Comparison with Farming
In respect to its food producing
purpose, gardening is distinguished from farming chiefly by scale
and intent. Farming occurs on a larger scale, and with the
production of saleable goods as a major motivation. Gardening is
done on a smaller scale, primarily for pleasure and to produce
goods for the gardener's own family or community. There is some
overlap between the terms, particularly in that some
moderate-sized vegetable growing concerns, often called market
gardening, can fit in either category.
The key distinction between
gardening and farming is essentially one of scale; gardening can
be a hobby or an income supplement, but farming is generally
understood as a full-time or commercial activity, usually
involving more land and quite different practices. One distinction
is that gardening is labor-intensive and employs very little
infrastructure capital, typically no more than a few tools, e.g. a
spade, hoe, basket and watering can.
By contrast, larger-scale farming
often involves irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers and
harvesters or at least ladders, e.g. to reach up into fruit trees.
However, this distinction is becoming blurred with the increasing
use of power tools in even small gardens.
In part because of labor
intensity and aesthetic motivations, gardening is very often much
more productive per unit of land than farming.
In the Soviet Union, half the
food supply came from small peasants' garden plots on the huge
government-run collective farms, although they were tiny patches
of land. Some argue this as evidence of superiority of capitalism,
since the peasants were generally able to sell their produce.
Others consider it to be evidence of a tragedy of the commons,
since the large collective plots were often neglected, or
fertilizers or water redirected to the private gardens.
The term precision agriculture is
sometimes used to describe gardening using intermediate technology
(more than tools, less than harvesters), especially of organic
Gardening is effectively scaled
up to feed entire villages of over 100 people from specialized
plots. A variant is the community garden which offers plots to
urban dwellers; see further in allotment (gardening).