More Garden Myths

It was a tweet a week or so ago that started me thinking about this topic. And it was a tweet promoting another book about how and why plants do the things they do.

The book is How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do by Linda Chalker-Scott (and for those of you curious about the tweet you can find it here.)

Some of the stuff is a little bit esoteric for me, even in a tweet–stuff about why Messenger, some sort of plant something (don’t ask me, I don’t use it) doesn’t really work because it can’t penetrate the plant cell walls. That sort of reminds me of all the beauty creams and the ridiculously expensive ingredients they put in them and then Consumer Reports comes along and says we shouldn’t be wasting our money on x or y anyway because it can’t penetrate the skin.

But I do know Chalker-Scott from her blog–The Garden Professors–which Jeff Gilman also writes for.  And there’s some seriously good information on that blog. Sometimes it’s pretty technical–like the discussion of Messenger. And sometimes it’s utterly fascinating, like the discussion of xeric plants, and why they really aren’t all they’re cracked up to be (see the tweet for the full discussion!)

Recently there was a great discussion of moss (which you know from my review of the moss book that I adore).

But the thing that caught my interest in the little tweet about 4 gardening myths is something that I again almost always talk about when I lecture: just because you see a plant with drooping leaves, it doesn’t mean it needs water. It could mean any number of things at all. It could just be a temporary loss of moisture (transpiration–think hydrangea in the mid-day sun that recovers as soon as the sun passes). It could be a vascular problem with the plant. It could be a root issue. And you’ll never know unless you at least investigate by touching the soil.

We gardeners are so squeamish. I don’t know where that comes from. Nothing will happen to you if you touch the soil or even stick your hands into it–provided you wash up properly later, of course! When I lecture, I always hold up my hand and say, “What is it? We don’t want to ruin our manicures?”

It gets a laugh but without actually putting a hand–or a finger–to the soil–you won’t know if the soil is wet, dry, or somewhere in between. And without knowing that, you shouldn’t just pour more water onto or into a plant. That’s just asking for trouble.

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