Starting with the COVID pandemic, corporations and other businesses are price gouging.
The ridiculously high cost of gasoline comes as oil companies are raking in tens of billions of dollars in profits.
Who else is price gouging? People who make and market grow op supplies to marijuana growers.
One of the most noticeable areas of price gouging is in commercial soil, coco coir, and soilless mix.
Prices for some of these products have doubled or tripled online. Part of this increase is because shipping is more expensive due to elevated fuel prices.
It’s bad enough prices have gone up. Worse is that quality has gone down.
The other problem is that most soil brands are poorly made.
They have unreliable pH buffering and nutrients loads, and sometimes come with root aphids, fungus gnats, scraps, bark, and amateurish mixes that are inconsistent from batch to batch.
I used to throw away my root zone media after each grow. That was when three cubic feet of clean, aerated soil perfect for growing cannabis cost $20.
Now it’s $57, and if I order online, shipping costs more than the media.
I asked the soil, coco coir, and soilless mix companies if I should reuse their products.
Of course they said no—it wouldn’t be good for their profits if they said yes.
They claim that reusing soil creates risk of soil-borne diseases, pests, and nutrients problems, but I found you can save a lot of money by properly processing your media and using it over and over.
Here’s how it works…
- Contrary to hydroponic marketing memes, flushing your root zone in the last days of bloom phase has zero benefits for harvest weight, taste, or crop quality and actually harms your marijuana growing outcomes.
- Flushing after the end of bloom phase using pH-adjusted reverse osmosis water, horticultural enzymes, and beneficial microbes cleans your root zone of excess nutrients salts.
- After you’ve flushed used soil, coco coir or soilless mix, spread it out on a raised grow table or other place with a lot of surface area in a clean environment with low humidity and no contaminants.
- Comb through to remove root fragments.
- Examine the media with magnification and bright light to detect pests.
- Turn the media over frequently until it evenly dries to the same consistency as it was when you first took it out of its container.
- Store the media in secure containers, in an aerated, climate-controlled, sterile location until you’re ready to use it again.
Here are some issues you encounter when you recycle media:
- If you’ve used inferior hydroponic nutrients, they bind to the media and are harder to purge.
- I dilute recycled media with new media at a ratio of 50-50 after I have reused the media three times or if I am having problems with media pH or nutrients salts saturation.
- Check runoff pH and parts per million of your recycled media. If runoff is consistently more than + – 15% out of range compared to input solution, the media should be adjusted, diluted with fresh media, or abandoned.
- Washed, purged media over time loses pH buffers nstalled by the manufacturer. Adjusting media pH must be done carefully, and is beyond the scope of this article. It can be tricky if not sometimes impossible to adjust long-term pH buffering of used media. Check out the Apera Instruments speartip probe meter that can accurately measure soil pH. And also check out this video about adjusting media (substrate) pH…
- Consider adding coarse perlite to recycled media, especially coco and peat-based, which tend to compact and crunch down. Always wash perlite before using; beware of breathing perlite dust, which is toxic.
- The most I’ve ever reused marijuana growing media is seven times. I learned to carefully examine structure of media elements to detect physical breakdown. This often happens with recycled coco coir.
- After I’ve gotten as much use from my old root zone media as possible, I use it in outdoor veggie gardening and for composting as you see in the videos embedded in this article.
- Start with the highest quality root zone media possible. Price should not be your main consideration—professionally made, properly pH-balanced, filler-free traits should be.
- Whenever possible, get root zone media that contains no starter fertilizer charge.
One of the most exciting soil saving products I’ve seen in years is Liquid Soil, made by TPS Nutrients.
TPS is our favorite hydroponic nutrients company because they’re honest, they test their products in marijuana gardens across the country, they’ve created proprietary formulations no other nutrients company can match.
Liquid Soil is an example of the company’s superiority, containing a combination of beneficial bacteria and fungi you apply to soil after harvest.
The microbes create interactive bio-networks that break down nutrients salts and otherwise stabilize and cleanse the soil.
You end up with a root zone very close to neutral from a nutrients load perspective, and with pH, porosity, water retention, and other important traits tuned towards ideal, primed for your next season.
Take a look at the Liquid Soil how-to video below.
Grow shops tell me the price of root zone media will never go back down to what it was.
I always felt bad throwing away soil, coco coir and soilless mix after each season, but had been brainwashed into thinking cannabis growing media went bad after one use.
Now that I’m recycling root zone media for marijuana growing, I’m reducing waste, and saving a lot of money. You can too!