- Stephen Jones

NEXUS readers will recall the amazing article which appeared in the December 1993-January 1994 issues, entitled "Miracle Plants from Sound Waves!," describing Sonic Bloom—the radical plant growth method involving application of a specially developed organic foliar nutrient spray together with an oscillating sound frequency.

The theory behind the technique is that plants open their surface pores or stomata when stimulated by certain sounds. During and after a serenade of pulsed chirps and whistles (for the plants) mixed with various classical music selections (for the human), the nutrient, consisting of 55 trace minerals, amino acids, and seaweed, is sprayed onto the plant’s surface.

World-record crops (including a listing in "The Guinness Book of World Records," for the largest indoor plant) were cited amongst other claims which, for some people’s minds, bordered on the bizarre. Could this truly be the answer to end world hunger and reforest the planet, or are these claims just fantasy in the mind of the inventor, Dan Carlson? After all, Sonic Bloom was invented years ago—but if it works so well, why didn’t we hear about it sooner and why aren’t more people using the system? The answers to these questions unfold in this latest update from Stephen Jones, organic pip-fruit grower and importer to Australia and New Zealand.

Since reading about Sonic Bloom in the fascinating book Secrets of the Soil, I visited the inventor in the US and met with some growers who had been using the system. Thoroughly impressed, I decided to bring back to New Zealand the sound generator and enough of the ‘magic potion’ to try it out on our 3,000 organic apple and pear trees. It worked a treat, and I found myself with superior, disease-free, crisp, juicy apples. Several months and a NEXUS article later, I found myself introducing the method to commercial growers and home gardeners throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Thanks to a few enterprising people, distributors were found and there were enough free-thinking, conventional commercial growers willing to embrace the Sonic Bloom method. Many of them had been inspired by documented trials done in the US by the US Department of Agriculture, Albton Laboratories, Acres, USA, Professional Farmers of America, Landowner Magazine, and a host of American growers. However, there were doubts in the minds of many people as to how well Sonic Bloom would perform "down under." Initially, I don’t think that we encountered anyone who thought that it could live up to or exceed all the claims lauded by the inventor.

Commercial growers and home gardeners were soon reporting their successes with Sonic Bloom. Some were thrilled to grow crops successfully for the first time ever and to grow abundant, superior-tasting fruits and vegetables. Stories abound of unbelievable yields, and growing such things as strawberries, beans and tomatoes, for instance, right through and beyond the normal growing season. Others tell of fruit trees and vines fruiting in abundance for the first time after years of no yields whatsoever. Almost everyone reported how they had encountered little or no pest or disease problems.

For home gardeners though, perhaps the greatest benefit to them is the unbelievable taste of fruits and vegetables treated with Sonic Bloom. Suddenly they find themselves with strawberries, tomatoes, and apples tasting like they used to many years ago. Even Parker strawberries – a large California variety noted for its bland taste and appearance – take on even bigger proportions and look and taste fantastic. Flavour is back!

After Easter, and armed with an Australian film crew, we toured New Zealand and Australia to capture on film a sample of commercial growing successes encountered after one season’s use. We began south of Auckland with Barry Gregory, a capsicum grower. His capsicums grew so well that he actually had to stop using Sonic Bloom for a month while he increased the height and strength of the growing frames to handle the extra growth and weight of the fruit! At the time of filming, Barry’s yields were already up 50 percent and the plants showed no signs of slowing down, even though it was late in the season and the glasshouses were not heated. Wherever there was room for a flower or a fruit on the plants, there were some. The fruit were large and really sweet-tasting, and Barry found that the vigour was such that he was unable to leave the green capsicums on until they turned read before harvesting. At the time of filming, the price for red capsicums versus green ones was almost double.

We then traveled further north and filmed Brent Baldwin on his persimmion orchard. There were witnessed and filmed first-year persimmon trees bearing fruit, something which Brent and his foreman of 15 years’ experience had never ever seen before. Persimmons normally do not bear fruit until four or five years. His established trees were looking great, too, and Brent estimated that his yields were up considerably on last year’s and were perhaps two to three weeks earlier in maturity. This was a big factor for persimmon growers where frosts just prior to harvest can wipe out a year’s work and income. Last year, without Sonic Bloom, Brent lost NZ$40,000 worth of produce to frost.

