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Re: aquatic compost

Roger recently wondered out loud about getting nutrients from plants by
recycling organic material.

The aquatic compost method was described by Paul Krombholz in TAG 9-3
(May-June 1996), The Aquatic Gardener, the journal of the Aquatic
Gardeners Association, AGA. The article is entitled "Mineral Nutrition
of Aquatic Plants, Part 4, Home-made Nutrient Solutions". I don't know
if I'll beat Paul to the punch on this post but briefly here's how he
does it.

Mix a shoe box of dirt with your compost (kitchen wastes work nicely)
and let em compost for a few weeks, stirring occasionally. Once the
composting has proceeded far enough, the microbes in the soil will have
turned most of the carbohydrates into minerals which are safe to be used
as plant food without producing a bacterial bloom. These minerals are
extracted from the soil using water. (I'm simplifying the detailed
procedures Paul describes) You get a concentrated yellow liquid which is
very potent. Paul calculated its strength by its specific gravity and
was able to determine what kinds of kitchen wastes were best for
specific nutrients. This is the ultimate in cheap fertilizer for your
aquarium. Also, the mineral salts are closer to those required for the
plants; not just the cheap sulphates which we use.

One last warning: Paul recommends that you eliminate filament algae from
the aquarium before using fertilizer solutions. This is also an
important precaution if you are using any fertilizer in your substrate
or if you are using a fertile soil in preparing your substrate. The
Krombholz Bleach Treatment is described in the back issues of TAG. 

You can get more information about AGA on our web site at

Information on back issue sales is found at

Information on the subject and author index for TAG back issues is found
at http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~aquaria/AGA/tag.html#index

I am one of several folks on the volunteer committees of AGA who also
participate on this mailing list. AGA is always on the lookout for new
volunteers for the committees, for people who would like to write
articles for publication in TAG and for people who are interested in
doing simple research projects. Contact any of the people listed on the
committees on the AGA web pages if you would like to volunteer for one
of these tasks. We also welcome new members if you just want to receive
the TAG journal, which is now being published with colour pictures. The
membership costs are very low. To the best of my knowledge TAG is the
only English language journal dedicated exclusively to aquatic plants.

Steve Pushak
AGA technical advisory committee