Cannabis Podcast The Real Dirt

Living Soil and Organic Inputs: Understanding Your Environmental Impact

ep 84 living soil and organic inputs

Chip is an expert on the picks and shovel side of the business. He’s a hardcore organic lover and loves organic fertilizers. He thought there’s nothing wrong with organic, and it can save the world, but then he realized that there are some problems with it.

In this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast, Chip shares his talk at the CannaCon in Oklahoma City in August 2019, where he talks about the different renewable resources input, their benefits, where they come from, as well as their environmental impact.

This will definitely change how you look at organic material. Stay tuned!

I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with organic. It could save the world and organics can save the world, earthworm castings and compost can help us with all our industrial waste. But there are some problems with it. – Chip Baker

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

12:12 – Chip’s background and experience
15:21 – Obtaining a composting license
19:33 – What does organic mean
20:29 – What to look for when buying organic
22:06 – Renewable resources inputs and their environmental impact
31: 47 – Dos and don’ts when making compost tea

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with  Chip Baker


Chip Baker: Good morning. This is Chip from The Real Dirt, live from Oklahoma or I’m live, and you’re probably live because you listen to this, but this actually isn’t a live recording. But here am sunrise on the farm, neighbor’s chickens are chickening, the wind’s blowing. Wow, man, we’ve really come to love Oklahoma–really cool state, lots of really cool people, really eager to learn and grow some great great cannabis. 

This weekend we had a CannaCon. For those of you who don’t know what a CannaCon is, that is a national tradeshow. They might even be international by now, but they hop around town to town and all the legal cannabis markets and have trade shows, usually business to business trade show. They’ve had a couple here in Oklahoma because Oklahoma is considered the hottest cannabis market in the country right now. 

Many of you know I’m in the picks and shovels side of the business here, as well as anything associated with cannabis, whether it’s hemp or ganja, cultivation or extraction, hydroponics organics I’m into it. I got the opportunity to speak at this latest CannaCon here in Oklahoma City. I chose to speak on the topic that many of my customers and many of the people that I’ve been talking to have brought up, which is organics and living soil, and had a great reception. Great talk there at CannaCon. To my surprise, it was standing room only people truly want to hear about organics and living soil here in Oklahoma and more so than other legal markets. That’s for sure. 

There’s a lot of problems with organics, and I just wanted to bring those up. What you’re going to hear in this episode is my talk at the CannaCon 2019 Oklahoma City. We talked about organics, and it doesn’t go into terrible depth. It’s really a surface three conversation about organic inputs and the dangers of some organic inputs and where they come from. 

I often can disturb people with my opinions. I’ve been up on a soapbox preaching organics in the past or preaching hydroponics in the past, whatever it happened to be of have literally grown out of the soapbox. Maybe I’ll still get on it in the future, but I believe that there’s a great great importance of organic gardening and really treating the soil and the earth. However, man, there’s a lot of bad things associated with organic farming, organic gardening. The source of the organic materials might not be so friendly to the earth. The acquisitions of some of these materials like our favorite bat guano, or maybe one of the most used lime, they’re all pretty destructive to our planet. So that’s the thing I wanted to come across in this talk. 

The source of the organic materials might not be so friendly to the earth. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet

As I listen to the tapes of it, I realized that in the midst of the talk, I might not quite come across everything right. So I just want to set it straight before you listen to it as mean I would really love organics and the best we’d have ever had has been outdoor, Northern California has grown organic. We now know the Oregon people in Colorado people in Oklahoma people are gonna be like how the best is an Oklahoma Oregon, Cal, or whatever. But the best I have had has been outdoor, organic cannabis. However, some of the worst I’ve ever had has been outdoor organic cannabis, and some of the worst I’ve ever had has been indoor organic cannabis. 

And just because you put organic inputs does not make it the best. It really is the care you take in the plant that makes it the best. To grow great, great, great, great, great organic weed you really do have to be a chef and many people aren’t chefs. You really do have to have the experience and man I got my one buddy Jody out there. All of our friends know Jody. He goes, and we’re incredible, incredible organic cannabis, and I really love smoking his indoor and outdoor weed. But most people aren’t as good as him. 

Just because you call it organic or you put organic inputs in it doesn’t necessarily make it the best. Organic weed often doesn’t look the best. And oh man, you guys are fighting with me right now. Fuck you, Chip organic weed looks great, and it probably does, but most people don’t come out that well. Just like at the supermarket, you look at the organic vegetables, you look at the conventional vegetables, and the conventional vegetables are often more uniform, have a different color, more radiant color. Of course, always pick the organic. I am a nut for the organic avocado, and I don’t want to be involved with the pesticides, the organic pesticides, or at least far less lethal. That’s my main reason for eating organic food and smoking and grown organic weed is you don’t want the pesticide use. 

Dos and Don’ts When Making Compost Tea

Another thing I brought up at this talk is compost tea. I love compost tea. My grandma taught me how to make compost tea when I was a little kid growing radishes and squash and lettuce and tomatoes out in the backyard, and you’ll hear the story later on. Compost tea can actually be really detrimental to your garden, and here’s why. Once again, most people aren’t chefs. And they start making this shit tea literally and spraying it on their plants. Man, it often leads to bad fungal contamination. Most people don’t quite know what they’re doing when they’re making compost tea. They don’t clean their vessels out that well; they’re not adding the proper biology, they’re adding bad biology as a matter of fact. They’re not brewing it properly. They want this compost tea. And compost tea is great, and almost anybody can brew it with almost anything, especially if you’re just feeding your plants with it, but when you spray it on your plants is when you have cross-contamination, or when you have contamination of bad biology. It’s really not the cure-all that many people believe it to be. 

