In Episode 4 we discuss the different types of growing media available to you, the customer, and how to decide on which style of growing best suits your growing goals. Eric Singleton visits with Andrew Harling to have an introductory conversation to the world of “dirt”.
When deciding on what type of growing media you want to you use, you need to ask yourself one question: How much time and attention do I have to give my crop? Do you want a media that is fully charged with micro and macro nutrients or do you want to add your own custom nutrient schedule? Once you’ve made this decision it will help you narrow down your choices.
The 3 main categories of Soil are: Organic Potting Soil, Peat Moss, and Coco
In the first section of the video Andrew and I discuss Organic Potting Soils. First, they discuss the beginner-friendly Happy Frog Potting Soil and Light Warrior Seed starter. You would start your seeds in the Light Warrior that is rich in beneficial microbes and worm castings to help your roots build the best possible structure. Once your roots are set, typically 5-7 days, you will move your flowers into a larger pot rich in macronutrients. Enter Happy Frog Potting Soil, a macronutrient rich media built to carry your plants through propagation to the vegetative state which typically last 2-3 weeks. Your next step would be to transplant your plants into a nutrient charged soil like Ocean Forest. Ocean forest has enough nutrients to carry your plant all the way to flower. Once in the flower state and your soil has been exhausted of its nutrients you’ll need to begin subbing in some additional nutrients throughout the flowering stage.
Organic potting soils are great for the first-time grower or a grower that doesn’t have the time to build and maintain a custom nutrient schedule. Organic potting soils are perfectly suited for indoor or outdoor grows alike. In most cases you can simply add water to the already charged media. This is great for the home hobbyist as well as the large commercial grower.
The next option is Peat Moss. Peat moss is a natural media excavated from bogs that are 1000’s of years old. This media is completely inert, meaning it doesn’t have nutrients built in. If you simply add water to peat moss with no additional nutrients, your flowers will die. Peat Moss is built for the user that wants maximum control of their crop and can add their own custom organic or synthetic nutrient line. Peat Moss also has a high porosity allowing water and nutrients to be pushed through at a custom rate and frequency which directly affect the growth potential of your crop.
Andrew and Eric also cover a hybrid of Coco and Peat Moss. Peat/Coco blends are a cost effective and sustainable solution for a grower that wants all the customizable benefits of Peat Moss without sacrificing porosity. However, Peat/Coco mixes like Mother Earth Coco Peat do come with a starter charge of nutrients to give your little plant a leg up on its growth cycle. As Andrew says, it also passes on the earthiness to your end flower in the same way Pro Mix does but with added cost savings.
Your third choice is a growing media derived from the fiber of coconuts, simply known as coco. We cover three main brands in this section, each with their own take on the coco media. Canna Coco, one our most popular brands in this category is adaptable to any nutrient schedule but is ideally paired with Canna Coco Nutrient Lines. Mother Earth has the addition of Perlite, which adds porosity and increased drainage for a more aggressive feed rate. Then you have Bush Doctor which is a well charged coco media that can carry your up to a month into veg by simply adding water. Coco media is very popular with hydro, flood and rain, and drip irrigation systems.
As Eric says in the closing of the video, choosing the right soil is a very crucial step in the future of your cultivation site; don’t take it lightly. Grow Generation has a nationwide staff of commercial account managers and category experts ready and willing to help you make the right decision that will get you moving towards success. So call a Grow Pro today and ask them “ Which Soil is Best for Me?”
[0:00] Camera reel
[0:05] Eric: Eric Singleton here with another episode of the Grow Pro Channel and we spend a lot of time talking about machines. But today I want to talk about a very fundamental building block of any successful grow. It’s something that every grow has to have and it’s something that we really….
[0:14] sounds of soil being poured on Eric’s head
[0:22] Eric: The video is about soil. It’s about soil. Enjoy the video.
