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Good gardening knowledge at every step of the growing process is the key to producing healthy, excellent quality crops.

Gardening is the practice of growing plants. Gardens have provided food for thousands of years, are majestic representations of cultures, provide medicines or are just a favourite past time of people at home. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes from large community gardens tended to by large communities to the small window boxes you see in many people’s kitchens. Gardening can also be exclusive in terms of growing a single crop or be an amazing collection in tropical terrariums and botanical gardens throughout the world. Gardening is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing world and the lifestyles of the people within it, with new advancements like vertical gardening constantly pushing the boundaries for gardens. Growing can be essentially broken down into 2 major areas, plants grown as food and those grown ornamentally.

Food Crops

The world has a constant need for food crops and these are grown anywhere from backyards (pumpkins) to greenhouses (tomatoes) and farms (grain crops). Gardening is distinguished from farming by scale and purpose. Farming occurs on a larger scale with the primary intent of producing crops for sale. Gardening is a smaller venture and is done for pleasure or to produce goods for families and communities. Every part of plants are utilised by us for food. Some roots are used ground into pastes (coriander), eaten as root vegetables (carrots) or used to add flavour and aroma (ginger). The leaves and fruits are used in cooking stir-frys throughout Asia and Europe (basil) and also provide a massive part of the world’s fresh diet (oranges, apples etc). The reproductive seeds provide the world’s largest supply of food. The bread we use comes from ground seeds, rice and pasta, 2 of the world’s biggest staples, are both from seeds. There is also a huge market for whole seeds, which are excellent dietary supplements. Our purpose here at Growing Life is to address urban and community gardening issues, we have briefly referred to farming to illustrate the difference between gardening and farming, which are both forms of growing.

Ornamental Gardens

Ornamental gardens are designed to look good, rather than as food crops. They can be very ordered and clean like the lawn gardens you may see at palaces or important places or they can be showcasing several thousand species in an environment which encourages you to appreciate the individual plant’s beauty as you see in tropical gardens.

The history of ornamental gardens stretches back thousands of years (see history of gardening). Perhaps one of the most famous forms of ornamental gardening is Bonsai, which is the Japanese art of growing trees or woody plants in containers and pruning them to look like miniature versions of full sized trees. Bonsai uses various cultivation techniques including pruning, potting, root reduction, grafting and defoliation to achieve the classic look we all know. For further information on growing Bonsai in specialised indoor grow cabinets, see the “At home with gardening” section.

Cottage Gardens

Classic cottage gardens take the best of both forms of gardens, combining them into a patchwork of colourful fruits and vegetables, seasonal plants and flowers and fragrant herbs (rosemary). For many urban families who like the idea of a relaxing garden in which to grow food for the family and also as an entertaining area the cottage garden provides them the perfect solution. Continuously transforming with the seasons the cottage garden requires year round work to stay in peak condition, however as you can see from the picture below the results speak for themselves.