I’m trying a new product called THRIVE in my garden this summer that utilizes soil organisms to help improve plant growth and health in the landscape. If you’re not familiar with terms like mycorrhizal, or the idea of using fungi as a soil conditioner, today’s post is an interview with the creators of THRIVE that will shed some light on the importance of maintaining a healthy balance of microbes in the garden’s soil:
1) Is Thrive a fertilizer or something altogether different, is it organic, and what benefits does it offer?
THRIVE is not a fertilizer, but a soil conditioner and root stimulator. It’s comprised of water, nutrients, mycorrhizal fungi and Alpha BioSystems’ proprietary blend of microbes. It works so well because it literally works from the roots up starting with the mycorrhizal fungi. The mycorrhizae attaches itself to the roots and helps strengthen and lengthen them, essentially making the plant more drought-resistant. The microbes condition the soil, helping restore its natural biological activity.
What makes THRIVE so unique? It’s one of the only soil conditioners that has mycorrhizal fungi in a liquid formula versus a dry formula. This means you can apply it throughout the life of the plant, instead of only when you first plant it as with a dry formula. It is an all-natural product containing no harmful chemicals. Even better is that when you use THRIVE, you’ll have no worries about over-treating the vegetation because the ingredients are all naturally occurring in nature and it’s safe to use around children and pets when applied as directed.
2) What makes THRIVE so effective?
In a nutshell, the bacteria in THRIVE colonize on the hair-like structures of the plant root to increase nutrient absorption and stimulate growth. This means the roots can gather food and water from farther away, which makes them healthier and more sustainable.
The results you’ll see on the surface are more resilient and robust plants which are better able to withstand transplant stress, excessive heat and disease. There’s also the obvious benefit of increased flowering and fruit bearing.
3) Why are there separate products for lawns, vegetables, composting, etc., rather than one product that works everywhere?
There are subtle differences in the products. Each has a proprietary blend of beneficial bacteria, and most of the products also contain mycorrhizal fungi as an added ingredient. While there are subtle differences in the products, they all perform the same basic functions for the plants featured on the specific product labels.
Simply, the products are designed to release locked-away nutrients in the soil, restore biological activity, increase root growth and provide an extension to the root system with the mycorrhizal fungi.
4) How quickly can you see results and what shows that Thrive is working?
You can expect to see results in little as 2-3 weeks. Of course, these results will depend on factors like the age of the vegetation, regional temperatures, geographical location, weather condition, and how often you apply THRIVE. But keep in mind it’s an all-natural product, so you don’t have to worry about over-treating. On the other hand, it is possible to over-water, so you’ll want to watch out for that.
It works starting at the roots. Mycorrhizal fungi populate the area around a plant’s roots, and form very thin filaments, adding to their length and efficiency. It’s really like the plant has a second set of roots. Plants, trees and shrubs with a well-established root system are better able to survive things like drought and transplant shock. What’s more, they absorb more nutrients from the soil.
Because of the effects of mycorrhizal fungi, you’ll notice your vegetation surviving in their non-native environments, with less watering! Mycorrhizae boosts a plant’s immune system, making it resistant to soil-borne pathogens. On top of it all, it helps keep those pesky parasitic nematodes away.
5) These micro-organisms are naturally occurring, so why re-apply them with the Thrive products?
More of Mother Nature isn’t a bad thing! Plus, some environments need a little help getting back to their natural state. Mycorrhizal fungi exists in soil that hasn’t been tampered with. That means if the soil has been tilled, topsoil has been removed, erosion has occurred, or the soil has been fumigated, then some of the mycorrhizae has been stripped. So naturally (no pun intended), you’ll want to put it back in!
Artificial landscapes negatively affect the mycorrhizal relationship in two fundamental ways. First, they isolate the plant from beneficial mycorrhizal fungi available in natural settings. Secondly, they increase plant stress and the need for water, nutrients, and soil structure mediated by their below-ground “partners.” So, to help restore the natural eco-system of the soil, we’re helping to put back what was there in the first place.
6) Are there any obvious signs that indicate the soil is low or depleted of beneficial soil microbes?
Yes, there are a few signs the eco-system in your soil needs to be improved. If water is pooling, you’ll know it’s not being absorbed correctly into the soil. If the soil is hard to dig in or compacted, it doesn’t have the proper aeration beneficial organisms need to grow. Earthworms are good and help naturally aerate the soil, if there aren’t any that’s a red flag!
Plants with persistent diseases could indicate a problem with the soil they’re growing in as well. Finally, if the soil has a poor vegetable yield, it obviously isn’t conducive to growing but THRIVE can help.
7) What can gardeners do to make the backyard friendlier to beneficial micro-organisms and mycorrhizal?
There are a few things you can do to help the natural effects of THRIVE along. You can use a natural compost in the soil as an enriched fertilizer. You can also use as few chemicals as possible so lessen any lasting damaging or long-term effects they might have. Finally, to give your backyard the best possible chance for great growing with THRIVE, you can break up the soil to increase aeration.
More Info on THRIVE Products for the Home and Garden
Here are some links to additional information and videos about THRIVE:
I like the idea of using beneficial micro-organisms in the garden and recently began using Thrive products in my veggie garden, compost pile, fish pond, and on the lawn. I’ll share more detailed results later this summer but so far I’m very happy with the aquatic products and prefer using natural bacteria rather than chemicals in the pond that is home for fish and is also used as a water source for my honey bees.
I enjoyed the ease of application with the lawn soil conditioner that comes in a hose-end sprayer and took just minutes to apply. My goal is to conduct some of my own side-by-side testing on several vegetable plants that I will grow in containers for comparison purposes. If you’d like to try the products for yourself Alpha Bio Systems gives away free samples to the first fifty requests each day.
Or you can take advantage of a generous 25% discount off of any order placed on their website through August 31, 2011. Just be sure to use the promo code: VGAG31 when you order and you’re invited to return and share the results of your own trials right here in the comment section.
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