Can plants hear? At first glance, this seems like a silly question. Plants don’t have ears, so of course they can’t hear. But wait—do organisms need ears to hear? What is hearing, anyway?
Given that sound consists of a series of vibrations that are propagated through air, water, or another substance, then hearing must be the ability to sense those vibrations. And while our ears are very good at sensing vibrations, there are other options.
New gardening books seem to pop up as regularly as springtime dandelions. Most simply rehash what has been said before—perhaps with a new twist or better photos. But How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do (Science for Gardeners) isn’t your typical treatise on how to grow what. Instead, the author, Linda Chalker-Scott, explains the “why” behind the “how.”
An extension urban horticulturist and associate professor at Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University, Chalker-Scott knows what she’s talking about. This is her third book on horticulture, but there is a lot more. She’s written a series of articles on “Horticultural Myths” that I strongly urge you to read. Then, learn more at “The Informed Gardener,” a series of podcasts, or the informative Garden Professors website. She’s also a driving force behind the Gardening Professors Facebook blog (an extremely helpful research-based Q&A site).
How many times do we read a description in a seed catalog, order the seeds, then find ourselves disappointed with the results? Our Colorado climate and soil conditions make for some challenging gardening, and varieties that thrive in other parts of the country just don’t do as well here.
Thankfully, we have a state university providing us with research-based information especially suited to our high and dry gardens. From 2004 through 2008, CSU trialed an assortment of potential commercial crops, comparing varieties to discover which, if any, do well here. The results are available on their website under the heading “The Rocky Mountain Small Organic Farm Project.”