Some of the things people believe are true can be pretty funny: Like thinking you can’t be a homesteader unless you own a lot of land, or that if you want to live a more self sufficient life, you must be a hermit and hate people. Myths about gardening can get just as convoluted and ‘out there’ as any other and I wanted to dispel or better explain the truth about some of the more common ones I’ve heard out there.
Some things we call myth today was, once upon a time, factual and valid at the time. Some myths are only partially true and then again only under certain circumstances. How many of the following myths about gardening have you heard? These are in no particular order:
- Clay Pots Are Better Than Plastic. Perhaps once upon a time, this was true. The idea is that by planting in plastic, especially food, you will have chemical leeching into your soil (and therefore your food, too). There is no evidence that plants grow better or worse in plastic vs clay pots, nor is there any evidence of chemicals from the plastic getting into the soil.
- Add Gravel in the Bottom of Pots for Drainage. Honestly people, this one really needs to go away. The belief is that if there is gravel or rocks in the bottom, the drainage will be better and there is less of a chance of root rot. The truth is a few thumb sized rocks (a few) can help improve drainage but gravel will eventually have the crevices filled with potting soil and trap water – actually increasing the chance of root rot and plants getting sick.
- Your Garden Will Fail Unless You Plant with the Moon. This one is an old wives tale but still sticks around. Sure, there is the Old Farmer’s Almanac that points people to plant certain things at certain times of the moon cycle that many people follow. While there is nothing wrong with it, to believe that unless you follow the moon phase or risk failing in the garden is a wee bit over the top. If it was true, there would be far fewer gardens out there!
- Manure is Manure! This myth is both true and false. While manure is great fertilizer, there are certain kinds that must be composted before put into the garden soil. Chicken manure is the first that comes to mind. On the other hand, rabbit manure is perfectly fine to mix in straight. The difference is nitrogen content. Chicken manure has so much that, if used straight, will ‘burn’ and kill off your plants. It’s just too much! Of course, there are non manure fertilizer options, too.
- Adding Plant Food and Fertilizer is All You Need. There are some out there who insist that all you need to do is add plant food and fertilizer to the soil before planting, maybe fertilizing during the growing season, and that is it. While this would grow some plants, it wouldn’t be as good as it can be and eventually, the food and fertilizer will not be enough. Soil needs fresh organic material to break down and replenish nutrients. Adding fertilizer alone isn’t enough.
- Perfect Soil for Each Plant. There are some out there who swear by making sure the soil for each type of crop or flower is suited for that specific plant. Sure, you can do this but you don’t need to in order to be successful. That is just a lot of extra work that is unnecessary! Work smarter, not harder. A good, all around soil should be used for the garden. A good food garden has crop rotation. It is easier to do minor amendments during the growing season itself instead.
- Old Seeds Won’t Sprout. This is 100% false and thank goodness for it. Older seeds have a lower germination rate, that is certainly true, but there is no magical date that will render them all ‘dead’ seeds. The dates that are stamped on the seed packets show when they were packaged, not an expiration date or indication of when they will ‘go bad.’ Seed companies make their money on the perception that you have to get fresh seeds every year and the ones leftover are no good anymore. I planted carrots from the same seed packet for three seasons and each year, they did just fine!
- Mother Nature Doesn’t Weed. Ah, the purists (bless their little hearts). You’re right, Mother Nature doesn’t weed her garden because it is all her garden. In your food garden however, those weeds steal nutrients and growing space both above and below ground. They are in direct competition with the food you are trying to grow. Get rid of them! If you really hate weeding, try growing in cold frames instead!
- New Soil Every Year. This one really blows me away. I know of a lady who will dig out the ‘old dirt’ from the garden, opening new bags of soil she bought and pouring them into the holes before planting. I have spoken to her repeatedly about the cycle of soil and how nature’s way is much less expensive but she insists that it has to be new soil. I suggested she start making it (composting) instead of buying it, too. She was having none of it, convinced that her way was the best way possible.
- Organic Pesticides Are Not As Harmful. Just because something is organic (or labeled that way), doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Snake venom is organic but can still ruin your weekend or worse, kill you. Pesticide is pesticide. Yes, some are less harmful than others and organic generally has less chemicals but it is assuredly not harm-less.
There are so many more gardening myths out there that this could easily be a “50 Myths About Gardening” post! Instead of me listing them all, how about you comment down below and tell everyone some of the garden myth doozies you’ve heard! I know there are some really great ones out there!