My Journey To No-till Growing

I have always been fascinated by science and nature. Growing up in Oklahoma my fondest memories are spending endless days on my Grandparents farm in Eufaula. Being outdoors and roaming freely always felt peaceful and centering. I realized early on that my dad may have passed down the hippie gene more so than I had ever expected. I was just as happy tromping through the back 40 as I was hanging out with my friends skateboarding in the City.

As I got a little older I soon realized I really enjoyed cannabis. What's not to like right? I have used cannabis off and on my entire adult life. The times I didn't weren't for any certain reason other than I just didn't feel like using it. 10 years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to grow marijuana. My lifestyle at the time consisted of being a vegetarian, and only buying all organic produce and foods. To me it made sense to grow plants organically. So I started down the path that all of us go down to grow this extraordinary plant.

We had moved to Eureka Springs Arkansas and the very day I arrived I began to grow. Most people in the region know Eureka is known for being an eclectic mix of individuals. Bohemian Hippie types have flocked there for decades. With this brought a relaxed stance on marijuana. Thus I felt comfortable enough to begin my first grow.

My first grow consisted of one 600 watt air cooled light in a 3 x 3 closet. I used Fox Farm Soils and the results were less than stellar. I wasn't even through my first cycle when I realized that the soil just sucked. I then started working with another local soil but it to was lacking significantly. By my 3rd or 4th cycle I realized I needed to figure out how to make a soil that will do what I want. Thus started my soil making journey.

Super soil was all the rage at the time. I say that, but it was only all the rage in my tight circle of organic growers that wanted optimum results. So I started making what in the day was called super soil. For a round or two I would recycle it back into my vegetable gardens or other container plants, but soon realized it was a giant waste of resources.

If you spent anytime on forums back then (social media and cannabis growing wasn't a thing) you will remember the Recycled Organic Living Soil Crew. ROLS for short was the precursor to today's no-till soils. During this time period was when I began to morph my “super soil” into Recycled Organic living Soil. After each round of flowering I would mix in new amendments & compost to “recharge” the soil, and go for another round of flowering. There were no worms involved, and no beneficial insects.

At this period in time I was growing between 750 and 1000 pounds of organic food for my family per year. I used my gardens to test soil blends outside on vegetable crops as well. I would have 60 to 80 containers filled with different mixes and would check the results throughout the season. Then narrow it down and the next year have fewer mixes, but still check the results. This along with growing cannabis indoors helped me refine my mix. Later in the process soil testing also helped to refine the blend to where it is today.

Ironically during this time I had been growing no-till in my vegetable gardens for a couple of years. Looking back I don't know why I didn't think to apply those techniques to my indoor garden. After a few years of recycling my soil I started to bring those no-till methods inside. My first no-till grow indoors had no worms, no nematodes, no rove beetles, and no other things that we take for granted today. It was basically my recycled soil and I would top dress amendments on top after each cycle. Needless to say it didn't have the best results. That being said, no one was doing it so I didn't know any better.

Flash forward a few years and I am in Colorado still growing. Only now it is “legal”. I continue to work with no-till and my results get much better. The addition of worms, rove beetles, rolly pollies, nematodes, etc... are game changers for me. The soil gets better with every cycle, and the terpenes start to go off the charts.

Even way back in the day when I first started growing I always told people I grew for flavor and taste. Yield never mattered. At that time terpenes weren't being talked about like they are today. I didn't even realize I was a terp farmer. Obviously now we have so much knowledge about terpenes and the entourage effect we know they play a huge role in the effects of cannabis on our systems.

Not to ever want to be complacent I have continued to refine and work with soil. About 2.5 years ago I began working with perlite free soil. I wanted to create an alternative to a perlite based soil. That experiment is now 2.5 years old and my perlite free soil is still kicking ass. It takes more knowledge to use it so you don't get compaction issues, but with the addition of pine bark fines it also brings in a fungal component that has produced beneficial results.

Currently some of my soil is 5 years old. Still going, still producing terpene rich high quality cannabis. When I started 10 years ago I had no idea where this journey would take me. Redbud Soil Company wasn't even a thought. I just knew that I wanted the best results possible, and I was willing to educate myself to get those results.

Now cannabis is legal in so many places recreationally and medically, Oklahoma being one of them. Without these laws we wouldn't be able to do what we do at Redbud. Our goal is to educate people on no-till growing and show them that you can get replica-table results that increase in quality over time. Over the years we have developed proven techniques that can be used by home growers, and commercial sized growers. Obviously we focus on cannabis growing, but a lot of these same principles work very well with standard agriculture crops. Anything we can do for people to stop using chemicals to grow food, or medicine is all in a days work.

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