Garden Myths: The Good, The Bad, and The Unbelievable
• eBook (PDF), 52 Garden Myths in 111 pages.
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Dogma and assumption are the building blocks of a garden myth. I know someone who believes that whacking the trunk of a tree with a newspaper every night increases its diameter. This whacking has long been proven useless, but I'll bet this wacky gardener is still whacking away. To follow are examples of some of the myths found in the book.
Here are three widely-held gardening assumptions.
Vitamin B1 is essential to healthy transplanting.
The sun set on this persistent myth many years ago. In 1984, Sunset Magazine reported studies that disproved the value of a vitamin B1 drench at transplant. Yet this horticultural “snake oil” still clutters many retail nursery shelves.
A bare root tree should have its top cut to equal the root pruning.
In 1979, Carl Whitcomb at Oklahoma State University found that removing tip buds provided little benefit to ornamental trees, and that trees pruned by more than 15% exhibited “reduced visual quality” when grown.
The more amendments, the better.
In the early 1970s, Carl Whitcomb disproved this oft-repeated advice. In controlled studies using percentages of different amendments (up to 40%), roots of trees and shrubs were consistently larger in unamended soils, and the textural difference between the amended and natural soil seemed to actually limit roots to the area of their planting holes.
Like a poorly-staked tree, if you don’t stay limber and flex with the winds of change, you’ll soon stiffen into a person whose outlook is determined more by constraints than by growth. Check those assumptions, and watch out for unquestioning routine and unchanging predictability.
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