Osmocote Advertisement

Wake Up and Smell the Science!


I’m not always the sharpest trowel in the garden bucket, but even I have noticed a recent trend in horticulture. Suddenly, gardening experts are getting all “sciencey” and stuff about growing things, and they’re debunking conventional wisdom left and right. If you do a search on the Intertubes for “garden myths,” you will see that there are more debunked myths about gardening than there are actual facts. And, as we all know, the Intertubes are the place you go for Science! and The Truth. And cat videos.

So, while I was sitting here waiting for spring to arrive – which should happen any decade now – I went on the Intertubes and did some research on the Science! of some of the most conventional wisdom in the gardening playbook to determine its veracity … and you’re going to be ASTOUNDED at what I discovered! (I borrowed that line directly from a headline below a very interesting story about how to make cat videos.)

The grass is always greener on the other side.

TRUE. We all knew this in our hearts but it wasn’t until satellite imagery revealed lawn hues from space that researchers were able to quantify this effect. They note that from our vantage point on the ground, the phenomenon is more difficult to assess, hence, the erroneous belief that the grass can’t possibly always be greener on the other side.
But, as Science! now shows us, it is. Incidentally, scientists fear that should this technology fall into the wrong
hands – particularly realtors – we will all pay dearly. Literally.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

TRUE. A noted and somewhat reputable university strapped microscopic-sized cameras to an army of biting midges (no-see-ums) that were trained to cling to smooth stones. These stones were then rolled across a bed of moss in an enclosed area. When researchers stopped scratching, they were able to check the videos. Sure enough, while the surviving and extremely annoyed midges were covered in moss, none of that stuff attached itself to the stones. Researchers are still seeking a practical application for this knowledge.

Everything’s coming up roses.

FALSE. Scientists planted seeds, bulbs and fibrous root systems of hundreds of different genuses and species in test plots all over the United States, Canada and Luxembourg (really, I have no idea). Unremarkably, the only planted material that came up roses was from the Rosa genus. It should be noted that researchers were able to cultivate some rosemary, rose campion, rose of Sharon and several other anomalies, but even with the inclusion of these plants, roses were far from everything that came up. The estate of Ethel Merman issued a statement in which it expressed its disappointment in the findings and noted that “it makes no sense to sing ‘Roses are coming up roses.’’’ I concur, but Science! is Science!, folks.

A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.

FALSE. Was American poet James Russell Lowell onto something when he penned the phrase, “A weed is no more than a flower in disguise, Which is seen through at once, if love give a man eyes”? Or, as scientists now suspect, was he simply under the spell of a powerful drug, produced by the “weed” of which he seemed so enamored? Describing his time at Harvard College, he wrote, “During Freshman year, I did nothing, during Sophomore year I did nothing, during Junior year I did nothing, and during Senior year I have thus far done nothing in the way of college studies.” Today, he would be called “a stoner.” I rest my scientific case.

Cool as a cucumber.

FALSE. Who died and made cucumbers cool, huh? Now, an artichoke, that’s a cool vegetable. Or kohlrabi. Or fiddleheads. Or dinosaur kale. Or a pumpkin. Heck, you can make a jack-o’-lantern out of that! Do you want to get really cool? How about the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato? Or Romanescu broccoli? Huh??
Wait … wait a minute … I just got a text from the Science! Police. Seems I’ve strayed out of the scientific realm and into Intertubes Opinionland. Sorry. Just one more cat video and I’ll get back to my research. Really. I promise. Okay, maybe two more.

Mike Nowak is an author, speaker, humorist, environmentalist, show host and entertainer. You can follow his exploits at mikenowak.net

categories

popular

Article Thumbnail
Blog
Tool Time

If you grow vegetables, one of the most valuable tools around is a soil thermometer. That’s because many vegetable seeds ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Lawn Gone

My neighbor just paved over his front yard. For those of you who are already doubled over in laughter, saying, “That wacky ...


Article Thumbnail
Departments
From the Editor - NovDec 2017

In the world of fashion, styles change rapidly. All of a sudden this summer, women started walking down the street with their …


Article Thumbnail
Features
Poinsettia and Its Kin

They don’t look alike. Not even close. But kinfolk come in all shapes and sizes. True of people and true of plants.


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Signs of Spring?

So here I am, wandering around with my nose towards the ground, scrounging for signs of spring. I’ve found a few — snowdrops ...


questions

I am interested in growing fruit trees in my suburban DuPage County yard. Can sweet cherries be grown here? Can you suggest varieties of apples, pears, peaches, apricots and plums that are hardy and disease resistant?

What are the three best houseplants that everyone should own and why?

We all seem to plant the basic herbs like basil, rosemary and parsley. What suggestions can you offer for more exotic herbs that I could add to my garden to spice things up both for cooking and adding interest/beauty to my landscape?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement