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TLO All Natural Cannabis and pH

TLO All Natural Cannabis and pH

All Natural Cannabis and pH

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Crab Meal is Excellent for All Natural Gardens and High in Calcium
Crab Meal is Excellent for All Natural Gardens and High in Calcium

Happy New Year to all! As you are possibly aware, today’s article is curious with regards to TLO (True Living Organics) all natural growing style. I always say not to worry about your pH, because your natural balance of elements and dolomite lime handles it. All natural cannabis and pH is today’s title. So, I am going to share with you an exception to that rule of “don’t worry about your pH.”

Over the course of the last year or so in my TLO gardens, I have started to favor crab meal, a lot. I have also had my Churn running for about 18 months without cleaning it out or emptying it completely. Compounding this, I have been slowly reducing my dolomite lime additions (in soil mix and Churn) to assess my minimum requirements. The short story is, that very recently, my pH rose a bit too high and caused me trouble. Normally, in TLO growing, it is slightly low pH, which is more commonly what you may encounter.

Whenever I have any issues, I go down the checklist. Air, lights, meter accuracy, water (carbon filters and PPM), soil, groundwater/Churn pH. In that order. On the last one, I whipped out my trusty pH meter, and low and behold—Yikes! My Churn was 9.0 pH, and normally, it always runs around 7.8 to 8.2 pH. Let’s break this stuff down…

My Churn – A Perpetual Living TLO Tea Dynamic
My Churn – A Perpetual Living TLO Tea Dynamic

All Natural Cannabis and pH: My Story

Often times, I have said in the past that you really don’t need a pH meter when growing TLO style. That’s true. However, due to my particular (tinkering) actions over some time, my pH was affected in an upward direction above the healthy range for most cannabis varieties. TLO soil is VERY HIGH per ratio of organic matter. This tends to lower the soil’s pH when watered. The dolomite lime and other calcium (Ca) rich additions keep that in check. But… in my Churn—the main source where my supplemental cannabis nutrition comes from—my pH drifted upwards. Too much!

The simple reasons I feel are twofold: my municipal/city water recently increased in pH value a bit. Also, I had, in the last 12 months, been favoring calcium-rich additions. Like crab meal, feather meal, and DE (diatomaceous earth) in my Churn. After many many months, the calcium had become too dominant. This inclined my pH upwards. This took about a year to happen while running my Churn without ever cleaning it out. The calcium, over time, became excessive.


I recommend cleaning your Churn now once every few months. Save a cup of your old Churn to add to your brand new Churn to keep the valuable microbial life evolving.

All Natural Cannabis and pH: Liquid pH Meters

If you are unfamiliar with using liquid pH meters, then make sure you read this. pH meters (in my price range) that are around $50.00 are sometimes great meters. There are two basic rules when it comes to these meters that are most important, in my experience.

  1. Make sure your meter can be calibrated easily. Make sure you have a couple of pH-specific liquids. I use pH 4.0 and pH 7.0 liquids. Along with those liquids, I also like to get some pH meter storage liquid. This is great because I don’t use my meter for months at a time sometimes.
  2. When you actually read your water or solution, you need to actually almost stir the liquid with the meter rather rapidly. I keep the meter in the water, stirring it repeatedly for 10-second bursts, reading the pH after every burst. Once my pH value stops changing, I know that’s a true reading. This usually takes about 1 minute to get a real reading from a given solution.
I Tend to Like Apera Liquid pH Meters Myself
I tend to Like Apera Liquid pH Meters Myself

The Apera meters seem very cool to use. You can calibrate them anytime easily with the two pH-specific solutions. But mine actually stays almost perfectly calibrated, so I often just test the 7.0 pH solution. If my meter reads it as, say, 7.2, I just take my readings and add +0.2 pH to those readings. Easy-peasy man.

All Natural Cannabis and pH: Solutions, All Natural pH Control

Earth Juice All Natural pH Down Crystals
Earth Juice All Natural pH Down Crystals

If you are a TLO fan, you are well aware of me often saying don’t manipulate your pH. And for heaven’s sake, never use any of those liquid pH-Up or pH-Down liquids at grow shops to do it. However, when bending this rule due to necessity, here’s how we do.

There are several ways to lower your pH a tad that is safe when growing all naturally. I would manipulate my Churn’s pH. If you do not use the Churn dynamic, then your plant water is the target. Your water affects your soil pH. Here are a few approaches.

The crystals are a bit spendy, but a very little bit goes a long way. Just a pinch in my Churn takes my pH down by around 0.5 pH points. Apple cider vinegar, I add about 1 teaspoon to do the same thing. The vinegar’s effects on pH don’t last as long as the citric additions, but long enough for sure. Just use your pH meter to get your benchmark of how much of whatever you need to accomplish your goal (target pH). Using peels/zest from oranges, lemons, etc., takes about 30 to 40 minutes to start causing pH to go downward.

All Natural Cannabis and pH: Additional Information

Okay then, it’s nitty-gritty time. Latest TLO growing updates.

  • I now run my plant water PPM in the low 60s. My target is about 63 PPM. Whatever you do, DO NOT let the batteries in your TDS meter get low at all.  You will get inaccurate readings that will mess you up badly!
  • The pH for my Churn is normally between 7.8 and 8.2. I used the Earth Juice crystals at first, but later, I switched and added a little Humic Ore to my Churn—very little—a few granules once every 10 days or so. Both options worked perfectly separately.
  • If you overwater and anaerobic conditions occur in your container, your pH will dive extremely hard in your container’s soil.
  • It’s a good idea to have a waterproof liquid pH meter that is trustworthy. Here’s a link to mine: Rev’s Liquid pH Meter by Apera. Four AAA batteries power this bad boy, and it’s easy to calibrate for high confidence readings.

A Couple of Photos to Help

Now, don’t get me wrong. My issues mostly came from tinkering with things. And in this case, my groundwater’s rising pH value was also a contributing factor. In this case, I overdid my calcium-heavy additions over a long time period, and it built up too high. Keep it simple, and you won’t have any pH issues growing TLO style—unless something like your groundwater changes. It is great to have a pH meter on hand for troubleshooting, but as long as you stick to the TLO “script,” your pH likely won’t ever be an issue.

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In the photo above, you can see a classic potassium (K) issue in the early stages. I get this on younger sprouts during their first month of life while they get their equilibrium going with the soil life. They always come right out of it. Later in life, as in the photo, it can clue you in that a high pH issue may be happening. It’s counterintuitive because K is highly available at higher pH ranges, but nonetheless.

Humic ore (above photo) is very effective in altering water or Churn pH given a little time. You wouldn’t need any of this unless you tinkered like me—LoL—or maybe your groundwater source is normally too high in pH value. It takes about 6 hours to alter the pH, and I only added a few granules to my Churn.


Since I started renewing my Churn every few months, I have had no pH-related issues. I have eased up on my calcium-heavy additions as well. Everything is beautiful, and I no longer need to lower my pH actively. Dolomite lime will keep your soil and your water/Churn from diving too low or too high in pH value. But in my case, I had let my Churn run too long without renewing/cleaning it. Heh heh, classic me! ?

Alrightythen, I’ll see ya all later right here at SKUNK baybee! Happiest of New Year to you all. Thanks for dropping in—take a stroll over to Kingdom Organic Seeds and check out all the cool stuffs! Lots of F1s and IBL lines for uniformity. Also, many f2s and f3s for those special peeps that are clone and breeder hunters. Make sure to check out The Gamblers section for some crazy good f1s at killer prices. Here’s another Rev article: Newest TLO Book Article. L8r G8rs!

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