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I know you must think an article about nitrogen is a familiar subject, and you either already know enough about it or don't really think you care that much. Please let me encourage you to read this article, as it will shed some light for you regarding some of the lesser-known facets of this element in all-natural container growing. Without nitrogen(N) there is no life. Nitrogen is a primary concern to all growers. I have seen plenty of misunderstandings regarding this building block element, as well as made plenty of my own misconceptions about it, especially so indoors, gardening in containers.
To get things rolling, let me fill you all in on a little factoid I gleaned from Robert C. Clarke's wisdom, and later found to be absolutely true. Nitrogen is not the big bad contributor to harsh smoke many of you think it is. You can get away with a decent amount of nitrogen still active in a green plant at harvest using True Living Organics (TLO) or all-natural growing. Yup, I said it, and it won't make the smoke harsh at all as long as the N is being supplied by the microlife for the most part and not being force-fed into the roots directly with chelating agents like organic acids. Magnesium (Mg) is your huge culprit here regarding harsh smoke mi amigos; don't forget that one. And for those of you who like to use things like Epsom salts (very high in available Mg), this is critical info. Many of the newfangled liquid all-natural/organic nutrients on the market today that are geared towards cannabis particularly, contain high levels of available Mg, so read your labels well, good green peeps! Especially in something like say a micronutrient liquid supplement; so dont use anything like this once you are a couple weeks into flowering. It's crucial that you watch your Mg because the plant will use a lot of it. It's also important to note that during the last half of flowering she will use stored Mg, so don't add any. Your smoke will take a big leap in elegance as far as the quality goes.
Too Much Nitrogen The plant will have a very dark green and waxy look to it and its maturity may be delayed as well (her speed to start flowering) because vegetative growth is favored with uber-high levels of available N; especially in a plant's early stages. Too much (ammonium) N available can cause tall growth with weak, thinner stems. However, this particular look could also come from insufficient lighting intensity as well. the "claw look" to the leaves is another classic appearance of ammonium N overdose, and sometimes this will be accompanied by smaller leaf size, and subpar root development.
Once flowering starts, be super careful with any nitrogen you add. In fact, it's better not to use anything with high N, especially in liquid form, once the plants are into flowering. This will often result in decreased resin production and higher leaf-to-calyx ratios - which simply means less floral mass. This is a real "dance" with balance amigos, and when using the microlife a lot, and recycling, your nitrogen needs are high. Blood meal can be you best friend or your worst nightmare here.
Using Blood Meal Indoors I just want to highly caution you when using this extremely powerful source of nitrogen and iron, along with uber trace stuff as well. The safest two ways to use this are simple in True Living Organics (TLO) growing:
* Making your mix up you add blood meal globally at a ratio of about 1/2 tbsp per gallon of soilmix, and have plenty of killer organic matter in there too, like earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, plant matter, whatever, and water it to moist with a molasses and water combo (1 tsp of molasses per gallon of water). Let it "cook" like this for at leas a few weeks in temps above 68F. and you are all good.
* Making up your mix to use at once, you buffer the pH effects of the blood meal and the organic matter big-time; as they will dive out of the gate. Buffering elements include bone meal, bulb food (PoM 3-8-8 ) and dolomite lime. If you don't have this skill already, may I suggest you lean into it slowly. Only try this with a few plants at a time at first, but this skill is a must hav in TLO so get it. I use many subtle buffering elements along with dolomite lime (both fine and granular grades) and bone meal (unsteamed), oyster and eggshells, greensand and wood ashes here and there.
Blood Meal In Spikes Using blood meal is really cool and efficient if you isolate it to a few locations. In TLO this allows time for the microbeasties to colonize the mass of rich food for them (bacteria especially) and handle the pH in that zone via their exudes (plaque), which drives it upward. I use blood meal, a little on the "floor" of the container before adding any soilmix, and in spikes; I poke holes and pour in nutrient (dry) combos in the new container mixes. Put the spikes close to the outer edges of the container but not all the way out. Here's a great spike formula at the beginning of flower.
