Why are we concerned about nutritional quality?
1. The nutritional content of fruits & veggies
has trended downward over the last century
Commercial considerations make "yield" (profit) the primary consideration in breeding and fertilizing
rather than best nutrient content, which is harder to measure
But breeding & fertilizing for "yield" brings reduced nutrition
(See Albrecht Principles)
2. Commercial agriculture, using chemical
NPK fertilizers in excess, leads to:
- Loss of organic matter
- Loss of soil microorganisms
- Loss of top soil
- Water pollution
- Depletion of soil minerals brings reduced nutrition
- Increased vulnerability to pest attack - Truly healthy plants do not attract pests!
There are large variations in the nutritional quality of 'organic' fruits & veggies
Animals living on these nutrient poor foods are not as healthy
Traditional societies living on local, whole, nutrient-dense foods were healthy and lived long lives.
Our modern diet makes us subjects of a giant food experiment, and we are not faring so well, as we suffer from more degenerative diseases at an ever younger age.
6. Varietal differences are
important. - the highest nutrition will be more likely found in heirloom varieties.
- Varietal differences in flavor indicate differences in nutritional content
- More nutritious food tastes better.
- Over history humans unintentionally bred their food crops for higher nutrition, as the families who selected tastier and healthier foods had healthier children. Every family had its own varieties, selected according to the likes of that family. But the children in some families lived to survive the gauntlet of childhood disease while the children in some families died out. The families with higher survival rates had their varieties survive. Thus our food crops were improved.
- Then about 150 years ago plant breeders began selecting our food crops for profit.
Modern hybrids are bred to yield well on depleted soils given modern chemical
fertilizers that do not provide the full range of needed minerals. Hybrids
grow big but do not build essential nutrients as well because of mineral
7. But biggest difference in nutrition comes from the quality of the
William Albrecht was
at the forefront of highlighting this connection between soil and
So how do we tell if we have more nutritious food?
Brix (pronounced 'bricks')
testing reflects nutritional quality
Brix as used here refers to the total dissolved solids in the juice
squeezed out of a plant's leaves or fruit. Distilled water is 0 brix. About the richest brix you will see is 30-35. Although you will hear that
brix measures "sugar," brix actually reflects the total solids - the sum of the sugars, minerals, hormones, oils, amino acids, proteins, flavors, and whatever else. For instance, 100 pounds of 24 brix grape juice would yield 24 pounds of solids. Brix
is measured with an ordinary hand refractometer, which many people call a
brixmeter. See High Brix Gardening
More info on brix
Gardens is a new Website devoted to high brix gardening: www.highbrixgardens.com
is Brix? (See Food
Path to High Brix - Mineral Descriptions
See also http://highbrixhome.com/ (product
Important points to remember:
- The taste of any fruit, vegetable, or grass gets better and better as the brix increases. Taste reflects nutrition, as the plant has everything it needs to produce maximum nutrition (phytonutrients) as well as sugar.
- The highest brix fruits, vegetables, and grasses keep better - they will dehydrate while their low brix counterparts rot.
- Sucking insects seem to find higher brix plants less tasteful even as higher order animals, like man, find them exceedingly tasty.
- Animals on high brix pasture are much healthier
Refractometer Sources: Brix
call them for a catalogue - 1- 866-745-3247
Or inquire of Charlie at firstname.lastname@example.org,
and he'll email more info. He has Chinese Westovers with quite good
optics, a two year guarantee, and at rock bottom prices. This is his company:
National Industrial Supply
2767 Maricopa Street
Torrance, CA 90503
See also http://www.westonaprice.org/farming/nutrient-dense.html
Refractometer sources are listed at the end.
