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 So I was wondering what opinions were on Foliar Feeding. I have heard that the upper part of the plant is not exactly supposed to get wet, but it just seems that it would help, especially if compost tea is used.

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I'd be interested too because I have heard that introducing other materials can disrupt the natural systems created in an AP system. Also, it would be important, just like with insecticides (natural and organic of course), not to get any of the material onto the media. 

 I did not know about that with the insecticides thing. I suppose that makes sense though. You would not want to kill the critters in the system. I will have to think more on what I introduce into the system. Sounds like a topic for a whole new thread! 

It depends on the plant as to whether you can get the leaves wet or not. I believe you only spray the underside of leaves when doing foliar feeding. When we were able to get our PH lowered & under control, our plants were able to absorb the micronutrients from the water and we haven't needed to feed them since. Do your plants appear like they need added nutrients?

Insecticides can definitely affect fish, worms & bacteria, so you have to be very careful. We use neem oil and cayenne mixed together and it seems to work for just about everything, but I'm very careful to only get the plants and minimize what gets on the medium because the oil can muck it up. We also keep diatomaceous earth around & use it around the periphery of the system when needed.

Most insecticides would count as a big no-no.

Foliar spraying of say, worm tea or Potassium BiCarbonate or whatever does not need to be done exclusively on the undersides of the leave (though it doesn't hurt especially if your after the fungicidal properties of the Potasium BiCarb). Just don't spray the poor plants at mid day or anything. The water droplets will act like a magnifying glass for the suns rays on the leaves and usually results in damage. Besides the stomata (plant pores) are most rececptive (open) at dusk and before dawn so that would be a good time to foliar feed for a number of reasons.

Foliar sprays of worm tea can be a great supplement to a brand new AP system. Worm tea is mostly all Nitrates (no Nitrites or NH4 I tested :) and I've successfully ran a fish-less system with just worm castings brewing perpetually in a nylon sock in the reservoir. (Just lettuce, chards, leafy green stuff though). The NPK value will vary according to the worms diet, but say 5-5-5 would be at the high end of the scale (probably more like 4-3-1 though IMO) pH of worm tea is generally quite high though. Which in certain settings could be good. (Buffering). This pH is of no concern if foliar feeding though.

Any type of oil  will do a number on the fish's gills. People use oils in AP to combat plant pests successfully, just use some common sense precautions to protect your fish tank from over the over-spray. Neem oil is particularly toxic to fish, but again can be used with no ill effects if even a modicum of care is taken. Any essential plant oils (lavender, mint, tee tree etc...) will work just the same, and are less expensive than the pre-packaged products.(And less toxic to the fish than Neem should an accident or slip of carelessness occur :)    3-5% oil 0.5% surfactant (dish washing soap) the rest is just water. This is a common formulation for many of the 'organic' Liquid Ladybug" type products. I've been making my own for a while now and it works great on mites, aphids and any 'soft-bodied bugs. (The way these products work is since those insects breathe through their skin, the oil causes their pores to clog and they suffocate). If you overdo the concentration of oil you WILL burn your plants too. Though peppers seem to burn (little brown dots) more than any other plants I've seen at even 'normal' concentrations. Though not significant enough to kill them. Just don't be freaked out when you see the speckling... 

Foliar feeding can be especially helpful if you are having deficiency issues and can't get appropriate stuff to simply add to the system or as noted, perhaps your system is still running a pH too high to make iron stay available in the water.

About foliar feeding, in humid climates, spraying plants in the evening can cause fungus issues and during hot weather you have to make sure not to spray before the extreme heat of the day as you could cause burning of the plants.

Some foliar feeding can even help against some fungus (potassium bicrabonate or even worm tea) and other foliar feeding can sometimes be effective against aphids (maxicrop or worm tea.)

You right TC, even worm tea or plain water can help with aphids and mites, but I've never found it to kill enough of them when used alone. I'll use an oil spray first, then the next day, plain water, then the day after that the worm tea (that I usually start brewing the day I notice the little buggers and spray oils) then oil again...and so forth. This will usually stop them. I'll repeat a smaller cycle in like a week after just in case any eggs that hatched made it through...This has worked well for me so far.

Soft bodied insects don't like to be wet (can't breath as good I guess) and even spraying water will kill IDK, maybe 15-20% of them.

Man, I friggin hate spider mites.

so wat is this "diatomaceous earth" and how is it used and is it worth using? i tried to read the wiki on it, but i would rather have a more specific answer from someone that uses it. Thanks

Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

It depends on the plant as to whether you can get the leaves wet or not. I believe you only spray the underside of leaves when doing foliar feeding. When we were able to get our PH lowered & under control, our plants were able to absorb the micronutrients from the water and we haven't needed to feed them since. Do your plants appear like they need added nutrients?

Insecticides can definitely affect fish, worms & bacteria, so you have to be very careful. We use neem oil and cayenne mixed together and it seems to work for just about everything, but I'm very careful to only get the plants and minimize what gets on the medium because the oil can muck it up. We also keep diatomaceous earth around & use it around the periphery of the system when needed.

 Very informative. tyvm. i did not realize about ph levels in compost tea. i will check that though from now on.

Vlad Jovanovic said:

Most insecticides would count as a big no-no.

