Cool Green Gardens

Healthy Skepticism for a Healthy Garden – Win A Free Copy of The Informed Gardener!

Linda Chalker-Scott
Fine Gardening contributing editor Linda Chalker Scott

“Why, yes, I do have a confessional in my office,” Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott replied. I was calling her to seek absolution for my horticultural transgressions.

“It has paisley curtains,” she continued.

I just finished reading her book, The Informed Gardener (University of Washington Press, 2008). In this authoritatively written, sorely needed dose of science and skepticism, Chalker-Scott reveals the truth behind many of the dearly held myths surrounding gardening practices and products.

I worried: Would she pardon years of advising customers to “throw a little bone meal in the backfill. Helps the roots get started”? What about telling clients to tip-prune transplants “to keep the roots and foliage in balance”?

Hogwash! Clearly, I was guilty of unconsciously passing along what one of Chalker-Scott’s colleagues calls “faith-based horticulture.”

Chalker-Scott didn’t set out to be a matador, hell-bent on goring gardening’s sacred cows. Her first two degrees put her on a steady course toward a career in marine biology. In the 1980s, deciding instead to chase her passion for gardening, she completed her doctorate in ornamental horticulture at Oregon State University, focusing on the stresses affecting landscape plants in urban environments.

The Informed Gardener began as a series of columns written for horticultural professionals, just one of Chalker-Scott’s responsibilities as Extension Urban Horticulturist at Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Washington State University. The articles were eventually published on-line, attracting interested gardeners outside the state. The next logical step was The Informed Gardener, followed in 2010 by The Informed Gardener Blooms Again.

I knew I had to have this book the moment I cracked the cover, dashed to the table of contents, and beheld her list of myths. Plopping down on the carpet of my locally owned independent book store (Okay, you dragged it out of me—it’s Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara and I want to marry them.) and skimmed through the 212-page soft-cover book, admiring the delicate botanical illustration gracing its cover.

At the core of this book is Chalker-Scott’s deep-seated belief in taking a low-impact, sustainable approach to gardens; that gardening is not an adversarial contest, won only by armed combat with weapons of mass destruction. Among the 44 articles and sidebars, more than a few jabbed my conscience, recalling my innocent, under-informed years in retail nursery sales. Other articles were a pat on the head: I really do know something about plants and gardens. Each article follows the same brilliantly simple format: The Myth, The Reality, The Bottom Line, and References, citing the peer-reviewed research supporting the author’s conclusions. A few stand-outs:

  • The Myth of Organic Superiority – Turns out the plants couldn’t care less if their nitrogen comes from a chemical factory or the south end of a north-bound Holstein. The important thing is that whatever the origins, any garden supplement can cause environmental damage and we need to be conservative about their use.
  • The Myth of Fragile Roots – One of the main causes of failure to thrive for trees and shrubs is hidden fatal root flaws, for which Chalker-Scott recommends getting rid of most of the soil around the roots (use it as mulch!), and correcting a root system by pruning, before planting. No guilt for me on this one. My early training in bonsai made me a ruthless root remover.
  • The Myth of Native Plant Superiority – The chapter grinds a sacred cow into sausage. Being “native” to a region isn’t just a matter of the zip code you share; it’s about the growing conditions that make some plants in urban settings more successful than others. As the author concludes, “Site considerations should always dictate plant selection.”

Other mythological beliefs include the need for drainage materials in containers (just the opposite), the “necessity” of soil amendments (save your money), the benefits of paper-based sheet mulching (I suggested this to a client a week before finding the book), and a host of “miracles in a bag/bottle/box” (no mention of aluminum foil pyramid hats).

Given her less-than-glowing assessments of many products we encounter on garden center shelves and in magazine ads, it’s surprising that Chalker-Scott has only been threatened with one manufacturer’s lawsuit. “I showed them the science” she says, “and they went away.”

“My intention is not to point fingers but to raise consciousness about a number of misconceptions regarding the management of landscapes dominated by woody plants, trees and shrubs.”

