First, I’d like to start off telling you this information belongs to Subcool of TGA Genetics, I am only relaying the information and part(s) of this post will contain excerpts from Subcool’s original article. This information is too good not to share. But first, I would like to go over how I found out about super-soil and TGA in general..
I have been a medical grower for a number of years, growing for my own needs and helping a few deserving friends out as well at little to no cost to them..like I said deserving patients. I was introduced to Subcool’s Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/subcool420) he had, at the time nearly 100 videos, it has progressed to the neighborhood of 275 now I believe.. I began to check out his channel while in New Mexico doing a consultation for an up and coming provider in the medical cannabis scene there. As I watched these videos and saw how this extremely humble guy had a hand in creating some of the premier medical cannabis strains on the scene today (including: Jack The Ripper, Querkle, Space Bomb, Cheesequake, Chernobyl, etc.); his methodology was very streamlined, low cost, and it nearly eliminated the guesswork and complications that can arise for new and experienced growers alike.
Subcool’s idea, in the most basic of explanation, goes something like this. Seeds and clones are started in rooting plugs (like Rapid Rooters©) in something as simple as two plastic storage containers placed together to make a closed, clear, dome shaped area. This is perfect for capturing a high humidity and keeping the tender little seedlings/clones moist for optimal growth. The babies are allowed to root out and are transplanted to a #1 nursery container (roughly .75gal) and remains there till it reaches about 14”. Now you’re probably thinking, well what is he feeding this whole time? How many ML’s of this or that brand name should I throw in the root-base of my new plants? NONE..No, seriously none, this entire system operates on the idea of just add water; let the properly balanced soil feed the plant what it needs when it needs it.
This may sound simple, and it essentially is, but it all comes down to the quality of the soil you use; we use only the highest quality organic soil we can get our hands on, this may mean spending more on soil than you are used to..but if you figure in the fact that you will not be buying bottles of nutrients in mass, and all of the work is done by the soil..it becomes a no-brainer. Now this base soil will work fantastically for the early stages up to the middle of veg-growth with proper transplanting, but the base soil alone will not take the plant through floral maturity. The true secret to Subcool’s success in growing lies in the Super-Soil he and the other Green Avengers developed over a number of years through trial and error. I will now be utilizing Subcool’s own article to give you exactly the words, the man himself, wanted you to read…
"Subcool’s Super Soil Step-by-Step
Master bud breeder and longtime grower Subcool reveals his tried and true tips for stirring up the perfect organic-soil mix for pot plants that taste amazing, smell incredible and pack a potent, intoxicating punch.
Fri, Aug 07, 2009 1:51 pm
Story by Subcool, photos by Subcool & MzJill
There’s nothing that compares to the flavor of properly grown organic pot: The subtle tastes and aromas created by using only “Mother Earth” are overwhelming to the senses when it’s done properly. As with vegetables, a rich organic soil can bring out the best in cannabis.
Over the past 20 years, I have tried almost every possible way to cultivate our favorite plant. And while hydro is certainly faster and the yields blow soil away, I’ve developed an organic-soil mix that consistently performs extremely well, with very little guesswork involved (i.e., I don’t have to worry about pH or ppms ever).
I spent a few years developing the recipe for this Super Soil mix, and using it in 7-gallon nursery pots, I can run from start to finish adding only plain water. Other than a bit of sweat equity every 90 days or so, using this soil takes a huge amount of the science out of gardening and puts nature back in charge. Also, the recipe is always changing in slight ways as I continue to fine-tune it in my efforts to achieve perfection.
Start with at least six to eight large bags of high-quality organic soil. This is your base soil—i.e., your regular potting soil without the additives. The selection of your base soil is very important, so don’t cut corners here. I can’t begin to discuss all the different products out there, but I will mention a few in this article. A good organic soil should cost you from $8 to $10 per 30-pound bag. Since I want to give you a very specific idea of what I consider to be a balanced soil, take a look at the ingredients in a product called Roots Organic:
Lignite, coco fiber, perlite, pumice, compost, peat moss, bone meal, bat guano, kelp meal, greensand, soybean meal, leonardite, k-mag, glacial rock dust, alfalfa meal, oyster shell flour, earthworm castings and mycorrhizae.
