I found an interesting article from the National Gardening Association newsletter recently. Scientists found that adding table sugar (sucrose) to the water they use for irrigating broccoli sprouts increased Vitamin C, phenolics, and other nutrients. I calculated from the article and the amount needed is 2-4T per quart of water. I bet sugar increases nutrients in other plants too.
Increasing Veggie Nutrition
That's all we need- suggestions that sugar makes fresh veggies taste better! Smart people are cutting back on sugar to try to stay healthy, and what can have a better taste than fresh food? I wish "they" would quit messing around with Mother Nature- I could go on at length, but I'll get off my soap box!
Just for clarity, I don't think the sugar actually gets into the plants but stimulates the plants to increase nutrients. I imagine it is similar to the way that environmental stress, diseases and insects stimulate plants to product natural defense molecules that protect the plants from the stress. Many of these defense molecules that successfully protect plants from stress are important nutrients for us - phenolics, antioxidants, vitamins and dark red and green pigments.
This made me think of all the cereal commercials I grew up with..."sugar coated for quick energy" lol
My understanding microbes will rapidly increase with a feeding of sugar, be it molasses or table sugar. The more soil microbes, the more minerals and nutrients broken down and utilized by the plant. But, molasses has trace minerals as well, minerals that cane sugar is lacking. I'm saving the table sugar for the ice tea :0)
I'll pass on their recommendation. It is NOT needed. IMHO of coarse.
I haven't heard anything about adding sugar to increase nutrient density but I have heard of "nutrient dense farming". Adding micro-nutrients to the soil is said to make veggies taste better and be healthier for humans (and the plants).
If you really want to help the soil use rockdust. It puts depleted minerals back into the soil. It can be hard to find. I use Esphomas Greensand instead.
I am using Espoma greensand, too. It was recommended by the guy at the local farm store.
For whatever (if anything) that it's worth- dried molasses (for horses)- makes the BEST fertilizer. I use it on my centipede lawn, but have started using it as a soil amendment, with good results.
Jasmonates (named from jasmine but found in all plants) also stimulate production of Vitamin C and other antioxidants and help fruits and veggies keep their nutrients when stressed.
Just one other interesting thought on vegetable nutrition. A great benefit of eating fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden is that they have more nutrients than those kept in storage. Here is a clip of Melinda Myers' discussing strawberries and how Vitamin C decreases rapidly after just 1-2 days of storage:
There has also been research done that suggests ( I hope I can write this so it makes sense) that if a plant is left to produce it's natural amount of fruit that each fruit will be higher in nutrition. An example would be hybrids that are developed for higher yields but a plant can only uptake so many nutrients so the more fruits that are set on a plant the less nutrients each one has.
Would logic follow that if you remove fruits, those left would be more enhanced with nutrients?
This is an interesting thread. I thought I'd share a little offshoot on this, with a video by my favorite TV Texas gardener, John Dromgoole. He shows us about how to use various things from our kitchen out in the garden. Most notable is when he talks about adding soda for a readily available source of phosphorus and sugar to improve the soil.
Pod-I don't know but I THINK if the plant just does what it's supposed to do it should be fine. I've heard about culling fruit to increase the size of the remaining fruit but I don't know about nutrients. I've heard about it more with plants that are bred specifically for high yields or the eggs from chickens that lay more eggs then
they would naturally.
Another big fad now seems to be Mycorrhizae. But I say if you use compost and rockdust or greensand for trace minerals and your PH is in the right range you don't need it. Just another way to waste your money. Mycorrhizae is expensive.
LisaP, thanks was an interesting video! I love Braggs and molasses. Wasn't aware soda had phosphorus, we don't drink much of it, but I'll be sure to dump the waste into the compost.cool.
I also dump the liquid from homemade bread starter and the liquid (whey) from yogurt into the compost. Good stuff too.
tommyr2006 - since using mycorrhizae in my vegetable garden I have seen big improvements in health, size and number of fruits. Yes, it's expensive, but a little goes a long way.
Give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised. :)
Big fan of mycorrhizae after using it for the past couple of years. I especially think it's important in container gardening. I've tried 5 different brands, some are better than others. My 2 favorites are by the same company...
In scientific studies, mycorrhizae help reduce disease problems not just by replacing the "bad" microbes in the soil but also by activating the natural defenses (immunity) in plants against that make plants more resistant to diseases and insects. It may be a bit techical, but ere is one abstract from a paper describing this.
Feeding the soil and reducing chemical fertilizers in the soil is a great way to foster growth of good microbes that are already in most soils.
cocoa_lulu - I had never thought of adding the whey from yogurt to the compost - I'll do it from now on!! Thanks for the tips, everyone!!
GraceG, whey is a good fertilizer as well, just dilute 1 part whey, to 4 parts water :0)
Cool - thanks for the info!! I was pouring the whey off my yogurt down the drain - I have an allergic reaction if I drink it. Now, I don't have to waste it!! :)
Question about mycorrhizae -- can it be used in the garden after planted (month or so)?
I would love to have the drought benefits, as we really need help there. No watering like rain water.
I wonder if the sugar was helpfull "because it was sugar", or because the soil needed any source of organic matter, the faster-acting the better.
Similarly: mycorrhizae provide the most benefit to soils that lack them in sufficient quantity, such as sub-soil left behind by builders, anaerobic clay, drowned muck, or nearly-pure sand that had not supported many roots in the last few years.
I read one article that talked about "multiplying" mycorrhizae by growing a cover crop with lots of durable roots. I don't have a link, just their PDF: Sunseed Desert Technology (SDT), Almerķa, Spain, www.sunseed.org.uk
"grass and legume family"
"maize and beans"
grasses plus a legume such as lentil.
"Onions or leeks"
"These act as bait, allowing the mycorrhizal fungi that are present in the soil to infect their roots and therefore multiply."
After growing for three months, the tops were cut and water witheld, to drive the mycorrhizae to release spores. After one more week, the roots were chopped into 1cm long strips and mixed back into the soil. Then the soil and root mixture was used to innoculate pots or other soil.
>> Process sounds similar to turning under a cover crop
Very much, but they made the point of starting their crop in soil that was already fertile and had the mycorhyzzia they wanted to multiply, mowed and then held dry for a week, ("to release spores") and THEN chopped the roots down to short bits, and used the combination of soil and roots to "innoculate" other, poorer soils or containers.
I have no way of knowing if that's really more effective than just taking soil and lots roots from any healthy crop grown on fertile, well-established soil, to "innoculate" poorer soil.
A lot of what I found on their website seemed to focus on how to donate money and time to their organization.
But the principle seems sound to me. If I were a root fungus symbiote, and someone cut my host plant off at grund level and then subjected it to drought, I would probably want to sporulate, myself.