Over 12,000 years ago, our ancestors set out on a new path that would change human kind forever. As Johnny was perfecting his fire building skills, a beautiful young girl by the name of Jane was dropping the first seed into the ground, and behold, the first garden emerged.
Well maybe this was the second garden, since the garden of Eden was first, and the ability to make fire came long before the first seeds where dropped into the ground, and their names where probably not Johnny and Jane, but you get the point. That point being, thousands of years ago our ancestors began planting gardens. This took us out of the hunter and gatherer era, and made it possible for humans to congregate in towns and cities. Our history took a sharp turn for the better.
Now learning to grow crops didn't come over night- rather it took 1000's of years of trials and errors. Our ancestors created by selective breeding, all the varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains, that we enjoy today.
Fast forward to the future. Most of us no longer have the acres to plant. We live in subdivisions, with little yards. Our garden consists of a lush patch of centepede, bermuda or some other designer grass. We tend to our grass, watering, cutting, fertilizing and more. It looks pretty, but I can't help but picture a puzzled look upon our ancestor's face. You can't eat grass, and there's no cow out there to graze. I can picture Jane shaking her head.
I am not saying get rid of the grass, but what if you put in a few garden boxes and grew some corn, squash and beans- using the techniques of our Native Americans? Contrary to belief, you can grow an abundance of produce in a little space. You could put in some large pots and grow edamame, carrots, strawberries, the possibilities are endless.
The produce grown is so much more healthy and tastier than what you pick up in your nearest store. Gardening is really becoming a lost art, and one reason for that is the thought that you must have acres to grow anything. This is so not true. Anyone can have a small backyard garden or even a front yard garden. And as an added bonus- kids love to eat what they grow. Do you have a picky kid that won't eat mustards, cabbage, or anything green? You will be amazed when you watch them plant that seed, water and harvest. They will beam with pride as they gobble down the first mature kale leaf.
It is very important that we don't lose our knowledge of gardening, disappointing our ancestors. I certainly don't want my ancestor Jane haunting me, so I hope you will take the journey along with me. Each week, I will have tips, garden advice and more in this column. I want to teach you to grow. If you are already an avid gardener, I hope that you will find some of these tips helpful, and be sure to share your tips with me.
Let's preserve the art of gardening for generations to come and let's Get growing South Carolina.
Sal Sharpe is owner of Sal's Ol' Timey Feed & Seed in Columbia, SC. You can check out her blog at salslocalseed.com while sharing your gardening experiences.