Another local product we’re trying out now, Harvest Moon, has the following ingredients:
Washed coco fibers, Alaskan peat moss, perlite, yucca, pumice, diatoms, worm castings, feather meal, fishmeal, kelp meal, limestone, gypsum, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, rock dust, yucca meal and mycorrhizae fungi.
So far we’ve found that Roots Organic produces a more floral smell in the finished buds, while Harvest Moon generates larger yields.
If you have access to a good local mix like these, then I highly recommend starting with a product of this type. We’ve also had decent results using commercial brands, but never “as is.” The best results we’ve had to date using a well-known commercial soil has been with Fox Farms’ Ocean Forest soil combined in a 2-to-1 ratio with Light Warrior. Used on its own, Ocean Forest is known for burning plants and having the wrong ratio of nutrients, but when cut with Light Warrior, it makes a pretty good base-soil mix.
You can also just use two bales of Sunshine Mix #4, but this would be my last choice, since plants grown in this mix may not respond well to my “just add water” method of growing.
After choosing your base soil, the Super Soil concentrate is placed in the bottom one-third to one-half of the container and blended with the base soil. (With strains that require high levels of nutrients, we’ll go so far as to fill ¾ of the container with Super Soil, but this is necessary only with a small percentage of strains.) This allows the plants to grow into the concentrated Super Soil layer, which means that in the right size container, they’ll need nothing but water throughout their full cycle. One of the things I like best about this soil mix is that I can drop off plants with patients, and all they have to do is water them when the soil dries out.
Stir It Up
There are several ways to mix these ingredients well. You can sweep up a patio or garage and work there on a tarp, or you can use a plastic wading pool for kids. (These cost about 10 bucks apiece and work really well for a few seasons.) Some growers have been known to rent a cement mixer to cut down on the physical labor. Whatever method you use, all that matters in the end is that you get the ingredients mixed properly.
This can be a lot of work, so be careful not to pull a muscle if you’re not used to strenuous activity. On the other hand, the physical effort involved is good for mind and body, and working with soil has kept me in pretty good shape. But if you have physical limitations, you can simply have someone mix it up for you while you supervise. As far as the proper steps go: Pour a few bags of base soil into your mixing container first, making a mound. Then pour the powdered nutrients in a circle around the mound and cover everything with another bag of base soil. In goes the bat poop and then more base soil. I continue this process of layering soil and additives until everything has been added to the pile.
Now I put on my muck boots, which help me kick the soil around and get it mixed up well using my larger and stronger leg muscles instead of my arms. The rest is simple; as my skipper used to say, “Put your back into it.” This is hard work that I obsess over, even breaking up all the soil clods by hand. I work on the pile for at least 15 minutes, turning the soil over and over until it’s thoroughly mixed.
Then I store my Super Soil in large garbage cans. (And before using any of it, I pour the entire load out and mix it well once more.) Once it’s placed in the cans, I water it slightly—adding three gallons of water to each large garbage can’s worth. Though it makes stirring the soil harder, adding water will activate the mycorrhizae and help all the powders dissolve.
So we’ve added the water, and now we let it cook in the sunshine—30 days is best for this concentrate. Do not put seeds or clones directly into this Super Soil mix or they will burn. This is an advanced recipe to be used in conjunction with base soil. First you place a layer of Super Soil at the bottom of each finishing container; then you layer a bed of base soil on top of the Super Soil concentrate; and then you transplant your fully rooted, established clones into the bed of base soil. As the plants grow, they’ll slowly push their roots through the base soil and into the Super Soil, drawing up all the nutrients they need for a full life cycle. The Super Soil can be also be used to top-dress plants that take longer to mature. I’ll use this mix for a full year.
Buds grown with this method finish with a fade and a smoother, fruitier flavor. The plants aren’t green at harvest time, but rather purple, red, orange, even black—plus the resin content is heavier, and the terpenes always seem more pungent. This method is now being used by medical growers all over the world, and with amazing results. The feedback I’ve received is really positive, including reports of hydro-like growth and novice growers producing buds of the same high quality as lifelong cultivators. So give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.
