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.