As I haphazardly follow gardening practice on social media, mainly Facebook, but often on Instagram, I notice huge variances in the quality and content of the discourse. I’ve also noticed that the way that the discussion among gardeners spreads to general networks doesn’t seem to encourage discussion or alternative points of view. For example, our version of the neighborhood discussion group, Nextdoor, had a post from a member flatly stating that pollen from plants bought at Home Deport labeled as containing neonicotinoids would, if planted, lead to mass destruction: “bees take the pollen from these treated plants back to the hive, where they all die.” The situation with neonics is a little more subtle than that. As many here know, HD is one of the few retailers that bothers to label and they are pretty much phasing out their use of neonics, which are still debated as to their bee harm (though the EU has now banned them). You would not know any of this from the discussion that followed. It was mainly shocked assurances that all would avoid HD.
This is all very well; I hold no brief for HD or other big boxes. There are zero guarantees, however, that the plants I buy haven’t been treated with anything, because my small independent retailers don’t require labels saying so. That point was never brought up in the discussion I saw. Or in most of the discussions I see. Certain houseplants are said to be poisonous to cats and other pets. All kinds of folk wisdom about orchid care is dropped into plant groups with abandon. Companion planting is still often adviced (marigolds repel aphids, etc.).
What if there was a special Snopes for gardening, manned by a group of scientists, all with at least ten years in the field and experience with real world testing and the green industry? Such an organization could quickly pull together reasoned rebuttals to the most common gardening myths and gradually add new answers as new questions/myths arise. I suppose the Garden Professors provide this to a certain degree, but it is not as specifically question-responsive.
There is something so satisfying about Snopes coming to the rescue as yet another social media friend posts a silly meme or a bogus scare. I know even Snopes is under attack by the fake news crowd on occasion, but for me, it is often a final bastion of reason in a maniacal universe.