BRIX: How to get started w/ nontoxic/biologib/sustainable ag

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Here are some suggestions for getting started on the high brix path. I'm going to post the link and text of a suggested garden amendments program below the intro.

"The ultimate goal is to be as self-sustaining as possible with limited outside inputs. "

The first step in the transition process is to establish the existing mineral levels and ratios of your soil by testing. The most comprehensive results are obtained when two distinct types of soil tests are used. The first soil test is the standard Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) which provides information as to how much of each nutrient is present in the soil. This test can be compared to a savings account.... how much total money do I have to work with? The second test is a LaMotte test, a water-soluble (soil solution soluble) test using a modified LaMotte extraction which shows how much of each nutrient is available to the crop. This can be compared to a checking account.... how much money do I have to work with today?

Each of these tests provides distinct and different information about your field. The purpose of these tests is to determine which minerals need adding, activating or suppressing and which ratios need to be changed/balanced. Other specialized tests such as paramagnetism and humus can provide further information as to the state of your soil.

The second step is to begin the process of bringing the LaMotte readings closer to the desired amounts and ratios for optimum crop response. Biological activity is the key to making the nutrients more available. Therefore, all fertilizer/chemical inputs must be evaluated in terms of their impact on microbial systems in your soil or on plant tissue. Usually only one or two non-desirable fertilizers must be removed from your current program and a few new kinds of fertilizers may have to be added as well as biological activators like sugar, molasses, bacteria and enzymes.

full text here:

The folks at CSI make the following observation and recommendation:
"It’s important to remember that plants grow from energy, not from fertilizer. Fertilizers contain energy and their specific ingredients make or provide the energy used by the growing crop. Most gardeners, like most conventional growers, apply poor energy (fertilizer) sources to unbalanced, minerally deficient soils and this accounts for their weed and insect pressures and also explains why fruits, berries and vegetables rot so easily – rather than dehydrate – if left in the refrigerator or on the counter for a long time."

The program below is a sample of one groups suggested garden amendment program to get started. Please note that this particular sample program does use some synthethic fertilizers like Miracle Gro and cola. These are not required and can be substituted with an organic alternative. I've posting this program here just to give an idea of the nutrients recommended.



From your local garden center, buy a 50 lb bag of high calcium lime (not dolomite or AG lime) (buy dolomite ONLY IF you have real sandy soil) and one quart of a liquid fish fertilizer (If you can find a fish and seaweed product that would be even better). Note: many garden center products create the problems we’re trying to solve but the ones we recommend will be some of their better products. Apply lime to soil with a spreader and then, using a tank type sprayer or end-of-hose sprayer, apply 16 oz of fish fertilizer (if using 2 gallon sprayer it may take 2 applications to apply depending on the thickness of the fish), four Tbs household sugar, 16 oz (1 pt) of a “cola” type soft drink to the soil and rototill in. (This formula may not supply all the nitrogen your garden needs for this first year, but it will be a good start.)


Dig a row for the seeds, place the seeds or transplants in the row or hole and using a gallon milk jug apply the following solution over the seeds or in the transplant hole before covering: To 1 gal jug add ˝ cup fish fertilizer, 1 tsp sugar and ˝ cup cola. Fill with water, shake and apply this solution over seeds and transplants. Each gallon should treat about a 50 ft row.

Foliar Nutrition

Once the plants emerge from the soil, spray leaves once every one or two weeks using either the end-of-hose or tank sprayer. Note: adding a vegetable mix fertilizer containing trace minerals – boron, copper, iron, manganese & zinc – from Miracle Gro or similar product at their suggested rate would be highly beneficial. IF using in the 2 gallon sprayer use at the rate of 1 tsp fish or fish/seaweed and 1 tsp soluble (Miracle Gro type) fertilizer per gallon of water. Spray earlier morning or later afternoon, not in the heat of the day.

more info here:

This message was edited Oct 21, 2008 10:10 PM

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Wow, great information, and more to read later...

HOWEVER... I have a problem with using Miracle Gro.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Yes, I have an issue with using Miracle Grow too. I would be looking for a natural "or similar" alternative to Miracle Grow for use in the foliar spray.

I'm trying to walk a middle ground here on this topic. The biological/sustainable/high brix ag movement is greatly reducing the amount of synthetic fertilizers in use by conventional farmers that are transitioning to this method. Many DGers do use Miracle Gro. If a small amount of the familiar ingredient encourages someone to use this overall growing method, it will reduce the total amount of synthetic chemicals that they do use, and perhaps one day they'll stop using them completely. You can't build healthy soil by dumping synthetic chemicals on it.

