Becoming a good gardener is a challenging prospect, requiring dedication and skill. It should also be borne in mind that different plants need varying levels of attention and conditions for successful growth. For a novice, being able to draw on more experienced knowledge is invaluable. Happily, one gardening blog is promoting an intriguing new method for gardeners old and new that might just be a total game changer. Have you heard the one about the egg and the banana?
With food prices rising in most developed countries, people making the most of their back yards by getting into gardening and producing their own fruit and vegetables is ever more popular. As a matter of fact, according to broadcaster NBC, sales of seeds, rooted plants and fruit trees in the U.S. are all shooting up fast. Evidently, having the shortest possible produce journey from field to fork is all the rage.
Speaking to NBC News, Janet Bedell, of Venice, Florida, spoke of her new-found fondness for growing her own. She said, “Over the past year or two, when my boyfriend and I went shopping and started seeing how little we got out of the grocery store for how much, we figured we might as well give it a shot trying our own veggies and take some of the weight off our pockets.”
And Bedell is by no means alone in bedding vegetables. In a report by The National Gardening Association in 2014, the Texas-based body found more than 42 million U.S. households had come to the same decision. Some are growing their vegetables at home, others are sharing community gardens, but it still adds up to a grow-your-own enthusiast in more than one-third of all American domiciles. And the association has seen a sharp spike in the number of green-fingered wannabes since the worldwide economic crash of 2008.
Mike Metallo, the president and chief executive officer of the National Gardening Association, said, “[It] clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America. We are seeing more people, particularly young people, actively engaged in growing their own food.”
Unfortunately for much of the masses, gardening is not as simple and straightforward as planting seeds in the ground and then just waiting. Although enthusiasm and fertilizer can help, not all types of land can produce the same kinds of vegetables. In fact, each vegetable plant derives differing kinds and quantities of nutrients from the soil they grow in.
With this in mind, New Jersey gardener Gary Pilarchik came up with a quirky but ingenious technique for growing tomatoes. Now resident in Maryland, Pilarchik has propagated a healthy presence online. As well as various social media profiles, he writes The Rusted Vegetable Garden blog, and has his own YouTube channel. In May 2013, Pilarchik posted a video using a couple of unusual ingredients in his recipe for growing tomatoes. In the clip, he buried a whole banana and an egg underneath a tomato plant. Subsequently, viewers of his weekly updates were astonished at the results.
The idea is that the banana and egg begin to rot and degrade in the soil underneath the tomato plant’s rootstock. Then the roots reach into the decaying material and are able to convey the rich nutrients from it to the rest of the plant. The nutrient mix from the decomposed banana and egg includes potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and sodium. It gives the tomato plant a huge boost and enables it to grow strong and tall.
Pilarchik took inspiration from Native American tradition for his banana-and-egg trick. In the same fashion, Native Americans would add foreign material when sowing their seeds. Believe it or not , First Nation people would plant fish heads or even whole fish into the ground at the base of their crop. This would fertilize the soil, the same way the soft fruit and ovum did for Pilarchik.
Additionally, Native Americans would also use another green-fingered gimmick when growing their crops they called the Three Sisters. In essence, this would mean planting three different varieties together – corn, squash and beans. As a result, each vegetable crop would offer symbiotic benefits to the other two, ensuring all three thrived.
The beans would provide nitrogen to the soil, enriching the corn and squash so they could grow robustly. The corn provided a trellis on which the beans could climb. The squash provided cover for the other two plants as they were growing, and it helped to deter some pests.
It is not just the old ways that can make a difference, new trends are making an impact as a result of the influx of new gardeners. One of these is called “attentive gardening,” an offshoot of the vogue for mindfulness meditation. Attentive gardening is a way of drawing the grower’s mind away from stress and focusing on the task in hand – in and around the back yard or plot.