More info on refractometers
What is needed for growing topnotch produce - "High Brix levels result when all plant nutrients are available, in an efficient form, to the soil microbes which are responsible for rendering nutrients into a form that the plant can readily use. That translates into a non-labile form of organic nutrient that is at about 6.2 pH and that efficiently feeds a
healthy colony of the right type of microbes in the soil." John Marler See
High Brix Gardening
To reach their full potential to produce high brix results
(minerals) - Although trace minerals are needed in very small amounts, they
may be missing from your soil
In a proper balance
- Too much nitrogen or potassium boosts production, but lowers nutritional value
With adequate carbon
- to hold water, feed SMO (soil microorganisms) and provide backbone of
water of good quality to keep the SMO and plants happy
In an available form
- SMO & humus hold nutrients in an available form
Throughout the season
- (side dressings, nutrient drenches, and foliars) Soluble fertilizers applied
in the spring may have leached away or been bound up by summer
- All essential nutrients
for Fertilizing Organically/Ecologically
- Basic Info
- Carbon - adequate Carbon sources
are essential - organic matter, compost, organic mulch, humates, etc., and
even broken up clean charcoal (biochar). Humates are
produced by the action of soil microbes on organic matter.
Minerals chelated to humic acids are most readily utilized by plants.
- Proper balance of macronutrients
is needed - guided by soil
tests. Some organic farmers claim to
get good results without relying on soil tests, but they are most
likely blessed with good foundational rock to start out with. Others
will never get high brix results because of imbalances that are not
readily corrected by compost, cover crops, etc. It's best to
start out with a soil test to get a better idea of what is needed for
good mineral balance. Here is a good
illustration of why soil testing & amending is useful (note
the difference between the newer plot and the older, depleted plot). See:
Mineral Balancing Using Standard Soil Test Results adapted
from information from Logan Labs (an Ohio company) - 937-842-6100, www.loganlabs.com
See SoilMinerals.com for details on planning
appropriate soil amendments
[More Information on Soil Testing]
complete list of the mineral content of common and uncommon fertilizer
materials compiled by the North Carolina State U Ag. Dept.
- Calcium - the major mineral in the soil, essential for
proper plant growth - Calcium Sources
- Calcium/Magnesium balance - should be 7:1
C-P-Ca System - importance of carbon, phosphorus & calcium
- pH is reflection of good soil balance and a healthy soil microorganism (SMO)
- Phosphorus (P) - Phosphates are the carriers that bring other nutrients from the roots into the plants
- P Sources
- Potassium (K) is essential for good growth. In excess, with nitrogen,
can produce lush low brix growth, so use caution in applying K
sources. Aim for a good P:K balance
- Nitrogen (N) -
- Trace Minerals - adequate micronutrients are essential, but needed in small amounts
- Soil pH affects mineral availability. SMO working on soil
organic materials move pH toward the desired 6.1 to 6.2 range for maximum
- Organic fertilizer sources
- Soil Microorganisms's
- A healthy complement of soil microorganisms are needed to turn organic
matter into humus and chelate minerals
into their most available form.
Maintaining growth throughout the season is
important for obtaining high brix results. It can be done in three ways:
- Feeding the SMO's
- Adequate carbon needed for microorganisms - from CO2, compost, organic matter,
root exudates, humus
- see The Path to High Brix. Sugar and molasses are also
used as quick carbon energy sources for microbes.
- Adequate nitrogen needed for microorganisms:
- Fresh manures (in excess may burn plants), worm castings, oil seed meals, blood meal,
- Nitrogen is fixed by microbes once they are happily fed
- SMO's need adequate water - mulching with organic matter helps to conserve
soil moisture while providing carbon to SMO's
- SMO's need air/oxygen - loosen the soil, cultivate if needed, but excessive
cultivation is hard on the worms and mycorrhizal fungi.
Matter! (Rodale Institute) on how to encourage mycorrhiza in your garden
- SMO's produce good soil structure when minerals and organic matter are
- Plant cover crops to add organic matter and nourish the SMO's. When they
start to bloom, chop them up and work them into the soil.
- Energy factors involved in healthy plant growth
- from sun, radio waves, paramagnetism,
Ormus, terra preta - new areas to study and consider in raising brix.
- Side dressings are by definition
fertilizers that contain a full complement of nitrogen, phosphate and
Making Your Own Soil by A.F Beddoe) and other minerals (such as COF).
