As I was learning to garden, I repeatedly heard the “experts” telling us not to water in the middle of the day. The prevailing wisdom was that any water droplets on the foliate would act as little magnifying glasses, burning tender leaves. (Think of using a magnifying glass to start a campfire, and you get the idea.)
Then, we all learned that this was a gardening myth. Water droplets are too close to the plant tissue for sunlight to focus on the leaf and cause any damage.
Continue reading “Water Droplets on Leaves”
I recently ran across an article claiming that a penny can help your tomato plants fight off blight. Apparently, the reasoning goes like this:
- Copper is known to kill molds, algae, fungi, and microbes.
- Pennies are made out of copper.
- Therefore, inserting a penny into a tomato stem (or burying it at the roots) will keep your plant from succumbing to diseases caused by molds, algae, fungi, or microbes.
Since I’ve lost tomato plants to Early Blight, a common problem in Colorado, I’d love for this idea to work. I have some pennies lying around; let’s put them to good use, right?
Well, not really.
Continue reading “Pennies—Good for Thoughts, but Not Tomato Blight”
This week I stumbled across yet another website offering garden “advice”—hacks to make you a better gardener. This one focused on used tea bags. Yup, did you know that you can reuse those bags to help your garden thrive? Or not…
Continue reading “Used Tea Bags”
Every so often I come across an article that explains something so much better than I ever could. This is one of those times.
Tsu Dho Nimh writes a blog called Lazy Gardening SMACKDOWN. Back in 2013, he tackled the viral advice about making your own herbicide out of vinegar, detergent, and some other ingredients. I’ve been meaning to cover this topic, because this homemade “herbicide” doesn’t work. But then I saw Nimh’s article, and realized that he did a much more thorough job of explaining it all.
Continue reading “Garden Advice: Don’t Waste Your Vinegar”
There has been a sudden flurry of articles and ads all promoting molasses as a valuable garden fertilizer/weed killer/pesticide. I find the latter use particularly humorous. Molasses is sweet. Won’t that attract critters? I bet our resident bunnies would adore molasses-coated shrubs.
I have two bits of advice about using molasses in the garden. My first recommendation is to invest in Grandma’s Molasses stock. If my Pinterest feed is any indication, molasses should sell well in the near future.
Continue reading “Garden Advice: Keep Molasses in the Kitchen”
Are you stressed? You should grow houseplants! Just ask all the experts. Try an online search and you’ll come up with almost two million sites claiming that growing plants reduces stress. Even the National Institute of Health has jumped on the bandwagon with a study “proving” that houseplants reduce both physical and psychological stress, at least in young men.
Unlike the articles that tout huge benefits in air quality from including plants (especially spider plants) in your home (NASA said it so it must be true—but see my post here), there may actually be some basis for the stress-reduction theories. Or not.
Continue reading “Do Houseplants Reduce Stress?”
It’s a common question. You’ve just planted a new tree. In the process, the plant has lost a significant portion of its roots—sometimes up to 95 per cent! Should you prune back the crown to compensate?
The intuitive answer would be yes. We assume that with fewer roots, there’s no way the plant will be able to sustain all that foliage on top—and that’s the advice I see on website after website. But if you do decide to prune, you’ll be doing the tree a disservice. You might even kill it! How can this be?
Continue reading “Garden Advice: Don’t Prune that Crown!”
The products sold to improve the health of our landscapes seem endless; I just wish more of them actually worked. I recently received an advertising postcard in the mail. At first glance, it appears that they are selling a valuable product. After all, who doesn’t want to “improve the health and vigor” of their trees and shrubs? But then I reread the claims and some red flags went up.
Continue reading “Garden Advice: Kelp Belongs in the Ocean”
I’ve been down with a nasty stomach virus for the past week, more interested in the distance to the bathroom than in gardening. As a result, I’ve been perusing articles instead of writing them (it takes far less effort!). I’ve also spent considerable time reading bogus gardening advice on Pintrest—it’s an amazingly rich repository of horticultural mythology. One afternoon I focused on the idea that houseplants purify the air in our homes. We’ve all seen the articles…
Continue reading “Houseplants & Indoor Air Quality”
- Should you top a tree to keep it within bounds?
- Will a mulch of Ponderosa pine needles acidify the soil?
- Should you always add compost to a planting hole?
- What about encouraging native bees with a bee house?
A lot of what gets passed from gardener to gardener sounds like good advice, but has no benefit—or can even be harmful. Which practices are supported by research? Which should we forget about?
Continue reading “Garden Advice: Ten Gardening Myths: Busted!”