Advice on taking Advice
by Brad Thompson
As you continue down the
road of growing experience you will encounter many different methods of
growing plants and many new techniques (that are always sure
winners). Well this is a little warning from Brad, "all that
seems great ain't necessarily so". Many well intended growers
will pass on their growing secrets to you, some good, some not, and
some good but not for you. You have to take each piece of
advice with a grain of soil (little bit of skepticism) regardless of
who the grower is. Just because So and So (even if the so and so
is me) tells you something is a fact or the best way to do something
doesn't mean that it will work that way for you. I've seen
members listen to a speaker talk about a certain fertilizer or a new
type of pot, etc. and then go right home and immediately apply what
they have learned to all of their plants, usually with disastrous
results. I knew one member that heard a speaker talk about using
a strong type of fertilizer and then killed every one of her plants
when she did it at her house.
Now, the proper way to take advice
you hear at meetings or from other growers is to experiment first
before you go whole hog with your entire collection. Make
sure that you also give the new method some time before you decide that
it works for you. The problem is that there are many variables
that come into play when we're talking about your plant culture.
Variables such as temperature, how you water, the amount of
light, the type of mix you use, even elements such as how hard you pack
the mix when you pot can make differences in how your plants will react
to a particular method of growing. Here's an example:
Suppose I tell Mary who lives in Orange County that I've been using 1/4
strength fertilizer every time I water instead of once a week like I
had been recommending and my plants were growing like weeds.
Well, Mary goes home and tries the same method and all of her plants
burn and die. The problem was that when I lived in Torrance,
where it is cooler, I was only watering once or twice a week anyway and
Mary in Orange County, where it was hotter, watered her plants every
other day. She was giving 1/4 strength fertilizer more than 3
times a week and I was only watering with fertilizer about 1 1/2 times
a week. (yes this is a fictitious story) You can see how
problems can arise.
As far as the advice I give you, I try
to take into account the variables that could occur and try to use
extreme caution when I recommend a method that could be misused.
If I'm wrong about something I usually try to let you know right
away (or I will do that if I'm ever wrong about something) no
matter how painful it may be to admit. When you get advice
that sounds like it should work and you've seen the results to verify
it and want to try it, try it on two or three plants and then wait to
see if you get the same results. A new fertilizer may take weeks
before you see real results yourself but with some things you shouldn't
have to wait too long. Just show a little restraint.
There are some people in every club that are always free with their
advice (no I'm not talking about me this time) but noone has ever seen
them even have a plant to enter in shows or even a show and tell.
I've seen members that come across as experts that haven't even grown a
single begonia to maturity. (maybe they've just been too busy
trying to get everyone else to adopt their ideas) Get your
advice from members that have proven themselves to be good growers.
Hopefully I haven't
scared you away from taking good advice or trying new methods because
that's how you learn to grow. I just don't want you to go
overboard trying new methods until you've given them a trial
first. ( an additional note from Mary Sakamoto, if you have a
method that works great for you don't mess with it)