Side dressings are scattered lightly around growing plants every three or four
weeks to boost nutrition.
drenches are, in effect, soluble side dressings dissolved in
water and used to fertilize plants throughout the season to support growth.
See also Foliar Spray info below.
- Foliar Sprays - Fine-tuning with
foliar sprays and nutrient drenches to supply nutrients
in short supply - use Brix testing to evaluate what you are doing.
(See Brix Testing)
For insect resistance, maintain a Brix of 12 or higher in the
juice of the leaves of most plants. Test before spraying, and
then two hours after spraying. An increase of 2 points
indicates you gave something the plant needed. (See Andersen
and AgriEnergy Resources)
of Foliar Feeding
Liquid & Foliar products used in raising brix:
The fellow who told me he had such good results with Coca-Cola suggested
pouring 2 each two-liter bottles into a backpack sprayer. He then said to
add a cup of fish emulsion (the kind with seaweed) and fill it to the 3
gallon mark. This gives you sugar (to feed the microbes), phosphoric acid, fish solids, and
Benefits of growing superior crops
- Superior nutritional quality of produce
- Improved health of plants, land, water, producers, consumers
- Excellent keeping qualities of produce
- Minimal pest problems
More on Organic Gardening and Eco-Farming
Help with questions - Join the
BrixTalk Yahoo Group at
Books that cover this topic well
are hard to find, but these may be useful:
(Another useful list http://bionutrient.org/library/recommended-reading)
Home Grown, by A.F. Beddoe, DDS, 2004 Edition, Advanced
This excellent book covers the 'Biological Theory of Ionization,' a phrase
coined by Dr. Carey Reams, and the use of the refractometer to measure quality
of produce (brix). This book will give you much food for thought, as well as practical
gardening info. Includes some helpful tips on growing fruit trees. This book
explains how small, carefully applied chemical nutrients can enhance the results
in an otherwise 'organic' garden.
**The Ideal Soil: A Handbook for the New Agriculture
also hard cover) by Michael Astera - www.soilminerals.com "Discover
the Secrets of Soil Mineral Balance!" See his blog here http://thenewagriculture.blogspot.com/
intelligent gardener, growing nutrient-dense foods, by Steve Solomon
with Erica Reinheimer. A simplified way of figuring out soil remineralization to
get high brix results. More info here
Media Blog - online ebooks on agriculture, including some papers from
William A. Albrecht, the father of soil mineral balancing - see Albrecht
Nutrition Gardening, by Dr. William S. Peavy & Warren
Peary, 1993, covers much basic information in an easy to
understand format, but does not cover compost teas or use of
refractometer. Too much reliance on pH for guidance.
Secrets to Great Soil, A Grower's Guide to Composting,
Mulching, and creating Healthy, Fertile Soil for Your Garden and Lawn, by Elizabeth
Stell, 1998. Good source of basic information, but
beware of chemical fertilizers mentioned. Does not cover use of
refractometer. Minimal info about compost teas. Beware of
instructions for sterilizing soil. Never sterilize good compost,
as the microorganisms in good compost are the best defense
against soil pathogens. I have had little trouble with
"damping off" of young seedlings when my homemade seed
starting soil includes good compost.
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, by Edward
C. Smith, 2004 This is a lovely book with decent basic information about
gardening, heavy emphasis on compost and misguided emphasis on correcting pH,
rather than supplying the minerals plants need for good growth. You can create
problems if you follow the directions for correcting pH. The book has an
extensive section on combating pests, which shouldn't be an issue if you have
well balanced soil with plenty of trace minerals, humus, and biological
activity. I would not rely on this book for fertility recommendations. It does
have a nice section on individual vegetables and their requirements, including
companion plantings and rotation considerations.
