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Compost Tea Brewers
Compost Tea Brewers
Compost Tea Accessories
Compost Tea Accessories
Ingredients for making compost teas and extracts as well as Mycorrhizae for plant root development.

Organic vs Inorganic Hydroponic Chemicals

How Organic Hydroponics Works

In an organic hydroponic system, the nutrients for plants are generated as the by-product of a complex microbial world. As bacteria and fungi feed on raw organic and inorganic compounds, they are, in turn, eaten by predators. The waste product of these microscopic meals are plant accessible nutrients. A large and complex community of microbes, constantly eating and being eaten, generates a matching large and complex array of bio-available nutrients for plants. These broad ranging nutrients insure that plants have optimum growth and develop rich and wonderfully complex flavors. 

Plants need only a very small portion of the nutrients generated, excess nutrients are reabsorbed by the microbial ecosystem and so remain in the system readily available. Nothing is wasted. Microscopic fungi attached to the roots are especially good at accumulating minerals and nutrients that may be required during surges in demand by the plant. 

Plants use their own chemistry to tailor their microbiology community, (including pH), to supply the exact set of nutrients they need. It has also been shown, they can change the microbiological community's mix as they grow, to reflect their changing nutritional needs. 

An organic hydroponic system is simple - 

The complex nutrient cycling and feeding happens automatically in nature

Growing plants consist of growing and feeding a large microbiology
 community for the plants to select from and utilize as needed

Inorganic Hydroponic Chemicals

Traditional hydroponic growing relies on the use of inorganic chemicals that are composed primarily of salts. Plants can absorb these salts directly. However, the level of salts, as well as the pH, must be precisely maintained for this approach to work. Unlike organic nutrients, plants can only absorb inorganic nutrients within a narrow pH range. Likewise, if the salt levels are too high or too low, the plants can not cope well. Traditional inorganic (having no carbon) hydroponic nutrients require more energy for plants to absorb than their organic counterpart.

Chemical hydroponics attempts to match each plant's nutrient requirements at every stage of growth. This is why there is a multitude of different hydroponic chemicals and complicated feeding schedules to go with them. As the plants grow, they gradually take up various nutrients in unknowable quantities from the system. After some time, the whole chemical balance becomes hopelessly out of wack. At this point, the old solutions and water are thrown away and a new set must be supplied.  

Pests and Pathogens

Pests and pathogens are opportunistic in nature, and require large undefended territory for their explosive growth curves. With sufficient good microbiology, they are held in check.

Excessive salts from chemical plant feeding will often kill most of the beneficial microbes. This opens the door for pathogens and other pests. Consequently, traditional hydroponic growers have to be obsessive about sanitizing (killing all microbiology).

In contrast, the organic approach is to coat all surfaces of the plants, including leaves and the surrounding surfaces, with a diversity of beneficial microbiology. This microbiology will out-compete the problem microbes to resolve infestation problems. 

We only sell supplies for organic nutrients

GroPockets works equally well with both organic and inorganic nutrients. However, we feel that the organic approach is the least expensive and the only sustainable way to grow plants. 

Using microbiology also:

  • Grows richer, more complex, & better tasting food
  • Require less plant energy to obtain nutrients
  • Prevents leaching by buffering excess nutrients
  • Extracts trace and other minerals
  • Biologically stores water
  • Prevents pathogen and pest infestation
  • Eliminates complicated application schedules
  • Avoids polluting the environment with "spent" inorganic salts

How to grow Organically

Start a new system by establishing a very robust microbiology population that has an appropriate level of food. To do this you need a compost tea brewer. 

Compost Tea

Compost tea brewers take a starting culture of microbiology and multiply it enormously over the course of the brewing cycle. The cycle time typically ranges from 1 to 2 days.  The resulting liquid is filtered for large solids and added to your reservoir water. It's rich microbial biomass and nutrients will then circulate throughout your GroTowers.

When your system is new, you will want to add a new batches of compost tea twice a week. Then, once a week or so.

Compost Extracts

Another approach to the ongoing maintenance of your microbiology is to use compost extracts. Extracts add the raw nutrients and microbiology from the compost, but don't multiply the microbiology like compost tea. As a result while they are good as an inbetween brew boost the microbial density is not large enough to provide the nutrient cycling needed.

For an extract, a compost mix is placed into an appropriate mesh bag and then tied to the vortex aerator or other aerator for 30-60 minutes. It is a quick and easy way to boost both the microbiology and nutrients in your system.

Also with an extract, the bulk of the microbiology is not in a large growth curve and its "sticky glue" will not be present. Consequently, an extract does not work well as a foliar spray; use compost tea instead.

Compost Tea and Aquaponics

If you are using aquaponics - (fish water) as your primary source of system nutrients, adding compost tea is still important for the following reasons.
  1. When starting, your system biology will develop much faster and be more productive than just depending on nature to supply the microbiology.
  2. Compost will introduce a wider range of microbiology which will make your system more resilient and productive.
  3. You will naturally be introducing many of the trace elements that may not be present in fish food.
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