Bunnings, the Australian juggernaut hardware and greenlife ‘box store’ that has been partly responsible for the demise of a quality independent nursery near you, offers these appalling clangers in its latest spring media release for creating a “zero fuss garden“.
This is from the October 2015 Bunnings Media Release, written by PR people but quoting several of Bunnings’ national product managers. It doesn’t go direct to consumers but is produced as a source of free gardening information for general publications, which means slabs of it will be reproduced in papers around the country, including my own local rag.
“Installing a weed mat will save feet from pesky prickles and say goodbye to most weeding! Laying down a weed mat is an easy D.I.Y. project that will put your garden in good stead for the summer season and help your plants flourish and prevent those annoying weeds.”
This is completely nonsensical. Are you supposed to put down the weedmat over your lawn and walk on it? And weedmat is going to ‘help your plants flourish‘? How? Is it impregnated with fertilisers, rather than just made out of non-recyclable plastics? Good gardeners would never use weedmat except where there are no plants involved. Weedmat can have its uses, such as under a paved or gravel path but even there it doesn’t stop bulbous weeds like onion weed. Weedmat in a garden can quickly clog, causing the soil underneath to become either bone dry, or wet and anaerobic.
“Basil and lemon scented herbs such as lemon balm will repel flies and mosquitos.”
This is a garden myth that’s been busted many times over. Some believe that burning citronella oil repels mosquitos, although there’s little scientific evidence to support this so it cannot be sold in the EU as an insect repellent. Out of this myth seems to have sprung the even sillier myth that anything lemon-scented will do the same job. For a start, citronella oil comes from lemon grass, not lemon balm and second, the tiny amount of odour produced by an aromatic plant nearby is definitely not going to keep mosquitos from biting you. Even crushing up all the leaves and rubbing them on your skin wouldn’t deter mozzies for more than a minute. You may not like it but DEET is currently the only proven insect repellent. Or stop them breeding by filling your plant saucers with sand and getting rid of other places of still water.
“To really create a garden you can be proud of, invest in citrus fruit trees and your favourite fruit and vegetable plants such as a tomatoes, zucchini and sweet corn. These plants are all low maintenance…”
Low maintenance? Seriously? I readily admit to being a non-vegie and fruit grower, and one of the reasons is that I know from bitter experience how difficult and high maintenance these plants are. You only have to look at the huge range of fertilisers and pesticides produced specifically for citrus to know that this can’t possibly be true and, having checked out more on these other plants, I see that corn is a very fussy about drainage and spacing, tomatoes need staking and daily watering, and zucchini can be very stubborn when it comes to setting viable fruit as they have separate male and female flowers.
If newbie gardeners are incorrectly told that growing edibles such as these is easy, then their very likely failures will turn them off gardening for life.
“Lemon balm and other flowering herbs will also attract bees that will assist in the pollination of tomatoes.”
Tomatoes are not pollinated by bees. Tomatoes mostly self pollinate, often before the flower is even open or, after opening, by wind shaking the flowers about. You might see the odd bee buzzing about your tomato plant but having more of them will make no difference at all to pollination.
These gaffes are bad enough but what REALLY MAKES ME ANGRY are the opening lines of this media release, with their blatant anti-gardening sentiments:
“Four easy ways to create a zero fuss garden
Get the most out of your backyard this summer by creating a low maintenance garden that will ensure your time is spent enjoying your backyard, instead of maintaining it.”
As long as ignorant, non-gardening PR writers keep pushing the notion that gardening is a maintenance chore to be avoided, instead of a wonderful, therapeutic past-time and hobby that’s good exercise and also greatly enriched by acquiring some of the vast body of knowledge that helps us become good gardeners, then there is no hope for the future of gardening.
Shame on you Bunnings. A job badly done. If you want to publish in the horticulture market, lift your game and use qualified and knowledgeable horticulturists.