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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Eureka Springs, AR


    what is brix?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    over the troll bridge in the Land of Kings


    Since you asked, sir william:


    Soil Balance Ratios Nutrienty Density and Brix
    Folks, It is time to get your winter garden stuff together. Get your soil tested free and apply amendments now while the earth is inhaling. Pay attention SWC and Fuckfinger. I'm here to help you.

    Here is the third installment lifted from Yahoo Soil & Health
    and his blog @
    of Michael Astera's take regarding mineral density and more.

    Pay close attention to his ratios. Better yet, buy his book.
    All the soil consultants keep you on their payroll year after
    year. A little math and chemistry here and you can kiss the
    consultants good bye.

    Best wishes.


    Severly Truncated. Exceeds 15,000 characters. See his blog.

    I'm looking forward to his interpretations of Phil Callahan's
    paramagnetism and his Biodynamic overview,

    Part III The Recipe

    Assuming that it is possible to grow crops with great flavor, high
    levels of nutrition, excellent keeping qualities, and a high resistance
    to disease and insect attack, how does one go about doing it? Obviously
    it starts with the soil.

    Astera's Dictum v1.0: Food of high nutritional quality can only be
    grown in a fully mineralized, biologically active soil in which energy
    is flowing or being released.

    Biology, i.e. living organisms and their remains, has been the focus
    of "organic" growers since the 1920s, more especially since the 1950s,
    and is the only aspect that most "organic" growers have any knowledge
    of or experience with so far. For most of the this time, the emphasis
    was on adding more organic matter to the soil in the form of compost
    and manure; only in the last fifteen years or so has the emphasis
    shifted more towards the living soil microorganisms, what the popular
    buzzword calls the SoilFoodWeb.

    Worldwide, the valleys of the great rivers were the cradles of
    civilization, simply because of the wide assortment of essential
    minerals in their soils. A few other places approached or matched that
    level of fertility, such as the Great Plains of North America, the
    Chernozem soils of the Ukraine, and the Loess areas of China and the
    Mississippi Valley. All were the result of either a fortunate
    combination of rocks from which the soil formed, or windblown dust from
    large areas, or both.

    Of course ancient and even modern people knew nothing about the
    mineral makeup of their soils; they only knew that some areas grew
    crops that brought health to people and livestock, some areas didn't.
    The knowledge of mineral elements and chemistry as a science didn't
    exist until the late 1700s; the first chemical assays of crops and
    soils weren't done until the 1830s, and the Periodic Table of the
    Elements wasn't put together until the late 1800s. Furthermore, despite
    over two centuries of advances in the fields of chemistry and
    nutrition, very little knowledge of the mineral basis of soil fertility
    or nutrition has filtered down to agriculture.

    Our goal should be to match or exceed the fertility and mineral
    balance and availability of the great breadbaskets of the world, so
    let's get to it.

    I'm going to start here with how I grow high-brix nutrient dense
    crops. There is at least one other method that deserves mention and we
    will touch on that.

    The method I use is largely based on the work of William Albrecht and
    Firman Bear in the 1930s and '40s in the USA. The essence of it is the
    Basic Cation Saturation Ratio or BCSR. Note first off that this BCSR
    idea is neither appreciated nor recognized by mainstream chemical or
    organic agriculture. That need not concern us overmuch as long as it
    works, right? The Basic Cations that we are talking about are Calcium,
    Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium. They are called 'basic" because
    adding them to a water solution makes the solution more alkaline or
    "basic". They are cations because they have a positive charge, a +
    charge. Ca and Mg have a double plus charge ++, K (Potassium) and Na
    (Sodium) have a single plus + charge. Those elements with a negative -
    charge are called anions.

    Done? Good. Now that everyone is familiar with CEC, we can talk about
    the BCSR and how to mineralize or re-mineralize our soils. First of all
    one needs to have the results of a standard soil test that gives them
    the % saturation of the four major cations Calcium, Magnesium,
    Potassium, and Sodium presently in the soil, as well as the total CEC
    (Cation Exchange Capacity) of the soil. Here are some examples of the
    results of a standard soil test:

    What we (ideally) want to end up with are the following cation
    saturation ratios:

    Calcium 60%-70%
    Magnesium 10%-20%
    Potassium 2%-5%
    Sodium 1%-4%
    H+ Hydrogen 5%-10%

    This will give us a well-balanced mineral base to start off with, and,
    with the anion ratios listed below, a pH of ~6.5 to 6.7.

