I’d like to introduce you to an electro-horticulture experiment I started in February of 2011 that had the most amazing outcome… That over the course of about 2 months I was able to get one set of plants to grow more than 200% bigger than another set by adding just a tiny bit of electricity into the soil!
One of the techniques of electroculture, described in a number of books and articles from the the late 1890s through the early 1920s was the creation of an “Earth battery” which consisted of a copper plate at one end of a row and a zinc plate at the other end. Attached to both plates was a piece of rebar connected to each plate by a wire. Then, both plates were connected by a copper wire strung above-ground. When the soil was sufficiently damp, a minute electric current could be measured.
In these historical experiments, a number of positive results were observed including an increase in crop yields of 20% – 400%, decreased time to fruit, and increased resistance to disease. Similar results came from applying DC between the base and the top of fruit-bearing trees.
To get started I adapted the idea for my own situation figuring that I could get a similar effect by using a common DC power supply from an old cell-phone charger. After removing the charging connector and stripping the wires down so I could attach a nail to each terminal, I placed each nail on opposite sides of the growing container and filled over them with soil. I then proceeded to plant some Romanesco broccoli seeds into some Happy Frog® organic potting soil (2/5/11). For the first week I kept the power on for 12-hours per day. Then I figured that it would be better to go all-out and keep power applied 24/7.
After about 1 week, the experimental group (there was a control group also – non-electrified) had stalks about 2x as long as the control group.
After the 2nd week, the leaves on the experimental group were looking a little strange to me… there was a light-green band along the perimeter of the larger leaves. I didn’t know what it meant, and assumed the experiment wasn’t working in a positive manner.
After the 1st month, the difference between both groups was astonishing! While they both were exposed to identical conditions, except for the electricity flowing through the root-structure, the experimental group had leaves that were almost twice as wide as the control, and furthermore, the entire plant had a lush deep-green color to it while the control was more of a pale green. Check out the pictures below:
As you can see from the pictures, the differences between them after 1 month are quite significant. In the next photo (please excuse my bad picture-taking), you can see the electrified broccoli in the background, towering over the entire control-group which includes mostly broccoli along with some other varieties like cauliflower.
Another view of the final version while it was still indoors:
While this experiment ended up as a great success, after transplanting outside I no longer tracked their progress in comparison with the other plants.
As a side note, I realized that after running some other experiments in the summer of 2011, I realized that I have a hard time keeping track of comparative progress of my experiments outside. It gets too weedy and there are too many things going on that I need to keep track of. Perhaps someday that will change. So, to work around my issues with keeping track of progress outdoors, in the future I plan on focusing on mostly controlled indoor experiments.
Has anyone tried this type of experiment before? Leave a comment and let me know.
- Today’s Special: The Craziest Vegetable You’ve Ever Seen (modcloth.com)