Compost Tea in Hydroponics
Many growers are fearful to use living compost tea solutions in their hydroponic systems and reservoirs due to “bioslime”, “clogging pumps”, etc. etc. In short, these fears are misguided. All compost tea recipes are not the same. Our recipe was designed with ALL growers in mijnd, including hydroponics.
One of the most important places to use compost tea is in hydroponics. Hydroponic fertilizers provide what a plant must have to grow, but they do not provide what plants want. And there is a profound difference. For instance, cheap fertilizers contain maybe 7-8 elements, a hydroponic fertilizer maybe 17, but our compost tea recipe contains over 90 elements in a plant available form. Not only are there more elements, but there are more forms of elements, bringing the complexity of Nature directly to the hydro grower.
Microbes make plant food, people don’t. Microbes unlock the potential of organic nutrients to make them available for growing plants, so when brewing compost tea it is important to remember the fertility aspect, not just the living soil microbes. Compost tea represents a simple way of combining the yield benefits of hydroponics with the quality benefits of organic growing.
In addition, compost tea acts as a clearing solution. The irony is that rather than having a “dirty” reservoir, compost tea will leave the hydroponic reservoir as clean as it has ever been, with no salt rings or build up on growing media.
The following testimony was given by a Dealer that we work with who convinced a skeptical hydroponic grower to use compost tea from the Perpetual Microbe Maker in his hydroponic reservoir.
Compost Tea and Hydroponics Hybrid Success Story
“A customer of mine bought a Perpetual Microbe Maker brewer this summer. He was literally beside himself with joy as he watched his garden grow. All he would say when he visited the store was "Noah, you just wouldn't believe it. The plants are growing so fast, the cabbage is so big”...etc etc, yadayada.
This same gentleman also grows indoors, under lights, in an ebb/flow system. I commented offhandedly one day that he should try the tea in his hydroponic reservoir. I gave no recommendations on HOW to incorporate it.
On his own, he decided to eliminate reservoir changes entirely, while using the tea. Rather than the religious two-week changes, he simply topped his reservoir off with ph balanced nutrients. Every time he topped it, he would throw in a gallon of compost tea from the Microbe Maker.
Two months, no res change. My first question was how much sediment and slime built up? Answer: None! Cleanest res ever, with no sediment or salt rings! Also, stronger, whiter roots, without the use of a separate enzyme product.
And the yield, I asked? Best ever. And then, the most important question of all: How was the flavor? Well, let's just say that one of his lady friends (a total organic snob like me, who wouldn't touch hydro produce if her life depended on it) said it was not only good hydro, but GOOD PERIOD. Trust me folks, that's praise from the top.”
Noah - Urban Garden - Brewer, ME
These results are significant. They illustrate the power of an idea when it comes to making our minds up about our gardens. This grower took the concerns he had about using living compost tea in is hydroponic system and put them to the test. What he found out changed the way he will garden forever.
Here’s some more testimony from a skeptical grower using water culture hydroponics. This technique is considered the most vulnerable to root disease because the roots are constantly submerged in the reservoir solution. The diagram to the right illustrates this. The fertilizer solution constantly aerates the roots from the bottom as they grow into the solution.
The thought growers have at this point is that they may contaminate their reservoir with pathogenic microbes. But this thought is misguided. It is not the microbes fault when it expresses itself as disease, it is weakness in the plant, inferior conditions, and a lack of all trophic levels of microbes present.
The organisms that cause common rooting diseases like Pythium or Fusarium are always present in a hydroponic reservoir. It is weak plants and inferior conditions that allow them to harm the plant.
This grower had some browning roots that were limp and looked disease prone. The roots were not yet rotten, but were slimed over and the plant growth was limping along. Once the severely damaged roots were removed, and compost tea was added to the reservoir, BOOM, the fresh new white roots are popping out like mad! The picture to the right was taken 48 hours after adding compost tea from the Microbe Maker.
Again, one of the most important place to use compost tea is in a hydroponic system, but it can and should be used in EVERY garden. Plants want so much more than what we give them in our gardens, and our compost tea recipe contains it all.
It’s interesting how most hydroponic growers tell themselves that living compost tea solutions will “contaminate” or “gunk up” their systems with bioslimes and all sorts of other scary things, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Microbes act as a clearing solution, eliminating the need to use flusing techniques and solutions...PLUS, they increase yields, increase elemental diversity, and introduce soil microbes that perform countless beneficial functions for plants.
The epitome of hydroponic and controlled environment growing is whn we can combine human nigenuity with living intelligence from Nature. Hydroponic fertilization represents a minimum requirement of what plants HAVE to have in order to grow to maturity. But they are not what plants WANT.
Using our compost tea at a rate of 1:10 to 1:50 in your hydroponic reservoir is a very simple and cost effective method of getting the best of both worlds. Artificial hydroponic salts do not necessarily help microbes, but based on our investigations under the microscope, at the concentration used in hydroponic systems they do not kill microbes either.
And how about one more before and after. This grower had a sick plant that was limping along in the image on the left. After only 48 hours from implementing our compost tea recipe the pearly white roots were bursting with vigor!
What grower doesn't want these kinds of results in the garden?
Bottom line, any hydroponic grower, or grower in general, not using compost tea in their garden is not getting maximum results. Period.