Gardening for Maximum Nutrition, by Jerry Minnich, 1983,
inspired the title of this workshop, but has little information
about building excellent soil, much less the use of a
refractometer. There is much information about the nutritional
value of fruits and vegetables, but it also contains
misinformation, such as promoting soybeans (which contain many
anti-nutrients and should generally be avoided) and low fat
eating (with no appreciation for the importance of fats in the
diet or the excellent qualities of pasture raised animal
products), while equating carotene from plants with the vitamin A
from eggs and butter (the conversion is always very inefficient,
often inadequate, and many people don't make the conversion at
Four-Season Harvest, by Elliot Coleman, 1992, has valuable
info about making compost and extending the season of harvest,
cold frames, etc, but little about building excellent soil, much
less the use of refractometer.
Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew, 1981, has
useful info about increasing production in a limited space, and
quite a bit about improving soil quality, but I am wary of his
recommendations to use things like vermiculite, peat moss
(compost, leaves, etc. are better), and wood ashes (easy to apply
too much potassium and throw off soil).
Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening has lots of valuable
basic information, but my 1992 edition has nothing about Brix.
Organic Method Primer, Update by Bargyla & Gylver
Rateaver, 1993, a large & expensive resource by the
outspoken professor who taught the
"first-in-the-world" course on organic method in
any tax-supported, public institution back in the 1960's,
starting the organic movement in California. This very useful
volume does include the use of brix to evaluate quality.
Books Aimed at Farmers:
These books have more in-depth info aimed at farmers. They spend a lot of time convincing the
skeptic, but less time on practical techniques, leaving the
beginner confused and full of questions. Perhaps that is because high quality
soil fertility is a complex subject, which requires a fair amount of study.
in Agriculture, by Dr. Arden B. Andersen, 2000, explains
much of the science behind soil fertility. Chapter 16, Foliar
Spray Programming, explains the use of the refractometer in field
trials of foliar sprays. See also Dr.
Andersen's blog and Interview
of Dr. Andersen
Biological Farmer - A Complete Guide to the Sustainable & Profitable
Biological System of Farming, by Gary Zimmer, 2000. Aimed at farmers, but
well laid out and easy to understand. Brief coverage of brix testing.
Farming Handbook by Phil Wheeler has chapters on use of refractometer and
foliar sprays, but the book is aimed at farmers, and the
information still left questions in my mind.
Also The Ideal Soil: A Handbook for the New Agriculture
Gardening Tips for Organic Vegetable Gardening
Richard Wiswall's book "The Organic
Farmer's Business Handbook" - haven't read it but others
have recommended it.
with a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business,
by Rebecca Thistlethwaite
Food Association recommended reading list
Quality Seed Companies - High
quality, organic seeds germinate better and give better
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply www.groworganic.com
High Mowing Seeds www.highmowingseeds.com/
Territorial Seed Company www.territorial-seed.com/
Johnny's Selected Seeds www.johnnyseeds.com/
More organic and heirloom seed companies
Find the seeds you have been looking for with this search
Products & Sources (See "Organic
* Ohio Earth Foods, 5488 Swamp St., N.E., Hartville, OH
44632, 330-877-9356 www.ohioearthfood.com
Titgemeier's Feed &
* Dexter Mill
(garden fertilizers, supplies)
3515 Central Ave
Dirt Works - Earth Friendly Products http://www.dirtworks.net/Organic-Fertilizer.html
Home and Garden (has Azomite)
210 South Ashley Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Lake Organic Optimum Mixes (B.L.O.O.M.TM)
- includes useful info on numerous organic amendments. Interesting
concept - their BLO Membership Community
4-8-4 - for nutrient dense crops - http://www.soilminerals.com/Agricolas4-8-4_MainPage.htm
Complete mineral balanced fertilizer
* Gardens Alive from
One of the largest organic pest control and fertilizer
suppliers, with an excellent reputation for customer service.
