Living in Harmony with Nature and teaching others to garden the natural (organic) way, with emphasis on practices that lead to NUTRIENT DENSE produce!

Harmony Gardens

Harmony Gardens
Bey Home designed by Stitt Energy Systems, Inc. 2002

Welcome To Our Site

Our intent is simple: to provide useful information on gardening, health and sustainability issues. We will include class and meeting announcements, gardening information, and book reviews. The articles that Calvin writes for Garden Thyme, the Master Gardener Newsletter will be included. We will try to make this site easy to use and relevant.

About Me

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Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Harmony Gardens is the home of Calvin and Doris Bey. As the name implies our goal is to live in harmony with the Laws of Nature. We are concerned about the environment, energy efficiency, organic gardening, alternative health, and sustainability issues. We love our Stitt Energy Systems Inc. energy efficient home, which received a First Place NAHB National Award for 2003. Calvin is a retired USDA Forest Service scientist. Each year he teaches classes in Organic Gardening in February and March and again in September. Doris is a retired RN. Calvin and Doris have put their energy efficient house up for sale (by owner). See first post for description, pictures, and house design.

January 30, 2013

First Place Award for Highest Nutrient Dense Butternut Squash

                                    First Place Award 
              for Highest Nutrient Dense Butternut Squash

“Why do you put so much emphasis on growing Nutrient Dense produce?”   I get that question often and the answer is simple.   Produce in most stores today is not nutrient dense, and those nutrients are critical for us if we are to regain and/or maintain our health.    

In my organic (natural, biointensive) gardening classes we spend considerable time dealing with the nutrient dense concept.   In a nutshell, to produce nutrient dense fruits and vegetables we need to go beyond just growing produce organically.   By that I mean, just meeting minimum organic standards gives no assurance that the produce will be nutrient dense.  The added dimension requires having available minerals in the soil in the right amounts and in the correct ratios, plus having an energized soil, with a soil food web that is alive and healthy.  

My gardening practices are based on the John Jeavons Biointensive concepts and practices plus advice from International Ag Labs, and many others.   Slowly over the years, I have moved forward on this front, gradually increasing the nutrient density (i.e. the Brix value) for everything in my garden.  Beyond the fun of growing the vegetables, the real joy and value comes from eating produce that tastes better and better each year.  I have just received verification that in general my “beyond organics” approach and my fertilizing recommendations (all of which I teach) are on the right track.

Here is the report from International Ag Labs with results on nutrient density levels for my 2012 Butternut Squash.  The results below show the comparison of my squash with the USDA standard reference.

      USDA Reference          C.Bey Butternut Squash       Deviation from  USDA                    
           Nutrients per 100 grams   Nutrients per 100 grams      Reference (percent)
Protein                  1 g                            2.7                                        +170 
Calcium              48 mg 114.7 mg                                 +139
Phosphorus         33 mg 104.4 mg                                 +216

Potassium          352 mg                      565.9 mg +  61
Magnesium         34 mg                        49.8 mg                                +  46
Copper               .07 mg                          .25 mg                                  +257

Iron                   .70 mg                          .74 mg  +   6
Zinc                  .15 mg                         1.06 mg                                  +607
Manganese         .20 mg                           .11mg -   45

International Ag Labs is very involved in promoting nutrient dense vegetable production, and this entry was part of a 2012 International Ag Lab competition for growing nutrient dense butternut squash.  

 I am pleased to say that my squash was the First Place Winner.   Although my squash contained minerals that were several times higher than the USDA composite sample, I think there is potential for still higher mineral content.  Many factors contribute to growing nutrient dense produce.    
It is interesting to note that my soil test from International Ag Lab for this year shows manganese to be very low, the only mineral that was low in my butternut squash.  
Go to the International Ag Lab  website for a detailed report on all the entries in the contest.  Here is a brief overview of results.

 Rank ND Score           Name
1      132.8      Calvin F. Bey  Fayetteville, AR   --  Roughly 37% ABOVE the ND standard
2           105.6
3           101.9
4       96.6          Nutrient Dense Standard
5             95.9
6             94.6
7             93.6
8             93.7
9             92.4
10           89.9
11           86.7
12           83.9
13           83.0
14           82.6
15           77.3
16           75.5
17           69.9
18           68.1
19           66.9  
20           65.4
21           63.4
22     61.7       USDA composite sample --Roughly  37% BELOW the ND standard
23           57.6
24           57.2
25           55.9
26           54.5
27           53.1
28           52.9
29           48.5

A Green Bean Example:  Here is an example comparing a local market bean with a backyard garden bean.  The Brix level of neither is especially high.   Brix level readings for beans can range from 4 to 10.   This was reported in the June 2007, Acres U.S.A. magazine by Jon Frank.  

Element           Rating or Content          
Measured     Sample #1      Sample #2
Brix Level 4.2 6.1

Dry Matter 8.1% 16.6%
Protein 1.75 g 3.34 g
Calcium                  70 mg 130 mg

Magnesium 30 mg 50 mg
Phosphorus 40 mg 80 mg
Potassium 190 mg        580 mg

Copper 0.1 mg 0.4 mg
Iron                     1.3 mg 2.1 mg
Zinc                     0.7 mg 2.3 mg
Manganese 0.29 mg       0.35 mg 

What is striking here is that just by going from Brix readings of 4.2 to 6.1 made a big difference in nutrition levels.   In most cases, the nutrient levels more than doubled.  Moving up to a Brix level of 10 would certainly make additional nutritional gains.  

What Is Associated With A High-Brix Reading?  When you grow nutrient dense produce you can expect other things to also change.  Here are some of the major factors associated with high Brix readings.

*  Greater carbohydrates for better metabolic function.

*  Greater mineral density, e.g. increased calcium and more trace minerals such as copper, iron and manganese.  Trace minerals function as the co-enzymes in the digestive process.  

Better taste.  Taste is built on the carbohydrate and mineral levels in the produce.

Increased shelf life.  Dr. Reams, the pioneer on studying nutrient dense produce, took the same watermelon to the State Fair, three years in a row. 

* Increased insect and disease resistance.  Plants in poor health emit an electro-magnetic frequency that draws in insects.  This is not true of healthy plants.  Nature designed insects to get rid of poor quality plants that are susceptible to disease.  Professor of Agronomy, an eminent soil scientist, William Albrecht put it this way,  “Insects and disease are the symptoms of a failing crop, not the cause of it.  It’s not the over-powering invader we must fear but the weakened condition of the victim.”
  • Animals prefer nutrient dense crops.  Animals have a higher sense of instinct than do humans.  In controlled studies, they go after the more nutritious, non-GMO, pesticide-free produce.  

In my organic (natural) gardening class we will discuss 10 concepts and practices (guidelines) that lead to high Brix produce.  Follow the guidelines and your garden will evolve to a higher state, growing vegetables that remind you of those with flavors that your grandmother grew.   

Garden 2007

Garden 2007
Heirloom "Country Gentleman" Corn