Thursday, July 5, 2012

Updating Common Gardening Myths

As diligent as you might be about heeding all the gardening tips you've
heard over the years, are there some where you simply question their value?
You wonder if maybe grandma's advice really was the best? Or maybe
|has become outdated?
The National Garden Bureau did. So, the group turned to its members and
asked for their professional expertise on a few commonly cited garden tips
 to find out if they were still applicable in today's gardening world.
Here is the latest update.
Myth: To get sweeter tomatoes, add sugar to the planting hole.
Sorry grandma, this is not true. Tomato plants can't absorb sugar in the soil,
 they produce it through photosynthesis. The sugar content of a variety is
 predetermined in the plant's genetics.
Myth: Perennials won't bloom the first year, especially bare root.
With modern breeding and growing techniques, this is no longer true. In Florida,
we can buy perennials such as pentas, angelonias or periwinkles already in
 bloom, and they just continue. However, if you buy a potted perennial that
requires over wintering, then you will have to wait through the first winter to
|get the desired blooms. It's best to inquire from the seller to find out what to
expect that first season after planting. I have some shasta daisies with wonderful
spreading foliage, but they haven't bloomed yet. I am hoping I don't have to wait
as long as winter.
Myth: Pinch off all blooms of annual bedding plants before planting.
In many cases, pinching is no longer an absolute must because today's commonly
 available bedding plants are bred to be more compact with continuous blooms.
So, you don't need the pinch to manage growth or promote another flush of blooms.
Myth: Add chalk or egg shells to the planting hole.
This is a good tip, as both of these items will help prevent blossom end rot in
tomatoes, because they provide calcium to the fruit. Because egg shells take
 a while to decompose, crush or grind the shells to enable them to dissolve f
Myth: Putting egg shell flakes around the base of plants will prevent slug
Yes, grandma was right: Slugs do not like to crawl over the jagged surface
|of sharp eggshells, so putting down a barrier of crushed (not ground too finely)
egg shells is a great deterrent.
Founded in 1920, the National Garden Bureau is a nonprofit organization whose
|mission is to disseminate basic instructions for home gardeners. I used to work
for them; another job I loved.

* * * * *

Today's pick: Coleus has always been a wonderful annual for all of the warm
 months in Florida and has been considered a shade plant, but there are some
new varieties that will take full sun if they have enough water. All of them root
easily and stay nice until winter cold. If cuttings are taken before that, they will last
all winter indoors and can be started anew when the cold is past. Most growers cut
off the
 flowers to put more energy into the foliage, but sometimes the flowers are
as well.

* * * * *

Now's the time to bring up something else new. Planting tomatoes in a trench or
up to the first true leaves promotes a sturdier plant. Planting deeply does help
elongate the rooting area because any point on the stem that comes into contact
 with the soil will root. The exception is when planting grafted tomatoes, because
 if the top work scion takes root it will negate the benefits of the grafted rootstock;
 so never plant a grafted tomato too deeply.
OK. I didn't even know there were grafted tomatoes until this sent me to research.
So far, they are used mostly in commercial greenhouses, but they may soon be
on the market for home growers and are said to have improved vigor, production
and disease resistance.
Be ready. There is always something new to learn about gardening.

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