Thursday, August 22, 2013
Do plants need growth Hormones?
Never content staying in one place too long, I have moved our weekly look at the latest spec load to Facebook. I like the idea that the season will unfold week by week and you can review what happened in previous weeks and months using this system. Let me know what you think and please click the like button. By The way if you don't have a Facebook account you will NOT be excluded, they will probably ask you to sign up, but you don't have to to see the pics.
I had an interesting discussion with a customer this week; why aren't our Tomatoes as richly green and strong as others in her display? The answer is complex and I think important. As growers we have the capacity to manage plant growth using a number of tools. Primarily we can adjust the amount and type of fertilizer we apply, we can withhold or supply sufficient water, we move plants constantly to provide the most appropriate environment (one of the great benefits of container growing), another trick is to grow in environments that can be changed, usually by opening and closing screens or the roof. At this time of year the great challenge for Mark, Bryce & Shaun is to produce Tomatoes ready to go into the garden while ensuring they look attractive to the gardener in a retail nursery. Our Tomatoes have been out in the weather protected by nothing more than a light hail net for the past two weeks. We had to move these plants out, they were growing too fast and getting too soft in the poly house. Unfortunately they begin to look a little rough around the edges at times and they get a distinctive purple colour in the stems and the leaf veins, that reflects the fact that we are holding Phosphorus back, which helps toughen them up and prevents them stretching.
What if we could leave our Tomatoes or Cabbages, or Eggplants, etc. in the green house and keep feeding them to ensure they held superior colour? What if we could keep them in the greenhouse and produce thick, strong stems? Well nurserymen can do this quite easily with Plant Growth Regulators (PGR's). The thing is I believe it is standard practice. The image below shows our plant on the right and what I believe is a treated plant on the left. You will note how careful I am to express this as my belief, it's just what I see based on my experience.
I have two reasons for not using PGR's at Scotsburn:
1. Used excessively PGR's will dramatically affect the way the plant grows in the garden. We prefer to propagate our own plants for the same reason, we know what they have been treated with and we are confident they will put down roots quickly and strongly.
2. I know from writing this Newsletter that nothing has generated more a intense response than the subject of PGR use on vegetable seedlings.
I'm not going to start printing "Hormone Free" (what is Permeate anyway?) on our labels, but I think it is worth trying to share a little inside knowledge.