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Growing with Organics for Beginners

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When toying with the concept of organic gardening, both seasoned and novice growers alike tend to be skeptical on the effectiveness. Fortunately, with quality amendments and a little planning, organic gardening can produce a similar yield, better aroma, stronger flavor and equal potency to other conventional growing methods.

As far as choosing the right formula to use on your organic growing adventure, the horticulture world is flooded with options. My job is to shorten that list of options and help you, the newly turned organic gardener, decide which will be the most beneficial for your first organically-fueled grow.

Where Do We Get Started?

First and foremost, let’s get the base of our growing media figured out. Most growers today, whether organic or not, are using either coconut coir (coco) or sphagnum peat moss (peat) as the main foundation in their containers, and then building upon that foundation. For this recipe we will be using coco as our main component, since it allows for better drainage and aeration over peat moss, which means that we can feed heavier and more often.

Now that we’ve decided to grow in coco, it’s time to begin adding our amendments, which will provide nutrition to the plants in the garden. Different organic amendments take a specific time to break down and become available to the plants, so it’s important we select the right additives that are actually in a form the plants can absorb.

So What Do We Add?

So let’s start breaking down the amendments we are going to add to our coco, per 1.5 cubic feet:

Blood Meal (13-0-0)

Blood Meal is going to be our readily available source of nitrogen for our plants and will be used at the rate of 1 cup per 

1.5 cubic feet of coco. Since blood meal breaks down quickly, we should reapply through top dressing, about once every month, to maintain proper nitrogen levels. During the blooming phase of growth, when our plants require less nitrogen, the use of blood meal will be lessened as well.

Crab Meal (4-1-0)

Crab Meal will be a secondary source of nitrogen, while also supplying small amounts of phosphorus. Used at the rate of 1 cup per 1.5 cubic feet, crab meal will add important macronutrients and micronutrients, but we’ll stop using it as the plant moves further into the blooming cycle of their lives.

Kelp Meal (1-0-3)

Kelp meal's main benefit is that it supplies trace minerals and some naturally occurring plant growth regulators, which will be important for keeping plants growing in an optimal shape. With a slight source of potassium, this product will be used for the entirety of our plant’s life cycle. Use kelp meal at the rate of 1 ½ cups per 1.5 cubic feet.

Fish Bone Meal (4-20-0)

Fish bone meal provides our plants with amino acids and large levels of potassium. It will take quite a while to break down in the soil, which makes the nutrients readily available exactly when the plants are going to need them.

Perlite (0-0-0)

Perlite will not give any nutritional value to your plants, but will aid in drainage and as stated earlier, the more you 

can water, the more you get to feed your plants. Use at rate of 25% perlite to 75% coco coir.

Dolomitic Lime (0-0-0)

Dolomitic Lime is going to act as the pH buffer and will also be a valuable source of calcium and magnesium. This will be extremely important to your plant’s growth, since coco coir has a tendency to strip calcium and magnesium away faster than any other growing media. Use at the rate of 1 cup per 1.5 cubic feet.

Earthworm Castings (1-0-0)

Earthworm castings will provide slowly released nitrogen and also helps breakdown and feed microbial life. When beginning the bloom cycle, top dress to reapply.

Now it’s Time to Plant

Once everything is mixed together, we are going to go ahead and plant into the growing medium right away. Normally when running organic amendments, it is optimal to let your soil “cook” (break down into available source) but since we are using relatively available nutrients, we will skip this process.

Now this may not be the perfect recipe for all grower’s needs, but it is definitely a fantastic starting point. From here you will be able to adapt your recipe and make it your own.

If you have any questions, feel free to Ask an Expert here at Urban Garden Supply!

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