Garden Folklore That Works,
by Charlie Ryrie;
Ryrie's book is a compendium of myth, magic and folk wisdom handed over the garden fence, with the hope that if it has lasted this long, there must be something to it. Lay a rope on the planting bed and your neighbour's cat will stay out of it. (Cats think ropes are snakes.) And did you know that the shape of asparagus indicates a potential aphrodisiac?
Much is in a name, and buried in this title is the key word “tips.” Gardeners love little nuggets of information, especially those passed along with a wink and a nudge.
Reading a book of tips is entertaining and sometimes offers information you can really use. For example, there's practical advice on lifting snowdrops and concocting hormone-laced willow water for transplants. And there are lists of plants that thrive in acid and alkaline soils and blossoms that attract hummingbirds. The book also includes recipes for potting soil and kitchen-made insect repellents.
It's smart to read Reader's Digest's comprehensive disclaimer, however. Some tips may not work, for instance the make-it-yourself weeper hose (unlikely to leak sufficient water). Other tips could cause plant problems. (Keeping the lawn cut low to discourage slugs results in a weakened lawn.)
One tip might do you serious injury. (Attempting to remove pesticides from sprayed grass clippings through composting.) So take a tip from the publisher and read for enjoyment, but practise with caution.
-- Judith Adam