Linda is a realist, as evidenced by the Roundup safely stored in her garage. “I use it infrequently, and I use it correctly,” she says, recently using it in her battle with a neighbor’s running bamboo. Her scientific approach told her that judicious use of a chemical herbicide would have less long-term impact on the garden, since “spraying is easier on the soil structure than ripping up plants, harming the tilth of the soil, and disturbing the health of the soil organisms that benefit the garden.”

I won’t be visiting that paisley-curtained booth in Linda Chalker-Scott’s office after all. Having read this must-have addition to my gardening library, I’m optimistic I’ve done more good than harm, and I won’t be spending eternity in Gardener’s Inferno — that place where your pruners are dull, your roses always have mildew, and your neighbor’s chainsaw shocks you from dreamland every morning at four.

A couple of parting gems from Linda: “Don’t expect too much too soon—instant gratification can lead to instant death.” And “A plant is a living organism, so do it right or it won’t stick around.”

the informed gardener

Share your own myth for a chance to win a copy of The Informed Gardener

To enter the drawing, register for this site (or log in, if you are already a member) and post a comment sharing a gardening myth you eventually found was not true. What was the source of your enlightenment?

One lucky winner will receive a copy of this book. Your comment must be posted by midnight (EDT), Wednesday, August 31. The winner will be announced in my first September blog.

View Comments


  1. SClibrarylady 07/31/2011

    After spending lots of energy in past years, double digging garden areas, I found out that disturbing the soil order is more desirable in most cases. I am for the easier and more natural ways to accomplish things and would like to learn more of them!

  2. machuey 07/31/2011

    Sounds like an approach to gardening that makes good sense, and comfortingly unapologetically so. Plus, I think the cover is pretty! Yeah, I'm a judge a book by its cover kind of girl. What about it?

  3. jchapstk 07/31/2011

    The myth that if you safely use enough pesticide for your garden to be pest-free. I didn't use them because they cost money. Then I began really studying gardening. I saw Jim Crocket on the Victory Garden. It must have been his last year. He was all about natural organic gardening practice by then. After his death I research him more. Compared his early gardening practice to the later practices. No more pesticides, fungicides or herbacides for me. He was a tremendous gardener gone too soon.

  4. tredamccaw 07/31/2011

    Landscape myth: plants must be placed in odd numbered groups, preferably threes. We have been in the nursery business for over 25 years and hardly ever bring home three of anything that match! Our landscape is eclectic, heavily planted and lovely with nary a threesome in any part of the design. Plant what you like in the quantities that feel good to you as you are the one that has to look at it on a daily basis. Enjoy life!

  5. jdigi 08/01/2011

    I used to carefully dig up weeds, making sure to get all of the root so it wouldn't grow back. Little did I know I was uncovering more weed seeds and letting soil nutrients escape. Then I discovered the stirrup hoe at a garage sale, spent $2 and listened to the lecture on its use. I can clean up the paths and most of the vegetable beds in under an hour, standing up, without getting my hands dirty, and without disturbing the soil.

  6. Unclefunky5687 08/01/2011

    I spend my days consulting with people about their gardens or hoped for gardens. I often wonder how up to date I am with some of my "insights". This will be a great way to get some updates, as well as resolving some of those little squabbles between me and my garden loving spouse.

  7. serialplantfetishist 08/01/2011

    The admonition I've had to debunk for myself is the one that says gardening is all about virtuous toil. You know, "a garden isn't made by saying how lovely and sitting in the shade". There is some truth in that. You might think that all play and no work would never result in a good garden but that's only true if you 'play' doesn't include making stuff and trying out things. Coming at gardening in the spirit of play and lead to a great deal getting accomplished the same way dancing can be a hell of a workout. With gardening as with sex, if you're not having fun, you're probably not doing it right.

  8. fantasticdayup 08/01/2011

    oh my my...I have so much to learn!! the one myth that I have found out is pretty much debunked (I found this by reading numerous sources) is the issue of 'drainage' although, I find the topic of drainage can be confusing, even among the experts.
    I now make sure there are holes in the pots. period. And many times I put coffee filters in the bottom of the smaller containers with holes, you know, so the dirt doesn't 'leak' out all over the place.
    Now, with that being said, I do put plastic bottles that are to be recycled into the bottom of my bigger planters, not for drainage, I use them so I can save my back and my money!! Bigger planters are difficult to move if they are filled with dirt and expensive!
    and, just in case drainage is really the answer...then I have that covered too!!

