Gardening is often pitched as a relaxing, therapeutic activity—and it is relaxing and therapeutic!
But it’s also a sign of how advanced society has become that we can regard growing food as a charming hobby instead of an absolute necessity.
On the one hand, that’s a clear sign of mankind’s mastery over the world. On the other, it’s left us remarkably dependent on a system of farming and delivery logistics that has been shown to be distressingly fragile.
Anyone who has ever successfully grown a tomato plant in their backyard has wondered if they could go “off-grid,” grow their own food, and be done with their local supermarket. The answer is yes, but that’s the wrong question.
The question isn’t whether it’s possible—the question is how. It’s all about the logistics: How much space do you need to grow enough crops to feed you and your family? Math will help you figure this one out.
The Smithsonian’s lush and diverse 180-acre educational gardens, which the institution calls a “museum without walls,” are now accessible to all via an array of virtual tours. Casual flower fans and horticulture buffs alike can simply scroll the page linked above to appreciate the Smithsonian’s magnolia collection (“Magnolia Madness”) or see the best and brightest fall colors at any time of the year (“Fall Foliage Walking Tour”), among other offerings. For a deeper dive, readers can click “Be A Plant Explorer” to access a searchable guide to the Smithsonian Gardens collection, including high-resolution images, scientific information, and fun facts about each specimen (note that the tool works best on a computer or tablet). Garden geeks can show off with verdant digital backgrounds for computer desktop or Zoom, found in the Featured section at the bottom of the page. Readers can also follow the gardens on Facebook, Instagram (@SmithsonianGardens on both services), and Twitter (@SIGardens). The best part about the virtual gardens? They’re always in full bloom. The only downside is trying to smell the flowers through your screen! [HCL]