"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Waltz of the Seedlings

The majority of our tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, herbs, peppers, eggplants, and other seedlings have all germinated and are growing well. The onions, celery, brassicas, lettuce, and other hardy greens have been moved outside to the greenhouse but as the nighttime temperatures are still very cold at times I will be forced to babysit the less hardy plants indoors for some time to come.

Purple Coban Tomatillos (can you see where the cat put her foot just as they were coming up?)

So today, and much to the chagrin of poor Mrs. H, I have classical music playing in the background...for the plants. I have been reading about how musical vibrations might help encourage the growth of plants. There are any number of theories on this ranging anywhere from how stimulating the leaves stomata (microscopic openings or pores found on the plant leaf) helps with the intake of CO2 and absorption of other nutrients to theories on how vibration can positively affect the growth of a plant's roots. Some say limited musical vibrations might even help a plant synthesize the hormone ethylene which in turn speeds up seed germination and helps to create stockier plants. So I figured why not give it a shot. The plants are dancing to the Northstar Chamber Orchestra's renditions of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky for a few hours this evening.:)

These "refashioned" milk jugs make excellent starter containers for our pepper and eggplant seedlings. Thanks for saving them for us Dorothy.:)

70 comments:

Kelle said...

Don't you just love this time of the year? New life everywhere! :o)

Your seedlings look great, love the milk jugs re-purpose. One year we used eggs shells to start some of our herbs, it worked great!

Blessings and many hours of productivity for you all,
Kelle

Jason said...

Science only knows a drop in the ocean to what there is to know in this universe. So why not play music to your plants? I bet it is good for you too.

I recently blogged about my seedlings so it was great to see yours. Like the use of milk cartons. Interestingly I just started collecting them for that purpose to. Only have 3 thus far.

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Oh, what happy little plants you have growing. I have a feeling, though, that it's not the music that's making them happy. It's the company. Blessings to you as you start another wonderful year of growing your food:-).

kelli said...

your seedlings look great! i love that you are playing music for your plants. i sing and talk to mine.=)

Kimberly @ We Call Her Momma said...

Been missing your posts. Looks like you've been busy.

Last week was warm but I remembered there is more cold to come. Sure enough yesterday we woke up to rain, then light snow, cleared slightly then hail in the late afternoon. That was, of course, in addition to the WIND.

I'm looking forward to seeing your garden grow another year. You give me inspiration to keep trying. Thanks!!

Roasted Garlicious said...

looking very good Mr. H .... i've also read a lot about music and plants and i agree with you... classical is good ... i love the repurposed milk jugs... my seedlings are far behind you this year... been cold and damp here...

Dani said...

Mr H - love the recycled milk jugs :-)

Music for plants - reckon they get some from the wind rustling the trees leaves too - there is plenty music out there if we just take the time to listen.

Geno said...

I too like to believe that there is something with the music, although our music goes back and forth between ambient new age type and techno. The only time I actually pull out the classical is when I am writing which in not to often of late. But seeing as how we have no seeds started yet makes my comment a bit moot!

Mike said...

Awesome! I was just thinking to myself yesterday " I hope Mr. H is going to do a post on seed starting"!
You have delivered. Thanks!

Buttons said...

Mr. H you sure have been busy. They look great I have to get started on my planting seeds I am a little behind but I will get at it this week still lots of time it is going to snow tonight. Milk jugs great idea In Ontario Canada we have stupid milk bags not very much use for planting. I use egg cartons to start some things. B

meemsnyc said...

I saw that your seedlings are in one big container, when do you separate them, and is it complicated to separate them? I'm always afraid that I'll hurt the roots.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Those seedlings look happy and behaving really well with some treat of classical music from extroadinary composers. So you won't counter any much problem while you are babysitting hundreds?Thousands of babies.

Jennifer Jo said...

That's an excellent post title.

p3chandan said...

Such systematic and healthy looking new seedlings you have there, happily listening to the great composers in their new beds!

Fiona said...