    The major anions are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Chlorine. Here
    is how they should fit together with the cations above:

    Phosphorus should be equal to Potassium (actual P=actual K), which
    means phosphate (P2O5) should be 2x potash (K2O).

    Sulfur should be 1/2 of Phosphorus, up to around 400 lbs per acre.
    More is usually not needed except in soils that start out alkaline,
    i.e. pH greater than 7.

    Chlorine should be equal to Sodium, and not more than 2x Sodium.

    Nitrogen will generally take care of itself for most crops if the soil
    organic matter content is 4% or above. Some N loving crops like corn
    (maize) or onions may need some supplemental Nitrogen.

    Boron: 1/1000th of Calcium, but not more than 4ppm (parts per million)
    or 8 lbs per acre.
    Iron: 100-200 ppm (200-400 lbs/acre)
    Manganese: 1/2 of Iron, but more than 50ppm is not necessary.
    Zinc: 1/10 of Phosphorus
    Copper: 1/2 of Zinc

    The other twenty or so essential minerals are only needed in very
    small amounts, usually 1 ppm or less. Standard soil tests don't check
    for them. They can be supplied with any or all of the following:

    Sea Salt
    Seaweed (Kelp meal is pretty commonly available)
    Various mineral deposits from ancient lakes, seas, or volcanoes
    Rock dust from quarries or rock crushing operations.
    (these would all be applied at a rate of about 400lbs/acre or 10 lbs
    per 1000 sq ft))

    All of the above is explained at some length in my book The Ideal
    Soil, along with how to calculate amounts to apply and which
    organic-approved mineral sources contain how much of what. Those
    interested can check it out here: There are a number
    of books about WHY to mineralize the soil, but so far The Ideal Soil is
    the only book that shows the reader HOW to mineralize their soil. (If
    anyone knows of any other how-to books on soil mineral balancing, let
    me know and I will gladly list them.)

    Quite a bit to take in at once, but what we have covered here will
    work for almost any food crop in any climate. There is no need for
    special formulas for special crops, no need to worry about pH. This
    mineral balance, combined with a biologically active soil with around
    4% humus, along with sunshine, warmth, and water, will provide all that
    is needed to achieve good to excellent Brix readings, great flavor and
    keeping qualities, and a high degree of resistance to insects and
    disease. We are also working on the assumption that it will provide
    excellent mineral nutrition, as all of the essential minerals are
    available to the plants, but that has yet to be proven. Our proposed
    project will be to prove the concept, correlating high Brix with high
    minerals, in order to establish the world's first nutritional standards
    for food

    It doesn't seem that I have room left in this not-so-short post to
    cover everything else I mentioned at the end of Part II, so I will just
    give a brief mention to the other school of mineral balancing, the
    Reams school, and wait to talk about the economics and ecology of these
    ideas in part IV.

    Carey Reams (1904-1987) was a somewhat eccentric scientist,
    agronomist, and Christian mystic who worked mostly in Florida USA. The
    rule mentioned above that actual Phosphorus should equal actual
    Potassium, or phosphate should be 2x potash, originated with Reams.
    Reams is also who we have to thank for bringing the refractometer into
    use in general agriculture. The Brix chart he devised is still
    considered the gold standard for food crops. Here it is again:

    Reams did extensive work with energy flow in soils, and came up with
    some ideas on the roles of energy and minerals that haven't always
    translated well into modern scientific terminology. Nonetheless he
    achieved great results and some of his students have gone on to teach
    and practice his methods very successfully. Unlike the standard soil
    test mentioned above and used by Albrecht and most mainstream soil
    testing laboratories, Reams preferred the LaMotte test, which uses a
    weak extracting solution, closer to that which plant roots themselves
    employ in the soil. The Reams system is not based on the BCSR, but on
    the measurement of readily soluble major nutrients in the soil. The
    mineral ratios that Reams called for, however, are essentially
    identical to the CEC saturation ratios of the BCSR. Here are Reams'
    ideal soil mineral amounts, as available nutrients per acre, based on
    the Lamotte soil test:

