Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Archive for the Plant Care Category

Is Coir an Eco-friendly Substitute for Peat Moss?

In the search for a peat moss alternative, coir is the one that is most often discussed. Coir is made from the outer husk of coconuts and is a waste product from the coconut industry. Environmentalists are quick to point out that “since it is a waste product it’s use is more environmentally friendly than using peat moss.” How can such common sense logic be wrong?

Shipping coconut husks to a coir processing plant in Vietnam

Shipping coconut husks to a coir processing plant in Vietnam

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Peat and Peat Moss Alternatives

The horticulture industry is being blamed for depleting peat reserves and environmentalists are calling for a stop on using peat for growing plants. What are the peat moss alternatives? Is there a suitable substitute?

The horticulture industry would have no problems switching to another product instead of peat. After all, most gardeners are quite aware of the importance of preserving our environment. In this post, I will look at several peat moss alternatives to see if there is a viable option.

Peat and peat moss alternatives

Closeup of growing peat moss

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Mulch – How Does It Affect Soil?

Mulching the garden is a very common recommendation. Mulch will reduce the number of weeds and it will hold moisture in the soil but how does mulch affect the quality of soil?

There are lots of claims that mulch improves soil but have you ever seen numbers to validate them? I haven’t either. How exactly does mulch improve soil? It should add organic matter, but how much? It should increase the number of microbes, but is this really true? Unfortunately, almost nobody studies landscapes and gardens because no one will fund the work.

Luckily I was able to find one very good research paper that looked at this exact problem.

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

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Sunscald on Trees – Prevention

It might surprise you to learn that trees do get sunscald or sunburn and the remedy is not an SPF 30 lotion. Sunscald on trees usually happens on the south or south-west exposed bark. The bark is damaged and in severe cases can result in the death of the tree.

Historically, sunscald has been prevented by wrapping or painting the trunk of the tree. Do these preventative methods work? Are they still recommended? Time to have a closer look at the problem.

sunscald on sugar maple tree, prevention, by Robert Pavlis

Sunscald on a sugar maple tree, by Robert Pavlis

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Eggshells – How Not to Use Them in the Garden

Almost weekly I see a post in social media extolling the benefits of adding eggshells to the garden. In this post I am going to have a serious look at all of the benefits claimed for eggshells. Which advice makes sense and which is just a lot of bull?

eggshells in the garden

Eggshells in the garden

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