We Celebrate When We Garden!

Despite the overbearing shadow of the COVID 19 Pandemic, Earth Day is not canceled but celebrates as one might expect in digital form and quite effectively. Online resources and social media are lighting up and will continue to get stronger throughout the day. This does not mean that you can not leave your home office right now, go outside into your Garden and touch the soil. We just have to continue social-distancing from other human interaction – respectively.

earth tree soil
Photo: Jacob_09/Shutterstock

Back to recognizing 50 years of this special day. Opportunities to celebrate and participate abound – just do an online search and you will see. I have participated over the years in unique activities while working in theme parks, botanical and zoological gardens. Each institution has its own theme and mission of educating and building awareness of the need to care for our environment. From the perspective of our gardening blog and educating gardeners on horticultural practices and amazing plants available to home gardeners, we take an approach aligned with our followers. 

Going Back to Basics and Down to Earth

We focus on the primary and most essential materials that support the science of horticulture and gardening world – soil. The challenge for many people to participate in the care of the environment and consequently the concern for our planet is their detachment from the physical properties of “Earth”. Considering much of the urban environment is composed of concrete sidewalks, asphalt streets, and tile interior flooring, there are only limited or rare opportunities to even touch the substance that much of our planet is made of – soil. Can there be appreciation for something that we rarely see, touch, smell, or directly know the benefit of its existence? For some people, the only reference to soil, the hallowed substance of our planet, is the negative misname non-gardeners use, instead of soil, they erroneously call it, dirt. As gardeners, we know the difference, and dirt is, as referred to in a past blog, not what we garden in, but what politicians dig up on each other. Soil has its own science – Agronomy, but we recognize, not to be out-down, dirt does as well – Political Science. 

vegetable garden and soil

Soil is an amazing composition of elements and minerals, particles of sand, silt and clay, organic matter, billions of micro-organisms most being beneficial if not crucial to our existence, biochemical activity, oxygen, and water to name a few. In short, the soil of the forest, prairie, wetlands, mountains, tundra, deserts, and coastal shoreline as well as our own yard and garden, is a complex life-giving environment. 

Garden with soil

Does this fact even matter or is it even recognized as something missing to people, especially if they don’t interact with activities that bring an appreciation of soil? It might. Periodically I lecture on different features of horticulture and recall presenting a class on soils to home gardeners. To spark interest and conversation I will ask what brings them to learn more about the topic and in this case, soil. I distinctly remember hearing from a CPA from one of the large accounting firms downtown. He explained that much of his world is tied to the computer screen with spreadsheet calculations, add in stuffy boardroom meetings, and the rigors of the finance world. He looks forward to leaving it behind and simply working in the garden and planting in the soil. He said it is simple, gratifying, and far from the world in his office. Another member of the class was a surgeon who explained he operates in one of the most sterile environments imaginable. He functions in a world filled with soap, sanitizers, antibiotic cleansers, strict surgery protocol, and stainless-steel equipment. The doctor says he can’t wait to get home to his garden and take his hands, void of surgical gloves, and sink deep into the soil, making direct contact with planet earth as he called it. 

hands and soil

There is a point to be made that the humble act of gardening can be an effective path to connect people to the environment and an appreciation for the planet. When so much of our modern world excludes the basic components of earth, gardening in the soil and the caring for plants may ultimately lead to a better understanding of the planet and its needs. 

An International, Ecumenical Appeal for All

Even Pope Francis gets it with his contribution: “I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated,” he said. The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation, and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation within the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of all people, also of future generations.”

Amen to that.

-Rob McCartney, Horticulturist

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for more info at: rmccartney@greatlakeslabel.com


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