    “Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire.”

  9. jackio 08/01/2011

    One myth is that you must transplant or divide plants at specified times (iris for instance). I do these chores when I have the time and it may be into September, not the normal July, for iris. I place a rock on the rhizome to prevent winter frost heaving and it stays put. In our present heat, many things are waiting.

  10. perennialharmony 08/02/2011

    Myth: You need to pile mulch up around the base of trees, shrubs, perennials. I've seen mulch volcanos up to a foot high.

  11. pamela11 08/08/2011

    After spending most of my life listening to people about weeds in the flower garden, I started reading how some weeds are very benificial. I now love things like milk weed,jo pie weed, queen ann's lace, paint brushes, even golden rod in part of the garden to draw in butterflies and other great insects that are needed in a garden.

  12. Alasandra 08/08/2011

    Would like to convince my husband that fertilizing stressed plants isn't the best idea; he comes from the school that fertilizing a plant will fix the problem no matter what the problem happens to be. I would like to learn to identify the problem and fix it in a more natural way if possible.

    Also do you have to plant tomatoes in full sunlight? I don't know if this is a myth or not we live on the MS Gulf Coast and it seems to me that our tomatoes had a terrible time dealing with the heat in the full sun.

  13. Annya 08/08/2011

    HELP!!!!!!! I was posting my comment and was cut off!!!!!!! How do I get it back to finish????? Annya

  14. stitches66 08/08/2011

    I've used dozen and dozens of eggs shells around my plants and the slugs climb right over them. I've resorted to planting extra knowing the plants will become lunch and when desperate using poison. Gotta read the part on double digging, this isn't good?

  15. DaveFaris 08/08/2011

    Myth: Adding sand to a clay soil will improve it. In my experience, all you get is cement. Adding compost and organic matter is the way to go.

  16. dapperlaw 08/08/2011

    I have learned that deer will eat -- well, at least taste -- anything when they are hungry enough; despite the many lists that exist, there is nothing I have found that is consistently deer resistant, let alone, deer proof.

  17. coloureye73 08/08/2011

    I guess the biggest myth for me, was when i started working in
    the nursery business. how many product don't really do what they say they are going to do. please ask around, find someone who's actually used these products or check with your CO-OP they will give you the straight up. if it sounds to good to be true....

  18. rforbes217 08/08/2011

    There is no golden rule, carved in stone, as to when most or all plants can or cannot be transplanted.

  19. tatwood 08/08/2011

    My favorite gardening myth is that the ants often found crawling on the buds of herbaceous peonies are there to help them open, and that without the ants the peonies won't bloom. Many gardeners insist this is true. Balderdash! The ants are attracted to a good-tasting substance secreted by the plants, and the buds, unless diseased or damaged by a late frost, will open with or without the insects.

  20. 04flowers 08/08/2011

    Myth:Plant kitchen waste with a new planting to add nutrieunts.
    I "planted" my kitchen waste in the woods near my front door anticipating moving cinnamon ferns to the area. After a short period of time I planted my cinamon ferns and watched them wilt and die back from the effect of the decaying matter. More is not always good.

  21. Missbennett 08/08/2011

    During a time of grought, almost every summer here, watering advice columns repeat the "one inch a week" myth.
    The amount of water needed to keep a garden healthy depends on the plants, the amount of sun or shade, the type of soil and the temperature. One size gardening advice doesn't fit anyone.

  22. mtngdnr 08/08/2011

    Deer have block parties and a large stand of blooming daylilies are the buffet item of choice. My daylilies are now in a friend's fenced yard and are protected by large, deer intolerant canines. There go the lists of "deerproof" plants. Also, at least in the intense light of Colorado, many perennials that are "full sun only" do well in a mix of sun and shade.

  23. janethuisinga 08/08/2011

    I used to love gardening until we moved to Oshkosh and the former owner of our house had sooo much landscape for the tiny poststamp yard and the weeds......OH!my! did I say weeds!? I would love to read this book and get the author's advice on weed and many other topics!

