So, What Exactly IS Brix?
Well, often Brix is referred to as the “sugar” or sucrose content of a plant or the produce from it, but this is a very simplistic and incomplete view of Brix. In actuality, Brix refers to the total soluble solids (TSS) in the juice of the produce or sap of the plant. Total soluble solids refers not only to sucrose (sugar) but also to fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, hormones, and other solids found in the plant, fruit or vegetable.
The higher the TSS or Brix value, the healthier and more nutrient/mineral rich the plant is. Thus, as relates to farming and gardening, the produce from high Brix plants will also be high Brix and will offer the greatest nutritional and “energy” value to the one eating that produce. Thus, animals and humans will receive the greatest health benefit from fruits and vegetables having the highest Brix values (and from the meat of animals that have eaten grasses of the highest Brix value).
How Does a High Brix Help Me With My Lawn?
Why should you care about Brix values, outside of the fact that this information might be useful in making decisions regarding your eating habits? Why does this have any relevance to your organic lawncare practices? Well, bear with me for just a moment longer, and I think you’ll see how this relates to insect control in your lawn and landscaping.
You see, although God might not be up there “scoring” the nutritional value of plants and produce with a Brix value, He certainly understands that we will receive the greatest health benefit from plants and produce that contain the greatest concentration of nutrients. After all, that IS the way He designed it. And, as a result, since He has our best interests in mind, He would want us eating those plants and produce with the highest Brix value and not those of questionable nutritional value (low Brix). Consequently, He built into this whole process an interesting mechanism: Insect Infestation.
Now, I’m going to digress for just a short moment to talk about an insect’s digestive system, but we’ll get back to our primary discussion VERY quickly. You see, in order to properly digest sugar, one must have a liver. God did not design most insects with a liver, and, although there may be other reasons that He chose to leave this little item out of the anatomy of most bugs, one that is particularly helpful to those of us humans is that a liver is necessary to digest sugar.
So, if an insect, which does not have a liver, ingests sugar, that sugar will eventually turn to alcohol and kill the insect. Interestingly enough, insects “know” this, and plants with high Brix value (and, as a result, high sugar content) will emit different UV light patterns and electrical charges which communicate to insects that they should stay away.
This SHOULD be helpful to us because, IF we paid attention, the presence of an insect infestation would be a clear indication that eating of that particular plant (or the produce of it) would be of minimal nutritional value. Therefore, simple self-preservation would cause us to either fortify that plant with what it is lacking (good nutrition) or look elsewhere for NON-bug infested (high Brix) plants and produce that would fulfill our nutritional needs.
Unfortunately, it has become the norm to ignore those warning signs and simply kill off all the bugs – either with some toxic chemical or with some natural alternative. Of course, of those two options, the natural insecticide is certainly the better option, but it still does not address the central problem of this situation. The bugs are there for a reason. The plant is not healthy. Make the plant healthy and the sugar content of the plant will rise, the insects will move on to a more attractive food source, and we will have a nutritious and tasty little treat to snack on (high Brix fruits and vegetables actually DO have much better taste than those of lower Brix value).
So, again you might ask (possibly in a somewhat irritated tone at this point), “Why on earth do I care about the eating habits of insects and the nutritional value of produce when I’m reading this article to help me take care of my lawn?”
I’m glad you asked because everything is about to become crystal clear (assuming you haven’t figured it out already).
Grass Has a Brix Value Too
As I mentioned earlier, we can measure the Brix value of ANY plant and it provides the same information to us regardless of what plant it is. The higher the Brix value, the healthier the plant. The higher the Brix value, the higher the sugar content. So, the higher the Brix value of your grass, the more likely it is that insects will not be feasting on your blue ribbon lawn (or, if they do, they’ll die trying).
In fact, a Brix value of 12 or higher is all it takes to nearly eliminate insect infestation of any plant, including a lawn. The higher the better. Brix values for many plants can actually reach values well over 20 or 30. Some suggest that REALLY good nutrition of a plant can actually raise Brix values into the hundreds, although most people would consider this unrealistic.
Either way, most grasses and plants have such low Brix value (typically no greater than about 6 or 8 and often much lower) that insects will feed on them all day long (not to mention that, if they are edible plants, their nutritional value to us is about nil). Raising the Brix of a plant is really quite simple. Provide good nutrition, including a balanced diet of macro and micro-nutrients and trace elements.
How do you do that? Well, organic lawncare and gardening are a great start since truly natural, organic fertilizers and soil amendments will provide much better nutrition to any plant than chemical fertilizers will. Some fertilizers will raise Brix values more effectively than others. For instance, kelp fertilizers are probably the most effective means to improving the overall nutrition of any plant (and, therefore, the Brix value) because most kelp fertilizers are made from Kelp grown in VERY cold, virtually toxin free and nutrient dense waters, such as the North Atlantic.
Since kelp is a plant itself, the macro and micro nutrients it provides are completely balanced and easily available to a plant. Thus, the addition of kelp to any fertilization program is probably the easiest way to increase the Brix value of that plant, which includes grass. So, adding regular doses of kelp to your lawncare and landscaping fertilization program will increase the Brix of your grass and plants. The higher that Brix value gets, the less insect problems you will have.
Accordingly, I am recommending to you that, if you have any sort of insect problem, it is a FACT that your lawn (or flower or tree or shrub or garden) is receiving very poor nutrition, and is, therefore, very sickly, even if it doesn’t necessarily LOOK sick at this particular moment. Improve the nutrition the plant is receiving and the bugs will move elsewhere. I promise.