Monday, March 17, 2014




    ...the dirt's outside in the yard.  Soil, or potting mix, or potting medium, is the stuff in the pots, and it is truly the next key, after watering, to having healthy and beautiful plants.  In fact the next secret of the green thumb is
                          HEALTHY PLANTS
                                 HEALTHY SOIL

When all the  parts of the soil are working together in harmony,  the result is a beautiful plant.  When you see a beautiful plant,  it's partly because the soil is healthy.  And because soil so important, we're going to talk about it next, before we get to the parts of the plant.

Soil is as much a part of the plant as the roots, stems, and leaves.  Soil acts as bone and muscle - it supports the roots and thus the plant body.  It acts as part of the circulatory and excretory system -  it provides and drains away water and excreted compounds.  It has a role is a kind of nervous system as well.   It functions as lungs - bringing air to the roots.  And, amazingly enough, it also acts as grocery store, kitchen, dinner table, and digestive system in one - it turns minerals into usable forms and carries them to where the roots can absorb them for the rest of the plant.

As animals evolved movement, they had to develop ways to carry all these processes around with them.  Plants have it all for them, right there in the soil.   Truly wondrous stuff.

                                     WHAT IS SOIL AND WHAT  DOES IT DO
Soil, indeed all kinds of potting media, basically consists of particles and spaces.  The particles may be organic or inorganic, the spaces may be air or water.

Organic means the material was once living; these are things like bark, charcoal, sawdust, bits of sphagnum moss or peat, coir (coconut shell fibers), rice hulls, partially decomposed  leaf, pine needles, compost, etc.

The inorganics are made from minerals, things that were never alive.  These include crushed rock or brick, coarse sand, pumice, clay and mineral components, or processed forms of minerals such as perlite (volcanic glass expanded by heat), vermiculite (heat-expanded silicate materials), or kiln dried granulated clay products.

The particles, whether organic or inorganic, are of various sizes.  These large materials are broken down into smaller and smaller bits by geologic erosion, weathering, machines, and even  inside the plant pot through the actions of watering, chemical activity, organic decomposition, and acids secreted by the roots.  As the particles become smaller, they get more and more chemically active - that means they can contribute to the chemical processes that go on in the soil.  The very smallest particles are as small as 8/100,000 of an inch (0.002 mm.)

At this stage, the  organics mentioned above are now completely broken down into a substance called humus.  Also in the organic column there are micro-organisms - fungi, bacteria, microscopic animals and plants that live in the soil, along with the by-products of their biological action.

As for the inorganic particles, the sand, stone, artificially produced components (like perlite) continue to be broken down also. The very smallest are clay particles, along with the mineral compounds formed in the soil by microbial and other chemical activity.

(Excerpt from The Color of Your Thumb Has Nothing To Do With It)
                                                                                                                   by  Marlie Graves

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Oh dear, it HAS been a long time since I posted on my blog.  The holidays have come and gone, and the new year is 1/12 over.  But, since no one is paying for anything here, and I'm sure none of you are suffering any undue anxiety waiting for my next missive,  I have given myself permission to not worry too much about it.  I have been busy, working  on the book, writing on forums and such, learning and investigating and developing another project that has nothing to do with plants.

But tonight, I think I'll get back into my discussion of The Secret Life of Plants.
When we last talked about the interesting things to be found in  The Secret Life of Plants, I said that this time we'd look at some crazy things people got plants to do.

There was Pierre Paul Sauvin who, after hearing Backster on a radio show, decided that if plants would respond to a person's thoughts by moving a recording device, they could be harnessed to move other things. First he hooked up a toy train to change direction (as an impetus for his emotional "broadcast" to the plant he shocked himself,) later he had his plant hooked to open the garage door (using sex as the emotional stimulus this time,) and fly a model plane.  He did find that the memory of the stimulus was just as effective as the actual shock (or whatever,) and he also found the process worked better using a plant with which he already had a positive relationship - water and love will do it every time.  Plants are so easy.

Sauvin was an ITT engineer, and interested in "alternate" theories of reality.  With his engineering skills he was able to construct a  monitoring device a hundred times more sensitive than Backster's, with which he hoped to distinguish fine changes in the energy field of the plants. For him, the concept that plants had energy fields similar to those generated by humans was a given, and his interest was to study how the interaction of those fields could be put to use.

Another engineer who duplicated Backster's results was Eldon Byrd, an operations analyst with the Naval Ordnance Laboratory.  Byrd believed that the Backster effect was caused by a change in the polarization in the cells of the leaves, though he couldn't explain the mechanism causing the change. One of the things he worked on adapting to the plant response phenomenon was a lie detecting device based on analysis of vocalizations.

Another engineer/philosopher, Dr. Ken Hashimoto in Japan, after working with sensitive voice recording machines for lie detection, reversed the process using his wife's cactus and a sound modulation device, and achieved an electric hum, "varied and pleasant, at times even warm and almost jolly" from the plant.  The plant world had given its first speech!

Of course, reports, stories and research such as these have caused reactions from mirth to derision to anger in the establishment.  But once someone has seen plants produce measurable reactions to human thoughts, the next questions have to be, if one has any kind of open and curious mind, "why," "how," and "what are we not understanding?"

Many  people, Byrd and Hashimoto among them, believe that these kinds of phenomena are pointing the way toward an as yet undiscovered form of energy. As Eldon Byrd put it in an article for Megabrain Report
...not ... electromagnetic energy...but a whole other form of energy which we currently have no instruments to measure....It doesn't take any time for it to propagate from one point in time and space to another because it has nothing to do with time or space. *
Bioplasmic fields of energy surrounding each living thing.  Instantaneous communication independent of space and time.  Information unbound by matter and energy.  I wonder if these quirky and almost unknown experiments of wiring plant leaves to recording devices are the first baby steps we're taking on the road to the stars.

Bona Fortuna,

* Byrd, Eldon  Megabrain Report   V.1  n.1

Tompkins, Peter and Bird, Christopher, The Secret Life of Plants.  New York, Harper and                            Rowe. 1973
(By Marlie Graves)