  24. kimmurphy94 08/08/2011

    the truth is, I'm a novice gardener and I rarely know fact from fiction. That's why I need this book!

  25. bobsie311Jo 08/08/2011

    The myth is, "I don't have a green thumb and all my plants die". I would like this book because only some of my plants die. I would like help to keep them all alive.

  26. Rooscee 08/08/2011

    Just because you can grow it doesn't mean your neighbor can! A friend would bring Tamarack seedlings from his camp to grow in his yard, but the seedlings never took. Five years ago he brought back 3 and asked us to plant one and he would plant the others. Ours is now 10 feet tall and his never did make it...why? We had terrible clay soil, but amended it every time we planted something for the past 20 years, and our neighbor didn't. You CAN improve your soil, no matter what your area gives you!

  27. 1946 08/08/2011

    Funniest gardening myth I ever heard is "Never say thank you for a plant because then it will die". Can't tell you how often someone has said that to me since moving to the area where I now live. Despite ignoring that advice most of my plants are alive and well, and I have many extras to share.

  28. user-7006912 08/08/2011

    Hydrogels placed in soil do hold water but they do not release it to the plants. Research on hydrogels was done by Jeff Gillman,Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture Science at the University of Minnesota. He reports his findings in "The Truth about Garden Remedies". This is a must read for gardeners.

  29. KarinTS 08/08/2011

    With a benign neglect approach, and seeding and planting in clumps and drifts, (and ruthlessly pulling some "deer magnets"), I have managed to create lush flower beds around the house in 5 (60 day average frost to frost) short season years. Add compost as a top dressing and occasionally blood meal mostly as a deterrent to animals. Am glad to see the round-up comment, as I use it to eliminate the grass creeping into the flower beds and maintain the edge.

  30. GalenDea 08/08/2011

    First of all, I love, love, love Chaucer's bookstore, too. I am so happy they were able to stay afloat with Borders and Barnes and Noble for competition in this relatively small town. The garden myth I have found to be untrue, at least where I live, is that roses MUST be pruned in January, or February at the latest or they won't bloom well. Not true. I have pruned mine as late as April and they bloomed slightly later than usual, but had plenty of gorgeous blossoms. I'm off to Chaucer's to check out this awesome book....

  31. vkatz 08/08/2011

    A garden myth I have just uncovered....I always thought if you pruned down to the old growth on the old mophead hydrangeas you wouldn't get any flowers. I have had one for years with the most beautiful flowers, but overabundant and top heavy with the flowers on stems, not strong enough to hold them up. I was ready to move it or get rid of it so in the spring, I cut it way back to the ground. It never got around to transplanting it since I hadn't found a replacement. Now I have a gorgeous hydrangea, almost the the original size with a nice number of smaller blooms on sturdier branches. I love it!!

  32. wadeinthewater 08/08/2011

    I used to dig compost into my sticky clay soil, even bought a rototiller. But then I read that you don't need to do this! Just pile it on top and overtime the worms do the work. I think this really works! Myth or truth? I look forward to reading you book.

  33. plantnutsSB 08/08/2011

    The myth that I would like to debunk: Natives do not need to be watered. Wouldn't that be wonderful! Fall planting may help if rains are predictable and corespond with my planting plans but when has that ever happened in So. California? A little H20 is required and I find that the new plants will let you know when.

  34. DaveCoff 08/08/2011

    Myths are dependent on gardeners and their practices. If it works for you, it is not a myth. Many gardening practices are dependent on micro-climats in our own gardens. Many times trial and error dictates wat is myth and what is not.

  35. FarmhouseSewer 08/08/2011

    Baking soda kills fungi.

  36. leatherbark 08/08/2011

    Myth: you must dig a hole 1 1/2 - 2 times wider than the tree, shrub or other plant for it to thrive. Truth is, I recently read, it doesn't really make any difference to the plant.

