A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous

I wanted to plant a garden this year, but needed something to help me believe that yes, I can have a successful garden in this bug-infested, sweltering, southern climate.  So I signed up for a one-hour class for six weeks called…get this…Gardening For Seniors.  (OK, so we have a lot of snowbirds here each winter.) 

I started thinking…hmmm…maybe I can do this gardening thing.  But I needed more information.  You know…if a little is good, then a lot is better!  So I signed up for a ten-week Master Gardener Class.  We meet once a week, for a full day…that’s eight hours…and we’re now in the 7th week.  

The classes are packed with information, one PowerPoint presentation after another, all day long.  No breaks, except for lunch.  I must admit, as the afternoon hours wear on, I get antsy.  I start wiggling my pen, tapping my feet, and then I start rocking.  But I’m not in a rocking chair…only a cold, hard metal folding chair. 

Let me out of here! 

Don’t get me wrong.  The class is great.  But a body can just take so much of sitting still in the same place, hour after hour. 

Let’s see…so far we’ve learned about Plant Science, soils, new plants, grafting, vegetables, herbs, diseases, landscaping, insects (the beneficials and the bad guys), pesticides and labels (very important, if you like staying alive), fruits, pruning, palms, native shrubs, trees, ground covers, bulbs, perennials, annuals, and native trees. 

Hour after hour, presentation after presentation, things start to blur together.  And that’s when a little knowledge can be dangerous.  Take, for instance, the orange tree I gave to my neighbor.  I told him, “You need to prune it like an inverted umbrella, so the sun can get to all of it.” 

Thankfully, the tree is too young for pruning, so he didn’t act on my erroneous advice.  We then learned in class about citrus trees, and I realized I gave my neighbor instructions for pruning an apple or peach tree.  So I had to tell him to prune it kind of like a triangle, so the sun could get to all of it, but keep the top pruned so it doesn’t get any higher than six feet.  You don’t want to climb a ladder to pick oranges…it’s too dangerous.  Better to keep the tree short, so you can reach the fruit. 

But I still got mixed up in the middle of all the presentations about fruit trees.  I raised my hand and said, “So when I go home today I need to pick all the flowers off my little orange tree…” 

“No, you don’t,” said the instructor. 

I responded with the blank, deer-in-the-headlights stare. 

“Leave your orange tree alone,” said the instructor.  “You pick the flowers off young apple and pear trees, so they won’t produce the first couple of years, and can then bear more fruit later on.” 

Whew, that was close.  I almost aborted a season’s worth of oranges.  Like I said, a little knowledge can be dangerous. 

In four weeks I should be graduating as a Master Gardener.  By then I hope I’ll have learned my lesson well.  When asked a gardening question, I’ll have to be willing to reign in my tongue and say… 

“I don’t know.  But I’ll be happy to look that up for you!”

3 Responses to “A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous”

  1. formedlife Says:

    hi judy…nice topic to be chat about..my dad has been doing gardening for the past 42 years n still doing it..and believe me, he knows in n out of it..ill be glad to help you out if you need any advice

    • judyransom Says:

      Cool. Thanks, Mohamed. My father was a Master Gardener…his only classroom the university of life…and he would always take all the prizes at the garden shows. Unfortunately he’s gone now, and I’m trying to make my black thumb green!

  2. tree - How To Prune A Fruit Tree - felling Says:

    […] A Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous « Truthing It […]

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