Monday, 10 March 2014

Myths or Musts?

There are so many tips, adages and "old wive's tales" to do with gardening that a lot of the time you just take it as gospel that it's the right thing to do. Some are so in-grained into us that even our favourite TV presenters (personally I love Monty!) pass on these tips - but are they always right? From tea and coffee to singing and weeing (!) read on to find out which tips are true and which are myths that are about to be well and truly Lulu busted!

Is it true or is it false? Read on to find out...


Watering in the middle of the day scorches leaves
Scientists in Budapest have researched this and found that watering in the middle of the day does NOT scorch leaves. Having said that, you still shouldn't do it as it is wasteful (as the water evaporates more quickly) and it can encourage some fungal diseases. So it's a bad thing to do but for different reasons.  

Coffee grounds help deter slugs & snails
If you are like my Daddy then you will have plenty of left over coffee grounds kicking around. Some say that putting these around your prized hostas will keep slugs and snails at bay. US Scientists have shown that spraying plants with a solution which is as strong as a cup of coffee deters slugs, however there is no evidence this applies to coffee grounds. This may be because there is a much lower level of caffeine in the grounds. In tests by Which there was limited success using grounds although there may be some due to the grittiness of the mixture. However you need to re-apply the grounds every day and after each time it rains so it is a high maintenance, limited result approach. And you need to drink a lot of coffee!The grounds are high in nitrogen though so add them to your compost heap with your green clippings. 

I prefer to go snail hunting anyway!

Weeing on the compost heap helps
Well, have you ever heard the like?! It wouldn't be a very comfy potty would it?? The theory is that because wee contains nitrogen then it helps breakdown the items you are composting quicker. Whilst it is true that nitrogen helps, if you add the proper balance of green waste (and coffee grounds!) to your compost heap the job is already being done and adding more nitrogen rich matter won't speed things up any more. So there is no need to nip outside next time you are caught short. 

Singing to your plants helps them grow well
Back in the dark ages (1973 to be precise) a clever lady called Dorothy Retallack carried out an experiment to see if it helped to talk and play music to your plants. Bizarrely, 'Easy Listening' music seemed to boost plant growth whilst rock music appeared to hurt them and made them absorb more water! So whilst people may think you are mad, get out your Burt Bacharach CD and have a nice little chat with your prized dahlias!

La da dee, la da da da! I like to sing to my plants!

Adding gravel or crocks helps drainage in pots
Almost every gardening program tells you to do this so it must be true, right? Wrong! Tests have shown that adding crocks reduces the amount of space for roots and makes the soil more waterlogged. Your pots do need drainage holes and if you need better drainage then add grit or perlite to your compost. 

Tea is a good fertiliser for your potted plants
Another myth about to be busted I am afraid! Tests show that much of the nitrogen in tea leaves cannot be absorbed by plants. Plus there are other things in tea which are OK for us humans such as manganese, fluorine and aluminium but which are harmful to plants. Stick to the liquid feeds which are specially formulated for plants. Like coffee grounds, you can add your used tea leaves to the compost heap instead. 

So there you go, a few eye openers for all you budding gardeners out there. If you have your own zany tips to share with us then please get in touch!

Hugs and kisses,

Lulu xxx