In Florida, orange country parlance, one "hangs" oranges on an orange tree, as if they were decorative balls on a Christmas tree. 

"I have hung oranges that are the size of peas, shooter marbles, and tennis balls, together with full-sized oranges, some still green, others ripe, all on the same tree at the same time, and there were lots of flowers blooming on it as well." 

The speaker is Don Jansen, owner and operator of "Seaponics," a four-acre farm in Fort Myers, Florida, that grows vegetables in sea water -- actually a specific solution of ocean salts deposited eons ago in Baja California. Don has been spraying his orange trees with the mixture of nutrients concocted by Dan Carlson of Blaine, Minnesota. (see Sound and Nutrients in Agriculture, Acres U.S.A., November 1984) while simultaneously exposing the same tree to a pulsed sonic frequency that sounds for all the world like a caged bird singing, or an outsized cricket chirping." 

"It's fantastic!" says Jansen. The tree is in all stages of fruiting and flowering. It seems to make for an everbearing tree. Proof that it is Carlson's foliar spray that actually produces these startling results is the fact that they occur only on the bottom half of the tree. The top half was not sprayed because I couldn't reach high enough." 

I met Jansen during my third trip to see the results of Carlson's Sonic Bloom method in the field. The first trip, a little over a year ago, took me to three seaside acres near Kealakekua on the Big Island of Hawaii. There, Carlson, as if by magic, was tripling the normal yields of papayas, mangoes, and citrus fruits. For supper, he offered delicious eight inch long green beans that only five days before had begun growing from the flowering stage. 

The second trip was taken last September when I visited a truck garden in River Falls, Wisconsin, to see Carlsonized cherry tomato plants, each bearing several hundred fruits; corn with two, even three ears per stalk; and a plant grown from a single seed that covered more than four square yards of ground and had produced 13 sizable pumpkins. 

A Florida View

Carlson invited me to come down to Florida and see for myself what was happening as a result of his vegetal ministration. Our first stop was at the homeside garden plots of Lea and Marlyn Bonacker, hers made of rich soil, his a series of hydroponic beds using Jansen's Seaponics method. Carlson's sonic pulse is emitted from a broadcast speaker on a pole. 

In his wife's plot, Marlyn showed me a cabbage plant over 5 feet in diameter, with a cabbage the size of a basketball at its center, collard greens with 4 foot long leaves, and 12 foot high amaranth plants that -- with their stalks measuring more than 6 inches in diameter at the base -- looked more like trees. Amaranth seeds are among the most nutritious in the world. 

In his own hyproponic plot, Marlyn led me to a bed of lush deep-green parsley in quantities sufficient to supply a small grocery store. "I've never been able to grow parsley before, but the seaponics system combined with Carlson's Sonic Bloom makes them grow like all get out," he said. "Normally the leaves of the parsley plants nearest the ground turn yellow and die, but after these applications that doesn't happen. You can see for yourself that all the plants are uniformly green throughout." 

Most incomprehensibly to the Bonackers was the effect of Carlson's technology on seeds. As Marlyn explained it: "I bought little white plastic cups and put about 30 kinds of vegetable seeds in them, one kind per cup. I followed Carlson's instructions and soaked the seeds in his nutrient solution while at the same time playing the sound to them. Normally these same seeds would take from 7 to 10 days to sprout, but 90% of the treated one sprouted within 36 hours! The sprouting is so rapid that you have to take care not to leave them too long before putting them into the ground; otherwise they become very difficult to plant." 

On our way over to Jansen's Seaponics farm, Don explained some of the advantages of fertilizing plants with only a solution of what amounts to sea water. 

Ocean Salts

"You see," he said, "the ocean salts contain most of the 90 or so elements in good balance, and the plants draw them up according to need. Dr. Maynard Murray, originator of the system, worked for 30 years to develop Seaponics. He said his analysis showed that tomatoes grown with conventional methods never had more than 15 elements in them. Seaponically grown tomatoes have up to 58 elements. This gives them a fantastically good tasks, something like tomatoes used to taste in our grandparent's day. The ones conventionally fertilized have practically no taste at all, and that goes for other vegetables. In fact, if I take you to most restaurant salad bars, and blindfold you, the only way you'll be able to tell the difference between most of the fresh vegetables served there is the texture. 

"Another indication of the quality of seaponically grown tomatoes is that when they are dehydrated to reduce bulk, and are packaged dry, they stay bright red, whereas most dehydrated tomatoes turn brown or even black." 

