The only television show I watch with any regularity is “The Big Bang Theory.” A dose of laughs is not a bad thing when delving into the 11 dimensions of quantum physics. As a gardener, I’m lucky to comprehend four dimensions. How does understanding our journey through the space-time continuum help us grow better crops?
When surveying the garden, the obvious dimensions of width and length spread before our gaze. The depth of our laboriously improved soil delves beneath our feet. These 3-D physical characteristics, measured by comparisons to our anatomy, are quoted in feet and inches. Even the metric system is conjured by pacing a spread of land.
How quickly can a row of beans be weeded? How hard must a pebble be thrown to ward off a squirrel in the carrots? Can I turn the whole compost pile before breakfast? Now we are comparing dimensions over time. The result of actions on physical structure should not be assumed as the intended speed.
Picking up the pace entails acceleration, an attribute understood to be contrary to the implicit leisurely endeavor of the hobby of gardening. To hasten any process, design better tools or routines to get more work done in less time. Newton’s falling apple accelerating under the influence of gravity must not be ignored. Use gravity when throwing the compost to loosen up the components, mix in some air, and rebuild the pile elsewhere.
Using our space most judiciously brings a sequencing aspect into play. The seed packet claims a crop of beans will be ready in 55 days. Harvesting from those plants may last 3 weeks, tying up the limited space of the garden. Starting other transplants in a greenhouse manages the risk of unsuccessful germination, but it also allows for two crops to grow simultaneously. Immediately upon harvesting the last of the beans, a ready transplant plopped into a growing bed provides a six-week jump in production. How’s that for time travel?
Peering into the future, a gift of sages, is a tool frequently used by gardeners. Planning for my winter solstice celebrations requires prescience and risk management. Weather prognosticators, noting this as a La Nina year, predict a dry and warmer growing season. But as the daylight decreases approaching Dec. 21, crop growth slows. Pushing this flat-lined growth curve toward an intended expectation requires attention to detail. Weeding, mulching, fertilizing, watering and controlling pest are all steps taken in order to control time. Albert Einstein would be proud of us!
Tom Carey is the owner of Sundew Gardens, a you-pick gardening business in Oviedo. Visit the Sundew Gardens Facebook page.