Vastly’s Jefferson Growers Program Grows a Successful Harvest

In the summer of 2016, Vastly opened a new gardening program called Jefferson Growers to a select group of local and regional gardeners to test our new plant biostimulant: BetterRoots. We sought experienced growers who embody the Jeffersonian ideals of experimentation and enjoy learning more about their craft. We specifically were looking for those who value alternative methods to improving the health and quality of their soil and plants.

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, & no culture comparable to that of the garden.
— Thomas Jefferson, August 1811

Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Experiments

The name of the program - Jefferson Growers - is based on the idea of Thomas Jefferson’s well-known experimentation and record-keeping in his garden in Central Virginia. Blair Jenet, who initiated Vastly’s Jefferson Growers program this fall, said that Vastly started the program because “We wanted to connect with local gardeners.”

Says Jenet, “We are growing more than plants here. We are reaching out to the local community and taking the time to foster productive relationships. Yes, we want these people to be our customers and buy our products, but our motivation is so much deeper than that. We really believe that this product can make a difference in the world of gardening.”

A page about from Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, 1766-1824, page 48, by Thomas Jefferson (The Jefferson Papers). This 1812 record shows Jefferson added manure to his garden in February to fertilize the soil for the upcoming growing season.

A page about from Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, 1766-1824, page 48, by Thomas Jefferson (The Jefferson Papers). This 1812 record shows Jefferson added manure to his garden in February to fertilize the soil for the upcoming growing season.

The First Season of the Jefferson Growers Program Begins at Monticello

Vastly sought initial volunteers for the Jefferson Growers program at Monticello’s annual Heritage Harvest Festival, which attracts master gardeners, many of whom are looking for new techniques and technologies to grow their gardens. Each of the Jefferson Growers received a free starter package of 22 pounds of our premium biostimulant, BetterRoots, which is Vastly’s unique combination of fulvic and humic acids and other plant-derived organic compounds.

We wanted to get real feedback about using fulvic and humic acid from actual home gardeners. In order to participate, the Jefferson Growers agreed to experiment with BetterRoots by testing it in their own gardens. We also asked the Jefferson Growers to document the process by sharing photos, videos, and other observations of their gardens.

We shared some ideas about how to get started on using Vastly biostimulant in an ongoing garden nourishment routine, but we invited the Jefferson Growers to create their own protocols - and to give us feedback on the results.

Jefferson Growers See BetterRoots Results in Their Gardens in a Few Weeks

Within about a month, we started to receive feedback from the Jefferson Growers. Jim, an associate professor of Pathology at the University of Virginia, immediately saw results in his lettuce crop.  

Vastly's Jefferson Growers program tests BetterRoots
Above: Mustard greens that were grown in a raised bed without the help of any fertilizer or biostimulant.  Below: Mustard greens grown with Vastly biostimulant.

Above: Mustard greens that were grown in a raised bed without the help of any fertilizer or biostimulant. 

Below: Mustard greens grown with Vastly biostimulant.

Jim says: “I started my fall lettuce garden in early September and used the small sample packet I bought at the Monticello Harvest Festival on a portion of the garden. I watered the two sections as evenly as I could and provided the [BetterRoots biostimulant] as recommended in the watering solution only in the left portion of the division. Even without quantitation and statistical analysis, I'm convinced that Vastly [BetterRoots] greatly improved the growth of the lettuce. Thanks for the additional supply which I will use on other parts of my gardens.”

Students Try BetterRoots Biostimulant in Their School Garden

Becky, a Jefferson Grower from southern Virginia, worked with elementary students to experiment using BetterRoots in their fall garden. The students planted greens in their school garden.

Becky says: "You’ll see a raised bed planted with the biostimulant and another without—and you will know which is which!  We’ve been harvesting all sorts of delicious ‘greens’ - turnip, mustard, and kale.  This is an opportunity for the children to see where real food actually grows! I plan to use the remainder in my own herb garden as I put it to sleep in the next week.”

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Above: Mustard greens that were grown in a raised bed at a school garden greenhouse without the help of any fertilizer or biostimulant. Below: Mustard greens grown by students with Vastly BetterRoots in the greenhouse.

Above: Mustard greens that were grown in a raised bed at a school garden greenhouse without the help of any fertilizer or biostimulant.

Below: Mustard greens grown by students with Vastly BetterRoots in the greenhouse.


Jefferson Growers: Suggested Procedure for Using BetterRoots at Home

The following method is what we suggested for trying BetterRoots in a home garden.

For best comparison, we recommend that participants dedicate a space in their garden with one plant that they divide into one treatment group (treated with BetterRoots) and one control group (tended normally). For easier record-keeping we recommended that participants label their experimental plots by treatment type.

How to Use Vastly BetterRoots in Your Home Garden

  1. Dissolve 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of Vastly BetterRoots biostimulant in every gallon of water used.

  2. Apply this mixture to the soil surface around the base of your plants.

  3. Repeat treatment at least every 4 weeks for best effects.

  4. Optional: Each week, record measurements and observations. Depending on the type of plant, you may want to measure growth in different ways: height, number/size of leaves, time to maturity, plant size, flowering time/size, fruiting size/time.


Join Us as a Jefferson Grower!

We’re planning to repeat the experiment in the spring, once more of the Jefferson Growers have had the opportunity to grow in the next season. If you would like to participate in the Jefferson Growers experiment, please email us at jg@vastly.com.

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