What is Gardening and Why is it important?
The concept of gardening is not new. We’ve all seen all types of gardens, from the beautiful landscape gardens we see in movies, on documentaries, in public places, to the ones at people’s backyard, potted plants on their balcony and so on.
It may interest you to know that gardening isn’t farming, even though some gardens can present as a farm, especially those on which food crops are cultivated. But a garden is not a farm.
Before I carry on, let’s define gardening and what a garden is: according to Britannica, Gardening can be defined as the laying out and care of a plot of ground devoted partially or wholly to the growing of plants such as flowers, herbs, or vegetables.
Wikipedia defines it as the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. The next question naturally will be what horticulture means; and that can be defined, once again by Wikipedia, as the agriculture of plants, mainly for food, materials, comfort, and beauty for decoration.
Gardening began as far back as the ancient times, when man started farming and cultivation. It began as what was called forest gardening, where food-producing vines and trees were planted in groups for easy access to food. Slowly it evolved into the cultivation of ornamental plants for the wealthiest people in the society.
However, by the middle age, gardening was again evolved to cultivating herbs and medicinal plants after the fall of the Roman empire. The church were champions of this. Monasteries maintained gardens for their infirmary and the kitchen.
Much later, Europeans started gardens that housed both food and ornamental plants and this led to the birth of lawns of grass and raised flower beds. Most of these gardens had hedges and built around a monument or a sculptural piece.
But as time went on, garden-style once again evolved into the rolling hills with no border or walls, surrounded by water and made up of trees, food crops, flowers and herbs of all sorts. This was around the eighteenth century, people were more concerned with attaining a more natural look and feel to a garden than the old, strict and very architectural way to which the middle age cultivated a garden.
From the eighteenth century up until the present day, people still cultivate their gardens in order to have easy access to food but more to create beautiful scenery where they can relax and enjoy nature.
Gardening, however, differs from farming in the scale. While gardening is more of a personal thing, for household purposes (which is similar to very small-scale subsistence farming), farming is more for commercial purposes. Also, gardening doesn’t require a large expanse of lands like farming and gardening could be more labor-intensive than farming.
Gardening is also more specialized than farming in the sense that it may involve the cultivation of only one type of plant or a mixture of plants. However it does not involve the rearing animals like farming, it is strictly the growing of animals. To many people, especially in modern times, gardening is more of a hobby done for leisure, recreational purposes or even to provide food in small scale for the gardener and family, but farming is strictly the production of food that is saleable and a large source of income to the farmer.
Why is Gardening Important to you?
The following few reasons explain the undeniable benefits of gardening to mankind:
- It is a great form of exercise –
Do you know that from just pulling weeds alone for up to an hour, the average man burns up to 300 calories? Gardening is such an active activity, which might require weeding, planting, watering, harvesting, etc. All these involve some levels of physical exertion, depending on how long it’s done, and therefore makes a gardening great form of workout like the gym.
- Provides healthy food which comes from growing one’s own food –
One can vouch for more for the food produced in their own backyards than those stores bought or purchased in the market. Gardening is a good way to ensure that vegetables, fruits, and other food crops are indeed healthy and chemical-free, especially for organic consumers concerned with eating healthy.
- Gardening is therapeutic –
Most people find the smell of earth, plants, and nature relieving and therapeutic. Just being outdoors in the sun, surrounded by nature and beautiful plants can do great wonders to one’s body by diffusing stress and relaxing the mind. It can also help to reduce depression.
- A great way to bond with the family –
Having and maintaining a garden can be a good way for members of the family to bond with each other and catch up on each other’s lives. Especially with the kids, gardening provides a good platform for conversation, strengthening relationships, fostering closeness, building great and fun memories while at the same time impacting valuable virtues such as knowledge independence, hard work, commitment, etc.
- Builds Community –
I know a lady who moved into a neighborhood newly with lots of potted vegetables and flowers. Not too long, her potted vegetables were feeding not just her and her family but some of her neighbors. Soon enough, most of the neighbors also had potted vegetables lining their balconies and they’ll all meet up to discuss how to maintain, weed and water the plants and so on. Great friendships and a community were built from just gardening.
- Surrounds us with plants –
We all know the importance of plants to the human race, outside providing us with food; I.e the provision of useful oxygen for respiration and removal of carbon dioxide. Gardening ensures that we are surrounded by plants for nature to take its course and for us to live in a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
All the above-stated reasons and many more help us understand the immense benefits of gardening. Stay tuned for the next article as we walk you through how to start a successful garden and what can be gardened.