by Wally Richards
Plants convert sunlight to carbohydrates which is the energy that makes them grow. This is called photosynthesizing.
The more direct sunlight, the faster the growth and the better the plant.
I remember many years ago attending a Horticulture seminar at Massey University where a number of people from other counties were also present. Two nurserymen from Alaska, who I become friendly with, I asked about growing crops that take 9 months or more to mature because of their only 6 months of light then 6 months of darkness — how that would affect growth? They said no problem, as during the 6 months of light they have sunlight 24 hours a day.
Plants never stop growing and what would take us say 9 months to grow they grow in half that time or less.
Near the equator such as in the Philippines I saw that everyday the sun came up at about 6am and went down quickly at 6pm. This is about the pattern 365 days of the year, so they have about 12 hours of sunlight everyday. Plants grow fast there with the light, temperature and rain/humidity. I would love to spend time there growing stuff as it would be like midsummer here all year round.
Plants can also grow under artificial lights and the newer LED lights are cheap and good to aid plant growth as they produce the ‘blue light spectrum’ which is great for plants but not so good for our eyesight.
In glasshouse nurseries artificial light is used to extend daylight hours in the winter by turning the lights on a 2-3 hours before sunrise and again for two or three hours after sunset.
Direct sunlight is needed to produce flower buds on many plants and with insufficient light no flower will bud.
It is again sunlight that will cause flower buds to open and produce pollen and nectar to lure the bees which will allow the pollination to take effect. Insufficient light, either no nectar, no pollen or no open flowers which means in fruit trees, no crop.
Some plants have adapted to living in shaded situations where they get little or no direct sunlight and plants like that normally have large leaves so they can catch whatever light they can get, direct or reflected.
That’s why large leaf plants such as philodendrons are suitable for growing indoors away from light sources like windows. Small leaf plants such as maidenhair ferns must have a bright light situation which is normally within a metre of a bright light window.
Last season we had too many cloudy, overcast, hazy days and far too few blue sky days with nice white fluffy clouds. In fact, recently when talking to gardeners from different parts of the country I’ve asked what the weather is like and if they said sunny with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, I asked have they taken a photo of it? They asked why, and I say to show your grandchildren in years to come otherwise they will not believe you.
That’s how bad it’s getting which is making growing plants more difficult and that means our food crops. It also means that solar panels are not going to produce the same amount of electricity as they do with direct sunlight, in fact I often compare solar panels to plant leaves as both creating energy from sunlight.
There are reasons why the blue skies of times past are not anywhere as much as in present times, but if I start talking about the reasons several people will unsubscribe from these weekly articles. But no matter what obstacles are thrown at us there are always means to overcome them by slight changes in the way we do things.
In this case take a tablespoon of molasses and dissolve into a litre of hot water and when cooled down add 10 mils of Magic Botanic Liquid. Place into a one litre Trigger sprayer and spray the foliage of plants you want to grow bigger, better and faster.
Leave the spray bottle in a shaded spot near to where you are going to use it and so when you are walking by you can give the plants a spray till all gone.
Then simply make up another batch.
I call it liquid sunshine as it gives plants a free lot of carbohydrates that they do not need to have sunlight to achieve. If you want to see what difference it makes then plant six seedlings say of cabbages in a place suitable to grow them; then spray 3 of them with the Liquid Sunshine frequently and watch to see the difference. Mark with a small stake the ones you are going to spray so you know the difference. The sprayed ones will likely have larger leaves, grow bigger faster and mature earlier.
Once you have determined there is a difference then you have full knowledge to do the same with all food crops to great advantage.
An aspect of the treatment you may also find is that the treated plants have less insect pest problems but it encourages more ants. If that is the case then obtain some of our Granny Mins Ant Bait and put that out in lids as a old fashioned control that works much better than most similar products these days.