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  • Author or Editor: Bailey Norwood x
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Gardening is a popular practice despite the abundant and affordable food at the grocery store, suggesting gardening is more than just a way to obtain food. The purpose of this article is to explore these other motivations. Evolutionary and pragmatic motivations are first explored, and then discarded, in favor of a values-driven approach. Gardening is depicted as both a form of art and a hobby. As an art form, the writings of iconic philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Martin Heidegger—as well as modern philosophers—are used to articulate the meaning of gardening as an aesthetic experience. As a hobby, gardening is a socially approved form of leisure and productive play. The conclusion is that, in addition to obvious physiological benefits such as food and exercise, gardening helps us acquire higher needs, such as self-actualization and transcendence. Why do we garden? No simple answer can suffice. Gardening, like many interests, is performed both for an end product and for the process itself. Gardeners can hardly be expected to be able to articulate their reasons, just as sports fans would have difficulty articulating why they watch football, or music lovers explaining why songs mesmerize them. When pressed, their answers will be mostly a tautology (e.g., I simply like it). However, this does not mean we cannot make progress in understanding the motivations for gardening. Gardening is a form of exercise, it is a hobby, and is performed for aesthetic pleasure, and research on motivations for all three of these exist—especially that regarding aesthetics.

Open Access

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the appearance, texture, color, and taste of two popular pecan (Carya illinoinensis) clones relative to native pecans in a blind sensory analysis. Subjects tasted the raw pecans acquired from the same farm and evaluated them using hedonic scores. Results suggest consumers prefer the two clones to natives, and most of this preference seems to be related to the pecan size. A crossmodal effect was detected whereby the subjects reported an improved flavor in whole native pecans compared with clones that were cut in half and were thus less visually appealing. Consequently, although a previous study showed that consumers prefer pecans in a hypothetical (nontasting) situation when they are labeled as a “native” as opposed to clones, when the pecans are actually eaten and there are no labels designating the pecan type, they prefer the clones.

Open Access

Biochar is considered an environmentally friendly potting mix ingredient because it sequesters carbon, and its biomass can be obtained from renewable resources. If the biomass is obtained from the undesirable eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), then it has the additional benefit of helping to curtail its spread and protect natural habitats. If consumers recognize this benefit, then they may be willing to pay a premium for potting mix made from eastern redcedar biochar. This study used an internet survey of potting mix customers to measure the size of this potential premium. The results showed that consumers were willing to pay $2.42/ft3 more for potting mix containing 20% eastern redcedar biochar (by weight). This premium was even larger for respondents who were aware of the weedy nature of eastern redcedar.

Open Access

The increasing demand for soilless media, sustainability issues with peatmoss, and increasing cost of peatmoss have prompted studies of more environmentally friendly and less expensive substitutes. Biochar, a lightweight black carbon material produced by the pyrolysis of biomass, has gained popularity as a soilless media supplement. The objective of this study was to evaluate Eastern red cedar (ERC) biochar as a supplement to soilless media for the production of chrysanthemum and ornamental kale. Treatments included ERC biochar produced at three different temperature ranges of 300 to 350 °C, 400 to 450 °C, and 500 to 550 °C that were applied at 25%, 50%, and 75% v/v plus a control (100% v/v of standard commercial mix). Additionally, ERC bark was applied at the same rate as biochar. The 300 to 350 °C and 400 to 450 °C temperature ranges increased the bulk density of the media, whereas total porosity was greatest with just bark. Regarding the physical properties of the media, in general, the 75% v/v supplementation rate of ERC bark or biochar at any temperature increased air porosity but decreased the water holding capacity, except for the water holding capacity at 500 to 550 °C. As the biochar production temperature increased, so did the pH and electrical conductivity (EC), whereas volatile matter decreased. Plant height, width, shoot dry weight, root dry weight, number of flowers (chrysanthemum only), flower diameter, and water use efficiency were greatest with the 100% v/v soilless media for both species. In general, chrysanthemum plants grown with 25% v/v biochar supplementation or bark had similar height, width, and shoot dry weight at any temperature compared with those grown with the 100% v/v soilless media. For ornamental kale, the 25% v/v 400 to 450 °C biochar supplementation showed plant height and water use efficiency similar to those of the 100% v/v soilless media. In general, 25% ERC bark performed similar to 25% v/v and 50% v/v biochar at any temperature for plant width, shoot dry weight, root dry weight, water use efficiency, and root-to-shoot ratio. The media nutrient content and EC were greater with 100% v/v soilless media and a lower rate (25% v/v) of ERC bark and biochar than with higher rates. The higher levels of biochar were harmful and reduced the ornamental kale growth and quality. These results suggest that supplemented soilless media with lower rates (25% v/v) of ERC biochar could be recommended for chrysanthemum, but that less than 25% v/v may be necessary for ornamental kale.

Open Access