Replacing steady commiseration over snow-shoveling aches and pains, ice-damaged roof woes, and the latest forecast for yet another nighttime low below zero, were excited updates about ordering seeds, acquiring onion sets and starting transplants. With spring imminent, co-workers, friends and family heartily rejoiced with garden talk.
But Mother Nature doesn’t follow calendar deadlines. She couldn’t care less that today signals the start of a new season. Snow returned this week, resubmerging patches of soil that had oh-so-fleetingly surfaced from beneath a thick white blanket.
In the wake of winter redux, I’ve contented myself hovering over our seedling trays — compelling germination, recording progress, and watering as needed. In exchange for heavenly lungs-ful of fresh oxygen and the scent of chlorophyl, I murmer sweet nothings and share commentary on their progress with my husband, Kevin, who thinks I’m crazy.
But, studies show that plants do respond to sound, whether it’s music, conversation or the recorded human voice. The benefit comes from actual sound — not just our carbon dioxide-laden breath. Based on recent findings, it’s been theorized that plants use sound waves to communicate with each other and even with insects.
Researchers have found that bees buzz at the proper frequency for tomatoes and other flowering plants to release pollen. Broadcasting certain frequencies and sound intensities can increase plant yields and alter gene expression. One plant physiologist reported that corn seedling roots lean toward a 220-Hertz hum and produce responding clicks registering at the tail end of the human hearing range.
Much of this research is new, and a great deal remains unknown, but it’s clear that communicating with your plants is far from idle chatter. Our green, leafy charges are bound to respond — either with growth that we can measure or clicks we fail to catch.
That should give us something to talk about!