Thursday, June 16, 2011

Growing a healthy and pest free garden

Courtesy of Magnus Rosendahl
Humans have been bothered by bugs since the beginning of time and have been applying pesticides to purge these pesky problems for thousands of years. Going back to 2500 BC, we find the Sumerians using sulphur to control mites. Fast forward to 1000 BC and we read Homer’s writings about the use of sulfur to fumigate homes. And, speeding to 900 AD, we watch as the Chinese use arsenic to control garden pests.

This use of inorganic and biological substances continues as a way to control pests and diseases in gardens and homes.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saving seeds for sustainability and survival

Civilization has been saving and exchanging seeds for 10,000 years. It was a practice created out of necessity. In order to survive, mankind had to eat. In order to eat, mankind had to have food. For there to be food, there had to be seeds to grow plants.

The ancient Romans, Greeks and Persians understood the importance of saving and exchanging seeds. Around 100 BC, administrators of the Roman Empire exchanged information on agriculture, animal husbandry and botany. In addition to this information sharing network, they also had an active seed and plant exchange system. During Aristotle’s time, the Greeks and the Persians actively exchanged seeds and plants.

Out of this necessity to save seeds, our ancestors created the agricultural diversity that we enjoy today.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My first container garden

Long ago and far away, a lonely young wife sat at the shores of the Euphrates with tears in her eyes. She longed for her homeland; a land rich in mountains and lush green forests. King Nebuchadnezzar saw that his lovely wife could not see the beauty of the flat, sun-drenched desert of Mesopotamia and set out to create a garden reminiscent of her home.

What a grand undertaking it was. King Nebuchadnezzar created a mountainous oasis in the dessert filled with trees and flowers contained in planter boxes cut from stone. The result was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Hanging Gardens were created around 600 BC and were destroyed by an earthquake sometime during the 2nd century BC. Legend describes outer walls that were 56 miles long and 320 feet high. But, archaeological finds discovered outer walls measuring 10 miles long and no where near as high.
Visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
at the Museum of UnNatural History
If you are new to gardening, starting a garden may seem as complex and insurmountable as the building of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. There's so much to do... Deciding where to put the garden, making sure there's a water source, digging beds, starting a compost pile and sprouting seeds. Whew! But, there is a lesson to be learned from the Hanging Gardens… Grow your garden in containers. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Building the foundation for a healthy garden

Mankind's ability to cultivate the soil may be the foundation upon which empires have risen and fallen. In the days prior to the Neolithic period, humans were hunters and gatherers. They moved from place to place in search of new sources of food. It was during the Neolithic period that humanity developed the ability to cultivate food crops. But, it was still not a stable environment. As fields lost fertility due to over-cropping, villagers moved to new and fertile ground. It was the Egyptians that first found stability along the Nile because the river replenished the soil with fertile silt every year.

During the Metal Age (2500 BC to 500 AD), humans learned how to restore fertility to the soil by using animal manures and crop rotation. This ability to replenish the soil helped build the Roman Empire. With improved soil cultivation methods, Rome moved from a rural agricultural society of independent farmers and progressed to form a capitalistic society.

And humanity has continued to progress. To continue this improvement in the quality of life, fill your garden with healthy soil so that your little corner of the world and your vegetable garden will thrive. Survival depends on healthy soil to allow for root growth and a consistent supply of water, oxygen, and nutrients.