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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Gardening and the scientific method

I have a fairly logical mind and am also trained in the sciences. I've always appreciated how well many science related skills have wide application to everyday activities.

In gardening, to my mind, there is no substitute for those daily walks and close observation. I mean really close observation of almost everything, from the ground to the tip of the tallest plants. The role of systematic trial and error also applies extremely well to gardening, and other home related problems. In the garden, the gardener doesn't state a formal hypothesis, at least not usually. But isn't that what we really end up doing. We identify the problem. We hypothesize a cure. We experiment to test our hypothesis. If the hypothesis is rejected, then we devise a new hypothesis or devise a new experiment. That may be one reason that I'm so drawn to gardening. It is like a never ending puzzle. You can never do things perfectly right or know the perfect answer. There is a huge number of ever changing variables, such that what was correct last year has to be modified this year. And the challenge repeats year after year, always keeping the game fresh and stimulating new interest.

So anyway for any who need a refresher, here are some basic steps.

1. Close observation
2. State or identify the problem when some issue is detected
3. Research the problem.
4. Hypothesize a solution
4. Establish strategies to test that hypothesis
5. If the test is successful, then great. Otherwise either try a new strategy or consider whether or not alternative hypotheses exist.
6. Continue trial and error testing until you succeed.
7. Sometimes even failure gives direction, for instance in helping you decide what crops are suitable for your location and/or temperament.

Happy gardening to all of you scientists out there!
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.

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Green Thumb
Posts: 317
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 3:29 am
Location: Nagoya: Japan

Nice post!

I’m a gardener who is an aquaculture/fisheries technician by trade. It doesn’t matter if I have got my blue thumb or my green thumb ‘on’ I absolutely agree with there being no substitute for (daily) close observation. So many problems can be picked up in the early stages through daily observation whether I’m looking in a tank of larval shrimp or at my tomato plant.

I’d suggest you add a number 8 to your list. That being: make a record of everything that you do (be it successful or otherwise) for present and future reference.
I >>used to<< grow vegetables in containers on my balcony and this >>was<< my Blog:

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Senior Member
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 11:13 am
Location: Minnesota

or simply put, an old quote:
"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow"

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I feel the same way Alex. Almost to the T what you said. I myself am a very logical person I don't want to know what is happening I want to know why. I have always been big into science not so much as you but still.

I for some reason have never had a fall garden. So everything I have going now is an experiment. I am trying all kinds of new things inside and out. You could say I have little experiments all over my house and in the garden. This weekend we are expecting a frost. That will be a test for some plants. I am excited to see what comes of this frost, what will survive and what won't. Not sure if I should try to cover or just let it go and find out what is truly frost hardy, if not freeze hardy. I am also still planting in and out to see if I can still get a winter harvest. To me this is new so it's all trial and error. Let's hope for less error. I'm an info geek always trying to learn something new.

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