* Garden IQ www.GardenIQ.com
* Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
Ag Lab - HighBrixGardens - Source of excellent
products for raising brix. Use the "Contact Us" form to find out
more. See The
Path to High Brix
IAL Products http://www.aglabs.com/products.html
See also High Brix Home http://highbrixhome.com/
- retail source
Brokerage - Service of IAG for organic and biological farmers
* Perfect Blend
Organic Fertilizers www.perfect-blend.com/
Perfect Blend is a complete organic fertilizer made from manure supplemented
with essential minerals by a new patented procedure that preserves all its
nutrients. Further Info Available at Lowe's
* T & J Enterprises - Affordable Organic Gardening Products
- All-Organic Natural Fertilizer http://www.rockymtnbioproducts.com/biosol.htm
-Biotechnologies for a Safer Future http://www.jhbiotech.com/plant_products/organic_products.htm
UAS of America, Inc.
Used and highly recommended by Rex Harrill
Agriculture - we
believe that the importance of balance reflects the outcome in agriculture
and in life.
Sources Click here for more sources of
Standard dry sources that are widely available
(see phosphate sources below):
*High calcium lime (~5% magnesium)
Special from IAL - carbonized
limestone (TRIO) - for quicker availability
*Dolomitic lime (too high in magnesium for most gardens - contributes
to sticky soils)
*Gypsum (calcium sulfate) used for soils too high in pH,
magnesium, or sodium and needing
Click here for more sources of liquid
Calcium-25 is a unique crop
yield-enhancing product, and is composed of only naturally-occurring
ingredients: calcium and certain amounts of plant waxes that occur on
the leaf surface... (May contain calcium chloride, so use properly, sparingly)
GSR Calcium http://www.gsrcalcium.com/
An Ohio source http://www.hworganicfarms.com/GSR-and-PhosRite.html
Baicor Calcium (chelated) - recommended by Mike Kraidy
See also Bountiful Harvest, Amaze
Phosphorus (phosphate) Sources (high
P:K ratio) Phosphate guidelines
rock phosphate, (aka CalPhos)
available from Ohio
Earth Foods. More info here.
Also called colloidal phosphate. The best natural source of phosphorus and
calcium. It is comprised of the bony structures of prehistoric marine
creatures mined in Florida from the best deposit in the country. Not the same
as the hard rock phosphate, sold by most nurseries and farm suppliers, which
is not nutritionally as readily available. Both an immediately available and a
long-term source of phosphorus. LancasterAg.com
is a potential source for larger quantities of lime and CalPhos - see their Pallet
Seabird Guano (10-10-2), also Bio-Green (10-10-2.5) from Ohio
Earth Foods, may be available from local hydroponics supplier
See also Amaze, Fish
Minerals - find local sources:
Remineralize the Earth: Rock
Dust Primer. More at www.remineralize.org/
(includes link to list of commercial sources of rock
dust) See also Rock
and fertilizers from SoilMinerals.com
products have their base in naturally occurring marcasite clay
which is mined from a source in Sylverna, Mississippi. This is an ancient
marine deposit that is rich in nutrients and contains billions of
microorganisms per lb of material that can live in a very large PH range. The
products for soil are Flora-Stim, and Vita-Stim (liquid). We suggest a soil
test on the soil that tests for trace minerals. If no test is done general
rule is 300 pounds per acre the first year, 200 pounds the second year per
acre and 100 thereafter per acre. This should be applied on top (not worked
in) of the soil allowing the rain to take it in. If you have a garden a 50
pound bag will do 5,000 square feet. This is just hand broadcasted on top. It
works down to 28 degrees in temperature. Price on Flora-Stim $18/50# bag plus
shipping. For more info email email@example.com.
Supplier in northwest Pennsylvania:
Richard & Sylvia Darrow
Pure Earth Products
Restora-Life Minerals for soil and animals
19144 Rt. 89
Corry, PA 16407 - 9554
* Planters II Trace Mineral Fertilizer
http://www.planters2.com/ or www.tandjenterprises.com/
www.azomite.com/ - a natural source of minerals and trace elements.