What a lovely post! The seedlings look great. I'm still waiting on my seed order, but I'm hoping it'll arrive any day now! I like the repurposed milk jugs. Do you put irrigation holes and/or gravel/pebbles at the bottom?
I know how much music feeds me - why not seedlings?

Robin said...

You certainly have a lot of seedlings growing! I'm sure that they will appreciate the music :)

Jane said...

I read a study once where they ripped up plants that were planted next to another row of plants. The remaining plants showed electrical activity that indicated they were stressed by watching the other plants being ripped out. We know so very little about plant life.

Mr. H. said...

Kelle - I have to admit that while tending seedlings in containers is not my favorite part of gardening it is always nice to finally see some new life. Some of these seedlings will not go in the ground for 2 more months yet...hope I'm a good babysitter this year.:)

Jason - You are so very right, sometimes I think perhaps we really don't know much of anything and just kind of flounder about as Mother Nature smiles (or frowns) down on us.:) The milk jugs work great and I can make them as deep or shallow as needed...I can't believe I never thought to use them until this past year.

Thy Hand - Yes, it is starting again isn't it, seedlings everywhere and soil to be tilled...if it ever thaws out.:) Hope you have an fantastic food gardening year too.

Kelli - If I started singing to my plants I fear it would be too much for Mrs. H to handle and she would surely toss both me and the plants outside.:) But, like you, I do talk to them upon occasion.

Kimberly - Yes, this is a busy time of the year for us making it hard to find time for the blog. Your weather sounds very similar to our own sloppy spring conditions, hopefully it will turn around for both of us and a few sunny days will show themselves.:)

Roasted Garlicious - It has been cold and damp here as well and is supposed to stay that way for a while longer. I have had the hardest time keeping the house warm enough for some of these plants to germinate and grow but we are managing. Like I told Kelle, it will be a good two months before some of these get planted...hope I can keep them all alive that long.:) My computer thermometer says its only 20°F outside...hope the plants in the greenhouse are OK.

Dani - We have a storage room that is dedicated to nothing but containers and bags for re-use. I think if we had to buy all of this stuff we would surely go broke.:) Yes, I think that the rustling wind and singing birds are the ultimate musicians for plants ...and us.

Geno - I have a feeling that the plants would not discriminate too much between classical and new age or techno music. I was actually thinking of playing some of my wife's Norah Jones to them today. Hope it is not raining as much in your area as it has been here...lots of mud, but at least some of the snow is finally melting so I can actually see the soil.

Mike - I had been meaning to post something for a while now but keep getting side tracked with other projects...so much to do this time of year. We had to put the oil heater on in the greenhouse last night as it was getting a bit too chilly out. Hope all of your plants are growing well.

Buttons - Milk bags? That's different, I have never heard of that before...interesting. We still have quite a bit of time as well but as our house is so cold I always try to get an early start because everything grows oh so slowly around here this time of year.

Meemsnyc - We usually transplant our seedlings into 4" pots when they have their second set of leaves and are around 4" tall. Tomato and lettuce seedlings are very forgiving and everything else transplants fairly easily as well...just gently tease those plant roots apart if they are entangled a bit and give them a little water after transplanting. We also try to keep them in the shade for a day or so after transplanting and we never seem to have any issues.

Malay-Kadazan girl - Well I can tell you one thing for sure, it is much easier to babysit hundreds of seedlings than it is to babysit even one child.:) So wish me luck and hopefully I will not drop any of my baby's this year.

Jennifer Joe - It seemed fitting, now while I can't confirm this it did appear that the plants appreciated Tchaikovsky's "Waltz Of The Flowers" the most.

p3chandan - Thank you, both the plants and I are enjoying the music immensely.:)

Robin - So far so good they seem to be happy and will hopfully enjoy my choices of music.:)

Mr. H. said...

Jane - Nothing surprises me anymore and I have a feeling that there are many, many forces at work that we cannot even begin to comprehend. I would like to read that study on plants electrical activity and will have to look it up. Along those lines I found this interesting - http://www.brianjford.com/soulsa.htm

Daphne said...

