These seven gardening myths or old wives’ tales seem to have been around for ever and most gardeners will be well aware of the truth or otherwise of these ideas. In my opinion the first two myths on the list, namely using chemicals and natural remedies can be traced back to the organic movement with its strict rules on what can be used to produce crops that qualify as organic. I came across these myths in an article from Sun Gardening.
New gardeners looking for advice can find a lot of good, bad and – sometimes – ridiculous information available in the media (television, books, magazines and the internet), but how do you sort good from bad?
We answer gardening questions at garden shows, horticultural societies and in a national newspaper and here are a few of the most common myths we come across.
All chemicals are bad and must be avoided
The use of chemicals is always controversial, but remember that the UK has some of the tightest regulations on manufactured garden chemicals in the world and the ones available here have all been rigorously tested over a number of years before gaining approval and being introduced onto the market. More and more such products are being based on natural ingredients (such as plant extracts and mineral oils) and have been approved by organic growing associations. A chemical, used appropriately and in good time, can prevent a problem escalating to the point where the plant or crop is lost. All products should be used exactly as stated by the manufacturer on the pack and any warnings should be heeded.
Natural remedies are best
In some cases, they work well, but should be used properly. Companion and sacrifice plantings are very useful around edibles. Comfrey tea, however, should never be used as a foliar feed over the edible leaves of plants (e.g. lettuce and cabbage) as its residue has been found to be carcinogenic. Never use a plant-based remedy without doing research on its properties. Predatory insects and eelworms (nematodes) are a natural means of pest control and are very effective as long as the instructions are followed.
Washing up liquid kills aphids
Possibly, but it will also damage the leaves of the plant and, in extreme cases, may kill it. Washing up liquid is designed to remove grease from plates and it does the same to a plant leaf, stripping off the protective, waxy outer coating and leaving the leaf vulnerable to scorch. This advice was based on old-fashioned insecticidal soaps and is frequently advocated by organic gardeners, but it does not take into account that this is an entirely different product.
See more at Sun Gardening