Introducing Aurora Innovations
Welcome to Ask-A-Grower folks, we have Aurora Innovations in the house. Ryan, tell us something about Aurora.
I’d love to. We actually started out as one of the last American ballast-making companies. That was a big thing for us for a while. The source of the name, Aurora Innovations comes from – Aurora for the light and Innovations for the obvious reasons. Eventually there was just no competing with China, when it came to ballasts. Essentially, in similar fashion, we started with a soilless mix – about 10 years ago – and quickly added a soil that ended up blowing up in Northern California. Now our bread and butter are potting soil and liquid nutrition, we also make containers – root pots; we produce dry guanos, beneficial bacteria. That about covers it.
Can you start telling us about your soil?
The normal Roots Organics potting soil is a coco based soil, more specifically: coco, peat, perlite and pumice, to which we added a good amount of food to. A similar amount of food as let’s say FoxFarm Ocean Forest. The big differences would be the heavier emphasis in phosphorus and potassium than say the pure nitrogen kick of an Ocean Forest. But we want to give it about three weeks before you need to add anything to it. It’s delivered in ready to use grow bags; you can always put holes at the bottom or at the top and plant right in the bag.
That is definitely our number one selling soil.
Can you tell us something about the fertilizers? You have two lines, correct?
Yes. The two lines are Roots Organics and Soul Synthetics. Everything that has Roots Organics in it is 100% organic; there is not a drop of a single chemical in any of it. Also, we manufacture all our liquids and all our soils in-house, so we have incredible quality control and we are incredibly serious about that. Roots Organics is designed for soil use. We also have the Soul Synthetics which is as organic as we can possibly make a hydro line. We couldn’t make it 100%. So instead of lying to customers and calling it Roots Organics hydro, we went with Soul Synthetics to be more upfront. It is more soluble, better for hydro systems and the boosters in it Amino Aide and Big Swell are kicking it off. They factor into what we call a master feeding schedule. Which is what you have seen in the best results in soil and that incorporates the organic liquids with the two boosters from Soul Synthetics, Amino Aide and Big Swell.
What if you’re using coco?
Our soil is made 60% of coco, 20% of perlite, 20% pumice with a negligible amount or no food in it. You have around something like that, on one hand – Soul Synthetics is better designed for that. There will be more easily available nutrient up-take for the plant. Because there will be less of that organic living soil, that you would have with a normal soil. So for this, Soul Synthetics might work a little better. With that said, I have seen the Roots Organics line work in a soilless media. I have never seen it tried in pure coco. What I would add, in our Roots line we have two guano boosters; one is HP2 one is HPK. The difference is that HP2 has no potassium in it, HPK does and that’s specifically for coco growers or coco heavy media like our soil, due to the unique relation between coco and potassium (very high exchange rate, don’t want to cause a lock out there). So that way you will get a phosphorus boost from guano without adding too much potassium to your coco.
Suppose a newbie comes to the hydro store to pick out a brand new nutrient line. How does Roots Organics fair up its ease of use with return?
That is probably my favorite thing about the line. It’s an unbelievable combination of ease and quality. For a newbie I would always recommend to start with soil. If you pick up a bag of our soil and our liquid nutrients, first of all there are only 7 things in total to run the whole Roots Organics line. All are very reasonably priced. So for a relatively small investment, following a very easy schedule, you can come up with an extremely premium organic soil product. The one thing I think fits this question is something I’ve always said about organic soil growing – that it’s an amazing spectrum – on one hand because it’s the best for a beginner, because with organics you are less likely to burn anything, and the soil is a much more forgiving media.
But at the same time, once you get to be a master grower, once you have the other stuff on lockdown and you go back to organic soil and you understand that it’s a living eco system in that container then you can really bring organic growing to an art form. They can go in there, they can get their Roots stuff, start off, have a great first run, then next time they can go to that master schedule, working those boosters, maybe up their yield a little bit, and then at that point they’ll be able to figure out enough that they’re not a newbie anymore.
Can you tell us something about the Root Pots too?
That is the best example of us being green, in a conventional recyclable sense. The Root Pots are similar to other fabric root pots on the market. The differences consist mainly of ours being from 100% recycled materials and biodegrading after 3 or 4 years. They are grey, so they absorb less heat than say a black pot and are significantly cheaper than most of the competition.
It’s one of those rare instances where you can be better to the environment and spend less money at the same time.
What is Roots Organics – as a company brand doing to be greener?
