Rant: I hate most online gardening information

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by domesticated om, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    I'm just logging in to let off steam, but here goes:

    Sites that cover topics related to gardening are frustratingly vague. Most everyone out there that bothers writing articles or creating youtube videos has no clue how to make objective and repeatable information. Include some valid measurements, and volumes damnit! Also -please improve the jargon and lingo.

    Here's a few examples of useless information:
    • "Well draining soil". I keep seeing this term everywhere, but it's defined as "soil that contains an amount of airspace and drains at certain rate". However, if you ask where to find it or what you need to mix together, none of the answers have anything to do with the soil (add drainage, put gravel at the bottom of the container, etc). Ok - so the soil is unchanged, but you drilled more holes in the container and added some fabric over a layer of gravel at the bottom-- shouldn't it be called "soil in a well draining container setup"?
    • I see things with a multitude of adjectives like "sandy loamy soil", "peaty soil", "soil with a lot of clay". If soil is an aggregate, then for the love of god, can you describe the soil mixture in percentages instead? This allows the reader to more accurately repeat the process and scale it to their needs.
    • Moisture descriptions: Saying stuff is "too moist" or "not moist enough" or "too much water" is completely pointless. I actually own soil probes for moisture, but have no way of pairing the data to the descriptors.
    • Full/Medium/direct/indirect sun: Again - need more measurable descriptors that remove any ambiguity between "hours of light" and "intensity of light exposure"
    I think this is why there such a large variance of skill when it comes to gardening - the lack of clear instructions to begin with. The "green thumb" doesn't really exist.

    ....oh well, I'm writing this after spending weeks trying to get the ideal soil makeup for French tarragon since it's such a finnicky plant.

    /end rant
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2020
  2. Guest Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yeah. I think gardening is an art, not a science.
    Like other arts, it is impossible to simply tell someone exactly what to do in a finite timeline such as a video; it requires practice, experimentation and skill-building.

    One could just as easily try to make the same argument with any other art form:
    - load up your paintbrush (how much is a load?)
    - use short, light strokes for sanding (how short? how light?)
    - draw the bow slowly but steadily across the strings (how slow is slow?)

    You seem to be approaching it, not as a journey (learning to garden), but as a destination (tarragon).

    Use these videos as a guideline. Learn your craft. Allow yourself time to learn what works for you and what doesn't.

    Note, BTW, that it is not merely impractical but impossible to eliminate approximations in directions. Sunlight, soil composition, water pH, etc are all factors that your YouTube instructor can't control.

    4. Finally:
    You kids and your YouTube! YouTube videos are, by design, short and sweet.

    If you want to learn the nuts and bolts - buy a book.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2020
  4. Guest Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    Gardening strongly relies on things like chemistry, biology, botany, etc. Art is choosing pots or arranging bouquets. Only one of those actually keeps the plant alive or produces tomatoes at the end of the day.
    I am talking about both written content and video presentations. You'll also need to expand why it's impossible to "explain exactly what to do" using a video medium.
    The only skill building involved is remembering things like schedules, quantities, and reading instructions (ie - how much calcium and magnesium to feed the peppers given the schedule on the package). Any new observations a person has learned along the way can be documented and shared.

    You could choose to do the painting by hand, or you could just write it in G-Code and something that excepts RGB values instead of a personal interpretation of light blue. I pointed about in the previous reply about how there's quite a bit of actual science involved, so this part was from you expanding on the art idea.

    The journey part starts on the stove when I'm putting garden fresh tarragon in my food LOL. The science part is "what soil composition do I put in the container it will be growing in" prior to this point.

    Not sure what you mean by not controlling conditions. we have not even begun to get into things like automation, hydroponics, data logging, tolerances, or the vast number of ways variables can be removed from the equation in gardening LOL.
    Also again - not limiting this to youtube.

    Dude..... remember when I said "Most"? Not this guy
  6. Guest Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    This narrow view may be why you are having so much frustration.

    A science is a pastime where everything has already been worked out and there are no mysteries.
    An art is a pastime where the path to the goal has multiple routes, and some wiggle room as to the goal.

    There are a lot of variables in botany that are challenging to control. I mentioned a few above. There are also many ways to get to the desired goal - as well as many goals.

    For all you know, the Youtuber lives in Ecuador or Bali or somewhere, where there's perfect sunlight, ideal soil and zero pollutants . As compared to possibly less than ideal sunlight and poor soil and lots of pollution where you live.

    So, you will have to find your own recipe for your circumstances. That's an art.
  8. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    A lot of times, information on the furthest point problems have been worked out is there, but my god do I have to trawl a lot of nonsense to reach it. A lot of times, it's not even that complicated.

    Which N-P-K fertilizer do I need for lettuce?
    Read a book...
    Which book?
    I dunno .... but books contain stuff
    What's the difference between a book and an online article? Can I control-F a book?
    Here's a link to a giant repository of pdfs. Maybe it's there
    Gardening pdfs?
    No.... but you might be able to find one on google. Here's a link to google

    "Science as a pastime" for me would be: using my free time to pose hypotheses and perform experiments/record observations using the scientific method without getting paid for it.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Think of that 'nonsense' as the information someone else is trawling for.

