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Fact or Fiction?
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Myths, folklore and wives tales are everywhere, especially in agriculture. As the summer crops start to come in and farmers are itching to put the wheat in the ground, something a bit less serious is in order. Today, let’s take a look at some farming folk wisdom and separate fact from fiction.
* Growing up, hay was baled in small squares and put up in the barn’s mow. Old-timers swore that you could prevent spontaneous combustion and keep you barn from burning down by salting each layer of hay. The idea is that it would draw the water out and prevent fires. Wrong. Salting actually increases the chance of fires.
* Red sky at morning, sailor’s take warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight. This one is sort of true. Red skies at sunset indicate large amounts of particulates in the air (dust). This indicates high pressure and stable air is moving in. The original saying arises from the Bible and is also in Shakespeare.
* When leaves show their undersides, be very sure that rain betides. This is actually pretty much right on depending on the tree. Some species are very sensitive to changes in humidity and will show their undersides.
* Listen to the crickets to check the temperature. To calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit, count a cricket’s chirps over fourteen seconds and add forty. Formulas vary but this pretty much works because cricket metabolism varies based on the weather.
* One that seems to work for some but seems to have no proof is placing hedge apples (Osage Orange tree fruits) in windows and doorways to keep out spiders.
* Plants prefer “organic” fertilizers over “synthetic” (inorganic) ones. No. while organic fertilizers certainly are fine and have some benefits not found in synthetic ones, plants predominantly take up the inorganic from. So the organic fertilized has to be mineralized prior to plant uptake.
* Organic farming doesn’t use pesticides. Wrong. Organic farming uses “natural” pesticides derived from natural sources. A pesticide is a pesticide so by definition it kills or suppresses a pest. Remember – arsenic is natural.
Some myths and wives tales have at least some basis in fact. At the very least they are fun. So while many of these come from observation, it always pays to remember that “Science proves to you things you know aren’t ture.”