[0:38] Eric: Andrew, thanks for coming out today. Um, obviously you know, I’m the machine guy, so I can answer all the machine questions anybody can throw at me. But today I want to cover a topic that’s, basically, a basic building block of having a successful grow. And that is what soil medium do I pick? And what’s best for me? So, I mean, I know you deal with this every day. What are some of the common considerations or most important considerations a customer needs to take when deciding which soil to pick?
[1:02] Andrew: So, for me, uh, I would say the two biggest considerations would be, when choosing a soil or any sort of growing media, how much nutrients are in the media, is it fully charged, or is it inert? Uhh, and then the second one would be, how does the media hold water? How porous is it? How well does it drain, so on and so forth?
[1:24] Eric: And, I uh, I guess you know, the same thing that plays into that is how much time do you have to commit to your grow? Are you... what are you… Is it commercial? Is it residential? Um, there’s just so much that plays into it. So with that being said, what are the basic options out there for a customer, um, to pick from?
[1:41] Andrew: Um, well, to keep it within the soil world, we’re talking about organic potting soils, uh peet moss and cocoa products are the industry dominant products right now.
[1:50] Eric: Absolutely. Well, you know, we’ve brought a few of those with us today. And you’re using big words like “charged” and inert”, so let’s go break down what that means and how it applies to the customer, and kind of look at each product.
[2:02] Andrew: Sure. You got it.
[2:04] Eric: So, we’re here with two complementary products from Fox Farms. We’ve got the Light Warrior seed starter and the Happy Frog potting soil. Andrew, can you tell the, the audience at home why they would you know, kind of lean toward these products and how they kind of work together?
[2:02] Andrew: Absolutely. So, uh, both of these products are an excellent example of an organic potting soil. Both are going to be real good for the beginning grower. Somebody that wants to get a garden going, doesn’t have a lot of experience, um, isn’t really looking to do a whole lot of liquid nutrients. Um, both of these are in essence, usable right out of the bag, um, with straight water. Now...
[2:44] Eric: Everything the plant needs?
[2:45] Andrew: Everything the plant needs.
[2:47] Eric: Absolutely.
[2:47] Andrew: And you know, they’re definitely specific to various lifecycle - various portions of the plant’s life cycle if you will. Uh, the Light Warrior here is a seed starting mix. It’s very, very porous, it’s rich in beneficial microbes, humic substances, worm castings. All things that are really designed to get a good root structure started.
[3:10] Eric: Just a total life support for the starting seed.
[3:13] Andrew: You got it. Great for just putting seeds directly into a prop tray, uh, a little bit of fluorescent light, a little bit of sunlight, whatever you’re working with. Get your seed started.
[3:22] Eric: That’s a good point. So these, these are good for indoor or outdoor grows.
[3:25] Andrew: These are both absolutely applicable for either, yes.
[3:29] Eric: So we would start, uh we would get everything germinated in our trays with the Light Warrior, then and then when would we move over to the Happy Frog potting soil?
[3:36] Andrew: So, the, the Light Warrior would be good to leave your seedlings in, uh for generally five days once they’ve germinated. Maybe a week. Uh. And then you’re gonna go ahead and transplant them into a larger container. Uh, and the Happy Frog is the natural succession of potting soils within the Fox Farm family that you would use.
[3:55] Eric: And, again, it has its own little protein shake built-in for the flower.
[3:58] Andrew: Yes. Yes. So this one’s gonna have a little bit more macronutrients than the starter mix. Um, it’s still also going to very rich in beneficial biology - humic substances, worm castings, um, some forest humous. Uh, but it is going to have a little bit more macronutrients. And that bag of dirt is going to carry your plants for approximately two, maybe three weeks, uh, before you would think about moving to something like Ocean Forest or another fully charged, uh, potting soil.
[4:28] Eric: Perfect. So, this is really for, let, let’s say somebody like me, who’s never grown a plant out of the ground. I’m a little overwhelmed by the nutrients schedule and the mixtures and the chemistry and getting everything just right. I don’t wanna mess things up, I’ve got a full time job, or, you know, I’m just getting started. This would be where I’d want to start, ‘cuz it’s the most plug-and-play system.