    Most of it isn't. But they can't be expected to know what it is you don't know.

    Probably none. But if your soil is very poor, whichever says "leafy vegetables" on the label. Or just plant it where the peas were last year.
    Rodale - no nonsense; all info.
    Yes. And so should heads.

    The garden columnists assume that you know something about something.

    You could do worse than apply that method to growing vegetables.
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    OK, well here's a new application of the word for you.

    For years and years, me putting up Christmas lights was "an art". I'm not talking about the prettiness of the display - I'm taking about the putting-up-of-lights taking a minimum of time/effort. That was my goal.

    I experimented every year with easier and easier designs, until I created these frameworks with pre-hung lights in them. They get stored like that. All I have to do is haul out the frames and hang them on hooks. Takes a half hour.

    Now, I've reduced my Christmas lights to "a science".

    Home Botany is as much art as it is science.
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Right. Well, I want to play the piano.

    I don't want to learn how to play the piano. I just want the benefit of it.
    And I want it now.
    Just point at the video that shows me how I will be able to play the piano tomorrow.

    Maybe it's an age thing. You start to realize that anything worth doing is worth learning.
  12. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    It's easier for me to think of it as weak baseline data where all of the important facts haven't been properly delivered.

    There's admittedly this phenomena called "the curse of knowledge" (also has it's own wiki) that actually describes something like this. In a nutshell, the premise is that once some people learn things, it becomes impossible for them to remember what it's like to not know it. This doesn't mean it always happens - just to make that part clear.
    One example of this in gardening would be mentally ingraining the meaning of some sort of acronym, but then using the acronym when describing the process to a novice.

    How do I get rid of all the caterpillars eating h0les in my lettuce?
    Have you tried BT
    What's BT?
    Google it

    Baring that in mind in the same scenario:

    How do I get rid of all the caterpillars eating h0les in my lettuce?
    One thing you can try is spraying it with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). It's an environmentally safe insecticide that targets caterpillars.

    Is Rodale an author, the title of a book, a publisher, or a website?
    I'm asking this rhetorically to demonstrate since it's a very good case in point.

    Footnote - I still don't know what a Rodale is in real life - haha.

    If they are assuming people are looking for information on stuff they already know, they would be sorely mistaken.
  13. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    How effectively can you relay your optimizations in a way repeatable by the reader/viewer?
  14. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    I would never say something like that unless I had an ulterior motive.

    As in WTF do you mean?
  15. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    I think this example abstracted outwards to the ideas of effective communication and "knowledge handoff" is a bit of an exaggeration. Especially since playing piano requires a lot of muscle memory, understanding of a lot of musical concepts/rules, etc.

    I think a much more accurate analogy would be the knowledge transfer in "how do I read and write sheet music" with poor descriptors of what the cleffs are.
  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I gave you a link. I give you no more.
  17. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    He described a discovery (optimization for hanging lights). Can he effectively relay his findings to a reader or video viewer so they could repeat it?
  18. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    Oh - haha -- I tried clicking on it because it was blue, but it didn't go anywhere. I just tried clicking again several times and finally discovered that only the word "Rodale" is tagged as a hyperlink
  19. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Christmas spirit.

    domesticated om likes this.
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Only to a certain extent, since there are so many factors different between the viewer's house and mine.
    i.e.: Even my science will require some artful experimentation on the art of the viewer.
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    "Properly delivered"?

    How much are you paying for this class in botany? Have you considered asking for a refund?
  22. domesticated om Stickler for details Valued Senior Member

    You're making this seem like a grander effort on the part of the authors than it really is (making something trivial to be rocket science).

    Let me pull up a case in point online example to look at


    Ok - here we have the average online content titled "how to make sandy loam soil". After reading through this, you're probably expecting to create a container full of it right?
    Wrong! you get to the part where she describes the makeup of the soil (~43-50 % sand, less than 50% silt, ~7% clay). It's unclear at this point if she's actually referring to mixing these three components to start with because she immediately says "don't do it because it wont work". She then begins to describe mixing in "two inches of organic material for plants" for several years. I assume she really means "begin at these ratios" then add organic components.

    So let's think about this for a second: Let's say I have a 2.5 liter container (window container from a big box store). How does the reader determine how much of each component to fill the container with? If 100% of the contents are sand, silt, and clay, there's not really going to be any room for organic materials.
    So she says "add two inches of material".... fair enough. We remove two inches of soil off the top of our container (or whatever volume in cubic inches translates to liters). After mixing it together, it means the resulting aggregate no longer conforms to the makeup of sandy loam soil. Two inches is also a bit arbitrary anyways since the size of the container changes what percentage of organic material is contained in the aggregate.

    It would have been way easier to have just adjusted the percentages in the total makeup of the soil to account for organic material so it scales.
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No. I'm simply saying your expectations of free YouTube videos - by amateurs, publishing this for the love of their hobby - is optimistic and your ire is misplaced.

    Sure, a rant is understandable. But a rant ends when the emotion dissipates. So now that your rationality has prevailed surely you should recognize that a] you're looking a gift horse in the mouth here, and b] you're unwilling to devote effort to learn this craft - you just want the results.

    So it's no longer a rant. You're 2 posts deep trying to defend an indefensible position.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020

Share This Page