How to Grow Foods with the Highest Nutrient Density & Best Taste

Alright! This is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com Today I have another exciting episode for you, and what I’m going to talk about today is something near and dear to my hear We’re going to talk about brix testing So, in a recent episode, I don’t know, a dozen episodes back or so now, I did an episode on brix testing watermelon that I purchased at a local supermarket and actually at a local farmers market The point was to show that a lot of the produce, even at your local farmers market, may not be that good quality, and I had some comments that said, ‘John, why don’t you test your own produce?’ Well, I’ve been testing my own produce for years now and actually I posted a clip going back like 4 years to like brix testing my brix, ’cause that’s what you normally brix test, but in todays episode I happen to have a whole lot of fresh produce here and I’ll be specifically testing one of the crops that I’m currently growing, and I actually bought 2 different kinds of peppers to show you guys, you know, store bought versus fresh picked, home grown and the difference that the soil and proper harvest time can make So, that’s what this videos all about Now, the reason that I’m passionate about brix testing is because our system, as it’s set up today is a monetary system, and our monetary system pays farmers on weight So, you know, per box of organic peppers you get paid $20 or $30 or whatever it is wholesale, and then for retail it’s like $4/lb, $5/lb, depending on where you live, and all they’re concerned about, the farmer and their monetary system, is making the moola and making the dollars, so they want to produce the heaviest crop they can to fill up the boxes as fast as they can, so that they can sell more boxes so they can basically get more weight out there and make more money For the most part, most industrial farmers and even, you know, local farmers, small scale farmers selling at farmers markets, are not super concerned about the produce quality, and, you know, as a home gardener, this is where you can really shine This is where I encourage you guys to take it to the next level, and that’s what I teach, the gardening practices that I use, that I teach, including building your soil, using the beneficial fungi, the beneficial microbes, the compost, thermal and fungal based composts, the rock dusts, the sea salt to get the trace minerals back into the soil, will all build the brix and basically the much better tasting product, more nutritious tasting product and more importantly a product that’s going to be able to store longer throughout the year So, with that, let’s go ahead and start testing some of this produce We’ve got Wholesome Harvest Organic Vegetables in here, and inside here we have a whole case or organic peppers, and these are just some standard organic bell peppers So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to go ahead and take our brix tester, and how the brix tester works, for those of you guys who didn’t see the past episodes is you’re going to take a little bit of the juice of the crop, squeeze it on the little refractometer here, and then hole this up into the light and you’re going to look inside here, and I’ll show you actually a picture of what I’m looking at inside here, and as you guys can see it’s like a scale from 0 to 32 and right now it’s all blue because I don’t have anything on the little glass here So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to go ahead and take a pepper, and if I was like Arnold Schwarzenegger I’d be able to crush the pepper and squeeze out the juice I’m not superhuman like that so what we’re going to do is we’re just going to go ahead and break off a piece of the pepper here and literally, once I have a piece of the pepper, I can just squeeze off the juice here, and all we need to do is just get a couple drops So, now that we have a couple drops we’re just going t close out refractometer Make sure to have a good solution, and we’re going to look at this So, right now as I look through the refractometer, its approximately 5.5 on the brix scale, and these are organic peppers You know, something that you might even buy in a local whole foods or other supermarket, and so 5.5, is that good for a pepper, bad for a pepper? I don’t know WE need a reference range Right here we have refractive index of prop juices, and this will tell you if something’s poor or average, good or excellent It depends on the specific crop So, we’re going to go down to bell peppers So, a poor bell pepper’s 4, so I’m glad these are no poor bell peppers, and average is 6 These were 5.5, so they’re just under average A good one is 8, and an excellent one is 12 So, this one is actually right under average So, these are organic peppers you would buy at your local whole foods or other supermarket for like $4/lb, and they’re basically below average