* 4 parts kelp meal * 2 parts blood meal (or high N bird/bat guano) * 2 parts bone meal(steamed ok) or Fox Farm Dry Bulb food 3-8-8
Mix these all together, pour them in and cover with soul or mulch and bing bang boom, killer "treasure" of nutrients for the roots to find and use.
Other Nitrogen Sources For top dressing in TLO or all-natural/organics growing, the guanos are the king. You can really keep the plants happy for a super long time even in smaller containers, using guanos like this. I have personally come to the conclusion that I like bird guano just a bit better than bat. I feel it helps along the flavor and smell expressions of the final product even more so than bat guanos do. If you actually put mulch on top of your containers mixes like I do, then your top dressings become super efficient due to you making the top layer so microbeasty accessible via the mulch. ya follow?
Fish Based All-Natural Nutrients For the liquid nutrients I have on hand, this is one of my all-time favorites for fast and available nitrogen like right now! Also great in teas, it's very bio friendly all the way around. I never use this at higher ratios than 1 tsp per gallon and even then very rarely. I mostly use it for teas and for new sprouts or freshly rooted clones very mellow - as above. All-Purpose, blood meal and/or bird/bat guanos can totally handle your nitrogen needs in a healthy TLO grow.
Raw vs. Composted Animal Manures Always, without exception, use only composted animal manures in your growing soilmix. Never use raw bird, bat or animal poop, as this can easily kill your plants, and is potentially harmful in several other ways.
Let's take an overview of what composting means in all-natural TLO growing. Most things, like banana peels and extraneous plant matter (stems, roots, leaves), should be dried first before adding to your recycling soulmix and let to "cook" for about 30 days. If you add too much of this kind of organic matter, sitll wet, it can encourage anaerobic bacteria to colonize, and these microbeasties kill plants. It's easy to tell if you have a dead plant so if you pull out the root ball and it smells like outhouse/chit, then you got anaerobic microbeasties. Live worms in your soilmix are your best defense against this.
We used to just mix up horse poop with leaves and keep it all moist for a couple (spring) weeks in Southern California. Now, while this is composted technically, once dried it is not "Hot Composted" and in this composting process, due to the temps reached in compost piles, any bad bacteria or virus (like E. coli for example) that may be lurking is literally burned out. While it's very rare that bad microbeasties will lurd in a healthy heard of animals, you should still be as careful as you can.
Microbeasties and Nitrogen in Organics Growing Nitrogen comes in many forms. These forms, I will touch upon; however, all nitrogen is converted into its plant-friendly state in a living organics soil environment, basically nitrate nitrogen, and ammonium nitrogen. But my purpose in this article is not to rerun some tired academia on the element, but a more hands-on "get a grip", as it relates to your gardening practices. Much of this info is firsthand knowledge regarding nitrogen in Tru Living Organics gardening indoors and out, and especially so using the soil recycling dynamic, where this info is pure gold in my humble opinion. All your microbial life, as I understand it, use up huge amounts of nitrogen when their populations are in overdrive with plenty of fresh organic matter present in the soilmix, for example shredded tree bark. Other things include alfalfa meal, cannabis plant matter, and other kitchen scraps (dried and chopped up); however, some organic matter like coffee grounds, cottonseed meal, most fruit rinds, high nitrogen bird and bat guano, and the biggie, blood meal - will tend to cause severe pH drops in the soilmix if used in ratios that are too high, and/or without proper buffering against these effects, with something like dolomite lime for example.
-------------------- We meandered through Billy’s ritzy neighborhood in the general direction of Jefferson Street. In the lamplight the houses looked identical, grand façade after grand façade of pale gray with black windows, as if for all their monumentality they were nothing but wallpaper, black-and-white prints, two-dimensional murals similar in their deceptive insubstantiality to the gossamer buildings of New Age City. I was struck by the idea that Billy and I, to the extent we existed only in our imaginations, were just as shallow, just as superficial—and equally susceptible to being erased without a trace.