The Hard Way to Grow Nutrient Dense Foods

The Hard Way to Grow Nutrient Dense Food

energy grows the crop

Note: This is a hypothetical journey that many have started but few have finished. While I am writing this article in the 2nd person point of view it is actually a composite story many gardeners are currently traveling on.

The hard way to grow nutrient dense food is a long, drawn out process that starts with a simple proposition: “I am going to do it all by myself…I don’t need outside help.” The typical beginning is to go online and do some research. Here is what you will learn.

  • Be Organic
  • Use Compost
  • Use More Compost
  • Use Woodchips
  • Recycle Organic Wastes to be Sustainable

If your garden starts with unamended soil this classic organic approach to gardening will show some improvement. It will get some pretty good yield. In fact, your garden will be quite bountiful. But the brix will still be poor, the flavor so-so, and the produce certainly not nutrient dense.

The first 3 years will see improvement but by years four and five quality seems to be regressing. And most troubling of all, is that you will still have to deal with bugs, slugs, and other thugs. Five years have past and you are left with an important question you just can’t shake.

Why didn’t it work?

Of course, you could just ignore the question and accept what you are producing as nutrient dense. After all it is organic and sustainable. But even as you wish it were true you know that the flavor is still not where it should be and the brix is mostly in the poor range with occasional forays into average. Organic assumptions just don’t produce nutrient dense foods.

After a few more months of dwelling on the problem it finally hits you: To grow Therapeutic Food you must meet natures’ requirements. This makes sense! Now you are making progress. Produce quality is in fact a reflection of how well nature’s requirements were met. So now you are left with the big question:

Just what are nature’s requirements?

This is a big question. So, you go back online to study more. Here is what you learn:

  • Full Spectrum Rock Powders are Important
  • Ocean Minerals are Important
  • Biochar is Paramount

Another 2 years pass. Yes, you see progress but something isn’t right. You still haven’t seen excellent brix readings. Flavor has improved some but the brix readings mostly hang out in average. By this time you have a few questions…

  • Why is the Brix Staying in Average?
  • Why do my Grandchildren Avoid Eating Fresh Garden Veggies?
  • Why is This taking so Long?

Finally, it dawns on you. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. It’s classical business advice. You finally understand that growing plants and crafting an ideal soil is a biological process. But we must measure the environment using industrial procedures. That means soil testing is a requirement. Another year just passed by.

Through online research, classes, and email subscriptions you find out a few things about soil testing.

  • There are Many Types of Tests Available
  • It’s Complicated
  • You are Making Progress
  • You Have a Lot of Question but 2 Stand Out: Which Test, What Standard
  • Brix is in the Upper Part of Average and on Occasion Tips into Good

After 5 years of soil testing you still can’t shake 2 nagging questions; which test, what standards. So now you have a choice. You can conclude that Nutrient Dense Foods is make believe because organic food is all you need or choose a difficult path. It is difficult because a lot of preconceived ideas need to be thrown out.

You can study the guy that started all this and who originated the Brix Chart in the first place. If you choose this path you have another 2 years of study before you learn a really important truth:

It is energy that grows the crop.

How you manage energy and the environment determines crop quality. Now you start to see plants as energy collectors. With this understanding you finally see how to achieve excellent and beyond food quality. You learned that:

  • Sunlight is Energy
  • Minerals are Energy
  • Fertilizers are Energy
  • Some Minerals Promote Growth – Some Promote Blooming
  • Soluble Nutrients in Soil Conduct Electrical Energy Just Like Electrolytes Do in Your Body
  • Carbons Regulate Energy Like a Resistor in a Circuit
  • Microbes and Plants are Trading Partners Exchanging Dissolved Minerals For Plant Sugars
  • And Many More Lessons Learned Over Time

Congratulations! Through a long and circuitous path you have learned how to grow Nutrient Dense Food. By the way—you just spent 15 years of diligent effort to get here.

Now see the easy way.


  1. Claire DGaia says:

    If Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening and National Master Gardeners accepted thus article,and the’easy way’, you could educate a lot of people!

  2. Dan Lefever says:

    Do you think Reams understood the connection between sunlight energy and soil biology being fed and energizing the system? I know he was a proponent of enhancing soil life and having carbon in the soil for electrical currents flowing thru the earths crust but I don’t think he saw the liquid carbon connection. He didn’t even seem to know about using humates to get carbon into the soil. He suggested using lampblack carbon from the Trilby process. Whats your take on his knowledge along these lines?

    • Jon Frank says:

      Dan – I don’t think Dr. Reams expressed the connection the way I do. But his theoretical understanding on the importance of carbon in soil was second to none. This was acknowledged by Leonard Ridzon in his carbon books. In his later years Reams with a teacher. He did not formulate and sell packaged products, including humates. I am sure he was aware of them but they came on the scene more as he was leaving the scene. I have often wondered what Trilby 1, Trilby 2, and Trilby 3 were as mentioned by Dr. Reams. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Mike Ricci says:

    Jon, we have fertilized our crops for the past 9 years based primarily on your recommendations and I feel that we are seeing some great results. For one thing, we have had many customers tell us that our produce tastes good (like vegetables used to taste). Another comment that we hear frequently is that our winter squash keeps well. Just this week we had a customer tell us that he still has a buttercup squash in his cellar that he purchased from us last fall! Yes we “tweak” things a little bit, but we are using Calphos, lime, and the blend of “fertilizers” that you recommend from our soil tests. We feel that this gives our vegetables a healthier skin which helps preserve them longer. It costs more than a liberal dose of 10-10-10 and a shot of limestone, but it is worth it in our opinion!

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