Fertilizer Nutrient Types
The fertilizers purchased from big box stores commonly contain nutrient types that are meant for outdoor soil based applications where microbes are plentiful, using them indoors with inert mediums like peat and perlite can cause problems that seemingly don’t make sense, manifesting as nutrient deficiencies. You will need to regularly add microorganisms (and molasses to feed them) to your soil or inert growing medium so that they can break down fertilizers like Urea Nitrogen so that your plants can assimilate the nutrients.
Alternatively when using inert growing mediums you can use specialized hydroponic fertilizers that contain nutrients already in a form that are readily available for uptake by plants like Ammoniacal Nitrogen. When using inert mediums like peat and perlite you are essentially growing hydroponically in a manual drain to waste system.
Root Magic has proven to be a reliable microorganism product that contains both Mycorrhizae and beneficial Bacillus Bacteria which helps to break down fertilizers and other things in the soil including fungus gnat larvae. When adding Microorganisms to your water or nutrient solution always add 1 tablespoon of Molasses per gallon so that the microorganisms have plenty of food to get started doing their job. Real Growers Recharge is an interesting product that contains Mycorrhizae, Bacillus Bacteria, as well as a powdered form of molasses, kelp, and amino acids. The jury is still out on the benefits of the Recharge product but in a recent observation of Root Magic + Molasses vs. Recharge, each in 1 gallon of RO water, after a few days we saw considerable microorganism growth in the Root Magic container and nothing in the Recharge container. We are repeating this test but adding the same molasses that we used for Root Magic to the Recharge container and are awaiting the results.
We did a recent experiment with (2) month old seedlings giving one plant only the big box store dry fertilizer 24-8-16 that has 20.5% Urea Nitrogen and 3.5% Ammoniacal Nitrogen vs. the same fertilizer but added the microorganisms and molasses to the mix for plant number 2. After 2 weeks we found that the plant without the microorganisms was struggling to stay a healthy green color and was quite pale in comparison to the plant that received the microorganism additive. Our microorganism additive consisted mainly of Bacillus Subtilis and Bacillus Licheniformis, both of which are motile organisms capable of fermenting sugars (lactose, glucose, mannitol) and excreting useful extracellular enzymes including but not limited to: catalase, casease, urease, deaminase, protease, and lipase. The urease enzyme is what converts the Urea into Ammonium, a form of Nitrogen that plants can assimilate.
Mycorrhizae is a beneficial fungus that forms a symbiotic relationship with plant root systems helping to bring food to the plant roots. In addition, mycorrhizae also help to unlock Phosphorus in the soil which can easily get locked up with Calcium. For more information about Soil Microbiology and Microorganisms check out this video.