Don't believe in electroculture

There has been some discussion of a gardening fad called "electroculture". The idea is that you stick a wire in the ground near the growing plants to serve as an antenna and bring electrical potential to the growing plants.

The YouTuber "Garden Like a Viking" did an experiment in his garden, with some plants having these antennas and some not. They made no difference and offered no benefit.

On the other hand, he showed that composting offered a lot of benefit.

Stick with well-proven methods of soil improvements, good seeds, compost, and so forth. Don't get caught up in oddball gardening fads. We've been gardening for thousands of years, and at this point we pretty much know what works.


  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Right on @VermontCathy I've been getting a lot of requests to talk about electro culture. I've been turning them down. I'm curious, but it looks to me like a fad thing. Like magical thinking.

    I definitely think there is a lot we don't know about how this reality works. You can get voltage and current by running wires up to heights - that's basic antenna design. So I am open minded. If I had time I would setup some experiments... but it is way down on my priority list and not likely to ever happen.

    I would love to know if anyone in the TGN community has done any experiments.

    Yes, getting your soil right, adding compost, proper light and water. Those are the foundations. That will get you the biggest improvements.

    I'm glad you posted.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2023

    @Marjory Wildcraft It might be worth doing a talk on electroculture where the objective is to debunk it. Someone would need to do controlled experiments as a precursor so that you would have actual data to back up the debunking.

    People are looking for solutions that are easy and less work than soil improvement. Unfortunately that's magical thinking.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,102 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I just heard about this recently from a former coworker. He has never gardened before but wants to try this. I told him it sounded fake to me but I would look it up. He is definitely someone who looks for the easy way out and as little effort as possible.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I started doing it last year. I can't say my vegetable plants were any larger or more productive than before, but I can say I had A LOT LESS SLUGS. Slugs don't like copper. My antennas weren't the tallest except for the one by my okras which is probably 4 foot tall. One thing I can say about electoculture is that I have never been able to grow cucumbers, but this year not only did they grow but I got a ton of them!

    All I did differently was add the antennas so, I'm going to try it again next year to see how it goes.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym @kbmbillups1

    If you try it, be sure to set up controls. Some beds with electroculture rods, some without. You can't learn anything about a technique if you apply it everywhere. Any improvement you see could be due to something completely unrelated. The real test is comparing the results in the control beds vs. the experimental beds.

    Copper is poisonous, and was one of the earliest pesticides used in commercial ag. I'm not surprised that slugs don't like it.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I think it depends on who you listen to whether you believe copper is poisonous or not. I say that because I've learned a lot of things, we were told is poisonous or bad for us is actually not. I've learned a lot the past couple years and tried a lot of them. Probably can't discuss them here because they're too political but then what's not these days.

    What I learned about slugs is that they are attracted to the high amounts of iron in the soil, but copper somehow alters the magnetism in the soil which they don't like.

    He explains it a lot better than I can -

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    In Ayurveda traditions, they use a lot of copper in pots, water vessels, etc.

    Copper is an antibacterial agent? Which is probably a very good thing in India?

    But there are other health benefits to copper (if not overdone).

    The electroculture folks are mostly looking at the electro-magnetic and energetics effects and copper is a really good conductor.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,505 admin

    Copper is also the go to for essential oil & hydrosol distilling. You don't want any bacteria in those!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,623 admin

    Just like many other substances, including common things like salt, copper is a necessary element in the human body but too much can be dangerous. Deficiencies in copper can cause conditions such as anemia, fatigue, weakness, brittle bones (osteoporosis), changes in skin pigments, early greying, numbness and tingling in nerves, gout, etc. Too much copper can result in damage (and failure) to multiple organ systems.

    Copper supplements are available at health food stores and most drug stores.

    Many people wear copper bracelets for the symptoms of arthritis (although there needs to be more research into the effectiveness). There are creams containing copper for a variety of ailments including arthritis, skin conditions and to boost collagen production, containing up to 20% copper.

    Copper is antimicrobial. This has been proven in clinical studies. This is a review of several studies.

    The copper disrupts the cell membrane of the bacteria/virus causing cell death. Hospitals use some copper solutions as antibacterial agents. During COVID, there were trials projects in Vancouver, installing copper on the hand holds on transit as an antiviral agent and they showed very good results. I believe Toronto did the same.

    This substantiates the use of the copper vessels in India. Should help to purify the water if left in the vessel for at least an hour.

    Copper has been used as a pesticide but as a compound, usually copper sulphate. I'm sure some people will recognize a product that went by the name of "blue ointment" which contained copper sulphate and was used for body lice.

    There are also fungicides for plants using copper compounds, often applied as foliar sprays.

    Chromated copper arsenate was widely used as a wood preservative for outdoor construction because of the natural fungicide properties of copper. Even though this substance has been banned as a wood preservative, it can still be found in old construction. One should be very careful with this if you have it as part of a deck or outside structure. Firefighters are warned that as little as 1 Tbsp of the ash from this product can cause death from arsenic poisoning. Masks and gloves should be worn when handling this product especially if you are cutting it up for removal.

    The reason that copper works as a slug deterrent is because when the slime of the slug touches the copper, a small electric type charge is emitted, so a bit like an electric fence for slugs. But you need to use a wide strip of copper (at least 4 cm). A narrow piece of wire won't work.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 741 ✭✭✭✭

    My neighbor grows using electroculture. When we met him and he told me about it I was skeptical. I researched it some and am still skeptical.

    My cucumbers grew very well this year too. Seems like sometimes certain years are just better for some crops and it can be universal. Like a year when everyone grows insane tomatoes or whatever.

    I do value treating my soil like another child and babying it😄. Which is alot of work.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I didn't mean that copper was poisonous to humans, but to garden pests.