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KindSoil First Grow... Ammonia Odor

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  • KindSoil First Grow... Ammonia Odor


    First, what a great resource for new growers. Really impressed with the breadth and depth of information here.

    So, it's my first grow and I have a question regarding an ammonia smell that's developed over the past couple of days. First, here is a quick rundown of some basic information about my first grow:
    • Strain: 2x Grape OG indica/sativa hybrid feminized
    • Grow Medium- Fox Farm Ocean Forest unamended layered on top of 5lb of KindSoil as prescribed on their website
    • Pots- 2x 5 gallon RootTrapper Ground squat
    • Water: Distilled water PH 6.8-7.0
    • Nutrients- None
    • Grow environment: Apollo grow tent 36" x 20" x 62"
    • Lights: G8LED Full Spectrum 240 Watt LED
    • Ventilation: iPower 4" inline fan with carbon air filter alongside small interior fan for circulation
    • Temps: Ave 80F/65F day/night on a 20/4 light schedule
    • Humidity: 35-40% RH
    • Currently in early veg- 29 days from seedling as of 12/8/16
    Brief summary of grow journal:
    • Day 0: Germinated 2 seeds of Grape OG for 24 hrs- both taproots were visible at that point
    • Day 1: Planted seeds in 16 oz Solo Cups I vented and filled with FFOF under 4x 2800 lumen CFLs (24hr of light cycle)
    • Day 3: Seedlings sprouted
    • Day 4-6: Monitoring growth with periodic waterings until run-off only after soil was dry
    • Day 7: First set of fan leaves fully developed
    • Day 14: 3 sets of nodes. Fan leaves reached the lip of the solo cups so I transplanted to 5 gal RootTrapper fabric ground pots. Healthy root growth observed during transplant. Watered until there was just a couple ounces of run-off (which I guess according to the KindSoil is a no-no. They suggest no run-off). Swapped CFLs for 240w LED grow light at 22" distance (manufacturer says between 18" and 24"). Switched to 20/4 light cycle.
    • Day 22: Girls look healthy, temps 65F-80F night/day and RH 35%-40%. First 6" of of soil bone dry (these pots are approx 11" tall) and the girls were beginning to droop so I watered until medium was uniformly moist.
    • Day 25: Early veg- 6 nodes and approx 6" tall- begin LST. Girls look healthy, good color. Growth a bit slow probably due to lower humidity but December in the upper midwest presents its own challenges even for an indoor grow
    • Day 27: Pulled pots from tent to make it a bit easier to continue LST. Noticed a bit of standing water in the recessed areas of the plant saucers I had the pots resting on and sniffed a hint of ammonia. No mold on the girls- they looked fine, smelled the mesh bottom of the fabric pots immediately know that's where the odor was coming from- specifically, the base layer of KindSoil.
    At this point, I did a bit of research and assumed that the issue must an anaerobic process / root rot / mold due to some combination of:
    • Overwatering- again, they've only been water twice in these pots over a 15 days...
    • Transplanting too early so that the root system could not absorb the water in a pot that size quickly enough before the KindSoil started going south
    • Plant saucers not allowing for enough airflow, or
    • Using the wrong pots- KindSoil suggest using the RootTrapper II which has 2 inches of exposed fabric at the bottom, where as the RootTrapper Ground Squats I ordered have a white insulting material that covers the entire height of the pot
    • Failed amend the soil with some perlite to allow for additional aeration, although KindSoil suggested that would not be necessary...
    To slow down the process until I can get some sound advise, I did the following:
    • Perforated the bottom 2" of each of the pots to hopefully allow them to breath a bit more
    • Tossed out the plant saucers and placed the pots on a raised wire shelving platform about 6' off the bottom of the tent to allow the mesh base to breath more
    • Place a 60 CFM PC fan under each pot facing upward to help dry the moist medium at the base of the pots
    After approx 36hrs after noticing the issue (and 6 1/2 days after last watering), the top 6 inches of soil are bone dry again. Girls still promoting healthy albeit slowed growth due to the LST, good color- no yellowing or signs of nute burn, mold or other deficiencies. Humidity and airflow certainly aren't the issue here- if anything, my RH is too low. They are beginning to show slight signs of underwatering at this point, but I don't dare water them in fear of exacerbating the issue until I feel confident in what I should do next.

