The effects of micro-organisms on a plant can be profound. These organisms, such as bacillus, mycorrhizae and trichoderma all form symbiotic relationships with the plant and are found in soil. Bacillus is used world wide for the control of loopers, fungus gnats, insect pests and opportunistic fungi pathogens. Tricoderma is a fungi that feeds off pathogenic root rot and damping off fungi; it also stimulates the plants root and immune systems, which helps the plant to fight off fungi attacks. Mycorrhizae is a beneficial fungi which colonizes the root surface; this helps keep the pathogenic fungi from getting a foot hold on the plant’s root system. Mycorrhizae also helps the plant take up nutrients that are out of reach of the plant’s roots. All of these beneficial organisms feed off plant exudes from the root system and some nutrients in the growing medium.
How to use beneficals in your system.
To get the maximum benefit from beneficial micro-organisms, the gardener should always provide food for these beneficals. Providing these organisms with food (e.g.: Liquid Karma, Earth Juice Catalyst and Sweet) ensures that they will grow and multiply in your garden, however, the harmful micro-organisms will also use this food to multiply. This is one of the reasons why your water and growing medium should be well oxygenated. Harmful pathogens tend to thrive in anaerobic conditions whereas beneficial organisms thrive in aerobic conditions.
For plants in soil – Most gardeners who grow in soil will use organic nutrients to feed there plants.
Mycorrhizae suits plants that are being fed organic nutrients; chemical nutrients, especially when the concentration builds up in the growing medium, will destroy the Mycorrhizae. It is best to apply Mycorrhizae into the soil before planting. Bacillus and tricoderma can also be used on plants grown in soil. One pouch of Subculture should be mixed into 8 cubic feet of soil. A maintenance application should be reapplied every 4-6 weeks at 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water. A weekly application of Liquid Karma or Earth Juice Catalyst will help keep your plants healthy and also provide the beneficial organisms with essential foods to keep them multiplying. This program can also be used for plants being grown in coco fiber that are fed organic nutrients.
For hydroponic systems – Mycorrhizae does not do well in hydroponic systems as it is sensitive to the nutrients that are used for hydroponics.
Both these products contain bacillus strains which are well suited to hydroponics even in systems that have high salt contents. Subculture should be applied at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water/nutrient solution (1 pouch per 50 gallons). The first application of Hydroguard should be 15ml per gallon and maintenance applications at 5-10ml per gallon of nutrient solution. For coco fiber, rockwool and Ready-Gro mediums, both Hydroguard and Subculture should be reapplied 21 days after first application and thereafter every 21 days. For hydroponic systems that use Hydroton rocks, perlite, NFT or aeroponics, the Subculture and Hydroguard should be reapplied every 7 days.
Foliar Sprays – Both Hydroguard and Subculture can be used as a foliar spray to help control mildew that attack the leaves, stems, flowers and fruits of plants.
Serenade is another product which contains only Bacillus subtilus. These bacteria will effectively control most leaf fungi pathogens.
Fungus Gnats – Bacillus thuringienses sub-species israelensis (the active ingredient in Gnatrol) is used for the control of fungus gnats. This bacteria produces a parasporal crystal which is toxic to the larvae of fungus gnats.
Please note: Even though you are dealing with a biological organism, always wash your hands with an anti-bacterial soap when finished, and when using these products as a foliar spray use a mask. Keep these products away from children and animals.