Studies have shown that the more nutrients plants have available, the healthier and more disease resistant they are. Just like in the human body, diseases do not have a chance to take hold if the host plant is healthy. Conventional growing methods add only nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but studies have shown that our soils are becoming depleted of the other nutrients needed by plants, which is causing our food to become less and less nutritious. For example, conventionally grown spinach now has only a tenth of the nutrition that it had 40 to 50 years ago.
How to Grow High Brix Vegetables
When you grow your own food, you have control over the methods used. You can grow food that is more nutritious, tastes better, and stores longer. Exceptionally well-grown produce has a high Brix content, and it is grown in soils that have all of the essential nutrients available to the plants. Brix is the measure of minerals and sugars (sucrose) in plant juices, and is stated in °Bx.
Before harvest, juices from the stems or plants can be used to monitor plant health. Results from Brix testing with a refractometer can be used to make decisions about feeding plants. After harvest, juices from the vegetables or fruit can be used. Most foods that measure at least 12 °Bx are considered excellent Brix, but there are exceptions which are both lower and higher. For example, 40 °Bx cured garlic is excellent, whereas 8 °Bx common potatoes are excellent.
What is High Brix?
Brix is named after Professor Adolf Brix (1798-1890), a German chemist, mathematician, and engineer who was the first to measure plant juice density. He developed a method for winemakers to be able to judge the quality of their grapes in the field long before harvest by using an early version of the refractometer.
Dr. Carey A. Reams is credited with discovering the relationship between plant health and human health, and soil restoration and energetics, among other things. Dr. Reams (1903-1985) was a genius mathematician who also studied biophysics and biochemistry and was a long-time friend of Albert Einstein. Reams spent his life studying soil fertility and electromagnetic qualities, and popularized the term Brix.
Although measuring Brix with a refractometer shows the sugar content, there is a direct correlation to the nutritional content of the food and the quality of soil it was grown in. Produce in grocery stores has minimal Brix and nutrition, whereas well-grown produce has higher Brix and significantly higher nutrition, especially mineral content. High Brix food is not necessarily organically grown, although it is much easier to obtain good Brix with organic methods.
What is High Brix Produce?
The USDA measures Brix to grade some produce that is sold in the US, but only to make sure it meets minimal standards. Brix is measured by a refractometer, which is a simple-to-use device that takes only a few drops of plant juices. It helps you to judge the health of your soil and consistently improve it. Most produce is of excellent quality with at least a 12 °Bx rating, although there are many exceptions. When a plant’s juices measure at least 12 °Bx, the plant will not attract insects and will be highly resistant to diseases.
High Brix food does not decompose, it dehydrates. Some high Brix produce will keep for months, up to a year, at room temperature. For some varieties, such as tomatoes, the seeds inside will sprout, but the tomato will still be fresh, sweet, and edible.
How to Add Minerals to Soil for Growing Vegetables in Pots
When you transplant seedlings to a larger pot size or to the garden, the soil should contain more nutrients than the seed starting media. The pH of soil affects how many nutrients are available to plants, and commercial potting soil is acidic. To raise the pH, add lime to the soil when you are mixing the container soil for tomatoes.
Compost supplies microorganisms which have a mutually beneficial relationship with plant roots. Add up to 1/3 compost by volume to your container growing media. Natural, good quality, organic soil has millions of microorganisms and a mix of minerals available for your plants. When you grow plants in containers, the soil mix ingredients contain very few minerals.
One of the easiest ways to add minerals to your soil is to use Azomite™. Azomite™ has 70 minerals to feed your plants. Unless there are minerals available in the soil for your plants, your produce will not be as nutritious and will be more susceptible to diseases and insect damage.
Mix Azomite™ in your growing mix at a rate of 1/4 cup per 21 by 11 inch tray. Use 1 teaspoon per 2 inches in pot diameter for vegetables grown in pots. In the garden, add 1 pound per every 25 square feet. This is a product made of volcanic ash that settled in a seabed millions of years ago, and is totally organic. It is easy to use and it would take a lot of Azomite™ to do any damage to your plants. It stays in your soil for 5 to 7 years, but you can add more each growing season or planting.
How to Mix Container Soil for Tomatoes
Plants of the nightshade family (Solonaceae) require soil with high calcium content. Bone meal is a good addition to container soil for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. Blossom end rot can be a sign that a plant is suffering a calcium deficiency. Even though Azomite™ has many minerals that tomatoes need, it does not have enough calcium to be ideal for tomatoes, so additional calcium should be used in addition to Azomite™.