After reading about some of these so-called remedies in Jeff Gillman’s first book, The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why, it’s gotten me wondering what it is that makes gardeners try them in the first place. Here are some of my thoughts; see if you can add to them.
Fear of the Unknown
Vinegar I know, coffee grounds I know, but what the heck is indole-3-butyric acid? Vinegar is in my salad dressing and I drink coffee, so they must be safe, but that indole whatever stuff sounds dangerous! We tend to think that familiar things are safe, and are more inclined to use them in our gardens. (Indole-3-butyric acid is a common rooting hormone, by the way.)
Penny-wise and Pound-foolish
We tend to think of commonplace things as being inexpensive, and when we check out a product specifically designed to deal with our garden problem, we practically faint from sticker shock. Pricing things out accurately is a little more complicated than it might first appear. If you have to use a whole gallon of vinegar to get the job done, the problem-specific product might actually be cheaper per application. Then again, you might only need to use a teaspoon of it, and it comes in a 4 ounce package, and what are you going to do with the rest of it? But you know you can make salad dressing with the leftover vinegar. Or the “official” product may be reasonably priced, but you also need to invest in special equipment to apply it or protect yourself, and the total cost seems like too much.
Furthermore, a lot of people tend to undervalue their labor. I couldn’t believe how labor intensive and tedious it was to create or apply some of these home remedies. If you figured out how much time it took to make them, and paid yourself the same wage as your day job, you might be better off buying a specially formulated product, and spending your precious leisure time doing something fun, like weeding!
Respect for the local expert
If your next-door neighbor grows great tomatoes and swears by Epsom salts, you might use Epsom salts on your tomatoes just because you see the results. Of course there may be some other reason why his tomatoes are better, but who has time to do all that weeding and watering anyway?
Suspicion of the non-local expert
Sure, those fancy-pants scientists know what works under ideal conditions, but they’ve never tried to grow tomatoes in my backyard. Epsom salts? You gotta be kidding me!
I’ve got vinegar right here in the cabinet, and who wants to spend a sunny Saturday driving to the big box store for a bottle of Do-It-Right? For that matter, who wants to do research, or think? So often, isn’t our attitude, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”? Or even, “Help! Somebody rescue me from these killer aphids!”
You’ve already tried three different products recommended by the experts, and none of them worked, or worked good enough. At this point, you’ll try anything. (I’ve seen a lot of people plagued by deer or ground hogs get to this point.)
Win a free copy of The Truth About Garden Remedies
What makes you choose a homemade remedy over a store-bought one? Do you have any you swear by? Tried any that made you swear? Share your best and worst in the comments. One comment will be chosen randomly and the writer of that comment will receive a copy of The Truth About Garden Remedies.