Friday, September 18, 2009

Geeky Gardening

I have mentioned several times in this blog that I am a total biology geek and that gardening is my expression of those tendencies. But this definition bothers me. My wife and I are proud geeks, but is gardening really geeky? I mean, it is usually done outdoors. There's sun out there! Geeks aren't usually known for their deep tans.

However, there are certain aspects of gardening that are intensely geeky. As John Hodgman said, "We are geeks. We are defined by our passions and our enthusiasms." There are few pastimes that inspire passion and enthusiasm in so many people as gardening. Gardening can make normal people talk about, and even research, things like chemistry, botany, zoology, microbiology and even mycology. It can make a seemingly normal person keep a thousand red worms as pets, fussing over their enclosure, their health and the quality of their bowel movements. I typically observe the status of my gardens at least 4 times a day. And yes, I can tell the difference, thank you. If that doesn't qualify as passion and enthusiasm, I don't know what does. So if you think that the statement "Can't see the forest for the trees" should be revised to say "Can't see the forest for those yellow spots on the leaves. Dammit! What is that, blight? I am going to have check my gardening books and spray now..." then perhaps you should check your habits against the list below. It might just give you some ideas.

1) Garden Schedule
Gardener: Knows when first and last frost dates are and plants accordingly.
Geeky Gardener: Knows exact planting dates of all seeds relative to first and last frost and keeps records.
Über Geeky Gardener: Enters all of those dates into a calendar program with a "repeat yearly" option.

2) Soil Chemistry
Gardener: Understands that there are nutrients in the soil that are essential to the growth of plants and adds fertilizer to make sure there are enough of each.
Geeky Gardener: Owns a soil test kit and several electronic gadgets and knows the exact soil composition in any given location because he tests it regularly.
Über Geeky Gardener: Created a raised bed garden and made all of his own soil so he could have exact control.

3) Tools
Gardener: Has a set of tools that he keeps in good working order.
Geeky Gardener: Has all the best tools and they are kept razor sharp, well oiled, and hung on pegboard, complete with outlined shapes so the unkempt masses don't put the tools where they don't belong.
Über Geeky Gardener: “What, they don't make WiFi moisture meters and networked programmable automatic watering systems? I guess I'll have to make my own...”

4) Latin Names
Gardener: What's a Latin name?
Geeky Gardener: Knows Latin names and family groups for most of his plants.
Über Geeky Gardener: Knows exact Latin name, including genus and species, of every plant is his garden, including cultivar names and refuses to call them by anything else.

5) Weather
Gardener: Understands basics of seasons in his area.
Geeky Gardener: Has a weather station and records rainfall and temperature highs and lows.
Über Geeky Gardener: Maintains a weather station for NOAA.

6) Garden Planning
Gardener: Knows where they planted each plant.
Geeky Gardener: Will painstakingly plan out their garden, developing diagrams (probably in AutoCAD) of what was planted where and keep them for posterity to help with crop rotation.
Über Geeky Gardener: Will plan it all out, just like the geeky gardener, but will also take companion plants, beneficial insect habitats, sun angles, plant light requirements, soil that has been previously innoculated for legumes and light exposure into consideration. He will also specially plan out and design microclimates for his perennials and slow-growing annuals.

7) Garden Biology
Gardener: Understands that the different organisms in the garden interact and that those interactions are important.
Geeky Gardener: Seeks to understand as many organisms as possible and to control garden health through the use of careful applications of organic matter, organic fertilizer, companion plants, beneficial insects and more.
Über Geeky Gardener: Does all the same things as the geeky gardener and then blogs about it.


  1. I'm on the brink of geek gardening. :-) Recently purchased a home and will finally be able to have a garden. All of my initial planning, research, and expectations of my first garden lands me just short of Uber Geeky (unless I actually start a weather station for NOAA). Recently thinking about how to determine best light exposure in backyard, which only made my wife worry about how much time I plan to pour into our soon-to-be-garden. Good post.

  2. Enjoyed reading your post, via Granny J.

  3. That Uber Geeky Gardner sounds like me if I had any natural space at all. I hate living in a flat.

  4. Actually, sounds good idea. I have a loan not as much big but having sufficient space in my home for gardening. I just afraid, how should protect my garden from pests, herbs and other insects? I wanna plant there. That's why?
    Crop Protection

  5. This is just too funny! I don't know how I missed it...I admit to being a geek, did not realize how close to Uber Geek I have become (and I'm proud darnit!)

  6. Of course the true gardening geek buys the domain:D

    Awesome Blog!

  7. Just wanted to add that if you're a gardening geek, like me :), you should always keep your gardening tools sharp to increase their lifespan. Check out DMT's gardening tool sharpeners to keep your products effective!

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