Gardening takes time.
In an era where time is a precious commodity, people look for methods that are quicker, better and easier.
Combine lack of time with a desire to go organic or at least forgo synthetic chemicals and weird, strange and even dangerous ideas are circulated through social media.
Just check out any gardening chat pages and its discussions. Home grown methods to rid areas of weeds and insects abound.
One thing these recipes have in common is that they solve problems with ingredients that are already in the home and require very little labour.
Recipes touted for killing weeds contain a combination of the following: vinegar, bleach, salt, Epson salts, dish soap and hot water.
Apply strong vinegar to plants on a hot day and the top growth will die. If the plants have a strong root system the plant will soon send up new growth.
The only plants that vinegar will kill are seedlings which are easy to kill with a hoe or pulling. Vinegar is an acid and can change the pH of the soil which can tie up needed nutrients. Small doses of vinegar kill frogs and toads.
Bleach is a poison that can be deadly. Yes it will kill the top growth but mixed with the wrong ingredients it will form poisonous gasses.
The only use for bleach in the garden is to sanitize tools or chlorinate a pool.
Salt, even weak concentrations can kill plants.
Stronger concentrations will sterilize the soil leaving it bare until the salt slowly leaches into other areas of the landscape. Applying a little bit of salt a number of times has the same result as applying a large amount of salt at one time.
Liquid dish soap is relatively harmless to weeds in light doses but it coats insects, harmful and beneficial, leaving them immobile and they die.
Hot water scalds all that it touches; tops of plants, worms and insects. Repeatedly killing the top growth of plants will deplete the reserves in the roots and eventually kill the plant.
The soil is the most important part of the garden, take care of it. Do not poison it with salt, vinegar or bleach.
There are similar ideas circulating on how to get rid of ants: Corn Meal, Baking soda, artificial sweetener, vinegar, boiling water.
The only way to kill an ant colony is for the ants to take the poison into the colony and feed it to the ants including the queen.
Ants are careful about what they take back to feed the colony which eliminates corn meal, baking soda and artificial sweeteners as they are not considered suitable food.
If ants ingest any of these ingredients they are not likely to explode as many sites suggest.
Vinegar and boiling water kill on contact.
Pouring the liquids into the ant hill will kill part of the colony.
A more effective method is to boil up a solution of water, borax and sugar. Just remember it is poison and will kill any creature that is attracted to the sweet taste including dogs. It is an organic poison.
Ants will avoid crossing areas that contain cinnamon, bay leaves and mint.
It was once commonplace to crumble them in cupboards as an insect deterrent.
Disturbing the nest can cause the ants to move but it is impossible to predict where the next hill will be.
When reading or hearing any easy solution to an age old problem ask: Why wasn’t this solution used in the past? Is it logical? If it is too good to be true, ignore it.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org