In this day and age, new technologies are changing the way that people garden and digitizing plant science. There are cellphone apps that can instantly identify plants, help you plot, figure out your soil pH, and keep track of watering schedules for you. There are also highly sophisticated irrigation systems, mowers, and even planting pots on the market—but all of these newfangled gadgets are derivatives of what came before them. For many thousands of years, gardeners have been expanding on basic practices that are both timeless and amazingly effective. Here are some tried and true ancient gardening practices that still hold up today, smart phones be damned!
Before organic gardening was a niche market within a gargantuan industry, it was the only kind of gardening there was. In fact, most of the best practices organic gardeners subscribe to today were invented thousands of years ago by people who had only their hands and basic tools to cultivate the land. Despite their “primitive” means, ancient gardeners had many clever hacks that helped them sustain themselves and their families off of the “fat of the earth.”
Ancient gardeners learned to recognize the ways native fauna interacted with native flora. They were experts at decoding the environment around them and using it to their advantage. To help their gardens, they encouraged the proliferation of pest-eating insects like ladybugs, praying mantis’, and spiders. They built habitats and planted food for these bugs in their gardens, and, in turn, the bugs ate the pests that threatened their fruits and vegetables.
Composting may be trendy, but it is hardly new. Composting techniques have been around in various forms for hundreds of years. Turning organic waste materials into compost is easy, cheap, and has a miraculous effect in the garden—which explains how widespread the practice is. Especially in climates where the soil is sandy or hard, composting is key to productive gardening.
Companion planting—another popular organic gardening tip—has roots in ancient practice. Gardeners have long been planting compatible plants side-by-side, whether to save space in a small plot or to deter pests. Corn and squash grows well together; so do beans and peas. Basil, an aromatic herb, can be planted alongside tomatoes to deter pests and, supposedly, make the fruit taste better.
Using these techniques and many other classic strategies, modern gardeners continue to build on the wisdom of gardeners from hundreds or even thousands of years ago. What timeless gardening methods do you use in your garden?