Ann Arbor source
Here's an interesting old post about AdzumPlus 'How
to Improve Top Soil'
A variety of amendments, including Blacksand, Greenrock & Compost Rock
Minerals from Peaceful Valley
to Improve Topsoil
or www.ocean-grown.com) is a concentrated liquid solution that
provides essential nutrients from the deep ocean for healthy
seed and plant growth – perfect for farms, orchards,
pastures, hydroponics and home gardens. Two other formulations designed for
foliar sprays and soil remediation are available. http://www.ocean-grown.com/testimonials.html
Sea-90 , from SeaAgri, Inc (www.seaagri.com)
, is a full-spectrum mineral fertilizer that delivers 90 plus elements present
in the sea's natural and ideal ratios. Directions
Organic Sea Minerals are a dense and powerful liquid nutrient
derived 100% from ocean water and is a great nutrient for crops and farm animals.
) is an all natural soil amendment extracted from seawater that contains
critical nutrients, presently absent in soils. A balance of elements in
the soil will reduce plant disease, accelerate plant maturation and
- recommended by Vinny Pinto as the best.
Our mission is to restore balance to the plant and animal
kingdom by developing sustainable technologies for food production that
maximize the nutritional content of crops, and thus improve the human
condition. Sea Water is dedicated to
providing growers with the inputs and methodology necessary to produce high
quality food and juices at affordable prices to the consumer.
Growing your own wheat
grass (and other sprouts), by Sea Water distributor, Grow Greens (www.growgreens.com).
- biodynamically enhanced sea mineral concentrate.
(Detailed list of foliar fertilizers)
Solutions - a fertilizer company
dedicated to helping people raise the mineral density of their crops through
foliar sprays and liquid fertilizers.
Advancing Eco-Agriculture, 4551 Parks
West Rd., Middlefield, OH 44062, www.growbetterfood.com
- plant growth accelerator/soil conditioner - available on Amazon
A good organic product - living, thick, brown liquid that can develop
pressure in bottle, so keep it cool, with cover slightly loose to allow
release of pressure.
* AMAZE - This
is a 5-16-4-5Ca clear liquid foliar fertilizer. The unique thing about
this product is the mixture of Calcium & Phosphorous in a clear solution.
From International Ag Labs http://www.aglabs.com/products.html
from Big Ears Rabbit Farm
A source: www.livingsoil.org - click
on 'Free Gifts/I am not a scientist'
A bit unusual because the P to K ratio is a desirable 3 to 1
Kelp Liquid/powder http://www.maxicrop.com/
Harvest Fish Hydrolysate/Seaweed Extract
Neptune's Harvest - http://www.neptunesharvest.com/
Harvest fish hydrolysate is an all organic, highly nutritional protein
fertilizer, made utilizing naturally occurring enzymes present in
fresh North Atlantic fish. We produce this using a cold process
employing enzymes (natural biological catalysts) which break down
fish, or fish frames (the part left after the fillet is removed for
human consumption) to simpler protein complexes. This process is
synthetic materials are mixed into the fish hydrolysate, and the only
manipulation the product undergoes is grinding and hydrolysis.
This process yields a stable, non-odorous, liquid fertilizer that is
an easy to use, safe product. The nitrogen in Neptune's Harvest
fish fertilizer is derived from fish protein in the form of amino
acids which when added to the soil, slowly break down into basic
emulsion is made from heated fish waste after protein and oils are
removed. It is an inferior product to fish hydrolysate.
* Other hydrolysate sources:
SCHAFER'S ORGANIC FISH FERTILIZER http://www.schaferliquidfish.com/
Valley has a long list of liquid fertilizers www.groworganic.con -
including "Brix Mix"
- There are three basic types of soil microorganisms
- bacteria, fungi (mycorrhiza) and archaea.
All three are needed for a healthy soil. Some inoculants contain one type of
microbe, some contain several types of fungi and bacteria. Few contain the
archaea. EM are tough microbes that thrive in anaerobic
situations - good as a primer in tight soils.
Micorrhizal Online http://mycorrhizalonline.com/
Milk can be an effective inoculant, as explained in this
Organics Mycorrhizal Inoculants http://www.mycominerals.com/index.html
also at http://www.biconet.com/soil/
Lots of info & products at their Website www.biconet.com
Bio-Control Network - Bio-Rational Solutions for an Ever Shrinking Planet.