Now, man, I love compost tea, and I think you should learn more about it. It’s the most simple and easiest thing you can do for your crop. I, however, believe you should feed it to the crop and not spray it on the crop, and if you do spray it on the crop, you just spray once or twice. And also you should really work on the biology that you put into it, you should really, you know, read the books, get the really good recipes and use those but just like grits man, I don’t know if anybody else out there has made grits and have several people have as you can read the package and the package says two to one mortar, cook it stirred for 30 minutes. Well, that makes shitty grits. You need four to one to start off with; you need to stir it for about 30 minutes, and then you need to add additional water to it. You also should put in some butter, maybe some cream when you start out and definitely some salt but see the package doesn’t say that the instructions don’t say that. It’s the years of experience of making grits that make me a grit master. 

And the same thing goes for compost tea in organic growing. You should absolutely be thinking about it, especially for outdoors in greenhouses. Organics really really do serve a really important place in cannabis and important place in our world. Those organic inputs are aware of those if you’re buying plastic bottles that say organic on it organics, really read the label it may just be marketing, and not be certified in any way whatsoever. If it says it certified, make sure it’s just not a bought for and paid for a label like the Omri labels are almost anybody can get one of those. 

So yeah, had quite a few people shaking their heads in the audience. I definitely spurred some thought and conversation. And I’m sure I picked up a couple of people who want to believe the magic and don’t want to believe in me, but that’s how it is, we all have different opinions and different ways of things, but man I have literally seen thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds of dried cannabis. I have seen 10s of thousands of pounds of growing cannabis. I’m here to say that organic might not always be the best. If you’re not a chef, it can be difficult. Anybody can learn how to do it, but it does take time. 

I’m almost giving you the whole thing, but the other thing I mentioned in this talk was that how a little bit of synthetic nutrients go a long way in an organic garden and the easiest way to grow organically is not to be a purist and starcher your plants off with some synthetic nutrients or dose of synthetic nutrients EDTA micronutrients specifically, plants really take off. And also just a little touch of some sort of high phosphorus potassium bloom enhancer, just to touch not a lot can really make that organically grown weed and all the organic inputs you put in them really come out and have your wheat tasting like it’s organic. It looks way better when you have such a small amount– I’m talking one application of synthetic nutrients. And then the rest organics, the rest water, the rest bat guano tea, the rest organic inputs into the soil. That, in my way, produces some of the best and most commercially available cannabis. It’s also inexpensive. So I want you to sit back as always, fire a large one up and listen to this episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker. 

My name is Chip Baker, and I love weed. I love all types of weed. It doesn’t matter if it’s any type of cannabis; hemp, Mexican brick import, seedy Colombian weed, Great Great Northern California grown outdoor indoor weed, aeroponic, hydroponic, organic; I really do love it all. I’m fascinated by it all. And I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I’ve been on a soapbox on many things about cannabis over the years. But I really do love cannabis in all its forms as I’m getting older. I’m 47 now, and I started to realize maybe some of the things I thought about when I was younger, or some of my other customers tell me about they might not really be as accurate as we want them to be. 

This picture here looks like a modern greenhouse light deprivation. You can see it’s a glasshouse. It’s a really beautiful garden. This was about a 40,000 square foot indoor garden that I was a part of back in 2002. So this was in Switzerland. The picture might not be that very good on this, but if you could see it, you could see 40,000 square feet of organic cannabis growing In the ground, that was really an incredible crop. For a number of years, a buddy of mine, Scott Blakely, had operations in Switzerland, and we worked over there for a while. 

Chip’s Background and Experience

So just a little bit about me. So I’ve got some credit if you guys don’t know who I am or what’s been going on, I am the founder of Cultivate Garden Supply. We’re a hydroponics store, but don’t worry, I’m not here to sell you anything. I truly just want to talk about organics and the impact of it. I was also the founder of Royal Gold Potting Soil out of Humboldt County started that in 2002. I sold that in 2013. started another potting soil company growers soil in Denver in 2016. I have literally processed thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of yards of cocoa fiber. I’ve made thousands and thousands of yards of compost, millions really. One of the most proud things that I have done in my life is I have diverted thousands and thousands of yards of sawdust from the landfill that would be burned or pushed into the ocean or dumped off in the woods somewhere, and I turn that into compost. 

But I’m just a normal guy. I love weed, like I said before, as my lovely wife to the right, and two guys, Wyatt and Keith that have been working with us for over ten years. We now live in Oklahoma. I have moved all over the world in search of cannabis. And I find my home here right now. I’m from the south. I’m from Georgia lived in Northern California– come on in Tommy, you’re a little late, but that’s okay. All right.

But we really do love it here in Oklahoma, and I love fishing. We go fishing every day we can. I really like the outdoors and just being around cannabis. One of the things I’ve also really enjoyed my life as I started a podcast called The Real Dirt Podcast. And this has allowed me to speak to people all over the world that are industry experts and really ask them great questions that I’ve been interested in, but it’s hard to get experts to really speak to just any random person, so I started a podcast, and we had about 30,000 listeners. If you’re interested in anything cannabis, download my podcast, it’s The Real Dirt Podcast. We’re on iTunes Spotify. 

