Do Plants Respond to Your Voice

Author Ellen Vande Visse

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Do Plants Respond to Your Voice?

The British Horticultural Society recently conducted a study at Wisley in Surrey to see if tomatoes respond to voices. A cadre of people with different voices was selected to read verses by Shakespeare and John Wyndham. Recordings of the readings were played to the roots of the plants while a control group of tomatoes grows in silence.

This study follows past tests showing that plants respond to grower’s stress; i.e. if you think your plant won’t make it, it probably won’t.

The results (June 2009): tomatoes that heard a woman’s voice grew 2 inches taller than those listening to a man.

Do you think plants respond to your voice? I only know that I could not stop the maggots devouring my broccoli transplants until I conversed with them. Nor could I control the slugs or tip burn on my lettuce till I started talking with them.

Talk to them? Yes, I was desperate. Turnip root maggots were sucking the life out of my whole broccoli crop. I did not want to use a poison. How could I stop their deadly procession?

So talk I did. First I had to grope for some kind thought about these ugly larvae. So I challenged myself to think of them as a legitimate part of God’s creation. Stammering, I implored them to back off my cash crop, as I was a beginner market gardener.

To my amazement, the root maggots talked to me. After I spoke aloud, I had the distinct impression of images and symbols coming into my head. In their language, they conveyed my mistake: I had given them a picnic by planting all the broccoli together as a monocrop. Consider intercropping, a trap crop, or a row cover, they relayed.

Did I doubt this and question my sanity? You betcha! But horticultural expertise confirmed the message. So I followed up. And it worked. Confused about fertilizer needs, I asked the soil. The soil communicated certain amendment recommendations. I was skeptical of the rather unusual proportions, but followed them. The results? All crops exhibited robust plant health, growth, and yield that season.

So, why not continue to ask when stymied? I queried the lettuce regarding tip burn problems. I asked the compost pile whether or not to add lime. I questioned the slugs, chickweed, and quack grass about how to get them under control. I got jokes, joyful light-heartedness, and specific recommendations. The advice was not necessarily conventional. But I loved the results, which I compiled in Ask Mother Nature, A Conscious Gardener’s Guide.