NUTRITIONAL PEST CONTROL
By: Gary Kline
Presentation to the Olympia Garden Club at
Gull Harbor Lutheran Church
October 28, 2010Greetings:
I have for you Hallelujah News! Not only that, but the message I bring you is the most important message on Earth. I’m leaving Heaven out of this; Heaven on Earth is my goal.
The title I’ve given to my talk today is “Nutritional Pest Control”. What’s so great about this news? Well, to start off, if you grasp this message and implement the method or approach I’m going to describe, you can put away your sprayers, your pesticide and fungicide sprays, your chemicals, for sure, and even most of the natural and organic approved pest controls. You may no longer need even your lime-sulfur and dormant sprays that may have been applied religiously every year as an early spring ritual.
Think of the time and money you will save from perpetually battling pest insects and diseases. What am I talking about, you may be asking? Is this some kind of ultra-organic approach where you say a little prayer, cross your fingers, and do nothing? No, it’s nothing like that. But it is something - - - a winning strategy, that almost no one knows about or thinks to try, and most who have heard about it have little faith that it will work. Oh, ye of little faith!
Nutritional pest control? What an odd concept! The words don’t even go together, but behold, I bring you glad tidings: Nutritional pest control is real and it does work, much better than anyone might expect. Indeed, it’s miraculous, and I can testify that I and numerous of my customers have seen it work over and over. Those customers are exceptions to the rule.
And here’s the thing that makes this the most important revelation on Earth: It works for people too! In other words; the same principles of nutritional health for people work for plants as well, and vice-versa. In fact, this principle of nutritional health staving off disease and illness applies throughout the whole pyramid of life. Every animate species on Earth instinctively understands that, except one - - - Homo sapiens. Once you get that connection, Hallelujah and Eureka, all rolled into one.
Actually, that statement isn’t quite true and it is disrespectful of primitive humans who did understand the importance of proper nutrition in health and in reproductive capacity. It is modern or civilized peoples who have lost all sense of proper nutrition and we are paying mightily for it, and by that I want you to be sure I’m not talking about being vegetarians. Think about all the times when health warnings are put out, they say it applies especially to children, the elderly and pregnant mothers. These are the people having the least resistance to disease. But that’s another subject and I’m here to talk about pest control in plants, be they ornamental or food plants.
The way I explain this to customers who have pest control problems is that there is a two-prong strategy you can use; one is to attack the pest or disease organism, and the other is to build the plant’s health, giving it internal resistance or immunity to attack by the organisms customarily said to be the “cause” of the disease or problem. The first prong is an offensive strategy of going after the pest. The second prong is a defensive one, blocking out the pest. Once the plant’s defensive protection is in place, and as long as it is maintained, you can drop the offensive strategy and may never again need to use it. How much would that be worth in time, dollars and environmental savings? Think homeland security.
Luther Burbank, the genius plant breeder of the 1920’s, grasped the concept of the defensive strategy and expressed it this way (see Pay Dirt by J. I Rodale, p.188):
Nutritional pest control works. It works. It works. Hallelujah. It all comes down to proper feeding. And that’s just the beginning. Besides not having to buy and use nasty pesticides and having to avoid getting them on you - - - year after year - - - there are bonuses. Let’s use the example of an apple tree and a method I devised and named the Fertile Mulching Method. I brought along some leaflets to hand out that describe the method in detail. It is probably the best proven technique I have to illustrate how effective nutrition is in restoring the health and pest resistance of plants.
[Hand out leaflet]
Let’s say you have a fairly old, sickly apple tree that is aphid infested and produces only a few scabby apples despite what you do to spray it and keep all the fallen apples and leaves picked up for sanitation purposes. It takes some time and money to implement my system. But, if you correctly implement the Fertile Mulching system, I promise you that within a year you will see that tree spring to life, put out healthy foliage and make impressive shoot growth. The aphids will disappear and go looking for some other sickly tree more to their liking. Also, the symptoms of disease on the stems, leaves and fruit will fade away, and here’s the kicker; the fruit will grow larger, look better, taste better and keep longer. And if you think about it, that’s what you’ve got that apple tree for, anyway. Why put up with inferior and blemished production?
I haven’t disclosed, yet, the key to making this happen, and I’ll get to that. But what about that claim I made to having the most important message on Earth or in the world? Consider what’s most important to life - - - your life and all life. Provided you have ample clean air and water, the next most important requirement of life is food, and the real value of food is for nourishment, which is to say nutrition.
