Bust­ing com­mon gar­den myths

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - ONTARIO GARDEN SHOPPING GUIDE -

Bananas and their peels do con­tain high lev­els of potas­sium, an es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent that roses—and all gar­den plants—need for ev­ery­thing from stim­u­lat­ing growth to pro­duc­ing flow­ers. Any or­gan­ics added to the soil helps, but bury­ing whole peels can also back­fire. As soil micro­organ­isms work to break down the peels, they ex­tract sig­nif­i­cant amounts of ni­tro­gen from the soil, which re­sults in less ni­tro­gen for green­ing up plants. The best place for banana peels is in a com­post pile, where they can break down along­side other nu­tri­ent-rich ta­ble scraps. To give plants the balanced nu­tri­tion they need, top-dress with com­post in­stead.

Myth: Drought-tol­er­ant plants don’t need wa­ter­ing. Half-Busted:

Drought-tol­er­ant plants may need less wa­ter than other plants, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to pull out your gar­den hose. If the gar­den or con­tainer soil around your plant is dry, wa­ter it. Young plants are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to drought be­cause their roots are get­ting es­tab­lished. Be vig­i­lant about keep­ing soil slightly moist, but not soggy, through­out a plant’s first year, re­gard­less of its rep­u­ta­tion for re­siliency.

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 the pinch to man­age growth or pro­mote an­other flush of blooms.

Myth: An­nu­als and peren­ni­als won’t grow un­der ev­er­greens be­cause dropped nee­dles make the soil acidic. Busted:

Not true. The acid­ity of soil de­pends mostly on the un­der­ly­ing bedrock. The real rea­son plants don’t thrive un­der ev­er­greens is the soil’s ex­treme dry­ness and low fer­til­ity. That’s be­cause the trees cast dense shade, take up most of the avail­able mois­ture and nu­tri­ents, and shed rain­wa­ter to the edge of their canopies, keep­ing con­di­tions dry be­low.

For suc­cess be­neath ev­er­greens, choose shade and drought-tol­er­ant plants such as alyssum, se­dums and ajuga, wa­ter and fer­til­ize reg­u­larly and mulch to pre­serve mois­ture. Or try plant­ing your plants in pots un­der the trees, they will be able to main­tain mois­ture with­out com­pet­ing with the trees. The best thing is to put gravel be­neath the trees.

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