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Companion Planting

Companion planting

by Jeff Poppen

Recent discoveries in quantum physics, microbiology and ecology verify something gardeners have long known. Everything in nature is related. There are no solid lines between the plants’ roots, the soil and the bacteria and fungi tying it all together. To help understand why garden crops do or do not thrive, we are led into the enigmatic field of companion planting.

Just as we work and feel best around our friends, plants will grow better in their preferred company. Although the reasons may be obscure, a lot of observation and a little intuition can reveal mutual attractions and aversions. The garden teaches us the value of old-time practices, fresh experiments and keeping our eyes open. Continue Reading →

Organic Versus Conventional Milk Fatty Acids

DairyA team led by a Washington State University researcher has found that organic milk contains significantly higher concentrations of heart-healthy fatty acids compared to milk from cows on conventionally managed dairy farms. While all types of milk fat can help improve an individual’s fatty acid profile, the team concludes that organic whole milk does so even better.

The study is the first large-scale, U.S.-wide comparison of organic and conventional milk, testing nearly 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over an 18-month period. Conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, more than twice that of organic milk’s ratio of 2.3. The researchers say the far healthier ratio of fatty acids in organic milk is brought about by a greater reliance on pasture and forage-based feeds on organic dairy farms. Continue Reading →

Buffaloberry Potential

buffaloberry

USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Herman, D.E., et al. 1996. North Dakota tree handbook. USDA NRCS ND State Soil Conservation Committee; NDSU Extension and Western Area Power Administration, Bismarck.

New research has uncovered an underutilized berry that could be the new super fruit, the buffaloberry. A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that buffaloberries contain large amounts of lycopene and a related acidic compound, methyl-lycopenoate, which are important antioxidants and nutrients beneficial for human health. The bright red fruit has a tart flavor and has historically been used as a source of nutrients for many Native Americans. The tree on which the fruit grows is a member of the olive family native to Western North America and is found on many Indian reservations, often where little else grows well. The findings of the study suggest that buffaloberry might be successfully grown as a new commercial crop on American Indian reservations.

This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Acres U.S.A.