  37. suitors 08/08/2011

    This mythbuster is hard to hear for 2 reasons! 1) Last Spring in Europe, you may have heard, 35 people were killed and thousands were sickened by eating food. At first it was believed the contaminated food was cucumbers from Spain. However it was found to be sprouts contaminated by E.coli from an organic farm in Hamburg. Both harmful & harmless E-coli strains are present in the intestines of most animals. Question: So is it safe to use manure on vegetables? Manure contains E. coli.
    Second issue -- worst than the first! 50 years ago the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found a process that can deactivate up to 99.9999% of E.coli. This process has been endorsed and found safe by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the American Medical Association, the International Atomic Energy Association and the U.N.'s World Health organization. Yuk! This process is, well, irradiation! Yuk again. Irradition involves sending gamma rays & electron beans into meat, poultry and produce. Source: Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2011 editorial.

  38. User avater
    ArtzenFlowers 08/08/2011

    Hi Billy, How do we know if what we believe is a myth or not? I am trying hard to think of a myth but either I dont' believe any and am therefore DeMythtified.
    Or I am living a mythtery?
    Help! Pick me so I can figure a way out of this paper bag!

  39. rucrazy 08/08/2011

    how does one submit this personal gardening "secret" to enter
    the contest? I couldn't find the site??

  40. JH2 08/08/2011

    It seems that any helpful hint about protecting bulbs from squirrels is a myth- just call them squirrel food! The book looks like a delightful addition to my gardening library, with much needed facts vs. fiction.

  41. mjwest 08/08/2011

    It's a myth that clematis need shady feet. They need more water or cooler temps.

  42. sarosea 08/08/2011

    myth:Talk to your flowers and they will grow fast and beautiful.

  43. Fyrebird 08/09/2011

    My myth: crepe myrtles must be topped each year to get blooms the next year. My former employer's crepe myrtle is a good 12 feet tall, 11 feet wide, never topped, but judiciously thinned to remove crossed branches or diseased ones. It gets more flowers every year than any topped tree I have *ever* seen.

  44. Jody1310 08/09/2011

    Myth: Dandelion is totally undesirable. Find out how pioneers protected their dandelion starts because they provide Vitamin C very early in the season when other sources are unavailable. (Not sure where I got this information...however, my dandelions thrive!)

  45. stilllearningstuff 08/09/2011

    "Hosta plants grow best in the shade" MYTH! I was lead to believe that my hosta plants could only grow big and beautiful in full shade BUT by experimenting with different kinds or types of hosta plants, I have found this myth to be false.
    It all began with the need to have a contrast between the green of the lawn and the evergreen color of the pine forest surrounding my home. So I experimented with different colors of the hosta plant until I found one that added just the contrast I wanted. This hosta has a chartruse-color and has grown quite successfully in the sun. This is its second year in the ground and I am very happy with the 'look!'
    It has the 'look' of a pot of shiny gold. Eureka! I have found my 'pot of gold!'

  46. PMP 08/09/2011

    I just try to plant what I like and not to worry much about what dies. My garden is full but could use more order. I think this book could help to bring both order and longevity to my garden. The cover is so lovely that I'm sure it will stay out to be referred to frequently.

  47. Dunkinjean 08/09/2011

    I have heard of many myths: Row gardening is the only way to garden. Many yrs ago I tried doing row gardening in our year for alot of years that just didn't work - veg plants would die or we would get very little produce. So I gave up on vegetable gardening.
    Last year I started Square Foot Gardening. This type of gardening was developed by Mel Bartholomew. I happened upon his company website and forum. I read his newest book. It made alot of sense to grow many vegetables or flowers using a raised garden method, but not with your own ground soil but his 3 types of soils; Vermiculite, Peatmoss and 5 types of compost. Then make a grid of squares of one foot each by using either a grid of wood, thread or anything else. I started my first yr which was last spring with one box 4x4. This yr we added 2 more boxes of the same size. Depending on the veg, you either plant 1, 2, 3, up to 16 veg's in one sq ft box. Anyway last summer I did decently considering the drought and this year 5 times better! I don't know if you heard of this type of gardening or if you are against or for Sq Ft Gardening, but this has changed gardening for me. It has very little weeds, uses less water, and I spend less time caring for this type of gardening. Many people also plant flowers among the veg's. I love gardening and am very interested in learning new ideas and would love to be able to read your book. Thank you.