Let me qualify that to say proper nutrition coming from real food. If we could provide everyone with food security from a small piece of land and have that food be of high nutritional quality, think of what a happier, healthier and more peaceful world this would be. Only then can there be peace on Earth. From there it’s not far to Heaven on Earth. If nothing else, you can look at this as double dipping - - - two Heavens for the price of one.
I spoke of nutrition as being the real or at least chief value of food and eating. In the words of one of my heroes, Dr. William Albrecht, spoken back in 1943:
The same goes for plants and all soil life. Health begins in the soil. It begins with full soil fertility. If the nutrients aren’t there, you need to add them; otherwise your plants can’t become optimally healthy, and neither can you if you are eating them. People are starting to understand that. The problem is being able to judge or determine whether a soil is healthy, is deficient, or is out of balance nutrient-wise, or is out of whack texture-wise. I’ll be explaining how you can get those answers. Another problem, though, is dealing with all the misinformation out there on soil fertility and human nutrition. I can talk all day about that if you want to invite me back for that.
Another of my heroes, a second giant of agriculture, is Sir Albert Howard, who was the grandfather of organic farming and who came on the scene about 1940, the year I was born. Although Sir Howard and Dr. Albrecht had very different concepts about what ultimately constituted soil fertility - - - and the distinction is critical - - - they had the same understanding and belief about the significance of soil fertility for plant protection and resistance to pests and disease.
Sir Howard said that plants and people had a natural right to fertility and health and that whenever pests or disease attacked a plant or a crop there was a lesson being taught and that the pests were therefore our professors of agriculture. In those cases, the pests were telling us that there was something wrong with the plant and likely the soil and its fertility. Albrecht agreed with Howard. Their books are Books of Revelations.
Here is where those two giants differed, however. Sir Howard said that fertility was a soil rich in humus (or decayed organic matter). Albrecht said that fertility was some dozen nutrient minerals broken out of rock particles and being hustled off to sea. One giant said that fertility ultimately came from humus and the other said it came from minerals. One is organic matter and the other is inorganic matter.
Which is it, humus or minerals? Howard argued that adding minerals to the soil was not necessary. Albrecht, a soil scientist, certainly understood the importance of humus and applying organic matter to soil, but he regarded certain nutrient minerals, namely calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, that I refer to as the Fab Four, as the controllers and real essence of fertility. It took Sir Howard, the inventor of modern day composting, a long time to come around to recognizing the importance of minerals, which he did in his second major book in 1947 titled The Soil and Health. His previous book in 1940 did not have the word “mineral” in its index. Now you have full disclosure. Eureka!
In their respective emphases on humus and minerals, both men were half right. It took a junior disciple of these two giants to put the two halves together (along about 1998) and come up with the term and concept of Mineral Augmented Organics. That disciple was me and that’s the message of my talk. It’s what I call the missing mineral message and it goes way beyond the remnant message of ordinary organics or what I call Conventional Organic Wisdom, which, if you abbreviate it, spells C.O.W.
I hope I’ve made it clear that Mineral Augmented Organics is a giant step above ordinary organics.
For the most part, humus supplies just four of the nutrients, which are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, or call them the organic elements. Actually they are supplied to microbes in the soil rather than to the plants from humus directly. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. Plants can take up complex organic molecules but we don’t know if they have nutritional value.
About 95% of the bulk of plants is made up of the four organic elements. Think of the organic elements, perhaps excluding nitrogen, as carbohydrates. Combining those with nitrogen drawn out of decaying plant and animal matter by plant roots plus minerals from the soil for the magical process of photosynthesis and the internal elaboration of carbohydrates, and you get proteins. Minerals too are integral to the structure of enzymes which run the whole body chemistry of humans as well as plants. And enzymes themselves are proteins or protein-like compounds.
Chlorophyll is the world’s life-generating protein compound, and possibly an enzyme, that would be nowhere without the mineral magnesium. Hemoglobin, which is chemically almost identical to chlorophyll, and which carries oxygen throughout our bloodstream, would be nowhere without the mineral, iron. You’ve heard of iron deficiency anemia. These are exceedingly large and complex organic molecules, each energized by a single mineral atom. Those atoms act as the spark of life. The Creator works in mysterious ways! There’s a plan here.
Mineral nutrients make up only about five percent of a plant. Yet that tiny percent is absolutely vital to its existence. I mentioned that the crucial role of minerals in plant nutrition or feeding plants has been all but forgotten in Sacred C.O.W. organic growing. Here’s the interesting thing about that. Albert Howard was an Englishman whose first major book, An Agricultural Testament, as I mentioned, came out in 1940, about the day I was born, 70 years ago. In America, J. I. Rodale learned about the writings and work of Sir Howard and instantly became his American disciple. He ran out and bought a farm to put Howard’s methods into practice. From then on Rodale basically decreed what was and was not organic. He made “organic” a household word.
