Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Three Little Birds(3LB) on Earth Juice

The three_little_birds are well know for our love of growing using organic fertilizers . . . And while we are always looking for ways to utilize inexpensive and effective materials like manure, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, and a variety of rock powders . . . we also know that some folks will only use organic growing methods if the option is fairly simple and mess free . . . while organic fertilizers from a bottle will never likely be as cost effective as using rock powders and teas made from alfalfa or guano . . . they do offer great convenience . . .

and the good news for growers who demand their organic fertilizers in a bottle . . . is that herbs grown exclusively with today’s liquid organic fertilizers will rival those grown with any method of organic growing we’ve ever used or experienced . . . there’s no need to sacrifice quality for convenience if your pocketbook can withstand the additional cost . . .

our favorite among premixed liquid fertilizers is the complete line of Earth Juice products . . . we’ve sampled other fertilizers but always come back to Earth Juice . . . In our opinion they are the “premium standard” against which all other organic ferts must measure themselves . . .

The basic line of Earth Juice fertilizers is 5 different products that can all be used in any combination with each other . . . the ability to “mix and match” any of the 5 products gives us the versatility to deal with any nutrient need (or problem) that might arise . . . here’s a listing of Earth Juice array . . .

Earth Juice Grow
Earth Juice Bloom
Earth Juice Catalyst (called Xatalyst in Canada)
Earth Juice ****-K
Earth Juice Microblast

the Grow and Bloom formulas can be used alone or in combination with each other . . . no big explanation necessary with those names . . . their intended uses are pretty obvious . . . Catalyst is basically a jazzed up Molasses / carbohydrate product to feed beneficial bacteria and act as a chelate . . . ****-K is an awesome Potassium supplement . . . and Microblast is one of the most useful and effective micronutrient products we’ve had the pleasure of using . . . in our next post we’ll give a more formal introduction to the various components of the EJ line of ferts . . .

The EJ lineup
here’s the “scoop” . . . the “tech intell” . . . the “lowdown” . . . the “skinny” . . . on what exactly is in those Earth Juice ferts that the 3LB’s talk about so much . . .

EARTH JUICE GROW 2-1-1
bat guano
kelp
sulfate of potash
feather meal
oat bran
blood meal
steamed bone meal
this is the “jack of all trades” among the Earth Juice products . . . useful throughout all of vegging and the first couple weeks of vegging . . . Depending on a plant’s growth stage and we use the EJ Grow at concentrations of anywhere from 1 TBSP to 2 TBSP per gallon (and we have pushed it to 3 to 4 TBSP without harm for very heavy feeders)

EARTH JUICE BLOOM 0-3-1
bat guano
seabird guano
kelp
sulfate of potash
steamed bone meal
oat bran
rock phosphate
we love our Earth Juice Bloom as a flowering fertilizer and. . . because this product has no Nitrogen it’s especially useful for late stage flowering when it’s desirable to let a plant use up the soil’s nitrogen reserves . . . and for an added boost of Phosphorous at those times when plant’s need an extra boost of P . . . we normally use EJ Bloom at rates between ½ and 2 TBSP per gallon . . .

EARTH JUICE CATALYST
oat bran
kelp
wheat malt
molasses
yeast
For some odd reason, the Canadian Government requires this product to be labeled as “Xatalyst” . . . but whatever it’s called where you live . . . if you’ve looked over the “Molasses Manual” by the 3LB you may already know the biggest “secret” to this product . . . the sweet sticky goodness of molasses . . . as we’ve said elsewhere molasses feeds microbes and acts as a chelating agent to make micronutrients more available to plants . . . those extra organic goodies in Catalyst like wheat malt and oat bran are just “icing on the cake” . . .

Earth Juice ****-K 0-0-10
sulfate of potash
pretty simple product with apparently only a single active ingredient . . . it does have a good measure of Sulfur . . . and it’s very useful to give an extra boost of Potassium when necessary . . . Many organic fertilizers run a little “lean” on K - especially guano based products . . . and EJ ****-K gives us a way to add that needed Potassium in controlled amounts as needed . . .

