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How do you tell if the information you are reading/viewing is correct?
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

August 20, 2017

This is David Suzuki, well-known to most Canadians for a number of involvements, but particularly for his hate of gardens, gardening and golf! Although his information is found all over the Web, on TV and radio and in books, generally it is coloured with anti-pesticide (incorrect) dogma.





On Global Television's First National news report one day in July some years ago, Sean O'Shay did a piece supposedly on the need to use fewer chemicals in our gardens. It started out by showing a commercial chemical applicator spraying a lawn, and the operator telling us that he was using Dursban. Then we were shown close-ups of garden pesticide labels that left out the specific manufacturers, but included the poison labels.

The inference, for me at least, was that they were trying to make it look as if the chemicals sold in garden centres are more poisonous than those applied by the commercial applicators. In fact, the Dursban named by the commercial applicator is the same basic product as Chlorpyrifos that at that time was still sold in garden centres.

Chlorpyrifos, made by Dow Chemical, is a useful product for many insects including ants. But I wouldn't want to be party to any suggestion that a commercial applicator can put it on any more safely than the average homeowner who reads and follows the directions on the label. Then came the suggestion that there were many ways of attacking plant pests without the use of chemicals.

Once again, the tired old idea that if it's organic, it must be good. It brought to mind the suggestion that a national garden writer made several years ago, and which I mentioned in one of my Canada's Weather Network lawn & garden reports that were running at that time. The idea is for smokers to collect cigarette butts in a small glass jar, add some water, and "let them steep." In fact, what you are "brewing" by doing this is Nicotine sulphate--a so-called natural product that used to be sold on the domestic market as an insecticide. It was removed from the market simply because it is quite deadly! And, that "brewed" by home gardeners thinking they're doing themselves and the planet a favour, is quite likely even more deadly.

Certainly such home-made products are far more deadly than any of the chemical products on garden centre shelves today. Finally, Global brought us the old beer trap method of slug control in the garden. There was film footage of a small white plastic dish being filled with beer and we were told that it would attract the slugs and they were then easy to get rid of. Well, may I add one small point, which must be done if this method is to work? The container with the beer must be buried in the ground so its rim is even with the soil surface. And, it's best to put a lid on it (Global TV did not), and cut a 3 cm diameter hole in the centre of the lid. That way, the slugs smell the beer, crawl to the smell, and fall in the hole, and remain trapped. But they will not climb up a steep, sloping dish to reach the suds, such as was indicated by Global!

Some few weeks back, a caller to my TALK 640 radio show in Toronto asked me the question, "how does a new gardener know what's right and what's wrong of the things we see and hear that we should be doing?" I wish I knew the answer to that question! It seems to me, the more information there is out there, the greater the percentage of it that is either incorrect, or not entirely correct.

Obviously, novice gardeners ought to pay attention to the original source of the information they are considering. Often today, and I guess it's not just in gardening and horticulture, people (often newly interested in a topic) hear, read or see something, and repeat it in another medium, but put an emphasis on one aspect. I well recall this happening a few years ago. An organic gardener thought she had read somewhere that Dormant Spray worked better in the spring if the two ingredients in it (lime sulphur and fine oil) were applied separately. She stated this on a large-audience radio gardening programme, and the host did not question it. Suddenly, thousands of people were telling friends and acquaintances of this important new piece of information. But, on searching back, no one could find any research to back up the statement. It is simply not correct.

Lime sulphur and oil spray are not only effective in their own rights but have a synergistic relationship when applied together, as in all accompanying instructions! Be on your guard, and stay with me as my fellow curmudgeons and I keep eyes and ears open for offending erroneous, in-correct information!


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