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Debunking common gardening myths

Compost, unlike bark, is good for the soil and is beneficial for earthworms and other soil organisms.

DENVER — I'm all in favor of mulching to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and enrich the soil. Big chunks of wood are not the way to do this.

Compost, unlike bark, is good for the soil and is beneficial for earthworms and other soil organisms. Compost is made from decomposed plant debris. It can be rough or fine and it's nutritious and improves soil texture. 

Attempting to mulch with bark has many drawbacks. It takes a very long time for wood to decompose so that it can be of any benefit to living plants. And as it does, the microorganisms that break down wood need nitrogen for fuel. Plants mulched with bark suffer nitrogen deprivation. 

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Stop putting soda pop, beer and mouthwash on your lawn. It's ridiculous. These lawn concoctions are ineffective at solving a problem. When soil dries out, it crusts over and water can't penetrate. To break the surface tension, a surfactant is needed. but sugar and alcohol are a terrible idea. Use a product that is an effective surfactant, such as Revive, and drink the beer.

Do not apply coffee grounds directly around plants. They do not acidify the soil; the pH of spent coffee grounds is about neutral. in addition, caffeine inhibits plant growth and is toxic to earthworms. The grounds serve no nutritive value until they decompose. Add them to your compost.

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There's a myth that if you stop watering tomato plants the fruit will ripen. This is a terrible idea. The result is a dead plant and dried-out tomatoes. it's like making tomato paste on the vine. 

Some people swear that if you water at midday, the water drops act as prisms, like a magnifying glass, and burn the leaves. No.  

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