Two-bit Guru | Speaking to Plants | Photo of pak choy gone to seed

When I wrote about picking raspberries I realized that when I’m in the garden, or encouraging seedlings in the house in the spring for that matter, I spend much time speaking to the plants. I compliment the tomatoes on their abundance, and the pole beans on their lovely appearance. The raspberries themselves get a lot of tender affection from me, although I avoid touching their thorny canes. I hope they don’t mind.

I don’t remember when I started talking to plants but I think I was fairly young. I do recall that as a child I either heard or read about grownups talking to their plants.

There has been speculation on the part of some writers that perhaps the breath exhaled while speaking was beneficial to the plant kingdom. That could be. Maybe the carbon dioxide, maybe a little unused oxygen. I think it likely that the vibrations have something to do with stimulating plant health, both the vibrations of the sound and the vibrations of the spirit.

I do like to touch the stems of plants that don’t have hostile defensive devices, and brush my hand over their leaves. Long after I had begun touching them, I read that brushing your hand through the leaves was akin to the function of the wind stimulating growth. As with the thorns of the raspberry canes, I avoid brushing my hand over the leaves of the stinging nettles that grow here and there around the garden. Even I have my limits.

I don’t ignore the animals in the garden, either. Ants, gnats, bees, wasps, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, worms. I speak to all of them. I speak to the worms a lot because there are so many of them. Oodles of worms.

And then there’s the soil, that magical combination of living and inanimate matter. Yep, I talk to that, too. As to the inanimate objects too big to count as soil components—I’m talking rocks, for instance—they get my attention also.

And I talk to myself, which could qualify me for the title of Crazy Old Man. I think I’m not.

What I do think is this: It makes me feel good to communicate with everything in the garden and the rich abundance of things both living and supposedly inanimate is evidence enough for me that something is working the way it’s supposed to be working. There is harmony.