This, by the way, is a 0.3% hemp plant that you see in the corner here. This is federally legal cannabis in the US. Hemp and ganja, they’re both cannabis. We don’t have to differentiate when that way. This is a 0.3 plant. So, cocoa fiber. This is a pile of cocoa fiber that we’ve just processed at our plant in Denver. And cocoa fiber is an amazing natural resource. It’s not mined.

Coconuts fall to the ground every day, and it makes it one of the most truly renewable resources that we have. Yes, we have to ship it across the world to process It. Yes, there are some problems with wastewater associated with processing cocoa fiber. Most cocoa fiber most cocoa it’s grown on the coast places, and it’s really high and sodium and chloride potassium. So when most people process them, they’re processing those chemicals out of it. 

Sodium chloride will kill your plant’s potassium will too, but at certain levels, it’s really healthy for your plants. Grow store in Colorado and all this is just saying like hey man, I kind of know what I’m talking about because there’s a bunch of people in this industry that got no fucking idea what they’re doing. And like to say, I do love it all. This just shows you the scale of the stuff we do.

Obtaining a Composting License in California

I have a USDA approved composting technique. This is really hard to get in California when I got it there were only five people that had licensed compost operations in California. California is a pretty big state. Most of the compost you’re buying isn’t compost. It doesn’t have the right carbon-nitrogen ratio to be called compost people just call it compost. This is a really hard thing to get. Why did I get it? Well, the USDA came in one day and shut me down and said you got to have a composting license.

So I spent about a year of my time figuring out how to make compost without chemicals. The USDA, the way that they set up composting, is they want you to bring the temperature up to a certain temperature within a few days. And then, with temperature and moisture, you have to flip it every three days. Well, it’s kind of impossible to do it with the way they set it up with organic constituents. They want you to use ammonium nitrate and urea, other things that will really bring the temperature of your organic material up. 

The reason you’re doing this is you want to get all the COLA and the bad biology out of whatever you’re composting. The USDA is really concerned About E.coli in our food system this is all cannabis. This is all ganja. Almost all the potting soil has ever sown has gone into ganja or hemp. So we don’t really worry about E.coli, but USDA did. The process that I developed is basically with just chickenshit, chickenshit, and lime water. But we proved to them that it could be done organically. And I possessed one of those only approved technologies for doing it. 

I also have an earthworm casting process. It’s also approved in a similar manner. And I developed all these years ago, surely because the government forced me to do it. I want to do it. They said, Hey, we’re going to shut you down unless you don’t. And when I investigated all this, it really made me wonder what compost was and what organic products were. Up until this point, I was really hardcore organic. I loved organic fertilizers. I thought there was absolutely nothing wrong with organic. It could save the world and organics can save the world, earthworm castings And compost can help us with all our industrial waste. But there are some problems with it. 

I’m a little standout this year son of a butcher I became vegan at an early age. And I’m a vegetarian now. And I’ve really tried to pursue all organic inputs in my body, whether I’m smoking it or eating it since I was 21. I grew up in a very rule agricultural background. And when I left home and went to college, I saw the stuff everybody was buying its food and that they were serving us. I was like, This isn’t real. And it really made me heed the words of my grandmother. 

We did this all over the country, all over the world. This is in Denver, and in Mexico, you can see I like having a good time too. We work with companies all over the world, all over the state. This is in Maryland. This is a really large garden in Denver, Colorado, and all these are just to kind of like show you that we’ve been around a little bit, and I believe at least And when I’m talking about. 

This is in Colombia. I got some projects going on right there. And you know, the interesting thing about Colombia and South America with cannabis and hemp is they really believe in organics, not using chemical pesticides, not using chemical constituents to grow any of their product. We seem like we’re progressive here. But in South America, they’ve really taken to this. And part of it is because you don’t have to buy it, you can make it yourself. And organics really can be some of the cheaper inputs that you put into your garden. 

What Does Organic Means?

So what does organic mean? Now, this definition really doesn’t do anything for us. And we all have our own ideas of what organic is but running Cultivate Oklahoma, Cultivate Colorado, so many people that come in with this idea of what organic is, and the main thing, and I can’t really give you a great definition for it. I just put this one up; this is the Webster’s dictionary definition doesn’t really make sense to me. Most people have their own personal definitions. 

Many people just think it’s about pesticides, right? I don’t spray pesticides or only use organic pesticides and man that’s a great place to start. And many people think it is just planting in the ground. Right, and that’s organic. But the reality of it is the products that you put into the ground, the products you put into your soil, the products that you put on to the plant are of the earth, so to speak. 

The big movement hemp right now, one of the great things about it, is there’s a misnomer that you can’t fertilize this or it has to be organic. So right now lots of the hemp that we’re getting in the US, it’s all organically grown hemp, lots of misinformation about how hemp grows that you don’t need to fertilize it, you can grow it on marginal land. This guy didn’t grow it on marginal land, and you can see it, it looks pretty good. This is 20 acres of organic hemp, so you can see it can be done.

What to Look for When Buying Organic

There’s a handful of certifications, and these aren’t the only ones, but when you’re out buying organic products, these are some stuff to look at. Omri is a private institution, Organic Materials Research Institute. And the interesting thing about Omri is we see it on a lot of products. Has anybody ever seen this term, Omri? Right? Well, their private group and pretty much anybody can pay to get into it. Right? You’re paying for the stamp. They’re not really checking up on you. They ask you for a self-reported list. So just because you see Omri on a product, it does not mean it’s organic. You really have to read the label. 

