can anyone recommend Espoma Bio Tone Starter Plus ?

tom_n_6bzone(Western Maryland 6b)February 1, 2009

for use in containers?

or what would you recommend instead if you believe that biostimulants, beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae are not necessary to add for container usage? Or if you do, is there a better or more cost effective product? I am not educated enough to know and I cannot find much information on this product or similar and their benefits, if any. What little I have been able to read sounds like this is very beneficial. I have seen it at Lowe's.

The part I couldn'nt copy and paste below is 4-3-3 with 4.0 CA, 1.0 MG, 2.0 S

Thank you,

~tom in western md.


Non-Plant Food Ingredients:

Contains 5,678,688 colony forming units (CFUÂs) per lb. (378,579 CFUÂs per lb. each of the following 15 species):

Bacillus subtilis

Paenibacillus polymyxa

Bacillus licheniformis

Pseudomonas alcaligenes

Bacillus megaterium

Pseudomonas chlororaphis

Bacillus marinus

Pseudomonas putida

Bacillus coagulans

Acidovorax facilis

Bacillus thuringiensis

Arthrobacter agilis

Bacillus pumilis

Rhodococcus rhodochorus

Bacillus lentimorbus

Ectomycorrhizal Fungi: 44,200,000 propagules/lb. of the following 8 species:

Pisiolithus tinctorius (40,000,000 propagules/lb.)

Scleroderma Citrinni (1,000,000 propagules/lb.)

Scleroderma Cepa (1,000,000 propagules/lb.)

Laccaria Bicolor (200,000 propagules/lb.)

Rhizopogon Roseolus (500,000 propagules/lb.)

Rhizopogon Subscaerelescens (500,000 propagules/lb.)

Rhizopogon villosuli (500,000 propagules/lb.)

Endomycorrhizal Fungi: 1,200 propagules per lb. of the following 2 species:

Glomus aggregatum (600 propagules/lb.)

Glomus intraradices (600 propagules/lb.)

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I can't recommend any of these products even though they seem to be all the rage these days.

I kind of feel about them the way I do the polymer crystals. There are fine, smart, experienced folks who will disagree with me, but this is my opinion and experience:

They don't work:)

I have used various fungal inoculations from sources considered reputable such as Fungi Perfecti, T22 (sold as root shield) and others. The joke is that I never got any of them to take in a container or raised bed, but one bed I never inoculated sported some serious mychorrizal growth that I assume was introduced on the wood chips I got from the city.

In looking at the Espoma product I kind of chuckle. They include Bacillus thuringiensis and others, but why? This is something added to the potting mix, not applied to the plant. Bt is a well regarded control for certain pests, but it is applied to the plant where the pests are, not in the soil. I suppose it might be OK for an indoor plant where fungas knats are a problem, but only if the right strain is used (don't really know if there is a strain of Bt for their larvae)

If you research the fungi most of these products include you will find they almost all occur in nature, but only in forests. They simply do not readily form symbiotic relationships with what you and I grow.

If you continue your research you will also learn that few to none of these will survive in a container setting. They thrive only in environments that are very stable in terms of pH, temps, moisture etc. That is why most of the fungal species you find available are taken from forest floors.

So, that is my 2 cents :)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:17PM
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In open field conditions where weeds abound it is often an indication of their strong mychorrizal symbiosis.
Millet is the first choice of cultivated plant to grow in dry farming conditions for homestead mychorrizal propagation.
Commercial operations are always undertaken in greenhouses to promote strain purity and product collection.
Bacillus subtilis encompasses many varieties. School science projects sometimes grow a strain of it. (There are some B. subtilis that are edible & of theraputic value for humans.)
Not all the mentioned ingredients on the stated list have been worked with by me.
I accept JAG's experience that the formulation is of negligible use in container growing because the micro-environment is explicitly distinct from a farm field's macro-environment.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 6:07PM
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tom_n_6bzone(Western Maryland 6b)

Thank you, I value your input very much. There are some fanatics out there that swear by this or similar stuff!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:06AM
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I'm going to respectfully disagree and offer the idea that these products DO provide benefit to both a container and an inground setting, but the benefits will be variable depending on the product used and the methodology of the grower.

First, a mycorrhizal symbiosis exists with virtually all land plants (evidence supports numbers as high as 95%), so its presence is not just limited to forested areas. In fact, mycorrhizal fungi are found in virtually all soils, except those that have been heavily worked or endured many years of synthetic fertilization. Lawns in particular react very positively to mycorrhizal inoculations. Wholesale plant growers are also becoming aware of the benefits of mycorrhizae and other beneficial organisms in their production methods and are using inoculum widely - primarily as it relates to woody plants - especially in container soils. Stimulation of root development and increased uptake of water and nutrients is the intent. And I know of several better lines of organic fertilizers and soil products/amendments that also inoculate their products with a variety of these organisms.

How well they act in a container growing environment and what benefits they provide will be highly dependent on what you are growing, the medium, and the care provided. Beneficial soil organisms, as noted, are very sensitive to heat, moisture and chemical additives. However, their benefits to soils (using the term very broadly) and to plant growth and health is pretty well documented.

And Bacillus thuringiensis is a common soil-dwelling bacterium - the strain(s) used to control caterpillars, mosquitoes and other beetle, fly and gnat larvae (many of which ARE soil dwellers) are only a few of many and there is evidence to support that in-soil bacterium also provide some degree of control on non-beneficial soil dwelling organisms. In the soil, it's pretty much a "bug-eat-bug" world and fortunately for us as gardeners, the good soil 'bugs' tend to be on the top of the food chain :-)

Soil biology is a very complex community of interaction with far reaching implications on plant health and growth and to dismiss it all as it relates to container culture is perhaps shortchanging the benefits it could very well produce. That's not to say that there's any need to be fanatical about such products that may be available that provide this biological input but if one is inclined, they certainly won't hurt and they could very well improve growing conditions and production. There's a large number of growers and gardeners out there that think so and a growing body of scientific evidence to support it.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:31AM
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I know this is a very old thread. But gardengal48 is the only one that replied that really knows her soil biology. I have not used this brand. I use a lot of Promix BX and the Mycorrhizal fungi are Amazing! All you have to do is transplant one seedling into plain potting soil, the other into Promix BX, wait a few weeks, and when you transplant them you will see which has the most roots, biggest leaves, biggest plant.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 1:45PM
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