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garden variety myths

friday, october 12th, 2018

a woman who called herself a "Master Gardener" and visited the GC&N, once speculated that since the scent of coyotes repels deer, the smell of humans might ward off the woodchucks feasting on her tomatoes, cabbage and kale. So she unabashedly asked a group of male dinner guests to relieve themselves, when so moved, around the perimeter of her vegetable garden. I imagine she felt better for having taken action. But the supposition remains suspect (it did not work in this case), and the practice is one I would not recommend. There are few deterrents to woodchucks beyond ferocious Jack Russell terriers, and it is unlikely that they would be intimidated by the scent of humans.

Gardening is prone to folklore, probably because it has roots in farming, where homespun advice has been shared through the ages. The truth is that many dearly-held beliefs are conjecture, superstition or even promotional ploys. There may be wisdom in the adage about sowing corn early, but I am not inclined to follow the rule about planting garlic only on Christmas.

Life is a series of hello's and goodbye's... I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again.

Many gardening myths sound right to most people. Securing a newly planted tree with guy wires attached to four strong stakes seems to make sense, but it is wrong. The assumption is that a young tree would be damaged by wind gusts. But an oversecured tree can grow weak. Just like our muscles, the cells in bark become stronger when they are allowed to move. The gentle tugging/vibration of the breeze makes roots stronger, too. And when wires are left in place too long, they create another problem. I have seen plenty of trees strangled by guy-wire tethers.

Sometimes staking is called for, perhaps when a whip of a sapling is planted in a very windy place or a little tree has a kink in its trunk that might be helped with a splint. The stakes should be secured with biodegradable twine and removed within a year.

Some myths defy science. For example, most people think colorful flowers are the cause of hay fever. But the showier the blossoms, the less likely they are to irritate a sensitive nose. Beautiful flowers evolved to attract creatures like bees or hummingbirds to carry their heavy pollen. Offending plants like oak trees, grasses and Ambrosia – better known as ragweed – have inconspicuous flowers and airborne pollen.

Here is a sampling of other common gardening fallacies.

True or False: Poison Ivy Is Bad

I am a sucker for a maligned underdog, even if it does cause itching. Poison ivy has value to robins, catbirds and grosbeaks, which eat the fruit now and into winter. To attract birds to its inconspicuous white berries, poison ivy turns brilliant red, yellow and orange in autumn, making an arresting show as it climbs up sugar maples and over stone walls.

Poison ivy is an opportunistic plant, quickly invading sites disturbed by development or erosion. Because it grows anywhere, it can be a public servant by stablilizing sand dunes.

If there is little danger of coming in contact with the plant on your property, let it alone. When removing it, it is best to wear long-sleeved disposable vinyl gloves. Not everyone is susceptible to a rash, but I am a reliable victim, so I wash up with a product called Technu, which dissolves the irritating oil.

Myth: Mulch Warms the Soil

It might seem that applying a mulch for winter would keep roots snuggly and warm, but that is not so. Winter mulch's primary function is to soften the impact of freezes and thaws, the great killer of herbaceous plants. Radical temperature swings cause soil to heave, tearing roots and in some cases pushing plants right out of the ground. In windy spots a thick layer of light and fluffy mulch protects soil from desiccation. More important, it insulates soil and moderates its temperature, keeping it consistently cold – not warm – much as continuous snow cover does. I apply mulch after the ground freezes, between December and January. Christmas tree branches work well. Just hold the tinsel.

Conventional Wisdom: Worms Mean Healthy Soil

Like many other gardeners, I used to think earthworms were a sign of good soil and also essential to plant health. This is not always the case. Worms do aerate compacted soil, and as they fold humus from the surface into the loam below, they improve drainage and deliver oxygen to roots. Tilling action like this may benefit a vegetable patch, but in a small plot like the one behind my house in Brooklyn, where ornamental plants were meant to spend their lives, all this activity can be too much of a good thing. A yard in Brooklyn is like a giant flowerpot, and my worms churned and churned the same limited soil. With their lumpy castings, they turned soil into pellets that slipped between the roots. As a result my shrubs started toppling.

It is easy to imagine that earthworms populated the land before humans, but aside from some indigenous species in the Southeast and Northwest, the worms in American gardens generally originated in Asia and Europe. Most of them probably arrived as stowaways in the soil of imported plants.

Other worms, perhaps introduced by fishermen who discarded live bait on stream banks, are causing serious damage to woodlands. They wreak their havoc by consuming the leaf litter where tree seeds germinate. The worms process the leaf litter quickly, generating nitrogen at a faster rate than usual decomposition, and they also neutralize the acid in the soil. These conditions favor weeds over woodland plants, which evolved in nutrient-poor and acidic ground.

Often Heard Advice: Water Them Once a Week

If the clerk in the plant store advises watering houseplants once a week, be suspicious. In fairness, most shoppers want simple directions. But some salesclerks offer this rule of thumb to hurry customers on their way. In any case, it does not hold true.

Imagine two identical houseplants growing in similar-size pots. One, in a porous clay container, is on a sunny windowsill near a radiator. The other, in a plastic pot, is in a cool, humid shaded spot. Watering once a week could kill both. The first one may get too dry and the second too wet (the greatest killer of houseplants).

