Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Garden Myths Quiz

     Why should your kids have all the fun this time of year in school? Here's your end of the semester, Garden Finals Quiz. All answers are true or false:

1. Vitamin B-1 aids in reducing transplanting shock for new trees and shrubs. 

2. Don't plant trees in the summer.

3. Landscape trees need annual applications of a nitrogen fertilizer to stay green and healthy.

4. You have to buy new seeds for flowers and vegetables every year.

5. The only fertilizer your new bulbs need at planting time is bone meal.

6. The mounds of dirt created by earthworms are harmful to your lawn.

7. Water your lawn every day in the summer.

1. False. University research has shown that Vitamin B-1, by itself, does not reduce transplant shock. It's the other ingredients in that container, the small amounts of fertilizer, that do the job. 

Save your money and just use a diluted, complete liquid fertilizer at planting time.

2. False. If you plant a tree correctly, water it regularly while it is getting established and use a mulch to conserve moisture as well as cool the soil, a summer-planted tree will grow.
3. False. In tests conducted by University of California Cooperative Extension agents, applications on newly planted and established landscape trees of quick release fertilizers or slow release fertilizer showed no growth difference compared to trees where no fertilizer was added. The key, though: start with a healthy soil before planting. Add compost throughout the area. Top with several inches of an organic mulch.
4. False. Stored properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark location (such as under your bed or in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator) most seeds can remain viable for two or three years, perhaps longer. Exceptions include high water content seeds, such as corn.
5. False. Bone meal is just one element, phosphorus. A better choice at bulb planting time: a complete, balanced fertilizer that contains not only phosphorus, but also nitrogen, potassium and necessary micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, manganese and iron.
6. False. Earthworms are actually improving your lawn. They aerate the soil and add nutritious compost via the castings (the mounds) they leave behind. If you find the mounds unsightly, just rake them down back into the soil.
7. False. Lawns only need to be watered two or three times a week in the summer. Just be sure to water deeply.
0-3 correct: Add these two excellent garden references to your reading list: the Sunset Western Garden Book and the California Master Gardener Handbook. (find out more about these books on the links to the left, "Farmer Fred's Brains in a Box: Recommended Garden Books".

4-5 correct: Your thumbs are well on their way to being totally green.

6-7 correct: You probably have the healthiest yard on your street!


  1. What's my score if I didn't realize this was a test at first, and with each statement you wrote I reacted with "REALLY? I DIDN'T KNOW THAT!"

    Which is why I should read the first sentence or two of every post before moving onward.

  2. Which is why I fully expect to get a question Sunday along the lines of...."You said to water your lawn every day..."