It can be said that gardening is both a science and an art. There are hard facts and research that cannot be ignored like the perfect fertilizer ingredients per plant, plant spacing, temperature ranges, and soil PH balance. But there’s also “gardening with love” and traditional gardening practices that come from passing down generational knowledge. These gardening myths, or commonly accepted practices/knowledge, might be correlated with results that they didn’t cause. But it’s hard to stop because your garden is thriving, and you don’t want to alter your process.
Regardless, some of these myths aren’t necessary and your garden might do even better without them. The following are six gardening myths you need to know more about.
Organic Pesticides are Safe Around People
Organic gardening is ideal, but simply because a bag or bottle says organic does not mean it is safe. Sure, it’s often safer for the environment, easier on plants, and not artificially created, but naturally occurring substances can still be extremely toxic. Rotenone, for example, is a 3-in-1 organic substance working as a pesticide, insecticide, and piscicide. It’s also so toxic to humans and animals that it is banned in several countries.
The point is, organic pesticides are often preferred but organic doesn’t necessarily mean safe—it can still be toxic. So treat organic pesticides with the same care as you would non-organic pesticides.
Don’t Water Your Garden at Mid-Day
Watering your gardening at mid-day is often cited as dangerous because any water droplets which land on plant leaves magnify the sun and cause leaves to burn. Although we see the burns on leaves, magnification isn’t the culprit. The evidence lies in mid-day rain showers that coat plants in water, but they don’t develop burn spots when the sun reappears. Burn spots are actually caused by minerals and salt in the water which do react with the leaves coupled with the sun’s presence.
So, check your water’s purity and water mid-day if you want to. To avoid any chance of leaf-burn due to water impurity or mineral collection on plant leaves, a ground level garden watering system will deliver water to the plants’ base instead of the leaves.
Fertilizer Revives Plants in Poor Health
Additional fertilizer can actually kill plants rather than help if not needed. When a garden is looking wilted and drab, some of us think, “more fertilizer will help because fertilizer is food.” Fertilizer is an additive that can increases plant vitality and growth, but an abundance can be damaging to your garden. If your garden is sickly, your first point of inspection should be any imbalances of sunlight or water. Also, inspect the garden for signs of an invasive pests.
Before adding more fertilizer, look for the underlying causes of your garden’s declining health. Insects, extreme temperatures, excess/lack of water or sunlight, etc. These are the main causes of declining health and can be resolved without more fertilizer.
Adding Sugar Sweetens Tomatoes During Growth
Sugar (sweetness in tomatoes) is created through photosynthesis and is not something absorbed through the soil. This practice came from the idea that plants reflect what they absorb in the soil, so sweeter plants can be created with sugared soil. While minerals and moisture are absorbed by roots, they are necessary components for a plant’s growth—not a flavor enhancer.
If you want sweeter tomatoes, choose the right varietal (leafier heirlooms often produce a more flavorful fruit), grow in warm temperatures, ensure your plant gets at least 8 hours of sun, and keep watering at a minimum without causing detriment to the plant.
15 Minutes of Water Daily for a Garden to Flourish
Watering your garden for 15 minutes everyday will almost assuredly drown your plants and doesn’t take into account the method of water: drip lines can run for hours to sufficiently water, and a Garden Grid ™ watering system can run for a few minutes. Watering isn’t based on time; it’s based on what your garden needs. Truly, it’s that easy. Instead of erroneously watering with a vague amount, use an irrigation system that waters plants at soil level throughout the garden. As a good rule of thumb (or finger in this instance), check the soil moisture daily by pushing your fingers into the soil an inch or so down. If the soil is moist an inch or lower, then your garden is usually hydrated enough. If not, turn on the irrigation system and re-hydrate the soil. The best time of day to check your soil moisture is in the morning.
Gardens can go a few days without water depending on the weather, climate and what you’re growing, so check your garden before watering.
Beer Traps Protect Against Slugs
This one is actually true! To end with a gardening myth that works, slugs do love beer (well, technically the yeast present in it). If you have slug-troubles, fill some containers with beer you’re not afraid to sacrifice and place them around your garden. On their way to ruin your garden, slugs can’t help but stop for a drink. Slugs prefer lighter (lower alcohol) beer, but refill the containers when it rains. They won’t go for watery libations.