Playing music for the plants now are you. You spoil them so. I'd love to see some studies on other vibrations. Is it just thigmomorphogenisis at work or something else (I love that they have a word for that)? I run a fan for mine occasionally. It really helps them grow better. I also pet them every morning. Does music do even more?

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

I was expecting to see an array of plant seedlings with all the dirt preps you last posted :o), I knew you were busy bee...Music for the plants is most appropriate!! Yes, they respond to it ( remembering a school project).
So do we :o) everything looks great and I see a wonderful harvest on the way.

Brenda said...

Your seedlings look great! Classical music, I've heard it is good for babies in the womb and cows during milking, why not?

-Brenda

Leigh said...

Everything is looking good. I'm taking notes on your seed growing containers.

Interesting about the classical music. Of course, I think classical music does everybody some good. :)

Julie said...

Whoa, that is some serious seed starting going on there!

I wonder why classical? Maybe your seedlings would enjoy Mrs. H's musical tastes just as much ; )

Anne said...

Lovely! Quite the robust group of happy seedlings you have going there. Love starting seeds.. everytime I can't help but think "hope springs eternal"

Jennifer said...

How and when will you move the peppers and eggplants out of those big containers? We're about to plant some and I was trying to decide whether to give each plant its own container right from the start.

Mavis said...

I'm so glad to hear the seedlings are listening to classical music... I'm sure it's way better for them than your Rocky Balboa "Eye of the Tiger" Soundtrack...

Anonymous said...

Uh Oh. I've been playing Pink Floyd for my tomato and pepper seedlings - now you tell me they need more "culture"? Hmph, I need more proof. ~grin~ Anna

Lindsay S said...

I've been missing your posts! Definitely gonna start playing music for my plants now. I mean I practically have them all named, why not play music for them? :)

LynnS said...

Mike, You've gotta give your seedlings a daily dose of Pavarotti, too! Here, I've been known to wheel out my piano for some live Beethoven and Chopin. ;-) Seriously tho, I keep a radio/player in the greenhouse but don't always turn it on since it's so darn nice just being out there. Don't you love it when it rains?!

Your seedlings look great.....long time til you can plant them, though. I always thought you started out in your greenhouse, but it sounds like you sow seeds indoors -- is that so the cat can give them the paw-of-approval?? I thought I'd start hardening some brassicas and onions off this week but tonight's temp is to get into the low 20s. Ouch!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

so its.... (wait for it).. "Dancing with the STARTS"!?!?! ha ha ha ha ha ha. oh golly. I heard the same thing as Jane about the electrical impulses some said was "fear." so now I use my Klingon Management Techniques and take some clippers out and declare to my plants, "You must bloom or die! Fail to produce and its the compost heap for you!"

Occasionally I just run around wildly, shrieking. Sometimes it helps if they think you are a little crazy.
;-)
ps I dunno how I missed this post, sorry! Great work on all the starts!

Mr. H. said...

Daphne - Thigmomorphogenisis ...wow. Yes, it sounds like like music, wind, or anything else that causes movement or vibration seems to help them grow. In all honesty, I have a feeling that running a fan (or wind) would be best of all and am a firm believer in doing so. Do you really pet your plants? After watching "Little Shop of Horrors" as a young lad I try not to get involved with the flora on an emotional level.:)

Ginny - Well some of those plants are the collard greens you talked me into growing again so they had better respond really well so that I can end up with as many as you have.:)

Brenda - My biggest problem is that the peppers prefer Bach while the tomatoes seem to be more smitten with Tchaikovsky...should have known it would get complicated.:) Seriously though, I do believe that music could have an affect on unborn babies and I could even see how it might relax milk cows. Plants though, we shall see.

Leigh - We start our seedlings in flats, various plastic salad and tomato containers, hamburger trays from Walmart, and now milk jugs...they all work great. I am just so lucky to have family members that will save these things for me.

