & soil tests aren't exactly the most cheapest , add to that the education needed 

to understand a soil test you receive makes it imperfect to do what would be possibly best practice , Soooo


using larger volumes of soil like small beds or thirty gallon pots , complete with cover crops & worms 

should see you through a number of grows if moisture is kept consistent , think feed the soil not the plant 

think of trees in the forest that live for hundreds of years without any soil re amending , it's the biology that 

feeds & protects plants , they consumes leaf litter on the surface moving it through the soil as they move through


i'd add more but i need to go off & take care of a few things so i'll leave it at that for the time being & catch up 

with you & this thread a little later , let me know what you think 


cheers mate 


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Hey Itchy, thanks for the thoughts.  My grow might be more accurately called Organic Just A Touch of Till.  I'm not afraid to disturb the soil, but won't be doing it more than necessary.  That aside, the few soil tests I found in Australia, were pretty expensive.  $300-500.  Which would be fine if I was operating for profit, but I'm just growing for personal-use only.  And that is a very good point, even if I had the data ... would I know how to use the info?  Probably not!  


I shall amend the soil with a little of everything from the first mix and a few extras I've learned about more recently (chitosan, silica prills, fish hydrolysate).  I'm also considering dumping my small worm bin into the soil: worms and all.  I figure compost worms living in my planter will either do good things or nothing, but probably nothing bad.

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hey mate :)


i'm also on the hunt to find a soil analysis, water analysis and pesticide analysis for under $100 each. i'm hoping someone has some inside info.


like itchy, i love a good cover crop (current mixture is a bit of bq mulch, red clover and fenugreek ... hehehe) ... i really like it when the cover crop continues to sprout during the canna grow. it's fun to chop and drop through the whole grow.


i think the worm idea is a good one - the worm population will sort itself out and as long as there is food for them, they should stay happy and healthy. one way to insure that they stay happy and also to provide a plant available source of nutrients through good source materials and promotion of beneficial microorganisms, would be to top dress with any canna leaves (especially if practising the delicate art of defoliation), a small amount of kelp, as well as, perhaps the odd cocktail of dried comfrey, stinging nettle and perhaps horsetail.


i've attached a summary of plant nutrients from a biodynamic text - it doesn't quantify the amounts, but at least gives a nice guide to what macro and trace elements can be found in each plant. the benefit of dried herbs  as a topdress is that each time you top water, they breakdown a little more and their goodness is spread. as they are concentrated (probably equivalent to 4-5 times the fresh herb), they go along way. 250grams fits into a big samboys chips bag. :)  a good australian organic source is: https://www.highlandherbs.com.au/68-single-herb-teas


there are so many different varieties ... if you want to mix a cocktail, i'd suggest using similar herbs to those that go into biodynamic preparations - a bit of horsetail, chamomile , yarrow, dandelion, valerian and other goodies. :)


for a slightly different way to stimulate soil biology, i've also found the biodynamic Soil Activator is superb ... stirring a vortex for an hour is also quite pleasant and relaxing with the right smoko. :)





Edited by pug1010
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deliciouso mate!


just thought i'd mention .... if you have any fungus gnats hanging around your worm bin, it would probably be worth getting some hypoaspis before the worm top dress. also ... probably worth making sure there are no food scraps in the transfer. :)

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My worm bin has less gnats than my garden, so all good there!  Would a few handfuls of veggie scraps mixed into the worm compost be a bad thing?  I'm thinking after a few weeks the worms and microbes would gobble down the scraps and leave behind more nutes.  I could wait a week or two for the worms to finish their dinner, but it's mostly spinach leaves at the moment.

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you blokes have got it covered 


just a note on compost worms , a variety of worms is a good thing in a pot but most that are sold for worm bins like to hang round the top of the bin 

which is good cause if you have one of those newer styled bins , the upside down pyramid shaped ones , while the worms hang round the top feeding

the castings are collected at the bottom without a bunch of worms to go with it 


using those compost worms in a pot , you just need to keep that in mind , they want to hang round the soil surface so moisture becomes important to keep

them in place 


another thing

don't be shy to play with sprouted seeds ( sprouted seed teas ) , whether your using malted seeds like barley / rye or seeds you sprout yourself like corn / hemp 


most seeds you could play with like those biodynamic plant seeds but be a little bit careful of some seed like linseed or flax as it's also known in different places

this seed when it begins to sprout creates a gel like substance around the seed which is anti microbial , not something you want when trying to promote microbes 

you can still use it just don't sprout it , put it in a coffee grinder as it comes & grind them up to use as a top dress , i think they help feed fungal communities 


lucerne , aka alfalfa seed is also a good one to sprout , with it's high concentrations of  triacontanol a powerful growth stimulant ( PGR ) , plants love it 

just don't treat it like other seeds like barley , corn , because triacontanol is as it says above , powerful , & at it's highest concentrations at seed sprout 

use to much & you will F a plant up very quickly , yes i have done this but you only make the mistake once when you see the damage it can cause 

don't be scared cause the benefits are great when you get it right , if you use 2 oz's of malted barley or sprouted corn you want to use about a quarter

( half oz ) of alfalfa seed


you can also make a tea from alfalfa meal which is not as powerful because concentrations are lower in the plant material compared to seed sprouts


cheers gents 

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g'day fellas ... hope the day is going well for you both. :)


sometimes when worms (and microorganisms) get moved or stirred up, the speed of composting slows down. can be a problem if there are big chunks of scraps, but reckon you should be fine with the spinach leaves.


reckon a bit of alfalfa leaf mixed in small amounts with the other leaves, could be a goer ... thanks mate.


i enjoy doing a top water every week, even with blumats. have found that with a 5cm mulch layer in a 50cm x 50cm planter, about 500ml watered slowly, will moisten the mulch and the very top of the soil, without impacting the blumats.

Edited by pug1010
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