Rodale began spreading the organic gospel throughout America and around the world. In 1942 he started Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine, which at its height in the 1990’s was the second most widely subscribed magazine in America. The believers were legion, and still are. It’s just that they missed half the sermons for getting the full gospel.
Most American gardeners now consider themselves organic, whereas when I started in 1970 we were just kooks. Incidentally, how many of you consider yourselves to be organic gardeners? Despite some half-hearted attempts by Rodale to encourage the use of natural minerals in organic growing, the mineral message pretty much got lost and organic gardening was reduced by its followers to compost and applying manure or other forms of organic matter and, of course, to abstaining from so-called chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. That’s pretty much what most people today think organic growing is.
Recently, however, I came across a succinct statement made in 1956 by J. I. Rodale of what “organic” means. Here is what he said:
You’ve heard all that. Pay attention to this one:
That last one doesn’t really apply to organic gardening as such.
It’s as if people can’t count past three. Let me read again the fourth criterion for what organic food is:
There’s the M word. Incidently, neither Rodale or Howard were vegetarians. Nor was Albrecht.
Rodale here is referring to minerals in the form of crushed or powdered rock particles which elsewhere he listed as dolomite, lime, rock phosphate, greensand, granite meal and others. In those days these materials were very hard for gardeners to find. Besides, a sizeable portion of the new organic, anti-chemical zealots wanted to do this without spending a dime. In other words, nothing in - - - and abundance out. It doesn’t work that way. Quantity is not the objective; nutritional quality is. Conventionally grown and processed foods have steadily declined in nutritional quality over the past century, as have most of our agricultural soils.
Here’s the main point, Organic gardeners need to move on. Organic gardening and farming needs to be more about the shalts and less about the shalt nots.
I said that the mineral message nearly got lost in the organic movement. What’s astounding is that by about year 2000 it was even lost on the editors of Organic Gardening Magazine and one of them actually stated that the only thing you needed to do to fertilize your vegetable garden was to occasionally apply some grass clippings to the soil. That’s absurd! Grass clippings are not ground rock powders; they come under criterion 3, not criterion 4. They don’t fill the bill. Furthermore, minerals are not optional to growing healthy plants, they are mandatory! Indeed, if you aren’t providing them, according to Rodale’s criterion 4, you aren’t authentically organic! Now there’s an obscure revelation! Organic gardeners: You are commanded to mineralize.
What minerals and how much do you need? There are two ways to answer that question and meet that need. One is the scoped rifle approach by which you can’t miss hitting the bulls eye. It’s expensive, but worth it. To have that done, I direct you to the website www.soilminerals.com. The other way of addressing the question of which minerals and how much to add is the shotgun approach of throwing everything at the target and expecting you’ll hit it, but probably not the bull’s eye. For that you can use a complete organic, mineral-balanced fertilizer mix such as Black Lake Organic’s famous BLOOM mixes. Our mixes contain every known plant, animal and human nutrient element on Earth and in the oceans. Last year we made and sold 16 tons, mainly out of our Black Lake Garden Store. I’m guessing that some of you already use them and can bear witness to their miraculous powers. A customer recently gave me a slogan: BLOOM, spread it around!
[Display BLOOM Products]
I have a confession to make, which is that I owe the title and inspiration for my talk to Lee Fryer, an old fertilizer guy who developed Alaska Fish fertilizer and wrote The Bio-Gardener’s Bible and another insightful book titled The New Organic Manifesto, published in 1982 and 1986 respectively. Here’s part of what Fryer said:
Converted students make excellent teachers.
Why does nutrition work to repel disease and insect pests? Basically it’s because it pertains to the job and the mission of pests in the evolutionary scheme of life. Their job is to take out the unfit, only they see it as just having a banquet and fulfilling Nature’s Mandate to procreate, to multiply and subdue the Earth. They’ve been working at that job for 500 million years. In reality they are instruments in the advancement and improvement of life through selection of the fittest. I hope I’m not seen as being sacrilegious here.
It’s a matter of taste, and insects have kinky tastes. They are drawn to the taste of defective plants producing excessive or imperfectly developed carbohydrates, amino acids and incomplete proteins - - - likely the result of missing minerals. What tastes bland or awful to us is likely delicious to them. Think about flies feasting on rotten fish or rotten fruits. This is now scientifically established and it is known that in some cases pest insects key on odors from sick plants and in other cases they key on infra-red light emissions coming from what amounts to defective chemical molecules. They can smell and see things we can’t. If they don’t detect those defective molecules they move on. In other words, if that apple tastes good to us, it’s most likely of high nutrient quality or nutrient density and not of interest to pests and not vulnerable to attack by disease organisms, due to its internal resistance, which is to say to its health, which is to say due to its nutritional completeness, which is to say it’s got minerals.