Julie - They seem to prefer classical, I played one of my wife's Norah Jones CD's to them yesterday and they all fell asleep and did not grow at all. Perhaps I should try some of her country music today...or maybe some of my Creedence Clearwater Revival.:)

Anne - Yes, new life always seems to bring about positivity and bring us out of the winter doldrums. "Hope springs eternal in the human breast; man never is, but always to be blest: the soul, uneasy and confined from home, rests and expatiates in a life to come." I have always liked Alexander Pope.:)

Jennifer - It depends upon how many seedlings you are going to start and how much room you have available I suppose. Since we start most of our seedlings indoors I have to grow them in bunches in order to have enough space for them all. Some people swear that it is good for tomatoes to be transplanted a couple times...not sure if that is true or not. If I could get away with it I would start all of my seedlings in larger containers and avoid unnecessary steps...but, unfortunately, we just don't have enough room for that. We will gently prick our seedlings out and plant most of them in 4" pots once they have grown their second set of leaves and are about 3-4" tall. At this point everything will be moved out to the greenhouse.

Mavis - I only let our cabbage plants listen to the Rocky soundtrack..it is just too much stimulation for the other seedlings.:)

Anna - I think Pink Floyd might be a good choice for your tomatoes but you might consider something more like Led Zeppelin for the peppers.:)

Lindsay - Well it certainly can't hurt them right? Good luck and I hope the seedlings enjoy your music selections. I must say that I have never named any of my plants, I think that would lead to a little more commitment than I am ready for.:)

Lynn - Unfortunately Pavarotti was not included in my 5 CD set composers collection.:( Live music would be nice, perhaps I could get Micki to sing and dance for them while I played the banjo...Naw she would never go for that.:)

We do start everything indoors and then slowly move them out to the greenhouse as the weather warms and the plants start getting too large for their confines. Brr, low 20's, sounds like Idaho over there.

Mr. H. said...

Ohiofarmgirl - Now I sure wish I would have thought of that as a title...too funny.:) If I remember correctly I believe that it was a Vulcan tradition to play the harp to plomeek plants to help encourage development. But screaming and threatening is definitely a Klingon method of forced growth.

Sinfonian said...

Wow, that's a lot of seedlings. I see you separate them from the bulk planting when you pot them up. I've never been good at that so each plant gets it's own space.

farmer said...

Your seedlings look great.
my seedling are mostly doing well,tomatoes all have their second set of leaves,my peppers have been a bit of a struggle this year,not to sure why..at least they are coming up,even if it took 3 weeks!

KitsapFG said...

I have a speaker outside near the garden that transmits our XM satellite radio when I am outside working in the garden...variety of stuff listened to but my favorite gardening background music is the "spa" channel which is new age stuff mostly -very soothing and non distracting. I do it for me, but I bet my plants enjoy it too! your seedlings look good and it appears you are on a fast track to spring. I had a good laugh at the kitty paw print. :)

villager said...

Gosh, my seedlings are gonna be jealous when they hear about the treatment yours are getting. It's like your are in a 5* hotel, and mine are in a Motel 6!

Ms. Adventuress said...

I love, love, love seeing these! Where indoors do you have space for it all? And silly kitty. Fab starter containers...what a deal. And now I'm playing classical music for my brain. (Let's hope it works.)

P.S. Thank you so much for the info about the hybrids. It's so fascinating, learning this, and now I will only worry about GMO's.

P.P.S. After three hours of meetings and three hours of walking around outside, literally running errands, along with eating a nice outdoor lunch, it was another three hours of raking and hauling rocks. It felt so good to be outside again (thank you, sunshine!).

AJK said...

Your seedling starts are looking great! Music! That's even better! Happy Spring!

Mr. H. said...

Sinfonian - If I could get away with it I would do the same as you but right now we have somewhat limited space for everything. I'm lucky that my wife is quite the pro at re-potting seedlings.:)

Farmer - Peppers certainly can be quite temperamental can't they. I usually end up planting way more than we need just to make sure that we have enough when it comes to peppers and eggplants.

Laura - We go to great lengths to keep the cats away from our seedlings but they invariably find a way to crush a few of them...darn cats.:) Sounds like you have a good musical setup for both you and the plants. One of these days I will have to check into that XM radio and see what it is all about.

