Why do we grow fruits and vegetables? The stores and markets are full of all sorts, and every year the assortment only increases. The products we sell are reasonably priced, have an attractive appearance and, for the most part, store well. In addition to enjoying the process of growing something, all gardeners are convinced that their fruits and vegetables are healthier than store-bought. It's nice to think that the family is eating organic, vitamin-free produce? But is it really so? Let's find out.
Where do you grow your fruits and vegetables?
You probably all know that gardening and gardening should be done in an environmentally friendly area. Intuitively, it is clear that the harmful substances that are in the air and soil will get into the fruit.
It is so. The heavy metal content in the cells of plants growing along highways is noticeably higher. Not only that, exposure to exhaust fumes reduces the content of antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids and other beneficial substances in plants - everything we grow them for.
Neighboring a big city and a large factory is also a very unhealthy option. Plants increase in carcinogens and decrease in vitamins and biologically active compounds. Think about where your vegetable garden is located? Maybe it is better to buy tomatoes in the store?
In what soil do your plants grow?
The dream of most gardeners and gardeners are fat black soils. Well, don't dream of them! It is on high-humus soils that vegetable plants tend to accumulate large amounts of nitrates. For plants, this is a source of nitrogen, they also make a "rainy day" bins.
And we also feed them with fresh manure and urea. They grow, of course, like yeast, while more and more nitrates are stored. The best "nitrate-forming" option - highly humus soil, 95% humidity and high temperature. That is - the greenhouse.
The minimum amount of nitrates accumulate vegetable plants without fertilizer on loamy sand soil, the average - on loams.
And the garden on chernozems can be planted, because up to the fruit receives little nitrates - they are all in the roots (as, incidentally, and radionuclides).
Besides nitrogen, the soil has a lot of interesting things, but the greatest wealth - soil microorganisms. It is their activity makes available to plants nutrients. That is, it would be good to plant everything on virgin land, where there are many microorganisms.
Read also our material What is the soil and how to improve it?
And the light must be sufficient. Therefore, a few thickened plantings can afford only southerners, where there is an abundance of sun.
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So, the optimal for growing vegetables are virgin medium-loam structured soils with sufficient light. And on the "fat", moist, heated soil in the greenhouse or greenhouse, tomatoes and especially cucumbers, will accumulate 2-3 times more nitrates and 3-5 times fewer vitamins than ordinary ground soil. So why are your greenhouse vegetables more useful than store vegetables?
What do you feed your plants?
Well, it is clear, what! Manure, compost, ash and mineral fertilizers. Many have faced a situation where the plant is "fat", driving the leaves to the detriment of fruiting. This is the most obvious example of overfeeding, in this case, nitrogen. Nitrates are mentioned above.
The overfeeding of other elements, both macro- and micro-, is often not so obvious, but does not benefit either the plant or us who consume these plants. Plants are just like people - free and vinegar is sweet. Therefore, when easily available abundant food, they become large, loose, with weakened defenses, and stuffed with unhelpful elements. All as in humans.
And if with manure, compost, ash, the plant must still work to assimilate, but the mineral fertilizers - pure fast food.
Big agribusinesses have specialists and laboratory facilities for rational fertilization of crops, but dacha farmers? Can you boast that you know your soils, the lack and excess of elements in them? Most often, "by eye." And from the broad mind. And the plants all this extra accumulate in the tissues and fruits - well, freebies!
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How do you protect your plants from diseases and pests?
In industrial cultivation experiments are not welcome, so regular treatments against pests (preventive and in case of infection) with preparations that are guaranteed to kill everyone. After all, wormy apples or with scab spots no one will take for sale.
Therefore, pesticides in all store fruits and vegetables is a must, a variety and quite a lot. For example, in the south of Russia industrial orchards are treated up to 18 times per season, vegetable plantations - up to 12 times. There are no hard frosts there, and most pests safely overwinter.
And in our stores, products are mainly from the southern regions, or from abroad, where it is even warmer, and treatments, respectively, even more. Of course, there are checks, norms, but somehow even in accordance with the standards we do not want to use pesticides. And there is also protection from spoilage during storage, treatments to ensure the marketable appearance...