USDA Organic this really doesn’t concern cannabis so much because the only hemp is federally legal, and ganja isn’t. But this is another term we see. And then we have the National Organic Program in NOP, and it’s about the constituents that go into the products. So those are just some like certifications and terms that you can look for when you’re buying organic products to be aware of it. 

Renewable Resources Inputs and Their Environmental Impact

Now, these are renewable organic inputs. Some of these can come in bottles, most of them come in bags, I sell bottled fertilizers of all types, I don’t discriminate against it. In my opinion, especially outdoor greenhouse, large scale agriculture, you really need to be using a renewable organic input. Now what I mean by renewable all of the things on this list were grown or waste products that in my mind makes them superior organic products. 

I’ll just go down the list here and kind of talk about each one of them. Feather meal – this is a waste product from the chicken industry, the poultry industry. This is a really great high in nitrogen potassium product. If you eat organic lettuce or organic tomatoes, they’re using feather meal and some sort of chicken litter more than likely. 

Chicken litter also was a really excellent organic constituent, but litter and composted chicken aren’t quite the same. When you take chicken litter and compost it, that is, you neutralize the carbon and nitrogen ratio. It then becomes a great fertilizer with just the right nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus for cannabis to grow in. I don’t know if any of you guys use the chicken litter. Does anybody use chicken litter? Does anybody use chicken shit? Yeah. Great, great, great products. 

Kelp is my number one favorite renewable resource. Kelp grows in the ocean. It’s harvested and gathered. It grows feet a day. It’s also an incredible organic input. It has many hormones, has lots of biological activity. It’s really inexpensive. It’s really cheap. If you’re not using kelp, it’s a really great product to get. There are all types. However, look for the organic kelp just because it says kelp does not mean it’s organic. The liquid kelp that we see, they use a number of things – potassium hydroxide, specifically in order to extract or concentrate the kelp. They increase the potassium by adding extra potassium in it. So when you see these kelps that are like 118, that’s probably not organic kelp. But I’m not a purist any longer. I think kelp’s a great product. You know that one 118 works incredibly. It’s definitely as chemical in it, but it’s an incredible product, especially towards the end of flowering.

Bone meal and fishbone meal, we’ll throw those two right together. They are a waste product from the slaughterhouse industry, whether it’s the fishes or the cows and the sheep. Many people have problems with bone meal. It is dangerous to inhale. And many of these products are dangerous for us to use, and we should all be using gloves. We should all be using masks of some sort, and you might see it a picture of me in here. There’s not going to be one with a mask on. But we all should probably be wearing it. 

Fish Emulsion and fish hydroslate are my two favorite organic nutrients. Fish Emulsion was explained to me best by someone. It’s like making fish soup. You throw all the rotten fish into a bat. You cook it up to temperature, and we drop the pH, bottle it up. Fish emulsion is really high in nitrogen, but man, it just has incredible biological life that just cannot be. Yes, the dog loves it. Yes, the bears love it. Our dog really loves the fishbone meal, but she’ll eat the fish emulsion too. Fish emulsion usually comes in a bottle. It’s a very inexpensive fertilizer to buy, and whether you’re foiler spraying or putting on on your plants, it’s a really great addition to whatever you’re doing. 

Fish Hydraslate is round up fish that they then– there might be someone in here that knows a better way than this is made or a better explanation, but it’s basically dehydrated fish. They flash, dry it, freeze it. It comes out to powder instead of a liquid. They evaporate all the liquid through this freezing technique, and you have this nice granule super concentrated powder that again works great for foiler feed that works great, mix it in your soil. It works great as a liquid nutrient. 

Earthworm castings – Earthworms can save the world. Absolutely. Specifically, red worms that are engineered to eat organic material. They populate really fast. Within six weeks, they can achieve a critical mass population to really grow. They can eat anything. These guys can eat nuclear waste. They can eat petroleum products; they can eat diesel; they love it all. What happens with the earthworm is most of the earthworm castings come from two different types of sources. I’m going to tell you this you can go look at your earthworm castings source if you’re using it. 

Most earthworms castings come from just paper. There’s sitting next to a recycling plant and all the cardboard and all the paper they grind it up. They may feed some corn or some liquid other fertilizer nitrogen fertilizer to it, and then they feed the earthworms, the paper. The earthworms then run the paper through their digestive system, and they poop it out on the backside. And the interesting thing about the earthworm castings is it has a casing on the outside of the excrement that allows for time release in our soil. This is like nature’s number one fertilizer, right? It’s not so strong. It’s got tons of biological life in it. You can’t grow plants exclusively with it, but really great product. 

Now, the best way earthworm castings are made. However, they’re the expensive ones you see. Because you guys may have all seen this, there are cheaper worm castings, those are made from cardboard more than likely, or they’re cut with compost. And the really expensive earthworm castings, they compost manure to get the E.coli out, and then they feed the earthworm castings, the earthworms, the manure. And this is the highest quality product you can get. It’s active in biological life the most just really the best constituents for the plants to use in.