Here are the amounts we’ve found will produce the best-tasting buds and strongest medicines:
8 large bags of a high-quality organic potting soil with coco fiber and mycorrhizae (i.e., your base soil)
25 to 50 lbs of organic worm castings
5 lbs steamed bone meal
5 lbs Bloom bat guano
5 lbs blood meal
3 lbs rock phosphate
¾ cup Epson salts
½ cup sweet lime (dolomite)
½ cup azomite (trace elements)
2 tbsp powdered humic acid
This is the same basic recipe I’ve been using for the past 15 years. The hardest ingredient to acquire are the worm castings (especially since many people don’t even know what they are. FYI: worm poop). But don’t decide to just skip them: Be resourceful. After all, worms comprise up to ¾ of the living organisms found underground, and they’re crucial to holding our planet together. Also, don’t waste money on a “soil conditioner” with worm castings; source out some local pure worm poop with no added mulch.”
Words from the man himself, so once this HOT soil is mixed the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 (depending on strain and level of nutrients needed Indicas’ tend to need LESS) of the container (we recommend a #7 (5.4 gal) nursery container) while using base soil for the remainder of the container. BE SURE NOT TO PUT ROOTS DIRECTLY ON TO SUPER-SOIL DURING TRANSPLANT, BURNING WILL RESULT. Instead once you have filled the container to the desired level of super-soil place a layer of base soil (about 1” deep) above the super soil layer and simply use your fingers to rake the two layers together lightly, I call this a medium layer (as opposed to HOT or COLD). Once the two layers have been mixed together another inch of base (COLD) soil is added to the top of the soil bed; keep in mind at this point the container should only be half or a little more full.
The new #1 container transplant is taken from its container and placed in the center of the soil bed of the new container. Use your hands to maneuver any excess/loose dirt from the top of the root-ball to the base soil below. Once you have the plant centered its simply a matter of filling the sides of the container with base (COLD) soil, paying careful attention to make sure there are no air pockets on the sides and that the soil is lightly packed all away around. I like to rhythmically tap the sides of the container to kinda vibrate all of the soil particles to their new home to make sure the soil will settle evenly. Nothing worse than going to water and coming back to a huge hole missing out of your soil, you’ve been warned. Also, be aware that this transplanting technique leaves part of the top of the rootball exposed and above the edge of the container; but, if you notice there should be at least a couple inches of space between the base soil and the top-edge of the #7 container, almost creating a mote for water to travel to the essential NEW root zone. This is technically the are which should get more water anyway, as the new roots are looking for new water sources constantly. Now we add at least a liter of water evenly around the rootball and new soil, helping everything settle together and getting those new roots some fresh water and signal for them to spread outward.
The other particulars to this style of growing are the lengths of time associated with Super-soil. The plants are vegged for 60 days about 10 of which are in the #7 pot with super soil. The plants are then flowered for 60+ days (depending on strain some Sativas will go longer indefinitely), the super-soil is specifically blended as it is for flowering and finishing a plant, that is why the plants only get super soil for the last 10 days of veg, to help them transition to flowering much easier because all of those macro/micro nutrients are already in place and ready to be utilized by the plant as it needs, when it needs.
Another essential nuance in this style of growing comes down to the specific training of the plant during veg to get a desired shape/canopy. This process begins very early in the #1 pots when the plants are only about four inches tall; right when the plant begins to form its first or second off shoots the plants are topped, sometimes even topped a node or two before the top depending on level of growth and how far along the off shoots are developed. This action causes those off shoots to vigorously recover from this as they have been elected the new tops. In addition to the aggressive initial topping the remainder if the plants veg life they are being manipulated and super-cropped to create a 4-way split plant with dozens of various off shoots in a 1-2 foot canopy. This allows 3-4 plants to fit under 1000w perfectly and you will not have to end up trimming a bunch of worthless popcorn buds; all of that potentially wasted energy is redirected to the canopy and it ends up with the majority of the product being extremely uniform. Gorilla fingers and baby arms all day long!