You know, to me, that’s not acceptable You know, average should be acceptable They shouldn’t even harvest or grow any if it’s going to be below average, closer to poor In any case, just for reference, let’s go ahead and check another kind of pepper that I also like to purchase that in my opinion has always been of much higher quality than just the field grown organics in most cases Alright, so the next peppers I got, they’re right in the fridge Let’s check out what we got here So, what we’ve got here is we got these Winset Farms Hothouse Grown and these are a product of Canada I think the other ones are a product of Mexico So, I tend to think stuff from Canada is better than stuff from Mexico So, let’s go ahead and open these guys up and grab out a nice red pepper So, here’s a little red pepper So, another reason why the brix scale may be different is if you’re like testing Fuji apples, one Fuji apple versus another, the brix is going to be different than testing a Fuji apple versus a granny smith So, the same difference can arise in peppers and we want to keep that in mind So, anyways let’s go ahead and take a piece of this pepper off and squeeze some of this juice on my refractometer Alright, this one’s not quite as juicy so I’m going to need a helping hand So, to do this we’re going to use a standard garlic press This is my favorite garlic press I found It’s actually form Ikea That’s another cool store We’ll put that piece of pepper in the garlic press and were just going to basically press down on the garlic press and it’s going to squeeze a couple drops of juice off That’s all we need There we go Now we’re just going to close out refractometer here Got a nice sample Hold this up to the light and what do we got? Check it out, we got a little bit over 10 So 10.25 is what we’re looking at and besides just the number we’re also looking at the demarcation line and if it’s like fuzzy, which we’ll put up a picture of real quick for you guys, we actually want it to be fuzzy That shows there’s more dissolved solids and the foods probably more nutritious because it’s not all about the number only So, this was about 10.25 So, let’s take a look on our chart what this is So, on our chart, 10.25 for bell peppers is actually good is 8, excellent is 12, this is 10.25 So, that’d between good and excellent Probably right around in the middle So, actually this is a quite good pepper So, so far what did you learn? If you buy peppers in the store, get the hothouse ones form Canada, eh? They’re a lot better So, now we’re in the backyard garden and for the grand finale what I’m going to do is actually I’m going to test my own home grown peppers So, what you’re looking at here is just a small raised bed It’s maybe like 8 inches tall, 4 foot diameter We have probably over a dozen different pepper plants planted probably at least a foot apart or 11.5 inches apart or so Really tightly Most of them are all trellised up I’ve had to actually steak ’em up because they’re getting too tall and they fall over and they break because all the weight of the fruit You can see here’s some actually sweet cherry peppers Still waiting for those guys to ripen up, and we got some here These are actually called the Carmen sweet pepper These are actually the bonnie plants and we’re going to harvest one of these guy to day So, let’s go ahead and pick this guy off the plant here, and here we go Little Carmen sweet pepper We’re going to go ahead once again and take our refractometer and break this guy off This guy’s nice and juicy Let’s see if I can squeeze some juice on it Kind of tough I can squeeze one drop Let’s see if I can get some more Alright, let’s go ahead and use the garlic press That wasn’t working too well and the garlic press shouldn’t be an issue for getting some juice off Alright, there we go Alright go some nice juice on there Close that guy up Let’s look it up and see what we got Holy geez Check it out man, we’re kicking some ass I wish you guys could see in here On this pepper here, we’re like right under 14, so I’m going to say like 13.8 and it’s actually a fair bit cloudy So, 13.8 on the brix scale So, let’s check out what a 13.8 is for peppers On the bell peppers, and excellent is 12, so this is totally proof that my peppers here are kicking some ass These carmens, definitely some sweet peppers, but besides just the variety you’re growing, which is very important, is to build healthy soil so that you can have the highest brix quality You know, if you’re going to use things like NPK whether it’s from even organic or, you

know, chemically factory made sources, you know, you’re probably going to score lower in brix because the plant is not getting everything it needs So, you guys just saw that my crops that I’m growing are much higher quality than the stuff you could buy at the store organic Organic, hydroponic, shipped in wherever it’s from, you know, home grown is always the best if you do it properly The next thing I want to share with you guys actually is how to build your soil, because, I mean, this bed was just started this past season This is the first full growing season I’ve had with this raised bed So, literally, I filled it up with good soil, planted it with my plant starts, which are actually from home depot, and as you can see, I’m now breaking the brix numbers, and I’m not no soil scientist, I didn’t go to school for soil I didn’t do none of that stuff I just do good things to build my soil and nature happens Of course if I even want to dial this in further I could get specific soil testing from some of the labs that do brix testing and even dial this in further and maybe get higher numbers, but I’m happy without paying all the extra money to get my soil tested by just doing some standard good soil practices or what I call good