  48. loischen 08/09/2011

    myth: prune flowering shrubs like roses and forsythia any time you have the time, right up to winter. is the source I use most often--if you prune after August, the new growth which comes as a result of pruning will be killed by frost in October, at least in the northern part of the country. Dead, diseased, damaged and "deranged" branches and stems can be pruned any time of year.

  49. Loued007 08/09/2011

    When I was little, my neighbor told us kids that the money plant grew from pennies. She would let us pick the pretty white seed pods and we would "buy" a cookie and lemonade from her. Also, my brother planted watermelon seeds and a huge watermelon appeared one morning - courtesy of our neighbor. Not quite the myths that you are talking about - but wonderful plant fairy tales!

  50. pondgal 08/09/2011

    One of the biggest myths we have encountered here in Canada is that rhododendrons require fully shaded sites and are difficult to grow. I have rhodos growing in some areas in almost full sun, but come winter snows, I make sure they're shaded from the late winter sun. The freeze and thaw cycle that comes to Ontario in February and March is what kills these beautiful plants. By ensuring the green foliage does not thaw and freeze again come nightfall, rhododendrons will continue to live for many years.

    Another myth about rhododendrons...that they only bloom once and then die. As long as one ensures an acidic soil, your rhododendrons and azaleas will bloom every year. Acidic soils can be achieved by adding pelleted sulphur or aluminum sulphate fertilizers, but these are short term chemical solutions that in the long run will not benefit your soil. I prefer using a more natural substance such as composted pine bark or pine needles collected from neighbourhood pine trees. Every year come spring I have a beautiful display of blooms which draws compliments from my neighbours.

  51. Annleesgardens 08/09/2011

    My husband's grandmother always told me not to set out annuals before Easter because they would freeze. The first time I tried it, there was a freeze - lol. But I have done it since then with no problem. The book sounds interesting and I would love to win it.

  52. mapetty 08/10/2011

    It's a myth that cacti don't need water!!! They really do in order to survive. :)

  53. appaloosa 08/10/2011

    Some people use to say never use black plastic under mulch. I found that was OK if you did not have a water problem or plants above it. I really prefer the black fabric now that allows water to go through but weeds do not grow.

  54. LemonLyme 08/10/2011

    The myth not to move peonies. I planted one and it didn't flower so I moved it and it thanked me with a few giant, fragrant flowers. Im hoping for more next year as it gets better established.

  55. donamendo 08/12/2011

    I heard from several people that if irises aren't transplanted every few years, they revert to the color purple. Can't think of one reason why DNA would change when a plant stays in the ground.

  56. TinaKoral 08/12/2011

    MYTH - that you need 6-8 hours of full sun to grow veggies. Many will thrive in much less!

  57. Gram5 08/14/2011

    Biggest myth-When friends give you a plant and say "Don't worry it does not spread! OMG -many plants can become a nightmare! (and take forever to tame)

  58. wthhyb 08/15/2011

    This does sound like an interesting book. The biggest myth (?)I have personally witnessed was my neighbor harvesting his okra. He would then cut off the leaf directly below where the pod had been, telling me that it was now useless as it only fed the individual pod. His okra by the end of the season were tall sticks with tiny leaves at the top.

  59. illinoisbrian 08/15/2011

    Couple of myths: First, whatever the height and spread is written on the plant tag, add a foot to each, especially shrubs. Either that, or I grow mutants!

    Second, just because it is native doesn't mean it won't spread uncontrollably. Natives usually have seeds that the birds love to eat and spread. Be prepared to watch your garden change without your input, sometimes to its detriment.

    I like the excerpts from the book. Looks like good, practical information, especially for inexperienced gardeners.

  60. pevansma 08/18/2011

    I'm a long time gardener. I've found that each yard has nooks and cranies that give me areas that I can use plants from other growing zones. It allows me to put new and interesting plants in these areas that wouldn't normally do well in my area. Would love to be better informed with your beautiful book.