Villager - Don't worry, mine will be kicked outside into the cold hard world soon enough where they will have to learn to fend for themselves a bit more.:)

Ms. Adventuress - A bit of hard work outside definitely does a body good, sounds like you have been quite busy of late. We have an enclosed porch that we are using as a room to grow our seedlings this season...so far it is working really well. The hardest part has been keeping it warm enough.

AJK - Thanks, so far so good...I guess that if all my plants end up looking bettewr than usual this year I will know that the music works...:)

Wendy said...

wow, have I missed all the gorgeous things on your blog! I'm looking at all these seedlings in wonder of the scope of your garden. Can't wait see it all this summer!

Wendy said...

oh, and the classical music sounds like a great science fair project for next year!

Elizabeth said...

I totally believe in the music theory!!
I look at your little seedlings and think, yum--micro greens. I am ready to put them on top of a salad!!
Peace and Raw Health,
Elizabeth

Mr. H. said...

Wendy - A study on how music affects plants, perhaps compared to a fan or nothing at all, would be an excellent science project. I can't wait to see my garden green and growing too...so tired of all the cold dreary weather.:)

Elizabeth - Unfortunately it will be at least 3 months before these micro greens can be eaten...but I'm patient.:)

Heiko said...

I know a wine producer he plays music to both his plants and his maturing wines. Musical vibrations are said to have an effect on water christals too, which would therefor make sense if it would have an influence on plants. Check out this docu when you have a mo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ONuKHjOKQY

Mr. H. said...

Heiko - Thanks, I'll check it out.

Ms. Adventuress said...

So glad you finally get to see a baby squirrel...it's grown so much lately, but this was the first time I had a chance to catch it on camera. Those pine needles nearby were babies themselves, so the squirrel is still quite small...its tiny tail is definitely a giveaway. It seems to be out on its own right now...no mamma in sight...so this will be fun to see what transpires.

I say...keep your eyes out for babies in your area...they're popping out right about now and will be darker in color than their parents.

YAY on your crock! As soon as I finish my taxes (gah!), I'll be ready to post more crock photos. (Until then, I'm suspended from doing too much fun stuff...geez, that IRS.)

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - Ah yes, taxes, I sat down and completed mine a couple weeks ago...no fun at all. I'll keep an eye out for the little squirrels.:)

Year Round Vegetable Gardener said...

Wow Mr. H, I love your milk jugs.. I use ours for cloches in the garden - temporary frost protection in spring/fall, but I should be saving some for seed starting!

Great photos - a breath of spring on this frosty day..

Mrs. Mac said...

The seedlings are all looking good! Mine are up as well. This weekend I drew out the garden plans on paper .. picked up a bargain load of cedar for the fence posts and raised beds .. now just need the muscle from the oldest son and the Mrs. to make it happen. I dream of garden plans (scary) .. am working on the watering system while I sleep;)

Kelly said...

You could also try to find some bird chirping type CD's, I think in nature, that is one of the sounds that the stomata react to. Interesting stuff isn't it? :)

Mr. H. said...

Niki - The milke jugs really do seem to be working good for seed starting and I love that I can cut them to be as deep or shallow as I like. Raining out here today.

Mrs. Mac - Sounds like you all will be very busy this spring. I love the way ceder fencing looks...how neat. They are predicting a cool wet spring that will be followed by a long and dry summer...shoul dbe good for tomatoe and pepper plants.

Kelly - Great idea, went for a walk early this morning and the birds by the lake were so loud...maybe I need to bring a recorder down there with me. Yes, it truly is quite fascinating, nature is still so very mysterious to us.

Dani said...

Mr H - so funny, you planting seedlings, and I'm cleaning up in preparation for winter. Just love the thought of seedlings waltzing in the breeze.

By the way, could you please let me have your postal address - you've won a Magic Seeder :-)

Kimberly @ We Call Her Momma said...

I just found this site about growing your own mushrooms. Thought of your wild mushrooms (morrels?)

http://a-homesteading-neophyte.blogspot.com/2011/03/grow-your-own-mushrooms.html

Mr. H. said...

