I learned that you shouldn’t believe every bit of gardening advice you hear in graduate school, thanks to my statistics professor, Walter Stroup, who loved to wear his “Walter Beer” hat during class. This weird-looking derby made from yarn and beer cans was a gift from one of his former students. During the first class, Stroup explained he always wore his Walter Beer hat when he fertilized his plants and wearing it was what caused them to grow so well. The purpose of his anecdote, I realized, was to impress upon his students the importance of questioning every claim and bit of advice.
We have all followed someone’s gardening advice without knowing if it was based on sound information. As you maintain your garden, consider if your techniques are simply ideas passed down through the ages or smart practices based on solid science. Here are a few of my favorite myths and the truths we should all embrace.