How to Water Living Soil
FAQ 1: Overwatering
A lot of people come from cocoa or soilless mediums and when they take their first turn with living soil they find they have a little bit of a problem because it's more moisture retentive.
Compost or manure is more moisture retentive. So it's going to hold on to the moisture longer is what that means. This opens up the opportunity for anaerobic pockets. If the grower over waters you'll have anaerobic pockets. That makes it harder for the soil to break down carbon and it makes microbial metabolism less efficient.
So what you want to do is make sure that you don't underwater but don't overwater with living soil. It's important to remember that you are not feeding your plants by watering.
When you're using liquid fertilizers, every time you water the plant you're pouring the NPK nutrients across the plant root. When you're using living soil, the plant is actually sitting in its nutrients. All you have to do is moisten the microbes enough for them to be able to break down plant-available nutrients for your plant uptake.
Continued below . . .
So what we recommend is a few little tricks. You want to make sure that you water about five to 10 percent of your soil volume and what that means in a 7 gallon pot: 7 percent (halfway between 5% and 10%) or two quarts.
So I'd recommend your average grow is going to be about two quarts every two to three days in a seven gallon pot. That way you're not over watering but you're not under watering.
Now remember that you have your VPD is going to affect your watering and that's your vapor-pressure deficit. That is the humidity and the air temperature that affects your plant perspiration: how much your plant is going to take up out of the soil moisture-wise depends on how much it's able to perspire.
So you take into consideration your VPD and you have to remember if you're in a cold period or a cold moist room you're not going to water as often.
If you're outdoors with the wind and heat of the sun and everything else you're going to water more often. So these are some things to take into consideration when you're watering.
Also, we recommend that you put about an inch of course perlite at the bottom of the planting container. I recommend auto pots. So if you're going to use an auto pot, in the bottom of your pot you would put about an inch of course perlite.
This makes it so your roots, if they get to the bottom of your pot, aren't just sitting in a puddle and they're actually taking up oxygen as well. That gives a little more drainage capability at the bottom. Also so you're not getting just a puddle of mud down there.
Now, this doesn't mean to cut your soil with perlite. I don't recommend that.
We brought in our agronomists and doctors to get our CEC value locked in on our soil. CEC value is the cation exchange capacity, and that's basically: it's an ability to retain positively charged ions.
So, if you start to mix in too much perlite you're going to affect your CEC value, thus making your plant or your soil less living soil and more just a medium.
So these are some things to take into consideration as well. So you're just looking at about 5 to 10 percent of your soil volume: just multiply five percent times how many gallons of soil you're using and that's going to tell you roughly how much you should be watering.
The way that I use on the farm for the indoor grow: use auto pots systems or wick watering systems. So once you get the wick started, the plant automatically uptakes its own water. The auto pots system is gravity fed, there's no motors or anything like that, super simple to use.
So that is frequently asked questions with Tommy: over watering.
Have a great day.