At private farms everything is much more interesting: someone pours pesticides, fungicides and insecticides to the utmost, if only not a single living thing has not touched the cherished tomato. In addition, herbicides, so that the grass does not grow. There certainly better fruits and vegetables from the store.
Others do not use "any chemicals" on principle, so that vegetables and fruits were environmentally friendly. They are clean, of course. Ecologically. But with a coating of fungus, stains from insect damage, in some places gnawed by slugs, bears and wireworms. Unprofitable. They are good and useful to eat themselves, but the guests have a nose for it. Sometimes even the neighbors do too.
However, of course, there is a wonderful category of advanced gardeners who managed to grow products not just harmless, but also useful.
What are the healthiest plants?
I think no one is deluded about the fact that plants store vitamins and all kinds of useful elements in their fruits so that people can eat them and be healthy and happy. For example, flavonoids are the same ones that lower cholesterol levels, exhibit antioxidant, antiviral activity, are regulators of biochemical processes in cells, in general, terribly useful. In some small amount they are always in plants, but their number and variety increases at times, when the plant is under stress: a sharp, but not critical cold weather, for example, or the beginning of fungal diseases.
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And vitamins A and E - the plant accumulates them to combat many diseases, such as cabbage against mucous bacteriosis.
Vitamin C, which you can not pass by, since our bodies do not synthesize it - is accumulated in large quantities in plants also when exposed to stress factors.
That is useful substances like plant immunity, which is activated in case of any attack.
An interesting fact. In old reference books data on the vitamin content in cultivated vegetables higher than in modern research. At the same time, there is no difference in the content of vitamins in wild plants. The content of useful substances in wild plants (e.g., wild sea buckthorn) is noticeably higher than in industrial plantings. Moreover, in the northern wild sea buckthorn is an order of magnitude greater than in the southern wild.
The content of vitamin C in greenhouse vegetables is 2-6 times less than in outdoor vegetables, beta-carotene in greenhouse vegetables is 4-7 times less.
That is, our efforts to provide cultivated plants with accessible nutrition, protection from diseases and pests leads to a decrease in their biological activity, a decrease in the content of vitamins and other useful compounds.
Who is to blame and what to do?
Well, apparently, we ourselves are to blame. Excessive care and feeding isn't good for anyone. This by no means means means that the plants should be planted, and then - let them make it on their own. Cultivated plants, for the most part, without our participation will not survive, we have learned already.
There are, as always, many options out of this situation. You can eat store-bought vegetables and fruits, supplemented with vitamins and dietary supplements. You can add to your menu wild fruits and vegetables in large quantities. You can scientifically approach the cultivation of plants on your plot - make a soil analysis, calculate nutrients, use an ecological treatment.
Read also our article Why I don't dig my garden, or how I managed to abandon the shovel. During millions of years of existence nature has fine-tuned all processes:
- Fertility of soil is created by large amounts of organic residues and work of microorganisms, all this converts into elements assimilable by plants.
- Protection from many pests - in a variety of crops grown.
- Moderate "intimidation" of plants by fungal diseases or temperature fluctuations does not allow them to relax and makes them accumulate vitamins and biologically active substances.
- Not overfed plants accumulate less heavy metals, less sick
The choice of seeds is now huge, planting material, in general, also a good range, so that to pick up varieties suitable for conditions of a particular site can not have much trouble. Only the selection must be thoughtful: preferably take released varieties, and they will have to protect less, and the benefits of them will be noticeably more.
That is, if you want to grow really useful products, it is necessary to moderate their gardening ardor, learn not to babysit plants, and help them when they feel difficult:
- Not to feed them mineral fast food, and provide the opportunity to get their own food.
- Not to water them every day (washing out useful elements from soil), but to keep moisture.
- Not to destroy all insects by the root, but to fight only those causing noticeable harm.
All this, of course, requires great theoretical preparation. Ahead of winter, it's time to do the theory.
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