TLO-grown plant at harvest and perfectly faded

HIGH EVERYONE, Rev here today with you, and for today’s “sermon” I am going to take a look at, and respond to a letter. I like to do this sometimes because I remember as I was learning to become a cannabis grow artist, I would often learn huge knowledge from concerns or problems others would be having, and had requested my help with. I’m a decent troubleshooter for any style of growing, so I can usually help almost anyone. But there are some concerns that will really baffle me for a time, and solving them has always contributed heavily to my cannabis growing skill set. I get letters about this subject matter a lot so I wanted to address it.

Now if you don’t know, I wrote a book called, True Living Organics (2nd Edition) about all-natural cannabis growing in containers, and it addresses mostly indoor growing. My personal TLO style changes outdoors when growing in the ground and answering today’s letter should clear that up. I hope, heh heh. Let’s dive in…





This letter to Rev is from Jeff S. and has several facets to explore:

Rev, this year was my first grow. I did my token four plants that can be grown in Oregon. I had four different varieties in ground using Fox Farms soil and perlite. I also used the Nectar line. The plants looked great and taste good as well. A couple people came by to give advice and said whatever I’m doing don’t change a thing, outside of pruning.
I read the articles in SKUNK fifteen and have ordered the second edition of your book which should come in a few days. What I am wondering is what tweaks should I use for growing outside? I’m not in a position to do an inside grow at this point.
    I didn’t see the value in not using filtered tap water at first and didn’t start off using a pH meter. I wasn’t friendly to the microbeasties!! Areas of opportunity for sure, however I would like to go TLO only. Thoughts?

 Love your writing style!

Thanks, Jeff.”


Rev’s Response:

Howdy, Jeff. The way I have done TLO style outdoors for the last 12 or 13 years is basically categorized as a no-till and top-down method. I used raised beds, but you could do holes as well. The larger you want your plants to get, the larger volume your raised beds need to be in size/volume. You can just use good bagged soil mix to fill the raised beds if you want to. I use the custom TLO soil mix outlined in my book. For the first season I would build and fill those raised beds around November/December during the winter just before, let them get rain, hail, sun, or whatever; don’t cover them up. On top of the soil in the beds I would then add a bunch of compostable materials, lawn clippings, kitchen waste, leftover cannabis material, tree leaves, and some manure (steer manure) would be my first choice, but any good quality barnyard manure works great. Allowing the rain and nature to do its thing here will not only get the raised bed in primo shape yto grow plants, but will also treat a decent amount of the soil underneath the raised bed transforming it into cannabis heaven soil as well.

The next season after harvest, just build more compost piles on top of the beds with more manure at the same time in the season as above, using all the leftover cannabis plant matter as well, as composting materials, and you are golden. When you plant the next plant, simply keep the compost on top just scooted out to the sides away from the mainstem, and add mulch on top. I notice you said you use “Nectar” products. Here is a potential problem, lemme ‘splain

Anytime things are going well, as in Jeff’s case here, and you are growing multiple plants and you want to tweak some things. Do your tweaks on just a few plants first, to make sure your whole crop isn’t harmed if you make a mistake.





Using a no-till style outdoors in the ground makes perfect sense, and since the “Law of Return” states that you must put back enough “food” into the soil to provide for healthy growth, you absolutely need to recycle, and from the top down (using composting) like I said above, is the actual way Mother Nature does it; regarding the methodology. Otherwise you will need to add liquid nutrients which will work against the true powers of your living soil mix, almost always; in which case, you will be growing basically what I call “Soup Style” and relying on liquids force feeding your plants, using organic acids; rather than just using good water, and letting the microlife feed the plants. Watch liquid products closely for high levels of organic acids present in them. The middle number in the NPK (nitrogen phosphorous and potassium, respectively) is the phosphorous, or P. Most liquids that have a P number higher than 1 have way too much phosphoric acid present, in a liquid and highly available state. Not really as good as it sounds for a living soil mix.


Rev’s Tip: Humic and Fulvic acids are also some of these organic acids I’m talking about that should be avoided in liquid organic fertilizers. Sure, they are all OMRI good, but the levels of acids are unnatural and will mess up the beautiful equilibrium of your soil life if growing truly all-natural style.


TLO-grown plant using spikes and layers in a 2-gallon container at harvest

Get yourself a TDS meter (for reading Parts Per Million or PPM) as well. What you want to accomplish with your water in order to make it work thee best, in my experience is to make sure your water runs about 60-90 PPM for outdoor raised beds like I suggest. In containers I run lower PPM values closer to 30 PPM. You can accomplish this in many ways, blending rain water with well water, or pond water with distilled water, or the “wastewater” from your reverse osmosis (R/O) filter unit with the actual R/O filtered water. Just make sure there is no chlorine or chloramine present! Keep your water PPM pretty consistent and your plants along with your soil life will “get into the groove” and adapt to their environment quickly; getting really (really) good at what they all do, all for you.


Spikes and Layers and Zones, Oh My!

Since you will have my book soon, you can absolutely apply my nutrient spike methodology to outdoors. Just remember the rules of spiking: Never spike where roots are currently present, so spike out near the corners of the raised beds, or at least a few feet from the newly transplanted plants. Keep your spikes thin, about dime sized in diameter in containers, and about quarter sized in diameter outdoors. Great basic outdoor spikes could be made from 1/3rd kelp meal, 1/3rd blood meal, and 1/3rd bone meal (fishbone meal is all good). Good spiking will translate directly to bigger yields.





Teas are Often Useful

Alaska brand Liquid Fish is very low in phosphoric acid

Making teas for outdoor plants is all good, just watch the PPM; and outdoors, I would keep them under 150 PPM and only use at a maximum about once every 3 weeks. Those two liquids in the photo, Alaska brand liquid fish fertilizer, and Fox Farm’s Big Bloom are handy to have around for tea additions especially, but can also be used in very small ratios mixed with their regular water every 10 days or so, and this works great especially for plants that are nitrogen hogs during vegetative growth, because the fish fertilizer is great nitrogen source that is totally microlife friendly and plant friendly, in small ratios.


A Few Last Things…

  • Don’t confuse Fox Farm’s Big Bloom with Fox Farm’s Tiger Bloom; because the Tiger Bloom is a synthetic fertilizer that will devastate your soil life and harsh up your smoke bigtime.
  • If you use your R/O water filters “wastewater” to bring up your PPM value, make sure your wastewater has passed through an activated carbon filter so any chloramine is removed.
  • Make sure to mulch your plants indoors or outdoors. This is a huge benefit and should not be underestimated.


Time to smoke one

Well everyone, it’s that time again where I must depart for now, but “I’ll be bock” soon enough with more cannabis growing knowledge to throw at ya and see what sticks! Heh heh; you know, growing using what I call Soup Style where you are feeding your plants using bottles of liquid organic fertilizer is far better than any style using synthetics, as far as quality goes, it’s night and day different. Growing a true all-natural style as I recommend will kick up that quality to an even higher mark where it becomes truly elegant. Cheers homeskillets, see ay all on the flip-flop, Rev out.