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Gardening: It's not as easy as it looks

Workers harvest fresh greens for Good Eats CSA

Workers harvest fresh greens for Good Eats CSA in Craftsbury, Vt. (May 7, 2012) Credit: AP

Infomercials famously make the products they're touting appear bigger, better, more efficient and generally easier to use than they actually are. You know that, and I know that. Still, armed with that intellectual knowledge and the ability to read through hype, I've had a handful of  too-good-to-be-true sucker moments over the years.

I've laid down some good, hard-earned cash for Wonder Hangers (what a pain in the neck), Snuggies (nothing more than a robe worn backward, really), SpaceBags (not too bad, actually, but inconvenient) and, yes, Ginsu knives (still love them.) Most recently, I ordered -- quite excitedly -- Perfect Tortilla baking pans. Do they work? Yes. Are the tortilla bowls they create anywhere near as yummy as the deep-fried restaurant variety? Not even close. You might have bought them too -- or maybe you were more savvy than I was. But I'm guessing you never thought you'd have to have your savvy filter on when getting gardening advice.

If you're a regular reader of my column, you know I don't sugar coat anything. When you ask which chemical spray will best rid your houseplants of insects, I tell you to take the plant outside, dump out the soil, rinse the whole plant from roots to tip, wash the pot with a bleach-water solution, rinse and repot using sterile potting mix. When you ask whether you can put a plastic garbage bag over your fig tree and call it a day, I give you 8 painstaking steps and a video. That's not likely what you want to hear, but it's the way things should be done, and that's what I'm here for. That's also why I'm sure I wouldn't make a killing with an infomercial ("Act now and I'll double the hard work you have to do!")

So I was taken aback this morning when I read that televised gardening shows were being blamed for an overwhelming number of community garden plot abandonments in the U.K. The Telegraph reports that although the programs appear to be a "benign" form of entertainment, they're sabotaging a system put into place to allow those without land to grow their own fruits and vegetables at a time when produce prices are skyrocketing.

The shows "are to blame for thousands of allotment holders being evicted from their unkempt plots," according to the report, which goes on to quote Steve Johnson, an allotment representative at Beverley town council  in East Yorkshire: “People see these gardening programmes that make it look easy. It’s not like that. They get very depressed when they see the weeds and they abandon it.”

As a result, a record number of allotment holders have been asked to vacate their plots this year, the Guardian report said, adding that some 200,000 people are on a waiting list for the community plots.  No word, though, on whether those 200,000 actually know what they're doing.

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