On a recent trip to visit family I spoke to my grandparents in different capacities about their gardens. What struck me was the value of the old knowledge and methods often handed down often from their grandparents to them and now from them to me.
This knowledge is invaluable as in recent generations gardening has been dominated by methods that tend not to be organic and are centered around commercially available products. So why are we re-learning these methods?
Following the First and Second World Wars there was an agricultural revolution with the introduction of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and mechanical advances. These advances lead to the large scale agriculture techniques we see all over the world being applied to home gardens.
Unfortunately organic gardening suffered further as interest in home gardens in North America declined following the Second World War in conjunction with the new methods promised higher yields with less effort.
Fortunately today organic gardening is gaining popularity and we find ourselves relearning some of the traditional garden knowledge and methods.
I feel one of the most interesting take away message from my grandparents is not just the methods and practices themselves but how they approach gardening as a whole.
I have found I am drawn to the concepts of treating the whole garden experience as an experiment with lots of trial and error and the using what you have available to grow more food.
Today I thought I would talk quickly about how I have implemented this concept in my garden.
Formal Experimentation Citizen Science:
Immediately as a scientist I think about how I can set up formal experiments in the garden. Generally speaking when doing experiments at home they fall under the title of Citizen Science.
Citizen science is a really powerful tool to evaluate methods, practices and products in the garden.
Trials like the Rock Dust and Biochar home garden field trials were set up to provide evidence to support or refute claims product claims. Through the use of the scientific method supported by a study design and lab results we are generating results we can apply to these claims.
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