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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Power of Yelling at Your Plants

Remember your elementary school science experiments? Because it tends not to be a good idea to let 8 year olds plan experiments involving caustic chemicals or live electrical wires, at least one class would always downshift into a project about the effects of talking to plants. The control group plants would be watered but otherwise ignored, while the experimental group would be talked to on a daily basis.

If the teacher were really on her game, there would be a second experimental group. For this group, the plants would not be talked to but yelled at and subject to verbal abuse. If you were lucky, you'd see results that demonstrated that kind words make living things thrive and abuse and indifference make them suffer.

Of course, there was always that killjoy that had to point out that the group that whispered sweet nothings to their plants were probably leaning in closer and marginally increasing the amount of carbon dioxide the plants were exposed to from juvenile exhalations. And, let's not forget that Mrs. Vandersnoot's south-facing classroom, which was roughly 117 degrees for the entire month of September, got an uneven pattern of light exposure across her windows, meaning the "ignored" group was actually in the shade part of the day or something.

Anyway, I seem to have replicated this experiment in a totally non-scientific way this year. Last year, my good friend told me that she had had success keeping her pepper plants in the garage and hauling them back out for a second season the coming summer. I think some of her peppers are currently on their third year. Anyway, I had to try it.

I saved three huge ceramic planters full of pepper plants in the sunroom. One died, but two were alive come spring, albeit looking a little rough. I hauled the remaining two out into the sun in the spring and hoped they'd produce.

At first, it looked like they would do so, but with not a great yeild; I'd get a couple of peppers once in a while all summer, which was basically fine for our consumption needs.

Then, about a month ago, I pointed at one of the second-year peppers and said out loud, "This thing never has looked healthy, and I'm yanking it at the end of the season."

Lo and behold, the darn thing proceeded to shoot up 6 inches over the course of a week, leaf out in places it was barren before, and set the most impressive set of peppers I have seen in a long time. I now have no choice but to make sure that this plant, along with two other containers full, is put into the greenhouse for protection during the fall, then haul it back into the sunroom or garage or wherever Mr. FC&G's back can stand to carry it.  At this rate, I could be harvesting peppers in November if I get all of these blossoms pollinated before I take them inside.

Maybe I should experiment by being nice to the peppers and bringing them into the house foyer. I haven't exactly broached this subject with Mr. FC&G. Wonder how good peppers are at healing lower back strain?
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