Soy protein isolate. This sounds like a weird one. And this is a French product because you can absolutely get this organic and non-organic depending on if the soy source is organic or GMO. And they basically just process soy protein just like how we process isolate for THC and CBD. They isolate the compound through the molecular way. That’s a fancy term for saying they basically have this still pulls out just the nitrogen side of it makes it a nice concentrated powder. Soy protein isolate is an incredible vegan source for nitrogen. The plants love this stuff. It is hard to find. We do have it in Cultivate Oklahoma City. I wasn’t going to sell anything. That’s right. But we really love soy protein isolate. It comes under a few different names that, again, just read the ingredients. 

Alfalfa – now is this time of year everybody’s planting alfalfa. If you guys are local, you see it out there. People are tilling up the ground right now for it. Fresh alfalfa sprinkled right on top of your soil will kind of start to mold a little bit. And when it does that, it’s actually releasing this chemical triacontanol into your soil into your plants. It’s a growth hormone that’s unregulated by the government, so it’s a hard one to get, but you can just sprinkle alfalfa, right on your plants and plants love it, man. It’s also a high nitrogen source, but out alfalfa is an expensive product. 

Neem Meal. Many people in here know neem many people here spray neem for pesticides, great great pesticide product in many ways. However, for pest prevention, you have to watch it with your extractors. It does stay on the plant for a long time. The extractors don’t really like it. It shows up in the extracted product. So if you’re using neem oil, spraying neem on your plants in any way, just think about the last time you spray it. I don’t promote spraying anything and flower if you can get away with it. I know many people do. I’m not judging anybody on that. But neem mail is a waste product from the concentration of neem extract. It’s a cake they call it neem cake-excellent, high in nitrogen. It works great for soil-borne pests, fungus gnats, rude aphids. Neem meal’s a great great product. If you’re not using it, you should. 

Crab meal, another one of my favorite fish products. Between crab meal, earthworm castings, bone meal, and feather meal, you really can’t build a better soil or a better nutrient constituent to your soil. How many people build their own soil in here? These are really great products and the most inexpensive products all the commercial organic products that we see. They use feather meal. They use bone meal; it’s inexpensive. The bone meal is like 20 bucks for 50 pounds. The application rate is one to five pounds a yard; it’s a really incredible product, but it’s inexpensive as opposed to soy protein isolate that very expensive. And that’s why many people just spoiler spray with that. 

Now I really love compost tea. My grandma taught me how to make compost tea when I was a kid. She did an anaerobic compost tea, which took a five-gallon bucket. We threw some manure in it filled it up with water. It sat there for the season, and then she’d take a cup out of it and pour it in her watered can, and that’s how I learned to grow radishes and cucumbers and spinach and carrots and tomatoes. 

But now we’ve learned a little bit differently than it’s better to actively aerate your compost tea. And what that means is is you add air to your compost tea. Compost tea is basically making a tea of organic ingredients. There are many many, many, many, many recipes. I have made thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of gallons of compost tea. My previous company Royal Gold, we add compost tea to all of the soil that we had there. At the time. I really believe that it gave us more biological life and an extra edge and the growers and extra edge on using it when they got their product, and I still believe that, but a compost tea is difficult to make over time.

Because just like it’s easy to brew the beneficial biology is just as easy to brew the non-beneficial biology. Elaine Ingram, she’s really promoted this actively aerated compost tea. Elaine, I’ve seen her speak of vendor conferences. It is definitely a Bible to her. She stands on top of it and preaches it, but I see the problems with compost tea, as well as the great things that you can use with it. A simple compost tea recipe would be something like earthworm castings, bat guano, a little bit of sugar, right? Very, very simple. It doesn’t have to be complex. 

And what happens when you use earthworm castings or compost and compost tea is you increase the biological life the microbes by the millions and millions. So you can never put out enough earthworm castings. Well, maybe you could, but you could be you’d really have to put out a lot of earthworm castings to equal the amount of biological life that you get from making compost tea from a smaller amount of earthworm castings. 

It’s not a cure-all compost tea. You should spray it on your plants. You should feed it to your plants. However, I have seen more people damage their gardens with compost tea than actually get benefit from it, and I know Elaine’s would argue with me right now and to the end of days on how it cures powdery mildew and detritus, and it can do all of that stuff. But I’ve seen it do the exact opposite. I’ve seen gardens completely get inundated with detritus with powdery mildew because the people were spraying compost tea too much. They didn’t understand what was going on. They’re spraying the bad biology on it. They’re not cleaning their equipment, and it actually a detriment to their garden. 

I believe with compost tea. This is all my theory and experience, but you should absolutely make it as most cost-effective fertilizer that you can add. And if you put it in all the transitions directly into your soil, it really does the best benefit. Yeah, you should spray it too, but it does the best when you feed it directly into your soil, especially in your transitions, your seedlings to your small pots, or cuttings.

So the best thing to do with compost tea if you’re making compost tea in some way and this is a classic way people make compost tea, you don’t need any of this fancy equipment. All you need is a bucket and some source of aeration. You can see how dirty these things are. That’s why I put them up here, and I know everybody’s got a dirtier compost tea Brewer. I surely do, sitting in the corner. I’m not using it right now. This type of dirt and contamination is exactly what causes the bad biology in your compost tea. So if you compost tea vessels look like this, you need to clean them up a little bit. 