So how frequently should houseplants be watered? Most houseplants appreciate more water, less often. Feel the soil. If the top half-inch or so is dry, pour water onto the surface until it drains out the bottom of the container. Then let the plant alone until the top half-inch or so of soil feels dry again.

A few plants do prefer less water, more often. Among these are plants from tropical rain forests, where the soil is consistently damp. Ferns, piggyback plant and spathiphyllum appreciate soil that stays evenly moist. The soil surface should feel cool to the touch, barely damp.

After you dig into the soil a few times with your finger, you will know how to judge the right condition for a plant by looking at the lightness or darkness of the soil or, in the case of a small plant, by lifting the pot to judge the weight. The bottom line is: water plants only when they need it.

The Folly of Sealing Cuts on Trees With Wound Paint

Every garden center in America sells containers of tree-wound paint or sealer. But repeated experiments have shown that cuts on trees left undressed heal faster and better than treated ones. Not only is coating a freshly cut limb unnecessary, but it may also be harmful. Use a Latex (water-based) paint, not an oil (petroleum-based) paint. The dressings can inhibit the natural healing process by preventing cells from growing to seal off dead wood.

In addition, some paints can be caustic. They may also promote diseases that can infect healthy tissue by cutting off the injured site from air and sunlight. Why is there still a market for these products? It may simply be human nature to put a Band-Aid on a boo-boo.

Fable: A 50¢ Tree in a $5 Hole

It is widely held to be a waste of money and effort to buy a tree and not replant it with enriched soil: in other words, plant a 50¢ tree in a $5 hole. But this idea may be out of sync with reality. Digging an extra-large hole and filling it with fresh humus and topsoil creates a fertile pocket in a bowl of old soil. Often new roots will fill the fresh earth but never venture into the ground beyond, and in time the tree will die. It is usually better to let the tree grow directly into its new home, as long as the soil is decent. The tree should stand at the same level as in the nursery row. It will settle and sink if excavated soil is put below the root ball. Growing low in the hole can drown a tree.

A Day In The Life.

I got up at 3:30a on Friday, made coffee, had Yoplait 'Harvest Peach' Yogurt for breakfast, and left for my condo, in the dark, as usual. And as usual, I stopped at a Rutter's along the route to get Half & Half and whole milk, and arrived at 5a. Andrew and Mica showed-up at 7:30a, and the carpeting/flooring guys following close behind. Perhaps we'll get some real work done today. The noise was almost deafening as they removed the old Formica counter tops, garbage disposal etc. I went out to the front porch to have a smoke and avoid it all.

What torments of grief you endured, from evils that never arrived.

The carpeting guys brought the wrong bedroom carpet, and installed it while I was at a Dr's app't. All furniture was put back into the bedrooms, and now everything has to be removed and the correct carpeting installed, and furniture reinstalled. Then, one of the three electric shade blinds in my sunroom-office quit working, even after being recharged. The other two work just fine. Not a good day at all for me. Andrew stayed until 6:30p to finish-up the new kitchen counter, backsplash, new sink,garbage disposal etc. I left at 7:15p for home, took my evening Rx pills and went to sleep at 8p.

Up at 4a on Saturday, I had coffee and left for my condo. One of the carpet/flooring guys was coming by to get some stairs and landings done, and Becky & Karen were also coming over to clean. I still can't get motorized blind 1-of-3 to work. Becky & Karen worked for hours, but the carpet guy didn't show, as Essis was out of the carpet we needed, and ordered more for end of next week, which interferes with Dad's Memorial Service at Mt Rose Cemetery. So this will now go into the following week, as I have appointments at PSU-Hershey Medical Center. I watched some races on TV, worked on Dad's Eulogy for the ceremony, Becky stopped by at 5:30p with some Chinese Food, and I left for his old condo around 7p. Not hungry, I took my Rx pills and cruised off to sleep around 8p.

On Sunday, I slept-in until 5a, remembering that the Japanese F-1 Grand Prix was broadcast at 1:30a, and there was no way in hell I'd stay up for that. Fortunately, it's replayed on ESPN at 3:30-6:00p, so I will watch it then. I grabbed a shower, changed into some fresh clothes, and felt human again. After making coffee, I cruised to my condo in the dark, as usual, disarmed it, and went to work on some paperwork. I also needed to gather-up the clothes I'd be wearing for Dad's Memorial Service on Saturday, and did. There were some bills to pay, and since tomorrow's Columbus Day, banks and gov't offices are closed. Lazy asshole scumbags; anything for a day off.

If time is infinite, why is there never enough of it?

Finally, the Suzuka Japanese F-1 Grand Prix came on at 3:30p, and finished at 5:30p, w23ith Hamilton the winner, leading by 75pts for his 5th world title. I worked on Dad's Eulogy for Saturday in MS-Word Office 2007. I gave Becky a copy of the now 4-page speech, grown from 2pgs. After the Japanese GP, I watched "American Pickers" on History Channel, until 7p, and then drove back to Dad's old condo. After taking my Rx pills, I went to sleep at 8p. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day.