An early morning flight saw us in Christchurch on a cold Sunday morning where we were greeted by Colin Marshall, a successful organic grape grower. The sight of his vineyard soon made amends for the temperature, however, and we filmed many different wine varieties absolutely loaded with delicious bunches of grapes. Colin had two-year old plantings loaded with fruit, when production would not normally begin occurring until the fourth year. Normally, slow-growing varieties were rocketing away and Colin noted that his vines have had hardly any disease problems at all this season since he began using Sonic Bloom. Colin and his wife are keen home gardeners, too. We were shown potatoes and carrots, as well as beans, silver beet and zucchini, which they had never previously been able to grow there. The Marshalls couldn’t believe the amount of vegetables that they have been able to grow with Sonic Boom, and their neighbors and friends are reaping the benefits from the surplus grown, some of it out of season. Their silver beet, for instance, was enormous! I pulled one stalk out of the ground that must have been at least 1.2 meters high, and it fed six or seven of us for lunch. The taste of the silver beet and the carrots was sensational. You just can’t beat a chemical-free, Sonic Bloom-treated carrot for sweetness!

Northern New South Wales was our next stop, and we had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Fueglar, sugar cane and soybean grower. We counted up to 260 soybean pods per plant where 35 to 40 is normal, and his crop was estimated to be one month earlier in maturity compared to his neighbor’s. The sugar cane was still months away from harvest, but early indications looked promising.

From there we traveled by road through the picturesque town of Alstonville to meet Brian, a commercial flower grower. Very experienced and successful, Brian did not think that Sonic Bloom could improve on what he was already doing, but luckily for us he was astute enough to try it. We had arrived when the greenhouses were filled with thousands upon thousands of chrysanthemums and carnations all waiting to be picked and packed for florists for Mother’s Day.

Since using Sonic Bloom, Brian has reduced the time it normally takes to raise the plant from seed to cut-flower stage. His previous ten-week cycle is now down to only six weeks. By treating seeds with the organic nutrient and running the sound unit, germination is speeded up to the point where he is transplanting large seedlings after 17 days instead of four to six weeks. Not only has turnaround time been reduced dramatically (therefore more crops per season) but also the plants are yielding twice as many blooms. Instead of two plants making one bunch of cut flowers, one plant will now make one bunch or more of cut flowers.

Before leaving, Brian showed us some nine-month-old eucalyptus trees that he grows for decorative foliage. These six-inch seedlings had grown to 14 feet in nine months after only five sprays. That’s pretty amazing in my book!

Queensland then became the focus of our attention, and we found ourselves on top of Mount Tamborine with Evelyn Green, a delightful lady growing organic produce for the neighboring Songbirds Restaurant, set amongst the rain forest and visited by many overseas tourists. The vegetables are hand-picked from Evelyn’s gardens by the chef and his helpers and served at the tables within an hour or two. Evelyn is now able to grow tomatoes outdoors right through the winter with Sonic Bloom.

From the lush rain forest, we journeyed into drought country to visit Alan McDougall, a silver beet, zucchini, and exotic vegetable grower. The only grower in this area, Alan’s property has very poor soil and a dam that has run dry due to insufficient rainfall for the past four to five years. Despite these adverse conditions, Alan has been able to grow exceptional quality vegetables, and much of his success he attributes to Sonic Bloom. He has never seen silver beet grow and mature so quickly, nor zucchinis continue to produce so heavily for so long. Interestingly, zucchini virus, which used to plague his older plantings, has miraculously disappeared since Alan introduced the method.

We called in at Noosa to view some strawberry plants which had produced for nine months of the year outdoors, and with no sprays other than Sonic Bloom. Though the only leaf damage we witnessed was the result of a recent hailstorm, the plants were growing vigorously. What is normally a pale, fleshy, bland-tasting strawberry transforms itself into a rich, red juicy and flavoursome fruit. Bowls of these strawberries were displayed at various agricultural shows in 1995, and most samplers could not believe these fruit were the Parker variety because they were so sweet and juicy with excellent colour. Many commented that this is how they remembered strawberries tasting when they were children.