[4:49] Andrew: Yep. You hit the nail on the head. I mean, this is really, kind of a go-to for me when I have somebody that isn’t familiar with pH parts-per-million, all of the technical things that go into, uh, synthetic nutrients and uh, watering food regiments. Um, really, just straight water. Don’t worry about the pH. Uh…
[5:09] Eric: Set it and grow!
[5:10] Andrew: You got it. Set it and forget it.
[5:12] Eric: So, we’ve gone from our seed starter, we’ve moved into our Happy Frog. How many weeks are we staying in this Happy Frog, do you think?
[5:17] Andrew: The Happy Frog is generally, uh, considered to be, uh, probably a two to three week food package. So, you could get away with doing straight water for two to three weeks using the Happy Frog. Beyond that, you might want to start supplementing if you don’t transplant into another media.
[5:34] Eric: Well, perfect. Let’s talk about the Roots Organic, um, and, you know, let’s talk about our next step, and pull that guy up, and you know.
[5:40] Andrew: You got it!
[5:43] Eric: So, we’ve moved from our germination stage, in the Light Warrior, and then we’ve gone through our more macro rich Happy Frog. So, Andrew, now we’ve got our organic potting soil from Root Orgnaics. Why would we move into, and when would we move into, this product?
[5:57] Andrew: So, the Roots Organic, uh, Original here is your, your primary payload in terms of food. Once you’ve got a plant established, um, say you’re coming out of a, you know, one gallon or even a small, uh, starter container, and you’ve got a good root set coming out of that plant, and it’s in full veg mode. You’re wanting to start to up the amount of food you’re giving those plants. Um, and the Roots Organic Original, like many other organic potting soils that we carry has a broad comprehensive uh, array of food that should carry a plant through most of its lifecycle. At very least, it should carry the plant all the way through the vegetative part of the process and into the flowering cycle. Uh, depending on how long you’re vegging your plants and how big they are and how aggressively they’re feeding, you may or you may not need to start supplementing with food at some point. Um, but by and large, this is a great product for somebody with a minimal understanding of nutrients, that’s really looking to get something started simply.
[7:02] Eric: Absolutely. So, you know, basically, we’ve got these big plants and they’re developing an appetite like teenagers do, this is, this is their bulk meal. This is going to give them everything they need to grow nice, happy, and healthy like you said, all the way to the vegetative, possibly even the flower state?
[7:17] Andrew: Again, it’s a little bit contingent upon how big the plants are and how fast they’re growing, but yes. This has all of the macro and micronutrients. Again, beneficial biology is rich and plentiful in here. Should carry you all the way through at least the vegetative part of the, of the growth, growth cycle.
[7:34] Eric: So we’ve talked about a really basic starter kit, something that doesn’t require a lot of upkeep, it’s just loaded with nutrients. So, now let’s talk about peat moss, which is, you know, a totally different application and it has benefits in different scenarios. So we’re gonna have Andrew kind of run down the benefits and applications, and the right scenarios to use peat moss.
[7:54] Eric: So, we just moved from a very nutrient-rich, plug-and-play, right out of the bag, easy to go starter kit that can carry your plant from germination all the way to flowering. But now we’re working with a very different setup. And as Andrew likes to describe Pro Mix and Light Mix, these are a blank canvas, to which you can do pretty much anything. So, Andrew, what are, what are some of the reasons a customer, and what are some of the applications of a peat moss soil base?
[8:19] Andrew: So, peat moss is a blank slate because it is inert. Uh, there is no nutrients in either one of these products. Meaning that, uh, as a grower, you have the option to use any number of different uh, nutrients with either one of these products. Both are very comfortable with organic uh, nutrients. Uh, both can be used with fully synthetic nutrients and treated more or less like any other hydroponic growing media. Um...
[8:47] Eric: The real purpose of these is to basically nothing else but to give the plants a base to grab and have a root set, correct?