    So, how concerned should I be? Is this anaerobic process (assuming my diagnosis is on point) reversible without transplanting or flushing/amending with hydrogen peroxide solution- both of which would neutralize the KindSoil and force me to transplant anyway? If I don't see any adverse effects in the plants themselves, is that a good sign or is this ammonia smell simply a first sign of problems to come...

    Are there any other less evasive countermeasures I can take to preserve the KindSoil and avoid transplanting? I mean honestly, if I can't get this organic supersoil water-only method right, the idea of me successfully transplanting during veg and switching to plain soil with nutes on my first grow sounds crazy!

    I've exhausted several forums for similar issues and reached out to KindSoil for any helpful tips with no success yet.

    Thank you for listening- any advise would be greatly appreciated. I'd include images but I'm not sure how they would help inform this particular situation since ther are no observable issues with the plants themselves.


  • #2
    Royal Nugs .....
    Test grower for Seedsman Seeds & Fast Buds American Autoflowers...


    • Green75
      Green75 commented
      Editing a comment
      I made a call for you...he will be here soon

    • Tika
      Tika commented
      Editing a comment
      LOL love you two

    • Royal Nugs
      Royal Nugs commented
      Editing a comment
      My spidey senses were tingling...

  • #3
    I grow in 3 gal root trappers with coco loco and kindsoil. I follow their recipe as well.

    I believe you corrected the issue before it got bad. I put my pots on risers that allow airflow underneath to prevent this issue exactly. sounds like you've done something similar. I wouldn't be too concerned unless the smell continues. maybe wipe the outside and bottom with a damp towel until the funk subsides. Use a fan to keep the undersides dry.

    I too overwatered a couple of times, once not too bad, the other, pretty bad. Probably 25-35%...oops. It smelled like decaying fish (oyster fart!!). I'm almost 5 weeks into flower. Had some malnourishment issues due to the overwatering. Feel free to check out my journal.

    You should be ok... welcome to the forum. Take your coat off and stay a while


    • #4
      WOW- Thanks for the quick reply! That's good to hear. I'll take the advise and continue to monitor- and post some pics when I get a chance. At worst it will be a great opportunity to get some practice with training techniques.


      • Royal Nugs
        Royal Nugs commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for the detailed post. You didn't even need pictures, it was so well described.

        It's rare to get so much information in a troubleshooting post. It was a pleasure to read.

    • #5
      Welcome to forum Trent. You have to post in Age thread. (not really a requirement). LOL


      • #6
        Back with a couple of pics this time. Per advise, I did let them dry out and have transitioned to a more conservative watering schedule- 36 oz. every 3-4 days seems to be the sweet spot given their size. Again, they've only been fed distilled water at approx 6.8ph.

        A couple of characteristics I've noted:
        1. Seedlings were on a 24hr light schedule for 14 days, transplanted, and have been on a 20/4 schedule ever since. I intended this to avoid stretching and maintain tight node spacing (hybrid 60% sativa 40% indica) to avoid space issues later on because of tent height and the fact that I'm using LEDs. It's worked- almost too well. These plants are REALLY compact. I've considered transitioning to a 6/18 schedule to allow for a bit more stretch and spacing between bud sites... But onto the more pressing issue.
        2. Fan leaves have continued to exhibit a "canoeing" effect- curling under themselves laterally. The only difference I have noted is that after watering, fan leaves feel plump and pliable- when they need watering, they start feeling crispy with no apparent changing in this canoeing effect.
        3. Slow growth relative to many other grow journals I've browsed. Initially, I thought that this may be due to the amount of stress I was introducing through LST, although I haven't been nearly as aggressive as other grows I've seen.
        4. I think that this is a case of Nitrogen Toxicity based on the slow growth, canoeing, and really deep green coloration: this totally went unnoticed until I actually removed them from the LED tent under natural light to take some pictures- shame on me for not taking note of this sooner.
        Pics below were taken on 12/12- 4 days since last watering (36oz each) soil is dry, leaves are dry and crisp on older growth. I don't believe I am overwatering any longer.