I'd also suggest you only use soap and water to clean your compost tea vessels. Don't use abrasive cleaners, don't use abrasive sponges. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet

I’d also suggest you only use soap and water to clean your compost tea vessels. Don’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t use abrasive sponges. And that goes with anything plastic that you’re reusing in your garden. As soon as you scratch that plastic, it just gives a place for the bad biology to grow. Right? So if you’ve got grow trays– we like just water for cleaning stuff and do it over and over and over and over again. Just water, just water, just spray it down with pressure. That’s how we clean things. 

The gentleman over here was raising his hand for a question.

Unknown: On those brewers right there [inaudible]

Chip Baker  

I’m not a bleach fan, I would say vinegar or hydrogen peroxides better product to use, and many gardeners here already use Zerotol in their gardens which is you know, 29% hydrogen peroxide, and it’s a great cleaning agent just wear gloves, it will damage your skin. The problem bleach is that it leaves a biofilm on the inside and you guys have all seen it, you clean something with bleach, and it’s got that slick feel on it, it’s just hard to get that to go away, and you end up when you start using bleach, in my opinion, cause more problems than you’re solving by cleaning your product, right? We try not to use harsh chemicals, and sometimes you have to clean stuff, and it’s just how it is but if you have plastics, whether it’s propagation trays, grow trays buckets, the best thing you can do is not clean them with abrasive cleaners or abrasive sponge or anything like that. 

Alright, now here’s the ugly truth. I talked about my titles a little misleading because nothing’s been really ugly so far, but god, man, every single one on these things is strip-mined. Bat guano, man I love bat guano. How many people like bat guano here? I love back on. I mean, it works great, high nitrogen to the plants, high phosphorus to the plants. But the way we get bat guano is it strip mine. Right now, the major source is Mexico. Somebody sees bats flying out of a hole in the ground. That’s an underground cave. They come in with excavators. They dig it up. The top part of the cave is the newest bat guano, and that’s filled with a high nitrogen bat guano, and they harvest all that. That’s this nice fluffy stuff. Meanwhile, all the workers, they just got t-shirts tied around their shirts, they’re breathing this stuff, and they’re getting lesions on their lungs. They’re literally dying from this. 

Seabird guano as well, it’s killing the bat habitat. This kills a seabird guano habitat as soon as they get the fresh guano, as soon as that’s all harvested the hard stuff at the bottom of the cave, the stuff that’s been there for hundreds of thousands of years. That’s all how potassium and phosphorus–bat guano isn’t seabird guano. So when you see those two products on the shelf, that’s what you’re looking at. And yes, it does have to do with how the bats fed or where it comes from, but most of the stuff we get right now is coming from Mexico. 

Seabird guano is really hard to find. In the South Pacific, wars were fought over seabird guano because they would take all of the high nitrogen stuff and get down to the high potassium and phosphorus stuff to make munitions. And that’s how many munitions were made for years. And if there are any firearm enthusiasts here, and you shoot old ammunition from the 40s and 50s, you can smell that little bit of smell that reminds you of seabird guano, right? And people still use it today for it, but we’re really literally destroying bat habitat and seabird habitat when we’re strip-mining these products.

Gypsum–man, it’s hard to grow cannabis without gypsum, and I mean, I know we just put a ton on our acre that we got growing right north of town here and gypsum really works great to loosen up the soil. But again, it is a mined product, and we really should be conscious of where these products come from. 

Rock phosphate and trace minerals, glacial rock dust are really great components, and we see those in all types of organic soils and living soils. And they really do at great micronutrients to the soil. The plants really do love this, man. It’s hard to go wrong with glacial rock dust when you’re growing trees, non-ganja trees, but they really do like it—the same thing with azomite and greensand. Azomite’s a really great product, high in silica. I don’t know if any of you guys are using azomite, but it’s a great great product that helps your plants with heat and water stress, which I can contest. Up in Wellston, it’s pretty damn hot. You need something to help you out there. 

And Greensand too. These things are all mined. It’s something that we really have to think about is where this stuff comes from. The main thing people say to me when they come and talk about organics or living soil is they want the best quality product. They want to protect the Earth. They want to have this feeling that they’re doing something good for the world. And all these products pretty much bad for the world. I know you have to use lime in order to just PHP. Gypsum is the best source of calcium, really. All this stuff strip-mined, and it’s just something we should think about. I’m not saying I don’t use it. I still use bat guano. I love it. I still use gypsum. I still use lime. But I do think about it. And I really try not to go overboard with all of this. 

One thing I see people doing when they make soil is they’re putting far too much of all these constituents in there. I’ll tell you guys how you should make soil. Basically, any of the organic ingredients that I’ve listed or talked about here, all this dry stuff all the mind-stuff, it’s one pound to five pounds per yard. When you’re putting it in your soil, most of the ingredients, if you get over about 15 total pounds per yard, you’re not going to use it right now. Right? You’re literally better off waiting. So we used to put 50 pounds bat guano in a yard. Man, you only need two or three. We used to put, you know, eight pounds of azomite in a yard if you really only need one. 

But it’s really easy. Just look at the back of the container the back of the bag, do some Google research, and like how many pounds per yard? How many pounds per square foot? Here’s another something that confuses people is 100 square feet because that’s how a lot of this stuff is listed on the packaging, is also a yard. That’s what we usually consider a yard in the industry. It might not make sense, it might not make outright, but that’s how we formulate this stuff. And again, man, I’ve made tons and tons of potting soil. I’ve made some bad potting soil too. I’ve made potting soil that’s killed my plants. I’ve made potting soil that’s killed other plants, other people’s plants. And I’ve really tried to learn the best way to do it. 

