Published on 04/21/99

Looking for Silver Bullets for Your Garden

So, you have most of your garden planted. Now you're looking at garden upkeep. Not quite as expensive as a child in college, but it can be as frustrating.

What you think you'd like are some silver bullets that can help you win the day -- like these:


The plants are looking sort of bad. They're not growing as fast as I'd like. I know -- I'll just give them a little more fertilizer. I just gave them what the soil test recommended, but a little more won't hurt.


You have to grow a root system before you can grow a plant. Be patient.

Many gardeners, too, want to apply liquid fertilizers when the plants aren't growing as they think they should be. But liquid fertilizer is taken up through the leaves, and if you have a plant with only a few leaves, little will be taken up. Liquid is also the most expensive fertilizer you can use.


What chemical do I need for all of those pests?

None -- until you're able to recognize each pest you have. Then buy what you need in small quantities and store them in a safe place. Read and follow directions closely, too.


Do I buy those expensive tomato cages? Or do I cut large branches, push them into the soil and tie the tomatoes onto them? The tomato doesn't care, as long as they're kept off the ground and away from soil-borne diseases.

Do I really need that $1,500 tiller for a 10-foot-by-30- foot garden space? Or could I do it with a turning fork and spade and get more exercise?

Do I need that low-pressure, drip irrigation system I said I was going to buy two years ago? Just go back and look at the water bills for last summer's irrigation. Definitely yes.


Would that beautiful garden bench look good in the back yard? Yes. Every gardener needs to realize that one of the most important aspects of gardening is to enjoy it to the fullest. An outside sitting area that allows you to view and enjoy is a must.

Some silver bullets, after all, do just what they're supposed to do. Some bullets, though, just look shiny. As you think about all of the silver bullets for your garden, don't let that great white horse trample your zucchini.

Wayne McLaurin is a professor emeritus of horticulture with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.