Do you have to spend money to accomplish nutritional pest control and simultaneously excellent, nutritious crops? Yes. But what you need to consider, instead of fixating on the initial input cost, is the outcome and the extra benefits. You will gain from your investment in long term income enhancement, plus all the bonuses I have alluded to, “Doing it Right” brings you much more than moral satisfaction.
Here the bottom line: The best pesticide is a healthy soil with balanced fertility. Not only that, but weeds don’t like fertile soil. For the most part, those that do are edible and nutritious, as if by cosmic design. The job of weeds is to improve poor or sick soil so it can be taken over by plants we use and prefer. Again, this suggests evolution is headed to some preconceived destiny. Meanwhile, to get rid of weeds, feed your soil and build balanced fertility.
It’s helpful to know that in all the material universe there are just 92 natural elements that make up everything. I’m going to hand out copies of a chart of what is known as the Periodic Table of the Elements showing all of them. Two of them are not found on Earth. That leaves a total of 90 elements on Earth. Most of those 90 are classed as minerals. What we know is that about half of the elements are biochemically active, that is they have useful functions in living organisms. The other half apparently are not used in biological systems, but that door should be left with a crack open because we may find out differently. We started with 3 (N-P-K), plus the organic 4 (actually 3, since nitrogen is in both groups). Every few years or a decade scientists add another one to the list.
[Hand out Periodic Table]
Let me now talk about minerals in rather specific terms relating to the growth and health of plants and in animals, most notably, humans. There probably are about 30 minerals or nutrient elements required in sufficient amounts and balance for human nutrition and excellent health. We require all the same nutrient elements plants require and then some, and where should we be getting them? Why, from plants and from animals that have ideally gotten them from plants grown on highly fertile soil. By that I mean mineral rich as well as humus rich.
But the plants can’t get those necessary nutrients if they aren’t present in the soil. Some may never have been there originally, and some may have been depleted from over-farming and exhaustion of the soil, or more accurately, from bad farming practices that failed to put back and to adequately recycle those nutrients.
Here’s a concrete example you can easily relate to. This pertains to calcium and phosphorus, mainly. If all the water was removed from your body, the two most abundant remaining elements would be calcium and phosphorus, which are minerals; and where do they come from? They come from your food, but ultimately the calcium and phosphorous come from the soil, and if you don’t get them you are in all kinds of trouble with your bones, teeth and more. Osteoporosis, anyone? Of course, vitamins and trace minerals are part of that too.
In the 1920’s the British realized that livestock production throughout the countries of their empire was declining drastically and they needed to know why. They appointed the Scotsman, John Orr (later, like Sir Howard, knighted to be Sir John Orr) to investigate. We Americans missed the boat by not knighting Dr. Albrecht. Anyway, after surveying the whole situation, Orr produced a report in 1929 titled Minerals in Pastures and Their Relation to Animal Nutrition. What he found was that livestock production throughout the British Empire had plummeted because the pastures they were being raised on went to hell, and because the farmers were removing calcium, phosphorus and other nutrient elements every time they took away the milk, meat and hides of the livestock, and didn’t know, or else didn’t care enough, to replace those nutrients. It’s not that hard, at least not hard today. Here’s how Orr summarized his studies:
Orr’s report was so thorough and compelling that Steve Solomon, author of several renditions of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, and another of my mentors, said this about the report:
You can’t find Orr’s book today because it’s no longer important, right? This is like losing the Old Testament, or at least not reading it.
So, what I’ve been striving to show here is that there is a connection from soil fertility to health to pest control; in other words, we can control pests and disease through good nutrition, or to put it more succinctly, nutritional pest control is real; it works, and it is founded in reality and how the world actually works. I’ll let Professor Albrecht state it:
Missing minerals is the cause and the problem; Mineral Augmented Organics is the solution and the path to greater health and a better future. Hallelujah!
Now that I have convinced you that minerals are the answer to the world’s problems, I’d like to show you some very interesting numbers or percentage figures regarding the distribution of key nutrient minerals in various parts of the Earth and in things that live on Earth and in the oceans. To do that I brought some copies of a multi-colored chart that I compiled and that I will pass around for you to follow as I go over it. I titled that chart “Top 10 Hit Parade of Elements on Planet Earth”. You can also see it tacked to the wall at our store.
© 2010 Gary L. Kline
All Rights Reserved