[8:54] Andrew: Yeah, I mean, what I like to think of these medias is being, uh, they offer maximum control to a grower that understands, you know, the basics at least, of nutrients. Mind you, there are plenty of nutrient systems out there that are very straight, straightforward and easy to use, and easy to work with that anybody uh, that is just getting started can pick up, uh, you know, a go box or a complete kit of nutrients that will work with these. But they also offer a more advanced grower the opportunity to utilize different nutrients uh and, create their own food program for their plants.
[9:30] Eric: Absolutely. And so, you would say a customer using they, they can, they can obviously apply this to indoor or outdoor growing principles?
[9:37] Andrew: Sure, absolutely you can put this in potted containers, you can run it with drip systems, you can use it with, uh, any number of different uh, irrigation methods, you can hand water it. Uh, it has, uh, the Promix here, the HP stands for high porosity and, uh, the goal there is obviously to allow for as much watering as possible. Um, the way that I like to look at these things is, the more often that I can water, the more often I can push through food through my plants, the more they’re gonna grow. The quicker they’re gonna grow.
[10:11] Eric: So, I gathered, you know, in our off-camera chat, so you actually use these products personally, correct?
[10:15] Andrew: I do. I’ve used both of these products extensively. I’m, I’m a big fan of peat moss. I tend to feel like, of the various inert medias out there that can be worked with, I tend to feel like peat moss does produce slightly better flavors than coco, uh, or some of the other, uh, hydroponic medias like rock wall or hydroton.
[10:36] Eric: We’re actually gonna transition into coco, but we’ve got something, a hybrid that fits in between, which is actually a peat moss/coco blend. So, we’re going to talk about that next.
[10:47] Eric: So, the hybrid we were speaking of, before we move on to cocoa, we just talked about peat. This is a coco/peat mix. So, Andrew, why on earth did they mix coco and peat, and what are the benefits and uses and application of cocoa/peat mix?
[11:00] Andrew: Well, this particular blend here, uh, the Mother Earth Coco/Peat, as you said, is exactly that. It is a blend of peat moss and cocoa, um...
[11:10] Eric: And just so we’re all clear, coco is actually derived from the coconut fiber of a coconut plant or coconut tree. They don’t have coconut plants, I don’t think. So, go ahead, Andrew, sorry to interrupt you.
[11:21] Andrew: No problem. One of the benefits of growing in coconut is that it’s very sustainable. This is very attractive to a lot of growers. Uh, it’s pretty cost-effective as a media. Uh, and the blend of coco with peat moss, in my mind, it conveys some of the flavor advantages that I spoke about a little bit with regards to the Pro mix and the Light mix. Um, really, really feel like it maintains a little bit more of that earthiness, uh, to your end flower.
[11:50] Eric: While being more cost-effective and more sustainable for future use, correct?
[11:54] Andrew: Yeah, absolutely, yes. The peat moss is not exactly the most sustainable growing media that we have on our shelf.
[12:01] Eric: And, so, just to be clear for our customers at home, you’re still going to need to be on a nutrient schedule, and just like with the peat moss before, you can pick and choose that recipe to your liking and your growing desires. Whether it be a really complicated advanced growth process or just starting out for the first time and using a ready-to-go system. Is that correct, Andrew? There’s no, there’s no macronutrients pack in this guy, correct?
[12:22] Andrew: Well, this guy’s got a starter charge in it, Eric. Um, so, what you’re gonna get here is some basic, basic food sources, just to kickstart a plant. You would, you’d be just fine if you treated this just the same way that you did the Pro mix and you started watering with nutrients right away. If you are dealing with uh seedlings or small plants that are fragile, uh, you could put them directly into the coco peat and give straight water, but for a very limited period of time.
[12:52] Eric: Gotcha. So this is, you know, just, it’s basically to kind of sum everything up, it takes the basicness of peat moss and just adds a little bit more sustainability and a little bit of a starter charge to help you get your plant going.
[13:05] Andrew: Yeah. It’s uh, it’s in essence, uh, just a real good hybrid media. Um, very easy to work with. Um, applicable to any number of different growing systems.