Correct Planting Routine(R)
Mycorrhizal inoculant plus aerobic biologicals, vitamins, minerals, herbs and
more - http://www.biogreeninc.com/
Click on 'Catalogue of Products' - aimed at lawn and tree care care -
professional products include a liquid calcium and an organic wetting agent
that can be helpful. The "Technical Overview" is on target. "Healthy
soil is dictated by four dimensions which are the following: Magnetic
Balance, Mineral Balance, Oxygen Circulation and Biological Balance."
A Cleveland source http://www.thesweetgreens.com/Organics-c310.html
* BioVam http://www.tandjenterprises.com/
Soil Secrets - In New Mexico -
mycorrhizal inoculants with humic acids http://www.soilsecrets.com/
Includes some good basic info on humus.
is an economical, environmentally-friendly consortium of beneficial soil
microbes carried by liquid humates. Recommended by someone in Texas.
Perfecti - http://fungiperfecti.com/mycogrow/index.html
mycorrhizal inoculants, and also edible mushroom kits
* Bountiful Harvest
Source of liquid Biostimulant, Plant Food, and Super-Cal (liquid
Info about commercial Bio-Stimulant (Agri-Gro)
Infusion from Agriculture
liquid designed to increase natural nitrogen cycle in soil, living dormant
Soil Restore - mycorrhizal stimulant
- Growing Healthy People, Plants, & Planet!
- biodynamic products and hydroponic products
Resources - A blend of microbial products formulated to supply the
greatest diversity of bacteria, fungi, algae, enzymes, carbon substrates,
vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help support the growth of soil microbial
Growth Texas www.sustainablegrowthtexas.com
Formulated by Steve
Diver, who works independently now, their products include biodynamic
* Tainio Technology & Technique, Inc
"We are dedicated to providing you premium agricultural products that
are safe to our environment."
EM America, now TeraGanix
source of Effective Microorganisms
Also SCD Probiotics - www.scdprobiotics.com/ -
originally Efficient Microbes
Used to make bokashi
* Biozome - The Natural Plant Feeder
- a source of archaea http://www.biozome.com/
Further comments on Biozome
- from HighBrixGardens.com
- call or email them for more information. Jubilate contains minerals in rock powders, bacterial and mycorrhizal inoculants, carbons for
biostimulation, and other ingredients to help plants grow.
Archaea are also included.
Soil Conditioners &
Carbon Sources (humates) X
Basic carbon sources are compost, organic mulches, etc. See Ramial
Wood Chips, also Ramial
Chipped Wood: the Clue to a Sustainable Fertile Soil
These specialized sources maybe helpful. Molasses and sugar are also used as
carbon sources that are quickly available to feed the microbes.
- a combination of ground minerals with high CEC & water holding capacity,
a sandy consistency
Conditioners (3 types) from Agriculture
Soil Cleanser, Tillerman's
Friend & Microbial
* Aerify - Liquid Soil Aerator and Clay Loosener
A-35, the "original enzyme catalyst formula"
(a soil conditioner) from GardensIQ
or Biocontrol Network: http://www.biconet.com/
Nitron's website is GardensIQ
Nitron A-35 "activates and releases soil nutrients. Nitron's Formula
A-35 is the key to unlocking your soil. A-35 acts as a catalyst and
compliments soils natural enzymes. It activates and releases nutrients in
the soil as well as those added with fertilizer. Nitron's enzyme catalyst
will aid in the release of nutrients and trace elements to plants in any
type of soil."
Ag Labs -
multi-carbon liquid with added humectants which work to help better manage
soil moisture - a new product. See www.HighBrixGardens.com
Blend of humic acid, liquid seaweed, & natural plant fatty acids, a
detoxification product for soils with nutrient imbalances, herbicide residues,
and toxins produced by anaerobic conditions. See also http://www.aglabs.com/products.html
for other foliar products from IAL. Check out their newsletters.
