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Nutrient Reservoir Inputs for Healthy Plants

Writen By
Alex M. [Permaculturist & Regenerative Agriculture Consultant]

A nutrient reservoir is a storage system for nutrients that can be used to supplement plant growth. Nutrient reservoirs can be either man-made or natural, and they can be used to store nutrients for a short period of time or for long-term storage.

If you are interested in learning about how nutrient reservoirs can be used to supplement plant growth, then this is the article for you. This article will discuss the various types of nutrient reservoirs, their benefits, and how they can be used.

  • Effective Microbes (EM):

    Inoculate your NFT reservoir with EM and get ahead of the game with this all-round plethora of beneficial microbes which directly optimally feed the plants through the Rhizophagy cycle. Up to one ounce per gallon of water.

  • Compost Tea:

    Why not toss some compost tea in there as well. Many beneficial bacteria and fungi are significant for your system and will also feed the roots directly through the Rhizophagy cycle.

  • Compost Tea Bag as Filter:

    You can put a tea bag full of finished compost to inoculate your system with beneficial living nutrient generators that will make your system healthy and bioremediate and lock away any toxic amounts of pollutants or heavy metals.
  • Fish Amino Acids (FAA):

Use to energize the microbes and as a foliar spray 1:1000 dilution on fruiting plants during early growth only, but it can be used on leafy vegetables throughout their harvest. For biocontrol of whitefly and mites, use FAA as a foliar spray.

  1. Use fish, fish scrap, and fish bones from blue or black colored fish, deep-sea fish, and sharks — they’re all high in amino acids.
  2. Cut into smaller pieces to increase surface area — the smaller the elements, the more rapid and thorough the fermentation is.
  3. Weigh out equal amounts of fish and brown or unrefined sugar.
  4. Beginning with a layer of sugar at the bottom, layer fish and sugar until the plastic, glass, or clay container is two-thirds full.
  5. Cover the pile with a 1/4”—1/2” sugar cap.
  6. Cover the jar with breathable paper secured with string or a rubber band.
  7. Label and date your jar(s)
  8. Ferment for 3—6 months (ideally six months or longer)
  9. Once fermentation is complete, pour the mixture through a strainer or fine colander into a new fermenting jar — letting solids sit in the filter to drain fully
  10. Combine the leftover bones with BRV (brown rice vinegar) at a 1:10 ratio bone: BRV to produce water-soluble calcium phosphate in a longer fermentation cycle — cover and set aside in a cool and shaded space
  11. Cover the liquids with new paper, and store them in a cool and shaded space away from heat and direct sunlight

Also read our in depth article on Nutrient Film Technique.

  • Water Soluble Calcium (WSC):

Apply as a foliar spray alone or mix with EM or Compost Tea once plants are fruiting, 1:1000 dilution twice a month and 20 days before harvest.

  1. Combine 1:10, 1 part coral sand or charred and crushed eggshells to 10 parts BRV or any vinegar (anything 3% acetic acid) — eggshells must be cooked/charred, and fanned membranes are entirely removed, or the solution will be ruined by the proteins present.
  2. Cover the jar with breathable paper, label, and date.
  3. Allow the reaction to fully complete: usually 5—10 days, but jiggle it and see if it still bubbles when you think it’s done.
  4. Into a new, labeled jar, pour the extraction through a strainer — add remaining solids to a compost pile or garden soil.
  5. Seal and store extract in a cool and dark place indefinitely.
  • Water Soluble Calcium Phosphate (WSCP):

Apply as a foliar spray alone or in a mix, 1:1000 dilution in the early growth stage and during the transition from vegetative to reproductive. Soluble phosphorous suppress mycorrhizal growth, so if you use phosphorous, try to keep it foliar or apply it later in development. Use as a foliar spray when plants are growing too much, have a bad start, or when they are fruiting, 1:100.

  1. BBQ/bake/burn bones into bone char, so they are brittle and black all the way through.
  2. Break bones but don’t create a powder.
  3. Combine with vinegar 1:10, bone char: BRV, or 200 grams of bone char with one liter of brown rice vinegar (BRV).
  4. Cover with breathable paper, label, and date.
  5. Allow the reaction to complete: usually, 5—10 days fully, but jiggle it and see if it still bubbles when you think it’s done.
  6. Into a new, labeled jar, pour the extraction through a strainer — add remaining solids to a compost pile or garden soil
  7. Seal and store extract in a cool and dark place indefinitely
  • Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ:

Mugwort and Bamboo Shoot Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) diluted 1:1000 can be applied on plants in germination — early growth for enhanced plant growth and resilience to cold temperatures. Bamboo shoot, arrowroot, and reed FPJ diluted 1:800—1000 can be applied on plants in their early stages for increased growth and nitrogen acquisition.

  1. In the early morning, with clean hands and tools, harvest plants like mugwort, bamboo shoots, seaweed, arrowroot, dropwort, and banana flower. Plants that are heat and cold tolerant, vigorous, fast-growing, resilient plants, and thinned fruits — do not rinse off plants; try to retain the morning dew because it contains indigenous bacteria and yeasts.
  2. Cut or chop plant material into 3—5 cm pieces
  3. Method 1: weigh out 4 lbs. of chopped plant material and 4 lbs. of brown or unrefined sugar, OR Method 2: weigh plant material and combine with half that weight in sugar
  4. Combine the weighed-out sugar and plant material until “wet.”
  5. Let the mixture sit for 1—2 hrs.
  6. Fill the fermenting jar (glass or clay) 3/4ths full
  7. Cover wet mixture entirely with a 1/4”—1/2” sugar cap
  8. Optional: add a fermenting stone on top of the cap to press down the mixture and maintain the air pocket
  9. Clean the lid, rim, and outside of fermenting jar, so there’s no stickiness
  10. Label and date your jar
  11. Cover the mouth of the fermenting jar with breathable paper and secure it with a string or rubber band
  12. Allow to ferment 1–2 days in a cool shaded place and then carefully remove the fermenting stone and release the air
  13. Re-cover the fermentation jar and continue the fermentation process for 5—7 more days — do not disturb the contents during this time
  14. Once fermentation is complete (as in the sugars have been primarily digested by the organisms), pour the mixture through a strainer or fine colander into a new fermenting jar — letting solids sit in the filter to drain fully
  15. Cover the liquids with new paper — store in a cool and shaded space
  16. If the liquid bubbles, add more sugar — if it won’t calm down, add a bit of vodka


Powers, M. (2021). Regenerative Soil: The Science and Solutions (2nd ed.). Permaculturepowers123.

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HI, I'M Alex M.
Permaculturist & Regenerative Agriculture Consultant
With a background in construction, landscaping, & irrigation, Alex originally attended college for audio & film production studies. After two decades in landscaping, construction, & music, he came across the regenerative farm systems design field known as Permaculture. Immediately hooked, he devoured everything on the field eventually getting Certified in Permaculture, graduating from Rak Tamachat in Thailand. Then went on to study Applied Soil Microbiology & Microscopy in Dr. Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web School, as well as working on an industrial scale soil farm for a year. Musician, writer, & life-long skateboarder, Alex applies insights from the fields of Soil Microbiology, Keyline Design, Mycology, Korean Natural Farming, Holistic Management, & other regenerative farm planning techniques, ancient & modern. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area in the US, where he is working on creating a food forest on twenty acres of land in the mountains of California.
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