Garden Wives’ Tale Or Fact?

I’ve always believed that getting the best results out of gardening starts with simply listening to all the advice that exists out there and then just doing what feels natural.  You do what feels right in the pit of your stomach.  Sometimes this feeling makes you do things that no one has told you to do and might seem a little crazy to the ordinary man, but you decide to do them anyway.  Most of the time, following your gut helps yield successful results.  It makes you feel that you know best about what works in your garden.  You are one with the soil.  When doing something out of the ordinary gets you great results, you begin to share your ideas with others and you hope that they will follow what you are telling them.  Sometimes you feel like a scientist when doling out your advice and sometimes you feel like a quack.  I realized that there really aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules out there for gardeners, but there is loads of advice.  This weekend I started to think about all the gardening advice I have received over the years and then I started to wonder how much of this advice was simply old wives’ tales that I have been told time and time again and how much of the advice that I follow was based on fact?

Most of the wives’ tales I know about the garden came from my Grandma.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those old gardening tips that are sort of urban legend, like a proverb, and are generally passed down by an older generation to a younger generation.  Such “tales” usually consist of superstition, folklore or unverified claims with exaggerated and/or untrue details.  I can think of two things that I was always told to do in the garden by my Grandma that I’m not sure helps or not.  Garden wives’ tale or not, that is the question!

The first is to always remove all “suckers” from your tomato plants because all of the plant’s energy will go to the “sucker” and not to the growing fruit.  A “sucker” is the little stem that grows out from between two healthier stems.  Think of it as a little stem that is growing from the middle of stems that are in a “V” formation.  I think this makes sense and I do it all the time.  Too many branches on the tomato would require more energy to keep the branches alive and growing.  By simply pinching the “suckers” off, less energy is utilized for stem production and this energy instead goes into the making of a tomato that is bigger, sweeter and juicier than if you didn’t attend to those little “suckers”.  So in my garden, you will always see perfect “V” formation tomato stems.  Also, think back to the old days when I’d be in the tomato patch with my Grandma and she was screaming out “SUCKERS” for all to hear!
WIVES’ TALE OR FACT:          FACT–in my humble opinion

My Grandma’s next rule had to do with toads in the garden.  Finding a toad in your garden was one of the luckiest things she could imagine.  I agree in concept that toads eat bugs and so having a toad or two in the garden is helpful in keeping the bug population down.  However, my Grandma said if you ever removed a toad from your garden, your garden would suffer from blight.  To her, toads were like her garden soldiers.  Toads were good luck and you didn’t want to curse yourself by removing one and making it angry.  For whatever reason, my garden is a toad haven.  Even though I don’t really believe the curse warning, I never remove one.  Why take such a risk?  I have enough problems in the garden with woodchucks and all of that.  Why would I deliberately try to anger my toads and make them whip up a nasty curse?

WIVES’ TALE OR FACT:          TALE

So suckers and toads are a couple of the wives’ tales/facts I remember related to the garden.  Sure there were others I remember not pertaining to the garden (i.e., Never sleep with the curtains open when the moon is full.  If a moon beam hits you, you turn crazy.), but that’s another post.  Are there other garden wives’ tales out there or any hard and fast facts that we should all adopt in our routines?  If you have one, leave a comment and let me know what it is.  This Summer, I’m needing all the help I can get when it comes to gardening.

4 thoughts on “Garden Wives’ Tale Or Fact?

  1. I can remember you building “toad houses.” Really you did that. It was a concrete brick with two holes in it. You would bury the brick in the garden, cover with dirt leaving only enough so the toad could go down in the cool brick. Remember now.

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