April Fools

BBC’s spaghetti tree story

As a child growing up in Scotland, I vividly recall a family argument over this video:

Broadcast on April Fools’ Day 1957 by the BBC current affairs programme Panorama, this 3-minute clip told a tale of a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the fictitious spaghetti tree. At the time, the UK was just emerging from WWII rationing and spaghetti was still an exotic dish, usually only available in tins. The BBC was so well respected and the announcer’s voice so sonorously convincing, the network received hundreds of calls from viewers who either wanted to point out the fallacy, or wanted to know where to buy their own spaghetti tree. For the record, my Mum and I weren’t fooled for a minute, while Dad and my brother were completely taken in!

Gnome Management in the Garden

More recently, Utah State University Extension published a 4-minute video explaining the perils and management practices for a new invasive species — the garden gnome. Kudos to Jerry Goodspeed, who manages to keep a straight face for the entire time!

TomTato plant makes homemade ketchup and fries a cinch

The TomTato plant grows cherry tomatoes on top and potatoes underneath. (Thompson & Morgan)

This is not a hoax. Several variations on this grafted tomato / potato plant exist, including the Thompson & Morgan one shown here. Elsewhere the plant is known as “Ketchup & Fries”. More recently an “Egg & Chips” plant was introduced. It’s based on the same grafting principle, but the “egg” is actually an egg plant.

How to Grow Chocolate M&Ms

Back in 2014, GrowVeg produced this convincing video tutorial that was calculated to appeal to chocolate lovers and gardeners everywhere.

The text accompanying the video reads: Whether you’re encouraging your kids to start gardening, or just want to save money on your grocery bills, growing your own chocolate makes a lot of sense. It’s well known that chocolate can be a difficult treat to grow, especially getting the fruit to mature with the correct colors and flavors. In this video we explain how to sow and space your chocolate plants correctly, and demonstrate key techniques to make sure you will be harvesting delicious M&M’s throughout the growing season.

Sadly, despite the convincing gardening tips, this story is a hoax.

Hope you enjoyed this roundup of garden hoaxes. Happy April Fools Day!

Trowel Talk

November Trowel Talk Newsletter

The November edition of Trowel Talk opens with an article by Candace Dressler that introduces us to her pet worms and the practice of vermicomposting. We answer your questions on how to safely bring your tender houseplants back inside without also bringing in pests; and how to rid your lawn of creeping Charlie. I wrote an article about seed documentation, which can be a dry topic except for the fascinating glimpses of social history we get from researching a specific type of seed.

Heather Clemenson writes on the fascinating topic on botanical art, including some gorgeous samples of her own work. I love the intertwined parsnips! We offer tips on food sources for Slivery Blue butterfly caterpillars. If you’re looking for gift ideas, Julianne Labreche reviews a wonderful new book called “A Garden for the Rusty-Patched Bumblebee” – a species rescued from near extinction by caring gardeners like us. Gail Labrosse continues her series on invasive species with a profile of Siberian Pea Shrub, and suggests native alternatives. As the gardening season ends, we end this edition with tips on garden tool maintenance.

As usual, we include links to our gardening and veggie growing calendars, and a list of places where you can find us, including giving talks at your local garden club.

Trowel Talk is a collaboration between Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton and Lanark County Master Gardeners, so you get both urban and rural perspectives.

Trowel Talk is a free monthly newsletter of the Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton. You can sign up for it here.