American Agriculturist 4(6): 174 (1845)

Pell's electrical experiments

Mr. R. L. Pell, of Ulster county, presented specimens of the weevil and pea bug, large numbers of which he had collected and preserved alive in bottles. Also specimens of oats; orchard grass; and chess, five feet, six inches high; and clover, three feet, nine inches, the growth of a few weeks, accelerated by a highly concentrated chemical manure. He also presented tomatoes, just in fruit, twenty-four inches high. Peas, in blossom, twenty-one inches; wheat, twenty-one inches; potatoes, with blossom buds, twenty-one inches; all grown by the influence of electricity, since the 12th of March—twenty-five days. Also, a Madeira vine, twenty-four inches high; peas, twelve inches; wheat, ten inches; pepper grass, four inches; grown by the agency of a galvanic battery, since the 20th March—seventeen days; and a cauliflower seven inches in circumference, planted April 1st—six days. Also, grain growing in brick dust, and in cut straw; a large geranium, in ground bones; plants in pure charcoal dust, and one in pure sulphur. He also presented green peas and new potatoes.

Mr. Pell read a paper upon the subject of the effects of electricity upon the growth of plants, in the course of which he referred to the specimens which he exhibited, with the apparatus, &c., attached to each.

Mr. Pell's electrical experiments were made in this simple manner. He took a common flower pot or box, and putting a piece of copper sheet on the bottom, he then filled up with soil, and placed a zinc sheet on top, leaving a hole an inch or two in diameter, for the plant to rise through to the air. A copper wire was soldered to this, connecting it with the copper sheet below, to which it was also soldered.

* Mr. Russel read an essay upon the preservation and coloring of growing timber. He exhibited several specimens of white-wood, with which he had succeeded admirably; dying it a variety of colors, by means of a variety of chemical agents. A remarkable change appeared to have taken place also in the wood itself, for it was much heavier after the process.

Genesee Farmer, 6: 66 (May 1845)

At a late meeting of the New York Farmers' Club, Mr. R. L. Pell, of Ulster County, presented to the club two pots containing growing plants: in one of which a regular galvanic battery had been prepared in the usual way, by coils of zinc and copper plates, moistened by a weak solution of sulphuric acid. The wire connecting with this apparatus was brought into contact with the roots of the growing plants. The result was, that the plants thus treated, other things equal, grew 22 inches in the same length of time that the plants in other parts grew but 5 inches.

Similar experiments have been tried in Europe for many years, and with marked results.