So I realize this is not new information to some, and has probably been posted here before. I take no credit for this information, it is simply things I have gleaned from reading Heisenberg's wonderful thread on brewing your own cheap, easy beneficial bacteria for curing root and water issues in hydroponics. If anyone is interested in much more in depth info read the thread in its entirety, I can only do my best here to sum up the relevant info.
Everything is from this great sticky: DWC Root Slime Cure aka How to Breed Beneficial Microbes
I recently read through the whole thing and wanted to sum things up for anyone interested. I am also benefiting myself as this will be forgotten if I don't take notes
Keep in mind while reading that I do not necessarily have any experience implementing any of this.
Why Would I Use This?
- Unless using a sterilizing product (physan 20, H202), most hydroponics solutions will breed bacteria in the water (though low reservoir temperatures slow growth, this is almost inevitable).
- Frequent reservoir changes keep the water clean and fresh, preventing bad bacterias from causing root rot or other problems. Drain-to-waste or ebb&flow systems may have less problems with this, DWC is particularly susceptible.
- Products like Great White, ZHO, Mycogrow, Aquashield, etc.. contain beneficial bacteria (bennies) to inoculate root systems and any porous surface bennies can latch onto (hydroton, container walls, airstones) but are generally expensive.
- By using a combination of only a few of the most diverse/best/cheapest products an EarthWorm Casting Tea can be brewed by aerating a solution for 48 hours using only small amounts of these products to provide a diverse population of beneficial bacterium and fungi to inoculate hydroponic solutions and combat any bad bacteria, allowing for explosive root growth, general plant heath, lower nutrient ppm levels necessary, and higher safe reservoir temperatures.
1.) The parts required:
$6 - MycoGrow™ Soluble mycorrhizal fungi mix
Fungi Perfecti: MycoGrow™ mycorrhizal products
$10 - Botanicare ZHO mycorrhizal fungi mix
Botanicare Zho Root Inoculant
$30 - General Hydroponics Ancient Forest earthworm castings
General Hydroponics: Ancient Forest
- some sort of container
- airpump and airstone, 1W air pump power per gallon of water
The products listed can be substituted for similar items, but the chosen items have been found to be cheapest/best/most diverse. Great White powder and Roots Excelurator are stupid expensive. (Not to mention Roots Excelurator contains anaerobic bacteria and specifically says not to use it with airstones). Most anything containing sugar can be used in place of molasses, it just provides food for the bennies.
These products do have their own dosage and application directions, ignore them and brew the tea. It will be more beneficial and make more efficient use of the ingredients than using them separately.
2.) Combine the following in these ratios:
- 1 gallon dechlorinated water (if tap, let sit 24 hours or aerate)
- 1 tsp (5mL) Mycogrow soluble
- 1 tsp (5mL) ZHO powder
- 3/4 tbsp (11.25 mL) unsulfured molasses
- 1/8 cup (30 mL) Ancient Forest EWC
Small amounts brewed at a time are best as the tea remains usable for 7-10 days after brewing (only if refrigerated to slow bacterial/fungal growth!). If unrefrigerated must be used immediately or the bennies fight amongst themselves and the biological diversity degrades.
3.) Add to container, mix thoroughly, keep temperature 70-80F if possible, aerate for 48 hours.
- unless water pH is way off do not pH adjust before or after brewing
- a biofilm of foam should appear indicating good biological activity
- foam may not appear if water is too cold to 'wake up' the bennies but tea may still function at some level
- certain fungi will 'activate' in the tea but not reproduce and multiply, a small extra amount of ZHO powder (or any product with only fungi) can be added to the tea just before use to add additional fungi (but not at all necessary)
- tea is best brewed at the reservoir temperature it will be used at to ensure the different types of bennies are in the same ratio at the end of brewing as they will be when in the hydroponics system (however temperatures below 70F will not work as well)
4.) Immediately after brewing use tea as follows:
- strain tea using cheesecloth or similar, pour directly on roots, through netcups/hydroton, and directly into reservoir to innoculate the system
- 1 cup per gallon of total system water for fixing problems
- 1 cup per 10 gallons for general system health maintenance
- add a cup or so directly to roots every 3 days or so
Leftover tea can be refrigerated for use up to 7-10 days. The cold will slow down biological activity and keep the population diverse. If tea starts to smell like anything besides "mossy" or "earthy", throw it away. Especially if it smells like shit.
After innoculating hydroponics systems with bennies make sure to dilute any pH adjusters before adding them as the concentrate can kill them (good practice anyway to avoid nutrients being forced out of solution aka flocculation).
OK What Am I Doing?
The idea is that these bennies will destroy any bad anerobic bacteria and causes of root issues, make enzymes (think Hygrozyme), eat dead roots, and assist the plant in the uptake of nutrients and root growth. The molasses is used in tea purely to provide food, it should all be eaten by the bennies after the 48 hours brewing time so none will make it into the hydroponics system if brewed in the correct ratios. Any sugar containing products are food for bacteria and should not be added to hydroponics systems suffering from root issues, it can make the problem worse.
We expect the bennies to start dying immediately after brewing the tea, the idea is that we want them to eat anything extraneous in the reservoir but run out of food immediately keeping the system clean and healthy. This is why a fresh batch of tea is added periodically, to keep the most biologically diverse population of bennies possible and continually replenish them.
TLDR; This is highly recommended for anyone fighting root rot or other issues, pare your nutrient regimen down to the bare N-P-K essentials (remove any extra products that may be excaberating problems) and introduce Heisenberg tea, you won't regret it.
I believe even if a hydro system has no issues the bennies will grow better herb than a sterile system.
extra search keywords: mycorrhizae, mycorrhizal fungi, rhizosphere, compost tea, pythium, phytophthora, rot, brown, slime, cloudy, furry, dead, dying
Edited by Cannaculus, 31 May 2013 - 04:43 AM.