“Disease prevention must be the primary goal since no chemicals cure a Phytophthora-infected plant, “ says Penn State Extension. Most extensions and other gardening information sites state similar things. But there still are Extension sites and horticultural companies, advocating the use of fungicides. Who are we to believe?
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Misinformation, outdated information and just plain greedy merchandizers keep gardeners guessing. And in the meantime many gardeners spend hundreds of dollars buying products that don’t work. What is a gardener to do?
Fortunately there are a few sites that will give you good impartial and practical advice.
Garden Professors blog is a good starting point. The blog challenges and refutes gardening practices and products using scientific methods.
The blog is written by four professors. I have been fortunate enough to interact with the four professors in person or through Google hangouts. They are the modern knights of Gardening Truth. They are not afraid of offending anyone by challenging gardening practices or products.
Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott calmly backs all her horticultural myth busting with scientific proof. She has science on her side. She has written two books on horticultural myth busting, The Informed Gardener and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again. Many of the myths are located on Linda’s website.
Dr. Jeff Gillman, fed up with misinformation from “garden gurus,” started his life-long quest to shine the light on questionable gardening advice. He is a strong advocate for truth in the gardening industry. He has written several books on the subject including, The Truth About Garden Remedies and The Truth About Organic Gardening.
Straight shooting Dr. Bert Cregg writes many Michigan State University Extension factsheets, with a focus on trees.
The energetic Dr. Holly Scoggins, not only teaches at Virginia Tech but she is also the director of the Hahn Horticulture Garden and she owns a 19-acre farm with four acres of u-pick blueberries along with Christmas trees, honeybees, vegetables and chickens. She is interested in public horticulture, greenhouse management and nursery production.
Most Extension sites are amazing, but you do run into some that haven’t updated their information or have too little funding to provide quality material. No, I am not going to point fingers to which extension sites they need help. You/they know who they are.
I personally like to use the Cornell University Extension and the University of Minnesota Extension because they are good and have information for my climate zone. I also like to paddle in the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources because they have so much neat stuff.
Botanical gardens can also be a good source of information. I constantly use The Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder. There is detailed, accurate information on 5, 400 plants on their database. Love it.
Finding good unbiased information amongst horticultural companies is like finding gems in muddy water. By trial and error I have found some great sites. One of the best sites for fruit trees and bushes is Stark Bro’s Nursery. They have great practical information.
I would like to say that you get unbiased scientific information from Master Gardeners, but I have come across too many individual discrepancies to give every individual Master Gardener a seal of approval. Put it this way, are all doctors good? No. They may have had similar training, but some will shine with their knowledge, experience and effectiveness, and other doctors are, to put it politely, just plain turkeys.
Gardening is more than growing. It is a way of life. Thoroughly opinionated and willing to question horticultural dogmas, Garden Rant examines every nook and cranny of the gardening world. As their motto says, they aim to uproot the gardening world. And they do it with good prose and cutting wit. The group, Amy Stewart, Susan Harris, Elizabeth Licata and Michele Owens, provide an invaluable service by cutting through the BS. Thank you! One of these days, I will have the pleasure of meeting you all in person.
I hope this helps. Drop me line if know other sites that give you good impartial, practical gardening advice.