National Gardening Month

National Gardening Month

History and Evolution

4/10/2024 | Marina Monetz-Ellis, Garden Program Specialist

April is National Gardening Month. Gardeners in central Illinois are eager to sow seeds and plant veggies, flowers, trees and shrubs.

Thousands of years ago wild cereal grains, inadvertently dropped by hunter-gatherers to areas they visited, sprouted leading to agricultural villages. Corn was domesticated between 7000-9000 years ago in central Mexico from a wild grass called teosinte. Bananas were domesticated in Papua New Guinea about 7000 years ago while watermelons were domesticated in Egypt in 2000 BCE. Watermelons are sweeter and bananas are larger in size and both contain fewer seeds than their ancient forms. Corn, however, gained more and larger seeds as the cob size increased. Seeds are sacred and the core of sedentary life.

Our food today has been modified to our evolving palates and ease of preparation.

Today seedless fruit varieties are popular and convenient, but seeds are the heart of the garden. Seeds are planted with little regard to where they were sourced.

"Rematriation" of seeds is returning familial, native seeds back to Indigenous communities. Returning the seeds to the ground restarts the plant life cycle that gardeners lovingly nurture throughout the year. Many libraries and other local entities promote this idea by building seed banks. A good way to start a garden is to see if your local library has a seed bank or plan your own seed exchange in your neighborhood.