Various tools have been designed by – or for – 'gentleman gardeners', enthusiastic amateurs who were interested in gardening in principle but didn’t want to spend the whole day digging. They include elegant canes which conceal saws, or seed shakers which look like salt and pepper mills.
The cucumber straightener was invented by the engineer George Stephenson of Stephenson’s Rocket fame (1781-1848). He was a keen fruit grower and typical of the 'gentleman gardener'. The cucumber straightener consisted of an elongated glass funnel that could be placed over the cucumber at an early stage to encourage it to grow straight. The first ones were made in his Newcastle engine factory.
In the 1840s, Stephenson owned an experimental farm. His ideas included redesigning cows to make them into a better shape - their ribs could be made to carry more weight per animal. He virtually invented battery-farming, attempting the quick fattening of chickens by feeding them three times a day and shutting them up in the dark to sleep between meals.
He also positioned his beehives strategically, believing that bees could carry more pollen if they didn't have to fly uphill. He invented the idea of growing melons suspended in gauze baskets, relieving tension on the stalk and leading to faster growth and ripening. He seems to have been a man in a hurry.
Tyler, Texas contains the world's largest rose garden: 22 acres with over 38,000 rose bushes and more than 500 varieties of rose.
The 'Dig for Victory!' campaign was instigated in Britain as soon as the Second World War started. The government realised the population would go hungry if the war was to last longer than a few months. Formal gardens, lawns, sports pitches and even parks like Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens had allotments in them. Everyone on the home front was encouraged to become a vegetable gardener and to keep chickens and ducks. Some communities set up pig clubs and Hyde Park had its own piggery. Posters, leaflets and radio broadcasts were organised to teach people how to grow things and make compost heaps. Adverts featuring Dr Carrot and Potato Pete were created encouraging people to enjoy Carrolade (carrot and swede juice) and eat carrots and spuds. 'Free food' recipes such as crow pie and squirrel-tail soup were published.
As a result of all this, imports of food were halved between 1939 and 1945, and the acreage of British land used for food production increased by 80%. 'Dig for Victory!' anthems were played on the radio, with lyrics like these: 'Dig! Dig! Dig! And your muscles will grow big… /And keep on diggin' / Till we give our foes a Wiggin'/ Dig! Dig! Dig! for Victory'.
The word 'eden' is Hebrew for pleasure or delight. So The Garden of Eden literally means 'pleasure garden'.
Japanese microbiologist Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) was the man responsible for ‘Do-Nothing Gardening’, also known as ‘natural farming’, which means small-scale, organic farming that requires no weeding, pesticide, fertilizer or tilling. Ducks are allowed onto the grain plot, and carp into rice paddies, so they can kill slugs and other pests. The straw from the previous crop is used as mulch.
One important part of the method is the use of seed balls. Re-introduced by Fukuoka, they are an ancient technique whereby seeds are mixed with clay, compost and sometimes manure, and made into balls. The result is a denser crop of smaller but very strong plants. The technique uses fewer seeds than conventional farming. The ingredients for seed balls are as follows: 5 parts of dry red clay, 3 parts of dry organic compost, 1 part seeds and 1 or 2 parts water.
Fukuoka claimed that: 'Giving up your ego is the shortest way to unification with nature'. He also pointed out that 'If we throw Mother Nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork'.
Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.
Compared to gardeners, I think it is generally agreed that others understand very little about anything of consequence.
In 1895, Kew Gardens took on female gardeners for the first time. They had to wear men's clothes so as not to arouse lust in their male colleagues.
50% of the USA's drinking water is sprinkled on the lawn.