As diligent as we all are about heeding all the gardening tips we’ve heard over the years, are there any that we question? Was Grandma’s advice really the best? Or has it become outdated?
The National Garden Bureau turned to its members and asked for their professional expertise on a few commonly cited tips to find out if they were still applicable in today’s gardening world.
We once again would like to share some of their findings with our readers:
~ 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.
~ Perennials won’t bloom the first year, especially bare-root planted ones.
With modern breeding and growing techniques, this is no longer true. Go ahead and plant bare- root and potted perennials now and enjoy those blooms the first year, assuming you don’t plant them past the time they naturally would bloom.
~ Pinch off all blooms of annuals 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 to pinch to manage growth or promote another flush of blooms.
~ Planting tomatoes in a trench or up to the first true leaves promotes a sturdier plant.
This one is still true for seed propagated heirlooms and hybrids. Planting deeply does help elongate the rooting area since any point on the stem that comes into contact with the soil will root. The exception is when planting “grafted” tomatoes because if the “scion” sends out roots, it will negate the benefits of the grafted rootstock. So never plant a grafted tomato too deeply. (On a grafted tomato plant, the scion is the top part, typically from an heirloom. The bottom part, or rootstock, is typically from a hybrid.)
~ Use tuna fish cans around transplant stems to thwart cutworms.
Yes, Grandma was correct and frugal with this tip! When both ends of the can are removed and the can is placed around the young transplant, it acts as a barrier keeping the soil-surface crawlers from reaching the plant until the stem has thickened past the tender stage.
~ Putting eggshell flakes around the base of plants will prevent slug damage.
Yes, Grandma was right, slugs do not like to crawl over the jagged surface of sharp eggshells. So putting a barrier of crushed (not ground too finely) eggshells is a great deterrent.
~ Use beer traps for slugs.
Yes, they do work. And there is even research to show that slugs prefer the light beers over the darker ales and lagers. But if it rains or you water your plants, you will need to refill the traps with fresh, undiluted beer, as those little critters avoid the watered down stuff.
(We thank the National Garden Bureau for providing this information, which we have edited and condensed. Be sure to visit their website at www.ngb.org for more tips.)