There are two parts to that. The first part – more directly of how we’re doing that: Root Pots is a great example of putting in recyclable reusable, biodegradable alternatives to other products. Secondly, in a more abstract sense, just by attacking this growing industry in the way that we do, with an organic emphasis, might be our mission. The reason to this is because by using organics, you stay away from chemicals that can be/are harmful to the environment. So at a micro level, Root Pots would be the easiest example. In a broader sense, the organic movement. In a middle sense – working for schools, donating to various school projects about hydroponic gardening as well as soil gardening, roof top gardening and sustainable agriculture for individual purposes is something we have actively supported. I would say this would be the best answer.
Your art department has a way with things too. Are you in charge of that?
I would love to tell you that that is all me. None of my work went into the beautiful designs. It is taken care of by a very talented woman named Ashley Canti. She’s wonderful. She’s been handling this part since the beginning and we are very happy with her work. I think the question in itself is a compliment, so thank you.
You’re welcome. We have the Roots posters in our stores. I always look at the bottles and always say ‘Wow, their branding looks so clean, fitting for what you are doing or for what the industry needs right now’.
We approach it from that exact standpoint. We wanted to be clean and nutrient and industry specific. Even the Buddha, as a symbol itself is a peaceful, loving image to throw at everybody. So, thank you.
What are the most common questions you get about your products?
The most common: the difference between our soils. Specifically: what is the difference between regular Roots Organics dirt and Formula 707? The answer would be that Formula 707 is a peat based soil as opposed to a coco based soil; consequently it will hold a little more moisture. It’s also designed as an outdoor mix, with a third as much food as regular Root Organics. That way you can feed quicker. But also, the story of the design is our regular Roots dirt exploded in Northern California, but people were amending it heavy with mixes that have been passed down to them. But there is so much food in that Roots already that it’s not the best base for heavy food adding. So we came up with 707 which was named after the Humboldt area code, as a tip of the hat to them. It’s really for who it was designed for. It’s 20 gallons of soil in a 30 gallon bag; so you have room to amend right in the bag. It’s a much less fertilizer filled mix so they have that leeway to do what they want. So on one hand you can amend it quicker or you can not amend it and just feed quicker. One other difference: Green Fields is our newest soil, that is our nitrogen rich soil. It’s organic and peat based, and there’s good percentage of coco in there too. For similar amounts of food or regular Roots you want to give it like 3 weeks.
One other question would be: what does the bamboo extract do in some of the Soul Synthetics products? We use bamboo extract as a natural source of silica. I am pretty sure we are the only company doing that.
I’ve never heard of it before.
Exactly, we are all about that, new innovative natural ways of supplying necessary micro nutrients and all types of beneficials. One other thing I would like to mention is our catalysts. Trinity for the organic line and Infinity for the Soul Synthetics are by far our most inclusive and versatile products. In that sense the Trinity is the best example. It has a simple molasses base with a quillaja extract, yucca extract and aloe extracts – not only these natural wetting agents, but complex carbohydrates and sugars. They are also getting a protein boost from soy protein hydrolysate, a kelp boost from cold pressed sea kelp and a big humic boost built in as well.
It is so many things in one. You can replace a sweetening supplement, a catalyst/micronutrient and a flushing agent with Trinity; you can flush with great success over 5 ml a gallon with Trinity. It’s the same with Infinity, and you’re using them all throughout the plant’s life. Even if you plant something into our soil and there is already something in there and you can’t feed it yet, you can always give it Trinity – it just helps the plant eat what’s there. Also, Trinity and Oregonism XL are beneficial bacteria. Oregonism XL is a beneficial bacteria that contains Trichoderma and endo/ecto-mycorrhizae, plus kelp, yucca and humic, all together. Trinity and Oregonism XL are like peas in a pod; Trinity feeds those micro organisms like you wouldn’t believe. To conclude, these two make a wonderful team.
Will there be a noticeable difference by using one line as opposed to a part of the lines?
Truthfully yes, but I think the difference is more noticeable in the Soul line slightly than in the Roots line. The reason I am tempted to say that is because the boosters in the Soul Synthetics line have the only unlabeled proprietary ingredient we use in them, which is a non hormone, non steroid human health supplement. It’s a food grade product; the folks have been eating it for a long time. We start giving it to plants and they respond to it dramatically. It’s by this that I believe you will miss out by not using Soul Synthetics.
In the Roots Organics department, you will definitely miss out in yield and probably quality by not using the full line, but if you have the core: Buddha Grow, Buddha Bloom and Trinity, that would be the best for beginners. The simplest, cheapest, organic way of going about it you can ask for.