NEW SALEM — Neal Sanders and his wife went online to learn to how rid their gardens of slugs.
A Google search offered up millions of suggestions: lava rocks, quassia (native to Ecuador and $400 per ounce), dryer lint, quackgrass, wormwood tea. The answer, the Sanders found, was buried in the internet. Inexpensive iron phosphate.
“There’s no drama to it, so as far as Google is concerned, it doesn’t exist,” he said. “Google doesn’t know the difference between good and bad advice.”
Sanders was chock-full anecdotes like that when he spoke to a crowd of like-minded people at the New Salem Public Library on Thursday night, for a humorous horticulture presentation he calls “Gardening is Murder.”
Sanders is a mystery writer, public speaker and blogger based in Medfield. He visited New Salem to share with roughly 15 people his documented trials and tribulations of those with “green thumbs.” His wife, Betty, is a lifetime master gardener with the Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association and a nationally accredited flower show judge who has studied gardening at the Arnold Arboretum, the New York Botanical Garden and the New England Wildflower Society.
Sanders also spoke of his “rule of three” — meaning any one plant going into a garden will require the digging of at least three holes.
The former investment banker talked of his two-acre property in Medfield, about 20 miles south of Boston. He kept the mood light describing what the universe has taught him about gardening. He explained if you have a plant that would fit in well anywhere in your garden, you will only small pebbles under the soil. But if there is only one spot where that plant will look “absolutely glorious,” you will always find a massive rock that requires Bobcat machinery for removal. He told his audience he and his wife have constructed a rock wall — four stones wide, three stones wide — made with rocks found while trying to install plants in the perfect spot.
Sanders also warned against invasive pests. He said he decided to grow russet potatoes, only to find the plants overrun with Colorado potato beetles. He said he pondered how Colorado potato beetles wound up in eastern Massachusetts and now believes the bugs traveled via United Airlines.
“You think dragging people off an airplane is something? … ” he quipped.
Sanders also raved about the Earth Machine, a compost bin he said produces “black gold.” He said the Medfield Garden Club placed more than 800 Earth Machines throughout a town of 10,000 people to become “the Saudi Arabia of compost.”
Sanders also brought copies of his books for purchase. The books cost $14 apiece