Earth Juice Microblast
kelp meal
magnesium sulfate
borax
cobalt sulfate
ferrous sulfate
manganese sulfate
sodium molybdate
zinc sulfate
the Microblast tests out to the following percentages . . . Magnesium (Mg) .05%, Boron (B) .02%, Cobalt (Co) .0005%, Iron (Fe) .10%, Manganese (Mn) .05%, Molybdenum (Mo) .0005%, Zinc (Zn) .05% . . . in our experience it’s a great all around micronutrient supplement that resolves almost every potential micronutrient issue likely to arise . . .

there's your "Earth Juice All Stars" lineup . . .

it's not "soup" yet . . . but in our next post we'll give the recipes to feed your plant's a gourmet diet . . .

Earth Juice Recipes Growth Recipes

we get many PM’s and email requests for our Earth Juice recipes . . . many folks - it seems - would love for us to just spell out the specific nutrient mixes and quantities we use with every feeding . . . . if only life were so simple!

What and how much we use vary's some from strain to strain . . . Perhaps even from plant to plant . . . so it’s just not possible to set a schedule and ignore the plants . . . The best gardeners become “at one” with their plants and feed them according to the plant’s needs . . . even anticipating their needs . . .

our standard mix for vegging plants is usually

1 to 2 TBSP Grow
1 tsp Bloom
1 tsp Catalyst (called Xatalyst in Canada for some odd reason)
(all ingredients are added to a gallon of water . . . )

there are times where we might increase the Bloom portion up to as much as a tablespoon . . . Especially for plants in the early stages of flowering . . . and we can go as high as 3 or even 4 TBSP of Grow for really N hungry plants - but if we increase the Grow fert above 2 TBSP per gallon we usually leave out Bloom & Catalyst )

we also use what we call our "microblast mix" once or twice during the normal life-cycle of vegging plants . . . no big difference between this and the prior mix except this one has an extra boost of **** K and Microblast . . .

1-2 TBSP Grow
1 tsp Bloom
1 tsp Catalyst
1 tsp ****-K
1 tsp Microblast

as folks may have observed in our “Growing LUI with the 3LB” thread . . . we also commonly use some kinds of fish fertilizers and kelp concentrates during a plant’s early growth stages . . . we like the combination of enzymes and proteins and hormones the fish and kelp provide together . . . but it’s common for some fish products to be high in heavy metal contaminants like Mercury . . . so the “seafood platter” is a treat we feed our babes and the Earth Juice is their regular diet . . .

Flowering Recipes

early stage flowering plants can often use a fair measure of nitrogen as they stretch . . . so a normal Earth Juice mix in early flowering will look pretty similar to a Grow mix . . . we like to use something along the lines of the following for the first couple weeks of flowering . . .

1 TBSP EJ Grow
1 TBSP EJ Bloom
1 tsp Catalyst (yeah we know - it’s Xatalyst north of a line from Seattle - Duluth - Niagra!)

as flowering progresses we forego the Nitrogen to let our plants use N reserves from the soil as they finish flowering . . . so mixing an Earth Juice Bloom formula can be as easy as . . .

1 TBSP EJ Bloom
1 tsp EJ Catalyst

for really hungry darlings we’ll go as high as 2 TBSP per gallon with the EJ Bloom . . . but pouring it on that heavy can burn light feeders . . . and even with heavy feeders it’s better to build up to stronger concentrations of EJ Bloom over time than to just start in at 2 TBSP per gallon right away as plants begin to flower. . .

and we also have a bloom "micro-mix" that includes ****-K and Microblast . . . it's used once in a blooming plant's life (or maybe twice in plant’s with a long flowering) . . . Like the growth “microblast mix” it gives an extra boost of Potassium and assorted micronutrients to make sure the plants will want for nothing!
The flowering micro-mix usually goes like this . . .

1 TBSP Bloom
1 tsp Catalyst
1 tsp ****-K
1 tsp Microblast

that's about all there is to making an awsome plant-enriching organic brew with Earth Juice . . . it's really that simple . . .

Earth Juice Notes

In theory there’s no need to “flush” organic soil grown herbs before harvest . . . and because organic fertilizers are not salt based like chemical fertilizers . . . traditional techniques for “flushing” wouldn’t carry away nutrient salts in the traditional meaning of the word “flush” anyway . . .

