Like so many I learned what I know about gardening from my parents. I have vivid memories of Sunday afternoons, my father mowing the lawn, my mother hoeing and my sister deadheading the roses whilst I being the smallest was sent to weed the fruit cages frequently exiting with scratched arms and the occasional wasp sting. But it was worth it as my reward was first dibs on the delicious fruits when they were ready to pick. It is a memory I cherish and as I have grown older appreciate that time spent together as a family.
But is all the information handed down actually true? I was recently plant shopping with a friend and she was looking at pampas grasses and I joked that I’d heard pampas in a front garden is a sign that the homeowners are swingers. It’s not true, but it made me think about what other myths and misconceptions have been handed down through the generations.
So here are a few I have gleaned over the years, some true and some just gardening myths:
Baking soda helps sweeten tomatoes
TRUE-a small amount helps lower the acid levels in the soil, which makes tomatoes sweeter.
You can change a hydrangea's colour by altering the pH level of the soil
TRUE - the more alkaline the soil, the pinker the flowers will be and the more acidic the soil, the bluer your flowers will be. White hydrangeas will not change colour, but most other colours will.
Don’t plant a new rose where an old one has died
TRUE -‘replant’ disease is recognised but not well understood. It occurs when a plant is replaced with the same type and roses in particular struggle to thrive.
Prune wisteria to 2 buds in February and 7 in July
TRUE – 2 and 7 relate to the 2nd and 7th months of the year.
You need to put green tomatoes in the sun to ripen
FALSE - the best place to ripen tomatoes is in a cool dark room. Wrap them individually in newspaper as this will help contain the ethylene gas that is given off by the tomato and accelerate ripening.
A copper nail in the trunk of a tree will kill it
TRUE and FALSE -it depends on the number of nails!
Don’t water plants in the sun or the leaves will burn
FALSE - it is fine to water plants in full sunlight although it is best to water in the morning or evening as it minimises the amount of evaporation. Many plants wilt in the hot sun as a defence mechanism, giving the impression that soil is dry when it might not be.
A brown lawn is dead
FALSE - not all brown grass is dead and it’s more likely to be in a dormant state and the only way to find out is to water it and wait and see.
Full Shade means no sun
FALSE- full shade is defined as less than four hours of direct sun per day so it is not total shade.
We would love to hear what other myths are out there and if anyone has contrary information on these facts please let me know.
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