This book makes a solid attempt at sorting out popular gardening advice into good, bad and questionable. A hundred commonly heard tips are examined: how well do they work? is there scientific backing for the idea? could it do more harm than good? I admit there was a lot of stuff in here I’d heard of and followed at times. I came across one piece of outlandish advice that was totally new to me: that beating a tree with a baseball bat will make it flower. What?? (No, this is not recommended). I have myself considered should I paint or seal a wound from removing a tree limb, is it good to fertilize the hole when planting a tree, how carefully should you space plants in the garden, does releasing predatory insects help against pests and so on. I like that this book tells you what will happen if you do follow the advice- good or bad. And it goes through all the things that are iffy- either they don’t work as well as people hope, aren’t worth the effort, or really depend on conditional factors. There wasn’t a lot that was news to me in this book, but it was a nice refresher and reminder that some things aren’t worth the time to bother with, or are probably just ineffective. The book is divided into sections: soil health; watering; controlling pest, weeds and diseases; using mulch; growing annuals, perennials and bulbs; trees and shrubs; vegetables and fruit; and lawn care. It seemed to me that most of the advice in the soil section kept repeating: don’t till! And I was a bit surprised how much synthetic fertilizers or pesticides were actually recommended here- just enough to keep the lawn healthy is better than none at all (if your lawn is suffering from lack of nutrients) but also they point out that just because pesticides are organic, doesn’t mean they’re safe. They can be toxic if misapplied or overdone. I took notes on a deer repellent (I use Irish Spring soap bits- this book suggests a mixture of eggs and hot pepper sauce), how to make a quick temporary shade for transplants, and using corn gluten meal on the grass.
Borrowed from the public library.