  61. Jehanni 08/28/2011

    My "favorite" myths are those regarding what deer will and won't eat. I've been sworn to that they won't eat hot pepper plants or fruits--they will; and they turn up their noses at rhododendron--they don't. The largest contingent of deer in our yard at one time was 17; a typical fall or winter day finds 4 or 5 browsing just about anything from ground-level to 5 feet. My leland cypress, so far, have not been topiaried as much as the rhodies, arborvitae, and hardy kiwi. The hosta are clearly a favored salad bar unless covered by bird netting.
    So, I'm, experimenting with a variety of coping mechanisms, plant combinations, and scare tactics. It'll be a long campaign--I've got 30 acres of county park/deer refugee camp behind me, and only humor and common sense on my side. ;-)

    Looking forward to reading the book!

  62. COsprout 08/29/2011

    About tomatoes & full sunlight: I used to grow tomatoes in a spot that got at least 8 hours direct, intense sunlight (at 5400 ft. above sea level). They loved it and grew into huge monsters with many tomatoes. I now have to make do with a spot that gets less than 6 hours and they're growing OK, but much smaller & less productive. It's the same variety, and in the same town, but the difference seems to be the big trees nearby.

  63. tinkerbelletracy 08/29/2011

    I cannot wait to read this book! Just in the article I learned that some of the 'myths' I have believed for years are just that! Myths. I'm all for doing the least amount of damage possible to this wonderfully fragile environment we call home. It sounds like common sense ideas backed soundly by scientific facts.

  64. JustineM 08/29/2011

    A gardening myth I eventually found was not true?
    --> That money grows on trees!! Hahaha!

    I'm amazed by how much money I have spent on the gardens of this, my first home... but the return on the investments are already well worth it! And I am in it for the long haul. Can't wait to see my plants and trees mature over the years. I've been at it for four years now and must confess my LOVE for this new passion. Still so much to learn... but I am enjoying the education. Thank you for featuring books like Dr. Chalker-Scott's and the gardens and plants in Fine Gardening. Always so inspiring!!

  65. CristinaGardens 08/29/2011

    I'm in the middle of reading the informed gardener...I love it. Finally someone exploding the many horticultural myths. Hooray!

  66. judyhilo 08/29/2011

    Myth: succulents need full sun and like a dry climate. I live on the Big Island of Hawaii which is often humid, and my succulents get only a couple hours of morning sun. But they are thriving in terra cotta pots on my front porch. They are outgrowing their pots at an alarming rate and look almost prehistoric!

  67. reginadomin 08/29/2011

    I have a big garden , iwork on this much time for the flower and trees like too much.
    i like ear the nature alltime for me it is calm and peace for life.
    all time yhe life on the garden is incredible , all season good for the menthal illness

  68. reginadomin 08/29/2011

    I have a big garden , work all time for flower and trees , all season it is good the menthal stay on peace and calm
    I like too much the sound and silence to nature

  69. balex33 08/31/2011

    The funniest myth in Idaho is the advice to add sand to clay soil to break it up! Cement is what you end up with! Another funny one: my mother always said you had to "steal" seeds from your unsuspecting neighbors or they wouldn't grow! She was always snitching seeds wherever she went, much to my embarrassment...

  70. moniawiskwew 08/31/2011

    After attempting gardening in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and now in Central Alberta, I have tried everything ever written about keeping deer out of the garden. My experience dictates that Irish Spring soap, animal hair, metal pie plates tied to trees and marking my garden territory are all myths! However the garden is clean, the dogs are clipped, I am recycling pie plates and pee indoors now, so all is not lost by myth! :D Would love to add to my winter reading list on gardening to help pass the snow drifts.

  71. Shytown 12/04/2012

    In a day and age where everything is so fast paced, it is good to revert back to a enlightening domestic activity: planting flowers. Plants and flowers are a natural part of our environment which some insects and animals could not live without. Flowering a plant not only creates jobs for these insects, but also a place for them to call home and even mate. Gardening doesn't stop at insects and animals however, there are many ways humans can enjoy plants as well. We consume enough fruit from plants and thier flowers to create a $20,000 industry each year. Gardening is also a great source of exercise and a form of stress relief. Any one who participates in gardening will feel more calm, become more flexible and even burn calories.

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