Neptune's Harvest - liquid humates
SP-85 appears to be an
older version of humates from Neptune
Fulvic 1400TM - http://www.nutri-tech.com.au/products/humates/nts-fulvic-1400.html
- interesting info on product in Australia.
Environmental Care &
Share - http://ecands.net/index.php
Also at Ohio
Terra Preta, Biochar,
Farmers of American
Benefits of Compost Tea
High quality compost tea provides the microorganisms that take the minerals
in the soil and put them in a form that the plant is best able to use, that
is, chelated with humic acids. The microbes, if properly
nourished, turn organic matter into the humic
acids that chelate with the minerals. A good balance of minerals needs to
be in the soil for the microbes and plants to thrive.
High quality compost tea can also provide the minerals needed by the plant
in the chelated form that is easily utilized by the plants. So using it as a
soil drench gets those nutrients to the roots, giving the plant a boost. Using
the compost tea as a foliar puts minerals on the leaves where they can be
utilized, and also protects the plant with a layer of good bacteria. By using
the high quality compost tea regularly you can give the plants a boost to
produce maximum quality (brix). Example
of use of compost tea
As an alternative you can buy inoculants to
add the microbes to the soil - 3 basic kinds - archaea,
bacteria, and myccorhizal fungi, but you have to
be sure to feed the microbes what they need -
organic matter with adequate sugars, protein materials and minerals, and
adequate water. And then mix up drenches or foliars based on recipes in a book
like Beddoe's, Nourishment Home Grown. Or you can buy
special formulas such as Jon Frank, at HighBrixGardens,
uses - there's a list at http://highbrixhome.com/
- see the order form. Michael Melendrez, of www.SoilScreats.com,
has found that adding some humates (presumably because of their available
nutrients) along with the mycorrhizae jumpstarts the formation of more humic
acids from the organic matter, which boosts fertility and improves tilth of
the soil. Worm castings from your worm bed can be a good source of these
humates, as well as lots of microbial action. (back to
The Path to High Brix:
High Brix crops results when crops have high levels of soil
mineral nutrition along with the transformation and chelating agents of soil
acids. Soil acids are the result of the natural deterioration of organic
materials into a tea. The tea is the material that is then transformed
by soil bacteria and fungi into fulvic and humic acids [humus].
The path to high Brix is actually a very simple formula.
Build active humic and fulvic acids in your soil. These are the
acids that chelate minerals, including N-P-K, secondary
minerals such as CA, MG, S, as well as trace minerals, and work
to provide microbes and plants with the chelated minerals.
Fulvic acid is transcellular - it can feed plants by passing
through the cellular structure of the root system. As the
plants accumulate minerals and nutrition - from the fulvic /
humic soil matrix - plants start to build sugars. They also
start reaching towards achieving their genetic potential. As
the plants build mineral content and sugar content, we are able
to read this change with a refractometer. The basis of sugar
increase in a plant is directly related to the nutritional
values available to the plant from the soil in which it grows.
Synthetic forms of nutrients are unable to stick around long
enough to provide plants with the slow nutrient feed that a
plant requires to boost mineral and sugar content. Mineral rich
soils are useless to a plant if there is no transfer mechanism
- the transfer mechanism being the weak acids, in the form of
fulvic and humic acids, that chelate the minerals from the soil
into a form that is useful to the plant.
All organic material will, sooner or later, turn into fulvic
and humic acids [finished compost]. There are several factors,
including pH and a homogenous nature that can accelerate the
transformation. Other factors, such as the labile nature of
manure, condemns most manure applications to being very
ineffective from an efficiency viewpoint in building fulvic and
humic acids. It takes, for example, 6 to 8 tons of manure per
acre to equal a single ton application of a high efficiency
organic fertilizer. Some folks work high cellulose content
mixes into their soil. They are disappointed that the benefit
to their soil does not happen in the year of application. This
is due to bacterial action necessary to break the cellulose
down. [For further elaboration see Producing High Brix
Perfect Blend Organics
* The National Sustainable Ag Info Service
Companion Planting: Basic Concept and Resources
Includes a useful chart of companion plants
* The Three Sisters