Bugs, Pests, Crop-Damaging Insects—Whatever they are Called, they are a BIG Problem!

Not much left for dinner!

Not much left for dinner!

“What can I put on my crop to kill the pests?” seems to be the question that comes up the most from growers. Whoa! Wait a minute! That may be the wrong question.

First, let’s ask why the pests are there eating the crops in the first place. “Because they’re hungry?” Well, yes, but why are they eating this particular crop right now? “Because they like it?” Yes, but why do they like it?

Let me share an analogy– A horse looks at a beautiful field of grass and wants to eat it. We look at the same field of grass and think what a beautiful field it is, but we don’t want to eat it. Similarly, realize that insects are not humans, and their ideal food is not our ideal food. Insects have a different digestive system than we do.

Quality food for humans has fully-formed molecules of proteins and carbohydrates. Insects have a hard time digesting these big molecules. They seek fragmented molecules which are easier to digest. Plants which are healthy are able to fully form their molecules. These fully-formed molecules work properly in the plant to do various jobs and keep the plant growing, reproducing, etc.

Now let’s say the plant did not get enough zinc (or some other mineral element) which is needed to activate an enzyme in the plant so that it can fully form needed molecules. The plant now contains fragmented molecules that can’t perform the tasks needed by the plant and the plant gets sick, though perhaps not noticeably at first. Insects are attracted to the plant because it contains fragmented molecules that they can digest.

Keep in mind that more nutrients are not always better. It’s achieving the right balance that counts. For example, applying too much material rich in nitrogen can cause aphids to be a problem.

If plants are healthy, they can also make compounds which discourage insects from eating them. But again, they must have the right balance of nutrients they need to do so.

Our soil needs a vast array of beneficial microbes which make nutrients available to the plants and crowd out detrimental microbes. Microbes need nutrients for their own health, then when they die, the plants uptake the decomposed materials.

Also, having optimal amounts of nutrients in your plants, especially silicon, strengthens cell walls, physically making it more difficult for insects to feed on your plants.

Think about this gem which was shared with me by Dr. William Jackson– “Insects are nature’s way of taking out plants that are not worthy of reproduction.” This is how plants evolve over time to become stronger instead of dying out as a species.

So take good care of your soil and plants, and let the harmful insects fly on by to eat some unhealthy weeds down the road.


Dr. Bogs’ Video Interview by John Kohler of Growing Your Greens

John Kohler has a popular blog where he encourages people to grow their own food.  Recently he visited the Big Island and came across my book.  Intrigued, John asked me for an interview.  Here it is!

More about Blue Dragon Farm

First some corrections on the last post about Blue Dragon Farm…

It is actually called Blue Dragon Farm, not Touching the Earth Farm.  And “Miss America” Sarah, who grows wonderful produce there, is Sarah Doyle, not Sarah Auten.  She works with Dan Auten in raising the crops, harvesting, marketing, etc.  Sorry for the confusion.  Now that that is cleared up, let’s see some more pictures of their produce!

Three colors of chard, two feet long--from the Blue Dragon Farm, Hawi, Hawaii

Three colors of chard, two feet long–from the Blue Dragon Farm, Hawi, Hawaii

Blue Dragon chard 2015 (1)










Yes, I took some home and checked the brix.  Brix is a measure of soluble solids, in this case, in the plant sap.  It is a general indication of nutrient density.  Brix definitely correlates with sweetness/flavor because it measures sugars, among other food components.  The brix was much higher than that of chard grown on the Blue Dragon Farm 5 years ago before it went from “just organic” to “Beyond Organic”.  How much higher?  About 7 times higher!

“Miss America” with a Huge Celery Bouquet

Sarah and Dan from Touching the Earth Farm, also know as the Blue Dragon Farm, are enjoying their first year as Beyond Organic growers.  Their beautiful produce is very popular at the Hawi Farmers’ Market.  I couldn’t resist taking the celery home.  It has amazing flavor.

