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Horticulture

By Michael Scullin

Gardening and Hoe

Gardening and Hoe

Cliff Hutson
Definition:

Horticulture is a process by which a plot of soil is prepared for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. It is tended to control competition from intrusive plants (weeds), and protected from predatory animals including humans. The crop is harvested, processed, and usually stored in specialized containers or structures. Some produce, often significant a quantity, is eaten during the growing season, but an important element is having the wherewithal to store food for future consumption, trade or ceremonies. Sharing food remains a crucial element of many, if not most, human ceremonies.

Horticulture and Gardening

A garden, being a more or less permanent location, forces those who tend and harvest the garden to settle down in its vicinity. Garden produce has value, so a group of humans must cooperate to the extent that they can protect themselves and their produce from those who would rather steal it. It is telling that many of the earliest horticulturalists also lived in fortified communities. There is safety in numbers, and there is safety in walls. The notion of "peaceful horticulturalists" is a myth of wishful thinking.

Settling down in a community does not lead to gardening -- gardening leads to settling down in communities. You can't take it with you.

Michael Scullin, ethnohorticulturalist

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com Guide to Ancient Farming and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Also Known As: Gardening
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