2015 hasn’t been a show stopping year on the vegetable patch. Lots of rain and muggy conditions led to a serious infestation of slugs which not only ate most of my seedlings, but appear to have had a field day demolishing some of the more established cabbage and kale on the plot. On top of that, lack of sunshine resulted in seriously impaired growth for the vegetables that were left over, including onions, leeks and climbing legumes….it’s a pretty dire state of affairs!
And it’s not just plants that have been affected by the poor Scottish weather – people have been too. Today, an advisory body set up by the UK Government recommended that all Scots should take vitamin D supplements because of the health implications of a lack of bright sunshine. Apparently the bleak weather is stopping many of us from receiving healthy amounts of the essential vitamin that we get from sunlight.
When people don’t feel good, they do a varied amount of things to cheer themselves up – listen to nice music, eat good food, meet up with friends for a chat. I’m willing to take the same approach with my veggies if it means yielding some positive results – after all, plants and humans have a lot more in common than we sometimes realise.
The Prince of Wales has been in the press on a number of occasions for saying he plays classical music to his plants to help them grow. He also says he talks to his plants and that they respond positively. Research suggests that he may be right. South Korean scientists who played classical pieces including Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in rice fields say they have identified plant genes that can “hear”. The researchers say their discovery could in future enable farmers to switch specific plant genes on and off – potentially making crops flower at certain times or grow more quickly.
And last year, TV gardening whiz Chris Beardshaw backed up the musical theory in The Independent, although he said his plants preferred heavy metal, and that a diet of Black Sabbath worked wonders on a greenhouse full of plants. So how about a blast of the marriage of Figaro to get those veggies growing, or perhaps some Taylor Swift?
I don’t know about you, but I think a spot of nice music goes down a treat with a good meal. While us humans may reach for superfoods like goji berries, omega-3 rich fish or broccoli when we’re feeling poorly, plants are in need of some rich nutrients too. Last week, I spent some time brewing a nitrogen rich plant food in the form of nettle tea (here’s a recipe). It smells terrible, but hopefully it’s ‘superfood’ credentials will help everything to liven up and grow. Who knows, it’s worth a go. Yum yum.
And when I’m next up at the allotment I think I’ll indulge my plants in a bit of light conversation. I wonder what they’ll say back? It’s probably not a good idea to mention the slugs…