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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Lessons from the plant hospital

Saturday, September 16, 2017
“I think we’d better keep these in for the week”. I admit to mixed feelings when the plant hospital wouldn’t let me take my office plants home. Well, they did look a little tired. Seems they needed re-potting and a nutritional boost of some microbes and fertiliser.  Indeed there is such a thing as a plant hospital – at least in Murwillumbah - and they’d been running a plant clinic.

If you’re a gardener yourself, or have house plants, you know how much they can lift a room. Being in a much-cared for home garden feels so uplifting, and spending time in nature can really calm and soothe your soul. Being able to gather vegetables for your next meal from your own back yard is priceless.  

Turns out that healthier plants produce more nutritious food too. I had the chance to talk with the plant experts and also do some research about soil health and the nutrient density of food. Plants rely on microbes to help them as much as we humans rely on microbes in our intestines to help us absorb food. Healthy soil leads to not just happier, but healthier plants too.

I wondered, too, is the health of the soil and its nutrient density reflected in the mineral concentration of the plants? Is this why, despite eating vegetables, we can still come up short on nutrients like zinc and magnesium?  A brief exploration of the peer reviewed scientific literature revealed that yes, the mineral density of crops has diminished over the years; for instance, a crop of modern wheat  harvested today doesn’t have the same concentration of magnesium as an old variety of wheat harvested several decades ago. (In case you didn’t already know, modern high intensity agriculture doesn’t use compost, just specific fertilisers to make the plants grow.)

This means that growing your own vegetables using nutrient-rich compost is now more important than ever, and could reduce your reliance on supplements to stay healthy. Maybe this is why our great-grandparents, fed by backyard vegie plots, stayed so healthy into old age. 

Also, keep in mind that organic growers routinely use more nutrient-rich materials like compost , which makes their produce perhaps worth the little extra cost. It could be worth your while to deliberately seek out more nutrient-dense vegetables and perhaps grow a little of your own food. After all, healthy soil leads to healthy plants, producing healthier people.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'More Minerals Please' 
 


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