[13:15] Eric: Now, guys it’s time to talk about some coconuts, so let’s move on to the coconuts.
[13:21] Eric: This coconut is not going to make the best pina colada, but what it can do is help you grow some really awesome flowers. So what we have here is Canna Coco, Mother Earth, and Bush Doctor. Andrew can you just kind of take us down the line and tell us the difference and the applications of these coco products? And again, remember, this is actually made from coconuts. That’s why I made the corny joke, which I think’s really cool, and it’s a very sustainable product. So, Andrew, go ahead, fill us in.
[13:44] Andrew: You got it! So, what we’ve got here are… kind of represents the spectrum of what you can find in coco products. Um, closest to me here is Canna Coco, absolutely one of our best-selling uh, coco, coco medias. Works fantastically well with the Canna Coco liquid nutrient program that was really designed for this media. Um, that’s not to say you can’t use it with others. But, it works fantastically well uh, as a complete system: media, nutrients, the whole nine yards.
[14:15] Eric: It would be a great setup for hydro, for instance.
[14:16] Andrew: Great setup for hydro, absolutely. Drip irrigation, um, you know, hand water drip irrigation, you can even flood and drain with this if you want to. Um, moving on down to the Mother Earth, this is again, a straight coco, uh, with one small difference and that is the amendment of perlite. So, the Mother Earth is a 70/30 mix, 70% coco, 30% perlite.
[14:39] Eric: And, just a quick interjection, you know, for our customers at home. Um, what, what is perlite and what is it’s benefit to the coco?
[14:45] Andrew: The benefit of adding a little bit of perlite is that it’s going to add porosity, it’s going to increase the drainage um, in the same way that uh…
[14:54] Eric: Oh, I’ve got a great example. As a former barista, you think about an espresso tamp, that’s a really tight pack fine-ground medium. And then you think about a rough French roast or a cowboy coffee, the water flows through that more coarse cut a lot easier.
[15:10] Andrew: That’s actually a pretty fantastic analogy. Yes. It, it, you know. Water follows the path of least resistance, and adding some porosity will allow more water to pass through the media, should allow you to water a little bit more frequently, push a little bit more nutrients through your plant.
[15:26] Eric: Perfect.
[15:26] Andrew: Uh, and then last, but not least down there at the end we have the Fox Farms Bush Doctor. And that’s kind of an interesting product. Um, coco’s the majority of the ones that we carry and that we sell are mostly inert medias. That one down there is actually a fairly well-charged coco. So, for the guy that wants to work with coco, is familiar with coco, or is just fond of it, um, that makes it, uh, you can treat it kind of like a potting soil. Uh, you can water straight water into that and it would carry you, probably a month or so into your veg cycle. Not quite as hot as something like Ocean Forest or the Roots Organic potting medias. Um, but certainly enough food to carry you through probably three weeks or a month of veg time.
[16:13] Eric: So, all the benefits of coco with a little booster.
[16:15] Andrew: You got it. You got it. And then, you know, as you reach towards the end of the nutrients that are in the bag, you just start augmenting or supplementing with whatever nutrient program you’re working with.
[16:13] Eric: Hey, thanks for tuning in for episode 4: The Grow Pro Channel. And, I want to thank Andrew also for coming out. I can hear your phone. I know you’ve got orders just coming in by the minute. So, we’re going to get him out of here. But what I really want to emphasize is that we covered a very complex subject in a very short amount of time. And we have a team nationwide full of specialists that can answer all of your questions. So, take the information here, call us, and let’s build on that and get you the best possible setup for your grow, because, above all else, we understand that our success is very much dependent on your success. So, just reach out and give us a call. We’ll help you get set up, we’ll go through all the details, and you know, we’ll help you grow like a pro.
[17:11] Eric: Thanks for tuning in. If you’d like to find out more about the product we just went over in this video, click on the link in the description below. Down there, you’ll also find all the contact information to get directly in touch with me. Please make sure to subscribe and check out some of our other videos, as well.