About this site

phytonutrients This web site is about how to grow food which will make people healthy - this is very different to growing plants that are healthy. Read more

Our food should improve our gut biology and provide the micro nutrients such as trace minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients which are essential for long term health.

This site is now over twenty years old, initially it focused on irrigation scheduling, then Wicking Beds and now the focus is on the Gbiota project. This early pioneering work can be viewed in the library.
gbi2.gpg The Gbiota project is a citizen research project based on the hypothesis that growing plants in a biologically active and mineral rich soil will grow plants which themselves have an active biome coupled with phytonutrients which will in turn modify our gut biome and provide us with beneficial phytonutrients. Read more
gbi3.jpgThere is a great deal written about how diet affects health - with multiple versions of the low fat, low carb and high vegetables diets. Despite a massive promotion of diets there is an exponential increase in chronic diseases and excess body weight.

These diets all make the basic assumption that our bodies react in a dumb mechanistic way. Read more
gbi4.jpgThe Gbiota project challenges this assumptions saying that our gut biome - comprising trillions of cells which communicate with each other (just like in a computer) creating an intelligent system which acts as a control system deciding whether to store excess energy as fat, to burn it or to expel it from our bodies.

The message is clear - stop calorie counting and change your gut biome. Gbiota Project  14 Feb 2018  overview of Gbiota project
gbi6.jpg Changing the gut by faecal transplants is known to reverse obesity - often the first stage in chronic diseases. But they are not really practical for wide use.

The aim of the Gbiota project is to develop a practical way of changing our gut biome by a simple and economic addition to our diet of plants grown in biologically active Gbiota beds.
gbiotaclub 21 Nov 17  Community Research project on gut biology
gbi7.jpg Above ground there is virtually nothing to see in a Gbiota bed. They look just like any other growing bed. However they were developed from closed Wicking Beds and underneath - in the ground - are pipes which intermittently circulate a solution containing the biology which will eventually be transferred to our bodies plus nutrients and minerals in solution.

They are simple but operate automatically and provide a potential solution to the global chronic disease epidemic.
gbi5.jpgIt is a citizen research project in which researchers grow plants in Gbiota beds - which are an extension of Wicking Bed technology aimed at increasing soil biology - and monitor any improvements in health as indicated by waist size, weight and for diabetics blood sugar levels.
Anyone simply wishing to observe these trials can read the Summary of Gbiota Files
or for the latest summary report

Progress reports will be available and will be free and open to the public under the Creative commons system.
Anyone wishing to become a researcher in this citizen research project needs to become a member of the Gbiota club where researchers pool their information in a restricted area. Any experimentation involves successes and failures - that is the nature of research - so researchers need a closed environment where they can discuss both successes and failures in a protected environment.

Details are at Joining the Gbiota club.pdf

To continue reading goto Gbiota project.html

For general information on the Gbiota club go to
Summary of Gbiota files  lists all Gbiota files with brief summary

Email for further details

Major sections

Gbiota beds

gbiota3.jpgTechnically Gbiota beds are an extension of conventional Wicking Beds developed to improve  gut bacteria, minerals, trace elements and phytonutrients however their real significance is in preventing chronic diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, Alzheimer etc.

For an explanation read 'Preventing diabetes' or goto Gbiota section in library.

Preventing diabetes  23 Jan 2018  How to prevent chronic diseases

To acces the Gbiota files you need to first go to

Summary of Gbiota files  lists all Gbiota files with bief summary


Subsurface Irrigation and intelligent scheduling
sub surface irrigation intro1.jpg

I started this web site some twenty years ago when my main focus was water use efficiency. The two key technologies were sub-surface irrigation and a sophisticated intelligent irrigation system which would apply just enough water to reach the base of the root zone - but no more as this would result in the loss of both water and nutrients.

These were really quite complex technologies and never really caught on in any significant scale.

Wicking beds

Wicking beds intro2.jpg This all changed with the Wicking beds  which automatically prevent water and nutrients escaping past the root zone while irrigation scheduling is a simple as checking the water level in the subsurface water reservoir.

My early Wicking beds were incredibly simple - basically a film of plastics forming the underground water reservoir. Despite their simplicity they worked amazingly well and they went feral and are now used in almost all countries.

KISS Keep It Simple Stupid

phone intro4.jpgHowever some people quickly realised they had one major disadvantage - they were so simple that there was nothing there to sell as a commercial product.

They solved this problem by adopting the smart phone strategy of making them more complicated - difficult to use and not working so well. I have spent significant time and space on this web trying to persuade people not to waste their money on these less effective designs.

Sponge beds

sponge bed intro5.jpg While Wicking Beds have gone feral with home gardeners they have not caught on so much with commercial growers. Sponge beds are a more robust technology which are better suited to large beds where they may be some damage from machinery. (link)

They are particularly beneficial for soil biology.

They are very similar to conventional wicking beds but there is no waterproof layer, just a layer of absorbent material which holds the water. 

Smaller sponge beds are made by simply placing a layer of the absorbent material (typically organic waste) under the top soil; larger ones are made my making a trench in which the organic material is buried. Each year a new trench is dug alongside the old trench.

Sponge beds are more suitable for larger areas.


diabetes intro6.jpg

However when my wife Xiulan was diagnosed with diabetes and I learned more about diet and this debilitating disease I realised that while water and soil are on the priority list for feeding the ever expanding world’s population that the quality of the food is a higher priority than quantity.


Trace minerals

minerals intro7.jpgOur bodies need certain minerals to remove sugar from the blood stream - particularly chromium and vanadium but a balance of minerals is essential. It is perfectly practical to grow healthy looking plants with little or none of these trace minerals but we as animals need a much broader range and need larger quantities than plants. (link)

Understanding this has changed the emphasis from growing healthy plants to growing plants which will make us healthy.

Soil and gut Biology

eating dirt intro8.jpgWhile these minerals are readily available commercially they are generally insoluble so need soil biology to make them accessible to the plants.

But recent research into diet has shown just how critical our gut biology is to health. My main focus now is how to grow plants in biologically active soil which will improve our gut biology. The science is moving ahead rapidly with much work still to be done but I am more interested in pragmatic solutions. (link)

Navigating this web

navigation intro9.jpgYou may find the size of this web site makes it a bit difficult to navigate as there are so many articles written in different format over the years. But here are a few tips.

The recent articles are listed in descending date order in the library file so to catch up on the latest articles all you need do is to click on articles in this list.

For more specific searches you can go to the list of articles under the subject list.

If you want to look at some of the earlier articles - and many contain really good technical information you can search the files in the list of files in descending time and if necessary go back to the old library for the even earlier files.

You can also use the search engine which has a record of all files which opens the articles in a new tab.

Support and Q and A

library indes10.jpgI have tried creating a public Q and A session but for some reason people seem to prefer to write to me directly. Email me here. If I get asked the same question repeatedly I may write an article which covers that specific topic.
library library.jpgGo to library