WELCOME, one and all, to today’s path along The Highway. I have a couple “letters” to Rev today I selected that represent many I have gotten regarding recycling your soil for use in container growing, indoors or out. I describe the soil recycling process in detail in the latest edition of my TLO (True Living Organics) book—and I’ll give you a link to it on Amazon at the bottom of this article for those interested in a whole new style that will blow your mind. Thanks to Charles from Truly Oreganic for the great TLO cannabis photos.

When recycling your soil, you really need to amend it with organic matter and nutrient elements for maximum potential; cannabis is a very aggressive plant and is far more “hungry” than even something like a tomato plant, under hot conditions especially. There are a lot of details regarding soil recycling, like balancing the strength of your soil with the water and nutrients you like to use. In TLO we use a very high-powered soil mix with very little additions of anything else, besides good water that is around 30-60 PPM on a TDS meter. The following couple questions represent the most common questions I get when it comes to soil recycling, so let me get to those, like right now…

The first question is from my friend Charles at Truly Oreganic here in southern Oregon, not far from where I am at. These guys had a small problem when they added in unrinsed coconut coir with their recycling soil. They followed my advice and started kicking major ass and all the cannabis photos in this article are from them; here’s a great Q.



TLO garden jamming along


Hey Rev, Charles here from Truly Oreganic. Wanted to send you some pics from the last harvest to show you why we love True Living Organics. Also had a few questions regarding coco coir use. When we first linked up you helped us figure out our salty soil issue due to using un-rinsed coir in our soil build. We have since been through two rounds of re-amending and composting the soil and it is starting to show with all the fungi that are crazy populated. We did not use any coco coir in the last two recycling rounds but continue to keep perlite volume at 25%.

Buds from a TLO garden

More buds from a TLO garden

So, my question is, will leaving out coco coir out from future recycle mixes be a problem in any way?

If it is a big problem should we use it in every mix or is it okay to include coco coir every other round?

Coco coir is very labor intensive in large volumes to rinse, any tips on getting it done more efficiently?

Here’s some pics! One picture is the flower house today (January 10th 2018) with the new round that was just flipped. The purple bud is Chocolate Mint OG and the other frosty girl is Oregon Huckleberry. Would love to meet you and let you check out our buds.

Thanks Rev,

Charles G. Johnson


Rev’s Response:

Howdy amigo.

You don’t need to use coir, it is primarily a pH buffer, and a great K source along with many other nutrients. If you start to see the very tip leaves forming becoming “bleached out” yellowish looking during flowering, just use some kelp meal as a top dressing and from that point forwards up your kelp meal additions by about 20-25% when you re amend before recycling. In a large scale grow like yours is, the rinsing of that much coir properly is hugely labor intensive, and I gots no shortcuts there for ya there. So, adding a bit more kelp meal to your recycling amendments will make up for the lack of coir; and a little extra greensand wouldn’t hurt either.

The coir is mostly important when TLO Growers start out and are still using bottles of liquid nutrients often, and it tends to drive the soil pH downward … fungi take over and things start to suck without some form of buffering. So, the coir is like a “guardrail” to keep the pH balanced. I no longer use coir, not for like 3 or 4 years now at least. It’s all good, as long as you are all-natural style with very limited bottle usage. Keep that perlite in mind, but perlite recycles also, so adjust your new additions accordingly. Perlite can get very tiny per particle size and still work awesome!

This next question is along pretty basic lines, but is very representative of a lot of the questions I get; let’s get to it, eh





Yah hay there good morning… been having huge success with your soil mix… I have mushrooms growing under my plants the whole grow! I am about to recycle my root balls… do I scrape off the bark on top or mix it in? After it’s been recycled, I use it and build containers just like it’s fresh new soil? Is soil that has used synthetic nutrients basically useless now? I have a few containers and root balls of some soil I used synthetic nutrients on… having a little fun with those damn autos… now I have a few 5-gallon root balls contaminated with synthetic nutrients, do I just flush and recycle? Or throw out back and move on? Thanks, enjoy the week amigo



Rev’s Response:

High Abbie.

Let’s handle the biggie first that stands out in your letter; soil that you have used synthetic nutrients on is trash, as far as recycling for container usage is concerned, period. You can certainly pile it up outside and let the rain and Mother Nature work on it for a year or so, then use it all fine in vegetable gardens and whatnot outdoors and not in containers. Also, yes, you absolutely recycle and bark mulch left over in your containers, however, in a thriving TLO soil mix your bark mulch gets consumed fairly rapidly and if yours is not, then you likely need to make a tweak or two. I usually have to replace my mulch layer every 30 days or so, and I use Doug Fir shredded bark along with some earthworm castings and this makes an awesome mulch layer. Also, while mushrooms are all fine and no worries, they might point to a small problem with high humidity (lack of ventilation and/or air movement) and can also be a flag that you may be overwatering.