Insect Frass: Nature’s Own Plant Growth Booster!
When it comes to deciding what to feed your plants, beetle larvae poo probably isn’t one of those things that springs immediately to mind…
More commonly called “Insect Frass”, it’s plant boosting properties have been known about for a long time. However, it is only recently that it has started to become a popular soil amendment outside of agriculture. In fact, it is only in recent years that increasing numbers of gardeners have begun to use it to grow startlingly large produce, such as onions and leeks, that walk away with the top prizes at horticultural competitions.
Knowledge of the effect this stuff has on plants is rapidly spreading throughout the
growing community, and now demand for insect frass is beginning to soar. Here at One Stop Grow Shop, we have started stocking the best example of this strange yet high performance amendment. Ecothrive Charge, is of the highest quality and this is an aspect of Ecothrive’s business that they are incredibly proud of. In order to produce the best quality frass, the larvae of the Tenebrio Molitor beetles (aka mealworms) are treated to a very cosy environment where they are fed only the best organically grown carrots and wheat bran. The poo is then collected, processed (to ensure no live insects get through) and then packaged for discerning gardeners everywhere. The end product has been certified by the Soil Association as completely organic.
Now, before you rush out to get some, you’re probably going to want to know why on earth this stuff would put plants into turbo mode, right? Ok. To start with, it contains a bit of NPK (3-2-3) and micro nutrients, and can therefore it be used as a plant nutrient. But that’s nothing particularly special, I hear you say. Well, that’s because I haven’t got to the really good bit yet – beetle larvae poo also contains tiny insect fragments and it’s choc full of beneficial microbes (bacteria) too. These two very effective ingredients come from the inside of the mealworms’ digestive tract and the wholesome, organic food that they are fed. Quality in gives quality out. It’s as simple as that.
But that still doesn’t explain why this product should have such grand consequences for plants. And it does….!
The secret to that is in the way that plants react to the tiny particles of mealworm (derivatives of chitin). Plants sense their environment in lots of ways. When plants notice that there are bits of insect around them, they begin to think that they are under attack. In order to protect themselves, they strengthen their immune systems and also go into “fight or flight” mode, triggering a huge boost in growth speed and vigour.
Because frass precipitates a strengthening of a plant’s immune system, the plant is naturally more prepared for warding off diseases, pests and fungal attacks (yes, even the dreaded botrytis).
Ecothrive Charge makes a really excellent addition to coco coir, which has little bio diversity within it (apart perhaps from Trichodermal fungi). Adding Charge to the coco in your hydroponics setup adds some integral macro and micro nutrients plus a highly beneficial biological aspect to your grow. It will speed up veg times and improves root establishment, as well as all the benefits listed above.
The organic gardeners among you will have probably sat up in your chairs the moment I mentioned beneficial microbes. And yes, I did say this stuff is absolutely loaded with them. 450 million colony forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per gram, in fact.
Beneficial bacteria do a whole host of jobs in the soil (or coco coir, if you prefer to use that). Once soil has been inoculated with them, they will help ward off pathogens, produce organic matter and help with soil conditioning. They also break down organic food so that it’s accessible to the roots and make the whole rhizosphere very favourable for enhanced root growth – and that’s just to mention a few of their benefits. Basically, they make the soil a much more congenial place for plant roots to live.
Ecothrive Charge is used by mixing it into potting mix at a rate of 1-2% of the total amount. This means that at the time of writing, the cost of incorporating Ecothrive Charge (for the 1 litre tub size) into your growing regimen is less than 12 pence per litre of soil or coco. And that’s using it at the full 2% strength.
With all the benefits you get with this stuff, can you think of a reason why you wouldn’t want to use it? I know I can’t!