That creates a danger with organic fertilizers that doesn’t exist with salt based chemical fertilizers . . . with salt fertilizers over-fertilizing can be pretty severe . .. But it will show up fairly quickly . . . and the solution (a good flushing) can be enacted pretty quickly too . . .

it’s probably harder for a grower to over-fertilize using organic fertilizers . . . but if they do there’s no quick solution . . . organic fertilizers usually can’t be flushed away like salt fertilizer’s can . . . so if a grower over-fertilizes they will likely have to live with the consequences for a longer term . . .

And when it comes to harvest time . . . we do go ahead and put our organic herbs on a “crash” diet . . . in the past it’s just been pure water for the last two weeks . . . But lately we’ve been experimenting with using Fulvic Acid with the watering during the second week before harvest . . . and then plain water the final week . . . this technique really seems to bring out the fullest potential of our babes . . . but the wonders of Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid are deserving of their own thread . . .

And finally . . . before we finish our initial discussion of Earth Juice Fertilizers . . . we need to touch on the practice of premixing and bubbling Earth Juice fertilizers . . . we get a lot of questions on this topic in private so may as well discuss it here and avoid having to type the same information time and time again . . .

This is the most common question we hear . . .
“Is it absolutely necessary to pre-mix and bubble / aerate Earth Juice fertilizers before use ? ? ?“
Our simple answer is no it’s not necessary at all . . . but Earth Juice will be more efficiently and effectively used if “brewed” for 24-48 hours before use . . . in organic farming the old adage is “feed the soil not the plant” . . . and making your Earth Juice fert mix into an aerated tea maximizes the benefits it can provide for your plants . . . but they will work fine if used without any premixing or bubbling . . .
we would also like to add that if you do not care to go to the bother of premixing and aerating your Earth Juice . . . that you use the fertilizers in smaller / lighter proportions . . .

We also hear this question a lot . . .
“What about the low pH of those Earth Juice fertilizers? - Will that low pH harm my plants?”
And our simple answer is that there’s likely little concern about that issue unless your growing medium is already abnormally acidic . . . but we can also say that the pre-mixing and bubbling/aerating we talked about in the prior question will moderate the pH to an extent . . . and that can allow heavier feedings overall . . .

Our experience with Earth Juice in everything from 3 gallon pots to 30 gallon beds indoors is that a good soil mix with a healthy microbe population will moderate it’s own pH to an extent . . . and the calcite and dolomite lime use commonly in soil mixes will do some of the work as well . . . so we’ve never had any actual problems with pH in our Earth Juice experience . . .

And finally we also get asked . . .
“Can I get by with just Bloom and Grow and not have to go to the expense of the other products?”
And the simple answer is yes of course you can. Catalyst is a molasses based product so the substitution of cheap and easily available Blackstrap molasses will be almost as good as the real thing. . . And although we prefer to use Microblast and ****-K a few times during a plant’s life . . . we’ve certainly had great grows without them . . .
Not having those extra ingredients available will make your life much more difficult if something does go wrong . . . having a sufficient source of Potassium is a major factor in a plant’s ability to withstand the heat stresses inherent in many grow rooms . . . and micronutrient deficiencies can be hard to diagnose and treat without a “full range” micronutrient fertilizer like Microblast . . . Maxicrop kelp concentrate is the only other substitute we know of that’s as effective at treating a shortage of potassium and trace minerals . . . and many growers prefer to avoid using kelp products during the later stages of flowering . . .


why no MaxiCrop during the end of bloom ?

not everyone agrees on this topic . . . but kelp and kelp concentrates contain growth hormones that might interfere with or prolong a plant's natural flowering cycle . . .

someone even polled that question here recently . . . and there really was no general agreement . . . our opinion is that the plant growth hormones in kelp and kelp concentrates might encourage a bit extra stretch . . . and perhaps prolong flowering slightly . . .

we can't point to any specific studies that back up our observation . . . it's simply something where we prefer to err on the side of caution . . . so we try to avoid giving any "mixed messages" to our plants in the advanced stages of flowering . . .

many thanks to all who have chirped in . . . our flock of friends is glad to hear this "guide" has helped some folks already . . . we hope that other Earth Juice users will "chirp in" with their own recipes and uses for this versitile line of organic products . . .

NOTE - the 3LB have no financial or commercial interest in Earth Juice . . . we have no connection or relation to the company in any manner shape or form . . .
we are simply providing this thread as a legacy for the community to document our techniques and methods . . . and to encourage further discussion on the topic of some of the best organic products we are aware of . . .