Gardening: Plenty of misinformation floating about social media

How people obtain information has expanded from books, newspapers, TV, and radio to websites and media platforms. Editors, authors, reporters and producers of the older style media are held accountable for the accuracy of information. With websites, one should check dates, and verify the content with a couple sources before taking it to be true. Social media information is only as good as the person that originally posted it and finding that person or report can be time consuming.

Lack of accountability has resulted in inaccurate information being passed from site to site and person to person.

Before taking the information and sharing ask the following questions. Is it logical? Where did it originate? Are the credentials of the website or blog reputable?

Using tire planters for vegetables has come under question lately. Old tires, which are readily accessable, are used as they absorb heat, warming the soil. They can form instant raised beds.

Tires are made of rubber and chemicals and according to the random posts, leach into the soil where they are absorbed by the vegetables and eaten by people. According to McGill University’s page “Source for Science, separating sense form nonsense” no tests have been made on soil surrounding rubber tires.

They do state that heterocyclic aromatic amines and polycyclic hydrocarbons are slow to leach out of the tire while metallic salts leach quickly. Once again, tests have not been conducted. In cases like this it is up to people to weigh the pros and cons, then make a decision.

The use of Glyphosates which is the active ingredient in Roundup and Touchdown has been controversial for many years. The chemical has been tested by many countries throughout the world to determine if it is a carcinogenic. The findings with the exception of The World Health Organization were that it was unlikely to cause cancer. The WHO listed it as slightly carcinogenic the same category as they placed red meat.

Deborah Kurrasch, a neuroscientist at the University of Calgary has been researching the link between glyphosates and the brain. Her findings were that the chemical on its own was harmless but once mixed with other chemicals to make it usable on crops, the toxicity increases.

Kurrasch released a paper last winter on a study of nematodes exposed to Touchdown. The worms received a similar exposure to the chemical as would an average applicator. She found that the exposed worms had some neurodegeneration but explained that for humans to be affected they would need a genetically predisposed condition.!

Neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, are a synthetic version of Nicotine. It is used to prevent insect damage and can be used in a number of different ways such as; to treat seed, at planting time and as a spray to combat insects. With a soil half life of between 25 – 100 days the chemical stays with the plant throughout its growing season.

In 2016 Health Canada found that the level of colthianidin and thiamthoxan in water supplies unacceptable which is lead to the announcement last year that the use of the two chemical were to be phased out over 5 years.

Neonics work by disrupting or over stimulating an insects nervous systems resulting in the insect not being able to function causing death. Neonics do not differentiate between harmful and beneficial insects meaning many pollinating insects including bees suffer a loss.

Before passing on information about which store or greenhouse uses neonics on their plants, find out if it is true. Home Depot was singled out on social media and it no longer sells plants treated with the chemicals.

These are just a few items of misinformation floating through social media. Like most they have some degree of truth or they would not be shared. Start being part of the solution, read posts carefully, Question the source, look at the date and if there are any doubts do not share.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at

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