Common Myths About Growing Vegetables in Your Garden
Whether you’re planting your first garden, or have been growing your own veggies for years, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the advice that you hear. This year, grow your best veggies ever by learning the truth about some common garden myths.
Myth 1 - Vegetable gardens need sun all day long
Vegetables do need full sun to grow. But in gardening terms, “Full Sun” means at least 6 hours per day. In fact, many veggies actually prefer some late afternoon shade to prevent sun scald!
Some common vegetables that get sun scald on the fruit are peppers and tomatoes. If you live in an area with hot, intense summer sun, try using some shade cloth to cut down on the hot afternoon sun. So if you want to plant a garden but have lots of nearby trees or buildings casting shade, don’t give up! Pick a spot that gets six hours or more of sunlight, preferably in the morning and midday, and you will have happy plants.
Myth 2 - To get sweeter tomatoes, add sugar to the soil when planting
Sweeter tomatoes do have a higher sugar content, but not because of the amount of sugar in the soil! Plants deposit sugar in their fruit through photosynthesis, which converts sunlight to sugar. Adding sugar to the soil will not help this. Plus, it will mostly dissolve and wash out of your soil as soon as you irrigate your newly planted tomato. Instead of sugar, feed your tomato a balanced fertilizer and top dress with Azomite. In addition to using a good fertilizer, choose a variety that is naturally sweeter. Most cherry tomatoes are sweet and for a slicer, try growing the Big Rainbow. The best way to get a sweet tomato is grow it yourself and pick it at the peak of ripeness!
Myth 3 - If your garden soil is clay, add sand to fix it
If your soil is heavy clay and doesn’t drain well, you might think it would make sense to add fast-draining sand to improve it – or visa versa. However, this is actually a good recipe for making bricks! Don’t turn your garden into a brick; add organic matter to clay or sandy soil to improve its structure. Planting a cover crop in the fall is also a good plan for building high quality soil for your garden.
Myth 4: Organic pesticides are always non-toxic
Organic pesticides are better for the environment than conventional pesticides. But this does not make them non-toxic – they do have to be deadly to pests, after all! Some organic pesticides are non-toxic to everything but the target pest, such as Cyd-X that only affects codling moths. Others can be toxic to non-target insects, such as neem oil. Still others can be dangerous if safety precautions are not taken, such as Evergreen. All pesticides should be used according to the label directions, and you should use gloves and other safety gear when applying them to reduce the risk of hurting yourself or the environment.
Bottom line is to carefully read all of the product label, follow it and heed any precautions that is listed. So this summer, avoid following the advice of these gardening myths, and grow organic for life!
For more information that is relevant to your local area, see our Resource Guide on agricultural cooperatives.