Sarah Auten looking like Miss America holding a gorgeous bouquet of celery

Sarah Auten looking like Miss America holding a gorgeous bouquet of celery

Lovely and Huge Beyond Organic Rainbow Chard

Lovely and Huge Beyond Organic Rainbow Chard being purchased by a customer at the Hawi Market


Nutrition Grown Farmland Closes Escrow

It’s a stunning 20 acres of deep soil in North Kohala, on the Big Island of Hawai`i.  Long-fallowed in grass, this land will soon be growing Beyond Organic, nutrient-rich produce.  With a full ocean and Maui view (look closely in the photo–Maui is somewhat hidden in clouds), the land is true joy to behold!

Nutrition Grown Farm in Hawai`i

Nutrition Grown Farm in Hawai`i

Big Island Avocado Festival and a Visit with the Mayor

Aloha All,  My good friend, Dr. Randyl Rupar, is the driving force behind the wonderful Avocado Festival each year.  This Saturday, February 21, will be the 9th Annual festival, which features live music, a myriad of vendor booths, and, of course, lots and lots of avocados!  Avocados are incorporated into interesting and delicious dishes, some of which will be entered in contests and given out as free samples.  This is a free event for the public to attend and located on the magnificent, historic grounds of the Sheraton Kona Resort overlooking lovely Keauhou Bay.  Please come!  For more info, visit www.AvocadoFestival.org.

This festival is a huge amount of work for Randyl, and he and I visited the mayor of the Big Island, Billy Kenoi, on February 10 to ask for his blessing and support of this amazing event.   Mayor Kenoi received us very warmly.  I was pleased to be able to also share my vision of Beyond Organic agriculture with him and his staff.  My concepts were well received, and he thanked both Randyl and me for the work we do.  In turn, we thanked the Mayor for his help in keeping GMOs off of our island and stopping the incinerator project, which supports the return of green waste to our soil through composting and mulch instead of burning it.

Avocado Festival Flyer 2015

Soil and Compost Microbiology Analyses Now Available in Hawaii

With all the talk about microbes in the soil, natural farming and composting, have you ever wondered what little critters you have in your soil?  Now you can find out!  Dr. Bogs is now offering soil and compost microbiology analyses with recommendations for improving the balance of microbes.  You can also have your inoculant materials analyzed.  Sometimes, expensive and highly-touted microbial products actually have very few active microbes.

Knowing the types and amounts of microbes are present in your soil and compost can help resolve some problems you may be experiencing.  Having the right types and amounts of microbes for the type of crop you are growing can boost production while decreasing weed pressure.   How?  Microbes makes nutrients available to plants.  Some microbes can even fix nitrogen from the air!  Weeds like a bacterially-dominated soil, so getting more beneficial fungi working can decrease weeds.  Besides bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes play roles in the soil.  Getting your soil’s mineral balance right, along with getting your soil’s microbial balance right, gives your crops the nutrition they need to supply the finest, most delicious food for you!

How to take Soil Samples for Microbial Analyses

You can use similar tools and methods as described in the section on this website about how to sample for soil nutrient analyses, but you only need to sample to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm).  Most of the same guidelines apply.  Use gloves–don’t touch the soil.  Be sure to remove organic material from the soil surface before taking samples.  Because you need only 3-inch deep cores, you can use an apple corer, if that is easier for you.  These corers can be found in kitchen supply sections of department stores.

If sampling under plants, take core samples half-way between the stem/trunk and the drip line of the leaves.  Take enough care samples to make up a volume of about one-half cup of soil.  Be careful to not expose the samples to extreme temperatures.

Microbial analyses can also be performed on compost and compost tea.  For compost, take several small samples throughout your compost pile, about 2 feet in, and combine into a composite sample.  If all of your piles are uniform, you will need to send only one composite sample.  If your piles are different, they will need to be sampled and tested individually as results can vary widely.  Compost tea will need to be sealed well in a bottle and shipped quickly, or hand delivered.

You can order these analyses here on the website (just order a soil analysis and put in a note to specify that you want a microbial analysis) or schedule a farm visit by calling 938-9888.  For those outside of Hawaii, microbiological analyses are available from an alternative laboratory.  Please email info@BeyondOrganicResearch.com for additional information.  Aloha!

