True or false? Traditional garden wisdom put to the test

Old man holding a basket of vegetablesMany people have fond memories of learning garden maintenance in Richmond at the knee of a grandparent or parent. These might be accompanied by a litany of advice about dos and don’ts and some handy tips. To question these might seem like sacrilege to some, but it’s time for some tough examination when it comes to these generational snippets of wisdom. Are they nostalgia-laden relics or time-honoured gold dust for the garden?

Sometimes we all need the help of an expert. If someone really wants to know what’s working or not in their garden, and what could make all the difference, they can contact a decent provider of garden maintenance in Richmond, like Town and Country Gardens, to help out in the short or long term.

Coffee grounds are good for garden maintenance in Richmond

This one is particularly persistent and also terribly untrue regardless of why you think they might be beneficial. They are often touted as an excellent slug repellent but neither the grainy texture nor the caffeine content are sufficient to deter this slimy gardener’s foe.

Coffee grounds are also said to balance pH and provide nutrients for the soil. Even if this were true – and there’s not much evidence that it is – it is not enough to offset the damage caused by caffeine itself. The reason why the coffee plant is so successful and has a high caffeine content is because this stimulant is inhibitive to the growth of other plants.

Frost is good for the taste of vegetables

Phew – this one is true. Frost causes two handy reactions in plants.

One is to release starches in the flesh and turn them into sugars. This is caused by the cells in veggies like parsnips expanding as they freeze. This splits cell membranes so that, when they thaw out again, they are flooded with sugars. This only works with a light frost though – a real ground freeze will take it too far and they will be ruined. Watching and judging the weather carefully is a gardener’s lot.

The other response to frost is that roots will push more sugars up to the plant to help it survive the winter. This works particularly well with over-wintering brassicas.