05. New Technologies and Your Garden

Today we know that our garden vegetables require human intervention, but on mass production farms, machines remove the produce. This is why our supermarkets have cheaply priced mass production vegetables, expensive thin-skinned fruits and very expensive “designer” vegetables. An example of a mass production vegetable is a special brand of tomato that can be machine picked. That tomato will always be priced more cheaply than other tomatoes picked by hand. To help you understand this, the manufactured tomato has to meet the following standards:

· The tomato has to be machine picked without damage
· The tomato has to be detached from the plant, cleaned and machined for market on the picker
· The tomato has to have a palatable taste

Unfortunately, taste is almost always sacrificed with mass production. An example of a vegetable where this did not happen is the Yukon Gold potato, but some would argue that the nature of potatoes is to over produce. We will not land on either side of that argument. New technologies for nuts required a tree shaker, and nut-gatherer. The tree shaker comes along and gently rocks the tree. The nuts respond by falling to the ground. Then the nut-gathering machines come along and sweep up the nuts. Nuts are then returned to the manufacturing facility for washing, shelling and packaging.

Designer vegetables are often purchased from local growers or brought in fresh. These vegetables are the product of special growers who focus on producing non-machining fruits and vegetables. Non-machining means human picking and sorting. These vegetables are still washed and processed in other ways, but they are not removed from the field in a highly efficient manner. This means they cost more to harvest and that cost must be passed on to the customer. So the rarer varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are almost always more costly. Invariably, this is why some casual gardeners plant their own vegetables. Gardening is cheaper if the grower knows what he is doing.

Gardening Specialties

As a gardener you have the option of growing non-edible species of plants. Non-edible is a unique perspective as long as the plant is not poisonous. For instance, the medusa chile pepper is not poisonous, but it is not grown for food. This chile pepper is considered of poor taste and it is grown for its decorative colors. You have the option of growing vegetables for decoration, and beauty. While most decorative gardens are “shaped”, you can grow this in your conventional garden, and then transfer the peppers onto decorative strings or into displays you make.

Another gardening specialty is the growth of medicinal herbs. Medicinal herbs like dandelion and various worts can be grown in your own herb garden. This book is focused on vegetables and fruiting vegetables, but many different types of gardening exist. Flower gardening is also another option. Flowers can be grown in a decorative pattern, and provide beauty and freshness during their flowering time.

There are also gardens that have monetary goals. Some cultivars try to breed rare plants or create new plants. An example of this would be a new Naga pepper said to be more than 875,000 on the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale measures relative hotness of peppers. This new Naga pepper was not independently verified. A Japanese firm recently made this statement, but verification from other firms has not happened.

It is obvious that there are business implications for creating either rare or exceptional products in the garden. Apparently there is a demand for mass-producing rare and exceptional flower, nut and vegetable products.


Gardening – Why do it?

For most, the home garden is a source of pleasure and is a pursuit that requires being in touch with nature. Most gardeners have a love of nature and like to work with their hands. Gardening requires you to get down into the dirt and love the handling of life’s essence. Most gardeners have a love of nature and nature’s laws. Throughout this book, we have not recommended specific pesticide and anti-microbial products. We feel that it is best to allow you to make up your own mind about what pesticides to apply. Careful attention was paid to not specifically prompt the gardener to add chemicals. We believe it is up to the gardener to understand the plant’s needs before adding fertilizer or pesticides. If the gardener understands the needs of the plant, he can help the plant better overall.

Chemicals are often a “quick fix,” but more often than not, they don’t fix much at all. A good example is common herbicides. These kill a few weeds and invariably the weeds come back. You spray some more, and they come back again. The cycle never ends. Meanwhile you are making the herbicide producers rich, and you are filling your environment with chemicals designed to kill plants. I do understand that most readers don’t want to spend their days weeding their gardens after work, but special attention MUST be paid to how many chemicals you spray on something you plan to consume. Many herbicides and pesticides have been connected with cancer and other diseases. This brings us to an unmentioned garden specialty called organic farming.