Saturday, July 4, 2009

Supersize me

"Would you like fries with that?" (Addendum)

I was recently informed that Persiano's feeding regimen included a key ingredient (Roots2), which was extremely hard to come by and, definitely not available in Canada. This key ingredient if omitted would pretty much nullify any superfeeding that took place. Perhaps nullify is too strong a word in this context but, a definite reduction in efficiency would transpire.

Why was this key ingredient so important?

Al Keppler wrote:
The whole secret to the super-feeding regimen was not the amount of fertilizer that was used. It was the Roots 2 and the Roots 2 liquid with iron.

Roots 2 is not manufactured anymore. Roots 2 was a humas enriched fertilizer like Gro Power that I have been useing for 4 years now. Roots 2 was 10 percent humic acid and Gro Power is 14 percent humic acid. A superfeeding regimen is not super-feeding without the addition of humic acid to deliver to the roots all that is being offered to the plant to utilize. Organic fertilizers take massive amounts of bacteria to break down organics into usable compounds. Humic acid has been shown to build bacteria quickly to break down fertilizer compound as well as build mycorrhizae quickly.

Free flowing bonsai soils like we use now have poor CEC's like Akadama. Most clay products have poor CEC. The addtion of the humic acid changes the polarity of the soil components to attract and capture the fertilizer ions and make them available to the plant. Without the addition of humic acid or a fertilizer enriched with humic acid like Roots 2 or Gro Power the fertilizer will wash straight through. It is impossible to super-feed using Michael Persiano's formula with out the addition of the humic based fertilizer.

Ironically, the issue of Bonsai Today ( issue 46 )that introduced the world to Michael's super-feeding plan failed to mention that Roots 2 was a product that contained humic acid. For many years I am sure that many people made fertilizer cakes with the formula ommitting the Roots 2 due to availability or cost. Had there been more of a focus on what actually was making the whole thing work could have changed bonsai as we know it 12 years ago.

Roots2 contained humates, the short version "compost". Gardeners didn't call this organic decomposition black gold for nothing. It is hard to tell outside of the scientific community if folks really knew what were the active ingredients of this precious commodity, but the need didn't really exist then. In those days all that really mattered is that it worked, gardeners and farmers used it, and it was passed down from generation to generation.

I am not going to go into a dissertation on humates or the two main active ingredients: humic and fluvic acids. A quick Internet search will provide you with easy explanations to scientific data. Suffice to say that there is a wealth of information out there that need not be repeated here.

The gist of this article is to serve as an addendum to my article on fertilizers. As discussed therein, we have changed our substrate in recent years towards an almost inorganic mix. Without the addition or very little organics the natural decomposition of organic matter is non existent in totally inert soils to negligible in partially organic substrate.

As explained, because of the shift to extremely fast draining inorganic soils, the feeding rate of our possessions had to increase exponentially if we were to allow our trees to truly prosper. Michael created a "super-feeding program" to compensate for this. He either new and omitted to mention the active ingredients of Roots2 or was a complete oversight on his part.

So the short of it: Humic and Fluvic acid form an integral part of the bacterial process in soil and in doing so decomposes fertilizers to active components that can readily be ingested by plants/trees. In other words feeding at greater efficiency and rates. Not only does it act favourably with fertilizers, it increases the growth of beneficial mychorrhizea as well.

I have since started to use Humic acid as a monthly addition to my current feeding regimen for all my trees.

As I could not find a source for Roots2 liquid and Roots2 liquid with iron, I was using liquid seaweed and seaweed with iron where called for in the charts. Now each time Persiano's charts call for Roots2 X, I simply use Humic acid and where called for iron, add an iron supplement.

It is my belief that this information is relatively knew to gardeners at large. I can say this with all confidence as I searched for sources of Humic acid, everyone responded as if I had 3 heads. When asked what it was for, and I would reply "bonsai", they would state shouldn't you use bonsai fertilizer for that? Yeah right!

However, when talking to the right folks, the results are simply flabbergasting. Humic and fluvic acid are available at any hydroponic stores in your area. Just follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage and you are on your way to healthier more prosperous trees.

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