At first casual glance I was taken aback. But then I thought of two
common gardening techniques.
I do not know of a third except for maybe small holes that starve or
force roots to spread out versus a large hole with nutrients all about.
In the world of humanity we have adversity builds strength sort of a
take on Frederick Nietzsche "That which does not kill me makes me
But I am a nurture kind of guy and I nurture my plants funny how
pruning and thinning come into play.
This inspired by
:-)) Well Peter Cundall always says to treat tomatoes badly so they
they are going to die and thus flower early. I assume his reasoning for
that is to get crops from them. Whatever Pete says is good enough for
his advice has always been woth following so I'd never think of
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
What use one more wake up call?
Pruning, in this group, would be to insure that all the fruit the plant
sets, will ripen
Thinning gives a single plant the maximum of nutrition and sunlight. It
must be admitted, though, it salutatory effect on the plants that are
thinned, is much less.
3) Setting Plants on Fire
Setting fire to your manzanita plants, occassionally, is helpful to
their proliferation, but isn't generally considered beneficial to other
plants. This technique is especially effective in coastal canyons. ;O)
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
As long as the treatment is getting the plant to do what you want without
weakening it too much. For example pruning at the wrong time may ruin
flowering instead of encouraging it. Cutting asparagus too long in spring
will weaken the plant and not allow it to store energy over summer so the
harvest next spring will be reduced.
I wouldn't want to generalise this concept too much.
Cundall is pretty good. In this case you are treating the plant harshly in
the short term to turn a metabolic switch. Once that is done you need to
treat it well so it has lots of energy to put into fruit. Continued harsh
treatment will just give you a stunted plant.
The converse might be a pumpkin plant. A healthy plant in full sun will
produce fertilised flower numbers in excess of what the vine can support to
ripeness. Treating it harshly will get you nowhere. In this case you to
maximise yield you should be nice to it, give it lots of water and
fertilser. Don't generalise too much.
I've noticed that digging around the roots of fruit trees seems to
increase the yield the next year, much like pruning, although I've
never done a scientific measurement with controls and such. My theory
is that when plants are injured, they try to reproduce their species
as much as possible in case they don't survive. But that's probably
attributing too much conscious intent to the plants.
You are right that it isn't wise to attribute too much to plants but this
behaviour isn't so complex that it implies thought or conscious intent. As
I understand it the damage (and other actions that the plant is able to
detect) cause the production of hormones (gibberellins) which control
various aspects of growth and development.
So for some plants cutting the top off causes production of new shoots lower
down, disturbance of roots produces suckering, a certain period of cold
breaks dormancy and stressing tomatoes can switch them from vegetative
growth to flower and fruit production. Some of these substances can be
extracted or synthesised to produce the same effect when applied by the
grower without taking the action that generates it naturally.
The trick is if you are going to influence the behaviour of a plant in such
a way that you need to understand what the consequences are likely to be in
that particular case. For example, to encourage fruiting by pruning fruit
trees you need to know which wood on each type of fruit tree bears the
flowers, it isn't all the same, so your pruning shouldn't be the same for
I'm repeatedly struck by how poorly taken care of tomato plants set
fruit, it has to be survival of the species reaction. Billy has
mentioned how you don't want tomatoes to believe it is the eternal
summer of bliss. But you don't want to produce plants that yield a poor
or damaged harvest.
It seems to me that some species, like cucurbits, don't need the cues
to reproduce. Tomatoes sure do.
Every plant seems to fill a little different niche, and is adapted
differently. Perennials think beyond the current year in ways that
aren't always obvious.
Enough rambling from me! I've exhausted my knowledge base!
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