Well, . . . negatively charged ions actually!
Put very simply, everything that is electrically charged (that includes living things—we run on electricity too!) gives off a combination of positive and negative ions into the air. Have you ever noticed how ‘up’ you feel after a big rainstorm? You wander outside to breathe it all in—you think your mood has elevated because all that depressing rain is over and you can be outside again? Nope! Rainstorms generate lots and lots of negative ions! You’ll get the same effect from a waterfall, at the beach or even in your shower. Moving water generates negative ions, as do lightening and areas of heavy vegetation (score one more for sustainable permaculture!).
So, why does the farm need the negative ions? Here is what I turned up from just a quick internet search and only a few minutes:
- · Scientists at the University of California grew barley, oats, lettuce, and peas with a total of only sixty positive ions and negative ions and found that growth was stunted and the plants were diseased. The same experiment in air with more than double the natural number of ions produced accelerated growth.”
- · “In the 1960s one U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist grew seedlings in ion-enriched air and produced cucumbers eighteen inches longer than normal.”
- · “Photosynthesis could not take place without ions in the atmosphere”.
- · “In a Faraday cage, where the outside electrical fields are excluded, plants grow only about half the size they would if rooted in the garden.”
- · The book lists some experiments dating back to Benjamin Franklin (who did some of this stuff). They placed charged electrodes over plants and found that they grew faster.
- And in the vegetable kingdom, plant seedlings grow up to 50 percent more when charged. Fruit stays fresh longer: after 10 days, ionized tomatoes were still fresh while untreated controls rotted.
Why just negative and not positive? Well we actually need both, but in balance with each other just like most other things in life. The Earth herself is negatively charged, so she ‘exhales’ positive ions. This is the way it’s normally supposed to be. Here is the current problem in our area. We are in a drought—no rain, no thunderstorms=no natural release of negative ions to counteract or balance out the positive ones. Here in our area, it is very flat and open—and so very windy all the time. All of these exhaled positive ions then get blown through the crops all day every day. The lack of a proper balance of ions creates stunted growth and that is exactly what we are seeing in the gardens. Gallons and gallons of garden hose water cannot do what even a short rainshower can accomplish.
So, we sit and wait for the rain, for the plants as well as our wellbeing. Yesterday, the rains came all around us; but we stood at the kitchen window and watched as the wall of rain that we could see a couple of miles to the west of us, blew to the north and bypassed our fields once again.
Maybe today we’ll do a raindance, asking Mother Nature to favor our fields with life-giving negative ions (and whatever other wonderful things exist in those showers that we know nothing about!).
To Call The Clouds
I call forth the clouds
To overcast the skies
Bring me breeze, bring me rain
Let mother nature water us
Cool the air, sate the ground
Wind through the trees
Let me hear thy sound
Clouds cover the rays of sun
Overcast this day, let it be done