Foliar spraying of say, worm tea or Potassium BiCarbonate or whatever does not need to be done exclusively on the undersides of the leave (though it doesn't hurt especially if your after the fungicidal properties of the Potasium BiCarb). Just don't spray the poor plants at mid day or anything. The water droplets will act like a magnifying glass for the suns rays on the leaves and usually results in damage. Besides the stomata (plant pores) are most rececptive (open) at dusk and before dawn so that would be a good time to foliar feed for a number of reasons.

Foliar sprays of worm tea can be a great supplement to a brand new AP system. Worm tea is mostly all Nitrates (no Nitrites or NH4 I tested and I've successfully ran a fish-less system with just worm castings brewing perpetually in a nylon sock in the reservoir. (Just lettuce, chards, leafy green stuff though). The NPK value will vary according to the worms diet, but say 5-5-5 would be at the high end of the scale (probably more like 4-3-1 though IMO) pH of worm tea is generally quite high though. Which in certain settings could be good. (Buffering). This pH is of no concern if foliar feeding though.

Any type of oil  will do a number on the fish's gills. People use oils in AP to combat plant pests successfully, just use some common sense precautions to protect your fish tank from over the over-spray. Neem oil is particularly toxic to fish, but again can be used with no ill effects if even a modicum of care is taken. Any essential plant oils (lavender, mint, tee tree etc...) will work just the same, and are less expensive than the pre-packaged products.(And less toxic to the fish than Neem should an accident or slip of carelessness occur    3-5% oil 0.5% surfactant (dish washing soap) the rest is just water. This is a common formulation for many of the 'organic' Liquid Ladybug" type products. I've been making my own for a while now and it works great on mites, aphids and any 'soft-bodied bugs. (The way these products work is since those insects breathe through their skin, the oil causes their pores to clog and they suffocate). If you overdo the concentration of oil you WILL burn your plants too. Though peppers seem to burn (little brown dots) more than any other plants I've seen at even 'normal' concentrations. Though not significant enough to kill them. Just don't be freaked out when you see the speckling... 

 very informative again.

So this question is for TC too, I was wondering when checking nutrient levels, pH, etc. should i check the fish tank or the gb? and if it the latter how would i go about doing that?

Vlad Jovanovic said:

You right TC, even worm tea or plain water can help with aphids and mites, but I've never found it to kill enough of them when used alone. I'll use an oil spray first, then the next day, plain water, then the day after that the worm tea (that I usually start brewing the day I notice the little buggers and spray oils) then oil again...and so forth. This will usually stop them. I'll repeat a smaller cycle in like a week after just in case any eggs that hatched made it through...This has worked well for me so far.

Soft bodied insects don't like to be wet (can't breath as good I guess) and even spraying water will kill IDK, maybe 15-20% of them.

Man, I friggin hate spider mites.

I use those yellow sticky traps around the garden beds and I got a ton of spider mites stuck to them. They caught a few beneficial insects but many more of the bad guys. You might try them. They are available all over the internet but I got them from Johnny's Selected Seeds, a great place. 

I usually take my sample water from the fish tank just because that is easiest in most of my systems and it also allows me to see the ammonia ad nitrite levels in the fish tank that the fish are subjected to (though even when feeding heavily they are rarely more than just a trace in my systems.)

However, in the beginning I sometimes would catch water from after a grow bed (have to have access to the drain from the gravel bed to the sump or fish tank to catch water there) so I could compare the levels from one to the other.  If the system was cycled up and not experiencing some for of spike, in general even if there was a trace of ammonia in the fish tank it would be 0 after the grow beds.  All other readings were generally the same before or after the grow beds.

Christopher Brickey said:

 very informative again.

So this question is for TC too, I was wondering when checking nutrient levels, pH, etc. should i check the fish tank or the gb? and if it the latter how would i go about doing that?

Vlad Jovanovic said:

You right TC, even worm tea or plain water can help with aphids and mites, but I've never found it to kill enough of them when used alone. I'll use an oil spray first, then the next day, plain water, then the day after that the worm tea (that I usually start brewing the day I notice the little buggers and spray oils) then oil again...and so forth. This will usually stop them. I'll repeat a smaller cycle in like a week after just in case any eggs that hatched made it through...This has worked well for me so far.

Soft bodied insects don't like to be wet (can't breath as good I guess) and even spraying water will kill IDK, maybe 15-20% of them.

Man, I friggin hate spider mites.

Great information about alternative oils, Vlad. I use neem oil very cautiously, but I find it works moderately. Our sugar ants tend to cultivate aphids faster than the neem oil counters them. But when I add cayenne it works very well. I mix it and let the cayenne soak in it for a day, then filter it because the cayenne plugs up my sprayer. If I can switch from neem oil to another oil, all the better.

Christopher, diatomaceous earth is a powder used commonly both to repel insects and for certain types of pool filters. It's also used in hydroponics and acts similarly to vermiculite or perlite.  It's an organic pesticide that causes insects to dehydrate. It can be uses all around the home to protect from flees, cockroaches, bedbugs, slugs, ants or any number of pests.

It's not used in aquaponic systems, however. Rather, it's helpful when sprinkled around your system. It can be purchased as "food grade" at nurseries, which is what you should look for; don't use the stuff from pool supply stores.

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