My parents were gardeners and farmers; my grandparents were gardeners and farmers. As far back as my ancestry can be traced, the family tree can be found growing on the family farm.
My grandfather, a great believer in the value of formal education, spent his entire life tilling and tending the land but he also worked his way through college and earned a degree in education, later finding time to teach school and to serve as an official in the local court system. His vast knowledge of horticulture and his pride in learning and teaching influenced and inspired me to earn a degree from our state college of agriculture.
My grandmother, though not as advanced in “book learning”, was skilled in gardening methods, having gained most of her knowledge through hands-on practical experience. I remember, as a boy of about seven or eight years, helping her plant beans in the vegetable garden.
“How far apart should we space these rows, Grandma?” I asked.
“Use your noodle,” she replied.
I looked at her blankly, trying to figure out what kind of measuring device she was talking about, and why I couldn’t recall having used one before.
“Well,” she said, “you know that as these beans grow, they’ll bush out and we’ll need enough room to get between the rows to chop out weeds and later on to pick the beans.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, as I scooted over about 36 inches and started laying out and planting the next row.
We should always use whatever knowledge and information is available to us, including common sense. Read the labels. If the light requirement says “full sun,” don’t plant in the shade. If the tag says the tree will grow to 60 feet, don’t plant it under a power line or close to the front steps of the house.
Gardening is a fun, fruitful, learning experience. Read and study labels, books, websites (like the one you are viewing now!), magazines, and manuals. Use your senses to observe the amazing things nature can do with just a little bit of assistance from you. The garden is a great classroom. Use your noodle and enjoy the rewards.