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Searching for a better way to feed plants

The future of feeding plants is feeding the soil.” ~ Aaron Deacon, BIOS Nutrients

When Aaron Deacon, owner of BIOS Nutrients, began growing medicinal cannabis in 2016, he was frustrated by the scarcity of natural solutions for feeding plants and supplementing soil. Most soil-nutrition/fertilizing products were liquid synthetic nutrients bottled in plastic. Often this meant that much of the nutrients were simply washed away from plants via runoff, making the fertilizing/feeding effect short-term and inefficient. Thinking there had to be a better way to feed his plants, Aaron started to search for a solution. 

At the time, Aaron was in the midst of the Sustainable Energy and Building Technology program at Humber College in Toronto. Within that program, he learned about environmental systems and the often detrimental impact of mass agriculture on the environment and on water systems in particular. 

This added another consideration to Aaron’s developing “there has to be a better way to feed plants” puzzle — how to create a nutritive product that was sustainable and one that had the least possible impact on the environment. And the ultimate goal, of course, would be to create a product that had a positive, fully beneficial effect on the ecosystem. 

The answer, as it turned out, was in fermentation. After learning about the vital importance of beneficial bacteria and fungi to soil health and its nutritive abilities, Aaron began to experiment, using microbes in a organic material (for example, wheat bran) to boost beneficial bacteria production. In this process, bacteria create their own waste (yes, bacteria poop), which is excellent plant food, and the bacteria itself is protective of soil and roots. Additionally, and perhaps crucially, by its robust presence the beneficial bacteria leaves little room in soil for harmful pathogens and pests. On a perceptible level, “good bacteria” helps plants grow better and faster. Amending the recipe over time, Aaron eventually got to a place of what he calls “soil magic”, and BIOS Nutrients was born.

Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides affect the soil food web, toxic to some members, warding off others, and changing the environment. Important fungal and bacterial relationships don’t form when a plant can get free nutrients.” ~ from Aaron’s instagram (source: Teaming with Microbes, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis)  

All of this necessary upfront work happened before COVID. And for BIOS Nutrients the pandemic had a silver lining. When Aaron was laid off from his full-time job in July 2020, he had the time he needed to produce and promote BIOS Nutrients, to the extent that it’s now his primary occupation (and passion). He refined his product line to offer two sizes of plant fertilizer/soil amendment, a plant probiotics product, and a yucca extract for more effective foliar spray. He’s sourced 100% compostable packaging, created an online store, and developed wholesale relationships with a number of resellers across Canada.

Oh, and Aaron’s also created a richly educational Instagram channel (@biosnutrients), with frequent posts about the benefits of working with soil to make it the best it can be, along with numerous other plant-care tips. Our favourite so far? “Butt-chugging plants” — a carousel post about the merits of what’s technically known as sub-irrigation, in which water is drawn upwards helping to keep soil consistently moist (but really, the term “butt-chugging” is so much more fun). The whole feed is chock full of useful information, though. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Stay tuned for another instalment of Aaron’s story, when we hope to talk more about sustainable solutions and how to help our indoor and outdoor plant environments. 

yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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