I woke-up at 12:30a on Monday, couldn't get back to sleep, got dressed and drove to Weis Market (closed), Giant (closed) and wound-up at a massive 5ac Wal-Mart SuperCenter to buy stuff for my condo's 'fridge. I was stunned at how big that place was, as compared to the W-M SuperCenter in Shrewsbury, down south of my Garden Center, in Felton. I left my condo, after Alan & Co finished my new irregular flagstone patio, around 6p, went to Dad's old condo, took my Rx pills, and went to sleep, getting a solid 9hrs.

"Indigineous Peoples' Day" instead of Columbus Day? Fuck you spics, injuns, vikings etc etc etc. If it weren't for us White Men & Women making the US a far better place thru our inventions and discoveries, you subhuman, lowlife savages would still be living in caves, hovels, huts and teepees. I celebrate Columbus Day. White men and women rule!

It's time to start killing all mentally-ill, angry liberals, wherever and whenever you find them. EJ Dionne needs killing, and Google design lead Dave Hogue needs a bullet in the head, too.

Then LEAVE, Redford, you lowlife, worthless, washed-up piece-of-shit.

And f•ck you punk, John Mayer; only an asshole faggot would sing about and "rail against masculinity and specifically what he called a 'bullshit alpha male contract'", in a worthless song. Dumb fucking asshole. Go fuck your boyfriend, homo boy.

I'm a big supporter of LGBT: Liquor, Guns, Bacon and Tits.

Up at 5a on Tuesday, I had coffee and a banana, drove to my condo, and noticed the solar lights weren't working, but we'd installed them so late in the afternoon after the patio was completed, they probably didn't have a chance to charge-up. I'll check them tomorrow after a full day's sun exposure on the solar cells.

Becky and I had a 10a app't at Mt Rose Cemetery to go over some details for Dad's Saturday Memorial Service, and then I had Wells-Fargo and PNC Banks to visit and make some deposits in checking and savings, in both banks' accounts. As soon as my W-F checks arrive, I'll close the PNC Bank's accounts and move it all to W-F. I stopped at FIVE GUYS and got dbl-cheeseburgers and fries for lunch w/ Becky, called Wolf's Furniture for delivery of my new sofa, and laid out the living room w/ blue painter's tape pieces. After working on Dad's Eulogy for Saturday, listening to the Chris Plante Podcast, I left for Dad's old condo around 6:30p, took my Rx pills and was asleep by 7:45p.

Up at 1:15a on Wednesday, I made coffee and left for my condo, to get some kitchen counter appliances brought-up from the basement, and do some clean-up work. The carpet screw-up won't get fixed until next week, and I have an consult app't at PSU-Hershey with a surgeon, who specializes in lapi coli (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy), or non-invasive gallbladder removal. I slept for a few hours in the leather recliner chair, and reworked parts of Dad's Memorial Service speech. I left at 6p, took my pills and was asleep by 7:15p

DJIA down 832-pts today. This is the long-overdue market correction I've mentioned over the past year. Everytime I drive-by a local gas station, prices are up, and it's going to continue. Ooops, it did: down another 650-pts on Thursday. Not to worry, as it was coming and I'd already liquidated my $750,000 IRA into cash, last week when it was all moved to Wells-Fargo from FOLIO Wealth Mgmt, and as soon as it re-values and bottoms-out, we'll have made some serious cash to make some inexpensive buys.

I slept-in until 4:30a on Thursday, and it felt good, after getting-up so early these past few mornings. Warm, light drizzle and another gloomy day ahead, with no work or workmen scheduled for the week. I feel like everything's at a complete standstill, and the place'll never get done before Winter sets-in. With me not being able to lift more than 5-7lbs, due to the surgically-implanted 4 pigtail stents in my stomach, I'm worthless to do things myself, except light office work.

Dave, who's a longtime friend, a pilot for a major US airline, and a 2nd Amendment guy like myself, drove from Philly on layover, to visit me for the day, and I locked us out of the condo. First time I ever did that. HA! What a dumbass I am! Dave drove us to Isaac's for soup & sandwiches, and Andrew, one of my condo painters, came over to work, and let us back in. He had a front door key. I got 10 extra keys made at Home Depot, and won't let that idiocy ever happen again. Just as I got home, the skies opened-up and it poured.

Well, tomorrow's another day.

Fake Liberal Media BS

The most insidious power of the corrupt, criminal liberal media, is the power to ignore the truth.

Here, have some fun. Something stinks within America's newsrooms. It's the stench of liberal bias permeating the so-called mainstream media. From lies and deceit to distortions and character assassinations, the liberal media dish out leftist BS to drive their radical agenda.

Chris Plante, host of The Chris Plante Show on WMAL (DC) from 9-12, weekdays, said, "The most insidious power the media has, if the power to ignore." Think about what that really means and you can readily see what an evil force the corrupt, criminal, liberal-demokkkRAT-controlled, butt-kissing, fawning circlefest media assholes, are.

Think you can detect it? Read just some of this crap and find out just how much BS the liberal media are dishing out. Wear your hip-waders; the bullshit is deep!

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