People always mention the first two weeks of flower they get some crazy stretching! There are multiple ways to go about this and I like to do two things every time and it cuts down on my stretch and keeps the nodal spacing dense (in most strains cases). First, for the first two weeks I keep the CO2 off, now, if you’re doing a perpetual system this can be less than ideal but if you simply direct your CO2 lines (if you’re using bottles) more toward your mature plants and turn the oscillating fans intensity down. The other thing that can help keep that stretch down is to do two lolly popping sessions (lolly popping referring to cutting all lower growth from plant except for a canopy with a density of 1-2’ to focus growth to tops of canopy); The first lolly popping is during day 2 or 3 of the plants being under 12/12 and it removes nearly 30% of the lower branches and gives an overall outline of the canopy to be further refined. The second trim session begins as the very first white hairs begin to protrude through the tops, this is usually the 2nd week of being in 12/12. This second lolly popping session takes the plant down to essentially 1/3 of its original mass, but all of this is lost from the bottom of the plant, and this will immediately refocus all of that wasted energy towards the buds closer to the light. People have a hard time doing this to their plant the first time and this practice is not for everyone, but the idea behind this is to give a uniformity to ones medicine and honestly it helps trimmer and their hands to not have to trim all of those little wasteful buds at the bottom..As sole trimmer for my situation I appreciate this immensely and so do my hands and eyes! Just something to think about..
Now when I said this whole process was a just add water situation, I wasn’t lying, but some folks like to add things at different times; mostly out of habit from their old growing style. There is one thing though that most just add water growers put on their plants roots and that is sugars and carbohydrates, at week 4 and 6 with one of the weekly watering. Literally one could use molases from the grocery store, sugar in the raw, cane sugar, ect. but most growers just elect to use a grow stores name brand product; whatever fits your growing style more. I usually add about 10ML per gallon and add it to two gallons per plant during that week. This process helps not only keep the soil web active but it also helps with the resin profiles and terpene development. I will say though I know a grower who literally ONLY adds water the whole cycle and gets fantastic results, so whatever works for your needs do it. This recipe is just that a recipe, if everyone in the world followed the same recipe and didn’t add their own spices/flavors it would be pretty boring, this is only the blue print for the mac and cheese, you get to make it great; just use common sense and do some research before adding a bunch of other additives. I also advise that if you plan on making changes to the Super-soil recipe that you first make the original recipe to compare your new batches results too and as always TAKE NOTES its far too easy to forget something minor that could turn out to be something MAJOR! Food for thought stoners!
New growers who come to visit my room always ask me why are your plants all yellow and red…they look like shit.. Well to answer that..and to clarify the plants which are yellow or any other color than green are getting to the end of their lifespan, they have exhausted all of the available nitrogen in the soil and their leaves and now, just like during fall with all the trees, the plants will begin to lose leaves and change color (depending on the genetics and without tricks like cold temperature dips). This process is called fading or organic fade, and it is a totally natural and part of the life cycle of a cannabis plant. Seeing this with the leaves also lets you know your product will be exquisitely smooth and clean because the plant has used all of the flavor harming macro nutrients. As for the micro nutrients these are in such a low volume per capita in the soil that they literally only have a trace of availability to the plant to begin with; the macro nutrients N-P-K will affect your flavor more than anything (unless of course you foliar feed your plants, which I do not do, I like my medicine TOTALLY ORGANIC).
Drying and curing are a whole other blog in themselves; I have blathered on for about a half hours worth of typing, so I think I will leave you with this…
Though this method takes a lot of weight from the shoulders of the grower, it equally puts more weight on you to be as clean as possible and keep your room in tip top shape, because slacking, even a little bit can be devastating to your room. Its not that Super-soil even makes a growers life easier per-say, but it affronts us the proper time to dedicate to the plants themselves and optimizing the rooms efficiency and we dont have to waste time mixing up nutrient batches.
Thanks for your time and Happy Growing! TGA all goddamn day!