The ATTRA site listing the alternative labs has this note:

"Note to Certified Organic Farmers:

Several of the labs that focus on mineral analysis consult with large-scale grain farmers and recommend commercial fertilizers on a regular basis—the difference being that such fertilizers are used in the context of an alternative fertility program, which may include emphasis on base saturation, nutrient balancing, microbial inoculants, humates, enzymes, and foliar feeding. However, most of these labs will adjust fertilizer recommendations to fit certified organic standards on request. "

This Attra note reflects some of the issues I encountered with the packaged high brix garden programs. As I said one of the other threads, some of the high brix consultants are biased against the concept of organic agriculture. Others embrace it. If a conventional grower is not willing to give up the synthetic fertilizers, at least this method will reduce their use.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I assume that since you mentioned 'energy' that biodynamics can play a part in the total picture...

I have spent over 4 hours today reading online about soil... complicated subject.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

It would not surprise me to find a synergy or parallels with many aspects of the biodynamc method. I'm actully hoping to find ways to use the correlate some of the BD preparations with the relevant need in the brix method.

Ayurveda seems complicated until you understand the energetic dynamics behind it, then it all becomes simple. I'm hoping to find the same balance point with the high brix growing method. In the meantime I can only digest it in bits. Still working on the CEC and pH relationships, as in , if my pH is too high, what do I need to adjust in the plant's nutrients to push the right substances back down to balance the soil? Where is the key that will make this all seem self-evident?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hey... maybe we can be awarded a PhD in Soil once we figure it all out?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Either we'll be awarded a PhD or we'll discover that the more education we have, the harder it is to grasp the concepts. I'm thinking back to the Perelandra garden book where teh gardener used applied kiniesiology to communicate with the garden devas for guidance on what to plant where and what to feed. Is that really that far away from using paramagnetic principles to amplify the crop potential?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I've used the Perelandra books and techniques for years, with success I could see. However, I have not been as successful with her flower essences as I have the Bach flower essences.

Now I want to learn more about cosmic pipes!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

I've had the same experience with her techniques (successful) and remedies (not as successful as Bach).

We are all connected. Whether one considers that connection proof of the Divine or proof that all matter is a form of energy or something else, the universe is all connected.

Foliar fertilization is used often in high brix gardening. It apprears that those cosmic pipes can help you formulate the foliar feed. Perhaps you can start a BRIX thread on the radionics topic as you expore it.

Radionic/Radiesthetic Analysis
Radionics and radiesthesia (dowsing) are metaphysical approaches to determining the need for foliar fertilization and formulating the fertilizer sprays to be used. Despite the pseudoscientific nature of these modalities, they apparently are used with significant success by a surprising number of farmers. This writer had exceptional results using radionics to guide foliar feeding of commercial blueberries and blackberries in the late 1980s. For more general information on this subject see chapter 6 in The Non-Toxic Farming Handbook (9), and chapter 22 in Science In Agriculture. (10) (The authors use the term "electronic scanner" to describe a radionic device.) For how-to information on using radionics for plant culture, the book Plants, Soils, Earth Energy & Radionics is recommended. (12)

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Here are some useful comments from the BrixTalk board by Jon Frank on the relationship between soluble nutrients, microbes, and long-term soil building:

"Adding soluble nutrients in the form of commercial nutrients is really a
crutch to a long-term problem. As Dr. Reams would say "When you need a
crutch you need a crutch". Soluble nutrients do not build long-term levels
of available nutrients but they help tremendously in the short-term.

The long-term solution to building the right nutrient levels and ratios is
to apply soil amendments, rock powders, and limestone etcetera as suggested
by a soil test. These should be applied along with soil biology to help
digest them and make them plant available.

To apply biology and stimulants to a soil in order to break out nutrients
from the "soil savings account" to the "soil checking account" is totally
wrong thinking. All this does is uses biology to more efficiently mine the
soils and drive available nutrients even lower. Thus the outcome is

The bottom line then to get a soil fully remineralized that is in poor shape
is to use soluble nutrients + long-term soil building nutrients + microbial
inoculants. If the soil is not overloaded with P and K it would also be
great to use some organic nutrients such as compost/manure at the same time
because the breakdown of organics creates additional organic acids that
further speed up the breakdown of long-term rock powders and soil

and here are some of Jon's comments on the use of sugar versus molasses:

"Use molasses at about 2 gallons per acre. When calcium is low in soil use
10 lbs. of sugar instead.

When harvesting lower quality alfalfa spray 3-4 gallons of molasses the day
before cutting and the plants will have a temporary brix spike of several
points. This works great when you first start a program. After you already
have high brix it is not needed.

Molasses is rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and traces."

