20 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Gardening

Thought you knew it all? Better sit down. You’re going to be amazed by what you learn.

1.Soil is rich with life:

According to Ohio State University agriculturalists, “There are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on the earth,” so a little respect when you and your spade are out there digging. Your tool is wandering through “8 to 15 tons of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, earthworms, and arthropods.” You may not see them, but they’re there.

2.Chat up your plants:

Chat up your plants and trees to nurture them. Pennsylvania State University researchers cite German professor Gustav Fechner’s book, The Soul-life of Plants,” for introducing this idea in 1848. More recently, “Smithsonian Magazine” profiled German forester Peter Wohlleben whose insights include introducing two trees that are best friends, sharing sunlight and root systems. “When one dies, the other usually dies soon after.”

3.Baking soda benefits your garden:

Add to your list of baking soda benefits for your garden. Just a few teaspoons can boost the sweetness of your tomatoes because this household staple acts to reduce acidity. You may already be aware of how dramatically acid/alkaline impacts plants if you grow hydrangeas. If you live in Ohio, your tomato crop may be especially coveted since tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.

4.Don’t count on fencing to deter deer:

These graceful animals are capable of jumping 8-foot fences, says Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont whose Green Mountain Gardener blog is a must-read. Dr. Perry says that while tall fences may not deter deer, thick fences do, so focus on fortifying the width of your fence if you’ve tried everything else.

5.Make friends with weeds:

Butterflies are more attracted to weeds than they are to flowers, so why not invite some to stick around for that reason? According to “Good Housekeeping” magazine gardening editors, “new cultivars of popular flowers have been bred for enhanced color and size, but have often lost their fragrance in the process.” This eliminates heavenly smells that attract butterflies, so weeds can serve a purpose despite their bad reputations.

6.Call fruits you grow by their proper names

Raspberries, peaches, cherries, pears, apples and strawberries all belong in the rose family and each of these fruits are cousins to the flowers sent on Valentine’s Day. By the way, nectarines and peaches are so closely related, you could graft cuttings from either tree onto the opposite tree’s branches, expanding your summer fruit harvest.

7.Who needs cash when you’ve got tulips?

 History tells the fascinating story of how tulips became more valuable than gold in the 16th century, so when you tuck your bulbs into the earth for spring blooming, a little respect, please. Things were so unstable that when the tulip market crashed, so did the Dutch economy.

8.Work in a garden and you’ll be happier:

 Plant tending helps the brain produce serotonin, “the happy chemical that can combat depression,” say Dumb Little Man website contributors. Read all about the emotional benefits you get from gardening at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401, but don’t overdo it or you could become obsessed, say experts who have seen it happen.

9.To compost or not to compost:

That is the question? Folks with yards not only have the advantage of planting in ground rather than in containers prized by apartment dwellers, but they likely have room to compost, too. It takes zero effort to throw organic waste (e.g., egg shells, chopped banana peels, coffee grounds) into a barrel, wait for everything to decompose and feed a garden lavishly. As a bonus, there’s less garbage to bag and toss.

10.Your garden can turn you into a philosopher:

Says The Organized Homemaker Claudia Weekes. You’ll risk failure but get more creative. Don’t rush, grasshopper! Once you learn that “a garden is never finished,” you qualify as a sage, says Impatient Gardener’s Erin Schanen. Who knew digging in dirt could make you wise?

11.What you plant reflects your personality 

Are you passionate about sunflowers? A single sunflower is actually a collection of between 1,000 and 2,000 individual blooms, held together by a single stalk. Lavish displays of stately flowers says a lot about the pride you take in your garden but be wary of the world’s largest flower (titan arum) reaching heights of 15-feet because they smell like rotting meat!

12.Not every vegetable is authentic

They’re not in the Witness Protection Program but they are misclassified if you’ve been referring to the pumpkins and avocados you’ve been patiently cultivating as veggies. Both of these edibles are fruits, classified as such because they bear the plant’s seeds, a dead giveaway when making a proper identification.

13.Strawberry Fields Forever?

 That’s a possibility in addition to being a Beatles’ hit song because the strawberry plant’s bumpy surface is actually the fruit’s seeds. As the only fruit on the planet with skin that hosts seeds, a single berry could flaunt 200 of them, so your garden might truly host strawberries forever.

14.Grape cultivators

Grape cultivators carry on one of the oldest traditions on Earth. Your arbor may be filled with plump grapes destined for your fruit bowl, but with each planting, you emulate Mesopotamia’s 8000-year-old history. Archaeologists have found evidence that Mesopotamian grapes preceded Egypt’s agricultural acumen by 3,000 years.

15.Garlic mustard isn’t garlic

 It is an invasive plant with a predisposition for destruction, invading both Eastern and Midwestern gardens throughout the U.S. and scaring away native plants. Left to flourish, garlic mustard plants are capable of wiping out indigenous plant species expeditiously.

16.Plant Iris if you want more rain

 to water your garden. This lush purple plant got its name from the Greek word rainbow and according to mythology, this flower was dedicated to the goddess Artemis in hopes that she would bring more downpours followed by rainbows. Worried about watering your spring flowers? Planting Iris did the job thousands of years ago, so it’s worth a try.

17.Some plants aren’t who they say they are

Vanilla beans may originate within orchid pods, but these delicious beans are more closely related to corn than they are to members of the bean family. Daisies, yarrow, goldenrod, asters and bachelor buttons are first cousins to sunflowers and poinsettias were named for a politician: U.S. minister to Mexico, Joel Poinsett.

18.Europeans colonizing the Americas were reticent to bite into pineapples

Because they thought that they were oversized pinecones. Once they hacked into the fruit they realized that they were mistaken, but that this plant is unique: It’s the only edible member of the bromeliad family that also happens to include Spanish moss.

19.You can have fun playing with snapdragons

If you thought this showy flower existed only to provide eye candy to the world as it flourishes in your garden, you missed knowing about the surprise that awaits if you interact with one of these blooms. Choose a bloom and squeeze the sides to watch a dragon’s mouth open and close. Do it a couple of times for fun. Your snapdragons won’t mind. Learn more about gardening fun facts.

20.Most everyone can grow the planet’s only surviving member of an ancient order

The Ginkgo biloba tree is a pharmaceutical marvel but homeowners prize this tree for its beauty and history. If you live within USDA zones 3 to 9, plant one — but allow lots of space since this tree can grow to a height of between 80 and 100 feet with a 60-foot branch spread. Click here to know the best time to start a garden.