PROGMEM for me is to store long term data, not junk text for simple debugging.I think you misunderstand PROGMEM. Perhaps without realizing it, you have said "To me, text should be in RAM, not in Flash."
Which wouldn't make much sense would it? You have 2K of RAM and 32K of Flash. Why wouldn't you put all the "junk" in the space that is relatively large?
There are only three places to store any kind of data on an ATmega: Flash (aka "PROGMEM"), RAM, and EEPROM.
EEPROM is for storing non-volatile data.
RAM is for your program to work.
Flash / PROGMEM is Program Memory. It is where instructions are stored for execution. Wouldn't it make more sense to store constants associated with those instructions in the same place? Simple debugging messages are instructions with char array constants.