by Tommy Cichanowski
We've all heard about organic gardening, chemical intensive gardening, and hydroponic gardening, so why is it important that we now consider holistic gardening? Its important because we need to consider all the needs of humans and plants in order to achieve the good health and happy environment we all desire. It is necessary to understand the "whole picture" that describes the Life Cycle on this planet, if we are to resolve the many ailments that have invaded our society and insure a bountiful healthy harvest each year.
Today's technology has provided us with an expanded view of the nutritional requirements of plants and animals. The issue is not in what we eat, but in how what we eat has been grown. There are numerous benefits derived using organic gardening techniques, but the organic garden is only as good as the "organic materials" that are used to enrich the soil.
We know that our physical world is made up of atoms. The issue has been which atoms are required for good health, how many are needed and what are their roles. In the late 1930's many studies were conducted to determine the "essential" atoms needed by plants. Since then little energy has been spent adding to the list or promoting what has been discovered.
One atom that has made it on the well known, "Old List of Seventeen" (Table 1) is Selenium. Past studies listed it as a growth promoter but non-essential since no visual symptoms were noted in its absence. However, advanced technology has identified its function in the human endocrine system and literally we cannot move a muscle without it. Even though this information is known in the medical world, very few growers include this trace element in their fertilizer mix.
During the last 19 years, I have been searching for additional atoms that are required by the "Life Cycle" of this planet. The problem at this stage is very challenging since the quantities required are extremely small (measured in parts per billion), and establishing their need requires very specialized and expensive equipment. My approach has been to scan medical literature, reviewing the molecular structure of substances known to be needed for organic life, particularly in humans.
From various sources I have found references to 12 more atoms (Table 2) to add to the list of 17 (Selenium included). For several years, I have added these atoms to my hydroculture solutions, some of which, I have used in drip irrigation systems. The results have been very dramatic. My plants have high yields, and show better immunity to rust and blights. They also have good tolerance to cold weather and light frosts. In addition, Aphids, White Flies, and Spider Mites are no longer seen in my garden. The produce tastes better, and the shelf life of the crops is greatly extended.
The rates of application of these micro trace elements average about 10 parts per billion, and the process must be closely monitored since it has been clearly shown that changing the amount of one atom affects the absorption and performance of several others. A look at enzyme reactions provides some insight.
Enzymes, for the most part, are made up of one atom of an exotic metal surrounded by amino acid segments. One enzyme has been clocked doing its "job" at a rate of five million operations per minute at 0 degrees centigrade. Adding just one more atom to the plant environment, the exotic metal, could mean an additional five million operations being performed each minute.
In order for this potential to be effectively realized, the entire support system in the plant needs to be brought into balance with the enzyme activity. Additional raw materials need to be provided to the plant or the plant could "eat itself" from the inside out. Also, the products of the reaction need to be carried to the next stage of the assembly process and utilized, or the plant could become "constipated". This is why, in part, that these elements become "toxic" to plants and humans at such low levels, usually at levels much less than one part per million.
Herein lies a major problem. These elements need to be present in the growth medium in very small quantities. When produce is removed from the garden and sold, the trace elements are sold also. If no effort is made to replace these micro trace elements, the plants can no longer maintain their natural immunity to disease, and the grower often resorts to the use of poisons to combat the effects of nutrient depletion in the growth medium. It should be obvious that it is necessary to monitor what is being removed from the soil and replaced on an annual basis. The benefits of this approach are greater than one might expect.
The Chinese had a very high rate of esophageal cancer in one of their provinces. After an exhaustive study that included moving the population of an entire town and replacing all their livestock, the problem was identified to be a lack of a trace element in the soil. The remedy that completely eliminated the cancer epidemic, was simply to soak their seeds in a solution of molybdenum before they were planted. The plants were not properly utilizing nitrates and had a very high content of this toxic compound at harvest time. Molybdenum is involved in the reduction of the nitrates, releasing the nitrogen for use in other compounds. The high nitrate content of the plants coupled with the way the food was prepared, when acted on by stomach acid, created a carcinogen that induced the cancer.
This success story leads one to wonder how many other diseases could be eliminated using a similar technique with other trace elements that are known to be needed by the human body and plants. We need to encourage our agricultural community to include in their plant food formulas, not only those atoms that were determined necessary for plants, but also those that are now known to be needed by the higher life forms also.
Our technology has only recently reached a state where it is possible to properly engage in a controlled study of these concepts, and I feel it is time to expand this study and apply what has been learned to date. Since each species has its own individual environmental needs this will not be a small undertaking. I am interested in meeting and networking with others who would like to become involved in exploring this line of research. The benefits for ourselves and others could be quite significant.