        So, I have an base soil that isn't to be flushed, plants are 31 days from seed in these pics, 18 days in the FFOF/KindSoil 5gal pots. All other factors appear nominal- temp, rh, lights, ventilation, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is really no way to curtail Nitrogen Toxicity without neutralizing my sole source of nutrients- the KindSoil.

        I suppose I could also be dealing with a strain that hypersensitive to this combination. I also considered the fact that a FFOF/KindSoil combo may be too hot- using coco instead of FFOF like Royal Nugs has demonstrated seems to be a better choice of medium.

        In any case, I feel limited in my options due to my choice of grow medium, but my plan at this point is to simply trudge ahead and continue documenting my findings unless there are countermeasures I haven't considered.

        Of course, I'm new at this so maybe I'm missing something or misdiagnosing. Regardless, a great learning experience.


        • #7
          Yes, she does look quite dark. Healthy otherwise. Some of that could be genetics. The canoe is usually caused by heat or light stress.

          Is she still smelling like ammonia? What's the overall plan? How big you going?


          • #8
            LED Lights are 20" away, temps never go north of 80F. That said, I'll raise my lights a couple inches to see if it makes any difference. No more ammonia smells after the initial overwatering.

            I've seen some other successful kindsoil journals that clearly showed worse signs of NT than mine all the way through flower- obviously buds didn't break any records, but still got the job done. I'm gonna be patient and wait it out for a couple of weeks. If symptoms get worse and I start seeing progressive yellowing / nute burn I'll probably toss'em.

            They've been in the kindsoil for 3 weeks. I'd like to begin flowering no later than 5 weeks. I've got 8-10 bud sites on each, which I'm perfectly fine with. And I need to keep the plants under 30". Assuming the girls can manage through this, I have to weigh 2 options: 1) veg beyond 6 weeks and end up with nute deficiencies on the back half of flower- but as you've so aptly demonstrated, there are means of successfully dealing with that (great journals by the way!) or 2) veg only 5 weeks- but if the nitrogen toxicity is still apparent, the issue will surely compound itself during flower.

            I do have a couple freebies- purple hulk and bluedream seedlings that are about 9 days old just in case the situation gets worse- in which case I will switch to 3-gallon RootTrappers (I really didn't need 5gal pots). I've got plenty of coco, so may try my hand at the kindsoil again or just go straight nutes. Ultimately, I just want to walk away from my first grow with some knowledge and experience in hand and hopefully do better next time.


            • #9
              This came up earlier I think....sawdust will draw nitrogen out of soil...
              Test grower for Seedsman Seeds & Fast Buds American Autoflowers...


              • #10
                I saw that post earlier, definitely worth a try. Thx green- Now to find some sawdust...


                • #11
                  Will the sawdust retain water? I'd imagine it would. Wonder about ph too.

                  If you saw that earlier post, you saw I recommended raising humidity to help reduce the absorption by the roots.

                  I understand your consideration to trash them. It's a tough decision. There's no right answer...


                  • Green75
                    Green75 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sure it will....that's why use just get it wet enough to be it dries it pulls nitrogen out...

                    Not thick enough to form a crust...

                  • Royal Nugs
                    Royal Nugs commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I see. Good deal

                • #12
                  been a while how she doing
                  Test grower for Seedsman Seeds & Fast Buds American Autoflowers...


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