soil practices You’re going to get higher brix numbers than your neighbor and be able to grow higher quality crops that are going to number one taste better, number two yield better, number 3 store better, and most importantly be more pest and disease resistant because a healthier pant makes better offspring or healthier babies that are healthier fruits or leaves or vegetables or whatever the crop is So, next I’m going to share with you guys my practices to build our soil so that you can increase your brix numbers and have some of the best tasting produce on the planet So, good soil starts with a good base The base of what I fill my beds is this stuff right here It’s compost, and this is compost that I’m generating myself Wow you can feel the heat something off It’s kind of nice in this windy day here Compost basically adds organic matter and nutrients back into your soil You know, you don’t know what’s in the soil or in the dirt in your backyard Was it farmed before? Was there grass there before? We’re the nutrients all sucked out of it? You have no idea, and that’s why I like to build a raised bed so that I can control the soil or the medium that I’m actually growing in So, in my soil mix, my raised beds, I put a lot of compost Actually I’m using the mills mix based on the square foot gardening 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss or coconut core, and 1/3 vermiculite That’s the standard ix, but then I enrich it with a lot of other things So, let’s take a look at some of the other things I’m using to build my brix, to increase it, and make my plants some of the sweetest on earth Alright, so besides just the compost, I add a whole mixture of other nutrient or amendments into my soil, and these are not just fertilizers These are biological gents Agents of biology that will increase or put biology back in the soil because we want soils that are alive In industrial farming, they don’t want anything alive in the soil because if it’s alive it could be something bad like a harmful disease or something like that You know, in nature there’s beneficial microbes, and there’s harmful microbes and in most cases, the beneficial microbes kick ass over the bad guys, and when you just remove the beneficial microbes, the bad guy can flourish So, we want to being back the microbes, and if we bring back the microbes, the beneficial ones will dominate, kick ass over the bad guys and build your soil and besides just bringing the microbes you’ve got to bring in the things that are going to feed the microbes, and that’s what I’m exactly doing So, we’re not really going to get in depth in this video on how to build your soil We’re just going to go over some of the products Be sure to check out some of my other videos on YouTube for making different soil mixes when I’m building raised beds and whatnot My basic blend is I use the Mel’s Mix that I just explained to you all, and I also add a heaping generous portion of the organic worm castings, and this happens to be the Ergowind brand work castings I have also favored Wriggle Worm, which is actually what I used in that raised bed I also like the Wormgul+ brand, but any worm casting will do, and as much as you can afford Definitely good stuff The worm castings will add not only some small levels of nutrition in a slow release fertilizer, but also it’s very active with the beneficial fungi and bacteria They’re going to get those guys back in your soil So, besides your worm castings I use another kind of casting and that’s this right here It’s actually called the insect frast The insect frest is basically poop from probably some kind of insect, probably something like beetles I’m not exactly sure ’cause they don’t disclose that, but insect frasts, it’s a 2-2-2 fertilizers, so it’s also a slow release fertilizer, and in addition it also adds the biologics, the

beneficial bacteria and fungi back in your soil, so I like that a lot Another way I add biologics back into my soil throughout the season is using something like this stuff right here This is actually called The Boogie Brew Compost Tea Compost tea is probably the most inexpensive, cheapest and easiest way to get the beneficial biologics back in to your garden So, I like the Boogie Brew brand compost tea I mean, this things has like the worm castings a whole bunch of other good stuff in there This could actually be fed trough the root drench or actually foiler feeding actually Besides those guys I like to sue this stuff right here that’s actually called the Boogie Humus and the Boogie Hummus This is another kind of compost You guys saw the majority of the thermally made compost, which is (unclear) I’m also using this stuff, bacterial hummus, which is made at a low heat, and this is a funagally dominated compost, basically made out of carbon or woodchips, and what this guys does is this actually adds the beneficial fungi, microiza, fungi, and other fungi as well back into the soil because it’s those guys an the bacteria that basically help escort nutrients back into the plants So, how we’re going to feed those guys are by using something like this We have the Spanish river carbonite, volcanic minerals plus, and this is basically a rock dust, so whether you use this stuff here, and azomite the Gaia Greene glacier rock dust, the argon minerals, or any other number of culture grade rock dust or even just rock dust you could get at your local rock and stone quarry, we need to bring the trace minerals back into the soil This is one of my keys for success and to building up the brix and having healthier plants Another product line that I’ve actually used this year, and this may also be a reason for my better increased brix and gardening is that the John and Bobs products This is actually called the John and Bobs microbes and minerals, and I like this product because it actually not only has the minerals that’re going to feed the microbes but it also has the microbes and there’s also a line of other John and Bob’s products that I also have been using in my garden So, now if you’re wondering, you might be thinking, ‘John, what if I can only add one product?’ I mean, it’s hard to say what one product I would add to get the beneficial results that I did I mean, the results of my garden are a synergistic effect of all these products, which are only going to build the soil and build the biology in your soil so that your plants could have the best living and growing conditions, right? If I had t just pick a few, I would definitely say go with the earthworm castings, probably like number one Probably go with rock dust minerals number 2 I’d then say probably go with the Boogie hummus number 3 The compost tea number 4, and then definitely I’d say go with the John and Bob’s products I mean, all these products have really been amazing for me, and I definitely recommend if you want to get good growing results, use some of the products that I’m showing I mean, the way that I show is basically biologic or natural gardening how the forest does it You know, in the forest there’s no pixies spreading 20-20-20 fertilizer, you know, but the leaves are fine, the bugs are pooping, the earthworms are in the ground and there’s the microbes that’s in the soil that have been living there for eons without human intervention The problem is when we get human intervention, we built houses, we tilled soil It destroys the fungal (unclear), it destroys the microbes and bacteria in there, and we need to use some products like this to replace them One of the these days, once I’ve got this up to snuff, I’ll basically just have to put in what I’m taking out, which is maybe some minerals and whatnot, and some organic matter to keep my systems going to provide me food year after year In any case, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode learning more about the brix in my specific garden, and some ways you can build your ricks by using some of these products Of course, other ways to build your brix besides just dialing in your soil is harvesting your crops at their peak ripeness The riper the crop is, the higher the brix is going to be So, the last way to increase the brix is to get the appropriate varieties of plants Certain varieties of plants, like I talked about earlier- Fuji apples are sweeter than granny smith apples and are just going to bring that higher from the get go So, you just wan to pick sweeter varieties of the crops if you’re really looking for a higher brix number I’m no all about the brix I’m about the nutrition in the crop, and brix is one way to show that my crops are more nutritious Another thing that I want mention also that will effect nutrition in the crops is harvest your foods and then out them in your mouth Don’t harvest them, put them in the fridge, let them sit there for a week because actually,

after you harvest the crops, the nutrition goes down over time So, I want you guys to eat the highest quality food, the most nutritious food, and guess what? You’ll actually need less of it, and you can easily do that in a small residential space to have enough salad greens and even other crops to feed you and your family So, I want to encourage you guys to check out my other videos where I have detailed videos on how to grow your own food So, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode, learning more about brix and that I’ve proved once and for all that the crops that I’m growing in my backyard are better than store bought I mean, any dummy can just think, ‘Oh, something you grow is probably going to be better in the store.’ It’s rare that I’ve found anything that I’ve ought at the store to be better than what I’m growing On rare occasions I find a good farmer that actually knows stuff, that’s actually growing high quality stuff, but more than likely, you know, nothing can top the stuff you’re going to grow at home I want to encourage you guys to continue to build your soil, if you are currently growing, and if you’re not growing, start growing a garden today so that you get benefit form the highest quality and best-tasting crops that are coming from your backyard, maybe even your front yard So, if you’re interested in learning more about how to grow high quality biologic organic crops, be sure to subscribe to my videos if you’re not already, be sure to check my past episodes, I have over 850 episodes that show me growing and show my travels and learning about how to grow high quality crops, and I encourage you guys to tune into each and every episode because you’re always going to learn at least a little tidbit of knowledge that’s going to help you out to grow more food Once again, my name is John Kohler with growingyourgreens.com We’ll see you next time, and remember; keep on growing