An hour or so out of Noosa brought us to a citrus orchard and Kurt, an organic grower who had trialled Sonic Bloom and cited a triple yield increase, despite several months of drought. From there were visited a pawpaw farm and palm nursery all rolled into one, with an absolutely majestic setting of exotic palm trees, mountains in the background, and a kilometer of lake frontage. Pawpaw harvesting had only just begun, but early indications suggested a 20 percent yield increase and better taste. For a pawpaw grower, a 20 percent increase is very significant, especially when you are already the top-producing grower. We suspect that with continued use of Sonic Bloom, these yields will increase even more next season.

The palm nursery was impressive, and the exciting news from the seed room was that some varieties of palm seeds, which can take six months to germinate, have been germinated with Sonic Bloom in as little as three-and-a-half months. We are encouraging the owners to treat the parent trees from which they gather the seeds. This will not only result in more seeds, but those seeds should result in superior seedlings. If overseas experience is anything to go by, the seeds will germinate and grow faster and become better specimens than their parents.

For me, the Queensland tour ended with Laurie, a macadamia nut grower who, despite no irrigation and a five-month drought during the crucial growing period, ended up with a crop instead of nothing at all. In these harsh conditions, macadamia trees would normally abort their fruit. We can hardly wait to see the effects of Sonic Bloom on his trees next season when the carry-over benefits from this year and the full spray program next year should see Laurie with a dramatic yield increase. As in the overseas experience, we expect his trees to set 20 or more nuts per acre instead of just a few. The financial gains to be had here are astounding.

There were a host of other successes which we would have loved to film, such as the two-year-old pine tree trial in southern NSW by Des Priestly, a tree nursery and land owners as well as respected authority on forestry. The Sonic Bloom-treated trees attained almost double the height of the untreated trees after only four sprays of the nutrient. (The untreated trees still got the benefit of the sound, of course, but it is impossible to run a trial of this nature and separate the sound.)

The implications of this sort of rapid growth for reforesting the planet are enormous. I know of no other way in which we can quickly replace the thousands of square miles of rain forest which are indeed the lungs of our planet that are being ripped out at a frightening rate.

Bruce Loveday, a Queensland mango grower, produced his best crop ever last season despite a crippling drought. Bruce experienced a marvelous crop increase and exceptionally sweet fruit. "I normally apply 730 liters of water per tree per week during the growing season, but this year I was only able to supply them with 70 liters per week, with none at all some weeks." The hidden factor, Bruce believes, is the Sonic Bloom. "A couple of old blokes who are mango freaks said my fruit was the best they had ever tasted."

Time prevented us from filming the South Australian medicinal herb growers who are reporting significant increases in nutritional values of Sonic Bloom-treated plants. One grower makes one of the anti-cancer medicines using the kernel of the black walnut and wormwood. (Remedy is featured in Nexus, vol. 2, no. 22.) The grower claims that the extract from the nuts of Sonic Bloom-treated trees is a rich, thick, dark-coloured liquid, quite different from the normal thin, pale, brown extract derived from trees not treated with the process. He has analyzed the extract and discovered that the treated extract is four times more potent! This means that he now requires one quarter less of this hard-to-get extract when combining it with the other ingredients that make up this remedy.

In South Australia, there is a cancer clinic in which part of the therapy is in diet, and so patients are fed on organic Sonic Bloom-treated produce. The highest nutritional values of such food are believed to assist greatly in the cure of cancer when combined with other treatments.

There were other crop successes that we wanted to cover, too; however, many people were not willing to share their experiences. Sadly, there are growers out there who are having tremendous successes with the method, but are reluctant to share their findings for fear of losing what they see as a marketing edge. Factors like earlier maturity, higher nutritional content, superior taste, and substantial yield increases can make a substantial yield increases can make a huge financial difference to any grower. We initially thought that word of mouth amongst growers would be our best advertising, but the reality is that growers are fiercely competitive and many wish to keep their secrets to themselves for as long as possible.

