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Using barley as cover crop together with alfalfa as mulch


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Howzit growers. I am planning to try out the organic living soil no-till route this run. Going to use Orgasoilux living soil and alfalfa hay as mulch. Barley seeds will also be added to my soil before adding a thin layer of mulch to not suffocate the barley completely. I will be using 10L and 20L fabric pots. Ideally i would've liked to use a growbed but my budget doesn't allow me at the moment. I like the idea of creating a healthy biosphere without having to spend hundreds of rands on cleverly marketed "essential" nutrients. The only nutrient that i will use is the occasional 5:2 innoculant and some kelp extract.

Any advice would be appreciated!

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Hey man!

Sounds like you have it all figured out, should have good success. Just made me realize I forgot to mention malted barley in my mix. The barley seeds will sprout if broadcast over the soil or mixed in, So I wouldn't stress too much about that, you want to add a decently layer of mulch for it to benefit your soil as a ''mulch'' so just keep that in mind. Also having a thicker layer of mulch makes you more susceptible to over watering issues, so just be careful there. 

Inoculating with beneficial would be best practice every month or so, this is only to make sure there is an abundance even in the case of dry downs, which in my mind would only be in very seldom scenarios.  

Pot sizes make a huge difference, especially in amended mixes, 20L is a good place to start, but I would advise against repotting more than once. So if you planting seed, straight into 20L, if you getting clones (what ever they coming in) straight into 20L. I've learnt with much trial and error that potting up (in living systems) almost always works negatively, probably largely due to stress but more so due to the substrates having the majority of the exudates and regions of the soil colonization, majority happening during the veg period, after that a significant amount of relationships lapse and sugars are pushed into the fruits.

Organic practices do not have a guideline/chart, going by feel is essentially what you would have to do. So just remember, achieving the most nutrient cycling is what you want to do, that soil has a bucket load of nutrients.  

Good-luck and keen to see the grow! 

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I find the best way cover crops can be used in a pot is letting the plant grow to an acceptable size before adding a new layer of soil with some cover crop mixed in.

if you plant cover crops around a big already dominating plant, they might not grow as nice, but rather to have the actual thing you wana grow to be dominating than the cover crops. this is why a new top layer of soil. 

alternatively, there is no companionship, because it's a pot you're creating competition when you plant everything at the same time and the cover crops might dominate and stunt growth on what it is you're actually growing. think this is the point on not using it in a pot, but rather in a bed

I haven't heard of people tilling soil in a pot at all before. maybe we got different ideas of the word. I know it as "flipping" the soil or "rotavating". which is something you shouldn't really do in a pot with annual plants growing in them. rather go fresh soil each time, dump it in the pot and there you go. unless you making your own soil... 

I get the whole biosphere thing you're going for, but I we've seen quite a bit of complaints about the orgasoilux being too hot already. Do you have a EC or ppm pen? Test the soil first before assuming you need to do anything fancy to it, I am currently learning this the hard way brother!

correct me if I am wrong, but creating a healthy biosphere is secondry to creating a better nutrient uptake for your plants? otherwise I would suggest a seperate project where you take like 33% coco 33% worm casting and 33% perlite as your base then start building a soil from there and doing all sorts of funny stuff to it to make it "alive" 

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Thanks for the info @Naughty.Psychonaut. Interesting that you mentioned that Orgasoilux is a bit hot.I wasn't aware of this at all. Maybe i should've ordered the FF soil rather. Ah well.

Any suggestions on "cooling" the soil down a bit?

Yea i fully understand what you are saying with growing organic in pots. You will always be more limited in a limited space than not.

The only way it seems to do this properly would be to prepare soil in a growbed and once prepared, transplant the plants into their new home. Capish.

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Hi, just quickly want to jump in here. I used numerous bags of orgaluxsoil and never had an issue. My seedlings grew perfectly well and my grown plants do well too. I saw complaints too but from one or two people that fed their plants with other stuff as well. So it's impossible to say that it was the soil that was too hot IMO. If you use orgaluxsoil without adding anything other than water you won't have issues, I think. Try it and if you see ill growth please post it here. I stand corrected. 

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13 hours ago, Weskush said:

 

Any suggestions on "cooling" the soil down a bit?

 

Make a pile and let it complete the composting process. You will need to turn the mound for aeration as well as ensure there is enough moisture available for the composting process. 

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@Weskush

brobeans, what area you in? I can possibly swing by and show you how to use a EC pen, and you could possibly invest in it later. once you get the soil, I'll come check it how "hot" it is for you and how to mend the problem. if it's too hot, you can just flush it with water. no prob. 

if you wana you can pm me where you at, I'm in the winelands area.

yeah, I have seen quite a few of the videos those guys put up

checked it out again now, but not sure why it would motivate you to do cover crop.

