Whilst gardening can be incredibly relaxing and even therapeutic, there is a lot of conflicting information you can read or hear. We’ve selected four myths that you need to be aware of so you can relax in your garden this year.
Keeping those animals out
Animals, particularly cats and foxes, can wreak havoc on your garden. Of course, you want them away from your plants, but you have other things to protect in your garden too, such as your furniture. As a side note/top tip – rattan patio furniture is incredibly easy to clean!
You may have seen that sticking skewers in the ground or even forks is a good way to avoid your garden being intruded by animals. Most cats and crawling animals aren’t deterred by this but there are many other ideas you can try to make sure animals keep their distance. If it’s a problem for you, try chicken wire fencing, citrus scents, lavender or even try emptying your hairbrush on to the garden to reclaim your territory. Cats hate those things!
If there’s a specific area cats are visiting, why don’t you try mixing up a batch of natural cat-away spray? All you need is black pepper (1 teaspoon), dry mustard and some cinnamon in a spray bottle. Add to this citrus essential oil – just a few drops – along with a crushed garlic clove and water. Spraying this to your flower beds should keep them at bay!
Use and misuse of eggshells
A very popular addition to many different gardening methods is eggshells. As most people know, eggs and their shells contain nutrients, such as calcium, sulphur, potassium, magnesium and sodium. If you look at the bottom of an eggshell, you can see the inner membrane remains – many gardeners believe that there are lots of good reasons you’d want to use eggshells for things in your garden.
One of the most common uses for eggshells is a barrier for slugs and snails. People crush up the shells and place them around sensitive plants with the belief that both slugs and snails will be deterred by the sharp edges. This is simply not true. Following many tests, slugs will not climb over the blades of sharp knives. To be able to stop slugs and snails, you need to block its path, using a collar or fence, or using a repellent like copper.
The other reality is that eggshells contain very few nutrients, the main one being calcium, but unless your soil has a calcium deficiency, this will not help the growth of your plants.
Many people discuss the benefits of planting things in eggshells, which is not the case. The organic matter remaining in the eggshell will not benefit the plant at all as it will break down and not provide the seedling with any more nutrients. Whilst planting an egg in the eggshell makes use of something that otherwise would have gone to waste, you wouldn’t put a plastic pot in the ground and the plant will become root bound in the shell. The best thing you can do is to plant it directly into the soil.
If you did want to add eggshells to your compost, crush them very finely or blend them. The finer the particles, the better it breaks down, but be aware that putting eggshells in your compost isn’t going to help for a while.
The most effective way to give your soil a calcium injection is to make it water-soluble. Crush some eggshells finely and bake them on a baking tray for 45 mins in a preheated 180-degree oven. This will ensure that the organic matter is burnt off. Put the remains in a jar, mixing a ratio of one-part eggshells with ten parts brown rice vinegar and let the mixture sit for 7 to 10 days. Then, mix that mixture (1 part to 1000 parts water) use that as a spray on your plants.
As a gardener, you have probably heard incorrect information at some point when it comes to watering, so we will cover off a few things that are commonly thought to be true.
You need to give each plant an inch of water a week
This completely depends on the water need of the plant. Some plants need watering daily if it’s sunny, but some plants, such as trees and shrubs, mat need watering less. The factors to consider include the type of the plant, the soil used, time of year and of course the ever-changing weather.
Generally, the best way is to water the plant enough so that the root system is covered, then let the soil look slightly dried out before you water it again. Ensure it’s applied slowly so it is absorbed by the soil. Sprinkling daily with a small amount encourages roots to grow near the surface of the soil, and here is where there is the potential to dry out. Water the plants when they need it, rather than relying on a schedule or measurement – which would be impossible to tell anyway!
If it’s wilting, water it
Of course, if a plant it is wilting, it is a sign that the leaves aren’t getting enough moisture, but that doesn’t mean that the soil is dry. Any damages to the plant roots can cause wilting. The roots of a plant need constant supplies of air and water. If there is too little water, the roots will die, but too much and the space between the soil particles stay filled with water, which suffocates the roots. Both of these situations result in wilting and potential physical damage.
Damage to stems can also cause wilting. Some diseases and insects (especially borers) prevent water distribution throughout the plant, causing some or all of it to wilt. The only way to tell if the lack of water is causing wilting is to check soil moisture.
New trees need to be staked and guy-wired
If you stalk a tree, its development could actually be hindered. At one stage, this was industry standard and it was believed that it helped the plant grow. If the tree is in a windy or sloped side, then it makes sense to stalk, but by allowing the tree to sway in the wind, you are encouraging the growth of stable roots.