But it’s also your pocketbook. If many people come in, they buy a bale of promix. They add eight pounds more lime because they think they need lime and eight pounds a yard, but man, you really don’t. You only need about a half a cup if you want to add some extra lime into a yard of ProMax which is three bales. When I discovered this, another soil maker introduced me to it. Scott was making a product up in Humboldt called power flower. He really got me into making soil. I’ve always enjoyed making my own soil. And I was buying all this stuff, and he was like Yeah, man, trace minerals as strip-mined out in Nevada, glacial rock dust strip mined out of Montana and just makes you feel bad, man or makes me feel bad some people don’t care, and I get it. 

Man, I’m not saying your shit out of luck, but the thing that’s not on here is peat moss. By tons of peat moss, we put it in our potting soil growers potting soil, and the manufacturers say that it is sustainably harvested because they rotate the fields that they harvested from the right. When you look at it, it still looks like a strip mine. But it’s something you got to have. Coconut fiber is a good substitute for peat but not a complete replacement. Some people hate cocoa fiber because of the way it retains moisture and all its water. Some people love it because of the way it holds water. There’s so much stuff about it, but cocoa fiber really is one of the best products that you can use that falls to the ground every single day. Long fibers in the coconut you guys all seen those long fibers in the coconut when you buy it. In Asia, they weave those into textiles–rugs and all kinds of stuff. They also put it in pharmaceuticals as a filling agent, the short fibers, the inner fiber that falls to the ground, that’s a waste product. And that’s what we use to grow in. So that waste product in the past has been dumped out of the sea or burned. There’s lots of bad information about cocoa fiber, but it’s basically left in a big pile, processed for a while, and a big pile, which means it just gets rained on or there are some dude and flip flops watering it like Dude, I’m serious. I’m serious. It’s a really homespun industry. 

In India, we get all the cocoa fiber from India. It’s all done by hand. There’s literally a guy gets hired, he brings his wife and seven kids, they all show up to work. He Gamble’s over in the corner with his other buddies that did the same thing. They all have a 50-liter bag or a 50-liter basket. They pick up the basket full of Coconut, dump it into a hand press hydraulic machine, stamp it boom outcomes-a brick a cocoa fiber. And if any of you’ve gotten cocoa fiber and bricks, you’ll realize how different each one is. And that’s because it’s all literally handmade. 

I’m not against any of that these guys are only getting paid 50 cents a day, that shit’s bad too. And it’s actually the husband that brought his family he’s getting paid 50 cents and the family they’re not getting paid, but the whole family gets paid, I guess. We’re all tenacious that we know are not made in the best conditions and also this great renewable product is maybe not made in the best conditions for people. 

I have personally suffered severe infection, sinus infections from breathing in cocoa fiber. It’s fine dust when you’re making it. It’s absolutely dangerous to you. And so you should wear a mask, and when we make this product commercially, we all wear masks. We all wear glasses. You know we’ve sent so many people to the hospital with a cocoa fiber in their eye. We’ve had so many people have to layout for two weeks because they breathed in cocoa fiber. Great renewable resources; it’s just also poor for you. Do we have any questions? 

Unknown: [inaudible] three bales equals…? 

Chip Baker: Three bales of promix equal a yard.

I know it’s confusing because it says 3.8 cubic feet on the outside, but that’s compressed and busted it open, it’s about seven or eight. Yes, sir. 

Unknown: [inaudible]

Chip Baker: Yeah, you know, perlite and vermiculite, some states don’t regulate those as organic materials. Perlite and vermiculite are both mined substances. I didn’t list them because they’re more soil constituents instead of fertilizers. Also, I didn’t really talk about all the cool biological stuff in this thing today too. Ganja farmers love perlite. Right people who make soil love perlite. The great thing about perlite is when you’re making soil. You mix some perlite in there, you can start to see when the perlite is evenly distributed through your soil. Oh, everything else is evenly distributed, too. 

Outside, there’s not as much need for perlite as indoor gardens. The reason that cannabis users use so much perlite is because it dries out faster, and you can get employees to water it on a regular schedule. And cannabis farmers also feel like they have to feed their plants as much as possible, which cannabis will take on tons of nutrients. And I’m not opposed to perlite in any manner. It is safer to use vermiculite, though.

The thing about rice hulls is it’s really good in cells. For small like six-packs, but it composts almost immediately, and it collapses with pressure. Because I’ve made thousands of yards of soil, we test everything I’m interested about stuff, so I test stuff, and in just a short period of time, a few weeks, your aeration benefits are gone with the rice hulls. Right now, in small little things, there’s not a lot of pressure water on rice hulls work great, especially in areas like South Carolina, Louisiana California, where there’s so much waste product with rice hulls. [inaudible] Well, the other benefits that are associated with rice hulls. Is there something else used instead of the rice hulls?

Unknown: Is there other benefits of using the rice, like–

Chip Baker: Yeah, mulch. It works for great for mulch, right? You’ll see it when you make soil with it. And now that I say it, you’re gonna recognize that how much your material shrinks when you use the rice hulls. You’ll mix up a 20-gallon container, and by the end of the season, it’s shrunk four or five inches, and that’s the rice hulls. 

