How to Grow Nutrient Dense Food

For those on a mission to reclaim their health…

With help from Grant Paton, CEO of Environmental Fertilisers, Kay Baxter, from the Koanga Institute, has worked out the following ‘recipe’ for establishing a vegetable garden, using Environmental Fertiliser’s fertiliser, which in all of our years of trialing is the most cost effective, and the only fertiliser that actually improved our brix measurement (nutrient density) consistently.

We understand it is only the first step, and our efforts are now going towards finding more regenerative and local ways to do this, however if you are serious about growing soil and nutrient dense food this is the best start we know of. If you’re keen to know more and move on after making this beginning we recommend our Art of Composting Booklet, How To Grow Nutrient Dense Food Booklet (available here) and our How To Grow Nutrient Dense Food workshops, which are always on the leading edge of our research and learning. 

The recipe we use is as follows per square metre of garden bed, forked into the top 5-10cm before planting seedlings:

  1. EF BAS 50 (Paramagnetic Rock Dust) 400 gms (once only) certified organic.

  2. Activated Carbon (Biochar) 400gms (once only) certified organic.

  3. EF Natures Garden Fertiliser 400gms (way the most effective of these two) or EF Nature’s Organic Fertiliser certified organic 400 gms.

  4. EF Nano-Cal 200gms certified organic.

After seedlings are planted we sprinkle 100 gms of Natures Garden Fertiliser over each square metre, then we water the seedlings in with a watering can or two containing EF Fish Plus at 100 mls per 10 litres of water. This form of liquid fish is complexed with a carbon source, so does not burn up soil carbon or wash away fast like other forms of liquid fish.

If our crop is a heavy feeder (tomatoes, pumpkins, all cucurbits, corn, brassicas etc) we will apply 100 gms of Natures Garden Fertiliser per sq m each month for the following 3 months. If your crop is tomatoes, or you have very poor soil we also soil drench with EF Cal-Phos a few days before we reach full moon.

We will then apply a weekly foliar spray of EF Vegetative Foliar for a month or so then switch to EF Reproductive Foliar until harvest, unless the crop is a heavy feeding leaf crop and then we just continue with the EF Vegetative Foliar.

This level of applying nutrients will mean you are sequestering carbon, growing Nutrient Dense food and you don’t have to keep doing it forever. The higher brix ‘waste’ vegetable material generated can also be added to your compost heap, and you will continue to improve the quality of your food as you build up your soil.

Repeat Planting

Each repeat planting season follow the same instructions without the paramagnetic rock dust and activated carbon, and after two years omit the EF Nano Cal as well. Using a refractometer will give you more feedback about how things are going and help you make appropriate decisions about what works best for you.

Please Note These instructions being generic are designed for average NZ soil conditions, which is over 90% of us. If you know you have unusual conditions then we recommend you get a soil test and advice from Bio Services.

All of the fertiliser listed here is available from

Brix Readings (Using a Refractometer): If you’re serious about growing high quality, Nutrient Dense food, then the best tool to help you understand what is happening in your garden is a Refractometer. This is a simple tool that measures the ‘brix’ of the plant, which is an indication of nutrient density of the plant. This has a direct relationship with our own health. 

Information here on how to use a refractometer


This information is also available as a leaflet that can be downloaded here