Soil Minerals AS Pest Control

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 in Grow Better Greens Podcast | Comments Off on Soil Minerals AS Pest Control

In Episode 13, we’re picking up where we left off in Episode 12 with Natural Pest Control, and doing a deep dive into using Soil Minerals to manage pests and disease in the garden. Also known as Nutrient Dense Growing, using raw soil minerals has a two-part pay off; not only will you reduce the number of bugs and molds munching on your plants, but you’ll also be putting more nutrients per calorie into each and every fruit. So, join us as we discuss this up and coming, beyond organic gardening technique.

You can listen in here, or download for later:

Soil Minerals AS Pest Control
How Using Soil Minerals as Pest Control is Different than Other Techniques
Basic Theory of Soil Minerals
Garden Pests and Plant Phases of Expression
How to Mind YOUR Minerals
Why Do You Grow Food?

How Using Soil Minerals as Pest Control is Different than Other Techniques

There are a few key ways in which using soil minerals as a pest control strategy is pretty far removed from the manner in which most of us have been fighting back in the garden. For starters, the main event – the application of the minerals themselves, is a bit of a one-shot deal each season.

In an effort to limit and/or prevent the arrival of pests altogether, we’re delivering the first punch before we sow seeds or set plants. Based upon the results of a specialty soil test, we’ll be crafting a personalized mineral blend for our own gardens, which we’ll turn into the soil before the growing season begins. We’re being proactive and preventative instead of reactive!

This is like taking a daily vitamin, or maybe even a deeper dose of full-throttle vitamin therapy, instead of relying on powerful, damaging drugs as soon as sickness arrives.

Secondly, using soil minerals (also called nutrient dense gardening) recognizes the presence of pests and disease as a symptom of a greater nutritional issue. Our efforts in giving our soils ‘makeovers’ with minerals, is a longterm strategy that considers the root of the problem. So, instead of spinning round and round on the hamster wheel of symptoms, we’re taking a giant step backwards to look at why the symptoms might be arriving in the first place.

The third way that soil minerals offer us a different relationship to pest management is that they allow our actions to be targeted, personalized, and quantifiable. This is because every home gardener’s recipe is based upon a value that acknowledges the amount of nutrients their soil can personally hold onto.

Total Exchange Capacity, or how many positively charges ions a soil can hold, varies from garden to garden. Yours and mine are different, without a doubt! Establishing this number is the backbone to creating a mineral blend that will address nutrient deficiencies while avoiding the creation of excesses and will make sure that you’re using any available space for elements that will help your plants thrive.

You can find out more about Total Exchange Capacity in the video below:

Basic Theory of Soil Minerals

The basic theory behind controlling nutrient levels in your soil, is to make sure that you’re saving some space for important trace minerals to come into play. On a very fundamental level, there are two kinds of nutrients; macronutrients and micronutrients.

Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium are the macronutrients and the thing to know about them is that if you give an inch, they will take a mile. If you’re not paying attention, it’s really easy for your entire Exchange Capacity to be taken up by macronutrients, without leaving any room for those vitally important micronutrients, aka trace minerals.

Although only teeny, tiny amounts are needed, when trace minerals like zinc, copper, boron and iron are ‘activated’, amazing things can occur in both human and plant health. Usually, with sick, pest-ridden home gardens there are one of two ‘states of malnutrition’ that they fall into:

In the first category are soils so lacking in nutrients altogether that the plants growing there are never able to become strong enough to defend themselves. These soils are are underfed.

In the second category are soils that definitely have nutrients present, but due to certain excesses, valuable space is being taken away from powerful nutrients that could affect change. Until the excesses subside, the game-changing nutrients that could help are useless. These soils are unbalanced.

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With this second, unbalanced scenario in mind, soil mineral gardeners know that many symptoms can lead you on a wild goose chase. Googling why a leaf is yellow, wilted, curled, spotted or the like may tell you which nutrient the plant isn’t absorbing, but it can’t tell you why it isn’t being absorbed.

