Ecothrive – Charge – is a product created by Gareth Hopcroft and is fast becoming well recognised by many top growers within the gardening world and in particular with NVS members. I have to admit that I had nver heard of ‘Charge’ as it’s generaly called until I hard Gareth Cameron extoling it’s virues at my Masterclass weeekend last November. There’s certainly a good reason why Gareth Cameron can eulogise about this product as it’s certianly changed his outlook on growing show vegetables through using it and having great succeess over the past two years. The reason Gareth used it was to try and get back on track having, as Gareth calls it, ‘hitting a ‘brick wall’ through growing cconventionally year on year. Another well known top grower of both leeks and onions is David Metcalf and he is also now a firm beliver in Charge ansd uses it in all his mixes as well as in the final bed.
Ian Stocks is well known for the high quality of his roots, both long and short carrots as well as parsnips and last year he used in his exhiition Pea trench with marvellous results.
I asked Gareth to expalin a little more about Charge and I append below his comments –
Arguably the new best player in amending soil and coco is Ecothrive Charge, which contain just one ingredient – ‘insect frass’. Insect Frass is the technical term for a product comprised solely from the castings of insects, and in the case of Ecothrive Charge the insects are the larvae of Tenebrio molitor beetles, commonly known as mealworms. Admittedly, words like “insects” or “larvae” tend to worry gardeners, so it’s perhaps worth pointing out that Charge contains no actual insects or eggs, just their tiny, powder-like excrement!
Charge is a great product, and is special in a number of ways. First, it contains a good balance of primary nutrients (NPK 3:2:3), these release slowly over a period of 3-4 weeks, and are easy for plants to take up. It’s also packed full of beneficial bacteria that help plants access more nutrients from the soil. Charge has also been shown to improve root growth rates and markedly improve general root zone conditions.
However, Ecothrive Charge has another special and quite unique benefit for plants. It contains derivatives of chitin, a modified polysaccharide found in large concentrations in the cell walls of insects. Plants detect the presence of these polysaccharides and are “tricked” into thinking an attack is imminent. Consequently their in-built resistance to pests and disease is triggered and growth rates, productivity and immune response are all boosted significantly. Lastly, Ecothrive Charge is 100% Organic, and is certified and has full approval for use by the Soil Association which is not an easy certificate to obtain.
So how do you use Charge? Ideally it is mixed thoroughly with potting soil between 1-2% by volume. This translates to 1L of Charge to 50-100L of growing media. If you are using potting soil with a high nutrient content it is best to use 1% (1L of Charge in 100L of soil). If using a lightly fertilised potting soil it is best to use the higher dose of 2% (1L in 50L). Once mixed into the potting soil, treat the plants as you would normally, so continue to feed or water as you normally would; basically forget it’s there!
For use in open soil outdoors, apply 1L of Charge to every 3.5 metres squares, or a good sized handful per square yard. Rake or lightly fork in the soil surface before planting or sowing. In pot open soil and in pots, Ecothrive Charge can also be used as a light top dressing on the soil surface for continued fertilisation and growth stimulation throughout the season.
Ecothrive Brand Ethos
Ecothrive offers natural, organic products centred on promoting beneficial soil biology, improving plant health and increasing yields. It has become increasingly important in recent years to look for sustainable inputs for protected horticulture and traditional gardening. Using artificial fertilisers is proven, and works very well, but producing these takes its toll on the environment and although they work to feed the plants, artificial fertilisers can be of detriment to the health of our soil. Healthy open soil in our gardens and allotments, as well as our potting compost, will contain a vast array of beneficial microorganisms which help in many ways including helping the plant utilise nutrients, protect roots and foliage against disease and even release compounds that stimulate growth. The overuse of artificial fertilisers reduces the activity and diversity of soil microorganisms, which can lead to poor plant performance and increase the occurrence of plant diseases.
The goal behind Ecothrive is to bring products to both professional growers and hobby gardeners to enable an assortment of beneficial microorganisms to flourish in the root zone. It’s all about providing long term benefits and truly enhancing plant growth. Ecothrive is very proud to have their products manufactured in the UK, with all components sourced as locally as possible.
Unlike many other products with organic claims on their labels, Ecothrive Charge is certified by the Soil Association to assure you that we only use certified natural ingredients to deliver an exceptional product of the highest quality organic standard.
I would very much like to hear comments from any grower that’s used ‘Charge’ and whether or not they have found it a valuable addition to their soil or potting mixes.
Charge is now available on my online shop under the Sundries Section and is for sale in both the 5 and 10 litre tubs. The 5 and 10 litre tubs are Catalogue numbers ITEM NO 0021 andITEM NO 0022 respectively.