Thursday, April 22, 2010

Read the Garden Professors

Like any industry, there is a mountain of misinformation in the land about everything from cutting iris foliage into neat triangles after flowering to leaving burlap and wire cages on newly planted young trees. Several years ago I learned about the work of Linda Chalker-Scott. A professor at Washington State University and extension agent in Puyallup, Washington, Linda enjoys finding out the truth of gardening information, gossip, and advertising. Does milk or baking soda really prevent black spot in roses? Do hydrogels or compost teas really work?

She has compiled many of her studies into two new books, The Informed Gardener and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again that help prevent gardeners from wasting time and resources on products or practices have little value or work in unintended ways. She writes in an accessible style and tells us the science behind each issue, why it works or doesn't.

Jeff Gilman, another myth exploder and author of two terrific books: The Truth about Garden Remedies and The Truth about Organic Gardening is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. He and Linda have joined together to develop a great blog at

Local talent Holly Scoggins, associate professor at Virginia Tech as well as other talented and informed educators are members of the blog.

I am delighted that this blog is available. Just today, I read that Linda had looked at the effect of watering bags on trees. Since we all want our newly planted trees to succeed, we often purchase the bags to hold water that continually drips into the root ball of the tree. Early findings indicate that the bags can keep the trunk of the tree too moist, causing bark to rot and insects and disease to multiply.

I love to garden and on most days I don’t want to waste my time on fantasy. Linda, Jeff, Holly, and others are improving the potential for good gardening outcomes by sorting out the really useful nuggets through scientific observation and analysis and sharing the products and practices that work. Read them often.

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