gabriola garden

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Garden Santa, Phytochemistry, Global Warming

In the past week, we had another sprinkling of snow, torrential rains, and one more windstorm. This afternoon we even had thunder and lightning. David Suzuki was on CBC radio the other day talking about the Al Gore film and global warming. Isn’t it funny how the weather is finally waking people up about this problem?

Thousands of trees were toppled in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, some of them hundreds of years old. Mother Nature is giving us a warning cry—it’s up to us whether we hear her or not.

Our garden is looking green again, because of the milder temperatures and all the rain. It also has a festive look on account of some Christmas ornaments that Sara purchased for the family.

Got another e-mail from Eloise. Their vegetables are growing nicely, she says. Everyone in New Zealand, it seems, is on the phytochemical bandwagon. For the uninitiated, phyto- is a prefix meaning “plant” and of course, chemical is self-explanatory.

Certain phytochemicals are manufactured by plants in order to ward off attacking microorganisms. When some grapes on the vine are attacked in this way, they secrete a large quantity of a substance that acts as a fungicide. Thus the parasitical microorganisms are defeated by the victim plant itself.

Advanced Nutrients Barricade, for instance, stimulates the immune systems of the plants themselves in order to ward off pathogens and certain insects. Eloise writes that they’ve been using Barricade religiously on their sweet corn and other vegetables, and so far have been able to keep parasites at bay.

Another product that interacts phytochemically with their vegetables is Scorpion Juice. When applied as a foliar spray (5 mL per Litre of water) it imparts what used to be known as Systemic Acquired Resistance, but more recently has been referred to as induced systemic resistance.

Either way, Scorpion Juice was developed by the legendary Dr. Hornby at Advanced Nutrients, to act as a vaccination for plants, by stimulating their own complex defense mechanisms, i.e. their ability to produce phytochemicals to ward off a diverse variety of pathogens, including viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

Eloise writes that they have to keep re-ordering the stuff, John is so enthusiastic about spraying it on everything they grow.

But it isn’t this aspect of phytochemicals that excites New Zealanders in general. Rather, it’s the effects that certain vegetables have on the health of the humans who eat them.

For instance, people are being urged to eat more yellow vegetables, such as sweet corn, for the beneficial properties of the phytochemicals that they contain.

For a healthy heart, healthy vision, healthy immune system it seems that the more carrots, yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, and sweet corn you consume, your chances of getting them are increased.

In fact, the anti-oxidants in some of these vegetables have been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers.

So the molecular structure of plants—or phytochemistry—still has many secrets for us to discover. Researchers are scouring the rainforests, for instance, for plants that are potentially the sources of miraculous medicines.

According to Eloise, sweet corn has beta-crypthoxanthin (200 mcg in a 1 cup serving) which is a phytochemical similar to beta-carotene, the effects of which are well documented.

Maybe it’s because New Zealand is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, our friends there are very keen on using Grandma Enggy’s Seaweed Extract, which has many beneficial vitamins and plant hormones, natural antibiotics, and cytokinins, which are phytochemicals beneficial to cell reproduction.

They use Seaweed Extract in addition to their basic fertilizer, which is Iguana Juice, Grow and Bloom. Eloise is ecstatic with the results and John couldn’t be happier. Many of their neighbors have commented on how lush and prolific their vegetable garden has become, since they started using these Advanced Nutrients products.

Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid and Golden Honey Fulvic Acid are rich in phytochemicals, as well. They are both derived from a vein of hardened organic material known as “leonardite,” which is mined from deep within the earth.

“Everyone knows that humus is the best type of growing soil for vegetables,” writes Eloise. “These two wonderful Advanced Nutrients products contain the acids obtained from humus, one a rich black, the other golden yellow in color. They each impart increased cell division, better root formation, and overall improved growth to all of our vegetables.”

I’m thinking that John and Eloise would make great spokespersons for Advanced Nutrients. I can just see them on a poster—standing proudly in front of their mature sweet corn plants with big smiles on their faces, the corn high enough to dwarf both of them—with a caption that reads “We couldn’t have done it without Advanced Nutrients!”

Hey, maybe I should write to them and suggest that they get in touch with the company. If any customers need gardening advice, on the other end of the Advanced Nutrients toll-free line they are sure to find an expert who can help them.

And they don’t have to go through an electronic maize to get to a live person. In my experience—a knowledgeable person can be reached almost immediately. Or you can leave a message, and they’ll return your call promptly. A refreshing change from the approach of the impersonal, huge corporations.

Hedgehog and Jim are tugging at me to go help decorate our Christmas tree, so I’ll sign off for this week and wish all readers of this blog a very Happy Holiday, whatever your festive preference might be.

posted by Tim at 8:52 PM


  • I've enjoyed visiting your blog. We have had unseasonal weather for December here in Ontario.
    Crafty Gardener

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:42 PM  

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