These days, bacteria often get a bad rap. We’re endlessly bombarded with antibacterial messaging — from household cleaning products, to hand and body soaps and sanitizers, to antibiotics prescribed by doctors to treat all sorts of infections.
While it’s true that certain strains of bacteria can be harmful to humans, plants and animals, bacteria are among the oldest, most abundant life forms on the planet — and there are several strains of good bacteria that serve all kinds of beneficial purposes.
Along with microscopic fungi, bacteria are the smallest living organisms on Earth. Scientists have identified more than 10 million unique species, and just one teaspoon of fertile soil can contain between 100 million and one billion bacteria. When you combine the number of fungi to the mix, there are more microbial life forms in that teaspoon of soil than there are humans on Earth!
Roughly 900 million years ago, bacteria set the stage for the evolution of soil fungi, and together they shaped our planet’s soil structure and created the conditions necessary for the evolution of plant life.
The bacteria and fungi found in the dirt are referred to as soil microbes. These microscopic organisms are invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen under magnification — but don’t be fooled by their miniscule size. These tiny organisms are extremely powerful and hold a wealth of benefits for your crops.
How Do Beneficial Bacteria For Plants Help Root Growth?
Soil-dwelling bacteria predate plants. In fact, microbial bacteria living in the soil made it possible for plant life to develop in the first place — and in soil-grown crops, bacteria play a huge role in nutrient uptake, growth hormone production and disease prevention.
Beneficial bacteria for plants greatly enhance the health of the rhizosphere, which is a fancy term for the root zone. They do this in a number of ways:
- Beneficial bacteria convert otherwise unavailable nutrients into forms that are bioavailable by plant roots for uptake and absorption.
- Beneficial bacteria for plants produce chemicals and hormones that stimulate growth.
- Beneficial bacteria help prevent infections from pathogens by coating the root surfaces and triggering systemic disease resistance.
- Beneficial bacteria for plants help filter out heavy metals and other contaminants from the soil.
- When they die, beneficial bacteria act as fertilizer by releasing helpful nutrients that are absorbed by the plant’s roots.
For example, phosphorus (the P in N-P-K, the three macronutrients required for plant growth) is not readily available for uptake by plants in the soil because of other chemical bonds. But beneficial bacteria unlock phosphorus and convert it into a bioavailable form that plants can utilize.
Harnessing The Benefits Of Bacteria For Plant Root Growth In A Hydroponic Garden
As we’ve seen, beneficial bacteria have a host of health benefits for plants and greatly enhance the function and growth of plant roots in soil. But what if you grow indoors in a hydroponic garden?
Fortunately, there’s a way to bring the power of beneficial bacteria found naturally in soil into your hydroponic grow.
How? By using beneficial microbial blends — such as Advanced Nutrients Voodoo Juice and Advanced Nutrients Tarantula — in your feeding program.
How To Grow Healthy Hydroponic Plants With Beneficial Bacteria
Voodoo Juice and Tarantula are two ultra-premium, proprietary blends of beneficial bacteria made specifically to enhance root-zone health and growth, and increase the size and quality of your yields.
Voodoo Juice contains four proprietary strains of bacteria that work synergistically to colonize root structures, increase the development of fine feeder hairs, and enhance nutrient availability and uptake.
Similarly, Tarantula contains a blend of 11 strains of beneficial bacteria that increase lateral root development, produce natural growth cofactors, and ward off harmful bacteria in the root zone.
Together, Tarantula and Voodoo Juice provide a complex range of beneficial bacteria that support more robust root development, increase the transport of essential nutrients into and throughout your plants, and help fight plant disease caused by harmful pathogens and destructive bacteria strains.
The Pros And Cons Of Brewing Compost Tea
One way that many growers try to harness beneficial bacteria in their hydroponic gardens is by brewing a compost tea.
This is typically done by making huge so-called tea bags filled with compost material — things like grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste, as well as biodegradable food items like banana peels, eggshells, coffee grounds and vegetable peelings. Many growers also like to include other organic materials in their tea brews, like molasses, sea kelp and manure.
All this compost is steeped in a tub of aerated water to form the compost tea.
When done right, compost tea is an effective way to introduce beneficial bacteria into your hydroponic grow and reap their many benefits. However, it’s a very time-consuming and complicated process — and if it’s not done right, you’ll not only be left with ineffective compost tea, but you’ll also have an extremely foul odor to deal with. Not to mention you will have effectively wasted all the money you spent on additives for the brew.
Be Careful When Purchasing Beneficial Bacteria Or Compost Tea Blends
Using a preformulated blend of beneficial bacteria is a much safer bet than trying to brew your own organic compost tea — but you have to be careful when selecting a prepackaged blend.
Even though millions of bacteria coexist in the soil and in the rhizosphere of your plants, certain species are not compatible when packaged together in concentrated solutions. If the manufacturer of a beneficial bacteria product doesn’t know what they’re doing, they could inadvertently put the wrong strains together in the same bottle, effectively killing all the beneficial bacteria before it even reaches your crop’s root zones.
Additionally, some manufacturers breed all their bacteria and fungi strains together in one large vat. But this method can create an unstable bacteria population that can do more harm to your grow than good.
The bacteria strains contained in Advanced Nutrients Voodoo Juice and Tarantula are all bred individually in separate environments, resulting in stable populations. Plus, the 11 bacterial strains in Tarantula and the four strains found in Voodoo Juice are compatible with one another in high concentrations — and when the strains from the two products are combined in your crop’s rhizospheres, they coexist and carry out all the beneficial functions we’ve discussed.
How To Use Voodoo Juice And Tarantula
A Word On Hydrogen Peroxide
Some growers promote the use of hydrogen peroxide as a means of introducing oxygen into the root zone and deterring disease and algae growth. However, hydrogen peroxide will also kill all the beneficial bacteria — which means you won’t get any of the benefits of bacteria. Therefore, we do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide if you are using supplemental microbes like the ones found in Voodoo Juice and Tarantula.