Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

20150316 This is actually one of the best bits of gardening advice anyone will ever give you, and it couldn’t be simpler to apply. Whenever everything is going well, simply don’t change your habits.

In the gardening world, there is always someone to suggest a new technique, perhaps something he saw on the Internet or that a neighbor told him. Unless the technique actually solves a problem you have, lightens your workload or it saves you money – and even if it seems highly logical! – if you’re already getting great results, why risk the change?! I get a lot of gardening questions, most about legitimate gardening problems, but quite a few simply from people who are concerned that their method might be wrong, since a neighbor or friend does something else. In such a case, I always ask if they are satisfied with their results, and if they say yes, that I suggest sticking to it.

I hear some pretty crazy stuff – from applying birth control pills to African violets for better bloom to cleaning plant leaves with mayonnaise – but it may only seem crazy to me. It’s a bit like how a placebo can effect human health: when you take a pill that you are convinced might help you, it may just do so, even if it’s only a sugar pill.

With plants, my theory is that when you believe something works, you may inadvertently give that plant better attention and care and thus get better results, even though it wasn’t really because of your technique. I suspect that repeatedly pregnant lady feeding birth control pills to her African violet was simply giving it really good care.

So, I repeat: when your garden is doing well, just leave well enough alone.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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