SepiaTomatoesI tied a bunch of nylon stockings to my tomatoes and I think Benjamin Franklin would be proud.

No, no, this has *nothing* to do with the time he spent in Paris and everything to do with the time he spent in Philly.  On science. Specifically,  electrical science, i.e. lightning storms.  While I myself won’t go anywhere near actual lightning (see earlier scaredy cat post here), I read something recently about it’s baby brother, static electricity, that inspired me to wield old hosiery in new, hopefully fruitful, ways.

In her handy guide “Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening”, Louise Riotte included some veggie gardening lore that goes beyond simple crop rotation.  The chapter on soil improvement, for example, contains Riotte’s description of the fertilizing contributions of rain and lightning.  “Each time lightning strikes the earth,” she explained, “large amounts of nitrogen are charged into the ground.”

Of course, no one wants to attract real lightning (yikes!) but you can take advantage of ordinary static electricity, she suggested, by tying tomato plants to metal trellises using strips of nylon hosiery.  Since our tomato cages (like most) happen to be metal and since I haven’t worn that old pantyhose since Y2K, our soon-to-be fruiting vines were in luck.  Have no clue whether the plants will truly benefit but now we have a scientific explanation for why I hate itchy leg coverings so much.

Wait!  I’ve got an idea!  How about an energy grid charged with the voluntary electrocultural power of free-range cats wearing little pairs of pantyhose?

Just a suggestion.







Further reading:

Franklin Institute (they’ve got Ben’s original lightning rod in their collection!)



Copyright 2014, Lori Fontanes