I see the guy also mention the "no till" in that tiny bed. I did a horticulture / permaculture internship at Babylonstoren Gardens in Franschoek a while ago, learned all about no till there. Tilling a garden before planting in the soil is just to get some living soil to the top layer where the roots will be in the first while of any plants life. The big idea behind "no till" is to not disturb the microbiological activity, so you end up leaving the top layer where it is and you end up with a almost inert homogeneous top layer of soil. This is where mulching or cover cropping becomes important. This helps keep a mycorrhizal activity in the top layer of soil and this is what helps you keep a healthy biosphere. it also helps so the sun and wind doesn't suck the top layer dry, so helps with moisture and if soil becomes negatively charged from basically dying out, water will flow over it and it won't upsorb water anymore, so cover crops will assist in those ways, but it only really helps if you doing a garden bed. where there is actually a good biosphere already.

in a pot with annual plants you can literally grow in complete inert medium with only salt/sulphate based nutrients and you'll be fine. cause the plant will only really live a few months and in that time he just wants his nutes.

in the case of growing in organic living soils I can see the logic behind a healthy biosphere, cause it helps keep the mycorrhizal activity in check ans this helps for a good symbiotic relationship between your roots and microbes, ultimately helping in better nutrient uptake. 

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34 minutes ago, Weskush said:

Thanks @Naughty.Psychonaut. Great advice! You will need a teleportation device to get to me but i will definitely hit you up when in your area👌

 

hahahah got many teleportation devices here brother !!

but do take note about the EC pen, this will take a lot of guessing out of the game when it comes to soil being too hot. 

and to cool it down, you flush the soil and keep flushing till you hit the plants desired EC. 

in your case, if you plant in the soil now and the plant tells you it's too "hot", flush her. 

only thing that's important then is to make sure you not flushing with water with the wrong ph, in organic soil ph should be between 5.5 and 6.5

hopefully there was just a bad batch and you getting nice soil 

🤘

 

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On 3/30/2021 at 7:51 AM, Fridge said:

Hi, just quickly want to jump in here. I used numerous bags of orgaluxsoil and never had an issue. My seedlings grew perfectly well and my grown plants do well too. I saw complaints too but from one or two people that fed their plants with other stuff as well. So it's impossible to say that it was the soil that was too hot IMO. If you use orgaluxsoil without adding anything other than water you won't have issues, I think. Try it and if you see ill growth please post it here. I stand corrected. 

I use orgasoilux as well and had two different reactions. My autos from President seeds was extremely stunted, but my photoperiods loved the soil. I came to realise that maybe the soil is not best suited for autos or at least for early veg. I am now growing fastbuds autos and amended the soil with equal parts coco and ewc in the top half of my pots after seeing the same complaints as you and they loving it. This is picture from yesterday(day 19/20 from surfacing which was March 14).

 

95737AD7-2F9D-4696-9BA9-305CBB76BCC8.jpeg

Edited by Stefan
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/2/2021 at 10:07 PM, Stefan said:

I use orgasoilux as well and had two different reactions. My autos from President seeds was extremely stunted, but my photoperiods loved the soil. I came to realise that maybe the soil is not best suited for autos or at least for early veg. I am now growing fastbuds autos and amended the soil with equal parts coco and ewc in the top half of my pots after seeing the same complaints as you and they loving it. This is picture from yesterday(day 19/20 from surfacing which was March 14).

 

95737AD7-2F9D-4696-9BA9-305CBB76BCC8.jpeg

Howzit Stefan. Only saw this post now. How's your grow going so far? I'm happy with Orgasoilux thus far. Plants are in 5 and 10 liter pots with only Orgasoilux and Alfalfa hay as mulch. No nutes, only rainwater. Plants look healthy and took on a nice shade of dark green. The stem on my Totemic Chocolate Gelato is turning red/purple but otherwise dandy! Will post some images as soon as i get a chance.

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@Weskush it’s going great! I’ve started a journal for my grow, you welcome to check it out. 
 

hows your grow going? From what I read, you growing outdoor? Not an outdoor grower but isn’t it the wrong time of the year for outdoor grow? 

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@Stefanshot man will follow along and check out your grow fosho.

I had a pretty successful summer grow so decided to experiment with a autumn/winter grow. The idea is to use living organic soil, no nutrients and grow a couple of small plants just for shits and giggles. I've read about seed to harvest being done indoors but never seen any solid documented grows outdoors with this method. My plants are definitely growing slower with the shorter light cycle and no nutes but still looking healthy and one is already starting to bud after week 5 from germination! Yea to come back to your question. It is the wrong time of the year to grow outdoors but we still have plenty sunshine and relatively mild temps so nothing to lose. Only knowledge to gain. Follow along and see what happens. Maybe it could be the start of a revolution😬

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Nice will definitely keep an eye on your results. Im considering doing an autoflower outdoor grow starting May/June. I’m building a little shelter(for summer) at the moment to protect it from harsh conditions so once that’s ready I don’t think I’ll be able to resist testing it out 

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