Follow up to the recent Asymmetry podcast on Soil Science with Ian Hunter

Wow what an awesome podcast, I use some of the mention items in my fertilizer cakes like humid acid and cold processed seaweed. Along with the cold processed seaweed, does using them in fertilizer cake deminish their effectiveness and thus better used in a drench? I’ve used the seaweed in a weekly drench, but admittedly I’m not as consistent with the weekly application and started using them as ingredients in my cakes. Thoughts?


It very much sounded like the seaweed is great fungus food, but would also give the benefit of reducing oxcyn in the plant, and helping auxiliary growth. Heard him mention making a tea out of it, so I would think that it’s better used like that, for the auxiliary growth.

Irecently experimented with making my own fertilizer cakes, and would love to know what recipe or ingredients you are using in yours!

Here’s the recipe I used for this last batch.

Obviously needs a lot of tweaking, now that I’ve heard this podcast. If I understood well, they pretty much said that humic acid works as the velcro that holds nutrients in the soil, fish hydrosylates feed the fungus in the soil, and the kelp adds nutrients and controls hormones for denser growth. Does this sound right?

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I would be cautious with the amount of iron since you are adding it from two different sources. If you iron levels are high they can essentially block other nutrients by taking up cation sites that could be used by other nutrients. From my experience chelated iron sources are more readily available to the plant. Also iron chelated can easily be absorbed foliar on most plants.

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I also can’t remember what source the Nitrogen in BioGold comes from, but having that as opposed to the regular Nitrogen would also be great for suppressing auxin and promoting bifurcation.

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The base of my cakes is pelletized hen manure, then I add liquid kelp, worm castings, azomite, michorizal fungus if I have any. I don’t have proportions, but it’s about 3 cups hen manure, about 1 cup of kelp, worm castings, 1/2 cup azomite. I wonder if adding, humic acid and cold processed fish reduces the quality of the nutrition and thus use it as a drench?

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Heard the podcast again, and overheard one of the guys talking about this stuff:

Be-1 Organics

I’m thinking I’m going to look for some granular humic acid, stuff that isn’t from leonarditeto, get a bag of this Be-1 stuff, and some kelp to use as a drench. I’ll be all set for some experimenting!

Ryan and Ian dropped bombs in this podcast, so deep and inspiring! Not only do our trees breath life, more importantly, so does the soil that cradle the roots. A lot of us have known about the microbial life in soil but this helped illustrate it. Hearing that we could potentially control hormone allocation with the presence of specific bacteria and fungi in specific locations of the root zone, blew my mind. The podcast started to answer my forum QA question for this week so I’m excited to hear Ryan’s answer. Thank you Mirai for openly sharing information that is not easily obtained.


Let me know if you find a good source for peat-derived humates. I haven’t found much yet, except this product: Primera One Apex-10, which only seems to be sold through wholesale distributors to golf-courses. I’ll let you know if I find anywhere I can actually order it.


I was able to find this on Amazon.

RAW Full Up 2 oz

Supposedly, the 2 oz bag makes 200 gallons worth of tea.

I’ve been reading about humic acids and those derived from plant or compost material, and those derived from leonardite. The leonardite seems to have a higher humic acid content, but requires that it be mined, whereas the compost derived humic acids are taken from decomposing materials. The latter more likely being better for the environment, but much more expensive for the consumer. I’ll likely start our with a small bag of the RAW product.

It seems like this product is 90% plant “food” and 10% humic acids derived from peat. I was hoping to find a pure humates additive. I found some more information on the differences between Leonardite (humates derived from lignite) and Humalite (humates derived from peat specifically from Alberta, Canada)

Leonardite ranges considerably in humic and fulvic acid content. For example, deposits can have as low as 10% humic acid content and as high as 78%. It’s derived from Lignite based coal and was formed in salt water deposits. The other 20-90% of the product that isn’t the active ingredient is made up of ash and heavy metals. The comparison of the two is more clear when you take into consideration the enhanced nutrient quality and properties Humalite has over Leonardite.

Humalite is a name given to the humate material deposited in Alberta, Canada. It is singled out because the material has a different composition and is not derived from Lignite. It is derived from weathered sub-bituminous coal, and opposite of leonardite, it was formed in a fresh water environment, not a salt water one.

When humalite is harvested, the resulting final product averages 87% humic acid. Each batch is individually tested to ensure that it maintains the quality and guaranteed 80% humic acid content that it is known for. This means more humic and fulvic acid content, and considerably less of the undesired ash and heavy metals that are found in Leonardite.