    Calcium: 2,000-4,000 lbs
    Magnesium: 285-570 lbs
    Phosphate: 400 lbs
    Potash: 200 lbs
    Nitrate Nitrogen: 40 lbs
    Ammonium Nitrogen: 40 lbs
    Sulfate: 200 lbs
    Sodium: 20-70 ppm

    Michael Astera
    Reply With Quote
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about choices.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by DaBee View Post
    We've been finding hornworms for a few weeks now. One even did some major damage to an eggplant plant while we were away for a few days last week. The fishies in the pond sure think they're tasty!
    The tree tangle foot might work here as well if there is a single stalk that the goo can be applied to and the original starting point of the horn worm was from the soil. (Sorry don't know the life cycle of the horn worm). If I were trying to cover other bases, I MIGHT apply DE with one of those ole timey dry insecticide pump dusters. I say might because I don't want DE anywhere near flowering plants that will be visited by honey bees. Apply after rain, during a predicted dry spell and over and under leaf surfaces. Proly should were a mask or stay up wind. Those diatoms are sharp lil buggers.


  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    over the troll bridge in the Land of Kings


    Got lots of honey bees and the big fat bees (I'm blank on the name, but I do remember Johnson's on 62 )doing their pollinating around here. They're more important to me than the plants, so I'll just leave eberthing alone.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about choices.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Eureka Springs


    The only way I have found to get rid of the little bastards is to pick then off the plants and drop them in a can with a little gasoline. You then use the gasoline hornworm mixture to spray your tomato plants ....... light a match.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Habitat for insanity


    This one has had a parasitic wasp lay eggs on it and the larvae drill into the worm and kill it.

    You want the larvae to mature into more wasps, so if you see any of worms that look like this afflicted thing, leave it on the leaf or stem and remove the leaf to a sacrificial plant.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    In paradise


    I went out with long scissors and cut the buggers in two.. let the bottom half stay clinging to the plant as a warning to others.

    Little did I know that I was actually encouraging the moths, by growing moon flowers and petunias.. they seem to be their favorite. And.. because they were so huge and interesting to watch when they came out in the evening to feed.
    Had to let go with the moonflowers.. can't give up petunias. I love their fragrance.. and they are like.. second choice to the giant moths.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    over the troll bridge in the Land of Kings


    Interesting, Patt. I found out just today that growing morning glories will attract the Japanese Beetles and they tend, then, to stay away from the beans.
    I know, though, if'n I grew in the right kind of soil that these critters wouldn't even be there. I just haven't made the switch and don't know if I have the energy to do so. Excuses, excuses. Also, it all seems so complicated to me. I'm hoping that the more industrious gardeners will do a better job than I'm doing.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about choices.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by DaBee View Post
    You're wrong, Spike....they come from the debbil.

    Actually - these were on some plants that I had put in buckets on the deck. The soil, I found out, is horrible. Any suggestions for container soil to use?
    For potted plants ~ I bought several bags of Pro-mix from the Nursery by Harts two or three years ago. I make up soil with compost, Epsom salts. bone meal, etc, according to where the soil needs to be Ph wise. Pro-mix is about fifty bucks a bag but it was was well worth it since it can be recycled every year.

    I'm just sayin

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by DaBee View Post
    Interesting, Patt. I found out just today that growing morning glories will attract the Japanese Beetles and they tend, then, to stay away from the beans.
    I know, though, if'n I grew in the right kind of soil that these critters wouldn't even be there. I just haven't made the switch and don't know if I have the energy to do so. Excuses, excuses. Also, it all seems so complicated to me. I'm hoping that the more industrious gardeners will do a better job than I'm doing.
    If you're using pesticides for the Japanese beatles make sure you spray the soil around the plants. That's where the eggs go.

    I thing that if everyone that was into gardening bought those yellow bag traps for just one season that would greatly reduce their numbers.


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