Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gardening Myths

'Coffee for Roses' is a new book by C.L. Fornari on misleading myths about backyard gardening.  The book title alone is one you may have to think about. Do you put eggshells, banana peels or spent coffee grounds around your rosebushes? #25 If so, why? Banana skins are high in potassium, eggshells contain calcium and coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen. Guilty on all accounts, but in the book it is suggested that a balanced organic fertilizer will feed the plants quicker and more efficiently.  This I do as well, and will confess that in early summer I cut a banana peel into strips and pushed them under the climbing 'New Dawn' rose on the arbour out the front. Wouldn't you know it, every morning there they were, pulled out to look like a passerby had tossed the peels on the ground.
It doesn't hurt to place these things under your roses, but you'd be better off to add them to the compost bin to break down and combine with other nutrients.
You can leave the burlap around the roots of a balled tree when planted. #29 This really is an old wives' tale, because years ago you likely could leave the burlap on as it was made of a different material than today. I can attest to what happens when you don't remove the burlap when a Japanese maple in our garden finally succumbed to extreme cold weather one winter. We had at least loosened and pulled the burlap away but after three years of supposedly breaking down, it looked as good as the day we planted it.  When diagnosing a dying shrub for someone, Fornari declared it had died from RBD: residual burlap disorder. (love this!)
You can't grow a female holly without a male holly close by. #36 To grow the shrub only, of course you can, but for berries you need a male and female plant so that the male's pollen will fertilize the flowers for fruit. Many nurseries sell a pot with a male and female together in it.
I won't go on to share any other of the myths but will comment that there is interesting reading with the 'Did you Know' sections as well.
Many of the myths I read about take common sense to figure out if they're true or not. However if your mother and grandmother did particular things in the garden, you likely carry on the tradition.  Why else would they pass down these gems of wisdom?
The myths and folklore contained in the book will educate the new gardener, and perhaps amuse the experienced but I can guarantee everyone will find something in the book they've done, believing it to be true.
There are a number of pleasing quotes throughout the book and my favourite is:
"It is only when you start a garden - probably after age fifty- that you realize something important happens every day." ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth~
The book from St. Lynn's press ISBN 978-0-9892688-3-7 is readily available at book stores.
Thank you to Danielle Ernest for the opportunity to review Coffee for Roses.


  1. Wow, well, I must say, I am amused, (although I am not an experienced gardener), but rather a newbie, having 'given birth' to a few adorable annuals this spring, and as such, am intrigued by Charlesworth's words, which make me conclude that, perhaps, this little hobby has more to do with 'empty nest syndrome', than just a bunch of pretty petals!

    Thanks for the lovely review, Judith!


  2. That sounds like a great book Judith. Entertaining and informative too! Thanks for the review!

  3. Good. I am tired of saving those coffee grounds anyway. The only good thing is that they are free and free is good. And, yes, I did the banana peel thing, too, for the first time this summer. Ugh. Grom now on it's going in the garbage. Compost bins are not a good idea on a very small property where one can't get very far away. Plus, we have rabid skunks who like nothing better than pawing around in a compost pile. Thanks for the review. I am personally thrilled with it!

  4. Coffee for Roses sounds like an informative and amusing book. A compost bin is where our peels and grounds land up. It's interesting to think that before access to organic fertilizers someone realized that these things would help roses.

  5. Oh this book sounds WONDERFUL and I am soooooo getting one. Thank you, Judith!

    The lady who had the Monet tea I just posted about is coming in the morning to take a look at my garden, help with some design and advice, etc. She is high on demand and was VERY busy with the 2 week Parade of Homes just closed.....I finally could get her for a look-see. I hope she knows I am just beginning and haven't a clue what I am doing, except for attention and love. I am really trying, I so want a pretty garden.....one the deer won't digest of an evenin'.

    Wish You Were Here.


  6. We learned over 20 years ago about the male and female hollies. We made sure that we had a male planted at our former cottage and then this one too!

  7. I've never noticed a bit of good because of coffee grounds or egg shells..I do remember one year saving shells for a month to use in the garden...nada zip nothing different. I'll have to check this book out and see what else doesn't work! LOL!

  8. That's really a true quote there at the end. Gardening is an amazing experience. I love to see the wow in our grands eyes when they visit their grandfather's garden and see what is growing,

  9. not being much of a gardener, I really haven't tried any of these, although I've heard of them. My method of gardening involves benign neglect and a bit of prayer. I'm lucky if I remember to water! fortunately, I've found a few very forgiving types of flowers and herbs.

  10. Judith I have always wondered about the banana peel. My neighbor does his part to compost on the back side of the fence where the roses grow, maybe they benefit! LOL!

  11. What a fabulous share! I'm going to look for that book myself :)

  12. Sounds interesting...I've heard lots of myths, but I've never really tried any of them.

  13. That sounds like an interesting book, Judith. Now if I knew what to feed hydrangeas??? Someone told me to put coffee grounds around them, but I'm not a coffee drinker, as you know! LOL!!

  14. What a neat book! I too have heard some of these myths and wondered about the science behind them. I did put spent tea leaves on my roses at one time, but to be honest could never tell much of a difference. And I love that quote you ended with!

  15. Sounds like a book I must read

  16. Sounds like an interesting book! Wonder if it says anything about planting cucumbers to surround sweet corn in the garden, to keep the raccoons away? That one did work for me (but now I buy my sweet corn as I use most of my room for flowers!)

  17. Yep, on the eggshells, mom did it so I do. For me, I have one large holly scrubb, and I get berries, but not every year. For some reason, they seem to come every other. Not sure why. Fun book to look into.


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