However, I feel that everybody would benefit from more growers using Sonic Bloom. The overall quality and image of fruit and vegetables could be raised to such an extent that customers would buy and eat much more than they currently do. How many customers spend good money on fruit and vegetables at the supermarket, only to find to their dismay that the produce is in poor condition or tastes terrible? With exported fruit and vegetables, of course, every grower would win by using Sonic Bloom because the standard of Australian and NZ produce would be raised to such a degree that other countries would actively seek out everything we could produce, and pay a premium for it.

After Australia, I felt compelled to visit Hawaii where Sonic Bloom has also made its mark. The Hawaiian Islands are indeed a tropical paradise, yet most of their fruit and vegetables are brought in from mainland USA while vast tracts of land lie vacant – something which I find astounding, given the climate and rainfall. Sonic Bloom has made its presence felt here in several ways. Years ago, Dan leased land here and tried the technique on a wide range of fruit and vegetables with astounding success.

Most of my time was spent on the island of Kauai where escapist movies like Jurassic Park and South Pacific were filmed. To balance that out, a reality by the name of Hurricane Nicki came along and totally devastated the entire island in September 1993. People were homeless and without electricity for months. Hardly a power pole was left standing and those trees that weren’t blown over lost all their branches. You don’t need to see the video of that hurricane or imagine the 220 mph winds that swept the island to know that Kauai got hit really hard. Evidence of that real-life horror story is still present today with unrepaired buildings, shipping containers on front lawns, and Norfolk pines with short new branches from top to bottom trying desperately to reclaim some dignity.

It was wonderful to see the considerable number of organic farmers and the variety and high standard of fruit and vegetables being grown, proving that Hawaii could and should be producing most of its own needs.

One of the major lettuce buyers is now urging his supplying growers to use Sonic Bloom after one of the growers began using the system on his specialty lettuces. They have found that not only do the lettuces taste better, they’re getting at least double the supermarket shelf-life. Everyone wins from this, of course, but the big winners are the consumers.

Ron Mitchell, a sprout grower on the Big Island, has been using the method for some time now and reports faster maturity and superior sprouts with an incredibly extended shelf-life. "We are getting up to 3-1/2 weeks’ shelf-life, which is unbelievable. Lettuces are just great, too. We provide a credit and buy-back offer with our clients, so shelf-life is real important to us."

Other coffee-growers around the world are also keen to use Sonic Bloom after Dan Carlson spoke at the recent Specialty Coffee Association meeting in Minneapolis. This worldwide association represents 26,000 square miles of coffee plantings, and almost everyone is searching for sweetness and fullness of flavour in their coffee.

We are truly grateful for those wonderful pioneering growers who were prepared to embrace what, to many, seems a radical new technology, and then share their experiences with Sonic Bloom for the benefit of all. They can see its promise for the world and feel that more people should know about it.

Dan Carlson has refused to sell his patented method and secret recipe to any corporation in the belief that the concept would be squashed or put on the shelf, never to be seen again. Being an inventor and not having the backing or advertising budget along the lines of Coca-Cola or McDonalds means that, up until now, Sonic Bloom has not been seriously marketed in the U.S., let alone the rest of the world. With the politics of the US being such that many growers are being paid by the government not to grow and with the requirement that agricultural products be registered at great expense on a state-by-state basis, Sonic Bloom is likely to be more widely used and accepted everywhere else in the world before it gains its rightful place in the United States.

The good news is that Sonic Bloom appears to be on the verge of being an overnight success story that took 20 years. People around the globe are becoming more open-minded to this type of technology, demanding better quality food and less environmental damage. Even governments around the world are taking notice of what Sonic Bloom has to offer (a summary of its benefits was recently tabled in the Australian Parliament).

Thanks to the support of a dedicated bunch of crusaders, including NEXUS magazine, Sonic Bloom may indeed help save the planet and its inhabitants.

-- Nexus, December 1995–January 1996