Jansen also related how some banana trees which for ten years would not put out any fruit when grown in Florida's poor soils immediately produced one or more hands of bananas when treated with sea salts. 

Jansen began to experiment with Carlson's Sonic Bloom about three months ago. "What has made a believer out of me," said Jansen, "is that my cucumbers are producing two and three, and frequently four, at each leaf intersection instead of the normal one cucumber. We've found we can dehydrate these wonderfully tasting cucumbers to make chips! Cucumber chips and tomato chips, instead of potato chips."

When I remarked that the sound Jansen's ¼ acre of seaponically grown cucumbers were "listening to" reminded me of the chorus into which wild birds break at dawn, Carlson beamed. "That's right on target. All the frequencies used in my method are in the same basic frequency spectrum one finds in bird songs. A MacIntosh computer has just come out that can demonstrate a three-dimensional bird sound, which is called an envelope. It's exactly in the range of frequencies I've been duplicating all along." 

"Well," I suggested to Jansen, "from what I see here, it looks as if your method is going to double Don's cucumber yield!" 

"More like quadruple it, judging from the results we're getting," countered Jansen. "The cucumber plants grow about 10 inches a day and the cucumbers themselves about an inch a day! We go through this patch, say, today and pick every mature cucumber. Tomorrow, there will be a lot of new, full-grown ones. Just from these two rows you see here, we're picking 30 pails of -- 5 gallon each -- of cucumbers each day. And with our leaf lettuces, we can only get 10 heads into a single bushel box, as against 24 untreated heads -- they're that big." 

"I'm discovering so much here," announced Dan. " When you read Dr. Murray's book, Se Energy Agriculture, you'll really get excited. One thing he wrote particularly impressed me: "An excessive amount of nitrogen limits a plant's ability to take up trace elements." "I think that's one of the basic problems in agriculture today! Fully 80% of the nitrogen put on fields goes directly into the water table. It is never utilized by the plants."

Sea salts, in addition to being used hyroponically, can also be applied directly to plants growing in soil. Jansen used it very successfully on weakly growing patches of wheat in the fields of his Nebraska farm. His neighbors were astounded when he told them the product he was using was ocean salts. 

"That's a big problem," stressed Jansen. "Many people visited Murray's Seaponic farm here, thousands of them. But most of them thought he was crazy in his use of the near equivalent of ocean water. They just couldn't believe the stuff would work. Of course it has to be diluted. I think it will take a lot of education and demonstration to teach Americans that it does work. Most of us have been brainwashed by the propaganda put out by the agricultural schools, the extension services, and the chemical fertilizer companies. But there's great interest in Saudi Arabia. I've been invited to go over to that country. I'll be leaving soon." 

Orange Country

Our next stop was in LaBelle, some 30 miles east of Fort Myers in the heart of orange country. Our hosts for the night were Mr. and Mrs. Roy McClurg who had bought and refurbished the oldest house in the county. A successful businessman from Union City, Indiana, McClurg had moved to Florida about 20 years ago and purchased 320 acres of orange groves. He began treating 160 acres with Dan Carlson's Sonic Bloom early this year. 

At 6 a.m., we drove out to McClurg's orchard, Section One in Gerber Grove. As we approached, we could hear the chirping sound from Carlson's speakers, mounted on poles, each speaker covering about 35 acres. McClurg's two, young field hands, brothers-in-law, each with a tractor, a tank of foliar feed solution and spraying equipment, were waiting. We were late so McClurg asks them: :Where you been?" Roy is full of funny stories, jokes, fibs, double-entendres, all shot out with an ever-present twinkle in his eye. Never serious, this department store magnate turned orangeman has long since traded in his wardrobe of pin-striped suits and ties for the garb of a Florida "cracker." 

The spraying gets underway with life-giving, not lethal, spray. As the tractors -- dragging their tanks -- proceed down the alleys between the rows of trees, the solution is sprayed to both sides while a large battery-powered box of broadcasting speakers taped to the roof of each tractor blasts forth an almost deafening sound that the plants can "hear" even above the roar of the tractor motors. 

When the crew returns to the shed to refill tanks, I wandered along the dirt road cutting through 6,000 acres, a virtual ocean of orange trees. On one side of the road, the trees are devoid of birds as far as the eye can see. On the other side, in McClurg's acreage, birds are flitting through his trees, chirping and singing, as if attracted by their mechanical counterparts mounted on poles. 

"Why are the speakers put on the roofs of the tractors?" I ask. 

