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Gardening old wives’ tales, fact of fiction?

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    ‘Old wives’ tales’ – “A widely held traditional belief that is now thought to be unscientific or incorrect”.

    There are many great old wives’ tales out there, some hold truth, some are quite far from the truth, but all are good conversation starters at the very least.

    In this article I’m exploring some of the ‘old wives’ tales’ that relate to gardening…

    “Black tea keeps your maiden hair fern happy”…

    Yep, seems strange to brew a cuppa for your fern, but actually this one really works!

    Grandmothers from way back threw their used tea leaves on their ferns which thrived!

    These days maiden hair ferns are often deemed a ‘difficult’ plant to grow.

    Yes, position is key with these guys, but maybe, like us they just love and need a nice cuppa (they like it black). Definitely worth a try.

    I know lots of people this has worked for.

    “Bury a sheep liver a spade’s depth under your passion fruit”.

    I can’t say I’ve tried this one myself,
    but we have had many customers over the years who swear this works.

    Liver is high in iron and over time will break down and give rich nutrients to a hungry passion fruit vine. 

    “One year’s seeds, seven year’s weeds”…

    I imagine most of us will hate this one to be true… unfortunately with some species of weeds it’s true!

    Most weed species are prolific producers of seeds (sometimes hundreds of thousands of seeds per plant!) and these seeds can survive and remain dormant for many years in the soil, germinating when conditions are right, reminding us we should have kept on top of our weeds in the first place!

    “Plant sweet peas on St Patrick’s Day” – False!

    This date is absolutely a great reminder that it’s time to plant sweet peas, but it is just an old tradition.

    Don’t worry if you’re a few weeks early or late.

    It won’t have any effect on your flowers, a good timely reminder that is all.

    “Nothing will grow under a walnut tree” – true.

    Walnuts produce a chemical called juglone which is highly toxic and leaches into the soil around them.

    This is the tree’s way to inhibit any competition.

    At best plants under a walnut tree
    will struggle and have stunted growth, at worst they will die.

    But on the upside, walnut trees once established, are a beautiful shade tree, so instead of plants, maybe try a nice table and chairs where you can sit and relax and enjoy the serenity while cracking a few walnuts!

    “Peeing on your lemon tree is good for it” – True (in moderation).

    Urine is high in nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other essential plant minerals that promote healthy growth! A natural and cheap fertiliser!

    And don’t worry, urine is actually sterile so is quite safe as long as those doing the peeing are healthy and aren’t on special medication or antibiotics.

    I did say in moderation – once a week is enough and make sure to pee on the ground around the plant, not on the plant itself.


    this is a good old German folklore that if it rains on June 27 it will continue to rain for the next seven weeks… if it doesn’t rain on June 27 then it will be dry for the next seven weeks.

    I’m definitely calling myth on this
    one, the weather is so unpredictable
    and changeable… however, this year, with it being so dry, I will secretly be keeping my fingers crossed for rain
    on June 27 – just in case!

    “Talking or singing to your plants helps them grow”

    At first I admit I was a little dubious about this, but the more research I did and the more studies I read it actually may be proven to be true!

    Different studies have shown that talking to plants help them grow faster than those plants that are grown in silence.

    And hey, what can it hurt to chat to your plants when you’re out in the garden?

    What great listeners plants are. And your secrets will always be safe!

    A win win in my opinion!