Laugh if you will, but every good gardener spends time bonding with his or her crop. I have never seen a plant reject bonding with the grower. If you want a healthy and productive plant, do not skip this all-important gardening technique. If this author is not enough of a testimonial, let me give you a more convincing example.
One summer, I had the opportunity to host several friends at a picnic at my home. My friends were on their first visit to the U.S. from China. One of my friends (who had a farming background) immediately went out to my backyard garden to check it out. Upon seeing a giant pumpkin growing in the garden, he kneeled next to it, stroked the fruit very gently, and said “nice Nangua, grow Nangua”. (Nangua, is Mandarin for pumpkin). He was sincere and complimented both me and the plant. He said you have to develop a relationship with your plants, to help them to grow to their full potential. This pumpkin became my biggest ever at the time. Bonding with your plants is known and practiced all over the world.
A wide variety of scientific studies have suggested that this phenomenon is true. Some studies hooked up electrodes to test plant reaction to good and bad comments. The results: you guessed it….plants responded negatively to threats and negative comments, and positively to good comments and praise.
The above examples are positive proof of the universal belief in bonding with your plants. Bonding is successful with any vegetable or flower. In all of the plant world, Zucchini is the only plant that does not respond to bonding. Zucchini grows prolifically all by itself, and does not need your help!
Perhaps I should start yelling at, and belittling, the weeds in my garden.
The most common form of bonding with your plants is simply to talk to them. They respond quite well to positive re-enforcement. They also respond negatively to criticism and negative re-enforcement. Don’t ever threaten your plants or mention your doubts and disappointments within the hearing range of the plant. The mere mention of your disappointment of its growth rate can cause the growth to completely stop for a period of time. The old saying “One aw_hit is worth a hundred Attaboys” is very relevant here. Fortunately, plants have extremely poor hearing, about ten feet.
The second form of bonding is singing to your plants. This is slightly more effective than talking encouragingly to your crop. It also can backfire, as the choice of music is vital. People who can’t sing can turn off the plant’s growth and development with our off-tune attempts to promote growth and result in stunting all growth. Sad songs and slow elevator music can result in reduced production. Slow music can put your plant to sleep. An upbeat, fast tempo is the preferred choice. However, marches are to be avoided as they may cause the plant to grow too quickly. In the Cucurbita (pumpkins and squash) world, musical “marches” have resulted in pumpkins literally bursting. Plants respond best to love songs during the pollination period, especially during early morning hours, when pollination peaks. A plant, like the animal world, must be in the mood for ideal pollination to occur.
Playing recorded music is scientifically proven to produce favorable results, although markedly less effective than the personal touch of your own voice, or a live, orchestra performing live in your rose garden. Use the same selection of songs as described for singing.
A few musically inclined growers will bring out their instruments and play to their crops. Again, keep in mind the type of music. There is speculation that symphonic bands are more effective than jazz or orchestra. I am currently researching this and will update you shortly (don’t hold your breath).
A final form of bonding is to camp out and sleep with your plants as they grow. This is the real proof that you are truly a dedicated gardener. Anyone who pursues prize-winning pumpkins or watermelons will attest that you might as well sleep in the field because you need to spend most of your time there. Last year, my wife (saint that she is) suggested I sleep in the shed or next to the plants. She sees little of me during the growing season anyway.
Your garden sleepover has an additional benefit. It keeps deer and other animals from having a midnight snack out in your garden.
Our research showed that language plays no role in plant growth results. Apparently, plants are multi-linguistic. It doesn’t matter whether you speak English, French, Mandarin, or any other language or dialect. My example at the beginning of this article is proof that plants are multi-linguistic. The common belief is voice tone and inflection are most important.
I have no doubts that bonding is an important part of the process. If you are still not convinced, think about the fact that the more attached you are to your plants, the more you think about their needs, and the more you observe the condition of both the plant and its environment on a daily basis. This awareness translates to recognizing the needs of your plant and reacting at an early stage to what you see. Through bonding, you are more active in its care and fussy about every little aspect of growing.