Lava rock–also like a mined mineral it’s maybe a better substitute. The interesting thing about rock lava rock is it’s often like next to a gravel pit or something. So, it’s usually not the main thing they’re doing. They’re like the LS get all that lava rock, and then we’ll get to the stuff we’re using. For agricultural purposes, it’s all the smaller waste products. They can’t use it for gravel purposes. And Northern California, tons of old lava fields, lava mines, and so they use it as gravel, right pea gravel, but the smallest stuff is actually kind of a waste product in that whole industry. 

Most of the compost you buy or think you buy is doing absolutely nothing for your plants other than putting some volume in your potting soil. If you go to the Rite Aid or if you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and you’re buying steer manure, cow manure, it’s uncomposted, and it actually doesn’t give you so much benefit to your plants. It’s cheap-$1.39 a bag. I’m not saying you don’t use it, but you got to be aware it’s actually not compost. Most of the compost that we have has no fertilizer charge in it. Maybe there’s a little nitrogen and a little iron

Mushroom compost, also, I learned lots of my chops working on a research mushroom farm when I was in college, University of Georgia. And what happens with mushrooms is they’re grown in some sort of medium. They go through their lifecycle, they’re harvested, and then the mushroom farmer takes all that and piles that pile outback. Well, he gets big enough, and he’s like, man, I gotta get rid of this shit. What do I do? Oh, mushroom compost on Craigslist. And it’s not really mushroom compost. It has not been composted. All it more than likely is is grain and peat that have been eaten by mushrooms of all sorts, whatever they’re growing, but it’s not really compost, and it absolutely has some benefits to it makes great compost tea. Some of it does, and some of it doesn’t.  

The company I was working for it was all literally just barley, rye, peat moss sterilized. Depend on what type depend on the farmer depend on what they’re doing. And then other mushrooms that grow in manure, and that might be a little bit of better product. But again, mushroom compost, it does have the tendency to suck up the nitrogen that you put into your plants. Mushroom compost is actually one of the worst composts when it’s bad, which it mostly is, your plants often turn yellow because the material in it is just fighting for that nitrogen you’re putting in there he wants to balance itself out nutrient neutral carbon and nitrogen ratio. 

Wood products-sawdust and bark are what most of the compost that’s filler compost may? My former company, Royal Gold, made tons of composted sawdust. We used this term forest humus, and we use this term to try to skirt the regulations because I didn’t have a composting license. My godfather in the potting soil industry, Fox Farm, I don’t know if any guys use Fox farm I learned all my chops from sneaking on their plant and seeing what they were doing. They taught me about how to use sawdust and how to use the wood chip as a filler in your growing medium. It can work great, it does work great, but only when it’s really made, right? Royal gold makes it right most of the time. Fox farm rakes right most of the time. And I say that because it’s composted and it’s hard to make on a commercial level right all the time, but ultimately is just filler. So when you’re putting compost on your plants, you only have a little bit of nitrogen there. You got some micronutrients for sure. When you see compost, you see some brown stuff or some black stuff. What do you think most people choose? The black stuff, right? Hell yeah.

The best compost is actually brown and doesn't have iron sulfate in it. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet

Black’s great. They make it black. They put iron sulfate in it to change the color because they know you want it black. Right? And so like the best compost is actually brown and doesn’t have iron sulfate in it. Now iron sulfate in many communities is still considered an organic input. It’s phasing out in California. Iron sulfate will also keep your plants nice and green, that with a little nitrogen will make the plants grow or peered that they’re growing excellent. And you’re like, Oh, my plants grow gray. They’re green the whole time. Nothing’s wrong with it. But the yields going to be off and the flavor is going to be off because you didn’t really feed it anything other than nitrogen, the micronutrients. 

I love compost. Compost can save the world, man. Too much of our waste materials are wasted. All right, well, this is usually the point in my talk where I say fire it up. Come smoke me out or have a good time for the rest of the day and, and thanks for coming. I appreciate it. 

Well, there you have it guys if you’ve made it all the way through the episode, I’ll post all these slides up so you can see the slides I’m talking about. You can go to our Instagram or our website, which is, We’re on Instagram and Facebook also as the real dirt podcast. And you can see these slides that we put up, but I really enjoyed the talk. I’m really excited about Oklahoma. Harvest season lots of great great organic outdoor bed some of its going to be really smooth smoking because it’s just water it might not look that great, but there’s going to be some great smoking weed out there. 

Wow, I know it’s harvest season because we have been selling green bows, trimmers like nothing else. Oh my gosh, these tremors are flying off the shelves. People love to use them. They can trim about three to five pounds in an hour. Yeah, 40-50 pounds a day. They trim bottoms incredible the stuff you don’t want to trim incredible. There’s a little technique to it. If you’ve got any questions about just call up and ask us at a Cultivate OKC, Cultivate Garden Supply, Cultivate Denver. And we’ll give you the skinny on the GreenBroz trimmers, but there are other trimmers out there, and we promote and sell those too. But man, the green bros really has become the most popular, it’s small, it’s portable. It’s not inexpensive, but man it pays for itself and literally just one day. 

So if you want to know anything more about the green bros trimmers, it’s a dry trimmer, come and check us out here in Oklahoma City. Cultivate. So. Hey man. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for giving me your time. Please download this episode and others from iTunes. Please subscribe, please comment. And if there’s anything you want to hear about any topic you want to hear about me and let me know, I’m probably interested in it too. So until the next time, this is Chip Baker with The Real Dirt.

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