"When calcium is low the use of molasses over stimulates soil biology causing
an increased demand for calcium by the soil biology. They take the
plant-available calcium to reproduce leaving even less available for plants.
Sugar on the other hand feeds the bacteria without over stimulating them.
In other words you can accomplish your goal without dragging the already low
calcium level even lower.

Very similar to trying to give a newborn baby uncooked veggies. They just
aren't ready for it even though it is a good thing.

There is a principle here that many people do not see or understand.
Stimulating soil biology without remineralizing the soil leads to disaster
after a year or two in regards to the brix levels."

That last bit about the molasses stimulating the microbes to reproduce (versus just stimulating them) explains why we use molasses to activate and extend the EM stock culture. It also helps to explain why sometimes a dose of molasses produces great results in the garden and sometimes seems to do the opposite.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

We have a refratometer around here somewhere and the brix reading does fairly well parallel the taste though taste can be subjective because of texture and such. Below is a link showing how watermelon variety trials use brix {% soluble solids [ss] }

Glendale/Parks, AZ

I gave a friend of mine the plans for making a cosmic pipe.  I am hoping to talk him into making one for me when I see him again next month.  Back to the very first post in this thread: what is the cola for?  I hesitate because it seems to me cola is chemical in nature. I already avoid the Miracle Grow. Wish I had more time to join in this discussion.  I have always been very attracted to Biodynamics, Radionics, Paramagnetics and Ayurveda. Vata here.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

The cola is most likely to provide phosphorus, since colas contain phosphoric acid. It's the same stuff that rots your teeth, dissolves your bones and cleans car battery terminals but when diluted can feed the plant.

Just to be clear here, synthetic chemical fertilizers are NOT required for the sustainable ag program. I posted the basic program from CSI to illustrate an example of simple, sample program that is using both soil amendments (especially calcium), nutrient drenches at transplant and some foliar feeding. I will edit that post to be more clear.

I prefer to use natural organic materials only in my garden, although in an emergency, if cola was the only thing available to use on a plant stressing from low phosphorus, I'd consider diluting it and spray it to save the crop. It would not be my first choice but there are worse things I could use. Hopefully I won't have to make that choice.

This message was edited Oct 21, 2008 10:45 PM

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

Wow...fascinating discussion. Sorry...I have been 'out' and now look forward to catching up. I learn so much here!

So - I have heard about using coke as a soil additive for the sugars in the coke... never thought of the phosphorus...but would there be enough in coke to be an influence?

Is there anywhere or a thread or post here discussing the involvement with EM with this system....or is this a silly question?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Jayne, I'd love the plans for a cosmic pipe...

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

LOL! I can see I should have stuck to my purely organic stance rather than try to start the discussion with a post using more "ordinary" ingredients in the garden plan. Oh the karma I've created!

Aloha, cola in the garden is definitely NOT mandatory, nor preferred from my perspective, but since many people do drink cola (even those who buy organic foods) and have it on hand in the house, it is readily available substance for many. I'm not allowed to use cola in the Sunnyvale community garden because it doesn't qualify under organic standards. DH and I don't drink sodas anyway.

I'm going to send my soil sample in to CSI this time. When I get the test results and their recommendations, I'll post them. I'll also ask them for more info on their basic plan, including organic alternatives that they would recommend.

Keaau, HI(Zone 11)

G_M, How do you balance your EM1/Bokashi Juice application with the formula for planting? One in place of the other? Bokashi juice with Fish Fert added?


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

What do soil tests cost at CSI?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

There soil test price list is here:

I'm ordering test 1 - CEC and test 2 - LaMotte, plus number 5 - Fertility recommendations. I have a second allotment with different soil from the one I've been working on, so I want to know what I'm starting with. All together this will cost me $74. The cost of planting out and having the crop not produce is high, since I grow for two families (yes, two families can eat from tiny plots!)

Glendale/Parks, AZ

Darius, I am sending the cosmic pipe information to you via your email. And, I think one of us has oldtimers. I thought I got the plans via you. It is the Cosmic Pipe Update from Acres USA written by Hugh Lovel.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Is this the one?

Glendale/Parks, AZ

That would be one of them.

There is another Acres USA article by Lovel called Stimulating Soil and Air: Field Broadcasting. It has instructions for building a field broadcaster.

This message was edited Oct 22, 2008 6:37 PM

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Ahhh, Old Timers.... I know it well. NOW I remember I did send you something about the pipe update... LOL. I don't recall the one on Field Broadcasting... and I haven't checked regular email lately.

Glendale/Parks, AZ

Whew, glad it is you and not me...this time.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

G_M, I finally had time to read all the info on the CSI site. Very nice, thanks for posting it. :)

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