Dani - The different seasons in diferent parts of the world does indeed get a bit confusing. Right now we are in our rainy season...so far the third rainiest March on record. Thanks so much for the seeder.

Kimberly - Thanks for the link, we have used spores off wild morels to start mushrooms in ourback woods before...only a few grew. I never thought to make my own kit though...really neat.

Bee Happy Farm said...

just found your blog, what an inspiration. I'm loving reading all your old posts. I saw that Dr. Wycher's Tomato is on your list for 2011, hope you are growing it. I have to say that is is my all time number one favorite. Love the orange just as October is here. Thanks for the inspiration!
-Mary

Mr. H. said...

Mary - We are growing Dr.Wyche's tomato this year thanks to a friend sending us some of the seed and are very excited to see how it grows for us. We didn't come up with everything on that 2011 list but over half of those plants will be in this years garden. Thanks for stopping by.:)

Silke said...

I love that you are playing music for your seedlings!! I've heard similar things about that... Also talking to your plants is supposed to make a difference. :) Thanks for your visit to my blog - I can't believe how much rain you've had! We are due for at least three days of sunshine - good thing, too, since we are planning a kayak outing on Sunday! Hope you and Mrs. H. are doing great!! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Silke - Yes, it was the wettest March in 16 years and if it keeps up like this we will be kayaking in our back yard.:) The road on the other side of the lake we live on is totally under water...makes me glad we live on a hill.

Hope you have a great time kayaking this weekend and please be careful of those alligators.:0

WeekendFarmer said...

Thats it....I want to rent a cabin space in your veggie garden : ). I think you could have a nice B&B venture. Happy Spring!

Mr. H. said...

WeekendFarmer - Well we could always put a cot in the greenhouse for you.:)

Ms. Adventuress said...

Yes, the foolishness of man, indeed. We are gambling with things precious and irreplaceable. Why our world cannot get back to simple, safer living...is beyond my comprehension. At least we, as individuals, are attempting to do our part, one footstep at a time. That ((is)) something!

janeen said...

Hello Mister H,
Have you ever thought of selling at Rathdrum Farmers market? I'm helping the market get more vendors and always read you blog. I know you garden for your family but maybe you can make some extra cash. Each booth is only $10, so it would be easy to cover your costs.

Opening day is May 7th. Look for more information in the Rathdrum Star and email me..I'll get you hooked up with a vendor form, etc.
Check out our website

http://www.rathdrumfarmersmarket.org/

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - Indeed it is something, each of us focusing on taking care of our own responsibilites towards this planet and the environment is a big something.

Janeen - Thanks so much for the information, we will take a look at your website.:)

Diane@Peaceful Acres Farm said...

Your seedlings look about like mine Mike. I can't believe with all that's happened in the last 2 months I even got them planted and my wonderful family kept them alive! My garden plans for this year are much smaller. Mainly due to the food "allergies" but also due to life. Our freezer is still pretty full and we need to work on it in a hurry. Hope you are all well and I hope you have a better growing season this year!

Mr. H. said...

Diane - We have been working hard to reduce our frozen and canned goods too. Glad to hear that your plants are doing well and it might be nice for you to grow a smaller garden this year, a lot less weeding that way.:) Looks and sounds like you had a very nice cruise...how fun.

Lorena said...

I woke up to snow on my Idaho greenhouse this a.m! Nice use of recycled plastic milk jugs. You must have a hoophouse for all those tomatoes and tomatillos or are they early season varieties?

Mr. H. said...

Lorena - And it snowed out here last night too. Many of our tomatoes and peppers are early season and in about a week or two they will all be repotted and moved into our greenhouse until the end of May. Sounds like it might be a cooler than usual spring...lets hope for a nice summer.:)

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Mr. H. did you drill holes in the bottom of those milk containers or just leave them as they were? I'm wondering what to do...Thanks

Mr. H. said...

Ginny - I drilled four small holes in each of them and that seems to be working great.:)

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