Have you ever thought that perhaps there was a better way of improving the health of your plants, accelerating their growth while making for larger harvests too? Well in addition to the normal options for boosting the growth of your garden: chemical fertilizers (+herbicides, insecticides & fungicides), organic fertilizers and methods, there is something new available that is really something old… Electro-Culture!
It turns out that for over 250 years people have been experimenting with the application of electricity onto plants with spectacular results! There are three main areas where electroculture has benefit:
1. Increasing Yields – producing greater amounts of fruit, vegetables or grain per plant
2. Boosting Growth – growing plants faster, producing large yields weeks ahead of schedule
3. Disease Protection – protecting plants against fungal diseases and more!
My Discovery of Electroculture
For years I’ve always been interested in fringe inventions and scientific phenomena ranging from the high voltage experiments of Nicola Tesla, to more esoteric topics like subtle energies like ‘chi’ and ‘prana’. While I never took it upon myself to build a Tesla coil, I did take some time last year to replicate an experiment I found in a really old publication from the 1920’s that claimed to make plants grow faster. From my little experiment on Romanesco broccoli in our basement under a grow light, the claims of faster growth and healthier plants was to my disbelief absolutely true.
From the 1890’s to the 1920’s, hundred’s of people, mostly overseas in the UK and Europe, experimented with the stimulation of plants with electricity. While there were a number of cases where the experiments fell flat with inconclusive or negative results, there were many times more cases that showed great success. In fact, based on the tons of success that experimenters were having in England in the 1910’s to the 1930’s there was even a society devoted to this field called the Electro-Culture Committee of the UK Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. While this committee was eventually disbanded for unknown reasons, some suspect it was due to a series of years with bad weather conditions for crop growth in general. I personally think that there the level of understanding at the time was immature, and the experimenters didn’t understand the many variables that need to be in balance in order to find sustained success.
Despite the disbanding of the committee, research by individual and university-funded experimenters has been taking place ever since!
Through the efforts of these people, a large number of benefits were documented including:
- Increased soil fertility
- Increased growth rate
- Thicker stem growth
- Greener leaf coloring
- Yield increases from 20 to 400%
- Larger sized fruits and vegetables
- And protection against fungal infections
While a great many benefits were realized, the mechanisms behind them were unclear. Over the years, through both speculation and rigorous scientific analysis, a number of theories were developed to account for the rapid changes in plant behavior. Modern science has found a number of explanations for the pronounced effects, including increases in cellular metabolism to the formation or activation of certain growth-inducing hormones, akin to humans getting an endorphine rush or “runners’ high”.
Back to my experiment… I was astonished at my results and invited all of my friends and family to come by and see for themselves what was happening. Upon seeing the effects of a few milliamps of electricity, less power than what’s needed to power a single LED light, I started thinking about the larger implications of this “re-discovery” – specifically how it can be used to help gardeners all over the world improve their crop output and their livelihoods as well.
Not Only For Boosting Conventional Food Production
It turns out that there are many ways these methods can be applied to help not only gardeners and farmers, but also those who take part in many other forms of agriculture like livestock production and agroforestry.
In our home, my wife and I raise chickens for eggs. To keep the chickens healthy we let them free-range around our yard, foraging on grass, weeds, worms, and bugs. This year we’re planning on setting up a new foraging system that will keep them isolated to one portion of the yard while the other part of the yard can replenish itself. Since it will normally take a more than few weeks for freshly dispersed seeds to take root and grow, this year I plan on accelerating the process by adding an extremely weak electric field to the portion of ground where the new seeds will be germinating. If we can grow more food for our chickens then that saves us money on regular chicken feed. The same tactic can be applied to other forms of livestock as well including cattle, horses, etc.
The notion of growing with electricity is not something new, yet it’s something that has somehow fallen under the radar for the past 70 years. While I suspect there are a number of reasons why it’s never grown to a critical mass in popularity (to be commented upon in another post), what’s interesting is that there is a fair amount of research going on in the various nooks and crannies of various educational institutions around the world. Their discoveries touch on a number of interesting scientific discoveries ranging from the improvement of soil structure, increases in bacterial populations, and the activation of various physiological functions in plants that include increases in growth hormone production, increases in plant respiration, and metabolism increases as well.
So, I invite you now to join me on this fascinating journey of re-discovery where we can together explore the myriad of benefits across all forms of plant life. Come inside, learn about the possibilities, learn some new science, and most of all, learn how you too can try these techniques out at home and realize these great benefits for yourself.