Here is where we get to see the invisible world!

Here is where we get to see the invisible world!

PRINT VERSION OF #1 E-BOOK NOW AVAILABLE–Beyond Organic…Growing for Maximum Nutrition

front cover print version beyond organic 3-2014I’m excited to announce that my publisher, The Larry Czerwonka Company of Hilo, Hawaii, has released the print version of my new book–Beyond Organic…Growing for Maximum Nutrition. It’s in a large 8 1/2″ x 11″ format with full color pictures to showcase the many vivid paintings, photos and charts. The cover is a matte finish with a “feel good” texture. A page has been created where you can order it directly– http://janabogs.com.

Several stores on the Big Island of Hawaii will be carrying the book also. (More on that when available.)

The e-book version has been downloaded by well over 14,000 people. It made #1 in Amazon e-book downloads in two categories–vegetables and organic!

Zintro asked Dr. Bogs to Comment on The Future of Food Additives

The Future of Food Additives

October 28, 2013 by Leave a Comment

nutraceuticalsAccording to a new report from Packages Facts, a Rockville, MD-based market research publisher, consumers are driving a change in the reliance on synthetic and artificial ingredients in food products. “Food Additives: The U.S. Market” claims that more natural ingredients are going to replace the artificial ingredients that have been used consistently for over 50 years.

Research chemist John Mark Carter has concerns about the issues with stability and standardization when it comes to natural ingredients. “The trend toward more ‘natural’ ingredients is strong in the US and EU, where consumers can afford to choose more expensive products. But in addition to economics, there are two significant problems with these materials. One is their relatively low stability. Processed ingredients usually exhibit better shelf life, because impurities that accelerate spoilage are removed. The other problem is a lack of standardization. Naturally derived ingredients are usually variable mixtures of active ingredients with other materials. The active ingredients are rarely assayed and often poorly characterized.”

Dr. Jana Bogs, an independent researcher and consultant shares her perspective. “As consumers become more aware of nutrition in this information age, they want better quality products. Natural products are more ‘user friendly’ in the body than synthetics. Nature provides nutrients complexed in food form, the complexity of which is not able to be duplicated synthetically. One example is vitamin C from food sources which include a myriad of synergistic phytonutrients.”

She provides another example. “Consider the intake of calcium from food instead of from ground-up rocks. People were not meant to eat rocks. The calcium from rock sources, while ‘natural,’ is NOT natural as food for humans. This ‘rock source’ calcium ends up calcifying soft tissue–Aging!–instead of being utilized properly. Humans were meant to get calcium from foods. My work involves increasing calcium content (and other nutrients) in foods naturally through an enhanced growing process which starts with balancing soil nutrients.”

Aftan Romanczak, an expert in restaurant chain research and development, says, “The change to natural ingredients will always be dictated by supply and cost. Who will certify quality and supply? Not the FDA. Government regulatory budgets are stretched thin now and ineffective.”

Romanczak explains that changes depend largely on customer response. “How much are consumers willing to spend? The current products on the market are not cheap. The natural ingredient market will mimic the economy and increases or decreases in disposable dollars. Artificial ingredients will evolve into more effective synthetic compounds and the advances in nanotechnology will be the driver.”

Health foods and beverages marketing expert, Ninad Deshmukh, agrees, “The entire replacement of artificial ingredients in food products is not going to happen though I would be very glad to see such a day! The reasons include product cost, taste, and appearance- all continue to matter to the majority of the world’s population.”

What about the demands of health conscious customers in other countries? Deshmukh says, “Definitely people who are health conscious, care about earth and having money to afford will definitely drive the demand for natural ingredients. I have been involved with health food products manufacturing and marketing in India for the last 11 years and found that there is a niche market, though it’s growing. Price and taste still play a major role in choosing health food products for majority in India, where I am based.”

Color continues to be a critical factor in food appeal and marketability. The growth in color additives has been due to a transition from artificial colors to natural colors, with cost and formulation issues a critical area within the natural color additives market. However, consumer concern appears to be the fundamental factor in terms of the future of food additives.