For example, one season I had a bad case of Blossom End Rot on my tomatoes. The internet was aglow with advice to put more calcium in my soil in order to rectify the problem. But you can read my article below, all about how and why boron actually saved the day and why calcium would have made everything much worse:

What’s Your Scarcest Soil Resource? How I Cured My Blossom End Rot Without Calcium…

Another reason that nutrient dense growers turn to soil minerals, is that they may help to make plants inedible to bugs.

Garden Pests and Plant Phases of Expression

Ok, here’s where the rubber really meets the road. In order to fight back against pests and disease, we can use soil minerals to make our plants inedible to bugs (as well as fungi and bacteria). Said differently, we can use nutrition to help our plants reach different life stages where they express different complete compounds.

Essentially, as our plants grow and fulfill their life’s work of offering ideal reproductions of themselves to the gene pool, they reach mini milestones along the way. First, if all goes well, they will create complete carbohydrates in their leaves.

This is known as the First Phase of Plant Expression.

In order to accomplish this task, they’ll need proper nutrition (access, delivery and absorption of everything they need) from the soil system. The most interesting part about their goal of expressing this complete carbohydrate (at least from our perspectives) is that as soon as that happens, there’s a list of garden pests that will no longer be able to digest our plant’s leaves.

Pretty cool, right? At this very first stage of plant expression, we can say goodbye to soil-borne pathogens, such as Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, and Altemaria, because not a one of those has a digestive tract that can manage carbs. Boom – a whole list of pests knocked off without a single spray or sprinkle!

If your plants are healthy enough, you can starve out entire pest populations.

On the flipside of our celebration is the idea that if we’re seeing evidence of any of these soil borne pathogens, we can be pretty sure that we’ve got some soil nutrition work ahead of us. Not only are we likely to pull our hair out with the pest war in the garden, but we’re also growing pretty low-quality food.

In fact, we’re growing Bug Food. Not People Food.

In the second phase, our plants will express complete proteins. With this momentous event we can say goodbye to those damaging larval insects, such as the Corn Earworm, Cabbage Looper, and Leaf Miner.

You can check out all four Phases of Plant Expression below, with their corresponding pest-removal lists. These ideas, by the way, were written about earlier in the 20th Century, by Francis Chaboussou, a French Argronomist.

Phase 1: carbs eliminate soil-borne pathogens: Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, Alternaria (fungus)
Phase 2: proteins corn earworm, cabbage looper, leaf miner
Phase 3: lipids (shiny leaves) Mildews & Blights. Where I want to be.
Phase 4: phytoalexins Japanese Beetles, Cucumber Beetles, Flea Beetles – learn about controlling beetles with bug vacuum or a row cover in Episode 12…

Is it possible to get to Phase 4? Maybe not in today’s world with Earth being sick. But using this roadmap, you can get to Phases 1 & 2, which are magnificent when compared to the more common disease-ridden garden or farm that most of us do battle with.

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How to Mind YOUR Minerals

The basic process for testing and amending your soil with soil minerals happens in three parts. First, you’ll need to send a soil sample to a specialty lab that will test your soil, your Total Exchange Capacity, and your trace minerals.

Next, you’ll plug your results into an online calculator that will transform your results into a streamlined recipe for the exact minerals that you need, in their correct weights.

Lastly, you need a little bit of knowledge, and that’s where we come in. If you purchase your soil test through us, we’ll be there for the hand-holding, filling in the gaps with how-to videos, a field-by-field soil results glossary and more.

Although steps one and two are great if you’re a professional soil analyst, the combo isn’t so easy to navigate for the layperson. You can see how Mind Your Minerals solves that problem for you by clicking here.

Why Do You Grow Food?

In this section we ask our listeners to share why they are growing food. This week Bree Hester of shares why she loves growing food!

You can record YOUR answer here

Bree won a collection of Liz’s heirloom leafy green seeds, available on Amazon.

Thanks for reading my blog : ) I appreciate your time and wish you much success in growing healthy food!