The main benefits of Humic Acids are that they stimulate microbiology, enhance the uptake of nutrients, and condition the soils paramaters such as Carbon, pH, CEC. All of this works to create a fertile soil environment where the seed can germinate easier and produce a high yielding, nutrient dense crop. *source here

Searching for “humalite” yields better results online than searching for “humates derived from peat”, which brings up a ton of research papers and almost no actually products for sale. Black Earth seems to be a brand of humalite for sale in the US but I haven’t found a distributor that sells it in less than a 55 lbs. bag, which only costs $28 but costs $122 to ship!


"…whereas the compost derived humic acids are taken from decomposing materials. The latter more likely being better for the environment, but much more expensive for the consumer. "
.Be-1 is basicly organic fertilizer–compost. leonardite is lignite coal… would need to chemically digest and extract usefull fertilizer material…
What do you think is going on with ANY pellitized organic fertilizer on the bonsai soil… composting in-situ…
Micro-Biom at its best… fungi, bacteria, and soft organic fertilizer with humic acids… npk… just what bonsai need… I love the seaweed emulsions. Cook with them, too…
Balance of O n W.
Lephroig is filtered through peat… Have a shot… get your humic acid!

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I love that whiskey! It’s so smokey that it goes great with a steak dinner!

The Be-1 was mentioned in the podcast, and seemed interesting enough to try out. Probably not huge on humic acid and all the other stuff discussed. Might be a good substitute for BioGold, though. Gonna try it out on some trees.

I think it might be really tough to find a pure additive, especially one that is peat derived. I’ll try the RAW tea on some trees, since it isn’t too cost restrictive. Maybe try a leonardite derived granular additive on others for comparison. Use the fish hydrosylates and the kelp teas, too, and we’ll see how it goes. Let me know if you have any luck!

Just type ‘humic acids buy’… into Google. Liquid and solid…JUST FERTILIZER. Keep track of the NPK content so you do not over fertilizer. Especially if you apply inorganic npk… Too much Nitrogen will kill a tree…
.Be1 is a replacement (?) for biogold. Can’t vouch for quality…
I’ve used fish emulsion and seaweed emulsion for years, its the micronutrients.
Well rounded Organic pellitized fertilizer composted ON the soil is best…
I prefer Glenmorangie, Nectar de Ore. Laphroig is way too peaty…
Spring is coming… 20F last week. 45F today…
Haute Bonsai!

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Someone mentioned in a soil thread that home made stuff is less expensive, but you pay for it with your time. At this point, I want to explore some commercial fertilizer options that give me good results without breaking the bank.

I loved their Quinta Ruban, which is finished in Port cask. Glenmorangie is one of my favorites. The one finished in Sherry was great, too. The Balvenie is another one that I really like, really light on the peat. It’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from Laphroaig. Fair price for a bottle, too.

(I suggest you try Oban or cask strength! McClellens.)
I would only suggest making your own fertilizer if you have more (& large) trees than manageable by one person, ~ greater than your wife suggests is sane… more than 100? Try the commercialy available first.
The available and usable materials are not a long list. There are many recipes out there. Do not use dry inorganic salts for NPK. It will disolve and wash through.
Read label & contents of commercial pellits.
Keep track of available NPK. It comes from the composting of the organic material, slow released.
Humic acid…hhhmmmm. Just more Insoluble material that needs to be broken down to Nitrogen and carbon… By bacteria and fungus…
I’m still trying to grok that one.

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I’m in the UK but have been using humates from this source for some years now.


I think the most interesting aspect to me about this pod cast is that we are talking about moving away from fertalizing by giving the microbiom more room to grow, cultivating the right range of friendly bacterior and get the fungi to do the work.

As a point of interest to you miraiites if you have a few mins then watch this ted talk

A real eye openner. Bassically this guy is saying that 50% of the carbon in the atmosphere is there from broken down soil humates and not from fossil fuels. The use of non selective herbicides in agriculture being the biggest issue. We should all be composting, and looking to increase humates wether in our bonsai pots or in our gardens or in our surrounding environment…


I sent in a request for distributors to them (I own a nursery, so I’m highly interested as well) and I’ll let you know what I find out if you didn’t yourself.

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Nate, I feel like we have to be best friends.

Easiest best friend I ever made.