"So that, when the trees are being sprayed," explained Carlson, "the sound will go rearwards and downwards. This sound forces the leaves to absorb the solution." 

I turn to McClurg. "Roy, this new, wild technique must be causing a flurry of curiosity and gossip all around this orange-growing country?"

"Well, maybe," McClurg grins, "Quite a few folks stop along here to gawk at it. When I tell 'em what it's doing, they just won't believe it." 

In this first, large-scale experiment with oranges, 12 gallons of nutrient solution containing 12 ounces of nutrient have been applied four times to each acre of trees. McClurg intends to provide four more applications. By midsummer, the results should be established. 

"Already there are signs of an impact. Look at these trees," says Dan, "they're glowing. See all the tiny oranges, smaller than peas, beginning to form? There are masses of them. If a tree is unhealthy, many of these tiny fruits will abort. They will fall off before ripening. We hope to keep them all hanging on the trees right up to the harvest. Notice these leaves beginning to swell up right after being sprayed. That's characteristic. I say it's like a beautiful, well-built, young lass sticking out her chest."

"If all the fruit you see forming here comes along all right, the branches will be down to the ground by picking time. In Hawaii, I hung three times the amount of ranges normal here, and it held. That's worth about $100 a tree. With 100 trees per acre, that $10,000, the price of an acre around here. You can pay for your acre in a year." 

"And I believe I'll cut my use of herbicides in half," adds McClurg. "On just this 320 acres, I spend $10,000 a year on herbicides. And I'll be able to save on various nutritional sprays which have be put on at petal fall." 

We climb into the car to travel to another part of McClurg's grove. Dan wants to show me something "amazing." He explains that some 10% of orange trees are affected by a mysterious disease. "Young tree decline (YTD), that, when they reach the age of about 8 to 10 years causes their root systems to whither and sluff off hair roots. A healthy orange tree can live to be about 80 or 90 years. Affected trees, no longer able to take up nutrients die and have to be replaced at considerable cost." 

Young Tree Decline

We get out of the car to see three YTD trees being treated with Dan's solution which flows from a plastic bag hung on the tree's branch, through a plastic tube, via a needle, directly into the bark of the tree's lower trunk near the ground. All three trees are putting forth a host of new sprouts along their limbs, proving that the root systems are recovering. 

As we leave the grove, McClurg says he is going to try to use Dan's product, not by spraying it on trees, but by injecting it directly into irrigation water that is supplied to the grove. This method, explains Dan, has been most effective on jojoba plants in the desert. It was discovered accidentally when a gale force wind killed all the leaves of the jojoba plants. When Dan injected his nutrient directly into the irrigation water, all the plants that absorbed the nutrient-laden water grew more leaves and recovered. Untreated plants died. 


We next proceed to the greenhouse nursery of Ed "Gator" Dyess, where 125,000 small orange trees, grafted to root stocks, are getting started. Some of them have been treated with Carlson's Sonic Bloom. At a glance, one can see at which point in their growth the treatment started. Halfway up the little 12 to 14 inch trees, the leaves issuing from the branches are two to four times the size of the ones below, put forth before treatment began. One tiny tree even has a flower on it. 

In his life as a citrus nursery specialist, "Gator" has never seen such results. "There's a remarkable difference in the size of the leaves," he remarks in the slow drawl of the southern Florida native, "real remarkable. And it's highly unusual for any tree that size to put forth a bloom to say the least. Almost unbelievable." 

"Take note of these leaves," says Dan to me. "When they start to arch in this typical way, you can be assured they're absorbing trace elements and sending them down through the stalk to the roots. I believe these trees will reach maturity in a third less time than normally grown trees. 

"Yeah, and it might be that we could sell these trees for setting out in the groves earlier than we usually do," "Gator" cautiously opines. "We'll see. Dan's method definitely makes the trees grow healthier and faster. Another nurseryman who raises trees exactly the way I raise 'em, but without Carlson's technique, well . . . his leaf sizes are much smaller. If everything goes along OK from here on out and none of the trees die or get sick, he'll have sold me on his method." 

Slowly but surely the reputation of Dan Carlson's Sonic Bloom is establishing itself as potentially one of the most revolutionary developments in agriculture and horticulture in many a year. Recently Dan was visited by representatives of a Japanese corporation that did $55 billion worth of business last year and maintains offices in 144 of the world's cities. They made him an offer to license his method for various countries. Should Carlson's Sonic Bloom have its first real commercial success abroad, it will add weight to the old adage: "No one is a prophet in his own country." 

-- Acres, U.S.A., June 1985

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